Evolution of the Gingerbread House

One of our Christmas traditions is the construction of a Gingerbread House. Every year the kids and I bake and decorate a House. It was surprising to me to find that this is something they look forward to every year. Every year it takes me a little longer to get into the "spirit" of constructing our Home. It is a multi-day event and very labor intensive (at least for mom). This year we barely completed it before Christmas. It is finished and it we are quite proud.


Knitting again

This past week I have begun to knit again. I took a little break from it to do things like laundry, cook, unpack, and you know the usual mommy things. But this week I have been knitting! I have been sitting down every night with my knitting needles, yarn and a Mojito (the most important of the knitting supplies :) and knitting away. It has been a huge stress reliever. I cannot believe I have set aside so many projects in order to do laundry! What was I thinking. I can honestly say that I haven't completed much (possibly due to the alcohol consumption?) but the rhythmic action of knitting has been a God send. That coupled with the fact that I am not trying to get anything specific finished for Christmas, have been most enjoyable. Then today I stumbled upon a t-shirt that read, "I knit so I don't kill people" and I realized that it is not just me who needs this stress relief. Perhaps a great gift idea for the knitter in your life. Happy Knitting!


joke of the day

In the interest of keeping my humor this Holiday Season I'd like to share this joke.

Walking home after a girls' night out, two women pass a graveyard and stop to pee. The first woman has nothing to wipe with, so she uses her underwear and tosses it. Her friend, however, finds a ribbon on a wreath, so she uses that. The next day, the first woman's husband phones the second woman's husband, furious: "My wife came home last night without her panties!" "That's nothing," says the other. "Mine came back with a card stuck between her butt cheeks that said, 'From all of us at the fire station, we'll never forget you.'"

Read more:


Please Stand By..

Just when I think it couldn't get any busier, it does. With all that has been going on this year Christmas got put on the back burner. Oh, what a mistake that was. It was only this morning, while sitting idle at the All Tune & Lube (fun times) did it dawn on me that I have exactly 5 days left. FIVE DAYS! The kids will be out of school Friday and with all of their energy and enthusiasm I am sure I will not have any time to put towards Christmas. Just to keep me on my toes, Mark is enjoying a winter season of 3 vs. 3 soccer and Jack is trying out for The Sound of Music (He made callbacks! WooHoo!) While I continue to work at unnatural speeds please enjoy this cartoon. I'll be back shortly.


Books & Reviews

If you are an avid reader and are looking for new material check out librarocity . It is a relatively new site for podcast reviews of various titles. I enjoyed the reviewers comparison of books with related themes as well as her quirky sense of humor and wit. Okay, and maybe I am a little bias as well.


Do you see what I see?

Here's the scoop. The kids, primarily Jack and Emma play this game with party necklaces. The plastic party beads you see at Mardi-gras or at little princess birthday parties. Ok, we have many, many necklaces, and large variety of shapes, colors and lengths. While Emma enjoys wearing them, Jack not so much. Anyway here is the game they play. They ball up the necklace, throw it up in the air and then watch to see the shape they make. I know this may not sound exciting to many of you, once you start going it can be quite hilarious. Here are some of our "tosses" and what we think they look like.





Jack's running man

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree....What do you see?

It's up and

It's GOOD!

After days of the dreaded Christmas box invasion The Tree is UP (and complete with train)! WooHoo!


A Thankful List

In the spirit of the season I'd like to take a moment to share a few items on my thankful list.

Family & Friends
A plentiful table and people to share it with
Desserts and COFFEE
Health and Home
Warm sunny days on the East Coast
Good Books, Bad Jokes and Big Smiles
Silly Kids with the giggles
Nieces and Nephews to entertain
Electronics that travel in the car
A puppy to love and be loved by
A warm bed
Rainy days
Love and Life.....


Jack's 10!

I apologize for this late post. I have been having "issues" with the computer. Never-the-less here is Jack on his 10th birthday! WOW!
Happy Birthday Jack!

Legal Council

While sitting down to dinner with the kids, I noticed Emma did not have her glasses on. So, I asked "Where are you glasses?"
Her response was quick and easy, "I took them off when Jack and I were jumping on the bed."
WHAT! Jumping on her Antique bed!
Almost immediately after responding, her error was obvious. With a look of horror that mimicked my own she turned to Jack for help.
Jack gave Emma a stern look. He then turned and held his hand up to silence her. This clearly signaled the "I"ll handle this."
He turned to me and said, "I can neither confirm nor deny that we were or were not jumping on the bed."



It's funny how life works out. Mark and I have been struggling along through Pre-Algebra this year. It is a constant battle between us. Even Jack and Emma clear out when we start in on Math. jack has been known to state, "Come on Emma. Let's go they are getting ready to have a fight." What makes the math battle just a little bit more difficult is Mark's firm belief that "MOM is Wrong, Always!" Which can make my job explaining why his answer is wrong a bit difficult. It is not that Mark is terrible at math, on the contrary. Math is just the one subject in which he actually has to study. I am constantly trying to pump up his self-esteem in this area. I work with him prior to each test stating affirmations and positive thoughts. I was reading a book last night after we had stayed up late studying when this quote jumped off the page at me.

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." --Eleanor Roosevelt

This struck me as a quote I should share with Mark before his test. Then it dawned on me. This is not only applicable to Mark. It applies to me as well. I am the one who is currently afraid. I am the one who cannot bring herself to quilt for fear of the unknown. I needed to face my own fears and just jump in. So today I did.


Why Princesses Do Not Discover New Worlds.

Today is Tuesday Take Home Day. What this means is that all the paperwork the kids have done over the past week, plus any office communications come home. I am flooded with papers of all shapes, colors and sizes. Today was no exception. Jack and Emma were enthusiastic and wanted to show me everything, all at the same time, of course. What would siblings be without the rivalry? Through the chaos, the ever mounting piles of papers and the chattering over this and that I stumbled upon one paper that I wanted to share. It appears that with Columbus Day, Emma's class had a discussion and learned all about sailing the seas with Columbus. After the lesson they were given a ship to color and told to write a paragraph. Their paragraph had to tell if they would or would not like to have sailed with Columbus. This is Emma's (with slight some slight editing for spelling)

I would not liked to sail with Columbus because I could not change my clothes. I would have to drink warm water. It would be disgusting. I would not like to be on a ship with 40 other people. I would not like it one bit!



I am getting closer to my organized sewing room/office/wii room. My machine is up and I have loaded a practice quilt. The only thing is I am completely FREAKING OUT. Why? I have no idea. I just stand there, absolutely TERRIFIED of starting again. I just don't know if I am afraid of failure or success.


Art Show

The kids have been bring home tons of artwork. As a mom I never know what to do with it all. Many of you know I frame my children's artwork, at least my favorites. Others get a rotational spot on the refrigerator. Still others end up in the keep-sake boxes. Then there is a pile of them that I never know what to do with. I hate throwing them away. They put so much time and energy into them, I hate to just toss it. I decided I would start taking pictures of them to save the memory! I have selected a few to share with all of you.

A mountain road. by Jack

Halloween Monster. By Emma

Leaves. By Mark

Emma's city. By Emma

Jack. By Jack.



"You need a reason to be sad. You don't need a reason to be happy."
Louis Sachar (Sideways Stories from Wayside School)

While listening to Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar we heard this quote. It was spoken by a character, D.J., who's never ending smile is a mystery to his fellow classmates. Throughout the chapter his classmates try to guess why D.J. is always smiling. D.J. responds with the above quote. I found it humorous and a bit alarming that when my youngest heard this she immediately doubted it. She asked, "Mom, is that true?" When my reply was a simple, "Yes." I was stunned further by her exclamation, "People cannot be happy for no reason! It's just not right!" Ah, the life of "type A" persona.



Where we live, we are on a septic system. This is something new to us. We have not lived with the likes of this, and we have much to learn. After along discussion with Jay, the septic guy, who I must say was quite nice and very knowledgeable, despite lacking a few of the more commonly used teeth. Jay said that the misuse of said septic system could result in a "back-up". I was quick to head his warnings.

We went out and bought a front load washing machine. I have heard various reports from people and it seems you either love-'em or hate-'em. Since I have never found true love with an appliance, and the machine continues to do all that I ask of it I am quite happy with mine. The front load washing machines use considerably less water than the normal top-loader (as they are referred to in "the business"). Less water in the septic tank means less chance for the dreaded "back-up" to occur.

The kicker is I tend to do most of my laundry on Saturday or Sunday. That now is no longer possible. I again heed the warnings of Jay, who states most emphatically that the septic system cannot handle 10-12 loads of laundry in one day, even from a front loader. Now, my laundry is spread out over the course of the week. Initially this plan did not sound as horrid as it does now. Now, that I have been doing it for a few weeks I realize the madness of it all. I am doing laundry all the time! Did you hear me? I SAID, ALL THE TIME! This goes against all of my natural procrastinating abilities. I let the laundry build until someone says, I have no clean, "(insert item of your choosing)" and then I resign myself to do laundry. Now, what's the point? Now, I must be proactive. All of the skills I have built up towards putting off my least favorite tasks. All wasted. What good is college if you cannot put to good use all of the skills you learned there? All that money, excuse the pun, down the drain.


It really was a great plan.

Our new house is surrounded by large wonderful hardwood trees. We have a large variety of oak trees with some sweet-gum, sassafras and quite a few chestnut trees. The trees are large and mature and will provide some great shade come next summer. They are just starting to change and drop there leaves. The chestnut trees also are dropping their nuts. We have hundreds of chestnuts scattered all over the ground. I am constantly driving over them when I come in and out of the driveway. They are scattered on the sidewalks and throughout the grass. The mower does not like them. They come flying out from under the mower at incredible speeds. They are amazing projectiles and after a few near misses I decided that we should pick them up prior to mowing. Genius! I know.

The kids were not as keen as I was on picking them up. Jack and Emma moaned and groaned. To make the complaining more tolerable, I offered to give them 1 cent per chestnut. I gave them each a box and let them go at it. They puttered about for several minutes and acted like finding a chestnut was possibly the hardest job I have ever given them. I thought I was really being generous. This was a great plan. I loose a few pieces of change and get my yard picked up. After all I could have just made it a chore. The chestnut pick-up only lasted through the front yard. Apparently, it is not mentally stimulating enough for either child. They left me boxes of chestnuts on the porch, to bored to even count their haul.

Never fear they did count. 785 chestnuts! In just the front yard alone! Never would I have guessed that there were that many. To top that I am sure they did not do a particularly thorough job. There are still more. The more amazing fact is that now they are all back on the ground! Let me explain. In order to count them they dumped them out of the boxes and assembled them into groups of 10. Practical, concise, and right in the middle of the driveway. Here is the kicker. I did not discover that they were all scattered onto the driveway until after I payed them. Then I had no leverage to make them pick them up again. After an afternoon of cajoling and praising their hard work, I was left to clean up the mess once again. Why am I not surprised? Not only that but I am out $7.85! It really was a great plan.


Coming together...sort of

Unpacking, unpacking and yes, more unpacking. This is the theme of my last two weeks. It seemed as though I would never see the carpet. The kids helped where they could. Slowly the boxes dwindled and the floor it turns out is wood. This week I decided to dive into Jack's room. I have been dreading unpacking his things for weeks and put it off as long as I could. Jack is a pack-rat. A fact that I have serious issues with but I won't bore you with the details. He has several boxes in which he has tried to unpack himself. The problem as I see it, is he has to many things and they are just so interesting. He starts out as grumpy as any child who is forced to do a chore. He grudgingly opens boxes, only after many threats and attempts by Ginger to make off with found objects. After unwrapping only one or two items in a box his demeanor changes. Suddenly, he is completely absorbed in looking for that one particular thing he hasn't seen in 9 months. Needless to say when he finds it, unpacking is pretty much over. Therefore, Jack has every box in his room open, yet they are all still full. Dragging Jack along for the "FUN" I dive headlong into box after box until we are down to the last remaining pieces. The last box in Jack's room, "OH HAPPY DAY!" I realize quickly that I have little to no idea what the pieces in the bottom of the box belong to. I enlist Jack, who by now is deeply lost in his own little world of Lego's. I show him piece after piece and ask what it belongs to and where I should put it. The more I talk and ask questions the more Jack becomes annoyed and disgusted until finally he yells, " Where is my red bag?!"
His red bag? What is he talking about and why is this important? "I don't know what you are talking about." I reply, more than a little perplexed.
"You know! The red bag that has the Velcro that used to hold the Larry tube." he states matter of fact.
"OH. Now I remember. But I have no idea where it is." I answer, more than a little relieved that I have figured out the red bag.
"I need the red bag!" he shouts at me.
"Jack, you don't need the red bag right now. Right now we need to finish putting the rest of these pieces away." I state in my most Motherly voice.
"They all go in the red bag." he states.
"They cannot all go in the red bag. I'll admit I don't know what a lot of these pieces are but I do know that they don't all go together." I said.
"Of course they don't. " He states absentmindedly. "The red bag is for my miscellaneous pieces."
Of course it is. I not only have a pack rat as a son, but I believe my son has just progressed from junk drawer to junk bag.


Gruesome Ghouls

Happy Halloween!
Here are some images of what our Halloween looked like. I must admit the costumes get more technical every year! And lots bloodier.

Jack was involved in a serious hit and run! They even left tire marks.

Mark apparently picked a fight with the wrong person and paid for it with an knife to the head and a few bullet holes!

Never one to go with the crowd, Emma added two costumes. Alien-Cat was her result. Hope everyone had a great time. We sure did!


SUPER-MOM or Super-crazy

Last night I struggled with homework, dinner, unpacking and playing single mom. Emma was watching The Incredibles. Jack was trying to finish up homework. Mark was succeeding masterfully in distracting Jack from said homework. Just when I thought I would go insane this scene from the movie pops up. Helen calls Bob at the office, while bathing Jack-Jack in the sink. (typical super-mom multi-tasking abilities aside.) And she says...

Helen: I'm calling to celebrate a momentous occasion. We are now *officially* moved in.
Bob: That's great, honey. And the last three years don't count because...
Helen: Because I finally unpacked the last box. Now it's official! Ha ha ha! Why do we have so much junk?

I just could help feeling a special kinship with Helen. Which I felt was entirely too funny because I laughed and Laughed and LAUGHED. Finally, I can relate with someone and she is an animated super-hero! My life is crazy. And apparently so am I if the looks I got from my children are any indication.


Lots of Boxes

Boy! Do we have boxes. As I was unpacking last night with my helpers, I decided to take a few impromptu pictures.

I also decided we have way to much stuff! haha :) Our growing stash of cardboard.

The view from the kitchen. Lovely, isn't it?


Moving In

Is it over yet?
Can I come out from my hidey-hole?
I feel as though I have just been through a battle. This past week, I was sure I had thoroughly ticked someone off and was being forced to fight to the death. Moving just is so stressful and at times painful. It is somewhere in the top 5 most stressful events that can occur in your life. Next to childbirth, planning a wedding, death of a loved one and starting a new job. In perspective it is a relatively simple thing. Considering I didn't have to pack or actually move the boxes I am quite lucky. I only have the unpacking to do. But boy am I sore! I am sure some of my muscles haven't seen this much activity in ages. I am keeping a positive outlook and see it as "training" for when I can operate my quilting machine once again. Assuming of course, that I can find it.

Here is my soon to be, place of employment. This fuzzy picture calls to mind an "I spy" book or quilt. Let's see how good you are...I spy a Quilt, a sewing machine, a TV and some boxes. Can you find the sewing basket, the fabric and the foxes. (Okay so there are no foxes. I couldn't come up with a rhyme.) I took a couple of cell phone pictures this week and I thought I share.

Here is the unloading of the 1st, yes, I said first, truck load. This load came from El Paso via a couple of months in Charlotte. The inventory alone was enough to boggle the mind. Thank goodness I had help!

Here are the fellas that brought in my new washer and dryer. (Yes! I could hardly believe it myself. After 16 years of marriage, my first new set. Holy Cow!) Here they are carrying the dryer, observant aren't I. These guys had the most unusual harness contraption for carrying the appliances in. I had never seen anything quite like it, so of course I took their picture.

Basically the rest of the house is one Gigantic stack of boxes. We have unpacked over 100 boxes yet there are at least 2x that many left. Perhaps they breed? I am fortunate that in the first 100 we found clothing, food and my sewing machine. Must have our priorities. I had hoped to continue unpacking this week while my helpers were in school, yet once again life got in the way. For now I am back to wiping noses, helping with homework and driving to practices.


The picture i was going to post

The latest of my Halloween quilts is finished. Number 7 of heap of quilts I have made since moving here to South Carolina. It turned out really nicely. The Halloween prints are artfully shown. The oranges and blacks are pleasantly arranged to make a lovely pattern over and above the pattern of the blocks. I took lots of pictures to show you how nicely. However, my computer is current boycotting iphoto. I mean iphoto loads. It shows me all the files. It even shows me the number and megapixil for every photo. There is a tiny little square, which I suppose represents the photo, yet in the square is a giant "i" Not one picture is loading up. Nothing, Nada, Zippo. Instead of showing you a cute little picture of my latest quilt, you get babbling, furry of words expressing my deep resentment of technology failing me once again.



With all of my kids, teaching them to read has been an adventure and a struggle. I suppose that is the way it is for most things dealing with children. They struggle along until your sure you are going to pull out your hair and then "poof" a light bulb is turned on and "ha-ah!" Mark was the first and I was sure he had severe learning disabilities. Now he reads every chance he gets. Jack I thought would never get reading, simply because, to him, reading was a waste of his time. It wasn't until he stumbled upon a great series that he took off. Emma, as did the others is struggling along. It is not that she can't read. She reads, actually much better than her brother's at the same age. She just would rather have some read to her.

Daily we fight at reading time. A habit which I believe she rather enjoys. Why else would she challenge me so? This quarter Emma's class has been assigned to read Bibliography of a famous person. She chose George Washington. I would have chosen someone different for her but I am sure I would have been WRONG! We set out to read yesterday. The preparation for the event is, I assure you almost as frustrating as the reading itself. We must have the right pillows, the right lighting, the right blanket to cover us with, a drink in case we get parched, and so on. Yesterday was no different. Once settled in she began to read. It went a little something like this....

excerpts from: How to Draw the Life an Times of George Washington
by Philip Abraham

And she began.
"In 1789, Washington was elected to be the first president of the United States."

"WoW! I didn't know that." she exclaims.
"Yes. Isn't that wonderful."
"Why would it be wonderful? Maybe for him. Not for me."
"OK, keep reading Emma."

"George Washington was born to Augustine and Mary Ball Washington..."
"Mom? Why does his mom have three names?"
"Ball was her maiden name, Emma. Please continue."
"Ok. But mom? What is a maiden name?" she asked
and so I explained and she started again.

"George Washington was born to Augustine and Mary Ball Washington on February 22, 1732."

"Wow, Mom, that was even before you were born!"
"Yes, Emma it was. Please continue."
"Mom, was it before your mom was born?"
" Yes Emma."
"Ok, but mom? Was it before your mom's mom was born?"
"Yes, Emma."
"How about Great-Grandma?"
"Yes Emma that is my Mom's mom. Keep reading."

So she read two more sentences and we came to " In 1754, a war broke out between Britain and France over land in America."

"I hate war don't you."
"Yes Emma"
"Why do people have war mom?"
"I have no idea. Keep reading Emma."

"During this war, Washington and his men attacked some French soldiers on May 28, 1754. Ten French soldiers were killed.."

"Oh Mom! That is so SAD!"
"Yes it is Emma."
"Why do people have to DIE!"she asked, as real tears start so flow, REAL TEARS!
"Emma that was a long time ago. Would you rather read later?"
"No now is fine." Sniff

".. and 21 were taken prisoner,"
"That is just so mean!" she exclaims but continues on.

"In 1755, he became an aide to Major General Edward Braddock. Braddock's goal was to drive the French out of Fort Duquesne. Instead, on July 9, 1755,

"Hey, that's my birthday!"
"Yes it is Emma. Keep going."

"..the French and their Indian allies kill Braddock and many other soldiers."

"He died on my Birthday! That is so sad! I cannot believe it."
"Yes Emma it is sad. Keep going you're almost done with this page."
"Mom? How old was Mr Braddock?"
"I don't know Emma?"
"Why don't they tell us?"
"Because it is a book about George Washington, not Braddock."
A few sentences later..

"In 1759, he married widow Martha Dandridge Custis... "

"Mom? My friend Mikaela cannot play on Sundays."
"I'm sorry."
"Mom? What's a Mormon?"

And it is there I got up and left. Perhaps we will never no more than that about President Washington but then and there I didn't care. My patience was exhausted and so was I.


Engineering a shopping excursion

"To define it rudely but not ineptly, engineering is the art of doing that well with one dollar, which any bungler can do with two after a fashion."--- Arthur Wellesley

Such is the philosophy of most engineers, I have encountered. Engineers are an entire species unto themselves. They seem to know only black or white, gray simply is not. As a result they are an extremely unemotional group, dealing only with facts and logic. When they are placed into a situation where there are unknowns, they strive to find out all of the answers. Once and only once the answers are clear can they proceed. Therefore, it can be excruciatingly painful to those of us who don't operate on such a system. I have dealt with this persona for a long time. I have a husband and an astounding number of friends who are either engineers or are married to them. Normally, I am prepared for on-slot of data and questions. This weekend was not one of my best.

Our goal was simple, or so I thought. Buy appliances for our new house, namely refrigerator, washer, and dryer. Appliances are to me, functional. They are not fun or exciting by any means. I need something to do a job, I want it to look nice and not cost an extreme amount of money. I want it to work reliably when I need it to. Given this set of criteria I set out to look for our appliances. John however had his own approach. Setting out at noon on Saturday we traveled in and out of no less than 7 stores, talked to numerous employees and wrote down several hundred model numbers. We pre-measured the new house. We measured the appliances. We re-measured the new house. We placed obstacles around the appliances in the store to act as counters, doors and even used our children to see who could reach the highest shelf. We stopped looking at 10 pm only because, nothing remained open. Oh, did I forget to mention we had 3 kids with us? Once home, both computers searched online for reviews, repair records, cost of operating, comparison shopping between online stores, and numerous other facts that I know nothing about (I believe their was some question regarding quality of sound deadening material? I was tired OK?). Every time he seemed to have come to a conclusion another result would disappoint him and we would be off on another path. After printouts, graphs, and schematics were written up, plotted and analyzed, we continued. Sunday armed with extensive knowledge, a large cup of coffee and 4 Motrin we set out again. Our choices were clearly laid out and we poised to put competitor against competitor to get the best price.

The kids clearly exhausted and BORED OUT OF THEIR MINDS. Were however, quite ingenious in their own right, creating numerous games to occupy themselves. Jack and Emma kept busy playing a game of restaurant at one of the kitchen displays. Mark and Jack had a wild west rubber band shootout, holding Emma as captive. They did not try to shove one another into any appliance and only played switch the sale signs once. The finagled many free objects out of several sales people and one very nice Time Warner representative.

To be fair, we did get great deals, not that their was ever any doubt. I do have new appliances coming on Tuesday. One's I am fairly certain John knows how to assemble and operate. I am thankful now that it is over and I will indeed have new operating machinery. I can't wait to see what we got!



Yesterday. Emma lost her 7th tooth. Not quite as exciting as the first but, there is still the potential for cash. She had lots of questions regarding the tooth fairy. I fear the days of believing in fairies, elves and giant rabbits bearing candy are soon going to be a thing of the past. Emma relayed a conversation she had with a classmate regarding the existence of the Tooth Fairy. It was explained to Emma that the Tooth Fairy was not real. She was told that it was not possible for a fairy to sneak into your home and take your tooth. The classmate in question, also called into attention the fact that fairy or no, that is a lot of baby teeth to gather. After what appeared to be a very difficult conversation for Emma she stated most firmly, "I believe in the Tooth Fairy!" I was glad that at least for now we still believed.

Then last night she showed me what she had done. Emma felt a need to praise the tooth fairy and her efforts, so she left her a note along with the tooth. It said:

Dear Tooth Fare,
You need this ledr.
you have a big job.
it mit be hard but I be live in you.

P.S. pleas rite back.

How sweet is that! Sometimes I cannot believe that she is the same girl who picks fights with me. Perhaps, I need to give her cash when that happens? I digress. This morning Emma woke, grouchy as ever, until the money was discovered. At which time her mood brightened considerably, go figure? She brought the note she wrote, along with the tooth and the note the Tooth Fairy wrote to her, down to breakfast. During breakfast she and Jack talked cordially to one another, a rarity, discussing the note the Tooth Fairy wrote. The Tooth Fairy was nice enough to leave Emma her tooth and the money. The brief note said.

Thank you Emma for being so Nice.
I am glad you believe in me.
I love you.
The Tooth Fairy.

Jack stated that he thought the Tooth Fairy was certainly nice for letting Emma keep her tooth, something he pointed out, she had not let him do. (sigh) Emma agreed with Jack and stated most enthusiastically. "The Tooth Fairy sure is nice! I didn't know she was such a good Speller!"
As compliments go you can't ask for better.


trick or treat?

Fall. It has to be my second favorite season, coming in close behind spring. I love not sweating every time I spend time outdoors. I love being able to wear a really comfy pair of jeans and a t-shirt and being cool but not cold. I love the colors that appear suddenly. I love picking apples. I love making cookies and baking. I love the need for things warm from the oven or stove. I love the crisp cool air that smells of fires in the fireplace. I love being able to get into a cold bed and fall asleep warm and snugly. Which brings me to my next quilt project. In the spirit of the season I was led to a new pattern. It's called Frightfully Fun and I found it at allpeoplequilt.com. The thought of having a cozy Halloween quilt to snuggle under while sitting on the porch passing out treats, thrilled me. Just add a cup of warm cider, maybe a little rum, stir with a cinnamon stick, add a chewy caramel or two. Yummy. I just couldn't pass it up. I know what you are all thinking. "Hot spiced cider sounds awful good right now!" or possibly if you were paying attention, "That quilt has an awful lot of triangles."

Either way, the quilt does have a lot of triangles. Which can be a little bit of a trick.
However, only 1/2 of the blocks are stars. The other 1/2 are a log cabin block in colors fitting of Halloween, orange and black. The neat thing about this quilt is the fact that the Halloween prints are artfully showcased.

I love walking past the blocks I have already made and having little ghosts and pumpkins pop out at me. A little surprise waiting for me neatly wrapped in a 8x8 inch block.

I am only just getting stared on this quilt but I know this one is definitely a treat!



The other day in the car Emma and Jack were having a discussion about the color of their tongues. It went something like this.
"What color is my tongue, Jack?" inquires Emma.
"Reddish-Purple." was Jacks reply.
"Let me see your tongue." Emma asked.
"Why?" Jack asked.
"Because my friends say that if your lying your tongue turns white. And if you are telling the truth you tongue is normal color." Emma explains.
"Mom. Is that true?" Jack asked.
"I don't believe I have ever heard that before." I replied.
Jack counters with, "My friend told me that if you lie you don't see in color anymore."
Emma chimes in, "That's not true. I lie all the time and I still see in color."
"WHAT!!" I exclaim.
"What I mean is that when I do sometimes, but not often lie, I still see color."
Hmm! I see.

Funny how things seem to work out. Sunday at Mark's soccer game I overheard another conversation about lies.
Jack was playing Monopoly with a new friend. (great game for a weekend full of soccer) Jack asked his friend a question and his friend replied.
"Jack, you know I always lie. They aren't big lies, of course. Only tiny white lies."
"It's still a lie." Jack rebuttals.
"No, white lies are really, really, really small. Only the size of an atom really. They don't count" states his friend.
"It's still a lie." Jack continues.
"White lies don't hurt anyone." his friend continues to argue.
"It is still a lie." Jack goes on to state. "So, if you have one Big Black Dog and one Little White Dog. Your telling me because the white dog is little it is not a dog."
And for once his friend didn't have and answer. But don't worry Emma did.
She chimes in with,
"See! So, you better not tell lies because your tongue will turn white."
I see. I have more work to do than I thought.


The new house

Here is a poor quality cell phone picture of our new home. It is on a court in a quiet neighborhood just minutes from here. The kids will be able to stay in the same school, go to the same church, piano teacher and soccer club. John however still has a long drive and did not get his 3 car garage. The things we do for our kids.

A girl obsessed

Emma started to take piano lessons "officially."this fall. I say this because over the course of the last year or so Jack has been her "professor of music." How cute they were, when they sat with their heads together. Jack teaching and Emma hanging on every word. Jack even came to me every now and then to commiserate on the difficulties of teaching his sister. (how, cute is he?)

I knew from watching her practice and practice that she was learning differently than Jack. They are so different in everything they do, why I thought they would be the same now is still a mystery. I guess, I assumed in my ignorance, that teaching music would basically consist of learning the notes and then learning where they correspond on the keyboard. Sounds like a sound theory! lol. Okay, that's really bad. While Jack approaches the piano in his lessons methodically and logically. Emma is full of passion and emotion. She will put together a string of notes of her own composition and say, "listen to how sad the piano sounds." Or alternately she will say, "This song makes me want to dance."

For weeks before she had lessons she practiced and practiced. I was amazed by her drive. It seemed every-time she was bored she would turn on the keyboard and practice. I assumed she would burn herself out and then say, "I don't want to practice" once lessons began. Boy, was I wrong! She continues to practice. She is truly obsessed with learning to play. She practices so much that I find my self saying, "Please, stop practicing." Is this a good thing? It was soon called to my attention that Emma learns by ear. She only has to hear the song a number of times before she no longer needs the sheet music. She knows by sound when she has hit the wrong key and can correct herself more often than not.

This week as we walked up to greet her instructor Emma explained, "Ms. Melodie, (great name for a piano teacher) I really don't feel as though the work you gave me was hard enough. I think I need to work on harder things this week!" Her confidence is astounding. It's as though she has some predetermined knowledge of just how much she should be able to handle. I watch her struggle and get frustrated and scream and cry for days. Then just as if a switch has been thrown, BAMM! she gets it. It is truly a site to watch her confidence grow and see how proud she is of herself. Time will tell where this next adventure will take us but with Emma I am sure it will be full of ups and downs.


Seasonal Cheer

As promised here is the log-cabin type quilt I have been working on. It is a pattern designed by Christine Schnaufer, entitled Boo!-ti-ful. It is located at the QuiltBus website. Mine needs to be quilted and embellished with the spider web and dangling spider but, should be a cute addition to our holiday decor.


Raise the Roof

After months of searching we have a contract on a home! Pictures and info to follow at a later date.

Pieces of a Whole

I started on a new quilt this week. Surprise! I have tons of patterns accumulated in my filing cabinet. I have books on quilting. I have magazines on quilting. I even have patterns saved on my computer. A whole file filled with quilting patterns. Yet, when I was looking for a pattern I didn't feel like quilting any of those. I spent days surfing the net for a pattern that interested me. I was hoping to find something seasonal or "holiday-ish" (can I even use that word?) Anyway, I found a pattern that I thought would work. It was very cleverly designed using log cabin blocks. I am always amazed at the cool patterns you can create with log cabin blocks. Anyway. The pattern called for 1 1/2 in strips for the blocks. I hate working with strips that small. So, I adapted the pattern an made the strips 2 inches wide. Well my 30 x 36 in wall hanging is a wee bit bigger. The tiny little details slipped by me this time. Here is a picture of several of the blocks lined up.

I know doesn't look like much. I believe Emma's quote was, "What the heck is that supposed to be?!" Vision child! That's what you need. Quietly I continue on my merry little path. I'll let you know what it is tomorrow.



I am always amazed by the ease at which children except. Sometimes we as adults overcomplicate life in general. Things that seem to cause great controversy as adults, simply ARE to children. Such was the case yesterday on the way to school when Jack, out of the blue states, "Mom, I believe God made people like seasons. The way trees are different shapes and colors during the seasons. In the summer they are bright green and then one day you look and they are changing colors. I think people are like this. One day you look and suddenly you realize that people come in different shapes and colors just like trees. I am glad God made us all different."



Daddy was home this weekend and let me just say,
He has been traveling for much of the last month. It seems we see just a glimpse of him as he comes home to unpack then repack and head out the door. While this pattern will continue for the rest of 2009, we were all overjoyed with is presence this weekend.
Mark has always been really, really good at breaking things. A talent believe it or not I feel is actually inherited. He is forever saying, "It just broke." I've seen it myself. All the boy does sometimes is touch something and "it's just broke." Its never malicious or even premeditated but unfortunately it happens all to frequently.

We have had a number of things recently, die on us. The lawn mower and the hairdryer are two that pop into my mind. When they did break the first thing Mark said was, "Cool! Can I take it apart?" What the heck, it is already broken. The hairdryer was much simpler than the lawn mower so he was aloud to take it apart by himself. After the destruction, John spent time with him going over the mechanics; the fan, the switches, the wires to explain how it works. Jack and Emma wondered up and were drawn into the workings of a hairdryer. They were all fascinated.

Needless to say, they were all pumped up about taking the lawn mower apart. They repeatedly asked, "When can we take the lawn mower apart?" and I repeatedly said, "When Dad gets home you can take it apart." You would have thought Christmas was coming. The excitement that ran though this house was enough to drive me crazy!

Finally, FINALLY! Dad was home and they were able to dismantle the mower. Everyone gathered in the garage. John distributed tools to each of them, and when that tool was needed it was their turn to help. Emma ran in the house screaming, "Mom, come take pictures of us for your blog." (The girl knows me a little too well, scary. ) They spent nearly 1 1/2 hours taking apart the mower. Much of it was spent laughing and giggling. There were times when John was explaining something that you could hear a pin drop in the garage. Such was their interest for the dirty old thing.

They took apart as much as they could before bedtime. Mower parts were strewn all over the garage. Parts were trashed. Some parts were saved (why? I have no idea). And in honor of Mark, many parts were further broken. I took pictures, as per my job description, but was not allowed to help. shucks.



Zen is the latest quilt pattern to have been finished off. This pattern I pulled from the February 2009 edition of American Patchwork & Quilting. I have been wanting to work with batiks for at least a year and had been unable to decided on a pattern until I ran across this. What struck me most about this pattern was the use of the blues and green batiks in the original pattern. The colors spark the memory of our trip to Los Cabos and I new I had to make this. Overall I am pleased with the result.


Well, isn't that special.

When I meet someone new, I am always hesitant at telling them I quilt. I know it may not be a good business strategy, but still I am reluctant to speak of my quilting business. People who don't quilt have really no clue when it comes to quilting. I get a variety of responses when I answer the dreaded, "What do you do?" question. Sometimes I get, "So. (pause) You make quilts?" The absurdity of this shows on their face as clear as day. I may as well have said, "I work for Santa" Which in truth I occasionally do. Sometimes individuals will say, "You sell quilts?" As if knowing me will get them a good cheep quilt. Of course I get the,"My grandmother did that, well before she died." as if quilting is a disease someone catches that is contagious and fatal. Well, contagious it is. I don't have the statistic of how many people actually die each year from quilting. Not a bad way to go though. Honestly, I run into quite a few people who try, really try with questions such as "How does that work?" Unfortunately, when I start to explain I see their interest fade when words like: quilt top, batting, and long arm machine start to enter the conversation. And I know the moment they start faking understanding and interest. And it is very disappointing. Often I feel like a small child, who is explaining a picture they drew to an adult. I cringe and wait for the dreaded pat on the head and the "That's nice dear." However, the most annoying response I get is "Well, isn't that good for you." I never quite know how to take this statement. Is it "Good for you" like a vegetable that no one wants to eat? Does it mean "good for you" but not for me? Are they saying, "Good for you," as a dismissal so they can talk about themselves? Or could it be "Good for you." because you are making me feel incredibly incompetent? I never feel as though they are truly enthusiastic that it really is "Good for Me!" Really, I am not sure what they are saying. My best understanding is that it is a catch all of sorts. Perhaps the adult version of "That's nice dear. Now run along."


Natural Nature

Mark found a Polyphemus moth caterpillar this afternoon. They look a lot like a Luna Moth caterpillar until you do some research and discover the differences. Check it out! We stuck the caterpillar in a flower pot and observed it as it climbed and ate leaves. Ginger became much to interested in the little guy. For its own "safety" Mark placed it in our butterfly house. The kids had great fun collecting leaves, twigs and general items necessary for its habitat. Through out the evening the 3 kids could be found laughing giggling or discussing (ok, arguing) about the little critter. Several Internet searches were done for information and knowledge about Mr. Polyphemus. At one point Jack said most enthusiastically, "I just love Natural Nature!" Looking more than a little perplexed Mark counters with, "Which is different than UN-natural nature HOW?" Jack explained further, "Natural nature is more, well natural, of course. You know. Not the fake nature like at the zoo. The real nature like it is outside in our yard."


Seek and Ye shall Find.

I'll be the first to admit that I am always loosing things. My husband believes firmly in the old adage, "A place for everything. And everything in it's place." Time and time again he says, "if you put it back, you would know where it is." Blah, blah, blah. I know he is probably right. But I am just not organized in an OCD type fashion. Heck, half of the time I cannot even remember why I went upstairs!

My kids, unfortunately, have taken after me. Well, at least Mark and Jack. Emma, like her father, can almost always find what she needs. (You guessed it she put it back where she got it. Crazy). In the same way Mark and Jack, "loose" things they also can never "find" things. Kids as always will say, "Mom, have you seen...? or Where is my....?" If I know where it is, I can give specific directions to Emma and POOF! Just like that she will find it. I can give the same directions to the boys and I get, "Where?", "I looked there." and my favorite, "IT's NOT THERE!" as if yelling will convince me that they searched thoroughly.

Case in point. Saturday Mark had 2 soccer games. John was out of town and I had to get all the kids up and out of the house by 7:30. This is our normal school routine so, I figured we could do it. HA! More the fool am I. At 7:20 I asked Mark, "Do you have everything?" To which he mumbled something that resembled a "uh-hu." Not believing for an instant that he did. I rattled off the list of things he needed: drink, cleats, shin-guards, home and away uniforms? Oh, yeah uniforms. Rolling my eyes, I watched as he proceeded to dump the entire contents of his bag on the floor of the kitchen. This is standard procedure for Mark. Just dump it on the floor. Is it any wonder the boy looses things. Nope. No home uniform.

Going through my mental list, I remembered I washed it just before we left for Cabo. So I say, "It's been washed check your closet and your dresser." Off he goes. 20 seconds later, "Mom! I can't find it!" Hmmm. Did he really look? "Did you check in your t-shirt drawer?" I bellowed back. "Yes!" Continuing on this path I rattle off a list of other places, in his dresser and closet where the uniform might be. Thinking maybe "check your closet" was too general for the boy. Then I progress to, "Check under your bed!" To which I get, "I did already." Yeah sure you did. We progress further with mom naming unlikely places for said uniform to be lying. I reluctantly dive into the search. I check under furniture, behind furniture, and in the couch cushions. I then look up to realize Mark is missing. I find him in my bedroom doing an awesome job of distributing the dirty laundry all over my bed. "It's not in here." He states. How could he tell? I have no idea. We go back through the list a second time, still no uniform. Well, now I have moved from annoyed to fuming. Jack and Emma are now fighting about something utterly ridiculous. Not only that, but they are tattling on one another. Furious I yell, "EVERYONE GO MAKE THEIR BEDS!" Just to give them something to do while I look for the @#$! uniform. Then approximately 30 seconds later I hear Mark yell, "I found it!"

Apparently, the stack of clean and folded laundry that I set on his bed for him to put away was "overlooked." Rather than putting it away before he went to bed, he just through the covers over the pile and climbed into bed. I am informed that he was just "too tired." But then he just didn't make his bed for a week and forgot all about the laundry. I am not sure how you forget about the large lump at the foot of your bed, but for Mark it is possible. The kicker was when he said, "Hey, I was looking for this t-shirt all week!" Out of sight, out of mind. It truly is a good thing his head is attached.


The Wedding

As promised here are pictures of the wedding.

The setting couldn't have been more beautiful.

It was the perfect compliment to this couple. The bridesmaids (sisters of the bride) dressed and waiting for their sisters arrival.

The day was hot and humid but no one noticed once the wedding started. The breeze was cool as the bride walked down the sandy beach.

The vows were as original as the couple who read them. They were a true testament to the strength of their relationship.

Pictures were taken, on the beach of course, by the hardest working photographer ever seen. The man even ran into the ocean to get the perfect shot.

While Emma was quick to partake in the dancing. The boys were happy sitting and chatting away with Grandpa. Mom and dad even managed to steal a dance.