Monday, November 23, 2015

Winter Quilts

I've made a lot of stuff the last couple of months, but I can't show most of it. Kristi and I had a wonderful retreat earlier this month. I had my very own bathroom! We were in a cabin in the almost-middle-of-nowhere and it was quiet and cold outside, but warm inside. I got so much done! I was super energized when I got home and that led to finishing up some more stuff. I haven't posted one of my favorite projects, so I'll start with that.
My lovely friend, Carmen, published a book with 10 patterns for her grid interfacing. My name is in her book because I did the piecing on one of the quilts. I loved the pattern so much I did a scaled down version, a triple Irish Chain with Moda Bunny Hill Designs "Mistletoe Lane" fabrics. Can you see the ice skates? It wasn't overtly Christmas-y, just winter and I love it so much. Secretly Makenzie was supposed to be pregnant with a girl so I could give her this quilt. But, whatever. It's got minky on the back.

This morning I finished up a mini lone star with cute Christmas fabric. The finished quilt is 20"x20" and since I've made so many big lone stars, it seems to go really fast. So fun! And I love how it looks on the table. 

I love a striped binding. Especially when it's red and white. Like a candy cane. 
Isn't the back so cute? It's Lecian fabric called "Merry Taupe Collection." Not catchy. 

There are several more quilts I've finished and can't publish pictures of for a little more than a month. One is The Most Beautiful Quilt I've Ever Made. I'll probably have to stop making stuff after that one because it's so awesome. That's some quality buzz, eh?

These two are in our etsy shop if you think you know someone who might like to have them. ;)

Friday, November 13, 2015

September and October 2015 Book Report

For the last couple of months I've been binge-ing on a couple of TV shows instead of listening to books while I do housework and make dinner and eat lunch. I got through 11 seasons of "Cheers" in September and October. I know, it was really hard work. I only fast-forwarded through a few of them, too. (The episodes with Gary's Old Town Tavern were the worst for me. On the other hand, any episode with Nick and Loretta Tortelli were my favorites.) Now I'm watching "30 Rock" instead of reading. 

I did get through some great books during September and October, though. 

1. John Quincy Adams by Harlow Giles Unger

I think that John Quincy Adams could have been one of our greatest Presidents if it wasn't for Andrew Jackson's dumb luck and scheming. Adams was so smart and well-trained in so many ways. he was one of the youngest foreign ministers (maybe the youngest - it's been a few weeks since I finished this book) under President Washington, not because he was the Vice President's son, but because he had the most experience and he was really good at it.  

John Quincy Adams wrote the Monroe Doctrine (which prevented any European nation from colonizing states in North or South America, which was happening pretty constantly for hundreds of years before that) for President Monroe. Adams could not be stopped in the court room - he was a brilliant lawyer. Andrew Jackson's rise to fame and glory coincided with John Quincy's quietly crushing it. Everyone thought Jackson won the War of 1812 because news of a victory in the Battle of New Orleans, which he led, reached the public just after news that the war was over (thanks to a treaty drafted by John Quincy Adams), so it looked like Jackson had won the war. Then that hayseed had the nerve to bring all his drunk relatives to Washington and ruin all the social occasions. Poor John Quincy Adams, more educated and experienced than any person in the country, is left looking like an out-of-touch snob next to Andrew Jackson. Adams won the election of 1824 by the skin of his teeth (and some thought a back door deal with Henry Clay, who served as Adams's Secretary of State), but had a miserable Presidency thanks to all the shenanigans of Jackson and members of Congress who thought Adams had stolen the election. 

Pretty humiliating and anti-climatic for such a good man as John Quincy Adams. But! When his four years were finally up and after a period of depression, city leaders in Quincy, Massachusetts (a town named after Abigail Adams's kin) convinced John Quincy Adams to run for a seat in the House of Representatives. When he knew he could win, he went for it. I absolutely love this part - I'm getting goose flesh about it again! He had nothing to lose! He wasn't trying to be President like everyone else - there was no one left for him to offend. It goes without saying that I had a lot of Olympic Cries for John Quincy Adams during this section of the book. He was remarkable. Maybe the truest statesman ever in the House of Representatives. 

I didn't find his personal life as fascinating as I usually do. He didn't have an enviable marriage - they went through a lot. I did find it interesting that alcoholism ran on Abigail's side of the family and ended up ruining one of John Quincy's brothers and one of his sons. So, the difference between a member of the Adams family addicted to alcohol and one who isn't is dying on a party boat in deep debt and being brilliant and President of the United States. Stark contrast, eh?

I really enjoyed this biography. It has inspired me to read about every President of the United States, which I kinda decided to do a long time ago, but got off track when I read boring biographies of the Presidents.

2. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling 

That's right. Another Mindy Kaling book. I think this one is better than the first one. Kaling is a huge success and I think she's getting better at her job all the time. My favorite chapter was her revised answer to a question she got at the end of a long day of press. It was great advice. I didn't care for the very long chapter on her alternate life as a Latin teacher at a prep school. Mostly because I was listening to the book and she would read the header for the imaginary emails every time. And the whole chapter was just a bunch of email exchanges. Meh. 

I laughed and found myself agreeing with Mindy on a lot of subjects again. Fun, easy read.

3. West with the Night by Beryl Markham

I'd never heard of Beryl Markham until Goodreads recommended this book to me. She was kind of awesome. She raised and trained race horses with her father in Africa, then became a pilot in the 1930s. Her memoir West with the Night is considered a classic and I can definitely see why. She can really tell a story. The introduction to this book speculates that she made some of this stuff up. Like the author of the introduction, I am totally forgiving any lies because it's so fun to read and so well-written. 

Markham's father has to sell everything during a war or drought or financial collapse or something. Beryl decides to stay in Africa while her father goes to Peru. She's only about 18 at the time. Her father's perfect advice to his daughter: "Remember that you are still just a girl and do not expect too much - there are a few owners here and there who will give you horses to train. After that, work and hope. But never hope more than you work."

Later Beryl writes, "If a man has any greatness in him, it comes to light, not in one flamboyant hour, but in the ledger of his daily work." YES! 

This is a really cool book. Beryl Markham is exactly the kind of person who should be writing a memoir. :)

4. Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents by Marilyn Singer / illustrated by John Hendrix

I love these kinds of children's books. Smart, funny, educational. There is a poem for each U.S. President with a summation of their personality and presidency. Also, a perfect illustration of each president. Singer includes one of her famous backward and forward poems (there's a word for that - can't think of it) for one of the Presidents. I'm using this as a reference book. Ha! But, really.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween 2015

We did it! All the dreams came true and now there is a lot of candy in the house. I'm going to start with photos from Daddy's work on Friday afternoon. We coordinated with Aunt Claire and got there at the same time this year.
Don't they look adorable?! Claire made Ian's costume. Respect. And I saw for myself that Moira can walk! Not in the parking lot - don't be crazy. But she can do it!
We were all staring her down. It was a lot of pressure.
This is the kind of cooperation I was dealing with. For once we were there on time and the kids had access to the good candy - and lots of it. When these guys had worn out one set of parents, we took our kids to the room where they were decorating cookies and watching a movie. What?! That's how late we usually are - I didn't even know that did the cookie thing.
Looking out Daddy's office window.

After we'd filled the bags and written all over Daddy's white board in his office, we went to eat at Brick Oven. You know, leg two of the Parental Triathlon. No photos, of course. Who wants to see the inside of the public bathroom anyway? The food was good, though. 

Halloween Day started with me running errands with Emil. I let him push the cart at Michaels and he didn't even topple one display! We found the glow sticks for my piano students, went home and ate breakfast and hurried to the piano recital. I love the Halloween recital because the kids dress up and some of them even stay in character for their performance. Everyone was my favorite - they looked so great and everyone played well. Bridget memorized "Harry's Wondrous World" and played it like a pro. 
We're a long way from the recitals where she wouldn't even sit on the piano bench without me. She's got this. 

We came home and did some Saturday stuff - I even planted bulbs (it's going to be awesome). Around 4:30 we went to see Grandma and play with Nate for a little bit.
Nate was a Minion. :)
This is how they play at Grandma and Grandpa's.

We got home and Emil insisted on waiting on the porch for Archibald to come by and pick him up. I guess earlier in the day, the Archibalds had hitched some wagons to their riding lawnmower and said it would be okay for Emil to ride in it to go trick-or-treating. They might as well carve that in stone. Emil didn't wait in vain, though. :)

Meanwhile, Bridget and I met Clara and her family to begin the trick-or-treating. The boys were just finishing our neighborhood when Bridget started, so Colin made a full two laps around the neighborhood.
This is one of their favorite babysitters. :)
One of our lovely neighbors was serving hot dogs and hot cocoa. I made Bridget sit by their cat because it looks just like Hermione's cat. She was into it.
Emil went home to get his fire truck. His helmet and trick-or-treat bag are in the back. Behind the ladder. Tee hee hee.

And then it was too dark for photos. We walked and walked and walked! Colin handed me his bag and Emil handed Brian his bag, the better to RUN to every door. All the kids had glow bracelets and necklaces on, which was really the only way we kept track of them. Emil walked next to me so I could listen to him complain about having to walk when he'd been able to ride behind the lawnmower. We heard a dog howl and Emil asked, "Was that a werewolf?" Me: "Probably." Brian and I were so tired by the time we got home at 7:30 that we hurried and got the kids bathed and prayers and in bed by 8:15. Secretly it was 7:15 because Daylight Savings was over, but whatever. Time for bed.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Hermione Granger, Red Power Ranger, and Fireman Mo

I didn't try to influence the kids with their costumes this year. That's a lie - Bridget wanted to be a disco dancer It didn't take much to talk her out of that and into being Hermione Granger. For about two years now, Brian and Bridget have been reading the Harry Potter books every night (except the nights Brian gets home too late). They're on the 5th one right now. I love to see and hear them reading together. In the last few months Bridget has started reading on her own for fun, which is huge. I think the time she's spent reading with her Dad has ignited her love for reading. 
Brian kneels by her bed to read. :) I read to the boys on the bottom bunk every night. The three of us fit side-by-side on that twin bed. So! Bridget's costume for 4th grade is Hermione! I bought the robe, tie, and wand from the official Harry Potter Shop and now they won't stop emailing me. I texted my fellow-nerd and sister Katy and asked if she could make a Mrs. Weasley-esque scarf to go with the robe. I got it the next day in the mail. Ha! But, for real, she whipped that thing up so fast! Costume secured, Bridget and I went to the local museum for their Harry Potter-themed night and I noticed they have a Hogwart's Express sign above their door. Like, all the time - not just for the Harry Potter night. I rented a trunk from a nearby antique store (when we pulled up to the store the boys asked, "Is this a junk yard?") and a broom from a nice neighbor's Halloween porch display. All this equals my favorite:
Hermione - first in line for the Hogwart's Express and reading a giant book to pass the time. It was totally raining outside, by the way. When I told Bridget to look up, she put her finger on the page to hold her spot - she was actually reading it. Funny girl. (It's a copy of Alice in Wonderland.)
Bridget is a little disappointed that Hermione doesn't wear make-up, but other than that, it's been the best costume yet. And she's had some good ones!

Every time I asked Emil what costume he wanted for Halloween, he said Fred. But that's what he wore last year. I'm guessing he thought that was his permanent Halloween costume. He said "fireman" two times in a row, so I went ahead and bought a fireman costume. It's perfect! Yes, I paid too much for it, but I didn't have to run around town looking for costume parts and I was only considering my nerves this year. We went to the fire station to see if they'd let us take a few photos on a fire truck. No one was there! We knocked on all the doors and called out several times, but no one answered. It took less than five minutes, and it was the perfect setting.
Can you just peek the red suspenders? All the stripes are reflective, which makes him easy to spot in the dark. It's kind of the perfect costume. Emil had a hard time not smiling constantly.

There was never any question that Colin was going to be the Red Power Ranger. I thought that was a piece of cake, but I guess all the little boys want to be the Red Power Ranger. We had to settle for the weird dinosaur version (what?), which Colin was cool with, thank goodness. It is a MIRACLE that we still have the sword. We went to a small junk yard close to our house because I wanted to be true to the production value of a real episode of Power Rangers. Hahahahahaha! They're always in some parking lot or junk yard.

The big day is almost here - but really it's mostly been about the parties leading up to the trick-or-treating. And now I can't finish my thoughts because I have two boys patting me and trying to get my attention. Their plan worked.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Full Report

During September and October Bridget had volleyball and Emil and Colin had itty-bitty football. Since we will need this information for a look back to the origin of their greatness, a report.

This year I was determined to have Bridget be on the same team with her friends, Kodi and Clara. That way we'd have more options for rides to practices, Bridget would have The Most Fun Possible because she'd be with her friends, and we'd have a chance to see Kodi more often. The moms synchronized our watches and managed to get them all on the same team with the perfect coach, Sunny Mahe. Sunny didn't let the girls serve underhand, she was the perfect mix of fun/encouraging/tough. By the end of the season Sunny's daughter, also on Bridget's team and a nine year-old, was testing out an overhand jump serve. Whoa.
Last year you could plan on scoring if your serve got over the net, but this year they had the skills to volley a little more. More of the girls weren't afraid of the ball, although I'm convinced that a few of them made contact with the ball by chance. A girl on one of the opposing teams actually caught two of Kodi's serves (which were LEGENDARY, by the way) like you would catch a basketball. Ha!
I don't know if Bridget's got the eye of the tiger quite yet, but I know she had a great time. And she practiced that overhand serve for hours! A few more boot camps with Kodi and Bridget will be a pro. :)
Emil and Colin played for the Cowboys for itty-bitty football. This year they were the big scary four-year-olds playing with and against little boys. Colin totally gets sports. He understood all the rules and executed all the drills exactly right. In one of the drills they were supposed to block for their teammate who was running with the ball. Colin took some kids OUT if they got near the ball carrier. Emil only listened to the first half of all the directions, so he was not as impressive. However! No one could get by Emil without getting their flag stolen. DEFENSE! When Emil was on offense he had a tendency to guard his flag and a few times he even took his own flag off rather than give someone else the satisfaction. Sigh. I drowned out the deafening gym noises with David Copperfield, so a good time was had by all. (All sports pictures are brought to you by my camera phone. I have wised up, you guys.)

Instead of a deer hunt trip this year, Brian and his brothers and his Dad went fishing in Flaming Gorge at the beginning of September. Later in September Brian had Wood Badge for two weekends in a row. The kids and I were excited to be able to get away with Daddy for Fall Break. We finally caught Grandma Peggy and Grandpa Bob at home (they're usually visiting one of their favorite children out of the state) and Brian and I even plugged in an early anniversary night away. Our first stop on the way to Idaho was an early dinner at Maddox in Brigham City.
Eating out with these three is always either the worst or just okay. Since Colin was hungry this time, it was okay. Except that he kept yelling down the aisle, "WHERE'S MY MACARONI?!" Our waiter was very patient and they got the Frisbee plates, so no one got hurt.

We arrived at Grandma and Grandpa's house before they did, so we came in and the kids quickly emptied all the toy boxes. Bridget had packed all of her doll clothes and then she forgot her doll. Good thing Grandma Peggy has three.
The boys discovered the Transformers box this time. Funny how Grandma and Grandpa have a box of toys to please every age group.

After a pumpkin pancake and smoothie breakfast Friday morning, we went to the corn maze and pumpkin patch to play and see Grandpa Bob in action. (He was there with a school field trip.)
First we took a ride to the pumpkin patch where we got to choose our own pumpkins. Colin found his and then tricked Grandma into carrying it for him.

On the way back to the corn maze, all three kids were sitting on or very close to Daddy. Awww.
The weather was so perfect and the views in Idaho are very relaxing. They may not have a Target, but they have some beautiful scenery. Back at the farm we took some photos before we started the epic corn maze.
Emil convinced a random kid to push him around on this tractor.
Hahahahahaha! Can you see his little hand by the Montana border?
Too bad she's not in her Halloween costume. 

Then we posed in front of the maze as a family. For posterity.
For the next hour and a half we ran through this corn maze encountering clues, dead ends, and "crop circles" (or as Emil called them "crapsicles"). Brian and I both reached our step target before we were out. I'm sweating just thinking about it!
The kids rarely agreed on which way we should go. After Brian, Grandma and I had seen a few dead ends, we let the kids go around the corner and find out if it was the right way before we followed them. Run, kids. Run, run, run.
This is sign #19. There were 75 of them. That does not include the crapsicles.
I told the kids to pose and this is what they did. Ha!
This was Colin the whole time. I think he ran twice as far as anyone else checking all the dead ends.
Emil made a whine-y groaning noise while he did the Charlie Brown Walk after about 30 minutes in the maze.
See? Colin is running. They should have some hydration stations in there. Bridget and Colin would NOT let us take any shortcuts. We had many opportunities to exit the maze before the end, but they insisted that we were so close and we'd come this far. Every time we saw an early exit, Emil would look at me and raise his eyebrows. "You and me? We could get out right here." :)
We eventually made it out, though, and I'm glad we didn't give up early. While the old people staggered off to find a chair, the kids ran to play with other stuff. WHA...???? 
Notice Bridget's jewelry. Grandma's house!

We met Grandpa Bob at Pizza Pie Cafe and had a big lunch with even bigger drinks. The kids continued to play (again, WHA..???) while the adults took power naps. Then Brian and I went to McCammon to stay at the Harkness Hotel for the night. We saw a "point of interest" sign and stopped to read it on our way into town. Apparently McCammon was supposed to be a big town because of the railroad passing through it. A guy named Harkness made a fortune and built a hotel, a bank, a big house, all in McCammon. The Harkness Hotel was his bank building and a young couple has restored the building and made it into a hotel. There is nowhere to eat, but the hotel is beautiful and very relaxing. And it's really close to Lava Hot Springs, so we didn't have to go far to find food and we could have gone to the hot pools if we'd thought it through better.
On Saturday morning we ate breakfast at a cafe across the street. An old-timer there seemed surprised and pleased that we'd stayed at the new hotel. He said they were sure those kids wouldn't make it - no one would want to stay in McCammon. :) You should, though. Everyone should. It's a lovely hotel.

Grandma and Grandpa and the kids were still at the homecoming parade for ISU when we got back to their house, so Brian and I went to visit Grandma Shirley. She was in a very good mood and told us some fun stories. She also said we both look beautiful, and Grandma only tells the truth. ;) She introduced us to a select group as we walked with her to her lunch room. Ha! We passed right by some people, but were stopped and introduced to others. Back at my parents' house we tried to feed the kids real food (they'd each collected their weight in tootsie rolls at the parade), had a quick concert (Bridget played her recital song and Grandpa Bob sang), said a family prayer, and took a picture on the porch. Traditions!
Grandpa Bob's encore was "Bought Me a Cat" - the boys wouldn't remember the last time they'd heard it and I thought they'd get a kick out of it. Colin was sitting on Brian's lap saying, "The cat says 'meow'" every time Grandpa sang, "My cat says fiddle-eye-fee." :)
The boys were out-of-control. Pure sugar in their veins.
We had so much fun! Emil is even supporting some candidate for city council. Idaho is the best. Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa.