Sunday, March 29, 2009

For crafters/quilters

I just read on a friend's blog about a new website. It's a spin-off of the "You Can Make This" website, which has a lot of articles and cute projects. The new site is going to be called... drum roll, please... "You Can Quilt This". It's going to be up and running sometime in April and, as part of the effort to get the word out, they're giving away a Janome sewing machine. If you're interested and want more information, just click on the blog button below and page down a little to the post from March 19.
You Can Make This! Blog

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Small quilt for auction

Every year the quilt guild I belong to has a small quilt silent auction at the quilt show in August. Members can make a small quilt/wall hanging and donate it to be auctioned. In return, those donating quilts have the opportunity to suggest a non-profit agency to get the proceeds from the auction. One is picked at random and that non-profit gets the proceeds from everyone's small quilt. It's normally somewhere around $500. This is my quilt for this year. I'm hoping that my non-profit, HANS (, is chosen. It's based right here in Salem, Oregon and their mission is to provide doctors and other health care professionals with materials and training to help diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) earlier. Having experienced a grueling three years trying to get Dakota properly diagnosed, this is something close to my heart. We had medical professionals suggest diagnosis ranging from emotionally disturbed to sensory integration disorder to poor parenting to auditory processing disorder. - And yes, the poor parenting diagnosis hurt. That doctor (a psychologist) only worked under that theory for a short time until he knew us better and had seen enough interaction to realize it was not poor parenting, in spite of first impressions.

Not a single one even mentioned autism until we got to the Child Development Center at USF, where he was seen and tested by a developmental pediatrician, a clinical psychologist, a school psychologist, and a neurologist. Then they all got together and their joint diagnosis was the first one that truly made sense. It just shouldn't be that hard! In hind-sight, the warning signs were there for anyone who looked if they had any training at all in recognizing ASDs. And with ASDs now affecting 1 out of every 150 children, this isn't some exotic disease that a doctor might never encounter outside of a text book. Anyway, I'll be hoping really hard that HANS gets a little extra boost in funding this year to carry out its mission, courtesy of the Oregon Coastal Quilter's Guild.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Newest member of the family

Both the little boys have been nuts for these little stuffed animals called Webkinz for about a year now. You buy the animal, then go online to "adopt" it at the Webkinz website. Then there are all sorts of games you can play. You have to feed and care for your pet, send it to classes, work to pay for things, build a house and furnish it, etc. You can also send other Webkinz owners gifts and pre-written messages. About 5 months ago Devin got one so he could play games with the boys online. I half-jokingly said that I would have to find a horse before I could join them, so Devin got me one for my Valentine's Day present. This is Kady. It really is fun and unlike Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, Bakugan, and WWF figures, I can actually get into this. You log on and your Webkinz greets you with a little heart, saying she's so happy you've come back to play, she loves you, etc. It's the kind of unconditional love and validation we mothers never get until our kids are grown and moved away (if then), leaving us all alone with our gray hair and panic attacks. So, hey, I'll take it where ever I can get it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Oregon Winter Beaches

We frequently go to the beach in the winter. I actually enjoy the beach here more in the winter than in the summer.

First of all, we love the agates. The winter storms pull all the sand off the beaches and areas that were nothing but sand in the summer turn into rocky morains. There is a beach just south of town that we like a lot and the first time I visited last year in the winter, I had to convince myself it was the same beach. There was absolutely NO sand, just tilted basaltic rock strata with the occasional pebble bed. This is a different beach, but I'm guessing that the rocks jutting up through the sand here aren't even visible in the summer.

Agates (made of quartz) are lighter than basalt and most other rocks, so they tend to "float" to the top of these pebble beds. Last year our family Christmas gift to ourselves was a rock tumbler. It takes about a month for agates to tumble and our rock tumbler operated non-stop for about 8 months last year. A few months off for good behavior and it's up and running again now. When we get a batch tumbled, we all gather round the kitchen table and take turns picking our favorites, a process which lasts about an hour each time because there are a couple hundred rocks in each batch. Other favorites besides agates are green and red jasper and petrified wood.

Another reason I like the winter beaches best is that they are mostly deserted, even on stunningly beautiful days like this. Now, even in the summer, our beaches aren't what anyone would call crowded - you might only see a dozen people if you go during the week. But in the winter, you'll only see a handful of people at most in an hour or two.

On stormy days, the waves are awesome. You truly understand what is meant by the term "force of nature" when you stand on the beach and watch the enormous waves crash on the shore. Just listening to them gives me a thrill. I'll try to get some pictures and blog the storms another time but I don't have any great pictures right now. On areas where the waves hit cliffs, the spray will sometimes shoot up 30 feet or more, filling the air with a salty taste a football field away. Although the waves weren't spectacular on this particular day, it was still pretty fabulously beautiful.One of the things I'll miss most when we move is the beaches. I know that sounds funny to say when we're moving to Florida, renowned for its summer beaches, but it's true.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kicking the habit

My husband, Devin, is fantastic. He's smart, funny, kind, and totally hot. ;) He's a patient, loving father and a considerate, loving husband. There is almost nothing I would change about him - and I'm putting this in writing even knowing that he'll probably use this statement against me sometime in the future. However, he has one bad habit that drives me bonkers. I've tried everything to get him to quit - nagging, guilt, lectures, bribing (hey, it works for the boys), and threats (teasing that when he goes on oxygen, I'm taking half and leaving), but nothing worked.

...Well, make that - he HAD one bad habit. He quit smoking two weeks ago today. He had been scaling back but finally went cold turkey. I know you don't get to be an ex-smoker until a year after you've quit, but I'm pretty confident he'll be able to stick the landing. I am so excited about this. On the plus side, I can kiss him before mouthwash, there's a better chance he'll outlive me (and yes, that's a big one for me), the boys won't pick up the habit from his example, his clothes don't smell like a bar anymore, etc.

On the negative side, I no longer have any leverage - hey, the value of leverage should never be underestimated in a marriage - in spite of the fact that the current financial crisis has almost made it a dirty word. In fact, now that I think about it, maybe that's the REAL reason he quit - to take away my leverage. And yes, it IS all about me. Here's what I mean about leverage: When talking about my bad habits, I can no longer blithely take the moral high ground because smoking trumps everything else. Or when we go over the budget and he's teased out all my quilting expenditures (admittedly a shocking total), I don't get to ask where the line item for his cigarettes is. However, in spite of my regrettable loss of leverage, I think we've all come out way ahead on this one. WAAHHOOOO!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Devin's quilt

In all my quilt-making the last three years, I have yet to make a quilt for Devin. I've made several for each of the boys, one for the guest room, a half-dozen for charity quilts, one for myself to watch TV under, and several to give away as gifts. I keep telling Devin to pick out a pattern or colors or style or something for me to go by, but he hasn't. Instead he sits, convulsively shivering, on the other end of the couch after drinking a Slurpee or eating ice cream, casting me pathetic sidelong glances, until I relent and let him have my quilt. The one I picked colors, pattern, and style for to suite only myself.

So I, like most quilters, have this overflowing basket of scraps. -Odds and ends left over from any number of projects. Last fall I decided to just randomly piece some of these scraps into blocks and make a quilt out of them. Partly this was because the scraps are literally overflowing and ending up on the floor. Partly because I had a few small orphan blocks that I wanted to use before they got tattered. And I guess, if I'm totally honest, it was also partly because starting a new project seemed much more attractive at the time than completing any of my numerous on-going ones. Anyway, the result is this quilt which I finished binding about a week ago.
For a lap quilt, this is enormous. It's about 50x70, which is almost twin size. It's the first quilt I've made that doesn't have a specific destiny. So for now, it's Devin's TV quilt. And that basket of scraps...STILL overflowing.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Last gasp

One day last week I got outside to drive the boys to school (it was drizzly and COLD) and found this on my windshield:It was ice - probably 1/8-1/4 inch thick. It had been raining all night and it was just cold enough to freeze when it hit the windshield.

I used to have an ice scraper. It saw lots of service in Washington, D.C. It was used several times every winter. It even got used in Houston. However, when we moved to Florida and I was switching vehicles, I tossed it. After all, I could say without a doubt that I would NOT need it anytime soon in Tampa, where once or maybe even twice a year, people tuck in their landscaping plants with blankets when it might drop below freezing for -GASP- several HOURS!!

Driving through our Tampa neighborhood, looking at all the plants lovingly tucked in for the night, I couldn't help but think of growing up in NW Montana, where it wasn't really considered cold until the thermostat was registering double-digit, negative numbers and plants that didn't survive the frozen winters on their own were quickly replaced with something a little more... well... low maintenance. Needless to say, I never tucked my plants in while we were in Tampa, but I must admit that there were a couple plants that got replaced that first winter, which was fine with me.

Anyway, back to my poor iced-in van... and me with no ice scraper. For the last seven years (five in Tampa and two here) I've used a card (driver's license, credit card, etc.) to scrape the frost off my windshield. It was a bittersweet moment as I whipped out my trusty FL driver's license to clear the windshield (after the heater had had a little time to work). I couldn't help giggling a little as I thought about the fact that FL driver's licenses in general probably don't often get this kind of abuse and this is probably the very last time mine will be used for this purpose.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Big News

Okay, I've been really quiet lately. It's a combination of two factors. First, I was STILL having computer problems. It had gotten so bad that I dreaded turning the darned thing on. I sent it back to them in early February and they supposedly went over everything with a fine-toothed comb and sent it back to me, finally working.... Until about three weeks later when it crashed for good with absolutely no warning, losing about 100 pictures (and yes, most were destined for blog posts) but little else since I've gotten so paranoid about backing everything up.

Tech support still wanted to "help" me troubleshoot, but I balked, refusing to do any of those things I've already done on previous calls to tech support, insisting instead on a working computer or a full refund. Without too much fuss, they sent me a new hard drive. That's the good news. The bad news is that I've switched back and forth between computers so many times in the last couple months that I'm exhausted just thinking about doing it yet again! Reinstalling, downloading, updating, syncing, oops, wrong file, uninstall, etc., lol. I'm just computer-literate enough to get myself into lots of trouble.

Second, the really big news - is that we found out about three weeks ago that we'll be moving back to Florida this summer instead of next. Devin's orders got moved from a report date of mid-February to a report date of December 1. I normally start gearing up for a move six months out but we're already at four months and counting on this one. I've been just a little stressed but have made significant progress on my list of items normally completed by this time.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Break

This week is spring break for us here on the central Oregon coast. Devin and I had planned on taking the kids on a trip down to San Francisco to sight-see for the week. We had such a good time there last fall that we thought it would be fun to do the kid stuff, too. Well, best-laid plans and all that....

Devin's boss asked him back in February if he would go on a trip, which has been planned for two years now, to trouble-shoot and organize, since it's the first mission of its kind. He's really good at things like that. It's a tremendous compliment and, ultimately, a career boost, that he's been chosen for this. Sometimes I wish he were no good at his job, and this is why: the big trip is this week - spring break. SO... no trip to San Francisco. Which probably means we won't ever go, since it was less than two weeks later that we found out just how limited our time here is. AND, even more good news, I get the kids all to myself for spring break - all NINE days. Devin leaves today and won't get back until next Sunday.

So I've decided to take the boys and go visit my parents in Kalispell for a couple days. I don't know if my parents will make it back out here before we go and it's a long trip from Montana to Florida, so it may be a while before the kids get to see them again. Wish me luck on the drive. I'm always afraid that someone may not make it alive on long road trips - probably me!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Those wily leprechauns

Leprechauns run amok at our house on St. Patrick's day every year. The milk is invariably turned green: -which isn't a problem until you try it on cereal:

Then, believe it or not, you simply cannot keep yourself from tasting mint, even though no mint flavor is actually present.
In years past, we've had green scrambled eggs (don't ask me how the little buggers got past the shells), calendars turned to the wall, shoes in the laundry basket with the clean laundry, and many other mischievous reminders that the little people are just waiting for their day. Monday night I slaved for hours over a perfect batch of Rice Krispy treats. Imagine all of our dismay to find this waiting for us on Tuesday morning:

The Leprechauns win again!! Rematch next year.