Monday, December 14, 2009

Racine Meet

Calvin had a gymnastics meet yesterday, the first of this season. He has moved up to Level 6, so that has meant learning new routines. Each routine builds on the previous level, so while there are similar elements, there are new things to add. What has made this hard for Calvin is that in practice he'll be working on his new routine and then find he's automatically doing the old one. He was nervous about this meet because of this and because he's really been struggling with some of the events. This is a really nice meet to start the season because the judges will talk with the boys and/or coaches after each event about what they did well and why they got certain deductions. It's kind of like a practice meet. :)

This year he started on high bar, one event he was quite nervous about. You can see he uses grips now, and he hates them. They take some getting used to, and even though he's been using them all summer, he still hates them. He was worried about his cast. It's a scary skill to learn, but he did it! He got a 13.2:

Next was floor. On his last pass he forgot to do his scale, but he remembered in time to go back and do it. He got an 11.7:

Then it was on to pommel horse. Not his best event by a long shot. After he watched these videos last night, he told me he forgot to do 2 of the circles on the mushroom, which would partly account for the very low score (the mushroom counts for quite a bit of the score). He got an 8.8.:

(by the way, if you want to see some amazing pommel skills, check out this routine by Alexander Artemev)

He uses grips now on rings as well (they are different than the high bar grips). He hates those too. He scored 11.3:

He got a 13.4 on vault. He needs to run faster:

He seems to really struggle with p-bars in practice also. He did pretty well, and managed to get up into some handstands (something he seems to be hesitant to do). I can't remember what the skill is called where he has to hold himself over the bar and then go into a press, but he did it much better here than I've seen in practice. He got a 12.7:

His all around score was 71.1, which was good for 8th place in his age division (ages 10-11) and a little trophy. :)

Monday, November 16, 2009


Our cat Sasha died sometime Saturday night. She was nineteen and a half years old.

I took this picture Saturday afternoon when I knew this was it. Poor thing is just skin and bones; she always had a hard time keeping weight on, and maybe weighed 3-4 pounds when she died.

Quite honestly, we've been thinking she's going to die for the past 5 years or so, but each time things looked bad, she'd pull through. This time, I knew it was for real when I noticed on Friday that she wasn't eating. She also started following me around the house (very unusual, especially since David was always her favorite). I could also see she had lost even more weight, and felt cold to the touch. So, Saturday night I built a fire in the fireplace, put a blanket down in front of it, and sat there with her, reading a book. Before I went to bed I brought her over to the kitchen counter, put her on a towel, tried to cover her a bit with another one to be warm, and went to bed. The boys and I buried her in the back yard on Sunday.

I'll miss her, and it's quiet, but at the same time, it's kinda like we've been ready for this forever.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Joker

another picture heavy post. click on any photo to see its full size.

Caleb was The Joker for Halloween this year. He wanted to be him last year, but I wasn't able to get the costume made, plus we had to go out of town for a funeral. I made sure to get the costume done this year, and I barely did.

we had a long day of trick-or-treating and a party.

there, that's better! I used Burda 8186 for all 3 pieces, and decided this was also going to be a test run for the possibility of making him a suit for 8th grade promotion in June. I used a cheapish poly gab from Hancock Fabrics for the suit, and cotton twill for the vest.

I cut a size 36 for the jacket, and it is fully lined. There was to be an inside pocket, but I was on a really tight deadline, so I skipped it.

The double welt pockets have a flap. The pattern calls for the flap pieces to be self-lined. I used lining, because otherwise they would have been quite bulky. The breast pocket is functional as well.

I do like that Burda patterns give you separate patterns for the upper and under collars, but I thought this one was kinda weird for a suit jacket. There is a collar stand, and the under collar is not cut on the bias (the upper collar looks exactly the same, with the collar stand also). It still looks nice, however.

There's a vent in the back.

I didn't quite make my deadline, and used safety pins to hold up the sleeve hems. You can see I bagged the lining through the sleeve seam, and I'll finish up the hems (and add the shoulder pads I neglected) sometime this week.

I also cut a size 36 for the vest. The pattern calls for double welt pockets, but I made single welt pockets. I think they look nicer on a vest.

The vest is also fully lined. (btw -- my husband did the graphic art on the shirt caleb is wearing)

The pants were the first part of the costume I made, and I cut a 34. They fit, but seemed like just barely, which is why I cut the other pieces a size larger. The pants have a double welt pocket on the back, which I did (though it's sloppy).

The fly front is real, not mock. It was pretty easy, though next time I will use lining for parts of it, as it's a bit bulky.

Caleb really liked the costume, and I'm looking forward to making another suit for him come spring. This was the only costume I had to make this year, as Calvin re-used the jester costume, and I found a James costume at Target for Connor.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Triangle Quilt

(fyi -- this post is really picture heavy)

Last week I finished the triangle quilt for the church silent auction. I cranked this baby out in 2 weeks!Here's the finished quilt. It's about 51" x 60", perfect for napping under. :)

Now, a crash course in how I made this quilt:
First, I had to cut out all my triangles. I did this during one of Calvin's gymnastics practices (3 hours of mostly uninterrupted time).

Since I wanted the various FQ (fat quarter) triangles to be randomly placed, I laid the whole thing out. I did this at a different gymnastics practice, since there is a nice big floor to work on. By laying it out, I was able to make sure the various colors were nicely scattered.

Once I liked the layout, I then layered each row from left to right (meaning, I took the left-most triangle and put it on top of the next one, then those two on top of the next one, etc., etc.). I labeled each row.

Sixteen rows ready for pieceing! Connor counted them to make sure I had them all. :)

Time to put the rows together! I put a FQ triangle with a background triangle, in pairs. I chain piece, then at the ironing board I clip them apart, keeping them in order. Then I put pairs together to make bigger pairs, repeat until....

.... I have one long strip. I like to work a quilt from the bottom up, so this is row 16.

Once I finish a row, I add it to the rest of the rows. Here are rows 14-16.

The quilt top is pieced and borders are on. Ready for quilting!

To layer the quilt, I put my backing together (it has one seam), then taped it to the floor (at yet another practice -- love that big floor at the gym), stretching it quite taut. Then the batting (Warm and White) was laid down and smoothed out. Lastly, the quilt top was put on, and the whole thing was safety pinned together.

I quilted a squiggly line down the diagonal sides of the triangles, making a diamond pattern. I stitched in the ditch around the border seam.

The borders got quilted with a meandering stitch.

After the quilting is all done, it's time for the binding. I wanted a 1/2" binding, so I cut my bias strips 3.25" wide (6 x the finished binding width + 1/4"), folded in half, and stitched at a scant 1/2".

Then wrap the binding around to the back and slip stitch into place (handwork that was mostly done at another practice. I get a lot done sitting at the gym).

After a trip through the washer and dryer, the quilt is finished!

(that's my peach tree in the background -- doesn't it look great? There will be a post about it coming soon)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

First Day of School

School started on Tuesday. I don't really look forward to new school years. I like my kids hanging around and having lazy mornings. :) But, start it did, and here are the requisite pictures:
Caleb is an eighth grader now, has decided to play football this year (along with soccer), is now much bigger than me, and still gets annoyed that I want to take his photo on the first day of school. I did say I would be happy to walk him to school too but he declined. :)

Calvin is now in fourth grade, and also is now getting tired of the traditional first day of school photo. This year our neighbor up the street is in his class, which is pretty nice.

Connor had his very first first day of school! He is now going to senior kindergarten, in the mornings. What the photo doesn't show is how excited he was to go, and he made a friend the very first day and had a playdate planned with said friend 2 days later! There are only 10 kids in his class, which I think is great.

Now I have the mornings to myself for the first time in a long time. It's kinda weird, but I'll surely find lots to keep me occupied, like the quilt that has to be done next weekend. It's been all cut out and ten of the sixteen rows are already together.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Raffle Quilt

Today I'm starting on a new quilt. It's for a church raffle, and needs to be finished by September 13. Here are my fabrics:
The bottom 6 are from a fat quarter packet my mom gave me for Christmas one year. I added the top fabric and white background fabric. I'm going to be doing a triangle quilt like this one I made a few (aack, five!) years ago.

Oh my, don't the boys look little? Connor hasn't even been born yet!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

State Fair

We went to the Wisconsin State Fair on Sunday, to see a band, eat lots of junk, and check out my stuff. This year I entered 4 items, and did pretty good! I watched clothing judging, so already knew how the garments did, but was curious to see how my jam placed (if at all). I had a really good feeling about my jam this year...

I was delighted to find out it placed FIRST! :) I don't know if I had a bad week or something, but finding out my jam placed first just made my day. Heck, I woke up yesterday morning still smiling about it.

Caleb's egyptian costume placed first as well. The judge liked that all my corners were nice and square, plus mentioned that quilting all that lamé is hard.

I was also delighted to see that this dress got a Judge's Favorite ribbon. I hope I get to keep the fancy ribbon. I think the judge liked the inner foundation and the underlining. Honestly, the judges don't really make much commentary on my stuff the few times I've watched judging.

My HP Cosmo dress placed second.

I'll pick everything up on the 17th, after the fair closes. Five years ago I had to send my mom to get my stuff because a certain baby decided to be born 10 days early and I was stuck in the hospital. Yep, can you believe Connor will be FIVE on Saturday?!?!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Raising Butterflies

On July 17, we found a caterpillar on our milkweed. We decided to take it in and feed it. About 10 minutes later, Calvin found a second caterpillar, so we had two to take care of. We put them in half-gallon canning jars.

They ate, and ate, and ate (they poop a lot too!). We kept feeding them milkweed and cleaning out the jars. On July 21, one of the caterpillars started to form a chrysalis. They hang in this "J" shape for a while.

The next day, we had a chrysalis! We eventually moved them to an aquarium I got from a friend.

On Saturday afternoon (August 1), I took this picture. Isn't it cool? You can see the butterfly forming.

Overnight, the chrysalis turned black. I was told that this meant the butterflies would be emerging within a few hours. So we kept watch.

We missed seeing the first butterfly actually come out of the chrysalis, but saw it soon afterwards. The butterfly's body is so fat and the wings are so little!

A few minutes later, you can see that the wings are already 'growing'. We then decided to camp in front of the aquarium so that we wouldn't miss the birth of the second butterfly. :) About 30 minutes later, it emerged!

I know the video is a bit dark, shaky and blurry, but it's still cool to see.

After a few hours, it was time to let the butterflies go. We let them go in the back yard.

One of the butterflies took its time flying off, so Calvin got to hold it for a bit.


We found another caterpillar down at the beach last night, so the cycle starts again!

Monday, July 13, 2009

June Adventures

Oh my, June has zipped by and we're almost halfway through July! Time to catch-up:

Caleb built some alternative energy models for the Human Ecology Fair at school. This is a hydroelectric generator. When they ran water down the chute, it generated enough electricity to make a buzzer go off.

We spent Father's Day at the Boerner Botanical Gardens. David's dad and wife came to visit also.

I took five boys with me on our annual camping trip....

....where they got to make ice cream, along with spending a day playing on the beach, general hiking around, and all around fun.

Caleb left for a week to camp with his Boy Scout troop.

I turned 39, and to celebrate....

....we went to pick strawberries....

....and peas....

....and made a lot of jam.