Friday, May 30, 2008

May 30

I used the date for my title today because sometimes thinking up a title is the hardest part. Actually, the hardest part of my day today was getting the girls to school. I had to wake them at 7:30. Nobody actually got out of bed until maybe 7:45. I don't think everyone was downstairs until about eight. Of course nobody was dressed. Then we had all sorts of drama over we left around 8:30. Or so I thought. Caroline was able to get in her door, but by the time we got around to Caitlin's door on the other side of the school, the doors were locked. We had to go into the office and sign in as tardy. I was so frustrated! I can hear my mom's voice right now, saying how the kids aren't bothered about being late because there's no stake in it for them. So true. As Bobby and I walked home, I noticed other cars continuing to drive in and out from school--seems we weren't the only tardy ones today. As much as I'm cringing over this "black mark" on our record, sometimes being late happens. Deep breath and let it go...

So, yesterday or the day before, I tried out this tutorial I'd found on making these cute coasters:

Ta-da! Aren't they cute? I was still in red, white and blue mode, but I can see myself making all sorts of coasters, especially in cute Christmas material. Because I need another sewing project, you know.

Then, I finished this bag for the LAST of the spring birthday parties!

I just couldn't be bothered to put a name or an initial or any yo-yo's on it. I went with ric rack. Still cute.

Then, I decided that I've been making bags for just about every girl on the block but I still don't have a cute bag (and my summer Vera bag is just too small). So, on Wednesday night, I sort of made up a pattern for a bag, and voila!

It's about 95% perfect--there are a couple of design flaws and a couple of sewing errors, but I do just love it! I love the fabrics--I had ordered this half-yard assortment of Ginger Blossom fabric a couple of months ago, and it had been languishing. I love that I can fit more things into it. My old bag could barely hold my wallet, so this is an improvement. Here is the inside:
I put loads of pockets and a strap (out of focus on the left) to clip my keys to. The opening of the purse is so small (design error) that it's hard to see all the pockets, but I put pockets on both sides of the purse. I'm happy!

Today, I have to make at least one birthday cake. I also want to go to the library. A couple of weeks ago, I dropped several books in the outside return bin, and one of the books is still showing that it's to resolve? Maybe they've found it in a dark corner of the return bin by now. Here's hoping. Of course, the last time I had lost a book, I paid for it ($15.00--ouch!) only to FIND it in the basement some two and a half years later! But I know I had this book in my car, and I've turned it inside out looking...wish me luck.

My first-born turns eight on Sunday. If I have time to get busy with the scanner, maybe I'll post a little walk down memory lane over the weekend. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Another "Last"

Today is the last day of dance class! I'm very happy about this--Wednesdays have been a constant back-and-forth race, and I'm not at all sorry to see this end. I've been looking at the schedule for next year (that still doesn't seem right), and I think the girls will have dance on different days, so that means we'll all be traveling over there on Monday and Tuesday...I don't want to think about it right now! Anyway, today is the last class, dress rehearsal is next week, and the recital is on the 7th. That should be fun.

Here is the apron I made over the weekend:

And here is what I was trying to copy--it's not exact because I was just using things from my stash. I think it turned out cute even though orange and green aren't exactly my favorite color combo. There is some blue in some of the patches--it just doesn't come out in the photo. This is one I'm mailing to the midwest. It's part of a relief effort for tornado victims. I can't remember which apron site talked about it, otherwise I'd link to it...
Last night, the dog woke me at around 5. I guess I should say "this morning" the dog woke me. It wasn't his usual jumping up to paw at me (his way of saying, "I gotta go!"). This time, I kept hearing a bumping sound down at the foot of the bed. I sat up to see the dog sort of falling against the dresser. I had thought that maybe his collar had become stuck on one of the drawer pulls and it was yanking him back down as he tried to get up. But that wasn't it either. He wasn't stuck--I moved him away from the dresser--he kept stumbling around. It was a little freaky--like his hips weren't working anymore and his legs were giving way. I woke Rob and showed him. Then I carried (!) the dog downstairs and put him outside. He seemed to recover. He did his business and then walked (although slowly) into the house and back up the stairs. He seems to be fine now. My guess is that maybe he had slept funny on one of his legs and maybe he was stiff and just couldn't get going too well at first. Thank goodness. I don't think I'm ready to watch him limp around the house like that--it seems too pathetic!

So, the girls jumped out of bed this morning all pumped because it's field day! I have one Silver Star and one Burgundy Burst:
And no, I didn't have any grey or burgundy shirts and I couldn't find any burgundy shirts at Michael's, so I got busy with my freezer paper and exacto!
There's our team spirit! Go Silver Stars! Go Burgundy Bursts!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

We're back!

And boy, am I tired! Our weekend was pretty nice--we actually had seasonally appropriate weather for once! Highlights of the weekend include our annual visit to Dutch Wonderland and a huge Memorial Day, that pretty much sums it up!

Now the girls are back at school. It feels weird for Bobby to be out already. The girls have their Tug-of-War today. Tomorrow is Field day, so the tug-of-war gets the competitive juices flowing! Caroline's last Brownie meeting is on Friday and her birthday party is Saturday morning. Suddenly I'm feeling overwhelmed, like this is sneaking up on me--and now I have a cake to bake! Aaagghh!

And in the really annoying department, our printer has decided to do its own thing. Unfortunately, "its own thing" does not include printing documents when the computer tells it to. I tried just about everything in the troubleshooter yesterday, to no avail. I can unplug the stupid thing and when I re-plug it in, the light still blinks like it's processing a print job (and yet it never prints!). Things like this make me crazy, and I need to print some stuff!

I've been thinking about cutting back on the blogging for the summer. Maybe a twice-weekly update? I need to set the example (this is when being the grown up sucks!) so I can' t very well spend an hour and a half posting and reading (mostly reading and clicking on links and finding new blogs to read...) every day. Sigh.

I have one more apron to show you, maybe tomorrow. I finished it on Saturday and then stayed away from the sewing machine the rest of the weekend. AND I missed the sale at Jo-Ann this weekend (I had a really good coupon). I'm kinda bummed about that, but really, I don't need any more fabric or projects right now. Maybe next week...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Self Portraits are Not Easy

Observe my mad self-portrait skillz:

How do other women get the picture-in-the-mirror to turn out so well? The flash always obscures everything in the shot...
And auto-focus was just not focusing on anything in this one.
Here I am, running toward the camera--snap! Still figuring out that timer.
And finally, the finished product. I bought this pattern in, oh, March? And I've had the fabric for that long, too. It's a knit, and I've never sewn with knits before, and I don't have a serger, so I was all kinds of nervous. Then I decided that I'd never know unless I tried, so here it is. It looks good as long as I maintain perfect posture and don't move. One wrong move and the girls are hanging out for all to see! So...I think I'm going to wait until my mom comes up and have her help me with some alterations. I'd (maybe) wear it out now if I had a cami underneath. Otherwise I don't think I'd risk exposing myself and damaging the eyes of the general public!

Bobby has a teeball game in about half an hour, and the skies keep shifting from sunny to ominous...the coach hasn't emailed, but I'm not excited about taking three kids out to get rained on isn't my idea of fun...

Happy Memorial Day weekend! We have no big plans. Caroline is going to march in a parade with her Brownie troop on Monday, and maybe my s-i-ls will come visit from Jersey...Hope you have a good one.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


For Mother's Day, I made sure I got this book (meaning, I drove around to three bookstores until I found it). I warn you now, even if you've never worn an apron, this book will make you want them. I say "them" instead of "one" because you'll want an apron for baking sweets, an apron for washing the dog, an apron for working in the garden, an apron for ordering get the picture. Each apron is so cute, and the kicker is, there are pattern templates in the back of the book, so you can just make yourself as many as you can stand! (Be warned, though, my local Staples would not copy the templates on their big copier [something about "copyright law" and "lawsuits"--even though you're given permission to copy for personal use in the front of the book] and I had to copy mine on a regular copier and it ended up costing more than the book itself to get two patterns copied...

Anyway, I had signed up to participate in two apron swaps, so I got down to work over the weekend, and here are the results:

I learned that nothing will dull a needle quicker than sewing through four layers of binding, but I had fun. Now, since I know I'll be receiving two aprons in early-to-mid-June, I just have to restrain myself from making any more aprons until then...
Bobby's last day of preschool is today. I feel like that year just flew by! And the girls are down to their last three weeks or so. Their field day is next week, then there's other excitement like dance recital, a birthday, move-up day, and a visit from Grandma all coming up!
I'm still working on our summer plans. I think we're going to join the pool after all, so that will give us an outdoor activity--the pool is going to have later hours on Wednesdays and they'll allow floats in the big pool on Friday nights, so that should be fun for the whole family. I've also started reading Thimble Summer to the crew (thank you, Meredith) to set the stage...I'm also planning on reading The Long Winter (I thought it would be perfect right around mid-August) and then starting the first Harry Potter (at least with Caroline) toward the end of summer (I'm having a "back to Hogwarts" theme for the last week of summer vacay--I know, I'm a nerd). I think three novels is pretty ambitious for this crew. They did manage to sit through Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web over the winter, so I think they can handle it. I learned that they just love Shel Silverstein, so if I throw in a couple of silly poems, too, they'll sit for reading time pretty well.
We are also going to separate the girls this summer. Caroline has been asking for her own room, so we're going to be rearranging furniture after my mom leaves. We'll be losing our guest room (so Caroline will be getting the boot when we have guests), but at least we'll be able to have all the closets back (currently we have dressers in two of the closets). Caitlin is not excited about this change, so it could be interesting...and of course, I'll need to make a quilt for Caroline's new bigger bed.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Quick Thoughts

I have to leave shortly--Caroline and Bobby have dentist appointments this morning. Bobby is already crying that he doesn't want to go to the dentist, and I'll be pulling Caroline from school after only, oh...thirty-five minutes, but at least she gets counted as present for attendance. I wish this dentist allowed us to schedule appointments for after school, but NO! Apparently afternoon hours are for the orthodontic (is that a word?) patients.

Anywhoo, I wanted to get something off my chest. It's regarding comments. Specifically, I want to apologize if I haven't gotten back in touch with you. See, I'm really pumped when people leave comments! And usually I'll go check out your blog and maybe leave a comment there regarding your post. But sometimes I don't feel like I have a comment to make on your particular topic that day. So I don't comment. Sometimes Blogger will show me your email address if I go to your profile, and I'll email you directly. But sometimes there is no email address shown under the profile...and then I feel like a heel. I suppose I could just put a "thanks for the comment" comment on your blog, but I feel silly. Bottom line is that I'm super happy to read your comments, and I really want to invite you all over for a cup of coffee and some chocolate! I will figure out a way that works best for me for conveying that to you, whether it's emailing your or commenting on your blog. Just felt like I was being rude by leaving commenters hanging...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sewing Intervention?

I made that Simplicity top again--the plaids don't totally match at the top, but I figure my hair will hide that.
Finally finished this birthday bag--on Friday night! I think we're down to just one more birthday party to go--one more bag! By now, most of the girls on the block have some variation of this bag. What am I gonna make next year?
And for Mother's Day, I made myself a Cute Skirt. The pattern was really easy, and it only took a couple of hours to make. I can't help but think that it could have been done faster if I had a serger...

I've been spending a lot of time with the sewing machine. A frightening amount of time. These pictures are of things I sewed last week. Yesterday, I finished another skirt for me (and put in my first zipper!), made a skirt for Caroline (which just needs elastic to be finished) and made a top for Caitlin. And all I can think about is getting to the fabric store soon because I need a zipper and some seam binding...
think I have a problem? I think I can allow myself to indulge in an orgy of sewing up until June 17--the day the girls get out of school. Then I'm afraid I'm going to have to pack up the machine for the summer. Hmmm. The question then becomes, "can I finish all the projects I have in my head before then?"
It's ON!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Back to the Grind

And now the holiday's over, no more celebration of ME in this house...sigh. Now it's onto things like booking Caroline's birthday party. I hate "booking Caroline's birthday party"--geez, she's going to be eight. I should be inviting three friends over for cake or something, but no, I'm "booking" the party. Ugh. At a SALON. For MAKEOVERS. Did I mention she's going to be eight? Amazing how it's easier to give in than to insist she have a Little House fantasy, I know, and I'm letting go of it eventually...

I've been meaning to make this phone call for a couple of weeks now, and time keeps slipping by...good thing I called today because this place only had one time left that weekend! I suppose that I need to get the invitations out by the end of the week. Now for the hard part--whittling down the invite list, because more than eight girls costs an additional $19.95 per girl!

My mom has booked her tickets to come up in June, so I'm doing a happy dance. She's going to get to see the girls' recital, and then she's going to watch my crazy brood for a couple of nights while Rob and I go away to celebrate our tenth anniversary. I'm not exactly sure where we're going. First it was Paris, then we woke up and remembered that we hadn't won the lottery, so then it was Cooperstown or somewhere in the Hudson River it's looking like Atlantic City. AC is about 2 hours from here...if we keep this up, we'll end up at a B&B in New Hope! It's a couple of nights away, so it's all good, really. And my mom hasn't been here since Christmas, so I'm really looking forward to her visit.

And now, it's time to start yet another load of laundry.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

To all my blog-land friends and mamas out there, I hope you have had a happy Mother's Day.

I received a wonderful letter from Caroline. Who knew that when the family sat around the table after Thanksgiving dinner, with everyone making their favorite farm animal noise, that we were creating one of Caroline's favorite memories of her mother? To that, I say, "baaaaa!"

I have enjoyed today.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Get Your Sparkle On

It was picture day at dance today. I'm so glad it's over.

Here's our Shirley Temple.
She's only half-way striking a pose. Half of it is her usual attitude.
Caroline's dance is to "Born to be Wild." Nothing like a 7-year-old biker babe!

Happy Wednesday

I should be conserving my energy--I have two rounds of dance recital pictures today, and we all know how sparkly costumes and curling irons make little girls crazy...I've decided to forgo the makeup for the pictures today. It's optional for pictures, so we're opting out. Makeup just adds another layer of insanity.

On to the good stuff! Here is Simplicity 3750. It was pretty easy to make. I did have some problems, but nothing major. It's very difficult to distinguish the "right side" from the "wrong side" of this fabric, and that got me into trouble a couple of times--nothing the old seam ripper can't handle. And the next time I make this (because there will be a next time--I already bought the fabric), I'll make it a little cleaner up front where the elastic casing is at the top. I'm really the only one who will notice on this one.

It's cute! And thankfully, it doesn't look like a maternity top. I was afraid it would be a little too poufy. I don't want to be starting rumors (and just to be clear, no I'm not pregnant).
The little man saw me taking pictures this morning and he wanted to get in on the fun. How could I say no to that adorable face?
And then, while I was making breakfast, I heard a little tapping on the window and saw this little visitor. I'm pretty pleased with the zoom capabilities on my camera--I shot this from the kitchen (about 15 feet away from the window). Birdie flew away before I could move closer. He was tapping on the window. It made me wonder if I should put anything on the glass to stop them from hurting themselves...but it's not like we have birds flying into the windows much. Maybe he wanted some pancakes!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Swap love

Hey, I'm still here. The sewing bug has bitten hard, and I've been working on a top for me. And I have another birthday bag to finish by Saturday...but let me tell you about the goodness! I participated in Sweet Goodness Swaps' April in Paris swap, and boy did I luck out! Cathy was kind enough to send me a box filled with goodies. Of course, I don't have the pictures loaded onto the computer yet--those will probably get up by Thursday. Anyway, check out her blog and her etsy shop!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Happy Friday!

I'm pretty sure I have a thrift shop addiction! There's one store in particular that I only get to about every couple of weeks, and I went today. I walked in and went straight to the housewares/kitchen area and found this treasure! I grabbed it as soon as it was within reach. Happy me! Just look how pretty the snowflakes are.

And here is the shirt I finished yesterday. I'm hoping it will be warm enough to wear this weekend. This week was cool--I had to pull out all the kids' long pants I'd already packed away. So putting them away again is going to be fun...

I'm looking at this picture and because the angle I shot from was weird, the shirt looks lopsided. Oh well--it is actually symmetrical.
This weekend we're off to New Jersey--after a teeball game and birthday party--to celebrate three family birthdays. Then we're back home on Sunday for a soccer game. Let's see..I think there are only three more birthday parties before Caroline's birthday. It's May now, and that means I'd best get to planning her party.
Have a fun weekend!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ideas, anyone?

Summer is looming, and today I pulled out all my "summer files" to look at again. Two years ago, I came up with the idea to "run" my own summer camp for the kids. I gave each week a theme (sports, bugs, beach, etc) and then I planned corresponding activities like a craft, books from the library, a field trip, a movie. I even looked at the school curriculum online so I could incorporate some stuff from the upcoming year. It sounds fabulous. I sound brilliant! Somebody hire me, I'm awesome!

I have never been able to put this plan into action.

I don't know whose kids I thought I'd be working with. I don't know when I was going to switch personalities so that I could calmly do all this stuff. I get stressed about messes. I get stressed when I think there's going to be a mess. I get stressed when I take my kids somewhere and one runs off in one direction, the other runs in the opposite direction--usually towards traffic--and the third needs to go to the bathroom.

I just hate the thought of the kids spending the summer in front of the tv. I feel like they should be learning something--in the sneaky "so fun you-don't-realize-you're-learning" way. And I feel like I need structure to the day, and the kids need a routine. The last two summers, we had our mornings down pretty well. We'd go to the gym for me and then to their swimming lessons. On Wednesdays, we'd hit the free movies, and once a week we'd go to the library. But after lunch, it was all unstructured from there and I'd find myself watching the clock and praying Rob would leave work early. That's not fun for me. I feel like I need to be more engaged with the kids--participating with them instead of tolerating them. I'm their mom, not a sitter! (I know, my oldest is almost eight--I should know this by now. But really, I need a little "me" time--even the school teachers get lunch and recess off! Where's lunch and recess for the moms during the summer?)

So for this summer I'm drawing up my schedule again, but I'm trying to put a little more Amanda into it, if you get my drift. I'm going to try to put in things like family art night. I'm going to have a stern talk with myself about messes. I'm going to invite the kids into the kitchen instead of shooing them away while I'm cooking.

So, after that long rant/confessional, I'm wondering--how do you spend the summer with your kids? Do you have some tried-and-true things that they (and you) enjoy?