Look-- Up there! It's a mom! It's a wife! IT'S SUPER QUILTER! Able to take on challenges with a single hand and three small children.
Okay, okay I'll stop before you all gag. I did, however finish this quilt! TA-DA! (drum-roll please...)
I found this quilt pattern by Joan Bassett in the May/June 09 issue of Quiltmaker magazine. I was of course, not looking for a pattern when I found it. Blue being my favorite color, the choice was obvious. What I love, love, love about this pattern, besides the fabric, is the distortion the blocks make. The block is hard to find once you put the quilt together. This is what the block looks like..
It reminds me of those optical illusion Rubin Vase. Is it two faces or is it a vase. You decide?
John is off to Sweden this week. This leaves me and the kiddos to fend for ourselves. When dad departs we try to keep busy by doing things, lots of things. This turns me into somewhat of a carnival mom. You know the type. The mom who never says no, suggests all of the fun things and is always willing to give stuff a try. After dropping dad off at the airport we hightailed over to the movie theater. We got the extra large popcorn, no butter, and 4 small drinks. (which in hindsight was poor judgement. All part of the Carnival Mom persona.) We saw Night at the Museum which was rather fun. The best part was watching my kids snicker and laugh at the silliness. Which was about all I saw since the theater was packed and the largest man in Columbia sat in front of me. We continued on our adventure and went to (cringe) McDonald's. With everyone full we drove home and stayed up until 10 pm playing and reading. It was a good day.
Yesterday we drove down to the Columbia Children's Museum where we played and played.
It was a bittersweet moment as I realized my kids were so much older than the last time we went.
2 of the areas were for kids 2-5 and my kids were to old. sigh. I did a lot of sitting which surprised me.
They had fun without me. They didn't have questions for me, Mark took care of answering most of Jack and Emma's questions.
Soon we will have to drag Mark out into public with us, as I am sure being seen with us will be so uncool. We drove off to have ice cream and then pizza for dinner. We took Ginger for a walk and had just a nice evening.
Today has been play in the water day. We played in the hose, with water guns and water balloons. Jack and Emma made water bottle boats and raced them. Mark hopes to go fishing this evening. All this sun and water is sure to tire them out, I hope, since they do have school tomorrow. The lack of bedtime structure has made Mark rather lethargic. He is entering the teen coma years anyway. It seems the baby I couldn't get to sleep now always sleeps. Jack and Emma also made a time capsule this weekend. They put into a box little things that mean something to them. Then wrote a cute note telling how old they were and important facts about the objects, encase they forget. Jack had me put the box on the top shelf of his closet. When we were all finished they asked me how long we should put the time capsule up. I thought 10 years was a good time limit. They were flabbergasted at my answer. "How about we take it down next summer?" Emma suggested. So that's what was decreed. Good thing they wrote that note.
We all hate them. We run into them daily. Just trying to get a simple task done can be mind blowingly hard at times. Maybe you have see this. It seems a man in China was standing on a bridge, contemplating suicide, when he was pushed off by a passer-by. The would be jumper had tied up traffic for 5 hours and a fed up passer-by evaded police, went up shook the jumpers hand and then proceeded to push him off the bridge! The pusher said he was tired of said pushy because, he was acting selfishly and only wanted attention! The pusher had certainly had enough.
I too have wanted, on occasion, to push something into happening when it wasn't cooperating. Case in point. After 8 weeks of sulking about South Carolina, I decided to get up and get moving on my quilting. I had material and patterns for 3 quilts already purchased and gosh darn it I was going to use them. I set off on Emma's quilt. I had started it in February, before any of the moving stuff was underway. At the time, I was determined to get the quilt finished prior to the move. My goal truly exceeded reality, I was forced to put the quilt away and move it with us. Until this week it sat and sat and sat. I had 1/2 of the blocks finished before we left. I was confident this would be a great place to start. Setting myself up for a easily attainable goal, I launched headlong into finishing the second half of the blocks. Well, after getting the blocks 99.9% finished I realized, I had NO pattern. Yes, I have the pattern but, the pattern was in El Paso. roadblock. No problem. I can find the pattern online, sure, yeah no problem. roadblock. My computer is not cooperating fully with the McCalls Quilting website and I am unable to access the pattern this way. roadblock. The Library! Surly the Library here has the McCall's Quilting in their periodical section. Nope. roadblock. Ok, ok onwards and upwards. I'll just "push" on forward. I'll start quilt 2. Pattern, check. Fabric, check. Thread, check. We are in business. 160 flying geese later (yea and that went so well) I got to the applique. The pattern calls for machine applique. Not that I enjoy appliqué, but it is just 8 little leaves, it cannot take long, right? Then wonder of all wonders, I will have finished the first quilt top here in South Carolina. Woohoo! Let's see, I'll just get the Fusible Web out that I...FLIPPIN' LEFT IN EL PASO!!! Deep breath. It's just another roadblock simply solved by going to the store. Breathe. I started on the third quilt and would you believe I ran out of TREAD! Yep another roadblock. This is why that man pushed the jumper off! I am sure of it (not that I am condoning pushing anyone off of a bridge but hey, the human mind can take only so much.) Sometimes you just have to get up and "push" on past the roadblocks.
Corners, points, triangles are the bane of a quilters' existence. Points as were explained to me, are actually suppose to match up. (yea, who knew?) As any good Youtube video will explain, if you follow the pattern as written you will end up with perfectly matched corners. Well, ok sounds simple enough. HA! And we are all lead astray until we realize and come to terms with the following. All patterns are made by humans, sewn by humans and quilted by humans, and therefore are ridden with error. Follow me for a second. Quilters' seams are 1/4 inch. A measurement that surely should be indisputable. Armed with the knowledge that all rulers are set by a standard it seems fairly obvious that a 1/4 inch is indeed 1/4 inch. Despite this hard and clear evidence a 1/4 inch to one quilter is NEVER, let me repeat never, the same as it is to another. It is quite like the fact that turn off the TV NOW!, to me means, As soon as these words are spoken. To my children it means, as soon as I acknowledge your existence. The same, but very much different in the eye of the beholder. This all became perfectly clear to me this past week. With the unknown lurking before me I decided to start quilting again. After-all it may be months until I am able to use my quilting machine again and I want to be prepared with practice quilts.
For this particular quilt I need to make a Flying Geese Block. 160 flying geese blocks. I suppose this block was named for the V shape made upon completion of the block. And because I don't think "pain in the butt block" would have taken off.
It is really a simple block made up of squares and rectangles, you don't even have to cut any triangles. Yet, something very simple is rarely what it seems. You find out quickly enough, once you start piecing and adding blocks together using your "standard" 1/4 inch seam. You see another reason I feel this block was given this name was because well, it is mean and nasty just like a goose. The blocks go together simply enough and then when your not looking they turn and bite you. Coincidence, I think not.
Now to make this even more curious; when you string several flying geese blocks together you end up with the aptly named, "Wild Goose Chase."
A wild goose chase is defined as "a hopeless quest." Damn. Someone was thinkin' when they came up with that name. It is exactly that, a hopeless quest of getting corners, points and seams to match. Try, try as I might my corners rarely match. I tug, stretch, ease-in, rip out and finally just give up. I end up with a lot of ducks and not so many geese. On a rare occasion I will look and see that they did indeed match up. And I'll think to myself "WoW! Would you look at that! I wonder how that happened?" I think we should have a caution block attached to all patterns which include a flying geese block that says. Please exercise caution when sewing. Flying geese blocks are mean, nasty and elusive as ever.
Traveling around the United States has had downfalls, as well as its benefits. My kids for instance have been exposed to many things other kids of the same age have not. The have experienced other cultures, races, histories and religions. It has been an eye opening experience for them to say the least. Reincarnation was the topic up for discussion this morning while getting ready for school. (I told you. Quizzing by the mommy gods!) Emma was discussing the recent death of her Great-Grandma. This was the first death that touched my children and as a result many questions about death and dying have come up. Hence, reincarnation. Our conversation went something like this.
"Mom. Do you think Great-Grandma will come back?" Emma asked
"I guess, she could if she wanted to?" I replied.
"So she could maybe come back as a bird and live in our yard?" she asked hopefully.
"Well, people who believe in Reincarnation typically believe when you choose to come back you come back as a higher life form?" I stated.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Well, Because your spirit is here to learn and grow, you die knowing more than you did when you came in. Therefore if you are a bird and you die you might come back as a dog or a cat." I tried to explain.
At this point Jack jumped in and said, "So, Emma it might go like this. A mouse dies and comes back as a bird, a bird dies and comes back as a dog, a dog dies and comes back as a horse." he rambled on. Always with the assumption that the smaller animal was less advanced.
"OK. I think I get it." Emma states, interrupting Jack.
"Emma I wasn't finished." he barked and then continued on, "A horse might come back as a man." Then he paused. "Mom, but what is a higher life form than a man."
And because I couldn't resist I said, "A woman."
He proceeded to roll his eyes at me and stated, "No. Seriously. mom."
On the road to St. Ives I met a man with 7 wives. The seven wives had seven cats. The seven cats had seven kittens. The seven kittens has seven sacks. Sacks, kitten, cats and wives how many went to St. Ives?
Jack was introduced to this when Grandpa and Grammy were here last month. Always the tease Grandpa introduced this to the kids to torment them a little. Jack who has always loved jokes and riddles found this one especially enticing. So, when Jacks class had joke/riddle day yesterday he proceeded to share this with his class. The answer as everyone knows is 1.
Jack took great pride in tricking all of his fellow class mates with this riddle. But then low-and-behold he posed the question, "How many, sacks, cats, kittens and wives were on the road?" Well that threw the class into a tizzy as they argued and protested that this was defiantly to hard and hardly relevant. Never fear! Jack informed them he had already calculated the answer. And believe me they were truly relieved that Ms. Enell was not going to make them do this incredibly hard math. As he was telling me this story I wondered what prompted this exploration into higher math. Jack informed me, "Sometimes school gets a little boring and I need to keep my head busy."
Every morning I am bombarded with questions. As if getting three (very tired) kids ready for school wasn't enough to do, I am also at times mentally taxed. Sometimes I feel as though I am being interrogated by the Mommy Gods. Here is a sample of what I am asked and have to answer on an average morning.
1. Can I sleep 10 more minutes? 5 more?
2. What is for breakfast?
3. Don't we have anything else?
4. Why is Emma such a grouch in the morning?
5. Where is my other shoe?
6. What did you pack me for lunch?
7. How old is Ginger? Is that in Dog or Human years?
8. Where is my sweatshirt?
9. Do we have anymore pencils?
10. Did you sign my permission slip?
11. What is a sarcophagus?
12. Why are Mark and Jack so annoying?
13. What are we doing after school?
14. Why do we always have to go to Mark's soccer practice?
15. What time will Dad be home tonight?
16. Do you think we can go to Disney World for my Birthday?
Bedtime always has been a time when worries creep out. Laying in bed, surrounded by quiet, reviewing the days events, little things pop into your head. As a mom I have grown accustom to the nightly pre-sleep visits, and calls by my children as these thoughts bombard their brains. Many are indeed excuses not to go to sleep, "I need a drink." "Just one more hug/kiss" and "What are we doing tomorrow?" are common at bedtime. I have my standard replies and often feel guilty at my curt replies. Every so often one worry/question catches me off guard and I am left without a reply. Jack is often the best at coming up with these at bedtime. I remember at 4 years of age having him ask me "How do you split an atom?" as I was tucking him into bed. I remember thinking, this is not a conversation I wish to have right now and stating, "We'll talk about it in the morning." Then wondering how I was going to explain this to my 4 year old. The other night I was hit with one that gave me quite an insight into my middle child. He walked slowly, into see me clearly cautious as this was his 4th visit that night. I looked up to see him and a grimace crossed my face as I stated in my "mom voice", "Why are you not in bed?" He immediately started to cry and I immediately felt guilty at my stern response. I softened to him and took him in to a big hug as he sobbed. "What is wrong?" I asked. "Mom, (sniff, sniff) My life is so dull without music in it. " ( Jack has taken piano for the last 3 years until we moved here and has aspirations of also picking up the guitar.) He continued, saying "I miss playing the piano. I miss my music. Sometimes listening is enough but not tonight." I was speechless. I had no idea that this was such an important aspect to his life. Armed with this knowledge I stated, "We'll get you lessons soon." Not knowing what "soon" would mean. He sighed and gave me a big hug and said, "Thanks Mom." Giving me a smile and off he went to dream of songs yet to be written.
The day started out early with a rousing chorus of barking at 6:30 am. One was Ginger the other I realized quickly was Jack with croup. I brewed coffee for myself while I attended to my croupy middle child, who I had set in front of the freezer. After 30 minutes in the freezer, poof, he was cold, coughing less and WIDE awake. Jack and I had a wonderful Mother's Day breakfast, just the 2 of us over coffee, milk and doughnuts. (Always the health conscious.) Thankfully, I returned to bed 2 hours later for a mid-morning nap, got to love Mother's Day. After lunch, I received the beautifully handcrafted gifts that only mother's with elementary school children could love. Jack made me a beautiful recipe card for "How to make a Mom"complete with 2/3 cup of kisses and a dash of beauty. Emma gave me a book detailing all of the things she loves about her mom. I found out that I am best at "the really hard Math" and that her favorite things to do with me are cook and read books. John took all of the kids shopping and bought me the worlds largest cup of coffee. In reality is a cute planter which I intend to fill with herbs. We spent the afternoon at the pool enjoying the warm sun and the laughter of children not in school. I was told we would be going out to dinner. The only hint I was given was that the place we were to eat at did not start out with Mc...anything. Boy was I relieved. I was treated to a dinner out at Applebee's, which was fortunately one place everyone likes. There was no fighting at dinner, no throwing food and most happily so complaining. All around it was a good day to be a Mom.
What to you get when you take 125 third grades dressed up in historical costumes? Well you get the Pleasant Hill Elementary School Wax Museum! As a creative way to get 3rd graders interested in the history of South Carolina, the third grade teachers came up with the idea of having a Wax Museum. What this in tales is giving each child a famous person to research and write a bibliography. Then taking this information the kids make up costumes, gather their props, pick out poses and prepare a 3-5 sentence speech about their famous person. And get this...they did it all at school. No parental involvement. (Although their were still obvious parent overachievers who spent exorbitant amount of money at Hobby Lobby to prove something to someone.) Let me tell you it was impressive. The school was divided into multiple areas such as Famous artist, musicians, famous athletes, famous war heroes and Heroines, Important Native Americans and Colonists.. etc. The kids then dressed up in costume, held their prop or props and stood still with a red sticker on their shoulder. The visitors, mostly parents and siblings, would walk through the school and when they wanted to know something they would push the "button" aka, the sticker and the student would come to life and recite their speech. Not only was it fun for the visitors but you could tell it was fun for the kids. I know I learned a lot in the hour I spent listening to the kids I can only imagine what they took out of this after working with their classes for the last month.
Jack was Josh Turner, a country singer, songwriter. He wrote songs such as The long black Train, and Firecracker. Google him.
Other people I saw there were Woodrow Wilson, Stom Thurmond, William Perry, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Ronald McNair, Vanna White, Leeza Gibbons, Dizzy Gillespe and James Brown just to name a few.
Over the course of several days Emma collected caterpillars. Cute little black fuzzy caterpillars with yellow strips. Of course, as always, she asked to keep them. We put them in our bug house for her to care for. Dedicated as she is, she fed them daily with fresh leaves, insured they had plenty of stick to build their cocoon's from and made sure I would stay home to watch them when she was at school. Sure enough after about a week in the bug house three of them formed their cocoon. Then they sat in the bug house for weeks, seemingly untouched while the magic of metamorphosis took place. Then yesterday they all emerged. What a proud momma she was. Despite wanting to love them, keep them safe and watch them continue to grow she let them go. Sad yet proud she said, "I did the right thing. Mothers have to let their children go to grow into who they need to be." If only we were all so wise at seven.
Caterpillar in the tree How you wonder who you'll be Can't go far but you can always dream
Wish you may and wish you might Don't you worry, hold on tight I promise you there will come a day Butterfly fly away
Butterfly fly away, butterfly fly away Flap your wings now you can't stay Take those dreams and make them all come true
Butterfly fly away, butterfly fly away We've been waiting for this day All along and knowing just what to do Butterfly, butterfly, butterfly, butterfly fly away
"Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress."
There is an overwhelming presence in our house...Restlessness. I believe it stems from the mother and feeds into the family. Regardless it is here, looming over us, all of us. I haven't knit or quilted in over a month. I cannot seam to settle into a pattern or rhythm. Anxious I sit and don't want to sit, stand and don't know what to do. I think about cleaning and sorting and putting away more boxes, but then why bother, we'll have to move and repack everything. The kids are just as restless. The majority of their toys packed away, in El Paso no less, not what I consider even remotely accessible. I watch them and see them sit, stand, pick-up a toy only to put it down again. "There is nothing to do" is the popular phrase here. It is a terrible feeling, made only slightly worse by the fact that it is spring even the weather is not cooperating. I think about all of the things we have been blessed with. I am thankful for all of the goodness we have in our life. I know with out a doubt that all will work out. Our house will sell in El Paso, and we will find a new one here to fit everything we need. Yet, that alone is not enough anymore. I am frustrated, tired, anxious and just ready for it all to end. Godspeed.