Monday, March 30, 2009

More Painting Fun

When we moved to our house two years ago, we knew that the kids rooms were in desperate need of painting - even the baseboards. My daughter figured out what she wanted pretty quickly and we had a high ol' time painting her room bright pinks and greens, complete with polka dots.

My son, however, had an idea in his head and we just couldn't make it work. The "perfect" rug didn't fit or the "perfect" bedspread never materialized. Slowly, over the past year, we've be refining what he could do and finally his vision and reality are on the same plane. He really likes bright, bold colors - and wanted them everywhere. We settled on a main, less crazy color for the walls with lots of colorful accents.

His wall color choice "Resolute Blue" seems to fit him. We finally got to putting it on the walls this past week. Luckily, no oil paint was involved, so we haven't had to power wash anything, but the ceilings get pretty tall in his room:

Did I say really, really tall? Pretty, but tall:

Brendan was very concerned about doing the actual painting. I had him work on the corners and some of the baseboards while I did the rest of the cutting. Plenty of time for fun messages:

He moved on to the actually rolling and did a great job. He started with the small roller and took it nice and easy. No paint on the floor! He even got a chance to use the larger roller and the extension rod. And here he is, hard at the touch-ups.

The paint looks great, but we just couldn't get the really tall parts and professional help is coming in to save my bacon (and the porch, too). So after the paint is finished and we get all the fun IKEA things that we picked up for his room (over 2 years ago - just before we realized we were moving), he'll have a swank little pad.
Now, who's going to decorate my room?

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Who's a Bad Chicken?

The chickens are getting a bit bold as of late.

While they remain awfully fun to hang with:

We have discovered that they have a little secret. Actually several of them. As my daughter and I were clearing downed trees this weekend, we thought it was sweet that Dandelion wanted to hang out with us. Then my daughter discovered why Dandelion was hanging so close - seems that there was a little stash of eggs under one of the hemlocks. Turned out there were SEVEN eggs under there - and we never noticed.

And then my husband discovered this:

An egg - ON THE TRAMPOLINE. Technically it's on the surround, but still.

And then they had the nerve to do this:

I hear a knocking noise and go to the front door to investigate. The girls were all on the porch pecking away at the wood. Petunia even managed to knock over the pot of dead pansies you see in the background.

I think it's time to look into some fencing...



I get a kick out of the inevitable question asked of anyone who finds out that we home school: "What about socialization?"

It's sort of hard to not be around other kids. Between scouts, church, sports, and friends - we get a little too much socialization some days.

But today's activity was what I think of as a great benefit of home schooling. The kids have been working with some friends on staging a play and today was a day to gather, play, and practice. This has all been self-directed and has transpired between kids who are 11, 10, 9, 8, and 7. different ages, different genders, different families. All "socializing".

Can you imagine a better day for rehearsals?

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F.O. Report - Orange Hat

I made the mistake of introducing my kids to Malabrigo, and now nothing else quite compares for a good, warm hat. I don't mind buying it and love knitting with it, but I don't like it so much when they accidentally wind up in the wash (= toddler felted cap). So imagine my delight when I finally made it the Yarn Lounge to pick up some yarn for myself (gasp!) and saw Malabrigo in my son's favorite color!

Hats are SO fun to knit. This Ann Norling pattern is just such a simple classic, fits infants to adults and covers lots of gauges - I loved it so much after seeing a sample at the Yarn Lounge that I bought two copies by mistake. (If anyone needs a good pattern - leave a comment this week and I'll randomly select the winner!

Still talking, that boy is. I had to answer a question the other day with "Honey - I don't know - I stopped listening 10 minutes ago". The mother-of-the-year award is still open, isn't it?

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Happy Day!

A very belated Happy Birthday to my wonderful friend:

Look! I broke out the stampin' supplies!! And four tea bags. But I knew that you'd appreciate it!
Best of the best in this new decade!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Weekend at the Beach

My son and husband entered to run the 8K and half-marathon at Virginia Beach this weekend. After registering, we realized that they were on separate days, so that meant two nights in Virginia Beach. It turned into a fun family weekend away. A little odd to be there not in the summer. It was pretty cold (30-35) in the mornings, but aren't beaches always pretty?

Here's the scene from our room on Saturday morning while my son got dressed to run his first 8K:

We were SO close to everything! Standing on our balcony we could see the finish line and the celebration tent:

My son was very relaxed before the race, which was good. However, when I saw this before the first mile, I thought maybe he's TOO relaxed (that's him in the green on the left):

But boy, howdy, did he look good in the lead pack:

Oh wait - that's someone else's kid.

But he finished - with a time of 44:00. He was hoping for 40:00, but he still finished something like 1,300th out of 7,000 runners.

This was the scene on the course about a half hour after he finished. Lots of folks still going strong:

We were high-tailing it over to Pocahontas Pancakes, for a much-deserved breakfast. After breakfast, we swam in the pool (kids), knitted (me), and hit a fun arcade filled with retro games like all of the Pac-Mans, Frogger, Galaga, and Centipede. And ka-pow and skee-ball. I can honestly say I can't tell who had more fun, the kids or the adults!

Here my daughter is cashing in her tickets:

We also walked around the shops. My sneaky goal was to get my daughter interested in hermit crabs again as a bribe to keep her room clean. The plan back fired when she showed no interest in them. (note to self #1: bribes have never worked on your kids).

My darling husband found this plaque:

Not sure why he was showing it to me... (note #2 to self: if others in your group are running lots, you can't eat like you've been running, too).

We also took in sights on the beach:

HOW many runners are in this thing?

Then it was early to bed to get ready for Dad's race on Sunday. He was out the door at 6 and my daughter was dragged out of her coma at 7:45, so we missed the start. But we were there at the finish line!

Way to go, Daddy!
He broke his personal record/goal of a sub-2 hour 1/2 marathon and came in at 1:55. Not so bad for a fellow celebrating yet another birthday this week. So it was off to the celebration tent, with beer tickets in hand:
Wow - that was a lot of people.

Bottoms up, Daddy - you deserve it!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I was so proud of myself last week for getting a monumental painting job done. We hired a wonderful contractor to replace the screens on our porch and he recommended repainting the trim. So he ripped and I painted. I did all I could to squeeze in that time in two days to paint and almost pranced to the phone last week to call him and let him know that I was finally good to go.

So while my pencil was poised above the box to check this project off of my list, he asks me to come look at something. He then showed me how all of my paint was peeling off in sheets. I almost threw up! All that work! Apparently you really can't put latex over oil (curses to the Duron man!), so it all has to come off, be primed, and repainted. Ack!

Luckily, his stomach was heartier than mine, and he immediately started devising ways to remove the paint. Scrapers came out, and then the big gun: the power washer.

Here's my man-with-a-plan (no comments on how I had to hire one!):

All those white bits are my dream of finishing being broken into little scattered pieces (and no, I'm not being over dramatic!):

Sigh. Time to get back to work - at something!

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The Ugly Side of Homeschooling

I get the impression from people that they think that homeschooling is a free and easy existence, alternating between painted little desks in a row and roaming through fields and forests. I think it really is somewhere in the middle. And it is also incredibly fulfilling and enjoyable (on most days!). But what most folks don't know is the tremendous amount of time it takes to plan for our "seamless" days and how much material we accumulate. So when one year is winding down, it's time to plan the next - and that's when all the books and supplies get a once-over. Once we chart a course for the new year, all non-essential supplies get the heave-ho. So while trying hard to acquire the things we need in the most economical manner, we have lots of tried-and-true items (as well as near misses) that need new homes.

So here it is - the ugly side of homeschool:

One room has been sacrificed for the effort - containing all the extras culled from the school room. And here are stacks awaiting sale on Amazon and eBay:

Most will go to the a used curriculum sale that happens in June.

Luckily, a lot of homeschoolers go through this late winter/early spring ritual and the for-sale items get a lot of attention online. It's just a matter of sifting through the piles, figuring out which items would be most desirable, finding where they can be sold, and then posting away. Later will come all the fun of packaging, mailing, and transferring funds from PayPal (instead of to it). But right now, I have a lot of work to do. Oh yeah, and we have school to do to...

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

T-Shirt Weather

It was warm enough to wear t-shirts last week, so my daughter got to premiere her custom-made shirt:

Look a like closer. Recognize anyone?

It's Tubby! Here he is posing with his likeness:

See all that pretty trim in the background? Keep it in mind for my next post!

The idea is ala Martha and has been percolating in my mind since seeing a guest demo the idea on her show. I wish I could find a link to the show that I saw, but I can't seem to find the magic search words.

But, take heart! If you plan to make your own, it's SO easy. Just take a digital picture of your subject and fill the frame with the image (you want a good silhouette, too). Print it in b/w on your printer with regular paper. Outline the subject with a Sharpie. Trace that image onto the back of Wonder Under. Cut out the Wonder Under shape larger than the outline. Iron the shape to the back of your desired fabric. Trim right on the outline, remove the paper backing, and iron it onto your shirt. Run a little zig-zag stitch around the outline to make it out-live washings and you have your own fan t-shirt.

Can't wait to try it with Marigold! Of whom/what are you the biggest fan?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The last of my washcloth binge, knitted and quickly passed off to a favorite leprechaun.

Have a wonderfully, green day!

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sew Much Fun!

My daughter asked for a sewing machine for her birthday (be still my heart!), so a sewing machine she got:

Naturally, there has been a sewing explosion around here. I made this nightshirt for her out of fleece and then we made one together for her doll, Jewel:

And when a friend of hers had an American Girl birthday party, we made two identical jumpers; one for her friend's doll and one for Jewel. The applique heart was made with Chenille By the Inch - very fun to make it puff up and get fuzzy. I even found a fun heart stitch on my Bernina to add to the hem.

Both Jewel and my daughter enjoyed the party.

And last in the pageant, is the Lazy Day Skirt ( a freebie from Oliver + S - why can't they make bigger kids patterns?!), the first garment my daughter created entirely on her machine:

A quick, simple skirt, perfect for when the weather warms up this summer.

Making clothes is "sew" much fun!

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Dirty Birds

The chickens never cease to amuse me. I've been painting our porch trim this week, so have been outside more watching them do their thing. They often come up to check on the progress, but mostly stay down in their field. I actually heard one warn the others of a hawk flying by for closer look and saw them take cover under a small tree.

Another fun thing that they do is run (hilarious!) to the car whenever we come home. Often, my daughter, the chickherd, gets out to pick one or another up or give them a treat. It is almost impossible to drive home and escape their notice.

So when drove home last week and saw this:

I was alarmed. What was wrong with my ladies? Were they injured or sick?

Then I saw this:

A dust bath! Chickens do this to clean themselves and rid themselves of any scritchy bugs. They are supposed to really like it, but I had never seen them so it. So funny to see the dirt flying. They were giving Tubby a run for his money.

Now if I could just get them to bring up the daily paper...


Chili Cook-Off

We had the delight to participate in our church's third annual chili cook-off this weekend.

A little history: my son loves chili and tried his hand at an entry last year. His Root-Beer Braised Bacon Bonanza didn't quite get him on the medal stand, but fun was had by all. I took home the "Hottest Chili" award to reside with my "People's Choice" and "First Place" from the first year of the cook-off. Brendan's favorite part of the event: the pie eating contest. He won the last two years. So the stakes were high this year!

Here's the newest cook in the house with his Meat and Bean Whirlwind creation. (The names!)

All the entries lined up on the judges station. The closest is my son's and mine is right beside his. We had an unusually warm day, so my entree was "Tropical Chili" (or "It's 70 degrees outside Chili" or Cilantro Rice topped with Tropical Chili and garnished with Pineapple Salsa"). There was no award for most confusing entree.

While the judges "chewed" over their decisions. it was time for pie eating!

My son had to relinquish his reigning champ status when he came in second. Things weren't starting out too well.

But then it was time to announce the chili winners. Here was the result for our table, but who got "People's Choice" and who got "First Place"?

My son beat me in my own kitchen!

I will never live this down!

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