Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Surviving

I survived a week of no school for Talia. While it's really difficult to satisfy the needs of a 1 year old and a 4 year old at the same time, I think we did really well. Factors that helped:

1. Alex has been taking really great (2 hours+) naps.
2. I've just hired my cleaning people to come every week instead of every other week.
3. I also hired a babysitter to come once a week.
4. Ron was off of work on Memorial Day.
5. Since Talia wasn't in school she did not nap and went to sleep relatively easily at 8:30 (ok, 9) pm instead of kicking and screaming at 10:30pm. That gave Ron and me some time together each night.
6. Nice weather hasn't hurt either.

Now that I'm less stressed about the house-- and able to keep it more manageable on a daily basis I feel like I have more energy to give to the kids. During Alex's nap I am really sitting down with Talia and playing board games, doing puzzles, having tea parties etc. It's hard because she wants to have a tea party for about 10 hours but she seems mostly satisfied with what I can give her.

I still have grand plans for things I want to do together, like the garden for example. It's disappointing that I have to drag her out there (she still wants to stay inside and chill in pj's all day) but of course she has fun when we do go. I also realize that I'm a bit of a control freak and it's hard for me to let her dig the holes and drop the seeds in. What I really want is for her to do some parallel play while I'm doing the gardening. We did make a fairy garden in a big flower pot and she picked out all the flowers and design. She likes to bring some little dolls or fairies to play there but there isn't more digging to be done for it. What I need to do is give her a pot and dirt and let her do her own thing and not freak out if she gets dirty and not worry that she's wasting seeds or dirt or whatever. It just sucks that I get frustrated when whatever silly fantasy I had about tilling the earth with my children comes up short. Ok, I paid someone to till my soil and build my garden bed but hey, it probably wouldn't have gotten done otherwise.

We now have 12 days with no school coming up. Yes, TWELVE. Ron has two days off so he will be around for 6 of the 12 days. We have some scheduled activities (swimming, gymnastics, a playdate or two) and at least one day with the babysitter. I'm ok with not being able to get any sewing done (I've been on a roll!). Hopefully everyone will stay healthy and we can have a really nice time slipping into our summer lives. Well, there was a frost warning last night...
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Preschool Art Quilt



T's teacher is having a baby next month so I decided to sew her a baby quilt. I had all the children in the class paint on fabric and then I sewed it up with a flannel backing and quilted it. I added a picture of the class making silly faces on the back. I also sewed some ribbons into the binding so it can be tied onto the stroller and not fall off (or the kid can just play with them). This was a fun project that didn't take tooooooo long. I hope to be able to make a similar one with Talia's art. So many ideas, so little time!
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Sunday, May 18, 2008

First of many





Ron took Talia to Chicago for a special trip. He's never done anything like it before. It seems to be going well. Alex has a little cold, maybe an ear infection, I don't know. He has a medium size fever but is fine with Motrin. We took a walk on the nature trail this morning after a trying night. I love his new stroller. We walked through the Pheasant Branch Conservancy and I had breakfast during his nap at the Prairie Cafe. Then we stopped by the grocery store and headed home. What a nice, quiet morning!
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Nature's Perfection


I simply can't consider them weeds.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New Year's Resolution #1: Accomplished!

My number one New Year's Resolution was to switch my nursing license from Philadelphia to Wisconsin. Although I haven't worked as a nurse in almost a year and a half it's important to keep my license current. I do plan to work sometime... if I can find super part time work. I get excited when I can talk medical to someone who understands what I'm saying. I have a lot of knowledge and skill that isn't being put to use. Plus, everyone I know in Wisconsin is someone I have met because of the kids. It would be nice to have something in my life that isn't related to my children, and spending money is something everyone loves! It would also be good for Ron to get a taste of what it might be like to spend a whole day with the kids and I think it's good for the kids to spend some time without ME. Then again, I think working is more exciting in my mind than in reality. Nurses work hard and long hours and I certainly wouldn't want to give up any precious alone time to be working instead. Someday, (at least I keep telling myself) both my kids will be in school and I will like to return to some sort of professional life. So... my mission is accomplished. I sent in all the paperwork, money (I even had to go to a notary!) and in return... my license. Yay me!
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Spring Fling Round Robin: Second Border

This is the progress of a Spring Fling Round Robin. The center square and first border were done by other quilters. I added the shiny red and gold border. This project stresses me out so much! This square in particular is perfectly pieced. Perfect angles and corners. It's foundation pieced and I barely even know what that means! I stress and stress about what to add because I don't want to ruin the original block. I had a number of ideas and settled on a metallic border with log cabins in the corners to echo the tulip theme. This was really a trial and error for me. I have no idea how to calculate for borders. Luckily I don't usually use a pattern in my own quilting so I kind of know what to do (but then again, I wouldn't call my quilts "precise"). I used some graph paper to try to figure out the log cabins. Problem is, I never made log cabins before. It has been a major goal of mine (another new quilting skill attempted!) so I've had the interest and not the time. That's another reason why I really like all these quilt swaps-- because you work on a small canvas you can try new things. Anyway, the log cabins came out great. I was going to have them facing out, similar to the tulips in the second border. When I was playing around with them I decided to turn them in and give the whole quilt a green border finish. Phew. There are so many things I'm nervous about. I know my sewing technique is lacking. Some people abhor metallics. Maybe I didn't do the log cabins correctly. I think, however, that I added to the quilt without detracting from the center border which is completely enhanced by the first border. I feel like I added frame for the original work with just a little extra. I am so relieved that I'm done with this border. I'm excited about the next phase. After my last few small projects I realize that I'm actually getting into the quilting part of quilting, as opposed to the piecing aspect. Especially with small projects you can really experiment and do something more intricate since you are not constrained by the large dimensions of a traditional quilt. I said I'm not joining any more swaps. I think I will take a break for the summer (but I'll sure be jealous!) and try to finish my OWN summer quilt (a picnic blanket for the family) and see what happens for fall. I'm beginning to feel like I know the women in this swap and I am really inspired by their work and am proud to work with them. I just don't have the time right now with two small kids.
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Monday, May 05, 2008

Spring Quilt Swap




This is the newest quilt I made for the Four Seasons Quilt Swap. I love it. I found the inspiration in a vintage (60's? 70's?) craft book. I sketched out what I wanted, chose the fabric and then used freezer paper to make the pattern and fusible web to iron it down to the backing fabric. Then I machine quilted it and embellished it with beads and buttons. Cute, right? I had a lot of fun making it. I never used applique before but this technique was really easy. I don't think I can participate in any more swaps though. I barely have any time to do any sewing and with swaps I have no time to do my own projects. I love the challenge of it and the deadline does force me to make time for crafting. I just need a break to complete a handful of projects for the summer and fall. Thanks for the fun though!
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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Some Great Reading



We've been reading "chapter books" in our house for a while now. It's hard to find ones that are age appropriate though, since most chapter books are written for kids who can, well, read. It started with the Rainbow Fairies books but frankly they are a little formulaic. When I read the first one I was thrilled that I could be interested in the mystery too-- but then I realized that they basically all followed the same pattern.


Most of the books I want to read with Talia are too old for her-- like Charlotte's Web. It's one thing to watch the movie for two hours and another to listen to it for nights on end. The Little House books are filled with scenarios that she can not comprehend at this time. "The olden days" is a concept too far from her reach. She can hardly understand that we didn't have Tivo when I was little. Or Target. I just don't think she has the ability to imagine very much from Laura's life. I'm pretty sure I read them for the first time when I was in third grade-- and I certainly don't want to spoil it for her. If you want to try to read a book you thought perfectly acceptable for a 4 year old, try Amelia Bedelia. Actually, now that T is 4 she's starting to get that one. But we got it last year and it made no sense to her, as it is all play-on-words. Or Curious George-- the original one, where they STEAL him from his native land in Africa and force him on a ship to America. While that book is ok for kids it's NOT ok for adults.


So imagine my excitement when I discovered that there is a series called "My First Little House Books!" They are picture books that follow one simple story from the big books. Talia likes them but I like them more, of course. I have also found longer versions of Angelina Ballerina books.


More recently we have been reading the "Betsy" books by Carolyn Haywood. I actually remember taking them out of the library when I was a kid. I loved them and apparently I still do. They have pictures on ALMOST every page which is perfect. Now T can start getting used to listening to the story without pictures for some pages and get to look at the pictures (line drawings) on the others.


We read together every single night. Bedtime is taking longer and longer since two books has turned into two chapters (Ok, 3). It's pretty much my favorite time together (which is suspiciously close to my least favorite time together, when she gives me a fight about me leaving her room at bedtime each night-- I mean, doesn't it get old sometimes?) I'm so happy to read her stories that have substance!