Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Cat is so Smart

He sorts himself in with the dark laundry.  Clearly the cat hair on the clean duds is the fault of whoever left the laundry basket in a sunbeam.

That would be the same person who washed a white sock with the darks and didn't turn everything right side out before washing.  Then didn't fold and put away the laundry when it was done.  I'm not naming names, but the word "husband" isn't a name, is it?

Anyway, Dumbledore is happy. 

Wordful Wednesday is hosted by Angie at Seven Clown Circus.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Goodbye and Thank You

I was so sad to hear of the passing of Jan Berenstain.  She and her husband Stan created over 300 books in the "Berenstain Bears" series.  These warm family stories used humor to soften the message of the teachable moments they contained.  The husband/wife team worked together on this series for 50 years.  Now their sons are continuing their work. 

As much as I loved the story lines, I also loved the illustrations.  Who doesn't want to live in a treehouse full of teapots and quilts and squishy armchairs?

Here are a few of the books from our collection.

I loved this one!  Mama Bear gets a job doing something she loves - making quilts.

Over the course of their adventures, the brother and sister bear learned the perils of too much television, forgetting their manners, and one of my other favorites:

having a messy room.  I read this one over and over to the kids.  Clearly the message didn't totally sink in with one of them, but the bears and I tried.

  The Bears' Picnic is probably the favorite of everyone in our family.  Papa bear sets out to find the perfect spot, only to be thwarted by forces of nature that are out of his control.  There are a lot of talking points here, even with very young kids - about the nature of authority and questioning it vs. humoring someone even when you think they might have a bad plan.

All of these books have one central theme - family love.  It permeates everything they do, even when members of the family have moments where they get mad or don't get along.  That model is timeless and reading these and many more Berenstain Bears books to my kids was a very happy part of my parenting journey.

Do you remember these books?  Did your family have a favorite?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Design Wall Monday: Applique Sampler Quilt

So happy to have this one put together at last!   I love how the hedgehogs on the bottom panel turned out.  

Now it can finally come off my design wall and into my pile of quilts to baste and quilt in March. I plan to have it ready to display with my other Spring quilts.  It's not big so it shouldn't take long.  Don't quote me on that though...

Design Wall Monday is hosted by Judy Laquidara at Patchwork Times.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Moon TUSAL

This poor jar has fingerprints but my tiny thread scraps are piling up.  All part of the Totally Useless Stitch ALong hosted by Daffycat.

I've made a bit of progress on Snow White.

I almost have the second row of boxes complete.  As you can see, the third row is well underway.  29 rows in all, so this will take me a while.  Still, it's progress, and every little bit helps.

Also linking up today to Needlework Tuesday at Books and Quilts.  What are you working on?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Makes My Monday: No School Today

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Productive Day Off

Makes My Monday is hosted by Cheryl at Twinfatuation.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Oh no. Not again

Drama Girl went on a hike with a friend yesterday.  She came home with something behind her back.

"Guess what mom!"

The mind races.  Did she find a million dollars? Bring me ice cream?  Paint a picture?

No such luck.  The hidden hand held a tupperware container with this inside:

A lizard.  Here we go again.  I'm having flashbacks to all those trips to the pet store to buy live crickets.  All the time worrying about that heat lamp near the curtains.  All the expense for a tiny critter that we see outside every day.

Apparently this one is particularly enchanting because he has a blue belly.  Of all the lizards she chased that day, this one actually clung to her finger when he (she?) was caught.  Drama Girl thinks it's a baby dragon.  I think we've all seen "How to Train Your Dragon" too many times.

But she's happy, the lizard seems happy, the cats are happy to have new entertainment.  The only ones who are not happy are the crickets I think.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stories I Only Tell My Friends

Here's a great book to add to your list.  I really enjoyed this one.  Stories I Only Tell My Friends, by Rob Lowe.

If you're a certain age, you remember Rob Lowe as a member of the "Brat Pack" in Hollywood.  This was followed by a period of wild partying and eventually, rehab.  Once he got back on track, he was hilarious in Austin Powers and a star on the television show "The West Wing."

I picked up the audiobook for this one and I'm so glad I did.  He is warm and funny, and does marvelous impressions of all the famous people he meets.  You can picture Cary Grant and Bill Clinton, Lucille Ball and Francis Ford Coppola.  It's worth buying the audiobook just to hear him imitate Tom Cruise.

His life story is surreal, and each chapter was highly entertaining.  He is honest and touching, but he doesn't sugar-coat his experiences.  I wish my memory and story-telling abilities were this good.

Available in hardcover, paperback, audiobook, and e-book.  An excerpt from the book Socs and Greasers: Behind The Scenes of The Outsiders from Rob Lowe's Stories I Only Tell My Friends is available for free for the kindle.

Highly recommended if you're a movie fan at all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Shower the People You Love

Valentines Day.  A day to celebrate love or just a big commercial holiday?  In a house with three teenagers we had every facet of this holiday represented.

There was the kid who made a batch of cookies for friends who were having a lunch party to commiserate S.A.D. - Singles Appreciation Day. 

The kid who said Valentine's Day is a bunch of baloney and defiantly said it wasn't worth their time or notice.

The kid who shyly asked for a ride to the florist to buy one perfect bloom to give to someone special. 

There was more about the day than anyone chose to tell their parents.  I was dying to pry into their secrets but I think at this tender age it's best to let them sort out their feelings and tell me when they're ready.  They've each had brief "relationships" with the opposite sex which involved study dates at the library and little else.

I said a prayer for each of them as I saw them off to school.  Hearts are so fragile at this age.  I thought about how soon the whole dating scene will be so serious for all of them.

I decided to take action.  I have only a few years left with kids in the house.  If all other valentines had the potential to disappoint, at least, if they would let me, mom would be their valentine.

So when they got home from school, each one found a card and a heart-shaped box of candy from mom.  I made a big cake with lots of sprinkles on the frosting.  Hokey and cliche, I hoped it would remind each of them that they are loved.

The payoff in smiles and gratitude made the effort worth it. 

And that kid who went to the S.A.D. party?  Came home with a blush and a beautiful red bloom that someone had given them.  I hope I hear the story behind that soon.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Music Appreciation

There are no longer classical music performances at the Grammys.   In earlier years, there were a wide variety of musical styles represented, and the show, to me, was much more entertaining. 

Witness this blockbuster performance by Wynton Marsalis in 1983.  He plays both a classical and a jazz piece because he was nominated for each that year.  As he is set to begin the jazz number, his third valve appears to stick and need valve grease.  But it's live television.  He signals to his bandmates to begin and plays anyway - without using the third valve.  This meant he had to do a lot of alternate fingerings on the fly.  It takes incredible talent to be able to pull that off. 

In his acceptance speech at the end of the video, Wynton thanks the great masters of jazz music.

. . .all the guys who set a precedent in Western art, and gave an art form to the American people that can not be limited by enforced trends or bad taste.

Well said.

The faddish nature of the current Grammys was driven home to me by the sad collection of twitter posts from young people asking "Who the heck is Paul McCartney?"

Have people lost all sense of musical history and appreciation of musical styles?  Did my generation learn more about this from our homes, or education programs that didn't cut music?

The Washington Post did an interesting experiment back in 2007.  They placed a violinist in a DC metro station and set up a camera to see how many people would stop to listen.  In the course of an hour, with over 1000 people passing through the station, only 6 stopped.  He made $32.17 in bills and coins thrown into his violin case.

The violinist was Joshua Bell, who that year won the Avery Fisher prize as the best classical musician in America.  He was playing some of the most beautiful and difficult music ever written on a 3.5 million dollar violin.  Three days earlier, people had paid $100 each to hear him perform in Boston.

Parents felt cheated when it was determined that all those "Mozart for babies" CDs weren't really making babies any smarter.  As if they had wasted their time playing Mozart. 

Mozart isn't just for babies.  Music is for a lifetime.  Tweens should listen to Chopin along with their Taylor Swift.  Teenagers should listen to Sinatra as well as Bon Iver.  Moms should listen to Latin jazz (which, unfortunately, is no longer even recognized as a category by the Grammys).  Old people should listen to bluegrass.  Really, there is so much great timeless music out there that we should all be listening and learning our whole lives.

Let's remind our kids to keep open minds and ears.  And always listen to and tip the live musician!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Makes My Monday: No Words Needed

Makes My Monday is hosted by Cheryl at Twinfatuation.

Monday, February 6, 2012

While you were watching the Super Bowl

Wasabi Girl was competing in an invitational gymnastics meet this Sunday.  She got her best-ever score on beam (9.3) and ended up winning first place all around.  Her smile and chest full of medals says it all.

I brought some yarn along to the meet and had plenty of time to whip up some coasters I found on Pinterest.  I thought these would be cute to have around for Valentine's Day.  I made 3 at the meet, and 3 more at home, so I have 6 cute coasters now.

You can find the free pattern over at Ravelry  (free site registration required).

Pretty good day despite missing the big game.  How was your weekend?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Setting the Summer in Stone

As most parents know, if you don't have your kids' summer plans arranged by January, you might miss out.  Summer camp spots fill up, classes fill up.  How many years did I scramble at the last minute to try to find something that would work to keep the kiddos busy once they were out of school?

Well, it doesn't change much as they get older.  It just becomes more complicated with the input of all the friends who might be doing the same activity.  It's like science camp all over again.

"Wasabi Girl, do you want to go to that Jazz Workshop again this summer?  Do you want to go week A or week B?"

"Hold on mom, let me text and facebook my friends."

Days pass.  I keep asking about her preference and get such complicated answers about the various arrangements and limitations of her friends that my eyes glaze over.  Finally I put my foot down.

"I need to send in this deposit.  Which week is it going to be?"

"I guess it doesn't matter.  I'll just go the first week."

At least I feel I've done my job by asking.  After all that digital discussion I really thought she'd have a preference though.

In Jungle Boy's case, we've been going to auditions every weekend for the various ballet company summer programs.  They all have different deadlines, so we had to make a decision as the first deadline approached, even though he hasn't heard from the final audition he did.  He went back and forth between the programs he was admitted to.  So many strengths, so many different interesting aspects. He really struggled.  I hated to put the pressure on, but deadlines are deadlines and if we didn't put a deposit, he would lose his place.  He was disheartened that many of his friends who attended the program with him last year didn't get accepted this year.

It's hard to watch your kid agonize over a decision.  Even when it's a good choice.  I can tell this is going to be a challenge for him when it comes time to select a college.  In the end, I finally put forth what I thought would be the best fit for him and he agreed instantly. 

So, American Ballet Theatre, Jungle Boy is coming back this year.  We're all happy with the decision.

Now that summer is set I might as well start planning Christmas I guess.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

5% Done

I've been working fairly steadily on this.  My goal for January was to complete 31 of the boxes (100 stitches in each).  I completed 35.  At this rate this should take me about 20 months.  Wow.  Trying not to think of it that way.  I'm still working on my other projects as well.

Way up in the right you can see the magical sparkly bits.  A tiny castle in the distance is going to go up in that space.  Working with the sparkly blending filament is not my favorite thing, but the results are pretty.

Miles to go.  Place your bets on when I'll get this one done.

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