Thursday, January 29, 2015

{p,h,f,r} The At War With Ourselves Edition


This little miss may be the subject of all my pretties from now on.  I'm sure one day we'll say she's smart and strong and clever and capable and we won't define her solely by her level of prettiness but for now I'm just basking in the pretty.  I suppose I'm not entirely unbiased but she is awfully pretty isn't she?


I have recently come into possession of my grandmother's old quilt tops.  She had them in a trunk in her room for as long as I can remember but she never talked about them.  I don't know their story--if she made them herself, or perhaps with her mother, or even if she just found them in some antique store--but they are hand pieced and much of the fabric is repeated in the different tops so I'm sure they were done by the same person.

**You may want to just skip ahead to the next section now if you are very particular about what happens to vintage quilt tops.  Consider yourself warned.**

I horrified a lovely woman in a big box fabric store when I was getting supplies for a different project and decided to bring along one of the quilt tops just to see what fabric options might be there to back it with.  Instead of fabric I received a forty-five minute lecture about what I should do instead, which involved me driving up to Lancaster, PA for an expert opinion from a professional Amish hand-quilter.

Because I have lots of spare time for out-of-state day trips....and unlimited funds for buying huge amounts of the highest quality reproduction 30's fabrics.....

In the end I decided to just back the quilt with a sheet.  It's big enough to not have to be seamed and only cost ten dollars.  I can't imagine that the woman who patiently saved and cut and sewed all the leftover bits and pieces of fabric she had to make this quilt top would begrudge me the thriftiness of my choices.  And in the end I don't want an expensive show piece.  I just want to turn this thing my grandmother carefully saved into a real quilt we can all enjoy.

Anyway after what seemed like forever repairing all the torn seams, cutting loose threads and then pressing everything I was finally able to start quilting and that makes me very happy.


I love watching the boys play. The surprise Christmas hit this year was a bucket of army men that Saint Nick cleverly thought to split up and dump into each boy's stocking.  It's a WWII set so there are four countries represented (US, England, Germany and Japan) but there is always a hubbub over who gets to be the United States which technically belong to Henry.   And no one ever wants to be Japan who are the only ones that depict men surrendering--which seems like an odd choice right?  Wouldn't they have been the least likely to actually surrender?  These army men are super sturdy which is great because finding the mangled pieces of our old drug store army men all over the house was not my favorite.  Of course I'm still not allowed to throw them away as now they've been relegated to playing the part of war casualties.

The boys have been incorporating their "war men" into pretty much every aspect of their play.  Wooden castle?  Covered with army men.  Train tracks?  Nobody's chugging through this battle scene.  Crafted styrofoam boats?  It's Battle of the Atlantic time in the bathtub.  Okay they probably weren't actually reenacting WWII sea battles but they were seeing how many army men it takes to sink a styrofoam boat.

Spoiler--styrofoam is really buoyant.  


You may have seen John's Miley Cyrus hairdo from last week which was begging to be spiked up into a mohawk to spite his father for allowing the barber to give him such a ridiculous cut.  Here's a tip, all natural hair gel is not the best thing for creating impressive children's hairstyles. Apparently they are lacking in some magical ingredient that actually cements the hair into gravity defying shapes.  I'm betting it's the parabens.

Well, I let Aunt Kate take the clippers to him and now he's got official big boy hair which makes me want to cry and makes him want to puke.  Of course in his case it may have been all the hairs he kept getting in his mouth and gagging on.......

Make sure to check over at Like Mother, Like Daughter for more, possibly less long-winded, capturing of contentment.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

On Bad Haircuts

Chris took the boys to get haircuts and I told him he could finally get John that little boy haircut he's been yearning for.

He got him the Miley Cyrus instead.

I mean, you can literally see his scalp on the sides.  And the bangs?  THE BANGS???

Here's the most recent pre-haircut pic I could find for comparison.  Is it too long?  Yes.  Is it a bowl cut?  Technically.  But--does he resemble a troubled starlet?  No.  Definitely not.

I think we all know which cut (or lack thereof) is better.

I know honey, I know.

Don't worry.  It'll grow back.

But the bangs.  I'm pretty sure I'm cutting those off.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New Year, New Room

Moving all the time is hard.  Constantly rearranging furniture into new houses and reimagining where things might go or how they might be used in a different way or in a different room can be draining--at least for me.  But then, I tend to overthink things.

When we were househunting one of the main things I wanted was a dedicated and usable space for all the toys,books and school stuff we have managed to accumulate over the last few years so that at the end of the day everything could be put away and not continuously spread out over our dining room table.   In our Florida house we had a little room that did hold most of that sort of thing but it wasn't a space anyone wanted to spend any time in--mostly it was a storage room/hallway into the rest of the house from the backyard/sandpit which meant that when we did schoolwork I had to carry it from that room to the table and then back again.  Not awful, but not ideal.

From the moment I set eyes on our new little yellow house I knew that the sunroom would be the perfect playroom/homeschool room/library.  That may seem like unreasonably high expectations for what one room can accomplish, but I think we pulled it off without the room seeming too ridiculously overcrowded. There's room to play, room to do schoolwork and room for all  most of our books.  It's my favorite room of the house, which is good since it's where I spend a good portion of my day.

It's also a really long and narrow room which means it's really difficult to photograph especially for someone with mediocre photography skills such as myself.  So....consider yourself warned.....I am not a professional room photographer/decorator/blogger/etc/etc/etc......

My original vision for this corner involved using our IKEA Expedit shelf to wrap that back corner in an amazing, if not very original, toy and children's book storage solution.  Unfortunately and unbeknownst to me, IKEA discontinued the Expedit and replaced it with something just slightly smaller which meant it would look silly next to what I already had so I had to buy all new ones and bump our current shelf up to the boys room.  Lame.

Now, Chris detests IKEA and would pretty much prefer to go anywhere else but he also doesn't want me lifting boxes of bookshelves and attempting to shove them into the car alone so I carefully made a list of exactly what I needed and tried to give it to him so he could make a quick trip without me wanting to browse through all the fake rooms while dragging the screaming children along but he said he didn't need a list.  He had everything he needed right inside his brain.  He went to the store, came home and assembled the shelves.

I inspected his work and asked him where the rest of the boxes were.

He stared at me in dawning horror as I explained to him that I wanted three shelves and he had only bought two and the realization hit him that he would have to return once again to that most hated of all Swedish meatball selling home furnishing stores.

Poor husband.  It was all worth it though.    

Yes, yes I do let my toddler climb on top of the shelves and also play with glass jars....judge me if you must......

Luckily for Chris, our other IKEA bookshelves fit perfectly into room along the opposite wall.   And our chalkboard fit right over the fireplace on the nails that were already there.  It would probably look nicer hung a little higher but it doesn't bother me enough to put more nails into the brick.

The curtains were the next big project I tackled.  The room came with floor length, tie top panels that had seen better days.

Much better days.

I took them all down and almost threw them out, but then, in a burst of make-do attitude, I decided to attempt to revitalize them.  After a couple of days soaking in oxi-clean and a trip or two through the wash they were as good as new.  The length didn't work with all the bookcases and benches that I have lining the walls though, so I hemmed them all up (so many panels!), cut off the ties and added ring clips.  I'm really pleased with how they turned out--hopefully our landlord is too :)

The other side of the room houses our little school corner.  Chris painted the benches he built for me in Pennsylvania a nice bright white to match the rest of the shelves and I made some cushions--which also turned out pretty well if I do say so myself :)

The benches are super comfy now and also hold all our games and puzzles so all in all they're pretty amazing.  The cushions get a little wrinkly--probably because I used cotton I already had instead of upholstery fabric--but they wash up really nicely which is important.  Things tend to happen in our house.  Messy, often inexplicable things......

The shelf in this corner holds all our homeschool books and things which is much more convenient than having them all in another room.  Now in the mornings David and I can work on schoolwork here while the rest of the kids play at the other end of the room.  It's kind of wonderful.

My curtains aren't all exactly what you'd call even, my cushions are a little wrinkly, and let's face it--my bookshelves are already dusty but I had a vision and I made it come to life using mostly things I had on hand and now we have a really cute and functional room.  My favorite room.  And I'm just a little bit proud of myself for that.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Snow Day

It has been years since any of the kids has seen snow and I'm pretty sure David is the only one who really even remembered it at all.  The only exception being last winter when we drove to Texas and the boys found a tiny pile of slush in a shady flowerbed outside our hotel--they were ridiculously excited to play in the "snow."  Well, today..... they had a teensie bit more to be excited about.....

Poor sickly John slept through everything and Margaret and I retreated to the fireplace fairly quickly but David and Henry had quite the time and I think I've almost convinced Henry that it is not Christmas Eve even though there is in fact snow because clearly if it has snowed then it must be Christmas all over again.

I also couldn't help but smile while watching them hone their skills with those snow shovels.  There's going to come a day when they'll probably regret developing such a useful skillset.  What are sons for though, if not shoveling the driveway?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

On My Birthday

So today's my birthday and as a special gift I got the flu :)  Actually everyone but Chris seems to have gotten the flu and although I think the worst is over, we're still pretty run down.  We couldn't even get to mass today which was a little disappointing, as was the fact that I couldn't use Chris' day off work to do some clothes shopping with my birthday money.  Oh well, Chris did his best to make the day special including attempting a birthday cake, which--let's face it--is not his forte.

We thought this year he finally pulled it edible and presentable cake, but alas.......

I can't figure out what he could have done to it that would cause it to break apart over the course of the day but apparently his attempts to support the structure with skewers was to no avail.

He also attempted gingerbread houses with the boys which went about as well as you might expect.

John ate his before it was assembled.

David slap-dashed his together and then complained that it wasn't the best one.  All his most intense desires collided into one perfect storm--the desire to be the fastest, the desire to do the least amount of work possible, the desire to be the best at everything while also not spending much time or effort.  It's so hard to be six.

Henry on the other hand painstakingly decorated his house, taking his time and choosing just the right pieces (including adding red icing wreaths on the windows later) and then was fairly inconsolable when John knocked it down.  He was eventually consoled when Chris fixed it, and then even more consoled later when he decided to just eat it.  

In addition to taking on gingerbread duties, Chris also made me chocolate covered strawberries and got me the perfect travel coffee mug for my present--actually he got me two so I can always have a clean one.  Not that I ever leave travel mugs in the car overnight......Add to all that the days and days he has spent this week nursing his poor sick family back to health, or at least....less sickness....and I think I can safely say that man of mine is a keeper :)

All in all, it was not too shabby a day considering. I think I'll postpone the special birthday dinner to a day when I actually feel like eating dinner though.....

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