Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Project Bags

My friend and I are each homeschooling only one child this year, and these girls happen to be best friends. At the beginning of the year, we decided that one day per week, we would get the girls together at alternating houses for a special activity.
We knew that it would be easier to plan something fun for the two of them to do which could be more involved than one might plan for one's own child.
We decided to sew project bags to hold the knitting needles and yarn that we will be using over the winter months. Juby picked a cheetah print and Kit has tiger stripes.
The girls cut out their material and were able to sew some their own seams after learning by doing a few of them together with me.
For a model, I am using the project bag that I made for myself between 15 and 20 years ago. I still use it to hold my knitting, (I hope to learn to crochet this winter). At that time, I made an identical one for Grandma Dolly who also still has hers.

We are sewing a muslin lining into the fabric for sturdiness and the bags will have pockets inside to hold the little things needed for any needlework project. It is really fun for me to be able to spend some special time with the girls and to teach them a useful skill.
It is also a fabulous treat to have a couple of hours all to myself, for an absolute change when Allison has the girls at her house for an activity with her!

Exciting News

On the morning of Veteran's Day, Jeff called to ask if we could have a pizza party (his treat!) at the house to celebrate not only this patriotic occasion, but also his sister and niece's birthday.
All of us who could, gathered to be together and to hang out on this Monday evening. Some had suspicions but I didn't have a clue as to what would happen next!
Jeff stood up and announced the terrific news that he and Chelsea were engaged! The proposal had taken place the day before, at the zoo, and it was all photographed as it happened by Chelsea's sister and their cousin who was visiting. We had a great time enjoying the succession of photos!
Chelsea loves her ring and it was delightful to hear the story of how Jeff picked it out and kept it hidden until the big moment when she said "Yes".
The pizza was delicious and it was a real treat to hear our lovely Cindi laughing and so happy, as we all were with this exciting news.
Now we can talk about that perennially fun topic- planning the wedding!!! Congratulations to our engaged couple!
Meg enjoyed her Birthday Party with so many family members in attendance, as well.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bluejay Days

I have really been noticing a preponderance of Bluejays lately. Six or seven at a time can be seen flitting, flying and dive-bombing in the yard. Besides their spectacular plumage, it is their large size, bigger than many other song birds, that makes them easy to spot!
I wondered if it was just our yard and then began to notice them everywhere else in town as I drove around doing errands.
I am not sure if they all just flew in from somewhere else, like the robins do in March, or if seeing more of them now is because of  their beautifully bright blue color which stands out against the brown fallen leaves.
Now that I am more aware of them, I would like to see if they just visit in the fall, or if they will be here all winter.
I am grateful to John for taking these pictures for me which were too hard for me to capture myself.

First Birthday

Patience loved her Birthday gift from her parents, this ride on car with a handle for pushing. The basket up front is removable with a jug of "milk" in it. The tutu is a special gift from her aunt. Happy Birthday I yr. old!

Stained and Sealed

Larry sanded the deck during the hot summer but we were unable to seal it for months. The weather had to be less than 90 degrees with No chance of rain. We also had to have no other plans for the weekend. Those conditions finally happened at the same time!
Saturday afternoon was used to seal the floorboards.
Sunday afternoon allowed for the railings, both inside and outside to be done.
I helped on Sunday which is a big change for me. I usually avoid getting hooked into a messy project because I like to cook and be able to move around doing odd jobs. We weren't used to working together like this which is surprising. It wasn't all peaches and cream but we persevered and kept moving forward.
At the end of the day, a second coat was added to the floor boards. We are very happy with the result. This product is a stain and sealer in one. The color is "redwood cedar" and we bought it at Lowe's. it took five gallons to do the job.The color is a nice brown and looks good with the leaves. It makes our very old deck look new again.

Udvar-Hazy Space Museum

I went with John's class on a field trip to the Air and Space Museum. The emphasis on this trip was to understand more about the Space Shuttle. That program is now over, and the Discovery, one of the six Space Shuttles built,  is retired here.
This is the actual Shuttle, not a replica, that flew over 39 missions with a total of 365 days in space.
We saw the heat tiles which protected the ship from burning up upon reentry into the earth's atmosphere and the large rocket engines. The cargo bed above the wings could hold almost two school buses. Satellites and supplies for the International Space Station were delivered in the Discovery.
The best part of the museum for me were the docents. These are the folks that explain what you are seeing, bringing the exhibit to life. I was so impressed and thrilled that all of our docents were senior gentlemen, retired military men dressed in navy sport coats who definitely knew what they were talking about. Most of them had flown aircraft themselves back in their day. I found them to be sincere, knowledgeable and happy to share detailed information with the young people. It made me so happy to think that these guys, and I must have seen twelve of them, probably volunteer their time in this Smithsonian Museum filled with airplanes from every war. What struck me the most was how much alike they all seemed and how much they reminded me of my own Dad, an engineer.
We got a good look at a space suit which costs over two million dollars to make. Gold plating is on the face shield to keep the eyes protected from cosmic rays. Fourteen layers make up the suit which comes in three sizes, S-M-L. Only the gloves and boots are personalized for each astronaut.
We learned that the three programs before the Shuttle were the Mercury (a one man capsule), the Gemini (meaning twin, a two man capsule) and the Apollo, which put the first man on the moon. Most of these rockets were disposable. The Shuttle was different in that it could be landed and reused. Some of us can remember when two of the Space Shuttles were lost to explosions, the Challenger in 1986 and the Columbia in 2003. The other four were reused many times, with the Discovery having flown on the most missions.
 A classroom lab was part of this field trip at the museum. We learned that solid and liquid rocket fuels were used to launch the Shuttle into space.
John participated in the experiment using a balloon, a straw, a guide wire and 14 paperclips to see how many paperclips the inflated balloon could carry up the string when it was released.
Two hours went by very quickly, and we hadn't even begun to see the many planes on display. We will have to return again as a family to visit those.
John and his buddy napped in the bus on the way home. I enjoyed getting to know some of his classmates and learned many new things about the Space Shuttle program.

Election Day

On Election Day we spent some intentional time together, exercising our civic duty while enjoying the great privilege of voting. Our area has a large program called "Kid's Voting". Every kid is invited to cast their ballot in a separate area of the polling place on a computer, much like the real machines. John's teacher was giving a 100 % Test grade score to each student who brought in their "I Voted" sticker.

John chose not to pose for this picture perhaps because he, like me, considers voting to be a private matter. I was AMAZED by the audacity of the  telephone pollsters who called no less than four times per day for many weeks during this very important presidential campaign to ask me for whom I was planning to vote. I can tell you honestly that I never answered once, their impertinent questions, which bordered on harassment. I was taught that one's vote is very private, almost sacred, because of the millions of American soldiers who've died in order to give us this unique freedom. (Of course, being a hypocrite, I will hint at it on the Internet!)  For that reason, I expected to see a different outcome when the votes were finally tallied. I thought that many other folks who share my values had also refused to participate with these nonsensical surveys.

I was really Hoping for a Change...

However, our hope is in the Living God, who works all things together for good according to His purpose. We are living in a post-Christian country. You either choose to be one, or you don't. As for me and my house, I hope and pray that we will serve the Lord.
I realize that my argument doesn't quite hold because many fine folks who are indeed Christians saw things differently last Tuesday and everyday, apparently. That's why it is not up to me to worry about this but instead, I'm to get busy trying to do the best I can with what I've got, One Day at a Time. God is in charge- He's got it all figured out!
The next thing we did on this beautiful November afternoon was to make a visit to both nearby cemeteries. We took the opportunity to pray for our departed family members on both sides of our family like the Church asks us to in this month of The Poor Souls. Suffering souls in purgatory cannot help themselves but depend entirely upon the mercy of the Church Militant ( living members) to pray for them to be received into the Beatific Vision of God. When I was a kid we used to sing " Pray for the dead, and the dead will pray for you." It is always a pleasure to stop by to pray for our beloved family members. We don't do it often enough. The month of November reminded us to do this.
The labyrinth above is sort of "New Age-y" but the kids had fun walking around on it.
"Eternal rest grant unto them,O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
 May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.'
After all this quality patriotic and spiritual time, we argued in the car all the way to the Chick Fil A where we enjoyed a delicious late lunch by God's Grace and Dad's hard work!

Party Rockers

At a lovely outdoor party at the horse farm, our hostess had a large Moon Bounce in place for the kids.
They seemed to thoroughly enjoy it and had fun in it for a long time.
It was great to see them all getting so much exercise in a relatively small space.
When it was time to go on the hay ride, I knew where to find them.
I realized then, that for adults, this attraction offers two things: the kids can be 1) very active, and
2) contained at the same time!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Baby Whisperer

This young lady really knows how to relax and enjoy the moment! She loves to snuggle up with the babies and just hang out. Patience and Handsome, not twins but cousins, are very content to sit and play quietly on her lap.

I am sure that there is a great deal to be said for this ability to put ones feet up and to spend quality time with the Littles! Sometimes, everything else can wait...

Well Ventilated

No, Lowe's wasn't having a Clearance Sale on ventilator grids but I wish it had been! In my world, if a little is good, then a whole lot must be better! Our basement remodelers suggested that we open up the basement with lots of air circulation, so we did.

This is the door to our expanded water room/ utility closet. We removed the clothes closet and took down an inside wall to make a large room for the water conditioning and softening equipment, well pump, and the brand new furnace and air handler. The vents on the left draw directly into the furnace. The ones on the right provide fresh air into the room which can get moist due to condensation on the water pipes during the hot months of the year. I LOVE the little vent in the middle of the door!

These four grids open into a very large storage closet that previously had no air circulation in it. The remodelers said that in order for air to circulate, there must be a high register and a low register. The new heating/ air conditioning vent into the bedroom is directly above this space so the forced air will be able to move in and out of the closet making it less stuffy and closed up.
We even added vents to the doors! The door on the left goes into the newly purposed clothes closet and the one on the right goes into the orange room from which air is pulled into the furnace. To improve over-all circulation, these vents will allow for air to be pulled from this room as well.

Some may think that these vents are unsightly, but they were a practical alternative to purchasing custom made louvered doors in these irregular sizes. The carpenter had to support the frames of each grid with ripped 2x4's because these doors are hollow. A grid is on each side so the door looks finished when open. I like them very much because "form follows function". I just want them to work! We may paint the doors white to improve the appearance.

This is a long view of many of the vents in a row. This basement should show much improvement due to the (over!) abundance of vents helping it to "Stay Fresh"!