Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pirates! Robots! Ravens! Oh My!

I must say that having two boys with full blown imaginations in the house is very fun. Aaron has just started telling me stories. The other day, when he was learning about keeping on the sidewalks, he informed me that a raven flew onto the road. He had to call out, "No, raven! That dangerous! Get off the road!". Then the raven flew away and was safe. Apparently, Dave also drove him and Aaron through a big pile of mud and they got soaking wet. We're not sure when this happened.

Yesterday, there was some heavy duty construction going on outside at about 7am. Aaron insisted that he needed to go out (I let him in the fenced back yard by himself, and peek out the kitchen window). He kept running in to get little dump trucks, diggers and loaders. Apparently there's a lot of important work going on back there.

This is one of my favorite games -- the Fabric Pirates:

There are several stages to this game. In the first, the boys gather all the fabric they can find (usually one of my bins of yard or so cuts -- I let them at the fat quarters once and it took forever to clean up) and shove it in the bottom of their two story climbing thing. Then they set up their "gun"(an old vacuum pipe and an old hose spray nozzle) on the top deck and climb aboard.

In the second, they collect up their treasure into a bin (the one Andrew is sitting on) and put in on the top of the pirate ship with them. Then they usually argue about how long it is before the inevitable happens - a storm! When the storm hits, everything is knocked out of the pirate ship. This means the fabric bin is thrown out, hard enough that all the fabric scatters, landing at the bottom of the slide. Then the boys slide down the slide and "float" on the fabric treasure. Then they recover, gather up most of the treasure and get back on the ship. This used to be the end of the game.

But now, my favorite addition is stage three. This is the part where they are shipwrecked on a tiny raft, with only the treasure, a book, a trumpet (I know it looks like wheels ripped off of a push toy, but its very magical) and a spyglass (part of a toy microscope). They then entertain themselves on the raft until, well, they get bored and find shore. How do they entertain themselves? Well, Andrew and Aaron look at the book and talk about the pictures (Andrew gets to show off his superior four year old knowledge). They search for land or ships to rescue them. The rummage through the treasure. And my favorite of all, Andrew plays the magical trumpet, which makes Aaron do the magic dance. Classic, I tell you.

Andrew decided he needed to do some research on robots a while ago. The librarians love him, so when they realized he had already taken out all the interesting books on robots in our local library, they ordered some in from the city. Did you know there are robot soccer tournaments? Robots that can link together and follow each other's movements based on sonar signals? Robots that climb walls and wash windows? Insect robots that they are trying to program to reproduce? Crazy, the things people think of.

Anyway, this has led to a further spate of robot building. Here was a recent example of a robotic arm tool:

Do I really have to send them to school? Andrew is already starting to tell me that only Transformer robots are cool and that he only likes Buzz Lightyear and Spiderman, not any other guys. Sigh. I guess I'd better enjoy it while it lasts.

Hello, Sun.

Thanks for being there to greet us in the mornings again.

Right now, rising around 5:30, your timing is perfect.

Now, could you do me a favor and skip that week in June where you wake up at 3:30?

How about if I set an alarm, and you can't rise until we're ready to get up. Would that work for you?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Andrew's I-Spy Quilt

A long time ago, when I only had Andrew, I started collecting novelty fabrics to make him an I-spy quilt. I decided to use mostly blues, browns and creams for something that would be fun but soothing for bed time. Then, I got pregnant with Aaron. And all my friends decided to have babies withing 6 months of me. So the baby quilts began to roll off my sewing machine. Then last winter, I started fussy cutting fabric to the same size as a pack of 6 inch pre-cut squares I had bought. I realized that my pre-cut fabric was not washed, so I soaked and dried them all in the sink, with the help of a very excited Andrew. And then something terrible happened. They shrank and warped. So I had about 25 fussy cut 6" squares, and about 40 pre-cut, needing to be re-cut 5 3/4" squares, and about 100 more squares to cut after that. So I put the quilt in a "to be continued"drawer, and started work on the two Peas and Carrots quilts.

The whole time I was working on these quilts, and the other odd baby and mini quilts I did in between, Andrew kept asking, "When are you going to work on MY quilt?" When I pulled out all my monkey flannel and started piecing it together into a quilt for cousin Seth, Andrew had a complete breakdown. Being Andrew, he started sabotaging my sewing time -- fighting with Aaron, pulling apart my sewing machine, emptying all the fabric bins and strewing fabric all over the basement . . . until I finally promised him that his quilt would be the next quilt I finished, if he would just STOP. Well, suddenly he became Mr. Co-operative, and I got Bea's quilt done, and started re-cutting all his squares into 5 1/2 inch squares.

While I was in the middle of this, Andrew got into my bin of polka dots and declared that he wanted red dots in his quilt. Oh, and these blue ones. And those black ones . . . so I had a new design challenge. How to fit red and blue and black polka dots in with my former plan.

This quilt was finished pretty quickly, because my niece's wedding is coming up, and I have a picnic quilt to make for a friend, and the weather is getting nice which means less sewing time . . . so here's what I came up with.

It is not really well balanced. Every time I tried to edit it a little, my patron would insist, "No, I NEED the chickens, mom. The giraffes have to stay, mom. Where are the race cars gone?" And I don't have a design wall, and Aaron kept waking up while I was trying to work out the layout . . . but its cute and has EVERYTHING in it, just as a certain little boy wanted.

The back is the same -- I was going to just add one more fabric aside from the rockets, but we had to have the race cars and knights and race cars and trains and trucks . . .

I do, however, have one VERY happy little boy, so it is all good.

I am loving . . .

these sunkissed faces. Andrew kept doing this every time I tried to take a photo.

So I told him to just keep watching the movie, which resulted in this:

Finally I got this.

Still, I love the healthy, warm glow that has returned to their faces. Even if it means that mama is crashing at 9pm after pushing, pulling, chasing, climbing, and catching (mostly Aaron trying to jump off high things) all day long.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Where have I been?

I've been outside enjoying the sunshine, or inside working my way through the virtual quilt festival. Also, I did promise Andrew that I would finish his quilt before I started another new one. And its in the dryer right now. Did I mention Aaron is a VERY ACTIVE two year old? Who knows how to put on his own boots and open doors and can now get to anything on top of the fridge? Re-organization of dangerous objects is once more in process, too. And switching over of wardrobes can hopefully begin -- I think the snow yesterday was the last one for the year. I hope.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by for the Virtual Quilt Festival for all the lovely comments. This has been terribly fun.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Quilt Festival

Hi. Welcome to the Blogger's Quilt Festival. Amy over at Park City Girl thought it would be fun to make a Virtual Quilt Festival, where we could all have a convenient way to enjoy other blogger's favorite quilts. Sounds fun to me!

This is my favorite quilt that I have done so far. I made it for my goddaughter Margaret Marie (who we generally call Meggy). She is three, and lives and hour's drive away from me. Her mom and I both wanted to make something that would last for a long time, and that she could use for years without it becoming too "kiddish".

The fabric is Peas and Carrots by American Jane (mostly) and the pattern is from an American Quilting and Patchwork Magazine. I machine pieced it, and quilted it with a walking foot on my little Kenmore. I had a few moments where I thought it was just going to be too busy, and that it would be a complete failure and my friend would feel like she had wasted the money she spent on fabric for this quilt. But in the end, I love it. I love going to visit and seeing it on Marie's bed, and I love the fact that even if we move away from each other, she will still be able to feel my love and prayers snuggling her as she sleeps.

Thanks for checking out my quilt! Now, go see the rest of the First Annual Blogger Quilt Festival !

Thursday, April 16, 2009

TS Eliot was right. April is the cruelest month. Snow on April 16, just after we took out all the sand toys and patio furniture, is just cruel.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Quilting Impasse

I seem to have come to an impasse with my I Spy quilt. I put the top together, and it is okay. Its really busy, and kind of oddly balanced. Then I put the back together, using the 6 fabrics Andrew insisted I used, instead of one or two nice calm ones I had chosen. Then I started quilting it diagonally through the 9-patch units. But they're 15 inch blocks, so I've now realized that the quilting is going to be too far apart for the batting. So now I have to either pull all the quilting I've done out, or find some oddball way of quilting between the giant diamonds I'm going to have without making a mess. Arg, arg, arg.

This is what happens when I decide to do something "easy" and rush through it. And of course, it is on the quilt for MY son that I am going to have to see every day for years. I wish I would have taken a bit more time to think this one through. And that I wouldn't have promised him I wouldn't do any other sewing until I finished his quilt. Maybe I can sneak in my April mini for my mini quilt swap without him noticing, and let it sit for a week.

I Need to Explore the Weather.

I looked out our window at about 8am yesterday morning to find this fog had suddenly set in. Then I heard the door slam and saw this little man had got himself ready and headed outside.

"I need to explore the weather" he said. I realized he wouldn't remember fog from last year, so it was new to him. So the boys and I walked to the park in the fog, looked at it, and came home.

Andrew was trying to convince Aaron there were ghosts in the fog to scare him. Ah, older brothers.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Stash Sunday

No Easter theme here. Sorry. But I did just get this very springy fabric, Wonderland by MoMo. I love this fabric. I have no plan for it at present, other than to just look at it
This one is my favorite. I don't know what I"m going to do that will do it justice. I might just have to make a big cushion out of it.

And here's the rest. I am trying to remind myself that I already have lots of fabrics in oranges and greens and yellows and browns that co-ordinate with these in my stash. I don't need to get the pink little flowers, or the purple or pistashio polka dots. I really, really don't.

Happy Easter!

We had a little treasure hunt at our house this morning, since Andrew is allergic to chocolate, and gummi bears and jelly beans are too sticky to leave out overnight. They had to find the item in the picture (table, climber, dryer, couch). At each place there was a tin full of treats to share plus the next clue. It was fun, once they figured it out. I love the photo of Andrew directing Aaron to climb under the climbing structure to get the tin rather than doing it himself. Really, what would be the point of being the older child otherwise?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Yum, Sushi.

This is what I made the other night. Don't know how to make your own sushi? Its easy. Go to the ethnic food section of your grocery store. Pick up a bottle of Soy Sauce, some Nori (the seaweed stuff), and a tube of Wasabi, plus your sushi ingredients of choice.

Cook a batch of rice, and mix it with a couple of tablespoons of vinegar and a couple tablespoons of sugar. Pull out a sheet of Nori and spread the rice thinly, leaving about an inch free on one side. Put other fillings (I used crab meat mixed with mayonaise, red peppers and cucumbers) in a line in the middle of the rice. Splash some water on your fingers, and spread it on the empty part of the seaweed. Roll it up and cut it with a sharp knife. Enjoy. I sure did.

Hmmm . . . it appears I have writer's block.

Its not that I don't have anything to say. Its this new blog I've started with my friend Kris . I'm terrified to write something in it. It is such a blank slate. A chance to speak with a different voice, to let the world in on some of my thoughts and feelings and ideas about motherhood. I tend to shy away from actually acting smart and serious. Its a defense mechanism built up from years of trying unsucessfully to not be bullied in school, and to seem a little bit less weird.

You see, the thing is that a year ago, when Kris and I were talking about starting a website called Clever Mamas, I thought I knew something about parenting. I had opinions to give and help to share with the un-enlightened. But the last year or so, a lot of those beliefs and ideas have changed; my ideals and perceptions have been shaken by the greatest humbler and teacher of all: real life with my children.

This in part shows that I really am a Clever Mama. After all, isn't being a Clever Mama just being a mom who can think and reflect and adjust to their children and their life circumstances? I think so. In any case, I am going to pretend to be clever, and send you all over the our fledgling new blog, Clever Mamas and see what's happening.

Kris is my much savvier and more stylish partner in crime. She is always up on the latest thing and has an interesting opinion about it, so she has already posted some articles. I will write something when I get my courage up. Really.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Stash Sunday

I did say I was getting some new blues soon. Here they are. Lovely, Europeany Good Folks on the left (and top right) by Anna Maria Horner, and delicate, pretty Art Nouveau prints -- don't know the designer's name, sorry. I wish the gray was Kona cotton, but its just something I picked up at Fabricland that happens to match. I can't bear trying to match solids to prints online, so I don't get many of the Kona Cottons, although I love the feel of them.

These are destined to be a bed quilt for my bed. Yep, this will be my first queen sized, and is fourth on my to-do list at present. I'm planning on a simple square and rectangle type pattern with big blocks. I"m not worried about that part, but I am a bit nervous about quilting it. I don't know if my machine will agree to quilt a queen sized quilt. It might be the straw that broke the camel's back. Maybe I"ll make it a year long project and hand quilt it . . .

Anyhow, thats my offering this week. If you want to see who else is playing this week or join up yourself, go visit Tamara at 1/4 of an inch -- its her game.

I Spy Quilt Progress

So, I think this is going to be a quilt that only a 4 - 6 yr old boy could love. Although it has a lot of fantastic novelty prints in it, and is mainly blue and red and cream and brown, it is a busy, busy quilt. You see, the thing is that just as I had decided to do all big blocks, Andrew walked up to me with a handful of polka dots and said, "I want THESE in my quilt, mommy." As I am never one to back down from a challenge, and as I adore polka dots, I included them. Lots of them. In fact, I thought it might be a good idea to just do giant nine patches of novelty prints and polka dots to try to unify the quilt. Which it may yet do. Or it may just look crazy. We shall see once all the giant nine patches are sewn together and I can lay them out.

Still, it is amazing how quickly biggish squares come together after you've been stitching triangles and mini quilts for a long time. Now if only Aaron would stop climbing on top of the fridge or flooding the bathroom or disassembling my sewing machine, perhaps I could finish this quilt.

Golden Syrup!

This is probably not a revelation to anyone else, but I just discovered that they sell Golden Syrup at the grocery store! I am super excited simply because now I can make these:

I should note to anyone who bought this book on my recommendation (Anna) that the American publisher miscalculated all the metric measurements in the recipes. Jane Brocket has noted this and posted the errata page on her blog .

An while we're on the topic of the Gentle Art of Domesticity, I must say that whenever I think, "What am I going to do with four or five lap quilts made just for our family?" I turn to this great photo as a reminder of why it would be great to have several quilts drifting around:

I tell you, perusing that bright book has got me through the March doldrums.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Apparently SOMEONE has decided Spring has arrived . . .

Dave got the motorcycle out today. He could only use main roads because the side streets (like the one our house is on) are still icy. But apparently the rest of the roads are "safe".