Blogger’s Quilt Festival Fall 2011

Welcome to my Fall 2011 Blogger’s Quilt Festival entry!  I’m excited to be participating in Amy’s Blogger’s Quilt Festival again.
This is the second quilt I’ve finished this year and my first blog entry of the year.  After making four quilts in less than a month last year for Christmas, I thought I’d take a break.  It turned out to be a little longer than I thought.  But I’m feeling creative again and this quilt is a little bit of a triumph for me.
I bought this fabric with my mom in mind.  She saw some other red and turquoise fabric that she liked so I thought I would get this bundle and create a quilt for her for Christmas.  Unfortunately I made a huge mistake in my calculations and didn’t half even half as much as I thought.  I had my squares all cut out and threw them in a drawer.  I was so upset with myself.  
About a month ago, I was working on another project and for some reason I had this fabric sitting on the table.  All of a sudden I knew how to put them together to make a big enough baby quilt for a friend who had just had a little girl.  I’m so happy that I was able to figure out a way to use these beautiful fabrics and turn my mistake into a success (to me anyway).
The backing is a super soft flannel that I found at Hancock’s and I’m so glad that it coordinated well.  I seemed to have a hard time finding anything that would go with these aqua colors.
The pictures are not great because I finished this quilt with minutes to spare before heading over to my friend’s house with dinner and this as a gift.  I was getting ready to take it outside for a quick photo shoot when it started thundering and raining.  So, indoors it was.  With my kids trying to help.  In the last photo, my son took the picture while I held it up, but I love how my daughter was in the frame, taking a picture with her camera too! 
This quilt was the first quilt that I sewed the binding on with the machine on both sides.  I usually hand sew the binding and I really like that process, but did I mention I finished with minutes to spare?  

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my quilt.  Hopefully I’ll have more to show soon with a few other quilts, but I won’t be working so frantically close to Christmas this year!

Candy Bargain

I suspect that after tomorrow night, I won’t hear a conversation like this.  I trust that Jack will have plenty of his own candy.

Casey had some candy that Jack wanted a couple days ago and I heard him say, “Casey…Did you know candy gives you sugar bugs?  All that candy is going to give you a lot of sugar bugs.  Sugar bugs make your teeth rot.  You don’t want your teeth to rot, do you?  Do you want to give that piece to me so you don’t get the sugar bugs?  Isn’t that a good idea?”

Someone has his dad’s persuasive side!

Watching Videos in the Car

Ever since we’ve gotten our minivan, videos have been playing in the DVD player wherever we go.  At times it has seemed a little ridiculous.  I remember a Manic Mommies episode that I listened to where the Manic Mommies thought it was a bit much to have it on for the 5 minute ride to school.  I agree.  I think I heard that episode before I had the DVD system built into my car but even now I still agree.  And I still have it on for the 5 minute drive to school.

I’ve always justified having it on by saying that my kids don’t really watch that much tv at home and a little bit in the car will be fine.  We usually get our videos at the library and the kids like to pick out new ones every week or two.

I’ve read blogs or books or articles about the how the car is a good time to talk to your kids because you have their undivided attention.  That’s probably true.  When Jack gets in the car and there is a video on, he puts the headphones on and you’ve lost him.  But since I’m not working and get to spend all day with my kids I don’t really need their attention in the car.

In the past I’ve tried turning the video player off as a punishment.  I thought maybe that if they got punished enough, it would wean them off the videos.  But usually it was just one child who was in trouble and then I got cries of, “It’s not fair!”  I also didn’t really use this punishment enough for any weaning to occur.  Then I would forget my powerful punishment tool for awhile because I don’t really have the need to discipline them a lot in the car anyway.

A few weeks ago, Pat mentioned that he is always impressed that the channel is never changed from what we left it on the night before.  Meaning we haven’t watched any shows (downstairs) all day.  (Or we watched something that was DVRed and didn’t need to change the channel…but let’s just say we didn’t turn the tv on.  Because we really don’t turn it on that much.)  Pat also thought that maybe we didn’t need to have the DVD player running in the car all the time.  I told him I agreed but that I didn’t think it was contributing to too much tv and I wasn’t ready for the war that might start if we started turning it off.

Recently though, the DVD player isn’t the star player anymore…it’s on the bench, playing second string.  It will be Jack’s turn and he’ll say he doesn’t want anything right then.  So it will be off for a few days and then he’ll finally ask for something and it will go back on.  On one of these days when it was off, we were driving around somewhere with the whole family in the van.  At one point, Jack was talking to me, Casey was talking to me and Pat was trying to have a conversation with me.  I was going crazy and I wasn’t even driving.  I said, “This is the reason I have the DVD player on all the time!”

Once upon a time when I was in the Navy and standing watch, I used to have headphones on with different people in each ear and people standing behind me talking to me and I could listen to it all and comprehend it and then respond to all those people.  But when two of those people are saying, “Mommy…mommy, mommy…mommy!, mommy!” or whining or crying or repeating themselves it gets to me a little.

So the real reason I don’t mind having the DVD player running is because the car is my quiet time!  I buckle everyone in, tune the radio to what I want to hear (I’m an AM radio dork usually), pay attention to the road and where I’m going and get there without any stress.  The kids watch a few minutes of a show and we’re all happy when we get to our destination.  Maybe I could even say the DVD player is a  safety mechanism…the less I’m trying to arbitrate bickering and answering the same question over and over, the more I’m concentrating on driving.  So yeah…it’s a safety device.  Sort of.  But really, I just enjoy my quiet time!


Casey’s Official Big Girl Moment

She’s three years old and can ride her bike without training wheels.  She’s potty trained.  She’s going to school.  I think those all pretty much qualify her as a big girl.  But whenever anyone looks at her and says, “You’re getting so big Casey!” she tells them, “I got a new carseat!”  Besides a few pairs of her shoes, I don’t think she’s ever been as enthusiastic about something.

It’s a booster seat with a high back (that can be removed some day) and you could say it’s Casey’s prized possession.  A couple weeks ago when Pat put her in the car seat he deemed her too big for it and said she needed a new one.  Casey didn’t need any convincing so we headed out to the store to get one.

She’s very happy to have a little more freedom of movement with the shoulder belt instead of the five point harness.  She was unbuckling the top of the old one anyway.  She’s also happy with the cupholders on both sides which recede into the base if she’s not using them.  And the best part is that she can unbuckle herself when it’s time to get out although we’ve had a few discussions about her not pushing the eject button too early.  

I think Casey has mentioned it to at least 15 people that she got a new carseat…family friends, neighbors, teachers at school.  The old carseats have been relegated to the attic for now although they’ll eventually be purged before we move again.  It’s a big change from the first three months of her life when it was more likely than not that she was going to cry for the duration of the carride!

Easy Pumpkin Carving

I found an app last week from Parents Magazine for pumpkin carving.  I tried it out by myself one night and “carved” a few pumpkins and then when Pat was out of town on Saturday I let the kids play with it.  They love the virtual pumpkin carving and keep asking to do it over and over again.  We’ve replaced our song time, which has really turned into YouTube time, with pumpkin carving.  Jack’s goal is always make the scariest pumpkins he can.  Casey just enjoys playing with the iPad like she’s been doing it for years.  She’s so funny when she scrolls around and picks out her pumpkin parts.

This is my kind of carving…no mess to clean up, no rotting pumpkins on the front porch, no sharp knives and no kids wandering away after 5 minutes leaving the parents to carve.  I know a lot of people love the family pumpkin carving tradition, but so far I could do without it.  I don’t mind letting Pat be the lead pumpkin carver.

With this app, you can pick the color of your pumpkin and then whether you want to freehand carve or pick from the various jack-o-lantern parts that are available.  The last thing to do is to pick a background.  It’s funny hearing Casey say, “And now I need to pick a background.”

Here are some of Jack’s creations:

I just realized that they’re practically the same pumpkin.  Jack really likes that mouth and nose.  They must be the scariest.  And they both feel the need to put hair on the tops of their pumpkins.  In the first one it’s hand carved and the next ones have a mouth that we turned into hair.

Here are some of Casey’s creations:

I kind of like the homely one at the end.  Or should I say hole-y one.

More Bike Riding Skills to Celebrate

In less than a week of riding his bike without training wheels, Jack looked like he had been doing it for years.  He was riding off curbs, going across the grass, standing up and looking like a pro.  I couldn’t believe how fast he picked it up and how good he got in such a short amount of time.

We have been outdoors every single day since the training wheels were left behind.  Usually, our neighbor and her daughter, T, are out there too.  One of my neighbors thought I had been on a vacation somewhere to get a tan but it’s just been afternoons in the sun watching the kids ride their bikes.

A few days ago, another neighbor mentioned that he thought Casey would be riding without training wheels soon too.  She kept trying to ride on the grass like Jack and T but the training wheels were slowing her down too much.  I kind of shrugged my shoulders and said, “Someday.”  On the day that Jack learned, I let Casey try it out a couple times and she seemed to have no balance.

Now it’s three weeks later.  Casey was playing outside while I was making lunch.  When I got outside, she had pulled Jack’s bike out and told me she was trying to ride it.  She asked if I would help her.  I did, but I was thinking I was just going to hold her up again.

As soon as she got on there, I barely touched her.  She went right down the driveway, circled around both cul-de-sacs and back up the driveway with me just running as close to her as I could.  It blew my mind.  I couldn’t believe she was going to start riding her bike without training wheels at 3 years old!

Later in the afternoon, we took the training wheels off her bike and she hopped on with so much confidence and rode around the cul-de-sacs again much to everyone’s amazement.  10 minutes later she was trying to ride it through the grass and keep up with the 5 year olds!

She’s had her share of spills and she still needs a little help to get going.  The seat is as low as it can go and she can barely touch the ground with her tippy toes.  By the end of today she could stop by herself without falling most of the time.  It’s amazing.  Between watching Jack ride without training wheels and all the riding she’s been doing to keep up with him, she figured out how to keep her balance.

It’s also amazing to see the differences in learning styles between Jack and Casey.  I’ve noticed it before, but this further reinforced what I saw.  Jack spent the first ten minutes without training wheels just riding up and down the driveway very carefully, making no turns and going over no bumps.  When he was comfortable with that, he decided to try to turn.  Then he decided he could do the bump at the end of the driveway.  Casey…she jumps in head first and believes she can do it.  She jumped on that bike and went straight down the driveway over the bump and started turning.

I’m very proud of both of them and their bike skills this past few weeks.  But mostly I can’t believe I have a 3 year old without training wheels!

2011 Pumpkin Patch Class Trip

Bright and early this morning, we headed to another farm for the school pumpkin patch field trip.  Casey started whimpering halfway there and told me that she didn’t feel good.  Eventually she asked for something for the yuckies to go in.  Luckily there was a nice little bucket she had gotten at McDonald’s this weekend and sure enough, she threw up into it two minutes before we reached the farm.  Thankfully, it all went into the bucket and didn’t make a mess.  And since she had no other illness symptoms, I decided that she got carsick from all the turns and stoplights I manuevered through while trying to avoid traffic and get there on time.  She was ready to go into the pumpkin patch as soon as we stopped.  Since she threw up all her breakfast, she was hungry all morning but other than that, you would never know she was sick.

We started out with a hayride to the field where the pumpkins were.  The kids got to pick a little pumpkin and play in the field.  They had a bouncy house, a haystack slide and a teepee out there.  The haystack slide was pretty neat and the kids spent most of their time on it.

Jack was a different person from last year to this year.  Last year he didn’t interact with any of his classmates and he clung to me.  I might as well have taken them there by myself for all it felt like a class trip.  This year, he found his friends and was pretty happy playing with them.  He certainly wasn’t concerned about where I was.

The hayride then brought us back to the main area.  There were all kinds of wooden structures for the kids to climb and play on and picnic tables galore for snacking.  We went into a goat pen and hung out with the goats for a bit too.  It was a great area for the kids and they had a great time.

Casey liked pointing out all her classmates to me and I finally have faces to go with the names that she recites every night during snuggle time.  Before everyone was about to go home, we did some class pictures.  Jack’s was fun with all the kids in a wooden train.  And Casey’s was hilarious.  There were at least two temper tantrums occurring and I’m pretty sure there isn’t a single picture of them all together, let alone looking at a camera.  I think all you could do was laugh, but then it wasn’t my child having a tantrum.  She was actually sitting with a couple of the other little girls and they acted liked they had no idea there was a tantrum happening right in front of them.  They were adorable.

Check your camera settings before taking what would have been a great picture!

Navy jets flying over the pumpkin patch…Jack loved it!

Kindergarten Class

Casey and the girls!

Casey and her teacher

2011 Pumpkin Patch Adventures

Yesterday was a busy day!  We started with soccer pictures, soccer game and then headed to the pumpkin patch.  This was our fifth annual trip to the pumpkin patch with the kids and our third to this farm, although it’s set up a little differently every year.

We met up with our friend Michelle and Little J and Little P.

We started by searching for the perfect pumpkins to bring home.  The farm a wheelbarrow we borrowed for our many pounds of pumpkin and the kids had fun searching and pushing the wheelbarrow.  Casey was the first to find hers.  But Jack was really looking for the perfect pumpkin.  His standards are pretty high.  It has to be taller than Casey’s but still nice and round and perfectly orange.  And he doesn’t really want anyone else finding it for him.  He wants one that he found so he can decide on its perfection.

Little J supervises as Pat cuts his pumpkin from the vine

I think we arrived at peak pumpkin picking time because there was a little bit of a wait to weigh and purchase our pumpkins.  While we were waiting, the kids got to shell and jar their own popcorn with a 100 year old shelling machine.  They were very serious about their work!  Jack got to carry the jar and he was not interested in letting Daddy take it to the car before the hayride.  We haven’t tried the popcorn yet but I think that’s in the plan for this week.

Our last adventure was a horse-drawn hayride.  The horses were Belgian work horses and they are the strongest breed (of 128) horses in the world.  It was a nice ride.  Michelle stayed back with Little P and was afraid that J might be a little shy and scared on the hayride.  It turns out that he was very interested in asking the driver questions and had no problem piping up with an, “Excuse me!!  Why did the horses just run?” or “Excuse me!!  Why do the horses have bells on them?”  He was so funny and cute.

Great picture except the sun and the camera weren’t getting along

It was a gorgeous day to get pumpkins and the kids are proud to see their pumpkins on the front steps.  Now they’re trying to figure out how to carve some sort of Star Wars picture into the pumpkins.

Tomorrow we have the school field trip…more pumpkin adventures to come!

Only Two Wheels!

Yesterday after school, the bickering started and the only way I could stop it was to institute some quiet time.  I sent the kids to their rooms and re-arranged my kitchen cabinets in peace.  Probably just when I was tossing out old and duplicate spices, I heard the kids yelling to the girl who lives across the street.

Jack asked if they could be done with quiet time (which was more separate time than quiet time) because he wanted to go out and play with T across the street.  I was just about done with the cupboards so we headed out.

It turns out that T had her training wheels off and her mom was helping her ride.  I asked Jack if he wanted to try it with his bike and at first he said no.  Then he watched T for 2 minutes and changed his mind.

He was very cautious about it at first.  He only wanted to go up and down the driveway and he didn’t want to attempt any turns.  We had taken the training wheels off once before and he had a tough time with the turns.

As soon as he tried it, he barely needed me to hang on to him.  I think his scooter has helped him work on his balance a lot.  He was scared to try a turn at first but once he was comfortable with going straight, he went into the cul-de-sac and had no problem with turning.  After about 30 minutes, both he and T were riding from one cul-de-sac to the other.  There were some occasional falls, but they both got up again and hopped on their bikes because they loved it so much.

Jack was really excited about it and I think he was very proud of himself.  I was pretty bursting with pride too.  I was pretty sure we wouldn’t be putting the training wheels back on again before he even tried it, but it was great to see how happy he was with his newfound freedom.

Today he spent hours on the bike again and he didn’t need my help at all.  I knew he could do it but it’s still amazing how quickly he picked it up.

Here is a little video from yesterday…Casey indicates a few times that she wants to see the video.  She had a great time on her bike yesterday and wanted to try it without the training wheels, but settled for pretending.