Friday, August 26, 2016

Football Fundraiser Blanket

I needed to produce some sort of item for Bean's football silent auction fundraiser.  I decided I would go with handmade, and I thought it would be a fun excuse to put together a quilt.  Okay, Mom, since it's tied and not quilted it's technically not a quilt.  But it is patchwork.

I went with fast and easy.  I just used two charm packs, which are stacks of precut 5 inch squares in coordinating fabrics.  I arranged them randomly and then sewed the whole thing together in one sitting.  It was still really fun, despite the simplicity.

It didn't get much attention at the auction, and I felt kind of bad about that.  It probably wasn't a very good venue for something like this.  The stuff that was selling really well was the stuff like tickets to various events and food packages.  No one was bidding on my quilt, so finally I bid the minimum just so it would have something on the bid sheet.  Near the end of the auction one other person bid, so I didn't end up having to buy it back.  I hope that person enjoys it.  They certainly got it for a a great price.

While I was at the auction I did end up talking to the woman who bought the skirt I made for the auction last year.  (I didn't attend that one, so I had no idea how my skirt had fared.)  She went on and on about how much her granddaughter loved it and wore it all the time.  That was very gratifying to me, to know that it had been loved and appreciated after I had sent it off into the void.  Maybe this quilt will be treasured also.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Me and My Brother

I mentioned that my brother and his family visited last week.  Here is a picture of the two of us.  There are eighteen years between us.  He is very accomplished in his professional field.  I am still in awe of him, and yet he wanted to come spend a couple of days with obscure little me and my brood.  Gawsh.

When he was freshly home from his mission, he lived at home for a time.  I was three or four years old.  He used to come in and sing to me at night when I was going to bed.  He has a beautiful tenor voice and I particularly remember him singing "Abide With Me, 'Tis Eventide."  I have always remembered his voice singing "O Savior, stay this night with me, behold, 'tis eventide."

Well, on this visit, he asked if he could sing to my kids at bedtime.  Um, YES!  But only if I can be there and you can sing to ME too!  I am not too old to be sung to at night.  I never will be.

It was a very tender experience to listen to his voice in the dark singing all those familiar bedtime songs, feeling like I was three years old again.  Closing my eyes, I could imagine I was lying on the bottom bunk with my orange blanket in the room with the airplane wallpaper.  Oh, wow.

Thank you, Uncle Owl.  I will never forget that.  I hope my kids will remember it, too.  Thanks for coming to visit us.  Thanks for playing with the twins, reading the Mr. and Mrs. Green books to Peanut and Frog, and going on a long run/mostly walk with me.  Thanks for blazing the trail for me all these years and always being someone I can look up to.

The Rocking Horse

The twins' latest obsession is Peanut's rocking horse.  They can climb on and off by themselves now.  They love to climb up, squeeze the horsie's ear to make the sound effects turn on, and then rock and rock and rock.  We love watching them!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

This Week

On this lazy Saturday afternoon I have decided to write a rambling blog post about whatever. 

I am lying here next to some sleeping children.  I just had a nap myself.  I am grateful for naps.  And grateful for sleeping children.  They are so much quieter in that state. 

We have survived a week of two-a-day football practices for Bean.  To kick off the season, they started with a bang.  Every morning at 6 am and every evening at 6 pm he had to be there.  The 6 am wasn't too bad for me once I figured out that after I drove him there I could climb into the back seat of my big Moose of a van and go back to sleep.  I think I slept better there than I would have at home with teething twins waking me up all the time. 

Bean was dreading this week, but now that it's over he is glad he did it.   He is in much better shape.  He has the makings of a really fine football player if he will work hard.  He certainly has the size for it. 

My mother's birthday is coming right up.  We are not one of those families that makes a huge deal out of birthdays; usually a phone call suffices.  However, a couple weeks ago,  during the flood of inspiration that I always have during church on Sundays, I had a fun idea.

My oldest brother and his family have a game that they have been playing for years to celebrate birthdays at their house.  It is simple.  During the family birthday dinner, everyone takes turns guessing the birthday person's favorites.  So, someone will say "what's Bobby's favorite flavor of ice cream?" or whatever, and then everyone in the room gets a guess before Bobby tells his answer. 

The Badger and I took inspiration from this several years ago and started doing it with our family.  The kids love it because it makes them feel so special, and it's a simple way for us all to know each other better as we are more aware of what makes each other happy.  We recently enjoyed playing "The Fish Game" on Fish's birthday and "The Bean Game" on Bean's birthday.  

The idea that came to me was to play "The Mom Game" with my siblings by email.  I emailed my mom and asked her to email me a list of her favorites.   I emailed my siblings and asked them to fill out a list of what they thought her favorites were.   They all thought it was a fun idea.  I have had so much fun getting their emails back and reading their answers.  It has been a very warm fuzzy experience and I can't wait to compile everyone's guesses and send them out with the answers. 

Speaking of my family, we enjoyed a visit from my oldest brother (Uncle Owl) and his family this past week.  He and Aunt Tofu and their two youngest boys stayed with us for three nights.  We showed them a few sights, but we mostly hung around the house talking and eating and laughing together.   The cousins played endless card games.  Everyone enjoyed watching the twins.  It was wonderful.   Family is precious.  

I am re-reading the book "Yearning for the Living God," which is the memoirs of Elder F. Enzio Busche, a former General Authority of the LDS church.  I enjoyed it tremendously years ago and am enjoying it again.  I am hoping I can get Bean to read it too.  I am always looking for ways I can help my children keep the Sabbath day holy.  Every age has its fresh challenges on that front.  For my teenagers, I am hoping to encourage them to start reading books like this.  When I was a teen I began to discover that some of the books on Gospel topics that my parents had were not as utterly boring as I had always thought.   Some of them were actually quite interesting.   (Most of them were still boring until I was grown up.)  Looking through the eyes of a teenager though,  I am hoping to compile a list of books that my teens would enjoy reading on the Sabbath.  Any suggestions?  

Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Different Speed

I had a very interesting week in the middle of July this year.  The Badger took the older boys and the Rabbit camping in Colorado and left me home with Roo, Peanut, Frog, and the twins.  (I made him leave Roo home to help me with all those littles!)

Life was so different that week.  The biggest difference was with food.  I could buy a gallon of milk and it would last longer than 24 hours.  There were always leftovers of whatever meal I made.

 In my normal life I don't have much time to fuss with food; it has to be fast, easy, cheap, and plentiful. During this week, I seized the opportunity to try several new recipes.  I enjoyed preparing them because I didn't have to cook a mountain of whatever it was.  Roo really appreciated this change of pace, as did I.  We sometimes ate treat food: prepared stuff that is normally too expensive for my crew, like frozen pizza and Life cereal.  And we sometimes enjoyed spending time together in the kitchen making the kind of food I don't normally have time to mess with.  One day Roo and I decided to make something I've seen floating around the internet: that thing where you push dry spaghetti noodles through hotdog chunks and then boil them so they look like squids.  I was curious to see how it would turn out.  The spaghetti inside the hotdogs was a little chewy, but it wasn't bad.  They sure were fun to make.

Going places was difficult.  I had to take everyone with me and it was a lot of buckling and unbuckling.  It would have been impossible without Roo.  For instance, when I go to the grocery store with all four littles I need two carts just to contain all those kids, so I need someone to help me push the carts.

Other than the store, we didn't venture out much.  Outings were just too much work.  But we did more "little kid" stuff at home than usual.  I read lots of stories.

Bedtime was hard, I have to say, as well as getting up at night with whatever twin.  Nighttime was when I missed the boys and the Badger the most.  Also, exercise was just about impossible.

What was funny was that I found housework easier than normal, even though it was the big kids that were gone.  I felt like when I cleaned up that things stayed cleaner longer, and I felt like I could straighten things up and get the dishes done before I went to bed (usually I am dropping with exhaustion at that point.)  And the laundry was a piece of cake!  I really felt on top of my game when it came to housework.

Even weirder, we were EARLY to church on Sunday.  Even with all those babies to dress!  We are always late to church.  I still can't figure that one out.  It must have been a fluke.  

Yes, having only five kids seemed easy to me in most ways.  That's kind of scary when I think about it.  Also, I could definitely see how your world is much smaller when you have only tiny kids around.  As they grow older, things expand.  I know some moms at home with toddlers feel so stir-crazy in that limited world.  I know I felt that way at times years ago, so it's funny to me how refreshing it felt to dial back down to such a simple lifestyle.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Top of the Roller Coaster

During the night last night, Leaf woke up with a croupy cough.  Somehow, Twig woke up too and we ended up having quite the party.  It was fun (no, really, I try to enjoy these nighttime snuggle sessions) but it really cut into my sleep time.

I got up at 6:30 this morning and drove Bean to work.  Oh, it was a beautiful morning!  There was almost no traffic, but there were lots of joggers out.  I thought, "I want to be one of those joggers!  I want to be an early riser!"

Well, I will get my wish.

Things are gearing up around here for our busy fall schedule.  And with Bean starting high school, that means early morning seminary.  In fact, I'm on the cusp of seventeen straight years of early morning seminary.  I daresay I will have the chance to develop into a morning person.  I am grateful for that, although I will feel happier about it when I don't have babies keeping me up during the night anymore.

I have been doing the baby thing for fifteen solid years.  Diapers, wipes, sippy cups, pacifiers, car seats, high chairs, ripped books, and huge messes have been my world for a decade and a half.  They are still my world.  But that world is slowly fading away.

I remember when I stood at the brink of this world, a little over fifteen years ago.  I was excited but also terrified.  I didn't feel ready.  You never can feel ready, I realized.  The only way to be ready for motherhood is to do it.

It was like being at the top of a roller coaster looking down, down, down....

Now, I feel like I'm back up at the top of the roller coaster again.  I am looking down at two decades of teaching eight people how to adult, and I'm kind of terrified.  I'm realizing that potty training is nothing compared to teaching a kid how to drive.  Sending them off to Kindergarten is cake compared to getting them ready for college.

It's all beginning, friends.  Bean just turned fifteen.  On his very birthday, he landed himself a small part-time job doing yard work and handyman stuff for someone at church.  It's perfect because it's only a few hours a week but it will give him some income.  But now we're looking at getting him a checking account.

And a driver's permit!!!

Everything is going up a notch.  High school football is more intense and involved than junior high football.  Official practices start next week, though he has been going to conditioning practices all summer.

We are talking about Eagle Scout projects.  This is heavy duty stuff, folks.

There are moments when I am sure I am nowhere near ready for any of this stuff, and neither is Bean.   Like when I can't even get him to brush his teeth regularly (routine has never been Bean's strong point.)

And then there are times when I think that maybe I will be able to raise competent human beings after all.  Like this morning.  Bean set his alarm last night and got up all by himself.  When I rolled out of bed at 6:30 I was expecting to have to go in there and shake him and say "hurry and throw on your clothes and grab a piece of bread!  You're going to be late!"  Instead I was met by a fully-dressed Bean who had already had his breakfast.  I felt a tremendous thrill of hope.

Ready or not, this roller coaster ride is starting.  I will be screaming "AAAAAAH!" on the way down, but in the end I will be grinning and saying "that was fun!"  Right?  RIGHT???

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Just Like My Mother

So, I have this weird thing I do.  

Yes, I know.  I have lots of weird things I do.  But I am going to tell you about another one that you probably didn't know.  

I have this drawer full of fabric scraps from my sewing projects.  I love my fabric scraps.  They are so pretty and they remind me of things I made and that makes me happy.  But what do you DO with them?  The little ones that are too small to be used for other projects, but too big to throw away?

Well, here is what I do with them.  I collect them all in this drawer and then sometimes I have these days where I feel like doing something sewing related but I don't really want to get into some project.  You know, I want to play with fabric but I don't have the mental energy to create.  So when that happens I take out a few scraps of fabric and I cut them into squares for use in future quilts.  Whatever size they are, I cut into the biggest squares I can.  Everything from an inch and a half up to six inches.  And then I put them into bags with other squares of the same size.  

I find this soothing.  Yes, that's weird, I know.  

But not that weird.  Recently, I got this email from my mother.  She wrote,  

I am in the middle of a project that I think you will understand.  I am truly obsessed with it.  I am taking all my smaller pieces of  leftover fabric (smaller than fat eighths)  and cutting them up into squares and/or sorting them by size.  I had a tub full of them and I work on a little bit a day and am almost to the bottom of the tub and I can't stop doing it.  I guess it is better than eating chocolate chip cookies.  The quilt top I just finished is made entirely of scraps and leftovers.  I am calling it "Each tiny crumb is a friend."  Now I have to put together a back, pin the whole thing together and machine-quilt it.  I will text  you a picture.  It is bigger than I thought it was.  Funny thing is, I have some beautiful new fabric that I seem to be reluctant to cut into.  Maybe I'll get around to it some day.

YES, MOM!!!!  I understand!!!!  I completely understand because I am JUST LIKE YOU!!!!!  And I am SO GLAD because you are the BESTEST EVER and I LOVE YOU TO LITTLE BITTY FABRIC BITS!!!!!  

A Cake for the Fourth

Catching up here a little bit...

It's so fun to me to have kids that are old enough to do the stuff that I would like to do more of if I had more time.  Things like decorating for holidays and making special holiday foods.

This year we were having friends over for a barbeque on the Fourth of July and I wanted to have a flag cake like I used to make.  So I asked the Rabbit to bake me a cake and she did.  All by herself.  Then she and Roo decorated it just perfectly.  All I did was whip the cream.

HA HA HA!!!  I have created a small army of mini-me's!  They are going to take over the world!

Front Flowers

I am so happy with the perennials in my front flower beds right now.  I can't tell you how satisfying it has been to me to take this weedy, overgrown mess and transform it into a thing of beauty.

The spirea bushes I transplanted this spring are struggling in the heat, but they are hanging in there.  

The crape myrtle by the front door is coming along nicely.

And how about one more shot of those lovely flowers?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Happy Birthday, Fish!

Fish is now thirteen.  Ack!  I still remember this so vividly...

Fish sure was a sweet, calm baby.  I hope he will be a sweet, calm teenager.  Ha!

Here are some pictures of his birthday dinner.  It was his favorite: thick, creamy chicken noodle soup.  

I also made him his traditional chocolate cake, but I somehow managed to not get any pictures of that.  What is wrong with me?  I need to do better about pictures.

Fish is a great kid.  He still loves Legos and I am glad.  I am not ready for him to be too grown up yet.  He still loves Tintin and Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts comics.  He also loves Jane Austen movies, which I think is so, so cool.

Fish really wants to do well in life.  He really wants to do the right thing, and he wants to please his parents.  He has a hard time with criticism.  We tend to get on Bean's case because he is so distractable and has a hard time following through on things we ask him to do.  Sometimes Fish feels like we're on his case too, and he feels really bad about that (so do I.)  He is always eager to show that he is NOT like that, which means he makes a point of being prompt and cheerful when asked to do things.  I love that.  I wish he and Bean got along better, but I hope that will come in time.

He is a marvelous cook.  He really has a gift there.

He can still sing an absolutely gorgeous soprano.  I need to get more of his singing recorded before his voice changes.  Any day now...

He is going through a stage where he is really good at getting on our nerves, teasing and singing obnoxious songs and such.  I totally relate because I was the same way when I was his age.  Actually I was worse.  It simply means he, like his mother, has an awesome personality and just needs to grow into it.

Happy birthday, my Fish.  You are so awesome.  I love you the mostest!

Fish as George

Have you ever seen A Room with a View?   You need to cut out a couple of scenes, but then it is one of my favorite movies.  I love the characters: Lucy Honeychurch and her brother Freddy, Cecil, Mr. Beebe, Charlotte Bartlett, and, of course, George.  It's hard not to love George.  Apparently he left an impression on Fish when he saw the movie.  We don't own the movie (because of those couple of scenes) so the kids haven't watched it over and over again, but some of us watched it the last time we were in Utah.  And Fish liked it.

Fish, you are one of my favorite people ever.

Bubbles! Bubbles! Bubbles!

Recently I attended a wedding.  I took the twins with me but left the other kids home.  At the end of the dinner after the ceremony, we were blowing bubbles.  Suddenly, the twins were the center of attention.  Everyone thought they were pretty cute chasing those bubbles around.  Yep, they were.  So you get picture overload.  You're welcome, Mom.  

Leaf is the one sitting, Twig is standing.  I love their little reaching hands!