Monday, December 22, 2008

Gifts and the Jolly Old Elf

A few more handmade gifts. I made my Mom and my Aunt a set of handmade cards. I think this is the third year that I've given cards as gifts and they have been a big hit. It's usually a mix of happy birthday and thank you cards with a blank one or a get well or something thrown in. I have more "paper arts" supplies than I can shake a stick at, but no scrapbooks for my girls. I like the relative instant gratification of cards - my scrapbook pages were taking too much time.

This is a gift basket that already went next door to our neighbor. I am a pack rat, but every once in a while it pays off. This basket has been around for years (and years), so this year I filled it with a jar of homemade blueberry jam, a set of note cards that I had printed at Shutterfly with pictures that I took of his garden this summer, and to round it out, chocolate. What's a gift basket without chocolate?

And then.....

We are way behind this year. In past years we have been so prompt as to visit Santa the week after Thanksgiving. This year we dashed to the mall this evening. There was a lot more time invested in getting there and back than there was sitting on the fellow's lap, but all was good. No more Sarah glued to the mall floor in fear as she did two years ago. They wore the outfits I made, although Sarah's on her second top. I had the brilliant idea to wash her first white shirt with our orange couch cushion covers. Her shirt came out a marvelous shade of dingy, dirty blech. I was thrilled. And the second shirt is no masterpiece - I was having a lot of issues which I later found out stemmed from me not resetting my thread tension after finishing the free motion quilting on the third and final baby quilt of the year. Whoops. The headbands were a new addition to the outfits today. Just a length of ribbon with the ends sewn down and a strip of elastic sewn to each end. I think they were a nice addition.

And with all that's going on, how could one not crash on the car ride home?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas outfits

To say that I'm running behind in terms of Christmas preparations this year would be an understatement. To illustrate this point, I will tell you that Saturday morning Jim and I plan to go Christmas shopping for the girls while my parents watch them. It's just been that kind of season. No weekends at home, without obligations between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a house in disarray and, I think, me still getting use to the demands of having a child in school full time (and a school that requires lost of parental involvement). So, I have forgone the idea of Christmas pictures like I always take the girls for, as well as the Christmas dress that I always get them - and that's just the tip of the ice berg. I did, however, manage to get these outfits made for them, which I think will be cute for them to wear together to go see Santa, if that doesn't get scratched from the list as well.

The skirts are from the Oliver & S Lazy Days pattern, which can be found here. The really do whip up in a jiffy. I read the directions over a few times before beginning, and was really stumped as to how the whole ribbon hem was actually going to work, being that I learn by doing more so than reading. Once I dove in though, it all worked itself out. I will say that when it comes to attaching the ribbon to the skirt (step 1 in "sewing the ribbon hem"), the front side of the ribbon should face out at you. That tripped me up a bit and I didn't want it to end up sewn on backwards. The shirts were inspired by my friend Molly, who has been whipping up some cute ones of her own. I cut out the tree and a package from the print in the skirt and appliqued it to the shirts, then added star buttons to the tree tops and ribbon bows to the packages.
The skirts were such a hit that replicas were requested for some dolls and I was able to get two of those made in record speed. I even had some narrower red and white polka dot ribbon to use on the doll versions.

And someone else was feeling crafty today as well. Here she is modeling her Christmas rabbit ears. The word on the street is that she set out to make hearts in a chain, but the scissors got away from her. I love how she turned her oops into something new. I now posses my very own pair now as well. They were given to me as an apology for pinching her sister and then throwing a fit over getting busted. I'm not sure Sarah got any though.

So school's out, family comes tomorrow and the festivities begin. I've still got a crafting "to do" list that I will chip away at until Santa comes knocking and then hopefully I'll just keep on crafting into the new year so that maybe Christmas won't take me by such a surprise next year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Coming down the pipleline

Thankfully, some gifts are starting to materialize (no pun intended) at my house. I have been slow to get into the Christmas spirit this year. I don't know why. Perhaps it's the chaos of the house or just the chaos of life. Who knows. But now that some of the things on my to-do list are getting done, I'm feeling a little better. These little jobbies, for lack of a more accurate description are for several people on our list. I made my first one a week ago as a birthday present and promptly wrapped it and gave it away before remembering to photograph it. I hate when that happens. Anyhow, I had seen several ideas for pencil rolls and the likes out there and had planned on jiggering something of the like up for my nephew for Christmas. When I needed a birthday gift stat, I decided it would be a good time to find a tutorial and try it out. And with seven done now, I think I've found one that is working quite well for me. The tutorial can be found here, at One Red Robin.

I've got them all assembled, and am personalizing them on a "it's time to give this gift" basis. The one on top is for Rachel's 7th grade buddy, whom she will be exchanging gifts with tomorrow. Somehow, I managed to embroider her name in a color that blends perfectly into the fabric. Oops. But she's only in 7th grade, so perhaps her eye sight is much sharper than mine. On a side note, I was trying to read the ingredients in some soup at the grocery store the other day when I found myself holding the container out, away from my eyes. When did that happen?!? I'm blaming it on the store's lighting.

So, for the out of elementary school set I'm putting a journal and some fun pens and pencils in these. For the younger ones, I've put sketch books and colored pencils. I'm working on my last one now, for Sarah and instead of a ribbon to tie it shut, I'm using elastic and a button on the front. Hopefully these will be well received. They are really quite easy to make and I can get one done, start to finish in about an hour (when I don't do stupid things like completely forget how to use my sewing machine), so they are time friendly too.

I've made the girls Christmas skirts and embellished tops to match, but they haven't been worn yet. Rachel is wearing hers tomorrow for their Holiday Festival and Christmas party, so hopefully I'll get some good pictures of her in it. If I do, I'll share. Now back to the gift making.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Your Crafting IQ

Do you want to know what yours is? Martha Stewart can help you find out, just by clicking here and taking a ten question quiz. I must say that I don't often score 100% on tests, but on this one, I did. Crafting must be my calling. I've got a multitude of projects going on and will share soon. Some of it might even be finished in time to give it to the recipients for Christmas - imagine that.

I also realized that I needed to update my header, as it was no longer Halloween or Thanksgiving. So for now, a little one with, perhaps, visions of sugar plums dancing in her head.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Three things, in chronological order....

1. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. We did, thanks to the generous hospitality of the Smiths, who let us join their extended family for an incredibly yummy dinner. Here are two of the cutest guys there. No offense to the other guys that were there, but I'm married to the one on the right and the other little guy is just too cute for words, especially when he says my name!

2. Saturday I got to celebrate the marriage of a very good friend of mine, who deserved to find Mr. Right. Congratulations to Kathy and Erik - I am so very happy for you!!

3. And I think I'll call this one, "You might be a redneck if.....your kitchen has no floor.". Because mine doesn't. Funny, that I'm still calling this room a kitchen. I wouldn't dare show you where I am preparing our meals, that's actually more embarrassing than this. If you picture a dining room with two refrigerators, a wall oven sitting on the floor, a regular oven just hanging out, a kitchen sink sitting in its cabinet, but not attached to anything else, a table in the middle of the room and lots of stuff towering everywhere, you might get a small idea of how things look, but believe me, it's worse than you're picturing.

And, an explanation on why I'm writing in bold. My 90 year old Grandpa is reading my blog and would like to be able to read it a bit more easily. If my 90 year old Grandpa is reading blogs, I think it's my obligation to help him out a bit. Today he even called me and used "blog" in our conversation more than twice, - how cool is he? So here's a shout out to you, Grandpa! Hey!!
As soon as I give Amy a call and go get my sewing table (which I took for us to use on Thanksgiving), I will be back to sewing. So much to do, so little time. I am already sadly scratching ideas for handmade gifts and really not sure when I might do any shopping. Time for the Christmas panic.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

This is what I imagine a few turkeys may have looked like in the not so distant past. This is our little turkey last Thursday, when her preschool put on a Thanksgiving program. She is "Sister Helpful", a pilgrim, if you couldn't tell. She is a sister helpful too - always anxious to "help" me with a task I'm trying to get done. Her way usually takes longer, is messier, and means more clean up for me, and it's hard for me to let go and let her help, but it's so sweet that she does want to help me. She got her very own mop the other day so that we could mop together.

The preschool program was very sweet and went really well considering all the opportunities for things to go very wrong. I was nervous about Sarah standing up in front of people, as she's not been a big fan of things like the children's choir at our church, but she did great. Lots of big smiles and cute shoulder shrugs, very little nose picking and she only lifted her dress up twice. That sounds like a success to me!

We are fortunate to have friends who have invited us to join their big family celebration today. As you might imagine, not a lot of cooking is taking place at our house right now and if I can't microwave it or cook it in a toaster oven, it's not an option. Even boiling water right now would be a chore! I know the day will be filled with kids, food, friends, family and good times though, and I'm looking forward to it. I am so thankful for all that my family and I have been blessed with, especially our beautiful, healthy, smart, funny girls. Happy Thanksgiving.

Progress on all fronts

Baby B's quilt is done. I know it, looks very similar to the quilt I just showed you a week or so ago, but really, it's another one. Experience is definitely on my side. I quilted this one so much more quickly and it seemed easier and turned out better. The quilt is backed in 100% flannel so the babies have something soft to snuggle on. I ran out of some of the fabrics used in the original, so there are some new introductions in this one. And the binding. Making the binding for the first quilt took me two nights and hours. The bias fairies were not on my side, but little did I know that they were still looking out for me. I had enough left over from the first quilt to do this one as well, with just 6.25" left over. Yes, I measured, because I felt so lucky! So, one more baby quilt to get done before Christmas and yes, it will look like the first two because I cut out a whole bunch of strips and have enough left. Then I'm hoping to quilt the top that Rachel made this summer and give the completed quilt to her for Christmas. I'm thinking pinwheel quilts for next Christmas - the flannel sheets are already on the beds and I'm still looking at piles of pinwheels.

And....the kitchen. Here's with and without cabinets (and with the hubby). Apparently the kitchen was red at some point - almost the exact same red that we painted our exterior doors.

The wall that separated the two rooms is gone. That new lumber to the right of the windows is where it use to be, so we've doubled the length of our kitchen, if you can call it a kitchen right now.

Here's the view above. This beam, running horizontally, is what replaced the wall. Jim and his brother and nephew tackled that the beginning of the week. They also saved us big bucks by doing it themselves!

Our refrigerator use to sit in this recess (where the broom is), but we're bringing it forward and will reclaim that space on the other side of the room, doubling the width of Sarah's closet. That's a project for after the kitchen though.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One down, two to go

Well, Baby A's quilt is done. Or, who knows, maybe it's Baby B's. What that really means is that I need to get moving on the second one. And then my niece's. The binding on this took as long as it did to quilt, or at least it seemed that way to me. My bobbin wouldn't cooperate, I was having trouble joining my bias strips and all in all, the karma just wasn't there. Even now that it's on, it's a bit wonky, but I'm over it. The wonkiness will go well with the fact that it's my first free motion quilted quilt and I hit a few bumps in the road as I went along. I am happy with how it turned out, just wish it was a bit neater, as it's a gift.

The photos aren't stellar, but I was running out of sunlight and am delivering the quilt tomorrow morning, so I took what I could get. I kind of like the warm glow and the shadows though - keeps you from seeing all my mistakes too clearly.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Treasure revealed

Well unfortunately, it seems like Jim is beating me with his work in progress. It has taken me what seems like hours just to make the binding for the baby quilt. My bobbin refused to act nicely, I wasn't joining my bias strips together properly, the strips all ended at the wrong angle and who knows what else was going wrong, but it was all wrong, wrong wrong. Meanwhile, Jim has cut back the dining room wall to make a wider entrance into our kitchen. Thankfully, this is not our actually kitchen, but just the room we will be expanding into. The actual kitchen is on the other side of that plaster and lath wall on the left. Some day soon that wall will be gone. I think we've settled on a cabinet maker as well, so things are falling into place. That is also our new oven in the lower left hand corner. I am soooo excited about it! The word from the sales guy is that it will bake FOUR sheets of cookies evenly at once with "pure convection". Imagine that. And...the racks are on ball bearings so they roll out easy peasy. Of course, it will probably take us three months just to learn how to turn the thing on.

So this remodeling thing.....I am not in love with the process, and it is all too familiar. I long for the day when we are not tearing our house apart. Can you see all that chalky, dusty stuff on the floor of the messy room? That also spreads throughout the dining room, living room, kitchen and Rachel's room. I'm surprised we're not tasting grit in our food yet! But, sometimes demolition brings about pleasant surprises, like this wallpaper that has been revealed. At some point, someone covered it up with drywall, so it's just been hiding back there waiting to be revealed once again. The pattern designer in me got excited about this little discovery.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Works in Progress

There are two WIPs going on at our house right now. Jim's got one and so I do. Mine will be done first, I'm pretty sure. I had to go full speed ahead on this baby quilt on Friday night and Saturday, as the shower was Sunday afternoon. As it was, I had to give the quilt without any binding on it and then take it back with me. I already know what the binding will be (the fabric at the center of each square), but was running out, so hopefully Hobby Lobby will have some this morning. Otherwise it will be on to plan B, which currently does not exist. This was my first attempt at free motion quilting a quilt of any size and only my second attempt at trying it at all. The first time being the small sample the other day. I have to say, it is much easier to maneuver a 10" square around and get results that you are happy with than a 40" square. I am definitely still a beginner with much to learn, but I was relatively happy with the results. Tension seems to be more important than I'd have thought, and my speed seems to effect how the back looks. I opted for a variegated pink thread for the top and pale pink for the solid back, hoping that the variegation's would blend into the red, but that was not the case, so the quilting is VERY visible in places. And, I do hope that it softens up after it goes through the wash, because right now it is just shy of standing on its own. Not exactly baby soft. Once this one is done I've got to keep on keeping on, with one for the other twin and one for my niece who never got a welcome to the world present this summer.

And Jim's work in progress.....say goodbye to the room that has been not much of anything to us thus far. I like to call it the "un-room". It is right off the dining room and between the kitchen and a bedroom. One day, hopefully soon, the wall that separates it from the kitchen will be gone and our kitchen will double in length. Oddly enough, we are having a hard time getting contractors to get back to us with quotes. I thought that in these "though economic times" they would be happy for work. Guess not. Saturday Jim tore out all the drywall that was covering plaster and lath. Sunday that plaster and lath was ripped out. Now it's an odd shell of a room with more destruction and demolition to look forward to. Don't look for lots of holiday baking here - I think Publix will be taking care of that for us this year.

So no shortage of things for either of us to do right now. Good thing this time of year isn't busy ; )

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Look Mom, no feed dogs!

I'm playing a bit of hookie this morning. I dropped Rachel off at school, then Sarah at preschool and instead of heading to the Y, grocery shopping, or doing anything else, I headed home and did some sewing. I've got a baby shower on Sunday (for twins) and had ideas of two baby quilts. As it stands right now, I will be lucky to give one quilt, almost finished. Is it tacky to give an unfinished gift and then take it back to finish? I hope the Momma doesn't think so! So I got all the squares done for the first quilt and can't go any further until I hit the fabric store, so I got a wild hair and decided that I'd give free motion quilting a twirl for the first time. I know not what I do, but I was pretty excited. This is a leftover square from another baby gift, so I decided to practice on it. While there is no doubt a learning curve, I think that I actually get the idea of it and may try it on one of the quilts for Sunday (if I get that far). I can see the benefits of using a thread that will blend with as much of the top as possible. The quilting on this, with the white thread that was already in my machine, looks much better on the yellow fabrics, versus the red ones. I'm pretty excited about the possibilities I can now start to explore and the idea of making a quilt and going beyond stitching in the ditch is pretty darn exciting too! But first....I need to go clean the bathrooms before I have to go get Sarah.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Now go eat some candy!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bessy sure is dressy

While Rachel was on Fall Break, I took the girls up to visit my parents. One exciting aspect of the trip was learning just a smidgen more about the castle I mentioned back here. I stopped at a gas station near by to inquire and was told by the woman working there that she had not lived in the area long, but had been told that an elderly woman in her 80's lives there by herself now. She and her husband had built the place a long time ago, before any of the other houses in the area had been built and that it was nothing but a residence. Curious. I was, in fact, so curious that I even found an overheard view of it on google. Now if I could just get its whole life history.

When the girls and I arrived at my parents, I was excited to see that Dressy Bessy had found her way out of their attic and into the library, where all the toys are. Bessy and a tiny piano were new additions. Rachel was mainly interested in the piano and in retrospect, I think I was the only one really thrilled about seeing Bessy again. I loved this doll. You could do so much with her! Did you have a Dressy Bessy? Or her "brother", Dapper Dan? I have asked so many people that question and gotten strange looks from them. How could a child of the 70's not have had one is what I want to know!

I'm thinking that if I use what I learned from the Black Apple tutorial for a basic doll, and also gave Bessy a good study, I could come up with a cool new version that might make a good Christmas gift for one or two of my nieces. Of course, I would either have to make some alterations or finally learn now to put a zipper in. Wouldn't she be cute with a little heart tucked into that zippered pocket? And I guess, unless I stumble upon an eyelet setter soon, I would have to do something different for the lace up vest, but you get the idea. I'll put it on my to do list. Right there with the two quilts that I was going to have done for when it turned cold (oops...that would be right now), baby quilts for twin girls due some time in December, a quilt for our newest niece and all the other ideas for Christmas rumbling around in my head. Seriously. I have got to find a way to get more time!

I've been putting the twirly skirt tutorial to good use, but the pictures are on Jim's computer, which is threatening to die (and take YEARS worth of family photos with it), so I am trying to remain calm and just trust that all will be well with that.

On a completely different subject, while I was sitting here at the computer, not too long ago, I kept hearing a weird noise. I would say (and did) that it almost sounded like an owl. And it was very close to where I was sitting, albeit outside. I finally convinced Jim to brave the cold with me to investigate. By the time we got out behind the house, it had moved, but sure enough, we found it in a tree behind our neighbor's house. I wanted to stay outside and watch and listen longer, but Jim declared it too cold and also said that you have to be careful about shining bright lights at people's homes late at night. Really? Still, it was pretty cool.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I've been tagged

Well, something has got to get me back to posting, so I figured I'd accept Carrie's tag and answer the meme that she sent me.

10 Years ago I:
1. I honestly cannot remember ten years ago!!
2. Was working at Shaw Rugs
3. Was a DINK
4. Traveled to the Netherlands with Jim and good friends (I think...I might be off by a year on this)
5. Had three cats and a dog

5 things on today's "to do" list:
1. Get Rachel started on her map project for school
2. Find my stash of iron on paper that can go through the printer
3. Finish my reading for tomorrow's Bible study
4. Pick up the house (ha!)
5. Cut out some more twirly skirt material

5 snacks I enjoy:
1. Kettle corn
2. Chocolate
3. Salt and Vinegar potato chips
4. Ice cream with lots of "stuff" in it
5. Nuts

5 places I have lived:
1. Chattanooga, TN
2. Cartersville, GA
3. Athens, GA
4. Ypsilanti, MI
5. Dearborn, MI

5 jobs I have had:
1. Commercial Carpet Designer
2. Residential Rug Designer
3. Carpet & Rug Designer
4. Movie Theater Employee
5. Slide Librarian Assistant

5 people I tag: (I'm short two)
1. Amy
2. Angela
3. Heather

I really do have some pictures to share, and will do so soon, I promise! (I think)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hello, I'm sorry, I lost myself

Apparently I thought I was Martha Stewart or Bree Van De Kamp. Rachel had snack duty at school this past week and while my blog has not seen any action as of late, my kitchen feels like it has been working overtime. For some reason, I could not leave well enough alone and just go to Sam's and buy five big boxes of five different things and call it a week. No, I felt like I had to make as much as possible despite the fact that other kids have brought pretzels, raisins, "fruit" snacks and crackers. For Monday I made Chex mix, omitting all nuts and adding Cheerios and pretzels instead. Tuesday was Rice Krispie treats. I had an important dinner date with a good friend on Tues. night so the kids had to settle for cheese crackers on Wednesday, but I made up for taking it easy by making the Sneaky Chef's Chocolate Chip Cookies. Not only did I make these, but I made a triple batch and made them in Wilton pans that enabled me to turn them into giant cookie lollipops. I cannot tell you how long this took, but I'm pretty sure it was all afternoon. I was nervous about sending these for the kids (although it didn't stop me from doing it) because they are made with very little sugar compared to normal cookies and they use oats, wheat germ, whole wheat flour and white bean puree as well as the usual ingredients. Rachel reported that they were a hit with most of the kids though, so I was happy (and tired). For Friday I sent fall cupcakes. Those Hershey Kiss/mini Nilla wafer creations are supposed to be acorns. A link from the Hello, Cupcake! blog took me to this site and I couldn't resist giving them a try after finding a box of the mini Nilla wafers at Dollar Tree. I skipped the walnuts around the edge in light of nut allergies and had to decorate two with just fall sprinkles to accommodate the two chocolate allergies in her class. Imagine, allergic to chocolate! Imagine, the pounds I could shed! What a cruel allergy though. We'll take the Brazil nut allergy at our house over just about any other. I guess a radish allergy wouldn't be too bad either. Anyhow, snack duty is over until 2009 rolls around. The other kindergarten class takes a day at a time. While it doesn't eat up a whole week, it is nice to only have to worry about it twice a year. Time to ditch the kitchen and hook up with my sewing machine again!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Facing the music....or in this case, the fabric

Well, I did it. After seeing this Wee Wonderfuls post the other day, I got inspired. A comment on Wee Wonderfuls led me to this tutorial and got me all itchy to tackle my own stash. I got all...or at least most, of my fabric out of boxes and onto a bookshelf. There wasn't room for the seven boxes that have upholstery fabric in them, or all the small pieces of yardage and fat quarters, or all the cool sheets waiting to be turned into something, but at least I can see the majority of what I have. Biggest surprise so far....Jim hasn't commented on the bookshelf full of fabric yet. Of course, I haven't said "I need to go buy some fabric." to him yet either. I became a little worried that the girls might think I'd just set up a fabric buffet for them, but so far all Rachel has said was "Is this all your fabric? Cool.". And Sarah has left it alone (miracle of miracles)! The space where the bookshelf is has room above it for about four more shelves, so I'd eventually like to have storage above it, or get a taller shelf so that everything can finally live together. I do think this is going to help me immensely when picking out fabrics for projects though. I found a few more surprises as well - like a yard of baby blue animal print. What the? And while I look at all this fabric, I can honestly say that I am lacking in areas. Three piles of blue and yet not enough of the right blues. And not enough apple green or the right orange. I "need" more good browns as well. At least now I have an idea of what I should be keeping my eye out for when I go wandering through fabric stores.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


The weather has started to cool here, which means it's only 80 now instead of 90, but what a difference ten degrees can make! Mornings are cooler, the air is starting to feel crisper and I am itching to call summer quits and say hello to fall! I think that making the pumpkin cupcakes last week made me officially over summer. Then magazines started coming in that scream fall and I got a new pair of shoes in the perfect fall color. Sarah and I took a walk this afternoon and she picked up some acorns. The signs are all pointing that way and I'm ready! Of course fall means Christmas is all the closer and once again I will be in the midst of gift making panic. Be careful what I wish for, I guess.

I should keep that in mind as my project for tonight is organizing all my fabric. I'm trying to get it all out in the open so that I can see what I have, after years of storing it in boxes. I'm not sure I actually have room to have it all out and about and my other fear is that Jim will then know how much fabric I actually have. But it's true, isn't can never have too much fabric. Of course I am wondering what possessed me to buy some of the things I've seen tonight. Several deep, brownish reds in patterns that look like I was heading towards something Colonial. And just a minute ago, a yard of orange fabric with seems mottled, but actually has cats all over it. Hmmm. But see, if I wasn't organizing it, I wouldn't know I had it. Perhaps I ought to start a pile to share with others. I guess I'll start parting with the questionable ones when I run out of space for the desirables.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fairy tale festivities

Today was the Fairy Tale Festival at Rachel's school. The kindergartners dress as a character from a fairy tale or nursery rhyme and have an action packed day full of fun. When I first asked Rachel what she wanted to be, she said Cinderella. Since part of their homework this week was supposed to be working on their costumes, I continually tried to get her to be something that we could make, but she wasn't buying it and the teacher said that there was no need to reinvent the wheel if we already had a costume, so Cinderella she was. In the morning they paraded through the school in their costumes and had story time with a special guest - Mother Goose.

After story time the 7th. grade buddies performed fairy tale plays in French and Spanish for the Kindergartners. The French class did Sleeping Beauty and the Spanish class did Snow White. The girls seemed most fascinated by the fact that some of the guys wore dresses and played the parts of girls.

In the afternoon, the 7th graders hosted games for all their buddies (and siblings that happened along). The kids got candy along the way and also earned pennies that they got to spend in their class store, buying prizes that parents had sent in. I was at Dollar Tree last night buying prizes after coming to the realization in the afternoon that I had carried the bag of prizes sitting by the door since Tuesday night down to the curb with our recycling on Wednesday morning. That has to be where the bag disappeared to. Brilliant. That's what I get for being prepared ahead of time.

And after games, what could be better than filling up on treats before it's time to go home? Everyone was to bring snacks that somehow related to a fairy tale or nursery rhyme. There were some really cute ideas....Rice Krispie treats rolled into balls and colored green for the Princess and the Pea, "poison" caramel apples, leaf cookies that came off Jack's beanstalk and some of the pumpkins that were hanging around when Cinderella's fairy godmother needed a pumpkin to turn into a carriage. I got the idea from Hello, Cupcake! which is a really fun book. They also have a blog and a flickr group with lots of great ideas. I also really liked the recipe for the cupcakes that's in the book. It starts with a basic cake mix, but uses buttermilk in place of water and calls for an extra egg. Jim even commented on how yummy the cake was. And he should know because last night I think he popped more than a couple of these little bite-sized guys into his mouth.

I also really liked the recipe for the cupcakes that's in the book. It starts with a basic cake mix, but uses buttermilk in place of water and calls for an extra egg. Jim even commented on how yummy the cake was. And he should know because last night I think he popped more than a couple of these little bite-sized guys into his mouth.

As usual, you can get a look at more photos from the day over on flickr.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

We caught the magic

While we didn't intend to hit two of the areas bigger attractions this weekend, we did. Friday Sarah and I accompanied Rachel and her classmates on their first field trip to Rock City. I love that the teachers let younger siblings come along! We don't get credit towards our volunteer hours if we bring siblings, but we still get to go.

The kids are learning about Fairy Tales, so they toured Rock City with their 7th grade buddies and at the end, their buddies had to read them all the fairy tales in Mother Goose Village. When I was in elementary school, I traveled to Chattanooga with my cousin and grandparents for several years to attend a church camp at Covenant College. As part of our trip, we always visited Rock City. I especially remember the magic of Mother Goose Village, which now, with all its black lights and fairy tale vignettes, is actually a good bit freaky. You can read more about Rock City here. I will spare you the photos of gnomes in black light.

Sarah was a trooper during the long walk, although she knew I had her lunch box in my backpack, so she was hungry the whole time and let me (and most everyone else on the trip) know about it often. The girl can't stand to be in the company of an unopened lunch box. It doesn't matter if it's 8:15 AM and she just ate seven pancakes. If there's a lunch box about, she's hungry. Here she is taking a break along our walk. Sitting on, what would you expect at Rock!

After the field trip we returned to the school and helped set up everything for the kids and their buddies to make gingerbread houses. Sarah was such a helper! She more than willingly helped open some of the over 40 cans of vanilla icing that we had to put out. She gladly helped distribute graham crackers and she very graciously taste tested some of the hard candies for Rachel's teacher. And while all those tasks have something that you might imagine lured Sarah to them, she also helped set the tables with spoons to spread the icing with, threw trash out and was just a great helper. Her reward was that she and some other younger siblings also got to make gingerbread houses. It is safe to say that a good time was had by all. I even overheard one 7th grade boy exclaim, "This is the most fun I've ever had at school!".

That was just the beginning of our weekend though, because on Saturday we surprised Jim by taking him to Lake Winne to celebrate his birthday. I had told the girls that we would take Daddy to a park, but did not elaborate, since Sarah had already told him at least three times in the previous week that we were giving him a camera for his birthday (which we were). Even when she gave him his gift she said something to the effect of "Open it, it's a camera!".

We had a great day at Lake Winne and the kids hit a lot of rides. They were more adventurous than I would have anticipated, but when I think about it, I shouldn't really be surprised. The park is the perfect size for our family right now and I thought of it as phase one in contemplating a trip to Disney. One of Sarah's favorite rides as this giant slide. She went down it no less than five times, I believe.

Rachel, apparently, loves to be swung in circles, really fast (this should come as no surprise to me), as she rode the Matterhorn two times back to back. Once with Jim and when he bowed out for a second trip, she did it by herself.

Here's a few more pictures from the day, ending with one tired little girl going around and around in a boat. Actually, that wasn't Sarah's last ride. Rachel wanted to end with a ride on the Ferris Wheel with her Dad and Sarah chose the bumble bees and asked me to ride along with her. I never gave a second thought to hopping on a kiddie ride with her, but unlike Rachel, apparently I am not meant to be swung around in any type of circle, whether it be going at top speed or a snails pace. Those darn bees made one circle and I knew I was in trouble. I had to spend the whole ride staring at the floor of the ride, careful not to catch a glimpse of anything moving past me. Thankfully that was how our day ended because I was done for after that. Pathetic, I know. You can see some addidtional pictures over on flickr as well.

The end.