Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mostly Done

I have finished ALL the four patches and pinwheels for the first and second steps of the OTR mystery quilts. I haven't done the little angled bits for the diagonal setting yet, but I'm bleary eyed already after a late night last night. I have such a short attention span as a quilter. I think that is what makes it hard for my to do color controlled quilts. I had picked out a very pretty bundle of fat quarters with dusty shades of blue, green, red and beige. Well, after seeing the same green square go by a couple of hundred times I started to think I should branch out and started pulling different greens out of my stash. Then I remembered doing a pointalism exercise in high school art class and having to use complementary colors to add depth to the work. So out came the teals and the purples to liven up the bunch. So much for color controlled. I still need to press the pinwheels, but those little guys are really bulky in the middle and need to opened up and mushed flat before I get the iron out. Tomorrow is another day. I'm not even logging on to bloglines tonight because I know I would be too tempted to peek at the next step. I'm not very good about leaving presents alone under the Christmas tree either.

Round 1.5

If orange and yellow, and brown are the colors of the tobaco fields of a North Carolina fall, then my colors are appropriate for a Florida fall. I chose green for the palm trees and blue for the rain, I might add red for hurricane warnings with some purple and brown just in case. I'll have to see what the next steps bring. I'm doing color controlled, and so far I have pieced 124 green 4 patches and 231 blue pinwheels. I'm too tired now to start another round, so I'll return the family room to habitability and call it a night. I've been watching marathons of labor day "chick flicks" and catching up on the weather on the commercials. Even with Gustav over Cuba at the moment, we are getting occasional rain bands. Key West is getting 55 mile gusts, which is faster than what Fay brought. We're still watching Hanna, but she shouldn't be a concern until the middle of next week.

The kids all had good days today, this is a picture of Sydney helping wash Dad's car. She decided she didn't need a bath tonight because she had already taken one in the bucket.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Old Hurricane Road

There isn't any tobacco around here except at the 7-11, but hurricanes seem to be on everyones mind, so maybe I'll call this one Old Hurricane Road. Fall is that time of the year for us. I wasn't going to do the mystery this weekend, because we were supposed to be out of town. Plans changed, but I still wasn't going to do it, because I don't have much for fall hued tones in my stash. Then I remembered a beautiful bundle of fat quarters that my mom got me for Christmas last year which I've been saving for something special. It was blue, red and white with a patriotic theme, but in dusky sorts of shades. I pulled some more greens and some purples, and I should have enough choices to keep my options open. I was a little worried that I didn't have any brown and thought about using the red there, but then I remembered a packet of 10 inch charms that I ordered with teal and brown. The teal part looks a little lonely now, but I pulled several browns out. I already had plenty of 4 patches for the first step, but I'm thinking of making more so I can use a more color controlled palate. Four patches come together so quick, and then I can use these for the Irish chain that I have kind of started. While I can tell myself that I don't need a new project, my last two mystery quilts were finished and bound while other UFO's sat waiting.
I got up early to run this morning, I need to do lots of laundry today, and grade some papers for school, other than that I should be able to do a little sewing.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Day

Today was a day. A good day, but with enough stuff to fill a week. I had run last night, so I didn't need to do it this morning. That allowed me to go to work early and try to get some stuff done. I got a new computer over the summer, and I keep finding out that the programs I need have disappeared and I don't have the installation discs anymore. So that was the morning. It was a review day before tomorrows test in chemistry, so that part was easy. The broadcast class at school runs announcements and they wanted to do a segment on the new forensic science class. I prepped one of my classes yesterday and told them to pick something that would look cool and do some sort of lab or demo on it. They went crazy with it. They were looking up recipes for fake blood, making up dental molds, doing spot tests for drugs, explaining the markings on spent ammunition -- all with no input from me. I just sat back and pointed them in the right direction if they asked. I can't wait to see the segment. The teacher who runs the class seemed to have an idea in mind, because he came prepared with crime scene tape and then staged the kids very deliberately. The other forensics class was taking visible prints and one of the students who is in the yearbook class wanted to take pictures. I spent the day wishing I had done my hair this morning. So that took me to lunch. I had volunteered to help out with the academic team because I have run a group in the past. That meeting used up lunch. After that I spent an hour trying to get my *&%$# web site for school up and working. I won't go into the details, but I consider myself fairly literate in technology, and it was too complicated for me to do. Rushing home, I had half an hour to do e-mail and phone calls trying to set up the girl scout troops for the new year. I have a new kindergarten daisy leader, and suckered talked the first grade leader into taking four new girls. I'm still working on setting up two new troops for the second and third graders because we have so many girls on the waiting list. I was unsuccessful at talking the 5th grade leader into anything, so that is a problem for another day. By then the school bus was ready to arrive, so I went to meet it, which is required for kindergateners. I got the best hug from Sydney coming off the bus, and she told me all about the handsome boy in PE. She doesn't know his name, just that he has handsome hair and eyes. Then followed homework and an early dinner. Our neighbor came to stay with the kids because it was parent night at school tonight. They have two sessions, but we have three kids, so reinforcements were needed. Kurt did one session and came home to relieve the neighbor, and I did two before heading to the girl scout leader meeting to try to talk more leaders into taking more girls. I picked up a teddy bear to decorate to a charity auction, and the packets for fall sales, which is magazines and candy. I got a candy bar on the way home to call dinner, and now I am in my jammies ready to enter grades in because they are due tomorrow. All good stuff, but it would be even better spread out over 13 days instead of 13 hours.
Speaking of good stuff -- I won Amy's 100th post giveaway. I won! I was doing a little happy dance when I got that e-mail. Amy is my quilting twin, and I think I must have been sisters in a previous life. I'm serious. Go look at her blog and you will see the similarities.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chaos -- More or Less?

I cut out some setting triangles for my crumble chaos blocks and set them together in a lap sized quilt. Having no more specific option in mind, I was thinking of making several quilts for the nursing home trip with the Girl Scouts. So I got them all laid out, enjoying the colors and the freedom and then called my husband over to look at them. First his jaw dropped in confusion and then he asked he asked what effect I was trying to achieve. Is it that much over the top? He doesn't think the elderly will enjoy that much color. Specifically, he thought if everyone got to choose a quilt, that the poor person left to choose last would have to take this one and be really unhappy. Harsh, isn't he? So I changed out the blocks to make it less chaotic. Still, is it all that strange or is he just being too conventional?
Today was just a regular day. Everyone is starting to settle down into routines. Sydney made a new friend in her class. Anna met two new girls on the bus. Ryan had a good time at recess. I spent the evening calling potential Girl Scout leaders and trying to talk them into starting new troops. Everyone has the same story, so busy, too many things to do, not enough hours in the day. I'll keep plugging away, it's so sad to think of all those little girls with no troop to go to. I'm always tempted to try to trump them on the I'm too busy excuse, but that would be counter productive I think.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Second First Day!

The kids were FINALLY back in school today following Fay. For Sydney it was her first day of kindergarten. For Anna and Ryan it was their second day of school after a 4 day delay. Sydney has been looking forward to this day for years. It has just about made her crazy to walk Anna and then Ryan to the bus every day and not be able to get on it herself. She didn't even pause when the bus came, but just hopped on and grabbed a seat. Kurt, of course, followed along behind the bus to make sure she came off on the other end and went to the right place at school. It really wasn't necessary for Sydney's sake, but we've done it for the other two, so I didn't want her to get cheated. She never showed a moment of uncertainty, but waited with her friend from the neighborhood playing rock paper scissor until the bell. When it was time to go, she jumped right up and went straight to the right room.
Each of our children is so totally different. Sydney is either wonderful or horrible with nothing in the middle. Anna is our queen of melodrama, already practicing to be a teenager at the age of 9. Poor little Ryan went to school with his shirt buttoned all the way to the top, and a leather belt neatly fastened around his shorts. I don't want him to be a geeky little guy, but I can't turn him into something he isn't. It is good to recognize that each child is unique, but sometimes I wonder if it would be easier if they had something in common.
I'm hoping we can settle down into some sort of routine. The weather channel said something about a storm named Gustav coming to get us, but I'm going to pretend to be oblivious for now.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Why I Love to Blog

After finishing up my crumb blocks, I was thinking about layout options and setting colors. I laid out several choices in the formal living room and asked my husband to look at them the next time he got up. At the same time I posted a blog entry and asked for input. My husband, sitting 20 feet away from the blocks in question, has yet to look at them. Quilt Pixie from the depths of cyperspace says she likes the red, but have I thought about black. So, here are some black and red choices, any votes?

My Favorite Quilt

Amy over at Amy's Passions has just posted her 100th entry. As part of her giveaway, she is asking for favorite quilt stories. My favorite quilt (that I made) is a t-shirt quilt called Road to the Marathon. I made it to celebrate my first two marathons. Around the outside are all of the shirts from the shorter races I did in training, and then in the middle are my marathons, Space Coast and Miami. I looked and looked for running themed fabric, but couldn't find any. Instead I chose a bright tie dye with electric blue corner stones. The back is orange flannel and it is SO soft and cuddly. I later found running themed fabric, which is made into blocks, but still not put together in a quilt. So congratulations, Amy, on your 100th post. May it be the first 100 of many more to come.

Crumby Sunday

I kept going with the crumb blocks today because I was having so much fun. I just kept sewing scraps on randomly from the brights bin until I got to about 7 inches and then squared everything up at the end. Whatever I chopped off went back into the bin to be recycled. No plan, no measuring, just mindless chain sewing. The bin is pretty empty now, so I'll move onto the muted colors bin next. 36 blocks done, all from scraps most people would have thrown away (insert maniacal laugh here).
I was thinking of doing a diagonal set and offsetting the rows to get a zig zag effect. I tried it once before but did bad math and ended up lobbing off all the points. Maybe Amy can help me with the math. How big do I need to cut the setting triangles to go with 7 inch blocks? I'm testing the "red is a neutral" hypothesis. I didn't have much for reds, so I also pulled out a pink, an orange and a yellow as well. I'm having trouble deciding, what you y'all think?

Quilted Tile

"I've messed up massively and I need your help." Those are words you never want to hear in the middle of a bathroom remodeling project. We had finished the bathtub portion of the tile work and were moving over to the shower portion. I say "we" but I really mean Kurt was doing the tile work, I was watching the talking word factory with Sydney and eating popcorn. In transitioning from one section to the other, he worked from the right to the left, and then shifted over to the left and worked back toward the middle again. When he got to the part where the left and the right were supposed to meet, they didn't. Somehow his math skills were off and he was shifted by half a tile. So I spent the rest of the afternoon helping him peel (thankfully) still wet tiles off the wall and repositioning them. Anyway, it occurred to me in the middle of all of this scraping and sticking that doing tile is so much like making a quilt. So even if I wasn't quilting, I was thinking about quilting while all of this was going on.

Then last night the men's marathon was on the Olympics. I recorded it so I could do some sewing and then fast forward through the commercials. I still ended up watching the end at about the right time, but I managed to get a batch of crumb blocks done while it was happening. My scrap bin was overflowing and I had already done a couple of sessions of cutting squares and strips. Those drawers are all pretty well stocked, so I decided to go for random piecing. I did segregate the scraps in to brights, muted and pastels. I was trying for random, but I can only push myself so far out of my comfort zone. Each color family is getting squared up into a different size, and I'll set them all aside for a rainy day. I also got the final border on my Dad's Plaids quilt yesterday, so I'll be getting that ironed and layered sometime soon.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Shameless Mommy Post

Sydney is easily my most aggravating child. She has way too much personality and way too little self control. She is wonderful when she wants to do something. Trying to get her to do something she doesn't want however, is an almost impossible task, and is likely to end in a an unpleasant impasse. I think she is probably very bright, but it is hard to tell, because she is so unfocused. I live in fear of the first time she decides she doesn't want to do what she is supposed to in kindergarten. I can imagine the conversation and somewhere there she will stomp her little foot and say, "I don't want to and you can't make me because you are not the boss of me." Fortunately she REALLY wants to go to school and so will probably be on good behavior.
Yesterday we were driving to lunch and passed a field full of water. Everything is full of water around here. Sydney thought that was so strange, so she shouted out, "Mommy, look at that flooded field, it's not supposed to be full of water." I'm always surprised at the things they notice. Then she said, "Cici's streets were full of water and they used boats to get around. I wish our streets had water, but they have those rectangles to drain the water so we can't go boating at our house." How many 5 year olds have taken notice of storm drains, much less thought about the consequences in terms of flood management? I think it's truly odd. Anyway, then we went to the pet store to look at "tadlepoles", and I couldn't help but thing about just how adorable my kids are. Hopefully on Monday I'll have another set of first day of school pictures, and all day I'll be waiting for that phone call from the assistant principle that Sydney has done something.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What it is for?

So I am just about to sew the last border on my plaid quilt. I don't like doing borders, so I was thinking of a carrot for motivation. As I was searching for the last two cornerstones that I put safely somewhere, I decided since I was about to finish a quilt, I would pull out something "new" to work on. Something small and easily finished. I've got several bits and pieces that I've played with over time and I thought it would be fun to turn one of those into a little quilt. So as I pulled out the pinwheels that I made from the bonus blocks of Zach's quilt, I remembered that I was going to do a wide border with some sort of appliqué. Because this one will hang in the foyer, I decided to ask Kurt's opinion. I should know better than that by now. So as I laid it out and described what I had in mind, he looked at me with that puzzled face that he makes when I'm just not communicating, and then he said, "I know this is going to seem like a silly question, but what is this quilt for?" What is it for? It is for to be a quilt. Isn't that enough?


Things are slowly returning to normal around here. My school was back in session, and amazingly, most of the kids were back. Usually they protest and stay home until public school starts up again. I was missing one or two from each class, apparently flooded in still, or dealing with the flood clean-up. We had "chapel" in our individual rooms as the auditorium was flooded and they had to remove the first three rows of pews. There is something highly ironic about me trying to lead a chapel service. I guess it says something about that credibility I have established with my students that I can do something so out of character for me and still get away with it. We shared our stories, and of the ones that were there today, the most trouble anyone reported was having to mop up a little water with a towel. I'm sure the stories of the absent students will be very different. Academically it was a perfectly normal day. We reviewed the metric system in Chemistry and did library research for Forensics. All in all it was a very typical and average. What a nice change!
My little guys were home for one more day, and we were lucky enough to get their favorite sitter. She loves to play Pokemon with Ryan and gives Sydney horsie rides until they are both exhausted. It is still raining on and off most of the time, but the "squalls" seem to be getting further and further apart. We went to CiCi's for lunch and everyone is upstairs now, passed out from cumulative exhaustion.
I think that is my signal to sneak into my sewing room and finish up the last bit on a batch of geese that used up my scraps from the border segments. I need to do some string quilts or something to use up the rest of the shirt segments. The textures and weights are all so different that I don't want to intermingle them in with the rest of my scrap stash. It might be a little strange to start a segregated scrap collection. OK, maybe that would be a lot strange.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Finally, an Outing

We finally managed to make it out of the house today! Most of the storm seems to have moved out of our area, and the rain has let up enough to let some of the flooding recede. We were going to take everyone to see the new 3-D movie, Fly me to the Moon, but it was only playing at one theater which is closed "until further notice" . Instead we ended up at Pump it Up, our local inflatable indoor play place. We took two of Anna's friends, one who was over for a sleepover, and the other who was a neighborhood friend who was over to play. We met up with some more of our friends from the neighborhood, so it was a festive time. Then we went to Jason's Deli for lunch and had even more ice cream, which seemed to make all the kids very happy. The deli is right next to the fabric store, so I could pick up backing fabric for Dad's Plaids. So Mom was very happy as well. I think Ice Cream, Pizza and Cheeto's may be the secret to tropical storm survival.

When we went into an actual subdivision to drop children off, we could see extensive flooding and several roads that still looked impassible. Kurt is going back to work tomorrow, although there will be people missing because they still can't make it out of their houses. I'm back to school as well, although public schools are still not back in session. We have a sitter coming for the morning which should help keep the kids entertained. Time will reveal the extent of all the damage, but we are starting to get back to real life again.
I'm itching to go start putting the borders on my quilt and get the back laid out, but I need to remember what I am teaching tomorrow and see if I need to prepare anything. I'm guessing the kids will have forgotten everything in the three days we've been gone, but we will all do the best we can. I seem to remember that we were going to the library for forensic science and we were burning candles in chemistry. Yes, I think that sounds about right. Maybe I can go do a little sewing after all, I should be good to go for school.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

You Have GOT to be Joking!

They have just canceled school for tomorrow. That's the third day of missed school! The first day is fun. The second day isn't quite as fun and the kids are getting a little grumpy from being inside too much. The third day may just do us all in. This isn't even a hurricane! What are we going to do when we get a real storm? Three days lost for a simple tropical storm. Please pardon my emotional explosion. We've played board games and video games, made pizza and cookies, played in the rain and had pajama parties and play dates. What exactly are we going to do for day three?
I could stay home forever. I could quilt and read and snuggle with hot chocolate and cozy quilts for days on end. My three kids are not quite as mellow. They need to be entertained, organized, doing something. Am I allowed to tell them to go to their rooms and stay there until school starts again? I didn't think so. I'm guessing we'll be breaking out heavy duty arts and crafts within the next few hours. I asked Kurt to come home from work with junk food and alcohol. That should help some I think.

Now, onto important topics. I got some bits and pieces of my borders put together. I've got solid strips and flying geese units. I had originally thought I'd do geese flying out of opposite corners with solid strips filling in the rest of the space. My other thought is that I could do a single row of geese on two sides, one going up on the left, and the other going down on the right. I'm not sure about the color balance as the geese are darker than the plain strips. Any thoughts?

Shifting gears

The eye of the storm has passed and turned to the north. Yesterday the trees were blowing to the left. Today they are blowing to the right. Still, overall, it seems to be just a lot of rain, even if the rain keeps changing direction. Kurt went up into the attic last night because a little rain was blowing in one of the the off ridge vents. We usually plug them up for a major storm, but this wasn't supposed to be major. One of the window sills in the front was a bit damp, so we put a towel on it. That of course led to the checking of all the windowsills in the house. In my own neurotic way, I couldn't check the window sills without noticing how dirty they all were. So we have nice clean window sills now. There was also a worm in the foyer by the front door. I have no idea how he got in the house, but the poor little guy was dead and crusty when I found him this morning. There are other areas that are much worse of than us. We got an e-mail from a work friend this morning showing his street with foot deep water. There was a tornado in barefoot bay which is a mobile home community not too far from here. I don't know why tornadoes always seem to target mobile homes.
Kurt went into work again today, even though they were closed. He went in yesterday by accident because he didn't realize they were closed. Today there was some big meeting that he didn't think could wait. The two people he was meeting with live beachside, so I was a little surprised they could make it over the causeway. He wore a swimsuit, I think just to be funny, but he swears it was just so he would get dry faster. He gave me a call while he was headed in, and said there is some impressive flooding going on. Even the main roads are full of standing water. Police officers are directing traffic around the major puddles. I'm not sure where it will all go if we really do get the 7 additional inches of rain they are forecasting.
We are still all crossing our finger here that there will be school tomorrow. I'm not sure what they will do with the kindergarteners. It might almost be better to wait until Monday to start them when everything is a little more normal. I know I'm ready for everyone to head back. They are done being patient and good at home and are now asking to go places and do things.
I got all the border pieces cut out for my quilt, I'll find some time after lunch to get them stitched together. I keep thinking some kind of bias vine and simple flowers might set off the border. Then I think I should just get it done and not clutter it anymore with unnecessary extras. I can make that decision after I get the border put on. I'd love to get it layered up today, but I haven't got anything for the back and I'm not going anywhere today.

The Eye of the Storm

Fay woke me up about an hour ago so I came out to watch the weather channel. I always feel better during a hurricane if I can watch it on radar while it is happening. Usually the power is out by now in a bigger hurricane. The eye is just about overhead right now. The winds seem to have shifted direction already, although it's hard to tell in the dark. They are talking now about her not even going all the way out over water but just skimming along the coast to the north before heading back in again. I just hope she goes far enough to the north that the rain will let up for a while. The south side of a hurricane isn't usually the worst side, but there still seems to be a lot of rain down there. Maybe she will start moving a little faster so that we can have school tomorrow. I'm not sure how many hurricane days are in the schedule, but I'm sure it's not more than three, and it's still pretty early in the season.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Little Storm That Could

Hurricanes are supposed to weaken over land. It is a well documented fact. So everyone is having trouble figuring out how Fay has gone from 60 to 65 mph since it entered the state this morning. She is supposed to exit the state right about where we live about 2 am and then sit out off the coast for a bit, giving her time to strengthen (just barely) to hurricane strength. Then she's going to boomergang back and hit us again. She is a quirky little storm to say the least. We've had a few power flickers, but so far it always comes back. The rain is more horizontal than vertical now, but we are all safe and sound inside.
I think I'm going to put some geese in opposite corners of my quilt and fill in with strips that are cut the the same length as the blocks. I thought about doing random length strips, but it just seemed too chaotic, the uniform length should add some order and will be easier to calculate as well.
The snickerdoodles turned out wonderfully and left the house smelling all warm and cinnamon fresh. It also kept the kids busy for a good bit of the afternoon, and gave them motivation to eat a good dinner. I enjoy multipurpose projects. I'm supposed to have girl scout leader's meeting tonight, but I'm not going anywhere right now.

Taking Advantage

I have been gifted with two extra days of "vacation". Even with the sound of the rain on the roof, we have power, so I'm getting stuff done. I just finished putting the blocks together for Dad's Plaids. The size is just about right, but I'm still thinking a small border would be good, mainly because I have so many flying geese done. I think I might put those in two corners and fill it in with plain strips. I'll have to start laying some things down and see how they look. Right now, the kids are waiting patiently to make some cookies. I thought the smell of warm fresh snickerdoodles would be good right about now.

The Little Hurricane that Wasn't

These are the palm trees in our front yard. Notice how the trunks remain vertical, the fronds swaying gently in the breeze. I'm sitting here watching the weather channel tell me how hard the "hurricane" is hitting us, and I just can't imagine who they are talking to. It's raining a little bit and occasionally there is a gust of wind. That's it. They seem to be rooting for it to get worse, and maybe it will, but right now it is just no big deal. They've just canceled school for tomorrow. On the bright side of things, the Dad's Plaids top is almost put together and I have a bunch of flying geese units done for the border. I guess I don't need to work on that backup plan of hand quilting if the power goes out. If we get a big burst of storm I'll rush out and get a picture, but please don't hold your breath, it probably won't happen.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Snow Day!!!!

OK, so it's really a tropical storm day, possibly a hurricane day, but that doesn't quite pull up the warm fuzzy memories of snow days from my childhood. I'm pulling out the board games and we're cooking the "good" food from the freezer in case the power goes out. Tomorrow we're going to snuggle up on the couch and watch it rain.
I have a friend who homeschools, and once or twice every year she will wake the kids up by shouting "Snow Day!" and then they will all take a mental health break. The second day of school is not when a mental health day is most needed, but we don't get to choose these things. We'll just take what comes our way.

First Day of School

Anna and Ryan both hopped on the bus this morning for their first day of school. They aren't nearly as excited about going back as Sydney. She is still so sad that they get to go to school before her. She is sure she is being cheated out of three days of possible fun and games.
We are still watching Fay, wondering if there will be second day of school. Several local districts have canceled, but ours is still listed as TBD. I'm guessing they will make a call after the 5:00 update, although they have been known to do it as early as at 5 a.m update in the morning. They come up with a new path every 3 hours, and each time it seems to shift a little more in our direction. It is not a major storm in any way, it should not cause any major disruptions. All it takes are gusting winds of tropical storm force winds during school bus times to keep the causeways off limits. So while we wait and watch the weather, I'm doing all the things you are supposed to do "just in case" turning the freezer to cold, making sure flashlights and batteries are ready to go, clearing debris out of the yard. It's amazing how much stuff collects out there. I understand the potted plants, yard furniture and bar-b-que grill, but why was there a pair of sandals in the rosemary bush? Yet another mystery to be pondered on a rainy day. I'm guessing we'll have a couple of those very soon. The first rain bands have already hit, now it's just a waiting game.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


The kids all decided they wanted to earn some money this morning and asked for some extra chores. So Ryan did some weeding, Anna vacuumed my car and Sydney swept. Does this mean that at some point children actually become useful? Is it possible that eventually they may do more cleaning than messing up? Well, maybe not, but I'll take any help I can get in that department.
I had a 5K yesterday morning, so Kurt took the girls to their first day of ice skating lessons. They were doing beautifully until Sydney took a head dive at the end of the lesson and almost lost a front tooth. Thank goodness they are still baby teeth, because it still looks a little iffy in there. He dragged them to volleyball and then we took turns with the afternoon birthday parties. There were two this weekend, and strangely enough, they were both bowling parties at the same place. One was at 12:30 and one was at 3:00. So that took up most of the afternoon.
I did manage to get the manatee quilt bordered and spray basted, so I'll save that for my next big batch of quilting. I pulled the Dad's Plaids blocks out again, maybe I'll get those put together today. All of our weekend chores have been carried out with the weather channel on in the background. We're still watching Fay, it doesn't look like it's going to be that bad all the way over here on the East Coast. Still, there is the concern that she will, "pull a Charlie" and make a dash across the center of the state in our direction.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I used to be so good about hurricane preparation. At the begining of the season I would go out with my list and make sure the hurricane kit was thoroughly stocked. I would calculate gallons per person per day of bottled water and collect everything safely in a watertight containers stored safely through the rest of the season. Then at the end of every season I would unpack everything and breathe a sigh of relief that we never had to use it. Then we had the two straight years of ridiculous hurricane activity. It was all we could do to try to recover from one storm before the next was charging at us. We were all so good at plywood and generators that it almost seemed normal. Almost.
Then there was the calm after the storms. All that was left were the consequences. Skyrocketing insurance, plummeting home values, yearlong waits for contractors. We learned how to repair drywall, seal stucco and replace shingles. It was our new normal.
And then of course we forgot. Two more years of calm and the memories were fuzzy. Now out of nowhere looms Fay. The memories began to bubble to the surface as I walked through the aisles of the grocery store this morning. It all seemed so familiar: bottled water and canned pasta, dry cereal and peanut butter, batteries and trash bags, bleach and band aids.
The storm doesn't look big, even the worst predictions only show it as a 1, but even a 1 can close schools if it hits at the wrong time. Monday is the first day of school, and that should still be OK, but Tuesday isn't looking so good. I will be happy as long as everything is OK again by Thursday. Sydney starts kindergarten on Thursday, and if I told her it was canceled, the tears would begin to flow. Then she would calmly explain how she waited so long for her first day, and it's not fair that she has to have another home day. I know exactly how the script goes, because Anna's first day of kindergarten was also canceled for a hurricane. Wish us luck and timing!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day 2

Usually second days are a little calmer than first days. Today was not usual. Two of may classes were stable with the same kids today as yesterday. The other two had people coming and going seemingly at random. I think my second section of forensic science kids actually went out and recruited their friends, because people just kept coming in the door. Only 20 kids fit in a class, so I know it will end soon, but it is fun to watch. I try to sell the class on the first day, especially with an elective. Anything that starts out sort of dry or boring will send them straight to the counselors office for a transfer. I guess I sold the class too well though, because now they are all jammed in there waiting for the fun to begin.
I ended the chemistry classes yesterday with mentos and diet coke. I did a little bottle so that we could do in the lab. The two liters really do have to go outside, and even then they make a giant mess.
I think the room issues have been resolved, which is what some of the moving around was about. They took 5 kids out of 4th period and moved them to 1st so that we would fit in a smaller space. Hopefully by tomorrow everyone will be in the right place at the right time. Right now I'm still rushing out the door right after my last class so that Kurt can get to work for the afternoon. Tomorrow is his Friday off so I'll be able to stay and catch up on everything. I think it is all going to be good.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

First Days

Another successful first day of school! I am changing classrooms every period. By third period, my students were just finding me in the hall and following from one room to another. They are highly adaptable though, and will figure things out soon enough. I'm not as adaptable as them, but I'm having a good attitude and making things work. We've had issues with our data base this year, resulting in schedules being changed randomly, so no one is ever exactly sure where they are supposed to be. Each class began with a comparison of schedules and rosters to determine if everyone was indeed in the right place. Add that to the usual schedule changes that occur at the begining of a new year and quite a bit of ambiguity results. I have a new moto now, "If they come, I will teach them." Whoever shows up at the door gets a book and homework assignment. Guidance can figure out everything else. I think I'll put that job tops on the list of jobs I don't want to do right now.
I'm happy with my classes, the chemistry kids seem to be good bunch. They are still all on good behavior of course, but they seem like a nice group of kids. My forensic science kids are another story. They signed up for the class knowing that I was going to teach it, and they already know me. No first day behavior for them! I think I have fewer than 10 kids in both of the sections that I haven't had before. One lucky student is now having me for the 4th year in a row. I've told her that I live in fear of her going to college and not knowing enough science, because I am personally responsible for anything she doesn't know!
I finished up by 12 and rushed home for the kids so we could go and man the girl scout booth at their school registration. They had already been in the morning with Kurt to register and meet their teachers. Ryan and Anna are fairly aloof about second and third grade, but Sydney is so excited about kindergarten that she can hardly stand it. She was so disappointed when she found out that she wasn't staying at school all day. Especially when she found out her teacher has TOYS in her classroom. She didn't know that kindergarten would have TOYS. Trying to get her to leave was no easy task. Explaining that the first day of kindergarten isn't for an entire week was even harder. Ryan and Anna will hop on the bus on Monday, but Sydney will have to wait three extra days for her first day of school.

Monday, August 11, 2008


This is that time of year when I look at the list of things that have to be done and wonder if I am going to get to the bottom of the list before the kids show up for the first day of school. I wish I could start early and get it all done ahead of time, but everything is so fluid that it isn't safe to plan ahead. The wording on the syllabus needs to be tweaked from year to year, the links have to be updated. I waited until today to do seating charts, grade book inserts and textbook assignments. I knew as soon as I did it that everything would change. Sure enough, I got back from my Girl Scout meeting tonight, and checked my rosters, those little buggers all moved around again! I'll just wait patiently and see if they move again before I bother to print everything off again. Tomorrow I'll run copies and try to pin down all the final details.
Registration was today, it was good to have students back in the building again. They add so much energy! Of course getting work done gets harder, but that is to be expected I suppose. I'm still trying to figure out what rooms I'm going to be in, so everything else is still hard to plan. As the part time teacher, I end up shuffling from room to room while other people are on planning. I've gotten used to it, so it's not a big deal. I made up a nice little sign to post on my "office" door that tells my students where to find me from period to period. I was in pretty good shape until they added a fourth class, now I'm scrounging around again trying to make everything work out. I'm sure it will all work out in the end. It always does.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Weekend Work

I ran 12 miles yesterday and it just wiped me out! I think I should have snuck up on it a little more. I was OK for the first 10 and then I started to get really tired. I made it through the last two, but then wanted to collapse at the end. I walked it out and managed to make it home. After a quick caffeine and sugar infusion (Mountain Dew) I showered and ate some breakfast. By then I was ready for a morning nap, and managed to sleep until lunch. I was fairly useless for the rest of the day, which tells me I wasn't quite ready for that long of a run yet. I'll fall back in mileage next week and maybe try it again the week after. I always assume that because I've done long runs before, I should be able to do them again. It doesn't seem like you should have to start from square one every time you start training again, but in some ways you really do.
I did manage do do a little puttering in the sewing room while watching bits and pieces of the Olympics on TV. I've been doing flying geese as leaders and enders with the thought that they might be the border for Dad's Plaids. I got one flap sewn on the first batch while managing to loose third piece. It was highly annoying to try to go back and match all the bits up again. So this time I pinned all three pieces together from the start. The first flap is in sewing position and the second is just hanging off the bottom until I get the the next step. I takes a little time to do the pinning, but at least I'm not loosing all the pieces and trying to find them again. I'm not sure if I'll put the borders on Sirenia today or try to get the Dad's Plaids blocks together into a flimsy. I've got a bunch of ironing I could catch up on with lots of leaders and enders. That might be my choice if something interesting is happening in the Olympics.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Lucky 8

I had a good day at school today. There was a computer training session in the morning, but then I spent a lot of time planning and coordinating with people as I randomly bumped into them. I'm spending a lot of time with the new chemistry teacher. She's got lots of questions, which I'm trying to answer without telling her what she should do. We also have a new math teacher who wants to line up our syllabi so that we are teaching some of the same topics at the same time. He doesn't have his course planned yet, so he wanted me to just tell him when to do the topics that overlap. I don't know if I'm just very persuasive or if everyone else is just accommodating, but hey, if it gets the job done then I'm all for it. The math and science teachers all went out to lunch as a group. It's nice to spend some time with people socially. I think it makes it easier to work together.
I spent the afternoon doing girl scout things. Did I mention that I caved completely on the school coordinator position? I have a pathological inability to say no. In my own defense, I did say no at least three times. If only I had been strong enough to say no just once more I would have been home free. So I called all the leaders today to get contact info and updates on the status of all of the troops. I'm going to send an e-mail and try to get people to volunteer to help out with the registration booth on Wednesday. The way the schedules line up this year, the public school registration day is the same as my first day of school. So I guess I'll finish teaching and then go over to sit at the booth in the afternoon.
I watched the opening ceremonies for the Olympics this evening while finishing up my Sirenia quilt. Kurt was helping out with artistic decisions, so it ended up much more symmetrical than I had planned. I think I'll add a dark blue border to the outside and it will be about the right size. Kiribati just appeared in the parade of nations! Kurt had never heard of it, but I read a whole book that took place on a Kirabatian Island! I think it was called The Sex Lives of Cannibals. It was hilarious. We've got the globe out, and are looking up all the countries that are unfamiliar. I wish the kids were awake, they are fascinated with maps and would get a big kick out of all of the flags. It's getting late now, and I'd better call it a night. I'm supposed to run 12 miles in the morning starting at 6. I'd love to start later, but I don't run that fast and it gets hot after the sun comes up.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day 1

Today was the first day of preplanning. It was mostly meetings. I had a few minutes in my room and got my books numbered and quilts hung. The kids were so excited about having a babysitter, they were disappointed when Dad got home at 11.
After dinner I whipped up a couple of binder covers. One is for the planner that I use at home with calenders and to do lists and phone numbers. The other is for my "grade book" at school. I don't keep a traditional grade book now that everything is on the computer. However, I do keep a written record of everything in a three ring binder. I thought it would be nice to have something a little more visually pleasing than a plastic covered binder. The first one was pretty plain, but I got fancy on the second one and worked in a wrap around pocket for pens and pencils and things. Maybe I'll get really carried away and make a matching cover for my textbooks! As I was making the second I realized I could have made them even faster if I had just used a single piece of fabric and sewn down the edges. They were super simple to make and used up some more of the home dec fabric that was leftover from the grocery bags. Of course the grocery bags were leftover fabric from actual home decoration. I wonder what I'll come up with for the next cycle with the same fabric?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

3 2 1

Count down. I'm trying to get to bed at a decent hour tonight. After bribing the kids with ice cream to clean the toy room, they were so motivated that they begged for just a few more minutes of cleaning time. Then I took a little time to work on the Sirenia quilt after I got everyone to bed. I'd love to sew into the wee hours and get it finished up tonight. Instead I've stuck it decoratively to my portable design wall (formerly known as science fair boards). I'll get everything picked up off the floor before I turn into a pumpkin. The babysitter should be here by 7:50 so I can head into school for a brand new year.

Last Day

This was the sight that awaited me when I rolled out of bed this morning. All three of the kids were huddled around the computer playing Super Chuzzle. You get points every time you get three in a row. They have discovered that if you click on certain chuzzles repeatedly they will burp or explode. What could be more fun than that.?
Because this is officially my last day of summer vacation, I decided just to putter around the house rather than trying to finish anything officially. I"m pretty caught up on laundry, the house is in decent shape, and the kids are all entertained. They are excited to have a sitter tomorrow, and Kurt is coming home on the redeye.
I made the letters for my next marine science quilt which is sirenia -- those are the manatees and dugongs. I'm going to go for a porthole effect and set the manatee fabric in circles into squares of each of the colored fabrics. Then to turn it back into a square I'll add sashing strips with piano keys of the colored fabrics. That's the plan anyway. We'll see how it comes together. I ran out to Home depot today and bought some wooden dowels and hooks so I can hang the finished quilts in my room at school. I think they will brighten the place up.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ice Skating and Odds and Ends

Tonight was the boyscout back to school bash at a local ice skating rink. Anna loves to skate and took lessons a couple of years ago during the summer. Ryan has skated once or twice at a birthday party, and Sydney was a first timer. Anna went out and skated like an old pro. Ryan cautiously worked his way around the rink, slowly and methodically. After the first trip around I got Sydney a walker and she took off like a maniac. She went fast and fearless in every possible direction. She would fall down and then hop right back up and go again. The only time she cried all night was when I told her it was time to leave. Now she wants to take skating lessons. I must admit, it's a better fit for her than ballet. I'll have to check out the times for the next session and see it they are full yet.
Just two more days left until it's back to the grindstone. I finished up the binding and hanging sleeve for Chondrichthyes and added an extra hanging sleeve on Echinodermata. I'm not sure how, but the original sleeve ended up on the side rather than the top. I picked up some hooks so I can hang them in my classroom. I think I have the perfect place in mind. I got a call from the upper school principal today asking if I would be willing to teach an extra class this year. There are only two sections of regular chemistry and they are already over capacity. So, they've added another section during 4th period. So far there are only three students in it, but they can try to shift some of the others over before school starts. Even though I'll have an extra class, they are during the first four periods of they day, so I'll still be officially done teaching by 11:17 on a normal day. Not a bad schedule at all.
I'm down to one child tomorrow. Anna is in gymnastics camp this week and Sydney has her next to last day of preschool tomorrow. We've had at least one child at the same preschool for the last 6 years. It's going to be very emotional to see the last one leave. It will be very nice though, to put them all on the bus in the morning and have them all at the same school for the next 4 years. I'll try to talk Ryan into coming to school with me for an hour or so to do some decorating and organization in my room.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sharks are Done

I just finished sewing the binding on the chondrichthyes quilt. Wow did it come together fast. Admittedly, it is a very simple design but I'm still happy with a finish. So that makes 2 in the marine science series. I couldn't help going online last night and browsing at Hancock's of Paducah for more animal themed fabric. Actually, now that I think of it, plants would work as well. I've never seen bacteria fabric, or protists for that matter. Maybe mushroom are out there, I really should be fair to all the kingdoms I suppose. I've still got penguin and manatee fabric sitting in wait, so I suppose I shouldn't be in a huge hurry to shop for more fabric. Somewhere I saw a box jelly quilt that Lisa Boyer had made with some sort of bias strips. Now that I think about it, I have some snakes and maybe a rooster or two as well. OK, I' stop before I get carried away.
Kurt's gone again. He'll be back on the redeye on Thursday just in time to miss my first day back at school. He was nice enough to arrange a babysitter though until he gets home. I think the kids and I will go to CiCi's pizza for dinner, I try to save special treats for when Dad is out of town. Then Anna needs some new sneakers for school. She's hit a growth spurt recently and outgrown everything. Maybe she won't be the shortest in her class this year!


I felt like starting something new yesterday, so I pulled out my marine science fabric collection and pulled some bits for the next phylum quilt. I probably shouldn't call them phylum quilts because some of the groups are classes and and some are orders, but that's beside the point I guess. This fabric has sharks, so it represents the cartilaginous fish. Their official name is chondrichthyes. Wow was that hard to spell! I had to keep looking it up as I made the letters because couldn't believe how many h's I had to make. It's turned sideways in the photo so you can see the letters. I had a beautiful pair of c's and an o, but when I held them up next the quilt, I realized I could only fit 8 letters down the side. So I went back to the drawing board and cut the strips smaller. I think they are about 3/4 of an inch and even then, I had to trim everything down to get it all in. The letters are less deliberately wonky than last time in that I cut all the strips straight, but I still get a pretty wonky feeling when I look at them. If you haven't done any free form letters yet, you should really check out Tonya's tutorial. They are just way too much fun! I'll get the last bit put together today and I should be able to get it all layered up. I have been working on a scale/fin shape for the quilting, I don't know how it's going to work out.
I got up and ran 5 miles this morning with two of my running partners. I felt pretty good, especially considering I did 10 yesterday. But with Kurt gone this week, I won't be able to run until Thursday night at the earliest, so it was good to log some miles. I really should do some laundry today and maybe get the yard mowed. Some days I ponder the exciting drama that is my life.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Feeling Virtuous

I finally sat down last night and chained through the last few blocks on Dad's Plaids. They were pinned and sitting there next to the machine, ready for the last seam to turn them into finished blocks. The last few batches aren't pressed yet, but I started counting and pinning them together into 12 groups of 12 blocks. When I got the last batch, I was 3 blocks short! So I had to go back to the box of bits and pieces and pull out parts for the last few blocks. While I was at it, I made flying geese out of the extra triangle bits and got those ready for leaders and enders. I'm thinking of using those for a border, but we'll wait to see on that one. Fortunately I got that finished up by about 10:30 because I wanted to turn in early before this mornings run.
It's getting hot earlier and earlier around here, and I had to set the alarm for 5:30 to try to be back before things got brutal. I haven't been getting up that early recently, so I did the waking up to check the clock every hour thing that I always do when I'm worried about oversleeping. Still, I was out the door and pounding the pavement by 5:45, and I even had breakfast first.
I've been reading the Galloway book that talks about the benefits of running with regular walk breaks and wanted to give it a try again. I was running with Tom this morning and he was willing to try it with me. There is a fork in the road at about 2.5 miles where I was going to decide which loop to take, the short one for 6 miles, the medium loops for 7 or 8, or the long 10 mile loop. I was feeling so good with all the walking that we did the 10 miler and I finished with a smile on my face! Despite all the walk breaks, I was still within 5 minutes of what I usually would have run for that distance. I sat down this morning and worked the numbers to see if a marathon is still feasible for Thanksgiving. This program spreads out the long runs on alternating weekends and calls for a 26 mile training run. It was close, but I would still be able to get up to 24 if I kept going from where I am now. Now all I have to do is talk someone else into running with me. I'm not entirely sure it's what I'll do. My back up plan would be to do the half, but try to improve my time and break the 2 hour mark that I found so elusive last year.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Abandonment Issues and School Shopping

I feel so sad every time I walk through the laundry room. My Dad's Plaids blocks are sitting there next to the machine so patiently. They are just waiting for those last few seems until all of the blocks are finished. I thought I was going to get everything done before the in-laws showed up, but I just missed my goal and so left them there, hoping to get back to them soon. That was before Jamaica, before my shift to back to school preparations. I think when a project gets abandoned suddenly along the way it's harder to pick it back up. Now it's not just a matter of finishing those last few blocks, but also remembering where I was headed, how many blocks I needed, how they were going to go together. Actually, the blog is good for "remembering" those little details. Kurt is planning to go out tonight to listen to one of his friends from work who is in a band. Maybe I'll take that as an opportunity to wade back in.
I spent the morning in my classroom starting the preparations for the new year. I cleaned out my desk drawers, prepared student files and set up my grade-book. I'm trying to put off doing anything that involves putting students names on things, because those always seem to change at the last minute. Basically it's just clerical work, but the more I can get done now, the less stress I'll have next week. I have my own little routine and checklist of all of the things that need to get done before classes start on August 13, now I just need to slowly work my way through the list.
Kurt is going out of town again, so today was my only chance to get a jump on things. I was feeling smug for all my hard work, and so treated myself to lunch out and a shopping trip for back to school clothes. Kurt calls my work clothes "the frumpy teacher wardrobe". It doesn't worry me though, I'm more concerned about comfort and functionality than fashion. Best of all, I had a gift card for Kohl's, so it cost very little. After the shopping I went to go see Mama Mia! I guess it didn't get the best of reviews, but I quite enjoyed it. Beautiful scenery, good music, and a funny, if slightly silly plot. It was reassuring to see people looking like real people, and not Hollywood starlet's. After seeing Sex and the City, it was nice to see more realistic versions of middle aged people. Pierce Brosnon is a horrid singer, but it was still enjoyable.