8.27.2008

The Tooth Fairy VS. Rudolf


Happy news,  Emma has lost a tooth!  (cheering) 

















 This summer Emma was playing with Mark and his friends  (Sounds bad already).  She was "accidentally", or so I am told, hit in the mouth with Mark's head.  Her two front teeth were struck and became loose, or should I say looser.  After much blood and much more crying the teeth were fine, just loose for months.  Now, thank goodness, the left tooth has fallen out, or was pulled out by mom.  Regardless, it is out.  Emma was super excited to be able to put her tooth under her pillow and get money.  After much celebration, which included dancing, and a little song called, "I lost my tooth."  Which consisted of nothing more than that line repeated hundreds of times,  we were finally able to settle down into bed.  Since she had  been sick for a couple of days sleep came fast.   John has been promoted to official "TF" duty. ( When mom is on TF duty, inevitably the tooth fairy has a bad night and doesn't make it to our house. )  John, money in hand, creeps into Emma's room to carry out his mission.   Seconds later he runs back in holding Emma's Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer stuffed animal, as it plays the theme song from the movie and it's nose flashing with bright red light.  He said he was just about to slip his hand under the pillow when he stepped on Rudolf and Rudolf began to sing.  Like the criminal he is he dropped the money, confiscated the deer and tooth in one swift movement and hightailed it out before Emma saw him.  Disaster evaded.  Looks like further preparations will be required prior to the next mission.

8.25.2008

The Non-Quilting Business

***WARNING***
This is a post in which I complain (a lot).   Those with preexisting high stress levels or who are under the care of a physician for anger management will want to use extreme caution.


As many of you may know, I started a quilting business this January.  Since then I have quilted over 50 quilts.  Yeah!  However I have only done 3 for payment and those were for friends.  Jean, my mentor, has referred  customers to me (all of whom total 2) which is super nice since she also has a long arm quilting business.  Both of them made appointments and never showed.   (Pulling hair out at this moment)  I have dropped business cards off at all 3 fabric stores in El Paso and NOTHING.  Not even a phone call from these!!!  I plan on expanding my area a little and dropping off business cards in Las Cruses.  I am so utterly frustrated!  (Patience is not my strong suit.)  I placed an advertisement in the Paso del Norte Quilt Guild Newsletter (which I am a member)  still nothing.  I am very frustrated and disappointed.    What to do????.

Meanwhile, I continue to make and quilt my own quilts. I am pleased that my skills are to a point where I can definitely see an improvement.  I have been practicing on two new patterns one is pebbles, which I am extremely pleased with.















The second pattern is sort of a loopy flower.  This one has been a bit more difficult for me because I tend to go to fast.  I get carried away.  Before I know it, I have made more of a slinky than a flower.  Practice. Practice. Practice.



















I keep telling myself things like..
  • "maybe it's not time yet."
  • "It will happen when it is meant to"
  • "Don't rush it."
  • "Soon."
  • "It's not me, It's them."
  • "Maybe, your crazier than originally thought." (OK, maybe not that one)
But the point is I am trying to stay positive and enjoy the time I have to practice.  When I can quilt at my own speed and I am not under any deadlines.  But eventually, I really would like to have clients.  Everyone has to have goals.

8.24.2008

WHO?


 I was awakened last night to a noise i have not heard before.  As I lay awake listening to the noise, in my semi-conscious state, I thought "what the @#$@ is that!? and how can I get it to stop!"  John wakes up and says, "It's an owl."  Amazing!!! I didn't even ask the question out loud and he answered me.  I got up and peered out the window, of course since it was 4 am I couldn't see anything, but the noise appeared to be coming from the back fence.  When John got up the bird flew away.  In a matter of minutes the bird was back, this time sitting on our chimney, so that the call came straight down into our bedroom.  Let me just say, Ginger did not like that and was on "high alert."  So we laid their thinking, it will fly away, surely it has to.  After about ten minutes John chimed in with, "OK, it was pretty cool at first.  Now, it is just annoying."  He got up and went out on the deck.  He said it was sitting up on our chimney just hoo, hoohooing away.  Then it looked straight at him (dramatic music playing in the background) and SCREECHED!! then flew away.  Since he got a look at it he decided to investigate it online and this is what it was....A Great Horned Owl.
















To get an idea of what it was like click here and play it for about 10 minutes at 4 in the morning.

Next week on Hoog's Wild Animal Adventures...."Coyote or Wild Dog Attacks at Zoo"

8.21.2008

AHCHOO!

God Bless You!  Well here we are the second week of school and sick.  Emma and Jack are home today with sore throats, coughs  and fevers!  (Cough, cough, sniff,  sniff)  I have put off taking Jack to the doctor all week hoping he would just get better.  (ahchoo!)  Unfortunately, I was sadly mistaken.  Now, we have a fever too.  I'd forgotten that with school comes illness.  Emma said this morning,  "I don't want to sit next to Marcus anymore.  He always sets his dirty tissues on my arm."  (Gross!  I think my throat hurts too.)  Of all the things kids share, I think they share colds the best.  I guess we have now officially been induced into school, since we are now calling in sick, picking up make-up work and doing make-up tests.  We are off to the doctor this  afternoon for strep tests and possibly a flu shot (Shhhh don't tell that part).  After the Doctor we will have to make a stop for extra tissues, cold medicine, Vick's, Vitamin C, and possibly an antibiotic.  (and a mini-trash can for Marcus).   Wish us well.

8.19.2008

Gotcha!


Well the past few days we have been spent chasing out varmint.  John spent hours at the hardware store pouring over traps, poisons and other violent methods of disposing of "it".  Meanwhile the little devil chewed through more boat wires, proceeded to leave cute little foot prints on the windowsill and nose prints on the window, and poop (everywhere).  It's a smart little thing.  On Saturday, Sunday and Monday, the little guy set off all the traps and ate all the peanut butter without dying.  By today i figured it had a better chance of dying from a heart attack, from the peanut butter, than it did of being trapped.  I gave john a deadline of Friday morning to catch it before I called in the professionals.  I think i offended some male ego thing because he spent quite a while out in the garage today.  All the traps were rearranged and reloaded and I was assured he would be a goner....we'll see.  Here are some of the devices John used to subdue his victim.  As much as he wanted to poison the little sucker, he didn't want a decaying animal in the bottom of his boat. 





























When I left to pick up the kids today I heard, rattle,rattle, rattle and I knew we had caught our vandal.  I walked around the corner and low and behold there was Poochi, as Emma has named it.   I had to let her name it she wanted to keep it!! 














John and Mark let the little guy go at the park today, miles and miles from our house.  Besides John and the damage to his boat,  the only trauma left by the event was Emma.  Mark apparently learned at a ranger talk at the Grand Canyon that squirrels were the most dangerous animal at the Grand Canyon.  Why?  because they carry fleas which carry Bubonic Plague!  So he shared this with Emma and she worried all night that we would all die of the plague.  So much for happy endings.

8.18.2008

Project update















I have gotten a few project done recently that i thought i would share.  Just finished a pair of fingerless gloves.  I had been wanting some for the winter here.  I cannot stand to have my fingers covered.  I always feel like i am fighting the gloves to do what it is i want to do.  These were a fairly quick knit and I had a great yarn a friend of mine gave me for Christmas.  It is 100% alpaca and so soft.  I hope it holds up, i would hate to wear through them faster than it took to knit them.  




























 i finished a small quilt top.  Mom had given me a "jelly roll" of batik fabric.  For those of you non-sewers a jelly roll is 15-20 different fabrics cut into 2 1/2 inch strips the length of the fabric, stacked on top of one another then rolled up and sold.  I had wanted to make this pattern for several months and always had my Christmas quilt mocking me.  Once i was able to finish my Christmas quilt I started this new quilt.  Amazingly it took only 2 days to cut and sew together.  Now I only need to figure out how to quilt it.  I am so completely happy with it i don't want to ruin the overall impression of the quilt by making the quilting the focus.  hmmm.  Any suggestions?

















I still have 2 projects that are in WIP (works in progress).  They took a short timeout and with Mark's soccer practice picking up should get a lot of attention.  I am working on a Pi shawl from Elizabeth Zimmerman and a short sleeved cardigan which with luck i should be able to wear this fall.  Soon I will have to get working on my Christmas shopping and knitting.  If anyone would like something specific please let me know.  I have some really cute ideas for my nieces and nephews!!

8.17.2008

RATZ!



Thursday evening while the rest of us were at soccer practice, John was at home enjoying the peace and quiet.  Lucky dog.  He spent his extra time in the garage.   Doing what?  I never ask (safer that way).   He called me at soccer and asked, "What happened to the shade?"  We have a rather large window in the garage, covered with a cheap metal blind.  The blind was torn, shredded and had bites taken out of it.  We brain stormed a while.  Here is what we thought. We have been leaving the garage door cracked for the summer.  The garage had been getting so hot, it was actually causing the gasoline in the boat to evaporate, filling the garage with fumes.  Never a good thing.  When we would crack the garage door this problem was relieved.  The manner in which the shade was torn looked like an animal perhaps a feral cat had gotten stuck inside garage and tried to escape by climbing the shade.  John searched the garage and turned up nothing. 


Figuring our problem was resolved, we purchased a new shade on Saturday.  John started installing it on Saturday afternoon.  It was then he discovered the next clue.  Droppings.  Three different kinds of droppings.

Which could mean there are or have been three different types of animals in the garage.  Super.  Saturday after installing the new shade, John sets a mouse trap.  Saturday evening after church we come home to a trap that is sprung,  all of the bait taken and footprints all over the windowsill.  Foot prints that are bigger than a mouse.  John resets the trap with more peanut butter, and we wait.  

Meanwhile we start discussing the times when we have heard noises in the garage.  Between the time we found the shade and Sunday morning we have heard the noises in various locations around the garage.  Most notably, around the boat.  Now, when you have a rodent in your garage you question you are actually hearing the noise or if you are imagining it because you now expect to hear noises.  

Sunday morning we had planned on going out on the boat.  John went out to check the trap, and the trap was gone.  OK now we have a large, and crafty animal.  We have  had mice and chipmunks in our garages before, nothing a mouse trap couldn't handle.  Now, we need a bigger trap!   John again hears noises on the boat.  We decide to put the boat out in the drive way in hopes that the hot sun will drive the animal out of the boat, if indeed that is where it is located.  John puts Ginger on the boat to see what she finds.  She seems interested in the bow seat.  John opens the compartment and finds the next clue.  A shredded roll of paper towels and more droppings.  Now we start to empty the boat of all it's contents.  We shake everything out, find more droppings but no animal.  Now the boat sits about 3 feet off of the ground on the trailer.  So, we have an animal who is a good climber, mouse, rat, opossum, raccoon, groundhog , or squirrel???   As John proceeds through the boat he finds no other sign of the critter until the engine, 4 wires have been chewed through.  John is not a happy camper.  We unload, shake out and vacuum the boat and have uncovered nothing but destruction.  What's next....animal control and a bigger trap.  

8.15.2008

We Survive


The first week of school as already come and gone.  Hard to believe that we are now entering our third year here in El Paso schools.  Thankfully the week started and ended on a good note to everyone.  Here are my "Big Kids"  on the third day of school.  (Ok, first day, third day close enough right?) Please excuse the mess in the garage. 
Sunday everyone was super excited!  Mark and Emma still carried some reservations about the new year.  Unsure about teachers, friends and classroom assignments.  Jack however was super excited and told me he couldn't wait to use his new school supplies and open the new textbooks.  How cute!  Mark was a little taken a back by that statement, simply shook his head and muttered something about having a brother who was a nerd.  I assured him it was "OK" and in no way affected his status as a jock. 

Monday morning went off without a hitch and we even arrived to school early, of course today being Friday we were late leaving.  (Old habits die hard)  Emma was practically bursting at the seams when I picked them up on Monday.  She said that First grade was definitely better than Kindergarten.   Jack seemed happy and said his teacher Never yelled.  (Did I mention that Jacks teacher is a first year teacher, with no kids?  Yeah, we'll see how long that no yelling thing works.)  Mark was relieved to have the first day under his belt, but entering middle school presented it's own new set of worries.  He now changes classrooms  every class, has a locker and gets to pick electives.  He ended up with about 2 1/2 hours of homework every night along with 2 hours of soccer practice, oh yeah and trying to watch the Olympics prime time.  

I was amazed at the differences in the kids homework styles.  I don't know why I still become amazed at their differences but I do.  I cannot believe how much of how they act is a reflection of who they are and who they will become and has nothing to do with my parenting.  For example,  Emma always, always without hesitation starts her homework immediately.  Even before she changes her uniform she has her planner and her homework out.  She even started studying for her Spelling test on Monday even though the test is Friday.  Everything is always neat and organized and put back exactly where it should be.   
Jack is always the last to start his homework and he complains and whines the entire way through.  Somehow I think he believes he should make me as miserable as he is when he is doing his homework.  
 Mark starts his homework quickly enough,  but is one to procrastinate to the bitter end for long term projects.   As a self professed procrastinator, I truly understand his unwillingness to get started.   I have been trying to impress  upon him the importance of getting long term projects started early because of our new soccer schedule.   He is getting better.  Sometimes I wonder what he is thinking!   I asked where his homework planner was and he said in his locker.  OK, how do you know what to do for homework?  Oh, easy he wrote it on the top of the page in his book.  Great.  The same book we covered so it wouldn't get ruined?  Yep.  At least he wrote it down.  He had an assignment for health in which he had to draw a circle and divide it evenly into 3 parts, then write things in each part.  His first attempt at drawing a circle, looked more like an oval.  He erased it and drew it again.  This was better but didn't leave him enough room on the sides.   After erasing twice his paper was mighty wrinkled and slightly torn, with 2 partially visible circles drawn on it.  He was smoothing it out when I suggested he use a new piece of paper.  "Mom, do you know how many trees are killed each year for paper products?"  he said.  Now, I'll admit that environmental concern was not what I was thinking of at that particular time.   Never-the-less I convinced him to use a new sheet of paper.  Then I pulled out a bowl to let him trace it for a circle.  "Mom, everything does not have to be perfect!"  Sigh.  No but teachers do appreciate when you put a little effort and pride into something even if it is just homework!  Impressing the importance of presentation to a preteen boy is a waste of my time.

By Thursday everyone was exhausted.  Just getting out of bed was a huge amount of energy.  Emma was crying because she missed 2 on the spelling pretest.. (2 challenge words not even the regular spelling words.  She still got 100%!)  "But, mom it's not perfect.''  she cried. UGH!  Much of Thursday was spent dealing with Emma's horrific temper and trying to help her perfect her spelling words.  Yippee.  Mark was angry because I refused to let him pick football as an elective and made him take Spanish.  Just because  80% of the El Paso population is Hispanic is no reason to have to take Spanish.    I am so mean.  Jack declared there are no spelling tests in Third grade and promptly started arguing with everyone who said differently.    Of course, Emma believes him so this only made her sobbing continue on, and on, and on.  "Why do I have to take spelling tests if Jack doesn't!"   she exclaimed.    Yep, you guessed it, everyone got dinner and went to bed earlier than usual.  

Tonight after soccer, when everyone is fed and gone to bed, mommy is going for a long walk, taking a shower and sitting down with a glass (or two) of wine and relishing the fact that we survived the beginning of another school year.

8.12.2008

Ode to a Plant

Sunday afternoon John and I were talking and we realized we hadn't been interrupted in at least 5 minutes.  Odd considering everyone was awake.  We then noticed it was surprisingly quiet.  Not a good thing, necessary.  John went to hunt everyone down.  Mark parked in front of the TV (surprise), Jack playing Lego's and Emma lying on the floor in her room.  John said she was lying on the floor moving her arms and legs as if doing jumping jacks.  What was odd was that she was repeating "Photosynthesis" over and over as if chanting it.  He watched her for a full minute before asking, "What are you doing Emma?" 
 She replied, "Playing."   
"What are you playing?"
"I am pretending I am a plant.  Now move, your in my light." she scolded.
Oh. Ok.  

Ouch.

Saturday evening we took the kids out for a walk.  They were super excited.  School was only 2 days away and you would have thought it was Christmas.  Safe to say they needed run off a little steam.  We made them all ride their scooters, because walking can actually turn out to be more difficult.   Mark is in the custom of jumping curbs, ramping his scooter and generally trying to get the largest scrape or cut he can.  He has a t-shirt that says, "I do my own stunts!" for a reason.  As the walk progressed the kids established the pecking order.  Typically  it goes by birth order although, we do have bumping , jockeying for position and the occasional illegal pass.  The kids took turns letting Ginger pull them along, (just another something to fight about, we like to keep it interesting).  We came to the church parking lot where there are lots of good curbs, ramps and speed bumps to ride over or on.  Mark came to a median and jumped it clean and landed on the other side.  Jack stopped his scooter and got off and just stared.  "I have Never seen Mark do that before!"  he exclaimed.  He couldn't believe it.  He just kept staring. I got the feeling he was calculating the odds or the trajectory or something scientific.  After about 30 seconds Jack says, "Well I should have said, ' WoW, I've never seen Mark do that without hurting himself."  

8.10.2008

Farewell To an Old Friend


We mourn the loss of a dear friend this Sunday.  We have known it for over 14 years.  It served us well and was always there when were needed a break.  It was unfortunate set of circumstances that led to the demise of our dear friend.  Some might call it "homicide"  others "old Age".  What ever the name, it was past it's time.  John seems to be taking it the hardest,  calling it a senseless loss that could have been prevented.  Although saddened, I am glad to be free of it's massive size, and look ahead to redecorating.  The rips and tears in the leather now unrepairable.  It could not be saved.  After numerous attempts at disposal, it is survived by the once swivel, and now stationary recliner.   Preceded in death by the white washed entertainment center, coffee table, sofa table and two end tables.   As the first furniture purchased by a newlywed couple in 1994 it represents the end of the 90's decor and the beginning of what we can hope is a new sleeker style.   It was a good sofa and will surely be missed by those who sat on it's comfy leather seats.  We can only hope it finds another family who will love its deeply cushioned seats and large padded armrests.  May it rest in peace.  

We spent the day cleaning out getting rid of two broken chairs and the beloved sofa recliner.  All for the greater good, regardless of what was spoken by others. 













  

We finished restoring our antique parlor chairs which sit regally in our living room now.  Many of you may not have known that I purchased these on eBay only viewing two pictures and the word of the seller.  After a much to complicated delivery, which took almost 2 months to get here, we finally received them.  John was not to pleased at the condition of the upholstery and I was sure I was about to be baned from ever using the Internet again.  However with much elbow grease and many hours spent researching upholstery.   We finally got to work...















and are very pleased with the results.  Even John admitted we should think about going into the re-upholstery business.  
 

8.08.2008

T-I-R-E-D



I have been up late the last week doing various things such as quilting.  Twice I was purposely up, once I was up dealing with my asthma, and once i was up because apparently a pot of coffee before bed is not a good idea.  Despite my late nights, i have been maintaining a 6:30 am wake-up time.  This way I am still able to have the kids up by 7 am (our going back to school routine.)  This morning I was awakened at 6 am my my neighbors lawn care service.  I woke up thinking, "That cannot be someone cutting the grass at this hour!"  oh, but it was.  My second thought was, "where am I?"  It turns out Emma had a nightmare, which i barely remember waking for, and i must have gone to lay down with her, because that is where I woke up.  Although, the memory of it all is lost.  The neighbor who had the lawn service doesn't even live there anymore!  I made it appoint to call the realtor who is handling the sale of their property and complain.  I should have called and woken her up at 6 am.  But I didn't.  I would like to say it was because I was being nice, but that would be a lie.   Actually, I didn't think of it until after my 2 Nd cup of coffee at 7 am.  Maybe I should start the mower up at 6 tomorrow and give her another ring?  

After grumbling around for and hour.  I  embarked on a day full of deadlines.  I have a quilting guild meeting tomorrow.   Since i put a notice in the newsletter officially announcing my new business, I felt I should take something to show off my work.  I don't know about the rest of you,  but I have a really hard time promoting myself.  So, I have been stressed out all week worrying about my quilting skills.  Trying to get one quilt off the quilting frame so I could get another on to display at tomorrows meeting.  Also, at each meeting we have a block of the month to make, a fat quarter to bring in and I happened to volunteer to bring in a snack tomorrow.   Yippee.  So, today I spent trying to climb out of a hole I dug for myself.  I was up late finishing the quilting on my Christmas Quilt.  This morning I cut out the binding and cut out the pieces for the block of the month.  TA-DA! 









Here is my Christmas Quilt still unbound.  As it is at this current moment because I am typing.  Hey everyone needs a break.


Here is my block for the block of the month. 
Mark and I finished making a banana coffee cake to take in.  Now I just have to finish the binding.  Which always seems to take FOREVER!  Typing it all down it doesn't really seam like i did very much today.  Until you add in the fact I still had to do my mommy duties.  

At about 1-ish we had friends come over which really increased my proficiency.  I sat down to start the binding,  and I got really tired.  I do alright on limited sleep, as long as i keep moving.  Sitting down was a big mistake.  I just kept getting more tired.  I think I poked myself like 20 billion times with a pin or a needle.  (so what's a little blood.  It is red and Christmas is represented by red and green right?)  I really, really, really wanted to take a nap.  But,  taking a nap when the kids have friends over can be bad.  I can see the mom coming over early.  

"Is your mom here?" she asks innocently.
"Yeah, but she's sleeping."  they reply.  
HAAAAAAA!  Not so good. So, I just made a pot of coffee and had a pepsi while it brewed.  Tomorrow I sleep.

School

School is upon us.  Today was meet the teacher day.  I woke everyone bright and early this morning, fed them a healthy breakfast (brownies and milk, at least it was breakfast) and threw them in the car.  I was prepared for lots of moaning and groaning, about how summer was too short and they don't want to go back to school.  Oddly enough they didn't complain.  They were actually excited about going back to school.  What that says about me I can only imagine.  The teachers all asked if the kids were ready and they all replied "Yes."  As a matter of fact, Mr. Ochoa,  Jack's new teacher, said Jack was the first student he had that replied they were ready for school to start.  Face it my kids are weird.  We received orientation packets and school policy lists to sign, lunch menus and curriculums.  Emma even received her first weeks spelling words.  Of course, she studied them on the way home, see I told you. Weird. They immediately came home and started going through the school supply lists and sorting supplies, putting their names on them and packing their bags.  Did I mention school doesn't start until Monday.  They did not get their organizational skills from me.   They are actually excited  which i guess is better than the alternative.  I am sure we will still have some fears and anxieties to deal with sunday night.  But, basically they are ready.  

Mark started soccer this week with a new team.  His practices are 3 days a week plus games on Saturday.  This Saturday I sign Emma up for Dance, she wants to do Ballet and Jazz this year.  Then in 2 weeks Jack starts back up in piano and he is thinking about guitar also.  Then it will be back to the constant running of the mommy taxi.  I was worried this summer would go slow and i wouldn't have enough to keep them busy.  I guess I can put that worry away.    Still it will be weird the first day back, having all that free time to myself.  WooHoo!  I will miss them right up until I pick them up on the first day.  

8.06.2008

Dogs and Dolls

Today was a busy, busy, busy day.  John worked from home, which always throws me off a little.  Today we also had a moving company coming to drop of an antique bedroom set for Emma along with assorted other things from Ohio.  In addition to needing to go to the grocery i also had to make a run to the post office, the bank, Walgreen, and Home Depot.  The movers were coming at 10 so the bank run was first. COD on the furniture.  Before I  left, I asked Emma to pick up her Bitty Twins and put them away.  Upon returning, i found the dolls on the floor and their clothes scattered around.  Emma, it seemed had forgotten to put them away.  I reminded her and she gave me the usual list of excuses.  I forgot, I had to go to the bathroom, I was going to do it on the next commercial.  (If you have kids i am sure you have heard them all.)  

The movers came.  Emma and i ran the rest of the errands, with the Bitty Twins now fully dressed.  We got home unloaded and the kids decided to swim.  On a trip into the house to get snacks, I once again found the Bitty Twins naked and laying in a pile with their clothing.  I picked them up and noticed they were damp.   I figured the kids had gotten them wet on their way in the house from the pool.  Why is it so hard to dry off before coming in from the pool?  I made a mental note to "remind"  Emma again.  When I did remind her  she said, "i did put them away."  Well if they were put away why did I just find them on the FLOOR! 

 After dinner we were getting ready for a walk, when I heard the kids screaming at Ginger.  It is not unusual for the yelling to go on in our house, so basically I tuned it out.  When I did resurface to take everyone out for a walk Emma said, "Mom, you will never guess what Ginger did?  She took my Bitty Twins!"  I said, "Well Emma, if you would have put them away."  She looked at me, rolled her eyes and through her hands on her hips.  "Mom,  you don't get it.  She didn't just take them.  She undressed them!!"  Sure enough the dolls were naked, for the third time that day and more than a little wet in places.  It appears Ginger not only like shoes, but also enjoys playing with dolls.

8.05.2008

In Which We Blow-up Camp


OK, just so you don't think the camping trip was an entire flop here's another story.  

Last fall my mom and sister went to the Grand Canyon.  As a souvenir they brought the kids back a make your own pottery kit.  After begging and begging to make pots, I put the box away until I had the time to "help" them with it.  When we on our Grand Canyon trip this summer the kids went to a pottery demo with the ranger.  The ranger did a fantastic job.  She told the Native American story of how clay came to be and then each of the kids got to design their own pot.  Unfortunately, the clay had to be reused and the pots were collected.  The kids were sad that after all of their hard work they were unable to take their pots home.  I reminded them of the kit Nonna had brought back for them and they said "What Kit?"  Just love how that out of site out of mind process works.  I promised i would show them "later."  Then the camping trip came out of nowhere and i thought this would be the perfect place to make the pots!  You see the key to this whole pot process it that the kit is designed to teach the kids the "old ways" of making clay pots.  Which involves camp firing the pots.  We would have a camp fire definitely!  You just cant go camping without roasting marshmallows!  

Saturday morning we spread out the table cloth and got to work!  Now if you have never made a pot out of real clay before.  It can be a little messy.  This is not Playdoh, this is not even close to modeling clay or Sculpty.  With clay you have to add water, to help smooth the clay and keep it from drying out as you shape the clay.  Since we have had the clay for 9 months, before we ever got it out of the bag, it was a little dry to start with.  We had prepared the clay the night before.  Breaking it apart, with a knife (did i say a little dry?)  adding water and sealing it in a Tupperware container.  Nevertheless, the clay was still dry.  So we added, more water.  Well, did I mention it was Red Dirt clay.  Yep.  Mark was the first one to get clay on his shirt. (surprise).  Then after the shirt came off the chest, hands, forehead, arms and even tennis shoes became covered with red clay mud.  He looked like a indian warror preparing for battle.  John, who tends to be the cleaner of us parents, dilligently scrubed Mark's shirt, with no luck...Sigh.  
Emma and Jack remarkably did not get covered with the red clay, I however, did not escape the carnage.   

Jack and Emma were quick to form and finish their designs which we placed in the sun to dry.  Mark took longer unable to get his design to form the way he wanted.  He wanted a bowl shape and the clay was to brittle to get the walls to form without cracking.  Then I got a idea.  Lets use one of the plastic bowls as a mold and form the bowl over it.  Brilliant!  Not so brilliant.  I  mentioned we left to get ice.  Well, by the time we returned Mark's bowl was cracked.  We didn't take the mold out quickly enough, so as the clay dried it shrunk and cracked the bowl.  We pried the clay off the bowl, ground it up and, yup, added more water.  Down went shirt number two.  Now this time we wrapped the bowl in plastic and then clay so we could remove the bowl without cracking the clay.  AH-Ha.  Now, we were fortunate to have a water spicket just to the right of our campsite.  Which made clean up easy.  Now if you have ever dealt with red, clay, icing, food coloring, etc. you know red anything doesn't clean up easy.  As a matter of fact, some of my fingernails are slightly orange, still.  You may also remember that  the desert southwest doesn't believe in drainage.  So under the spicket there was no drain, just rocks.   Basically, we created a red lake next to our campsite.  Which is LOADS of fun to ride your bike through. While Jack and Emma may not have gotten clay on them while forming their pots, they did after they drove their bikes through the "lake" a couple dozen times.  Yeah.  Anyway, after Mark's pot had dried, we felt it was safe to take out the bowl,  we tried.  yeah, yeah, yeah we tried.  Well you see,  the bowl we used was the same bowl we mixed the clay and the water in to reform the bowl in the first time.  Basically, it was covered in a mixture known as slip to potters.  The bowl was stuck to the plastic. Oh sigh.  So we rip it off the mold yet again,  mix the clay, yet again, add more water, yeah, lost shirt number three  and then reformed the bowl over a clean bowl wrapped in clean plastic.  (At this point, I am ready to KILL my mom, sorry mom)
Anyway, they all dried, thank goodness for dry heat and 100 degree temps.

We sent the kids out to collect small sticks and logs for the building of the campfire.    Which is thankfully something we don't have to bribe them to do.  We started a small fire.  For this process we needed to set the pots onto hot coals then cover them with pine needles, pine cones and sticks then stack more logs on top.  In the morning presto, ceramic pots!  TA-DA .  As we got the fire started we set the pots on the grill rack next to the campfire.  The pots need to warm up so they don't crack when placed on the coals.  After the coals were ready we used a stick, because the pots were HOT to place them on the coals.   We continued the procedure as described in the instruction booklet.  Just prior to Ginger freaking out about the ants.  We hear a BANG! POP! and stuff goes flying.  What the @#!#$!  A piece of  Emma's pot had blown clean off.   Then another BANG !  A POP!  Kids screaming and crying.  Pots are exploding, pottery shrapnel was  flying every wear.  Smoke and steam is pouring from the fire.  You can hear the hiss of water boiling and you realize.  The clay was not as dry as we thought.  Apparently.  We are under attack by our own campfire!   Eventually the exploding ceased, thankfully we only had 4 pots. Everyone crawled out from where they were hiding, not unlike the seen in The Wizard of Oz when the witch leaves and Glenda exclaims, "It's alright you can come out now."  Hey, we may even be about the same size.  
 

We left everything in the fire and the next morning we uncovered what was left of our Exploding Pottery.


Now we just have to figure out how to use this as this years science fair project. 

8.03.2008

A few errors in Judgement.



Hello all!  So, here's the scoop in deciding to go camping we might have made a few errors in judgement.  First, we decided Wednesday to go camping Friday.  Despite having made play dates on Thursday and Friday morning I decided that I didn't have nearly enough to do and getting ready to go camping was a fabulous idea!   Hey, i am an organized type, who thrives on stress and deadlines. (OK and slightly mentally  unstable apparently.)   But, we were packed and loaded by 3pm on Friday and we made it there by dinner Friday.  The campground was empty, (a clue) and we were able to have our pick of sites, here is our lovely campsite, And look trees! There were trees because this particular campground, as you may recall, was on the Bank of the Rio Grande.  Here was our second error.  It was empty because, it was covered with bugs! Oh, not just the fun, "Look at this bug mom!" we had our fair share of those.  We also had more than our share of BUGS, primarily flies, mosquitoes and other biting insects such as ants!  Consequently Jack woke up Saturday morning with 60 mosquito bites.  His Left leg is so badly covered that I didn't worry about dabbing on the calamine i just lathered all over.  We used up 3 Bottles of OFF.  We were there only a total of 48 hours!!   There were so many flies that Jack refused to eat out of the tent.  And it was HOT only 100.  So, not only were we covered with OFF, calamine, flies we were also sweaty.  Sounds appealing doesn't it?!?  NO amount of scenery can make this fun.   Even with this cute guy in it!! 










Saturday, night Ginger starts whimpering first we think its the "I want to be by my people" whine, we were eating it's reasonable.  Then she starts really yelping as though her pincher collar is on to tight.  I go over to see if she is tangled in something
 and notice she is licking her rear paw.  I try to get her to let me see it and she proceeds to snap at me.  Then I notice the ANTS.  The big black ants with bright red abdomens and stingers.  The ants that she is lying in.  AHHHHHH!  I take her over to the spicket to try to rinse her off.  As she is sitting under the running water i notice the ants are not moving.  They are clinging to her foot!.  I scream and call John over.  Together we pin her down and try to investigate.  Not a thing.  The poor dog just keeps yelping and whining and limping.  She actually sits with her but tucked under so she can lift her back feet off the ground.  If she wouldn't have been so pitiful it would have actually been humorous.
 

  










This last bit of unfortunate information was in actuality, truly our own fault, or was it?  We pulled up on Friday behind a camper.  When we get out we realize that we actually know the kids.  They are  in Jack and Emma's classes.  Now, they are not their best friends, they are not even just friends,  they  are kids my kids don't like.  Why, because 1. they tease my kids, 2. they don't listen, 3.  they get in trouble on a daily basis.  The little girl, Katie actually teased Jack all year because his name was" to American".  Hello, her name is Katherine!  Now,  I have seen the mom at school.  She always came across as cold, aloof and snotty.  Needless to say, we weren't close.  Anyway, she comes over to our campsite and says, "Oh, what a small world!  I cannot believe of all the coincidences, who would have thought!"  Then she gives me a HUG!   "Ok", i think, maybe i have misjudged her.  You know what they say about gut feelings?  Well, trust them.    We went to the park that evening and talked.  The girls seemed nice and were sweet with the kids.  We invited them over to share our campfire and for smores. Then Saturday, we paid for it.   Saturday the kids were over as soon as we stepped out of the tent.  They didn't even bother to check on their kids.  So the kids were there until we left to get ice.  Now the kids started to get pushy on Friday night.  Which really bothered me, and John kept saying just relax, they are just kids, they don't know any better.  I thought  "maybe, just maybe i was over reacting".  NOPE.  They were rude and pushy because their parents are.  So as soon as we got back they were right there at our site.  Not only did the kids camp out at our site, they ate our food without asking, invited themselves to go on our hikes and bike rides and tried to convince us to do things with them that their parents wouldn't do.   At one point, the parents came over and said, "We are going for a walk."  The little girl, Katie, says, "I don't want to go."  So they just leave.  No asking if we mind watching, no insisting she go with them they just turn and leave. RUDE!   We had them until dinner when the mother came over and said it was time to eat.  She was standing right next to me, saw me making dinner and didn't even make eye contact with me.  No, Thanks for watching my kids.  No, They aren't bothering you are they? No, Just send them back when you get tired of them. Nothing, nada,  No, acknowledgement at all!!  RUDE PEOPLE SUCK!  So, this morning, they were back and we entertained them while their parents packed up.   Never mind that we were trying to get ready to go.  That's ok as long as they are not put out.  I was so flippin' angry. (And it is obvious i am so over it now.)  So, this mornings form of entertainment was, lets tease Ginger.  Oh, yes.  Finally John banished them to the campsite next to ours and Ginger hid under the truck until we left. Obviously traumatized by the whole camping experience. 

 Now, the bugs and the heat were unknown factors that we couldn't have done anything about.  But, how do  you say nicely "Watch your own @#$! kids."?  How, do you deny kids who are so obviously in need of attention?