Take a hike

The weather here has been far to warm for our annual ski trip.  Since driving to Canada was out of the question, we had to find other opportunities for exhausting our children.  With yesterdays temperatures hanging in the 60's we headed out for a winter hike.  Armed with water bottles, snacks, and every possible electronic gadget known to man, we loaded into the Camery and set off for the higher elevations.

The kids love to hike. They love to be outside.  They love discover nature.  Most of all they love to joke, tease and harass one another.  Yesterday proved to be no exception to this rule.  The good news is that no one cried and no one ended up in the urgent care.  There was some bloodshed but that is to be expected, and was minimal.

We took off to Crowders Mountain State Park, which is on the border of NC and SC about 30 min from Charlotte. Let me say yesterday, it was more like Crowded mountain.  It soon became apparent that everyone in the metropolitan area had the same idea. It was packed.

After a quick stop at the visitors center, we took off towards the trails.  While Emma suggested that we start off slow with an easy or moderate trail, the boys would have none of that.  They declared that the strenuous trails were the only trails that were worth their time. After a short protest, which included a little whining, a few foot stomps and amazingly no tears, Emma relented and we were off to the Backside trail.

The trial is only .9 mile one way, but it climbs nearly 1100 feet in that distance.  Needless to say there were steep inclines and a lot of man-made steps.  Mark was not at all pleased to find actual steps.  In his mind strenuous means backwoods, no trail and definitely no steps. Trust me when I say, it may have not been strenuous for a near 15 y.o. who plays soccer year round, and works out 5 days a week, but for the rest of us strenuous was a good definition.

After climbing 343 steps, my thighs were doing a good bit of complaining.  Oh, but it was totally worth the climb.  The views were beautiful.  Emma and I rested on the large rocky cliff top while the boys explored the top.  After 20 minutes at the top, the boys were getting dangerously close to falling to their death or at the very least loosing a limb. We started our decent. (I am convinced that teenage boys loose all access to their brains at age 12.) Apparently I really do need to say things like, "No you cannot hang yourself out over the edge even if your brother says you wont fall" and "No, you cannot try rock climbing without a rope."

Our decent took less than 15 minutes, mostly because everyone decided to run down the mountain.  Knowing my limits, I chose to walk.  I arrived at the bottom just in time to watch the end of a game called "let's pelt dad with acorns."  Not a good choice for games if you are dad and a really, really bad idea if you are the one throwing the acorns.  (did I mention my brain theory?)
Although the hike did little to wear out the kids, it was wonderful to get outside.  After a week of baking, eating, cooking, sitting and eating some more, we totally needed it!


Cookie Party?

This week Emma decided to have a last minute cookie party for her and a few friends.  Always the social butterfly she wanted to invite everyone she knew.  I limited the number to 6, and even then I wasn't sure I would have enough to keep everyone busy.  I prepared the Gingerbread houses a head of time, whipped up a couple of batches of cookie dough to chill, purchased a few Christmas crafts and dug out a few cookie recipes I thought I could manage with 7 girls. Never the one to go overboard(HA), Emma and I whipped up some homemade cocoa mix, complete with hand made tags to send home with her friends.

With John working, I gave each of the boys assignments for assisting me with party.

Wouldn't you know that as soon as the pre-teen girls started showing up my assistants disappeared! Fortunately I only ended up with a total of 4 girls.  Thank heavens for even numbers.

That didn't stop the girls from getting to work, after all "duh" they are in 4th grade.  Everyone donned an apron and took turns decorating the Gingerbread houses. They filled their faces with candy and made sugar cookie cut-outs.  After 45 minutes of baking and decorating.  They were done.  Seriously, they were done.  They took off to play, leaving Jack and I to finish the cookies. And Mom to clean up the mess, as if that wasn't a given.

  I did manage to corral them for about 5 minutes.  Just long enough to decorated a few cookies, stuff their faces, roll their eyes at me and glare at the camera. Ah, pre-teens,  don't they just put the "Merry" in Merry Christmas.


Lego Quilt

Here it is, and just in time for Christmas.  The finished Lego quilt.

I know the picture is not the best quality, sorry.  Yesterday was a beautifully sunny day with a temperature of 70 degrees.  You'd think I would be able to take a nice picture outside, No!  I never remember until it is dark!  The picture doesn't show it but there are some navy blocks, lime green and some cream blocks hidden in among all of that.The back is this yummy flannel batik, so cuddly.

Here's a look at this cute little label I made up.  

I tried a new quilting pattern out on this quilt.  It is a free-motion circuit board.  I like that it adds an element of "building" to the quilt. I know one little man who is going to be warm and cozy this winter.



Whew!  The stamping is finished.  All told I stamp just over.... I don't know I didn't count them, but trust me it was a great deal of stamping.  I was rather frustrated with my inaccuracy.  First, I tried to eyeball them, (just channeling my inner slacker)  then I moved on to using a ruler, which worked much better, but still not exactly what I thought it should be.  When I was totally and completely at wits end Jack happened upon my stamping area, aka the kitchen counter.
 "Look at this Jack." I scowled.  "My stamps don't line up!  You would never be able to stack any legos on top of these stamps.  My bricks suck."  To which Jack replied.  "Mom, they don't suck.  It doesn't matter if they line up perfectly.  This quilt is an artistic interpretation of Lego bricks.  What matters is the emotion that you invoke from the viewer.  The image that they see needs to take them somewhere, make them experience being a child, remember the love that Legos brought into their life."  

Okay, no he didn't really say that.  What he said was "Mom, That Looks Awesome!"  Which was way better than the first and exactly what I was looking for.



When my cousin asked me to make a quilt for her son for Christmas, I knew immediately the perfect pattern.  Wee Wonderfuls blogger, author and general creative master Hillary Lang, created this LEGO Quilt for her Son this past March.  When I ran across it I knew I needed to make it.  My son, Jack, has an entire closet devoted to Legos, seriously I should have bought stock in the company.  I thought that someday I would be making it for him.  (and I still may be after he's seen this quilt).

Hillary created a templet for her quilt out of actual Legos, quite impressive.  I thought having a resident Lego-manic would make the design process easier.  Silly me.  He apparently is far to busy designing his own Lego items.  Rather than making the entire quilt random placement of blocks.  I decided to design 2 separate blocks of the same size. With graph paper in hand I set out. After a few consultations regarding the appropriate Lego colors and sizes, this is what I ended up with.
I cut copies the two blocks multiple times and came up with a pattern that was approved by the Lego-manic himself.  After several days of cutting and sewing I have this semi-finished product.

Not the best picture.  Sorry.  Now the really difficult part.  Carving the Lego logo stamp.  I had never carved a stamp before and boy is it harder than it looks on youtube!  After 6 attempts I came up with 2 not great but good enough stamps.

Now I am off to stamp, stamp, stamp away.  Keep you updated.