Monday, August 11, 2008

Back to school

It's official -- as of today all of our kids are in elementary school. I celebrated my first day of having no kids around by, um, wasting a lot of time. Well, I did do some things, but not as much as I would have liked. But now I have tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day....really, it's staggering.

Hattie jumped right on that big old bus like she was born on it. Everyone had a good day at school, and they were in bed by 7:50 pm. I could get used to this.

And in case anyone's experiencing a little deja vu when looking at this picture, it might be because Charlotte wore this same dress for her first day of kindergarten last year.

Happy first day of school!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A little sprucing up

So our swimming lessons were canceled at the last minute this morning and I found myself with two extra hours of time. Did I get an early start on cleaning the house, which I had planned to do after the lessons and lunch? I think we all know the answer to that one.

Instead, while looking through my recent pictures for some now-forgotten reason, I happened across this shot of the kids in the surf at Jekyll Island last month and suddenly realized that it might be a good candidate for a new banner. Not that I needed one or anything, seeing as the previous one had been good since a year ago this past spring.

So after about an hour of futzing around with it, I have a new banner! Which will be appropriate for approximately the next month, maybe two if I really milk it.

And because I haven't taken very many pictures lately, here's one of Tim at the grave of golfing legend Bobby Jones on our recent tour of Oakland Cemetery. Tim looks appropriately somber here, maybe because he's standing at a gravesite, but maybe also because it was raining.

The tour, however, was FANTASTIC. Very informative and interesting, especially to Atlanta residents. And not hurt at all by several pints and a couple of calamari tacos which we had directly afterwards at the pub/fish house Six Feet Under across the street. Where Tim, his sister, and I got to sit WITH THE TOUR GUIDE, who regaled us with story after story. It was the most fun we've had in a very long time.

Not sure what that says about us, that the most fun we've had lately was a trip to a cemetery in the rain, but whatever.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

...and we're back

Jekyll Island
Originally uploaded by 3 to get ready

Let's see if I can remember how this blog-thing works.

I know it's been a while, but we've been busy with end of school, swim team, and a trip to Jekyll Island. Then in less than two weeks we'll be hosting a party for Tim's department at work, approximately 45 people. I have a list of things to do that's about a mile long, so of course I'm putting it off, since that makes the most sense right now.

We spent several days last week on Jekyll Island in Coastal Georgia. It was a nice break, and with the exception of not being able to find anywhere to eat, very relaxing. I've got the whole set over here. I'd have to say the turtle walk and riding our bikes on the beach were the highlights.

In other recent exciting news, Hattie graduated from preschool, and Charlotte joined the swim team.

Nate, of course, is an old hand at this swim team thing.

After this party is over, I'm envisioning relaxing days spent doing crafts with the kids, practicing our reading and writing, and touching up the already clean house before I whip up a delicious and nutritious dinner. Needless to say, barely any of that is happening right now. For example, if I could find our kitchen table, I would clean it off. But I can't, so I guess I'll go to the grocery store instead.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Spring Break

Well, it took me a few weeks, but I finally found the time to go through and upload the pictures from our Spring Break trip to St. Louis. We drove up with my mom and spent almost a week there, enjoying the sights and the gracious hospitality of my aunt and uncle.

But now we're back to reality. Things here have been ridiculously busy -- we spent several hours yesterday at the ball fields watching the kids play soccer and baseball, and we're babysitting our baby niece for the next few days as well. Four kids, a whole slew of activities, and a dryer on the fritz have made it a pretty interesting week.

If I can hold out for another month, it will be summer break, and then things should ease up. In theory, at least.

Right now we're enjoying a lazy, rainy Sunday. Just the kind of day to curl up on the couch. If anyone was inclined to do that sort of thing....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Soccer and quilts

Today Charlotte played in her first soccer game of the season. But even more importantly, it was the first organized sporting event she's ever played in. It was great to see her running up and down the field and having a great time.

When she was 9 months old but had the gross motor capability of an 8-week-old, and then when she was 2 and a half and incapable of walking, we didn't even want to think about what she'd be doing at 6. Now, years of therapy and effort later, we've come farther than we'd ever dared to hope. It's really miraculous, and we are incredibly, unbelievably thankful that she's doing so well.

There are a couple more pictures here.

In other, less cataclysmic, news, I went to a quilt show on Sunday. It was held at Bulloch Hall in Roswell, which was a beautiful place to have it. I'd been meaning to visit Bulloch Hall for a while now, mostly because of its historical significance as the childhood home of Teddy Roosevelt's mother. Sunday was the last day of the show, and since no one else wanted to go, I went by myself. I'm not a quilter, but I do love quilts. Especially ones that look like they could have been made in past centuries. So I went and took several photos of the ones I liked. This one was particularly striking:

but there were lots of quilts that were beautifully done and which also appealed to me with their vintage-y aesthetic.

Very inspirational. Even though my personal quilting experience has been limited to making quillows for my kids, maybe it's enough to make me take another look at the beautiful quilt tops my great aunts made in Illinois during the Depression. It would be great to have them finished. And the embroidered ones look fun.

That's what I need -- to add a couple of quilts to my ridiculously long project list. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Right, Charlotte?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

What's for dinner?

Way back at the beginning of the school year, when I was feeling all dutiful and volunteer-y, I signed up to be "Playdough Mom" for Hattie's class for the month of March. Sure, I thought. How hard can it be?

Well now it's 5 p.m. on the Sunday before I have to send in 5 batches of homemade green playdough, and I'm feeling significantly less volunteer-y than I did all those months ago.

Nevertheless, since my alternative was to get busy with eleventy-billion loads of wash that need doing (seriously folks, we're all scrounging for clean underwear) (well, except for me since I recently bought myself a WHOLE BUNCH of underwear in case of just such an emergency), I applied myself to the playdough task.

I was about halfway through when it occurred to me to document it, so that's where we'll start. To give you a little background, first you throw everything into a large pot, then you turn on the heat and stir. For all you're worth. And stir. And stir. And stir some more. My honest thought when I was doing this was, this is worse than risotto!

Anyhoo, eventually you end up with this:

a bilious green wad. Doesn't it look great? Especially since I did it during the time when I would normally be making dinner. So we may have to make alternate dinner plans. More on that later.

Then you're supposed to turn it out and knead until smooth. It made such a huge wad that I included the bananas here for scale.

So you knead and knead. Which actually wasn't all that bad. I expected it to be like yeast dough and stick all over everywhere. However some chemist must have done their homework when writing this recipe, because it didn't stick anywhere, just like playdough! Whaddayaknow? This is also the stage where you pick out all the white lumps of flour that didn't get incorporated, just so you know.

Then shape into a frog-shaped wad. No wait, that's just me. You're glad I told you it was a frog, aren't you? I know, it's a stretch. I obviously never progressed beyond the kindergarten level in sculpting.

Then insert finished playdough into school-approved container for transportation to preschool. What this picture doesn't convey is that this bag of playdough weighs approximately 10 pounds. Well, maybe not 10, but close to it. Or maybe it is 10. Too heavy for a 4-year-old to carry in her schoolbag, anyway.

Okay, now on to clean-up. Thankfully this little project didn't make too many dirty dishes, but the ones I did use are pretty yucky. So I'll put them in the dishwasher.

Hang on! Where's the dishwasher?? OH, that's right. A week ago Thursday our 25-year-old dishwasher gave up the ghost, and the guy who came to put in our new one (on Friday night at 5 pm) was stymied by those little boards on the floor in the corner. See, it seems that even though all dishwashers are a standard size on the front, they're not all the same in the back. And our old one had a slight overhang that wasn't bothered by those boards, whereas our new one (with the super-tall tub that I was so looking forward to using for more than 4 plates at a time) needs all that space.

Apparently those boards are both nailed into the slab and providing stability to the cabinet, and we're going to need a cabinet guy to come deal with it. I actually did talk to some dispatcher-type lady on Saturday morning, but it seems that cabinet guys are pretty smart and don't answer their phones on Saturdays when the dispatcher-type lady calls them. She said she'd try again on Monday.

So here's the new dishwasher. In the garage. For the weekend. With its front towards the shelves, in an effort to protect it from things like that soccer ball there.

And we're probably going to have to order dinner out again like we have many all of the past several nights, because a) we don't have a dishwasher and b) I used the dinner-making time to make playdough.

In case anyone's interested, here's the playdough recipe:

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup water
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
food coloring

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture forms a ball. Knead until smooth. Store in a covered container.

Oh yes, and if you're making enough for 16 preschoolers, you will need to QUINTUPLE this recipe. Not a typo. Have fun!

Monday, February 11, 2008

School Valentines

One of our projects this weekend was making Valentines for the kids' classmates. I can't take credit for this incredible idea -- I saw it last year sometime (after February) on flickr, but I'll be darned if I can find it again. Otherwise I would have been happy to link to that clever individual.

Yesterday the Procrastination Gods' attention must have been momentarily drawn elsewhere, because the weather, the schedule, and all the children cooperated so we could get these done. They were actually pretty easy to make. I had the kids sign their names on the back, which is what they would have done for the Shrek/Snoopy/Scooby Doo valentines they've used in past years. One design flaw, however -- there was nowhere to write "Happy Valentine's Day!" except for the space right behind the lollipop. So you can't see it until you take the lollipop off. And we ran out of the lollipops with the clear wrapper and had to improvise with whatever was left at the drugstore. Still, I think that's fairly minor for how cute they turned out.

This afternoon (it's currently 5:29 pm) I have to make a Weight Watchers-approved dinner (oh yes, it's official; I'm back on the program), finish one quillow and start another in preparation for our road trip on Wednesday, clean the entire house (in which there is not one room where you can walk in any direction for more than a foot without stepping on something), and wash several loads of dirty clothes. Putting that amount of stuff off is no easy task, let me tell you. It's enough to make you post for the first time in a month!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Award-winning design

Today was the Pinewood Derby for Nate's Cub Scout pack. Fortunately for us, the whole affair was pretty straightforward. After our experience last year, we were all determined that this year would be better. Of course then we had to reconcile that determination with what we were actually capable of doing.

So the design of choice this year for us was a schoolbus, due mostly to its ease of execution. Tim paid more attention this year to the Pinewood Derby offerings at our local craft store, and we used weights and everything. Unfortunately they didn't seem to help us much, since the schoolbus didn't win any races. (We've since learned that using graphite on the wheels helps a lot -- so we'll have to try that next year.)

But something must have improved, because this year Nate won 1st Place in his den for Design. So that's good.

There were lots of interesting entries again this year. The overall design winners were a futuristic purple and yellow car, a penguin in a mine car, and a vehicle shaped like a Flying V guitar (unfortunately we don't have any pictures of that last one). You can see the whole set here.

And that's another Pinewood Derby under our belt!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Not to be missed

Since I don't have time right now to address the list of things that have been going on with us for the last few weeks, I thought I'd share this wonderful film with you to tide you over.


People in Order