Sunday, September 19, 2010

Random Photos

Here are a couple random photos from this week. Jellybean finally finished the Lego creation he's been working on. Z and I got him this for his birthday and he is VERY proud that he did it ALL.BY.HIMSELF. Of course, it got broken seconds after I took this picture, but he did really well and put it back together (instead of getting really upset about it). I think he's had to "fix" it several times already just today.

This next one is of a quilt I'm working on for Jellybean's Christmas present. I think I figured that I have 7 quilts to make in the next couple of months for the holidays (and for new babies), so I'm steadily trying to work through them all. This one will be Jellybean's new quilt. It's cool, right? It is all Ghanaian fabric (and I'm happy to report that I still have a pretty substantial stash, even after cutting these big blocks). I am still trying to decide whether or not to add a couple of borders, or leave it as it is. I'm kind of liking the big blocks as it is, but we'll see. Hopefully he likes it, too. (you can click the photo to make it bigger and see it a little better)

And this last one is of the resident "big fat toad" that lives in the herb garden right outside our back door. He comes out onto the patio after warm rains and eats his fill of bugs and worms. But, I think for the most part he just hangs out in my herb garden. The dogs are always confused by him...they sniff him...lick him...and then keep on walking. Silly thing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Let's go sailing...

I am a little late in posting this, but the day was so much fun it would be a shame not to post them. A couple of weeks ago, my boss and her husband invited the boys and I to go sailing with them on their sailboat for a day. Of course, I can't say no to a fun new activity like that so off we went to go sailing!

Here are a few pictures of our day. The boys had a ton of fun exploring the sailboat, being the captain, playing pirates, and practically giving their mom a panic attack due to their general craziness and willingness to go way too close to the edge of the boat without holding on to something...








Apparently sailing is tiring...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

And the School Year Begins

The school year began here on Wednesday. I was a little worried about how the first day would go, considering neither one of the boys seemed to be all that excited about going back. They weren't not excited either...they just didn't seem overly enthused one way or the other.

Thankfully that changed Monday evening when we had "Back to School" night at the school. The boys delivered their school supplies, met their new classmates, and spent some time saying hello to their teachers. After Monday evening, they were ready (and excited) about going back to school.

Jellybean has the same teacher he had last year (we have the boys enrolled in the "Multi-age" program here, so they have the same teacher two years in a row). Peanut has a new teacher this year (Multi-age starts after Kindergarten, so he'll have his current teacher for 2 years now). Thankfully, I think she's going to be a great fit for him. A HUGE improvement from last year (the parental units in this family kind of butted heads with the Kinder teacher last year).

Here are my super handsome boys on the first day of school.

Don't they just look all grown up? Sniff...

The boys seem to have had a great first three days of school. They like their teachers a lot, they are doing well, and they have come home with lots of fun stories to tell. Jellybean has been coming home excited to tell me he did his math and writing all right!! And Peanut reports that he has been doing a good job keeping on task. Considering the fact that last year we had a note sent home from the teacher on the first day of school for bad behavior, I'm calling this year's start to the school year a success!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Weather


The last few days have been terrible weather-wise. Its been HOT and HUMID all day long...and then rainy and stormy at night. In the past 3 nights we've had more than 10 inches of rainfall. That means today Ames, IA is flooded. Seriously flooded. Evacuations, sand-bags, closed roads and buildings, etc. Flooded. And to top it off, we are in an excessive heat warning until tomorrow night. Today and tomorrow we are expected to have unusually high temperatures and a heat index of 105-110 degrees.

In a word this weather SUCKS.

I spent an hour and a half this morning trying to get to Ames. An hour and a half wasted, since I never got to where I wanted to go. Every route was closed. Luckily today is my day off of work, but tomorrow I am not sure I'll be able to get there.

I was feeling kind of sorry for myself this morning when I woke up since we had been without electricity for several hours last night and there was some water in the basement that needed cleaning up. Then I tried to drive to Ames and realized that many people are much worse off. Hilton Coliseum has 4ft of water in it (and its still coming in)...Hwy 30, Interstate 35, Lincoln Way, Hwy 69, and many many other streets in Ames are closed.

The boys told me this morning during our unproductive trip to town that "Today is not a good day to go for a drive, Mommy."
I guess I'll just stay home...

Images from Ames Tribune

Monday, August 9, 2010

8-9-10


Today was Jellybean's birthday!! I cannot believe that he is 8 years old! We actually celebrated his birthday on Friday evening, since Z was going to be out of town for the actual day. But...we packed in some fun activities for the weekend. A trip to the theater to see Despicable Me (which the boys thought was AWESOME!!), and a friend's birthday party at the bowling alley/arcade on Sunday. What is it about little boys and the arcade? I swear they could spend ALL DAY in there!

This morning, Peanut and I sang a silly version of "Happy Birthday" to Jellybean. He thought we were nuts, but it was fun.

Can you believe how grown-up Jellybean looks now? Its crazy. He got glasses this past week and is getting used to wearing them so he's ready to wear them everyday at school. He likes them (thankfully) and calls himself "Dr. T" when he wears them. Too funny! Hopefully he doesn't get tired of them or come to hate wearing them. He is pretty happy that he can see better now, though.

In other news, things around here are getting busy, busy, busy. Z has Army stuff to do...and I am back in full swing at work again (I had June and July off). Now that August is here, I am actually really looking forward to September when the boys will start school and we can get a good routine going. That, and I am really looking forward to cooler weather. I'm a Minnesotan. I'm tired of this hot and humid stuff (though, its been pretty hot and humid in MN lately, too). Last night we got 5 inches of rain. Crazy! The rivers are out of their banks again...I would really like it if it would stop raining so much so that our basement wasn't so damp and so I wouldn't have to mow the lawn so often! I am so looking forward to cool nights when I can open up the windows and feel nice, crisp fall air!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

One Man's Junk

A couple of months ago, I rescued a plant out of the compost bin. I work in a building that has a large greenhouse on the top floor, so it isn't exactly an unusual occurrence to find a plant in the compost bin that I decide has some redeeming quality. Then I drag it home, pot it up, and hope for the best.

The plant that I rescued a couple months ago is a Bird of Paradise plant. I LOVE them. It looked pretty ragged when I pulled it out of the compost bin, but I brought it home anyway. I put it in a nice big pot, gave it lots of water, and put it on my front porch. I figured if nothing else, I'd have some extra green through the summer...and if it still wasn't looking great by fall, at least I would have given it a few extra months to thrive.

A couple days ago, I noticed that there were flower buds on the Bird of Paradise. Then they opened.

Not bad for garbage, right??

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer Vacation

The boys were so excited to go on a "real vacation" this summer (and quite honestly, so was I)! The hubby had never been to one of my very favorite places...so I decided this was the year he was finally going to see Lake Superior. We didn't have a ton of time available to travel very far this time around, so Lake Superior was a great choice for that reason. It is close (within a day's drive) and the scenery is spectacular. So even though we were relatively close to home, it still felt like we were quite far away.

Oh how I wish I lived near Lake Superior. I could very happily move to this area. There is so much to do outside (lots of State Parks, HUGE national forest areas with lots of hiking and biking)...lots of hiking around the lake...and there are a surprising number of quilt shops in the area! ;o)

Here are some random photos from our trip. We loved it...we ate lots of fish...hiked around along the shoreline...got wet in the COLD lake...did some geocaching...and generally had fun.

Oh, and I should mention that we stayed at a waterpark resort the first two nights in Duluth. The boys LOVED it. I think they would have been perfectly happy if we had not seen anything in Duluth except the inside of our hotel (which included the water park). Don't worry, though. We got them out and about to explore!










Friday, June 18, 2010

Pray for my hometown...

My hometown of Wadena, MN was hit by a tornado yesterday afternoon. There is a lot of damage.

I have heard from my immediate family and all are ok. Most of my family lives in the rural area and they had no damage. Amazingly those who do live in town sustained no (or relatively little) damage. But many, many others were not so fortunate. Lots of my high-school friends' families are dealing with damage and devastation. Please send good thoughts and prayers to all in (and around) Wadena, MN.

high school

community center - hockey rink

pool

high school

high school

high school commons area
Photos from the Wadena Pioneer Journal

Monday, June 14, 2010

Nearly a decade...

I am a bit embarrassed to admit that it has taken me nearly a decade to finish a quilt. Nearly a decade? Yikes! How is it possible that much time has passed since I started it?

In my mind, every quilt has a story. Some stories are short...and others are long. Some stories are sweet...while others have a serious dose of blood, sweat, and tears. The story of this quilt is one of those longer stories.

A little more than ten years ago, I left my small town and my small college for a trip to Tanzania. It was just a month-long trip, but it was a trip that would end up influencing how I view the world today. I know its a cliche to say that it was a "life-changing trip", but it was just that for me.

Not long after my trip, I discovered that my mom had taken up quilting. It didn't take much for me to convince her to try to teach me the basics. We spent a weekend making my very first quilt. One with big blocks, large pieces of fabric...and it was flannel. It is proudly hanging on the quilt rack in my sewing room - my very first quilt. Soon after that, I decided I wanted to try another quilt. I wanted to make one big enough for my bed. I didn't want to spend much money (quilting fabric is expensive on a graduate student's budget) so my mom and I went to the quilt shop and bought fabrics from the clearance section. They weren't fabrics that I would pick now...and if I'd had a bigger budget then, I certainly would have picked other fabrics. My mom helped me find a pattern that I thought I could pull off on my own (a simple 9 patch) and I went to work. My mom helped here and there, but it was mostly my own. I still use that quilt on my bed (though its getting kind of worn...and the dog has put a hole or two in it).

But the quilt that this story is about is the very next piece I started on. I remember I was using an old hand-me-down machine from my mom. It was actually the machine that I learned to sew on when I was a kid. It was basic, but it was all I needed back then. I had two roommates, and not much living space that was "mine". But, I crammed my little sewing table into my room and convinced myself that I would find time to sew.

Somewhere along the line I found this book:


And on page 150, I saw this quilt:


And I knew I HAD to make THAT quilt. That quilt transported me right back to Tanzania. That quilt made me feel Africa all over again - just by looking at it. I knew I had to have a quilt like that in my house to look at every day.

I had no idea what I was doing. The book didn't have a pattern for the quilt. Just the picture. It had patterns for a couple elements that are in the quilt, but nothing specific for that quilt. I had no sense about quilting etiquette or about translating a photograph of a quilt into a quilting design, but I knew I had to try to re-create that quilt for myself.

So I worked on it. I made lots of drawings. I did lots of math trying to figure out how to make all the pieces fit together and trying to figure out what sizes to make everything. Once I thought I figured it out, I headed to the quilt shop to buy fabric. Then I started cutting...and piecing...and ripping seams...and re-piecing...and buying more fabric to make up for the bits I had ruined along the way.

In the end, I got the quilt top I wanted. I had another local quilter do the quilting for me...and when I got it back I got to work on the binding. And that's where I quit.

For a long time.

I got married. My husband spent a year in Iraq. When he got back, I didn't do much sewing. We adopted two little boys...and all the sewing I did was for them (or other babies in the family). We moved a couple of times.

And all this time this quilt sat in a box in storage.

I have decided that this summer is all about finishing projects. I have several quilt tops that need to be quilted, and I am convinced that I am going to make a genuine dent in the "partially finished projects" bin in my sewing room. But in order to do that, I had to go back and finish this quilt. So last week, I pulled it out and finally hand-stitched the last bit of binding.

It felt so good to finally finish this quilt.

So thank you to Laurie Barnett for designing such an amazing quilt. One that invoked such an amazingly strong emotional response from yours truly. And now I have one to hang on my wall to bring me back to Africa every day.

Originally posted HERE.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Moving On...

We quit.

I haven't posted about our adoption journey in ages, even though we made the decision several weeks ago. Its been hard to accept that this terrible year of rollercoaster riding has ended with us simply quitting. But that is our reality.

Part of me still lives in this fantasy world where we learn about a child who needs us...things happen fast...we have our child #3 in record time...and our homestudy doesn't simply expire, proving that it was a waste of time, energy, and money.

Its ludicrous, I know.

I'm working hard at moving on.

I've been making time to do things that make me happy. I've been quilting. We've been working on spending more time together as a family, fostering our relationships with each other. We've been enjoying watching the boys learn more and more every day and seeing more of their individual personalities shine through. Its amazing just how much you miss when you have so much emotional energy wrapped up in an adoption process. Its draining. When things are going well, it can be amazing and wonderful...but when things are not going well it is an absolute energy suck.

We had just reached the place where we had no energy left. We had become numb, and that's when we knew it had to be over. Its important to note here that us quitting was really no one's fault. As far as we know, we didn't do anything wrong. We followed the road we thought we were supposed to follow. Apparently things don't work out because you think they are supposed to...or because you pray that they will...or because you "feel" that this is the right path. We were wrong about that. But our situation isn't our agency's fault either. They didn't do anything wrong. Our adoption coordinator didn't do anything wrong.

Things just didn't work out.

So now we're moving on.

But we've got fun things to look forward to this summer. We're going to make the most of it. And hopefully at the end of the summer we'll be able to look back and remember all the fun we packed into those short months...and we'll know that we rocked it out!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bad Idea

For future reference.

When making Monster Cookies, resist the temptation to use the open container of reduced fat peanut butter you have in the cabinet. It would be much better to just open the regular peanut butter and save the reduced fat peanut butter for other uses. You will regret the decision to use reduced fat peanut butter later.

This is the end of my public service announcement.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We've Been Busy

The past couple of weeks have been pretty busy around this household. We decided it was time to get rid of the yucky carpet in our house and replace it with something else. When we bought the house a year ago, it had this light-gray carpet in both the living room and the dining room. I didn't like how it looked at all. And, with both kids and dogs in the house, I knew it wouldn't hold up for long (it didn't look all that great when we moved in either).

So we headed to the local home improvement store to check out our options. Replace it with new carpet? Hardwood? Tile? Laminate flooring?

In the end, we decided to go with laminate flooring. We picked one we thought would look nice in our house, got an estimate, and before we knew it, we were planning to get new flooring.

Somewhere along the line, I managed to convince Z that since we were moving all the furniture to get the new flooring, we might as well make the most of the opportunity and paint the rooms while we were at it. I still can't believe he went with it! For nearly the past 15 years of my life I have lived in rented space with white (or some sort of cream) colored walls. I am TIRED of white. Our house has all white walls (except one weird wall in the dining room that was sponge-painted gray and white...????). It was time for a change.

While we were at the store, we grabbed some paint samples and went to work figuring out what colors to paint. We decided on 3 colors.

The weekend before last, we tore up all the carpet, ripped up the tack strips, and painted and painted and painted. On Wednesday and Thursday we got new flooring.

We've finally got things back to their proper places...and are getting some regular sleep. Whew. It was a whirlwind! But, we LOVE it!

First, some BEFORE pictures:



Then some mid-renovation photos:



And finally some AFTER pictures: