Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year Once Again

It is indeed New Year's Eve.  We have new snow on the ground (very pretty so far), and no plans for the evening.  John and I dropped off the 2 older children for a day-long D&D marathon and took William to the grocery store, so we have a large variety of salty crunchy snacks in addition to the remainder of the frozen cream puffs that did not get eaten at Christmas.  (Lest you think we have remarkable self-control, we had 1/2 the large bag of cream puffs in addition to innumerable homemade cookies, peanut clusters, and nearly 15 lbs of fudge.  Ask my sister how to "fail" at No-Fail Fudge sometime.)

There is currently a debate about playing Monopoly vs. Risk, or should we watch the movie we got for Christmas or perhaps the one we've had from Netflix for a month?  My vote is for a movie so I can keep knitting on the headband for my sister (my plan is to knit a hat, but stop before I start the decreases).

We had a variety of frozen appetizers for dinner (yes, we cooked them first).  William tried Ramen noodles for the first time (yes, he liked them).  I'm feeling so unambitious it's amazing.

It's not a bad way to start the year, I think.  The only way to go is up.  And while I appreciate the customs and superstitions that say you should start the new year with a clean house and money around and all the things you want to perpetuate into the new year, I think I'm ok with happy children and full tummies.  We'll be cozy and lazy and snuggle with each other.  And if that's what the new year holds?  That's a good thing.

Happy New Year, everyone.

It's Very Quiet Now

Everybody went home yesterday.  My sister's family (My sis, her husband, 4 yr. old twin boys and 2 yr. old daughter), and my mother.  They'd been here since last Tuesday (Monday for Mom).  It's been a houseful - 11 people at every meal.  We even all trucked into New York (by subway, no less!) to go to the Museum of Natural History on Dec. 26th, along with what seemed like the rest of the world.  It may not have been the best choice of dates to go, really.  But the kids loved it.

It's been really really fun.  And a little trying at times (good thing we have 3 bathrooms!).  The kids got along remarkably well, with a few spats here and there.  And so did the adults.  And while I'll admit to enjoying being really really lazy today and "cooking" dinner by pulling random leftover appetizers out of the freezer, I miss everybody.

Makes me wish they all lived closer and we could do this more often.  But not right away.

Friday, December 18, 2009

This About Sums it Up

Two years ago, I linked to a video of "12 Days of Christmas" by an a cappella group out of Indiana called "Straight No Chaser".  This year, I discovered they have released a couple of Christmas albums.  So for your viewing pleasure, here's a link to my children's new favorite Christmas song.  Couldn't get it to embed directly, so click the link and hopefully it will work.

I have a definite weakness for unconventional Christmas songs.  And a cappella singing.

Holiday Stress Much?

There are still rumours FLYING around the high school in the wake of the bomb threat, about shootings and fake fire alarms and whatnot.  So much so that the principal gave a general address on the PA about "don't pass along these text messages" and "terrorists and shooters don't give warnings so knock it off".  I know of several students that have stayed home at least one day because they were freaked out.  We don't break for Christmas vacation until the 23rd.  It can't come soon enough, these kids need a break from each other!

Holiday cleaning is...coming along.  I'm torn between getting it done and waiting until the last minute so it STAYS done.  3 kids?  The half-life of bathrooms around here is pretty short.

I'm sort of, not really, almost done with shopping.  I'm in the phase where I keep realizing I need a present for so-and-so (including teachers!).  I keep thinking I'm almost out of time, because my Mom arrives on Monday and my sister and her family on Tuesday - but really, I can get some shopping done while they're here.  Probably.  And the knitting for my mom?  Not looking like it's going to make it.  Maybe.  We're going into New York City on Tuesday, and I'm thinking it would be tacky to be knitting her present while with her on the subway.  Ya think?

Trying to embrace that "Christmas Spirit" and be mindful of the reason we do all this.  It's hard sometimes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Not So Quiet In Lake Wobegone

It's been a very non-quiet week here in Lake Wobegone.  Turns out the bomb threat was real - at least, they've arrested two teenagers and found bomb-making materials, black powder, guns, ammo, etc. at their houses.  Nothing at the school (or at the school the 2nd suspect attends).  Several of the teens at our church were expressing the opinion that going to school today was unsafe.  The target date for the attack is today, but I seriously doubt that if there ARE any remaining conspirators, they would carry out any plan today.  I'm going to guess that the "increased police presence" at the school will be considerable.  So I sent JC to school this morning.

He was seriously dragging, though, because he didn't get home until midnight last night.  Since the marching band won the regional competition, they got invited to play halftime at the Giants-Eagles game last night.  So if you watched the game on television, you may have noticed a band standing in a semi-circle for about 2 seconds before they slapped the halftime logo over them.  That was us.  Everyone was very excited beforehand, however, by the time JC got home, he was cold, tired, and hungry.  Giants Stadium lived up to its reputation for being REALLY COLD, and JC was tired enough to be rather unimpressed.  The only other comment he made?  It was really loud.

JC also had his audition for region band on Saturday.  His audition time was set for 1pm, but they were running seriously late and he didn't actually play until after 3.  That probably didn't help, but he also said he was really nervous.  Regardless, he didn't get in.  Could he have practiced his scales and solo more?  Well, of course, but he did put in a (somewhat) reasonable effort.  And now he has a year to get those scales down before next time.  One of his good friends did make it (Yay, Nick!), and another tuba player from the school, who JC did admit is better than he is, just barely squeaked in as 8th out of 8.  We knew it would be competetive.  But he's clearly a little bummed about it.

Let's end on a high note, shall we?  The youth group at our church FINALLY performed the musical they've been practicing for what seems like forever.  Other than wishing we had scraped up more of an audience, it went spectacularly well.  Rachel, John (in the part of "Dad"), and William performed, and JC ran the sound system and hit all his music cues.  Kudos all around, and hooray!  No more Sunday evening practices!

And now a quiet week?  I wish.  Mom arrives Monday, my sister and her family on Tuesday, and, oh yeah, there's this little holiday called "Christmas" that requires shopping, and baking, and cleaning.  The good news?  John is NOT travelling all week.  Hooray!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Well, THAT'S a New One!

Our high school is closed today. There was a bomb threat, and in the interest of safety, they cancelled classes for the day, while the police and bomb-sniffing dogs go do their thing. We got the robo call at midnight last night.

Huh. Not something that happens every day (at least around here). And wouldn't you know it, today JC actually NEEDS something from school. He's auditioning for the regional High School band tomorrow, and was going to bring home the good tuba from school (the practice one we have at home is kind of on the crappy side). To his credit, when I told him at 6am that he had no school, his first question was about the tuba.

None of the other schools in the district have been closed - but we got the phone alert from all of them letting us know what was going on. I think they were worried about rumour-spread and needed to reassure parents that their kids were safe. Fine, but if I hadn't been up to talk to JC, I would have been annoyed at the phone call at 6:15am. And then for the other school at 6:30.

I did get an email from the band director saying the high school would be open at 6am tomorrow. Auditions are at 8am, so we should be okay- but I would feel better if we could get the tuba today.

What was that about "best-laid plans"?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

10 Minutes or Less (More or Less)

My stamping group has had precious little time to get together in the past couple of years. We used to meet almost monthly - now it can be 6 months before we can manage to get together. But when we do, we have a fabulous time.

We had a shoebox swap last night. For those who don't know, everyone designs a card, makes 1 sample, and brings all the materials for everyone to recreate it for themselves. Typically, they are supposed to be 10 minute cards - you should be able to finish in 10 minutes (or less, so you can have a snack). Somehow, we don't always manage that. Something that YOU think takes 10 minutes is hard for someone else. So whoever has the most complicated card is usually subjected to merciless razzing from everyone else. Can you guess which one got the most flak last night?

Cathie always designs beautiful cards - but the little tiny beads were really challenging to string late at night with most of us getting out our reading glasses. However, it was absolutely worth the effort and I love the effect. Sadly, Cathie wasn't able to join us, but she brought over her box earlier in the day, which was very sweet.

Personally, this one was probably my favorite. It's a lovely simple design, and I'm kicking myself that I didn't get this stamp set (and punch! Nothing to cut out!). The colors didn't scan well, though. The left ornament is a bright fuschia. And it doesn't really show, but they are embossed with clear so they have a lovely shine to them. I didn't realize mine weren't straight until I did the scan. Oops. Shona always comes up with a winner.

This is actually my card. Yes, it was the simplest, fastest one of the evening. The metal snowflake is a brad, so just punch a hole and poke it through. You can't tell from the scan, but the blue has a subtle shimmer to it, and the navy has a texture. Just to jazz it up a little. Simple, but I was happy with it.

Alas, the scanner and dimensional cards don't get along. And I'm too tired to get out my camera. Sorry Dale! Maybe tomorrow. But the fancy border is a punch, and the adorable elf just required a little coloring. The jingle bell that's causing all the trouble was a great touch (although not Post Office friendly).

Linda did NOT torture us by making us cut out the trees. They were die-cuts, just requiring a touch of "snow" for detail. And trimming the deckle edge was also super easy, so this was another easy winner.

I also love Ruth's card. I'm a sucker for monochromatic and I LOVE the combination of Pale Plum and Perfect Plum (Stampin' Up papers). And she had multiple choices for the sentiment, which was fabulous.

Janet's card probably got the most comments for being fun and cute. Also, not too hard or too easy (just like in Goldilocks!). Unfortunately, Janet couldn't join us either because she's sick, but I was able to pick up her shoebox earlier in the week. And yes, we all made extras of our own cards for Janet and Cathie.

And the teddy bear card from Grace is at the top of the post. Completely adorable, and absolutely the most-time consuming card of the evening (Grace would vehemently protest this, she thought it was easy). The bear, hat, candy cane, and present were each stamped, colored, embossed, flocked (the fuzzy on the hat), and cut out. Seperately. The background was stamped and embossed. Then all was stuck together with dimensional foam for depth. Cute, but Grace, come on. Making me cut out details at 10pm? She was protesting that it was "relaxing", but I still don't think it was a 10-minute card. (But it was fun. Don't tell Grace!)
All in all, we had a great evening. We ate and drank too much (pomengranete martinis! Ruth is an awesome hostess) and got very silly and had some serious discussions and sang "Happy Birthday" to Ruth and Grace, who both have birthdays this week. Makes me want to do it again - sooner rather than later.

Monday, November 30, 2009


I'm totally fascinated with this video (from CRAFT by way of Folding Trees). I would love love love to spend lots of time printing and making books - but I'm intimidated by content. Not the fabrication or technical details, content. But you can only make so many blank books!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shoot 'Em Up

We had William's birthday party last Friday. At home. I have given up on doing the big party place thing with him - he's social but doesn't have a lot of good friends, so he usually doesn't have a long list of friends to invite, and those places are SO expensive. I'd rather get a better goody bag gift or give him more presents!

Last year we did Marshmallow Shooters. It was awesome, loud, unstructured, and we were finding stale marshmallows for MONTHS afterward. William wanted to do it again, but since there would be some repeat guests, I asked him to come up with something else. Of course all of my ideas were unacceptable - he asked to have a Nerf Gun party. Well, fate seems to smile on 8 year old boys, because ToysRUs had a sale 2 weeks before the party and some of the knockoff Nerf guns were on sale. A 2-pack of six-shooters, 12 bullets per gun, AND a target for $10. Score! And it was even the same guns that he had bought earlier in the year, so I didn't have to buy new guns for all three of my kids. I bought 10 guns (5 2-packs, so $50! Way cheaper than a party place), and we invited 9 friends.

So it was William's "Nerf" Blaster Birthday; everybody got a gun, goggles, and a bucket with 20 bullets in it (we bought extras). And they spent a hour shooting each other, the targets (well, near the targets), the walls, pyramids of empty cans, and anything else in sight. Except the adults, we were mostly unscathed. Then we decorated cupcakes (that's a LOT of sprinkles!), ate ice cream, sang "Happy Birthday" and that was it. Everyone had fun, they all got to take home a gun, a bucket, and 20 bullets, and I have no stale marshmallows in the couch. Foam bullets I can live with.

Except for feeling a little deaf for the next few days, and a LOT of crumbs and sprinkles on the floor, the damage was negligible. It's going to be hard to top this one, but I said the same thing last year, so we'll see!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Love NPR

I've been a mostly-avid NPR listener since I moved to NJ. It helps that one of the premier NPR stations - WNYC - is based in New York City and I'm within the broadcast area. But I also can usually get Philadelphia public radio as well.

I have become a news junkie. This was reinforced when my children were very small, and I didn't necessarily want them exposed to the images on TV, but I could listen to the radio. I developed the habit of listening to All Things Considered while I made dinner almost every night. I love the "comedy" shows like Car Talk.

But I think my favorite-est thing on public radio is Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. I find this weekly news quiz show just hysterical every week. I rarely catch it when it's broadcast, but through the magic of podcast, and Internet radio, I listen most weeks.

As I was preparing to listen online today, I noted a link at the bottom entitled "Knitter's Revenge." Mo Rocca had made a comment a few weeks ago about hand knit sweaters being "itchy". So, well, the knitting community just couldn't take that lying down...

You just don't find this sort of thing published on other networks, you know?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NaBloPoMo? Not so much, apparently

Obviously, making a commitment to blog every day was a little ambitious - perhaps a month that didn't contain so many germs...

William came home from school early on Wednesday, and by Thursday evening was running a mild fever. Rachel was warm on Thursday, and didn't appear to spike much of a fever but has been very run down... but I'm 99% sure it's not the dreaded flu. William had bounced back by Friday afternoon, and except for a lovely hacking cough, has been obnoxiously happy. Rachel is still dragging, so she stayed home from school today, although she went yesterday. JC is now really tired, and I'm waiting for the fever and cough to hit.

I think I've had a touch of it, or at least, I've been exhausted the last two days. Could perhaps be that John had to get up at 5am to catch a plane on Monday, and by the time I got the kitchen cleaned up and the necessary chores done that night, it was 11:30pm. When the alarm went off this morning, it was REALLY hard to get out of bed.

So we are dragging through November so far. All the activities have been hit-or-miss. I'll go to the band parents meeting tonight, but I think JC is going to skip robotics club, poor thing. That's an indication of how he feels - he really wanted to go. But I'm plying everyone with orange juice and vitamin C, and hopefully will get ALL of us to bed early tonight.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's Not Over 'Till It's Over

It's over. Well, almost, anyway. Our competition season for Marching Band is over. Yes, there's a few more football games to play (our team made the playoffs for the first time in who knows how long), but there are no more practices, no more marching in the rain. Just doing the fun pep band stuff in the stands.

So the last competition was in Pennsylvania on Halloween night (who schedules these things?). The performance time was late enough (of course) that Rachel and William went trick-or-treating, THEN we loaded up in the car and drove west. I figured we had the time change, the kids could stay up late.

So we drove out, in the rain (of course! Did you expect less?) and darkness, and got to the stadium during the break between groups. We saw all the bands in our group. Some were good, some were great. There was drizzle, off and on, but not really rain. One of the sousaphone players (not in our band) FELL DOWN during the routine. My heart broke for him - this was a BIG deal competition, and he landed on his bottom. Poor thing. Our band marched out (last, of course, but that's because we'd scored highly the previous weekend, so it's actually good) and the drizzle kicked it up a notch. Then it became actual rain. Then a little more rain. Then it slowed and stopped - just as they finished their routine. Just for us. Special.

While we were waiting for the scoring, a university band came out and marched. JC later told me that there were 425 members in this band. They filled the field! They were marching on, and they just kept coming! And they were really good, and did lots of fun stuff. 24 sousaphones. William really enjoyed that, but by that time it was about 11:30pm, so we started to leave before they announced the scores. We could hear the announcer while we were walking down the street, so we walked very slowly, and heard the whole thing.

WE WON! Our band has never won this competition before. John described the director as "beside himself." It was a stunning end to a really surprising season. And now, I won't be blogging about marching band anymore (probably). Until next fall. Unless I can get the video I took to upload.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


National Blog Posting Month. Post every day for a month. I don't know, think I can do it?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blast From the Past

I was flipping around the TV channels tonight, and came across Twin Peaks on the Crime and Investigation channel. (No, not a channel I even knew existed.)

John and I were avid Twin Peaks watchers in the early 90's. We saw every episode except one, I think, even taping them if we couldn't watch live. Yes, taping, with a VCR, how quaint! But watching this episode tonight reminded me how complicated and wierd that show was - this was an episode from fairly late into the series, full of odd characters and strange images, some quite disturbing. It was a true series, as well, and if you missed an episode you missed a lot, so watching tonight meant really digging deep to try to remember who was who and what was happening.

It made me think how television has changed, or perhaps I have changed. We hardly watch any network TV anymore, and really don't follow any series. That started when we had kids, and bedtime was an involved process and invariably overlapped the start of a show. But even now, with children who are much more independent about bedtime, I rarely feel compelled to watch a comedy or a drama, usually opting for Home & Garden, Discovery Channel, or something else that I can drop in and out of.

I hear people talking about Lost, and how wierd and compelling that is, or Pushing Daisies, and now I'm thinking that all those "fringe-y" shows owe a debt to David Lynch and Twin Peaks. It was such an "out there" show, even now, and I think it probably did open some doors to what was acceptable. And it definitely did not coddle the viewer, either in storyline or imagery. And I have to say, it really looked like it has aged well. Sometimes you see an old show, and it looks dated. This didn't.

Of course, now I have to go to bed with all this disturbing stuff in my head.

We Are the Champions, my friends....

You know the rest.

Yes, our marching band won their 6th State Championship in 8 years. To say that we are proud of the kids would be an understatement. If there was ever an object lesson that hard work produces results, it would be marching band. They have worked so hard, in all kinds of weather, and it has absolutely paid off. William and I went to the competition Sunday night (Rachel had dance and play practice, so I arranged rides for her). We saw all of our group bands play, and JC's band performed last. To be honest, I was really nervous. The kids have been somewhat inconsistent. Some of the other bands in our group seemed really really good, and I haven't been to enough competitions to have a good idea what the judges like. There were dance moves, and scenery, and color guards that seemed much better than ours (at least based on the last time I saw them).
But they came out and they played, and they were crisp and disciplined and looked and sounded good. It was awesome. I took William home right after the performance (late on a school night), so John called me with the scores. I'll admit to a few "woo hoo"s.

I have no pictures from Sunday, not that they would have looked very good. Ants crawling around on the field, really. Here's some pictures of the last competition I went to, which was the one inside after Giants Stadium was cancelled.

Marching in - JC's the third tuba (sousaphone, to be exact) from the front.

This is referred to as a "company front". Inside, they just play in this formation and the color guard is behind them doing their thing in place as well. JC is the third sousaphone from the right. If you squint.

This was when they came back in and were waiting for the scores. Notice our kids are still in neat rows and at parade rest. Other bands were seated in the stands, and a couple of kids started running around the room trying to get people to do the wave while we waited. Our kids never cracked. It was very impressive, actually.

JC playing. His posture has absolutely improved since marching band started.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Giants Stadium got canceled. Or, rather, postponed to a weeknight, which our band declined to attend because it was a school night and the directors had conflicts. However, they added a practice this week, so JC has had band practice every day this week. Including today, and an away football game tonight. The weather has been beautiful, however - but the forecast tonight is for heavy rain, continuing into tomorrow.

He has an all-day competition tomorrow. Of course.

It's down near Philadelphia, so we're hoping that either the rain will miss there or will have already moved through by the time they have to compete. They kids have been warned to bring dry underthings, because they WILL be practicing tomorrow morning, even if it's raining.

Sunday is the State Championships. Forecast is for beautiful 60 deg. weather. We can hope, right?

We've been enjoying the Funky Winkerbean comic strip this week about the Battle of the Bands (week of October 19-24). We understand now.

One more week of band practice. Two more weekends of competition. Not that I'm counting down or anything...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

It is very dark and very stormy. The rain has slowed down some, but the wind has kicked up, and I think things are blowing around on my front porch (it would help if I cleaned all the junk off my porch, but I digress).

We have suddenly vaulted from mid-October to something much more late November-like. Cold (less than 40 F), rainy (could have sworn it was getting slushy this afternoon, just a bit), and very windy. And this is predicted pretty much for the next 2 days, maybe a little more. A classic Nor'Easter is roaring up the East Coast. For those not in the Mid-Atlantic and New England, a Nor'Easter is a weather system that comes up the East Coast and heads in a North-Easterly direction across New England. Much of our weather comes from the west (over land)and goes pretty much straight east. A Nor'Easter picks up extra energy because of the temperature difference between land and water, so they're usually rather intense.

Of course, joy of joys, this weekend is the USSBA Yamaha Cup - an uber big marching band competition at Giants Stadium. We've been looking forward to it (all except the nearly midnight performance time. !!!) since JC started this whole saga. If it's held during "weather", well, it will still be an experience. However, the band director wouldn't sell me tickets this afternoon, because there is a possibility that it will be postponed due to weather. Given the fact that Giants Stadium is notorious for being a wind tunnel and a good 10 degrees colder than the surrounding area, I can't say that I would be heartbroken. However, if they have to move it to a weekday, well, that's going to be a problem. I'm sure it will run just as late, and I probably can't get a babysitter on a weeknight, and I can't drag my 7 yr old out that late, so I'm not sure what we would do. I guess we'll wait and see.

John is flying home tonight from spending the week in Toronto. Sounds like he's finally on the plane, an hour and a half late so far. Keeping my fingers crossed, it's a nasty night to be out.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Maternal Worries

I guess I worried too soon yesterday. Turns out they did very well, and the directors told them so even before the results were announced. I'll blame it on an early morning that did not start out well and still thinking of my 14 year old as a sensitive preschooler.

I can already see that it will continue to be hard to see my children face adversity as they grow older. When they're small, I can wipe the tears and counsel about friendships and give constructive help. As they get older, I can listen, and facilitate activities, and nag about responsibility. And I'm sure as they leave the nest we'll be torn by the need to support financially versus the character building of making it on your own. I can only hope that we find the right balance. I don't want my children to come back and live in the basement, but on the other hand, I want them to know they will always be loved and we'll catch them if they fall.

I don't think it gets easier as they get older, just different.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Heart is Breaking

JC has joined our high school marching band (I think I've mentioned that). This is a serious band - they've been state champions in 5 out of the last 7 years, and are accustomed to winning. But they have moved up to a more competitive division by adding a LOT of new people to the band.

They're not winning.

They're almost winning, which almost feels worse. I was just on the phone with John, who is down in Maryland watching them compete in a regional competition. I happened to call just as they were announcing the winners - we came in 2nd overall in our division. Apparently we won Best Visual Display, but not Best Music. Last weekend we came in 4th overall - and only .7 points behind the winner, so that was a tight grouping.

I just worry that the directors are going to be disappointed and take it out on the kids (not physically, but mentally). JC is working harder at this than I've ever seen him work before. He is trying to be organized, and it's hard for him. For example, he forgot/missed the announcement that they were supposed to show up this morning (6:45am) in uniform - I went by the paper that came home, which said "change after rehearsal". And he forgot his student ID, so he won't be allowed to wander around the National Mall in Washington, DC on his own. (Fortunately, his father and sister are there, but he'll have to go around with them (which isn't horrible, but still).) But he's really trying hard, and taking this seriously, and appears to be keeping up with his classes. And he appears to be at least as good as the other new tuba players, and possibley better - he's done his homework, he knows his music, and he knows where and when he's supposed to be.

And if they don't win one of these major competitions? I hope he doesn't feel like the hard work isn't worth it. If they don't win, well, they're in a more competitive division with a LOT of new people - it's not an excuse, it's true. And they've come a long way since the middle of August. I hope they can be proud of that, because they should be. I hope the directors can recognize that - I assume they must, since they've been at this a long time. I hope they tell the kids that.

And I'm really really hoping they do well at State Championships in two weeks.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Reading the Dictionary

I was/am one of those people who can distracted for a LONG time looking up a word in the dictionary. There's always some cool new word on the same page, and maybe that makes you wonder about a word in the definition so you have to look THAT up, and it just snowballs. Encyclopedias are just as bad (remember those?)

But the worst by far is the Internet. I found the post-it note video from a link about typefaces, which I found in a quiz about Helvetica vs. Ariel (check it out if you're a font geek like me!), which I found in a blog with instructions about making your own bows, which I found on a creative blog I check regularly.

And somehow, my floors never get vacuumed. I wonder why?
(And we're not even counting the time spent putting together the blog post with links!)

The Joy of Post-It Notes

EepyBird's Sticky Note experiment from Eepybird on Vimeo.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bent Objects

If you've never been over to Bent Objects, you've been missing out. He's got his first book coming out this week, and this is the promo video for it. I think he's brilliantly clever, and some of his pictures are laugh-out-loud funny.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Not Dead Yet

I am mostly recovered from my cold (except for a TRULY impressive cough, but it's occasional), but now am knee-deep in the joys of consignment sale. Yes, our church consignment sale is happening again this weekend, and I am again running it. This time with less pre-sale support than ever, although that's mostly because I'm bad at asking for help. You have your own stuff going on, I know, and I wouldn't want to impose. Not a good feature in an event chair, I'm afraid.

However, things are actually reasonably organized and (fingers crossed) somewhat advertised, so the main issue now is getting my OWN junk tagged and ready to go. I have remarkably few clothes on hangers, but a large pile of games and books, so I guess that's progress.

But I should go make more progress - since I have a back-to-school event tonight, one tomorrow, and then setup for the sale Thursday afternoon. Time is running out...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thanks for Sharing

John came home from a business trip last week, and brought home a cold. Very thoughtfully, he has shared with JC and I. JC recovered in 2 days, I'm on day 2 and feeling like something the cat dragged in. I'm crossing my fingers I'll feel better tomorrow.

It would help if I was sleeping better. Not that THAT has anything to do with consuming caffeinated beverages at dinnertime, or the impending consignment sale at the church that I'm running, or anything like that. No, no, stimulants and stress couldn't POSSIBLY be the problem. I sat down to watch football and knit yesterday afternoon, thinking I'd take a little break and then get to work, but ended up sleeping through most of the 1pm game. It helped a little, but not a lot, which is how I knew I was sick.

So I'm moving in a bit of a fog today. So far I've blown off the grocery store, which really can wait until tomorrow. But I did drag myself to the gym, but unfortunately that apparently has sapped both my energy and my motivation. I have to pick up both boys for a dentist appointment in an hour, but am I going to get anything done in that hour? Not likely.

So I will drink some (more) orange juice, and lots of water, and NO caffeine, and hopefully sleep well tonight. And feel better in the morning.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Now It's Real

The second week of school has started. The first full week, really, so now there will be actual homework (bringing home forms for me to fill out doesn't count), and the beginnings of our usual schedule. William's soccer practice is at a manageable time, but I still don't know Rachel's, so there is a little uncertainty.

JC survived his all-day band practice and competition on Saturday - they even placed first, which is pretty impressive considering they'd been practicing since 8am in the rain, ate dinner at the school, then got on the bus to compete at 8:45pm after an hour and a half bus ride. I picked him up about 11:45pm. He was remarkably chipper, happy they won, and very wet and stinky. Hoping it doesn't get much worse than that.

Our weather has done a 180 to bright, sunny, moderate to warm temperatures. Perfect September weather, really. I had thoughts of mowing the lawn but alas, laundry beckons, as do bill paying and other lovely tasks like cleaning the litter boxes. Unfortunately, blogging only delays things, they don't go away, so...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Nine Nine Oh Nine

I've been loving writing the date on all the school forms today. I "entertained" Rachel at breakfast this morning by reading her all of the "nine" facts that were in the paper in the article on the date.
All my little chicks made it to their appointed places and had a good day today.

I get the "bad mom award", because when I went to take a picture of William at the bus, my camera battery was dead. Of course, John had his Blackberry so we did get a picture, although it's a little fuzzy.By the time Rachel left, I had changed the battery. JC, of course, did not tolerate any pictures, nor was I allowed down to the bus stop. I contrived to take the garbage to the curb after he walked down to the bus stop, but the boys were standing off to one side of the street and I couldn't really see them.
Everyone had a good day (William described his day as "GREAT!" but couldn't tell me anything they did), only Rachel had "homework", although it seemed to be a survey about how she feels about science. I filled out all the forms, and just have to write the check to join the PTO at William's school. We went out to dinner at Red Lobster - John left this afternoon to a trade show in Europe, so JC was doing puppy eyes hoping for seafood (John's allergic, JC loves it). Tomorrow is a full day of school, with band practice (JC) and an orthodontist appointment (Rachel) and choir practice (me), so we're jumping right into busy. But the routine will be good.
Speaking of which, I've gotten to bed before 11pm the last two nights, and it makes getting up at 6am a WHOLE lot easier. Huh. Who woulda guessed?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy New Year!

Somehow, the start of school feels far more like "New Year's Day" to me than January 1st. This is the new beginning, the fresh start. It's going to be an interesting year. JC is going to be far busier this fall than he's ever been before - could be good, no time to get bored, or it could be a disaster. It WILL be an adjustment. He's had few activities outside school for the past couple of years. Rachel will have her first taste of changing classes, although we don't know how much she'll be changing yet. And she's a bit of a worrier, so hopefully her teacher will be understanding. William will have to contend with higher expectations in 2nd grade. He has a hard time focusing when he's doing seat work, so that's going to be an ongoing challenge.

I've realized I have a consignment sale in 4 weeks, so I really need to get on the stick for that. I have activities to create for our Sunday School kick-off next Sunday, and of course, all the support activities for everyone else's needs. John will be leaving for Amsterdam on Wednesday, so he'll get a taste of the kids' first half-day, then be gone for almost a week. To his credit, he is upset that he'll miss JC's first performance and competition for marching band. But there will be more!

School starts Wednesday. Tomorrow is our dry run - I've told the kids that I'm waking them at school times tomorrow. But that means I have to go to bed as well. Ugh. I'm looking forward to the school year - except for that waking up thing.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Quit Whining

I just wrote a big whiny post about band camp and missing bus schedules and...deleted it. The weather is beautiful, I'm very proud of JC for how well he has handled band camp, and if the bus schedule doesn't show up, I'll drive Rachel the first day.

We are camping in Pennsylvania this weekend. By ourselves. I'm bringing knitting, a book (maybe two), and while I will pack my swimsuit, I have no actual intention of using it. I'm going to eat whatever I feel like (for the most part) and just chill. I have packed cookies.

Tuesday will be a whirlwind of activity, with school open houses, dentists appointments, and more band practice, but on Wednesday? They all go back to school. Just a half day, true, but Thursday will be a regular day and hopefully that calm while they are gone will enable me to handle the after school chaos with equanimity and grace. Mostly.

And the best news? John is making huge strides on the deck. I need to take some pictures, but we've gone from the slow progress of hole digging to the lightning speed of framing. Kazaam! It's awesome!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Barreling Onwards

That's what it feels like, at the moment. Summer is hurtling towards its conclusion, which for us is the week after Labor Day. But we're already thinking about school all the time.

JC starts Band Camp tomorrow. It's not quite all day, but darn close: 8am-3:30pm, then back for 6-9pm. And yes, it's fully August here, although not quite as hot and humid as it could be. We're actually getting slightly lower temps this week, which will be a blessing. And he's only got three days this week and four next. Falls under the "it could be worse" heading, I think.

We're still waiting for William's teacher letter. However, he's the only one who's received a bus schedule, so I'm kind of chafing at the bit to get everyone settled and know what my days will look like. I think we're at the mercy of the bureaucracy, so we'll get it when we get it.

I actually baked cookies today. Of course, they're for band camp so we don't get to keep all of them, but that's probably a good thing.

Off to bed early - we have to have him there by 7:45. AM. ugh.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What if I held a Consignment Sale and Nobody Came?

It's registration for my church's Fall Consignment Sale today. The phone has not rung once. I have received two email registrations (and 3 yesterday, we opened email early).

Sigh. I knew this might happen. It's summer, it's high season for vacations, and it's a Saturday. A rainy one here, which I thought might help, but still Saturday.

There's still 6 weeks until the sale, and I have some ideas to drum up consignors. Worst case scenario, we cancel the sale. Actually, worst case is to get something like 2/3 our desired number of consignors and have to make a decision. We haven't spent (much) money yet, about $100 on stamps for postcards.

However, the church is raising $10,000 for repaving the parking lot, and a consignment sale would help a lot towards that.

Hello? Hello? Is anyone out there?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How Can You Believe in God?

JC's best friend (let's call him A) asked me that question yesterday. His parents are raising him in a Unitarian Universalist Church - they describe it as "believe whatever makes sense to you" and there appears to be quite a range in their congregation, from naturist to atheist to Christian. They were raised Christian (him) and Jewish (her), but this is what works for them.

It's interesting sometimes, because we attend church (Methodist) regularly and are active in the church. So are they. But clearly this has raised some questions for A. Although he probably knows more about different religions than my children, clearly that fundamental aspect of faith is hard for him, and his church doesn't have a belief system except to respect others (as best I can tell).

How do you explain faith to an extremely bright and logical 14 year old? How do you reconcile that fundamental difference that I, an (over)educated engineer, a believer in science, believes that evolution is true and also believes that God created the Universe? As far as A is concerned, there is no proof of God's existence, and that leap into faith is incomprehensible. And of course, trying to be truthful with him makes me think about all the aspects of faith that I do struggle with, from the literalness of the Bible (I'm of the inspired camp myself) to the necessity to believe in Jesus for salvation (I have a hard time condemning non-believers outright).

But that's religion, and I think A is really looking for an explanation of faith. And faith, well, I can define faith (my favorite is "Believing without seeing"), but how do you explain faith? How much of my faith is truly believed and how much is learned habit (see how this is hard for me?)? I know part of A's problem is the representations of religious people he sees in the media. Face it, some of the "Christian" rhetoric out there makes me wonder if they ever read the Bible. But I will continue trying to explain, and talking when he wants to listen, and listening when he wants to talk. Because perhaps this is why God has put me here with this child at this time, to teach him at the very least that God is working through some people, and that people of faith can be kind and considerate and smart. It's going to be an interesting road.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wish I Was There

For those not in the online knitting world, the Sock Summit recently concluded in Portland, OR. I read a couple of knitting blogs, so I followed along, a bit, and wished I was more local, or more passionate?, so I could attend as well. I was intensely jealous of my sister that LIVES IN PORTLAND, and knits, because she had at least the option of attending (although she also has a new baby, so her goal was mostly to go to the marketplace, which would have been enough for me, as well).

It did make me think back to my days as a Stampin' Up demonstrator. They hold a yearly convention for their demonstrators, and the first two times I went, it was for ALL their demonstrators, so ~7000 of us descended on the Las Vegas Convention Center, then the Orlando Convention Center the next year. I'm sure they didn't know what to make of us. It was equal parts business convention, crafting, and fan-dom. When you have that many women (mostly) there for something that they are both trying to make some money at and also just plain enjoying, it really becomes a very big enthusiastic party. And the company encouraged, or at least didn't discourage, a bit of cult of personality around the founder/owner.

Descriptions of the Sock Summit seemed similar. Many people, passionate about their craft, meeting their idols, learning something as well... Well, it was probably rather overwhelming. But it was probably a lot of fun. There's nothing like being with thousands of other people who share a passion with you. You stop feeling so much like you have to explain what you love to do.

There's a wool convention in New York State this fall. It's just after my birthday, and I've already told John that I'd REALLY like to attend. Haven't quite figured out how it's going to happen, but I'd love to have a little bit of that camaraderie again. Gets you all fired up, you know. I could use a little passion and energy these days.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Yellowstone Highlights

These images are all out of order because of the way Blogger uploads them. I decided I don't care, I'm not going to spend the time to rearrange, so you'll just have to bear with me. I'm finally posting them!

This here green and gold glory is a hot pool We saw a lot of them in Yellowstone, and they are really quite beautiful. This colors are from heat-loving algae and bacteria, and from the mineral content of the water. Different colors of algae grow at different temperatures, and often, the center of the pool is too hot for any algae but appears bright blue because of the minerals in the water reflecting sunlight (same reason that sky is blue). This one is green because the center is cool enough for the yellow algae to grow. Yellow + Blue = Green.

This is Grand Geyser, the tallest predictable geyser in the world (that's what the sign said). We got there at 2pm, it was predicted to go off between 2 and 6 pm. We got lucky, it went off about 30 minutes after we got there and it was spectacular. I may post the video I took of it sometime later. It was definitely worth the wait.

It's in the same geyser basin as Old Faithful, which, oddly, was the area of the park we probably spent the least amount of time. It is usually the first place people go, and certainly has the highest concentration of geysers.

And of course, it has Old Faithful. Which is still faithful - every 90 minutes, + or - 10 minutes. We were there in the evening as the sun was setting, which was really annoying because all the good seats were taken. Until the geyser erupted and I got this shot looking into the sun.

One of the things I highly recommend is the Junior Ranger program. For kids between the ages of 5 and 12, $3 gets you a workbook with activities they have to do, everything from coloring to attending a program to finding out certain facts. Rachel really enjoyed it, and you get a special Junior Ranger badge at the end. The rangers will ask for everyone's attention and talk about the accomplishment and the kids eat it up.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is not as big as the Grand Canyon. But it's still pretty grand, and very yellow. Which isn't showing up in this picture, but trust me. That little spot o' white to the right in the foreground? The corner of a good-sized snowbank. In July. I'm just sayin'.

Yellowstone is famous for animals, and we got pretty lucky that way. This bison is ambling right along the side of the road. We saw enough elk and bison that we didn't bother to stop for most pictures.
Oh, and these truly are wild animals. Don't approach them, even if they look like big hairy cows. Two people were gored while we were in the park (we weren't nearby at the time).

And definitely don't approach a grizzly. See the hump on his back? Grizzlies can run 30 mph, and you can't. Stay in the car, unless he's 1/2 a mile away.

But this marks the first time in my life, after MULTIPLE visits to Yellowstone (at least 12-15, having grown up nearby), that I have seen a bear in the wild. The curse is broken.

Like the hats? Yellowstone is ~7000 ft. above sea level, and there's very little shade in geyser areas. We all had hats, and not one of us got a sunburn. Yay!
This is the top of Mammoth Geyser. It's mammoth.

See? Grandma has a hat too. And me. We're looking at the wildflower guide trying to identify flowers beyond calling them LBF's. You know, little blue flowers?

Looking out over Norris Geyser Basin. This is where we first learned about color-coded algae.
But no shade, see? You walk on these boardwalks out over the thermal areas, so you don't fall through the thin crust into the boiling water. It's a good thing. Most of the hot pools were between 150-200F, which doesn't sound so bad until you realize water boils at 199F at this altitude.

My crew at Artist's Paint Pots. Mud pots. I think they're my favorite thing at the park. They're just so... bloopy.
JC's shirt says "Sarcasm: one of my many talents"

This was actually before Yellowstone, in Grandma's backyard, playing "fetch" with my sister's dog, Lucy. Lucy loves to play fetch, but she prefers "chase."

This, the most adorable baby in the world (after my own kids, of course), is my sister's baby Matthew. We got to meet him for the first time. It was love at first sight for all of us. John complained after we got home that he didn't get to hold the baby. Grandma and I tried to monopolize him.

The kids would probably say the highlight was go-kart racing, which was a Sunday afternoon spur-of-the-moment.

Our last "hike" in Yellowstone was out to Morning Glory Pool near Old Faithful. It was hot, and as mentioned, no shade. JC took brief pity on William (after much begging) and did give him a ride for a bit. So did I. John was merciless.

See aforementioned tip about not approaching bison. These people were lucky, however, it does make getting to your car interesting sometimes...

At the top of the Lower Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Really, a "on the edge" overlook. The hike to get down to this point is only at third of a mile long - but it has a vertical drop of 600 ft. Going down isn't so bad, as it's a series of switchbacks, but going back up is a challenge. There's a bench at the corner of every switchback. And remember, it's about 7000 ft elevation, so you really will feel the lack of oxygen. But well worth the view.

We really had a lovely time, both visiting my mother in Idaho, and then going up to the park with her. It was a nice combination of hanging out, and destinations with activities. And we were so glad that my sister and her family came too!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Sorry I've been kind of missing in action. We've been enjoying one of the few weeks this summer that really feels like summer vacation. Don't get me wrong - I'm looking forward to everything that is planned this summer. But the schedule worked out perfectly, just kind of tight. Especially for my kids. Get this:

School got out on Thursday. Sleep-away camp started Saturday (1 week).
Pick up the kids at camp on Saturday. We went to a renaissance fair on Sunday. We drove to Kutztown PA for a festival on Tuesday. We went camping on Thursday through Sunday.

Now we're home - BREATHE. Sleep. Do laundry. Monday through the following Tuesday.

Wednesday (early) we fly out West to visit my mom for 10 days. It will be wonderful. The trip includes Yellowstone National Park, my sister, her husband, their NEW BABY, and their dog, and may include my brother's family (and possibly my brother). I can't wait.

We arrive home on Saturday. The following Saturday, we have to deliver Rachel and JC back to camp for 2 weeks. With all their stuff. William has one week of day camp during this time, so no sleeping in.

The kids come home on Saturday. Pre-band camp starts on Tuesday, then real band camp the following Monday.

Suffice to say, now that I've stunned everyone with too much detail, there are not too many blocks of unplanned time in our summer. So we've been sleeping a little later every morning, and staying up a little later every night. We've been watching trashy network TV (Wipeout, anyone? America's Got Talent?). I've been reading blogs but not writing mine. Ambitious projects, like clear out the back hall or garage or basement? We're not even doing a good job of keeping the dining table cleared off.

So in the next few days, I have to get a little more motivated or the house will be a dump when we leave (and therefore when we return). But if we want to spend an afternoon reading books and playing video games? We have been.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Can't. I'm Waiting for Godot.

We went to see Waiting for Godot in New York last night. It's a revival starring Nathan Lane (!), Bill Irwin (!), and John Goodman (!). And Johnny Glover, who probably deserves a (!) if you're a Broadway fan, but I've only been to two shows before this. Waiting for Godot is a famous play from the 50's by Samuel Beckett. It was revolutionary for the time because it was one of the first "existential" plays. It doesn't have a plot, really, and a very strange sense of time. If you're interested, the wikipedia link gives a pretty complete description.

It was very good, although it's rather an impenetrable piece. I love Bill Irwin, if you don't know who he is, click the link, and of course Nathan Lane is Nathan Lane (!). They were fabulous, and John Goodman was good as Pozzo, but it's a tough character to like.

We found a nice mid-range Italian restaurant around the corner for dinner. I don't remember the name but it's right next to the Dave Letterman theater. And the show was in Studio 54, which didn't look like a nightclub at all - apparently it was previously a theater, and we couldn't figure out HOW you'd have a nightclub there, because it looked like it had always been a theater. Gilt and cherubs and everything. And we walked from Penn Station to 54th street, and I even anticipated walking and carefully chose shoes - which rubbed my heels raw and gave me blisters on my toes. Sigh. But I chose to walk instead of take a cab because I LIKE walking in New York. Watching people is fun.

However, on the way back to the train station, we walked through Times Square which was PACKED at 11pm. I mean, shoulder to shoulder, squeezing along the sidewalk. There were numerous TV broadcasts setting up, I think to report Michael Jackson's death, because where else would you go for crowd reaction than Times Square for news like that? And that may have been why it was so crowded. But I didn't enjoy that - I mean, I like people watching, but not when I'm crushed by a crowd!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Letters From Camp

Dear M+F
Hello, I am here at camp and and enjoy it. There IS not much to write about today, and so this letter is (?). So far, there is only a few people from last year, most come for later session. Well, I think that is all, and I am in (?), so bye.
Your son, John.

Dear Mom + Dad,
Today, so far, has been more boring than fun. And the pool was FREEZING!!! But, we did play Ultimate Frizbe!! The lunch was awsome today. There was gravy, stuffing, and lots of...turkey!! Later, I'm going to do body painting, or knee tag. Yesterday, we played a game called smog. Travis said he was a character in the Hobbit.
- Rachel M
love Will

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gosh, It's so QUIET Around Here!

It is very quiet around here right now. That's because all three (3) children are at sleep-away camp. No, really!

Yes, I sent my 7-yr old to sleep-away camp for a week. I'm getting two reactions. 1. Are you nuts??? and/or 2. Wow, what are you going to do all week by yourself????

I am feeling slightly nuts that I sent a 7-yr old who's never had a sleepover to camp. Although he has spent a couple of nights at the grandparents' (with his siblings, without parents at night), and when he was a toddler, spent a week at the other grandparents' house sans parents. Not that he remembers that. But he's not a hugely clingy child (mostly), and we've been working on independence in terms of showers and such. Bedtime may be the sticking point, but he's in a cabin with 9 other boys about his age, so there's a lot of thrill to that (but maybe not much sleeping). I'm feeling sorry for the counselors in his cabin, frankly.

As to what I'm going to do, well, I don't know. John is away on a business trip Monday and Tuesday, so I'll be REALLY on my own. Kind of looking forward to it, actually. Eat, sleep, everything totally on my schedule. Wow! And we're loosely planning on going into New York to do ... something. Eat good food, see a show, something.

Yes, of course I miss them. A little. Mostly I'm worrying that they're getting rain and thunder, although it's stopped raining here and there's actually SUNSHINE!!! But of course it's humid. Somehow I think they'll manage to have fun, regardless.

My biggest concern? It's a Quaker camp, so this morning they had a Quaker worship service. An hour, no sermon, no music, no talking. Unless you stand up and share something about your feelings or faith. I have NO IDEA how William sat without talking for an hour. I can't even begin to imagine him doing that, so I'm dying to know what happened.

7-yr old boys. An hour of silence. Really?

Friday, June 12, 2009

I've Been REALLY Busy

So the hardest part of this project, in many ways, was coming up with the content. I knew I wanted to do a star book (more on that later). It's a gift book for a librarian, so I fairly quickly settled on children's books as a theme. But it took an hour on the phone with my mother before she came up with the idea of featuring Caldecott Medal books. The board is covered with an embossed paper I bought in Amsterdam a few years ago. I printed the title on vellum, sized to fit the bookplate. The brads are through holes in the board so it's well attached, but I also stuck some glue dots behind the metal just to make sure.

This is a star book (you'll see why in a minute). There are three layers of pages, the front layer has a window cut out, the second layer has a picture of a book (I just printed pictures from the internet on photo paper). The third layer is just blank.

Another view. I just selected 10 books from the history of the award (roughly one every decade), and the years are hand-written.

And now you can see why it's called a star book. It's meant to be displayed like this or you can close it up and tie it shut.

An even more starry view.

I didn't realize the end pieces would be so tight to the cover or I wouldn't have spent so much time on them. It's a list of all the Caldecott Medal books, years and illustrators, and the quote is printed on vellum, mounted behind the window cut out of the first layer, and there's a piece of decorative paper glued behind on the second layer.

Ditto for the endplate of the book. Plus a lovely Ray Bradbury quote. But its so tight you can hardly open it, which wasn't obvious before I glued it to the cover. Oh well, now I know for next time.
They both loved their books, by the way. Gushingly. It was a little embarrassing - making the books was fiddly but not HARD in the way that painting or drawing is.

I've Been Busy...

Today was the luncheon for the library volunteers. The volunteer program at our elementary school is very active. There are ~20 library volunteers, and we come in for an afternoon or morning every other week, all school year. We check books in and out, shelve, and generally do the grunt work so the librarian and her assistant can actually work with the kids, maintain the books and add new ones, and schedule authors and illustrators to visit. They do a great job. Our librarian tailors her programs to fit the ages and needs of the kids - younger kids learn how to use the library and older ones learn how to use the library. Last time I was in, she had the 3rd graders on a book hunt - she gave them clues, either by Dewey Decimal call number, author and subject, or title, and they had to find the books in the library. It was a great exercise to really use what they had learned, and by structuring it as a game, the kids had a blast.
So every year she has a luncheon or party for her volunteers. Last year, in addition to a gift card we all chipped in for, the volunteer chair gave her handmade earrings. I thought, "Hey, I'm going to be co-chair this coming year, I could make her something!" Well, one thing led to another and I've been making books, so what could be more appropriate as a gift for the librarian?
This is the book I made for the assistant. It's approximately 3"x3", made as "meander book." That's a variation on an accordian book.
Cover is binder board covered with scrapbook paper. I drilled a little hole, and the button is actually a brad, so it is firmly attached to the cover. I poked it through the ribbon on one end, so the ribbon wraps around the book and then around the button. All the stickers and transparency pieces are from Making Memories. Some of the rub-ons are MM, some are Stampin' Up.
First page spread. Rub-ons and stickers, and I cut little slits to hold the corners of the quote.Second page spread. Because of how the book is made, I was able to cut the window in two pages and sandwich the bird transparency inside. The white is rub-ons on the following page.
Next spread goes over 4 pages. The left-hand quote is attached with flower eyelets. The white is rub-ons, and the colored flowers are stickers. The right-hand quote is again sandwiched between pages, with just a piece of white cardstock behind to make it more readable. Last spread! The transparency is held on with 4 mini glue dots in the corners, covered up by flat back gems (adhered with glue dots). The flowers are a transparency, again sandwiched, but with part of the plastic cut away so the button flower pokes through a little. It's adhered on the back page, which is attached to the back cover.

Unfolded, standing up.
From the top, you can see how the "window" pages stick out. The book is cut from one square piece of paper, divided into 16 equal squares. You then cut along some of the fold lines to make a long strip of paper that turns, or "meanders". Some people let the book turn, I chose to attach those pages together to make my windows.
This actually came together really quickly, although I found it easier to just start putting things together rather than plan each page. I'd purchased all the stickers, etc., from the same collection (in the clearance bin!) so everything coordinated, and I happened to have paper that worked with it too.
I'll post the librarian's book later, I'm off to the orthodontist with JC now. Goody!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Evils of Technology? Not so much...

So you read a lot in the news these days about kids and cell phones. How they have them too young, how they don't talk any more, how they text their friend sitting next to them, how spelling is dead, how they blow the family budget on text messages, yada yada yada.

Let me tell you, as a parent, there is actually an upside.

Three times now, I've had a child on a field trip, and actually had some idea what they were doing all day. Really! Both kids (Rachel and JC) took their cell phones along (basic safety precaution, plus you never REALLY know when the bus is coming home). Both of them, unasked, sent me pictures and texts during the day. "I'm going to ride that roller coaster" "Look at the Liberty Bell" "Check out this funny t-shirt"

Ok, not a lot of messages, but some every now and then. And it makes me feel connected. So many times they're gone all day someplace cool (yes, I know they're gone all day at school, but I have a pretty good idea what happens there. I think.) and by the time they get home, they're too tired to tell me more than, "yeah, it was fun."

So I get to live vicariously through them, a little. I get to see what they're seeing (at least a bit). I get a talking point to ask questions about. It's just a really nice thing. I hope they keep updating me, at least a little, for a long time. Text messages, emails, phone calls, I'm not picky.

And yes, I have talked to my own mother this week.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Kitty TV - Now in High Def!

We have always referred to windows as "Kitty TV", from the earliest days of watching a cat watching the bird feeder. Despite the fact that we have a lovely bay window with a wide sill, our current cats don't seem to spend a lot of time looking out the windows, unless we have the front door open with the glass storm door closed. Then they're down near the action, I guess, so they'll spend a lot of time looking out the door.

The other day I came home and Sheba was by the BACK door (full glass, paned like a French door). You could tell just by her body language that something was very interesting - ears back, body stiff, tip of the tail just twitching. So I very cautiously walked over and peeked out.

There was a chipmunk, not even a foot from the door, sitting, working on an acorn. Completely unconcerned that there was a vicious predator nearby ready to rip his guts out. I don't know if he was unaware of her, or knew that she couldn't get to him. But he was there for a loooong time. "Taunting" came to mind.

The Chipmunk Channel - all prey, all the time. Beats fuzzy mice for keeping indoor cats entertained.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

So Very True

"Knitting folklore says that if you knit a strand of your hair into your work, you will be forever bound to the person who receives that work. In my life, this means that a lot of people are forever bound to my cat."

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Never Not Knitting Calendar 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fatal Attraction

George (the cat) is irresistibly attracted to curling ribbon.

This is NOT a good thing.

I caught him trying to get an end loose from a spool of it last week. It was tightly wound, with the end tucked in, and he was still working hard at it. I always assumed it was the ends that he found enticing, just as cats will go after the moving end of any string.

No, it appears to be the ribbon itself. Which he eats. And then of course either throws up or poops out - until the day he eats too much and gets his insides all messed up. George, you have an itty bitty kitty brain. Not healthy.

Last night, he chewed through the ribbon on the balloon John got for his birthday. Not the free end, tied to the chair. The part between the balloon and the chair. Under tension. Again, no enticing free end, so, clearly, curling ribbon must become a controlled substance in our house, even more than it has been.

George is jonesing for his fix.

Friday, May 8, 2009