Friday, December 31, 2010

5th Birthday!

Five years ago today I was a happy camper.  Finally no longer carrying around an alien in your stomach leads to a very happy mama for sure!

Today is The Youngest's Fifth Birthday and it's been a fun one.  We are not having the official party until either the end of January or February.  It's just too close to the holidays.  But he's had a ball today anyway.


In October I put in a shopping moratorium for the boys.   No spending on themselves whatsoever until after Christmas.  The purpose was twofold:  A)  So they wouldn't buy what was already bought for them as presents and B) So that they would save up their allowances and supplement what they did get for Christmas.  So today, the moratorium went away and they knew down to the penny what they had in their wallets.

The Youngest bought himself a Spiderman/Green Goblin/Venom action figure set with his $20 that he had saved and he's thrilled with it.  He got this after he had already opened his gifts from us.  To him, it's like a second Christmas already and his Aunt will be bringing another set of gifts over this evening.  His brother managed to buy five different Wii games for the new Wii they got this Christmas (which I got for free from Swagbucks by the way - Still happy about that one!)

Oh, and the Youngest got to eat Coconut Cake for breakfast too.  He's thinking that he's had a Pretty Alright Birthday!   Cake, presents, shopping...  I think I might have to agree.  Sounds fun to me too.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Catching up after another trip (yes, another) to the ER

For the past two weeks or more I had been having these pains and the only thing that helped was laying down.  On Christmas night I was having severe chest pains and thought I was having a heart attack.  So there was yet another trip to the ER for me during Christmas, but this time it was a good thing. 

I had my parents (while it was snowing profusely) drive me to the ER in their Podunk little town.  I'm not exaggerating the podunkness here of the town even a little bit.  There's not one red light, just one tiny four way stop.  If you blink, you've missed the town completely.  The teensy tiny hospital has traveling doctors that visit it and I got lucky this night by getting someone who knew what he was talking about.

Over the past month I've had two EKG's done, one Echo Cardiogram done and seen lots of docs who were hesitant about doing anything.  It turns out that the traveling doc knew what he was talking about and wasn't afraid to say it.

The chest pains were from an inflammation in the chest wall surrounding the ribs.  Every time that I would cough, breath or have an irregular heart beat (more about that in a minute), it would hit that inflammation and be excrutiatingly painful.  The cause?  Remember the virus that turned into a sinus infection at Thanksgiving?  That was the culprit.  He put me on a methylprednisolone pak and some ibuprofen it's helping already. 

Now, for the irregular heartbeat, he suspects mitral valve prolapse (which I evidently inherited from my Dad.)  So that will be the next thing that I have looked at by my fancy docs. 

Long story short, I'm feeling better (YEA!) and I am finally able to get up and move around somewhat.  A good thing, cause the three males in the household have let things pile up into an ungodly mess.   I've started chipping away at the Christmas toy mountain, Laundry mountain and the rest of the stuff that's been piling up on every flat surface.  I'm afraid it's going to take a while to catch back up.  :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!

I managed to finish my project, get it blocked and photographed!  Yippee!  I'm pretty sure it's safe to share it with you.  The recipient is off from work and that's where she usually checks the blog.  Plus, she'll have it in two hours anyway, so I'm going to show you how it turned out.

From the front:

From the back:



And hey look!   It's the Millennium Falcon!


This is the Kathy Kelly Cabled Capelet by Renate Haeckler and it can be found for free here.  (Ravelry Link)


Instead of doing the 3 in 1K (I didn’t like the way mine was turning out), I changed it to M1, K, M1. I like the division between the panels much better this way and it adds the feel of lace in between the pretty cables.

So, the big project is done and now I can enjoy my Christmas.  Hope you have a wonderful one! 

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This Close

I am THIS close to being finished with my big Christmas knitting project.   Unfortunately, this is one of those projects that starts out with just a few stitches on the needle and grows exponentially until there's billions on the needles.  Okay, maybe that's a small exaggeration, but it feels like billions. 

I've only been able to work on it in small fits and starts.  I spent the majority of the day today laying down because I still feel awful.  The doctors still have no idea what's wrong with me and that totally sucks.  I just want to feel well again.  I have an echo cardiogram scheduled tomorrow and we'll see what that shows us.

But, I have about two and a half rows to go of the big project and then I can block it.  It has to be ready and wrapped by Christmas Eve.  Hopefully it will get done by then.  I hate that I haven't been able to share it with you, but the recipient reads this blog and I don't want to ruin the surprise.  This is the only the second project that I've been able to complete for Christmas this year.  Not the best record for Christmas knitting that I've ever had. 

How about you guys?  Did you knit a lot of your Christmas gifts for your friends and family?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Baking Christmas Cookies with the Kids - Don't Do It!

Every Christmas holiday, you hear how wonderful it is to be baking cookies with your children.  Well, I've got news for you:  It's not all it's cracked up to be.  I would only advise doing this if you have the patience of Job and only as an exercise in futility.  Really.

Why the bitterness you ask?  Just let me vent a moment, will you?


My ever so cute little chef, seen above, begged to help me make cookies.  "Sure, why not?   It'll be fun!"  I said.   Uh-huh.

 First, he needed a chef's hat to match the elf's (which the elf made from a coffee filter at 11:45 pm last night.)  Since his head is a wee bit too big for a coffee filter to work, we had to come up with another solution.

To make the chef's hat:

1.  Take a sheet of paper and cut it in two pieces, lengthwise.  Tape those two pieces end to end, make sure it will fit the kid's head and then tape it closed in a full circle.
2.  I took three pieces of tissue paper (left together, not separated) and cut the squares into a giant circle.
3.  Taking the edges of the giant circle, carefully tape them to the inside of the hat, all the way around.
4.  Poof the center up slightly and you're done!

Moving on.

Incident #1:  This one was more annoying than critical, for that you'll have to wait til Incident #2.  I removed the bowl from my big Kitchen Aid Mixer and walked away to another counter.  While my back was turned, he poured about 4 tablespoons of flour into the little lipped part where the bowl sits.  Boy was it a pain to get all that flour from under that lip.   The child was banished for about 10 minutes before I took pity on him.

Incident #2:  The recipe called for separating the egg whites from the yolk.  I did this and had the yolk still in one of the egg shell halves, ready to be poured in the bowl.  The mixer was running full tilt at this time because I was creaming butter and sugar, the color of which was very, very pale yellow.  I told the little chef,  pour the yellow stuff into the bowl.  So what did he do?  Threw the whole thing, egg shell and all into the mixer that was running ninety to nothing.  I heard and awful crunching and raced to turn off the mixer, but the damage was done. 

Eggshell + creamed butter/sugar = an awful mess.  As I didn't have more ingredients with which to start over, I spent the next half hour picking tiny bits of shell out of the mixture while he spent the rest of his time in another room keeping out of my sight and hearing.   I've decided I'm going to add sprinkles on top of the cookies to disguise any mysterious crunching that these cookies may make once they enter one's mouth.  :)

All of this came though, after our Elf decided to make a huge mess in our kitchen last night.  Obviously, he was not happy that there has been no Christmas baking going on.  Just look what we woke up too:

My advice?  Don't stress yourself out this Christmas by baking cookies with the kids!  Of course, I'll probably forget this sage advice by the time next Christmas comes around.  

Friday, December 17, 2010

After all the miserable stuff that's happened over the past two weeks, I decided that our family needed some fun anticipation to replace the stress.  The kids big gift this year is a wii and I decided not to wrap it and put it under the tree.  What I did decide was to torture them.  That's why you have children, isn't it?  :)

 So I got out an old wardrobe box.  The bigger the better for this project.  In the very bottom I placed Clue #1 and then filled the box to the top with newspaper.   Trying to wrap a  box this large was an adventure, let me tell you.  A big bow was placed on top and the whole thing was maneuvered into the space between the tree and the fireplace.


The clues will lead them all over the house on Christmas morning.  I'm using nursery rhymes and doctor suess rhymes to lead them back and forth.  It's going to be great fun.

The knowledge that there is a huge, huge present with their names on it is killing them.  The guesses of what's in the box have been pretty fun to hear as well.  One of them actually thought there was a puppy all wrapped up in it!

Ah yes, this kind of stress is much better than the stress of multiple family visits to the ER!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Little Black Rain Cloud

Do you ever feel like you've got Charlie Brown's Black Rain Cloud following you?  That's exactly how I feel right about now. 

First there was my trip to the ER on the 3rd, then my son's trip to the ER on the 9th.  My parents both got sick and then my father went to the ER last week too for a stricture in his throat.  
THEN,  I got a call today from my Mom.  Dad drove himself to the ER again for chest pains.  This is not the first time that he's had heart problems, so he knows the warning signs.  They've admitted him and given him a room for monitoring.  It's two hours away and I have no one who can watch the kids so I can't just take off and go sit with or spell Mom at the hospital.  

Oh, and also, my husband has a nasty cold / flu bug right now too.

Is it just me, or is there a little black rain cloud following my family around?  Aaaaagh!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Yet Another Trip To The ER

So there we were last night, looking forward to a quiet night with nothing going on.  I've still been really sick and under the weather and just generally trying to take it easy until someone on the good green earth can figure out what's been wrong with me.  I haven't been crafting, knitting, blogging, or singing, nothing.  Basically avoiding anything that I enjoy doing along with avoiding driving and household chores, the latter of which I haven't minding ignoring one little teensy bit.

As I said, there we were, enjoying the peace and quiet when I heard screaming.  Uh huh, the cat finally taught the little booger a lesson.  I knew what had happened as soon as I heard the crying, I just wasn't ready for what she had done to The Youngest.   He's forever picking at the animals (out of love, not meanness) and was all in her face and she scratched him.  On the eye.

Was there blood?  Oh there was blood all right, gushing and squirting from the eye in massive amounts.  You couldn't even see his eye.  Oh My God!  was all I could think, he's lost his eye! The Eldest was running around screaming for me (even though his Dad was sitting right there) and screaming "She got his eye, His eye is bleeding!"  His Dad was screaming and then I started crying while running for a towel to try and staunch the bleeding.  Total pandemonium and freak out.

Now I'm normally the very calm one in situations like this.  When the Eldest went to the ER for a broken elbow and then again for 10 stitches for a cut over his eye, I was the picture of calm.  I couldn't be shaken.  My usual philosophy of life when major crap hits the fan is, Okay, it's happened, now let's just fix it.  But that is not how I reacted last night.  I don't know if it was from all the health issues and problems that I've been having lately or the fact that my baby was all covered in godawful amounts of blood, but I lost it.  I was crying as I called 911.    By the time we got the paramedics and fire department there, the bleeding had slowed down drastically and we could see the actual eyeball.  Thank God, he still had one was all I could think.

We've had a lot of excitement on our street this week.  First, there was one firetruck and one ambulance to help me.  Then on Tuesday night, our neighbors one the big prize.  There were fifteen firetrucks on our street called to help put out a chimney fire.  Then, last night, Thursday night, we again had one firetruck and one ambulance.  Our house has become quite the talk of the neighborhood.  There's no telling what rumors are being passed around.

As a matter of fact, I became quite embarrassed when one of the firemen said, "Weren't we called here last week?"  Um, yeah. 

The EMTs checked the Youngest out and put on a great big eye-patch and determined that his eye looked okay, but we needed to get him to an ER to make sure.  At this point the little guy had gone into shock and was shivering uncontrollably in the living room chair.  He was a bit ticked off that we didn't let him ride in the ambulance to the ER and instead chose to drive him ourselves.

This is what he looked like at the ER a few hours later:

So then before we could leave to go to the hospital, one more straw was added to the camel's back.  Do you smell something burning?  We smelled something burning, something that smelled like burning plastic.   The Elf was burning!  He had appeared that morning in a very little used chandelier, the one that had been turned on in all the excitement and had been leaning up against a bulb.

I asked the paramedics if they dealt with Elf injuries, but they politely said no.  Poor Elfie.  We need an Elf burn center STAT.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ER, they squirted a dye into the Youngest's eye and put it under a black light to determine that the cornea had not been scratched.  Nope.  Boy was this kid lucky.  But I guarantee you that his stubborn little self still hasn't learned his lesson and will be messing with the cat again asap. 

Hope you guys have a great weekend and I hope that we have a calm quiet one!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Multi Tasking in The Ambulance

Having a cold is no fun, but getting really sick is even less so.   If you've been wondering why I fell off the face of the planet, there's your answer.

I got to take a lovely little ambulance ride to the ER last week.  Oxygen count in the blood = very low, Blood pressure = high.  Not a fun combo to be dealing with.  Turns out, they couldn't tell me what was wrong or how to prevent it in the future and were basically clueless.  Scary.  I go in two weeks to talk to the lung doctor and we'll see if we can't narrow down the cause a bit.

Have you ever noticed that your brain works funny?  That it multitasks even when you are unable to?  I find this is more common with Moms in general due to the training that they get with the onslaught of daily chaos that children bring into their lives.

Why am I mentioning this?  Because there I was riding in the ambulance, oxygen mask on my face and barely aware of what's going on around me and I hear what one of the EMT's is saying to the hospital:  "I have a white female, approximately 45 years of age..."  That's when my brain went funny.  I wanted to sit right up and say "Oh no you dit'nt!  You did not go there.  I know you didn't just say that I look 45!"  Then I started thinking, OMG!  I'm going to have to go out and get a face lift!  I can't believe he thinks I look four years older than I am!  I mean, who did that whippersnapper think he was anyway?

All these thoughts were going on in the background as they were checking vitals,  training a fellow EMT and treating me for a heart attack "just in case" which it wasn't, thank goodness.    The front of my brain was complaining about tingling in the hands and feet and my teeth going numb.  Meanwhile that back of my brain was going all "Aunt Esther from Sanford & Son" and I wanted to pound him with my purse. 

The brain's a strange thing, isn't it?   

Monday, November 29, 2010

ThanksGiving Week

Our Thanksgiving was truly the week for us to give thanks this year.

First, we had almost 60 people show up for Thanksgiving.  My Mom ran herself ragged and loved every second of it.  I wasn't a whole lot of help since The Youngest infected me with a nasty little virus.  But fun was had by all despite the sickness and the food that I did eat was delicious.

Second, I finished my stairs finally!


For the observant, no the rail is not yet finished, but the stairs finally are and we are no longer having to skip every other step to go up or down.  Yay!

Third and definitely the most important reason for our family to give thanks: 

We received a call on Friday morning that my cousin Caleb (age 20), after leaving the family gathering, had fallen out of a barn loft on Thursday evening and had broken his back.  He was rushed to UAB (University of Alabama-Birmingham) hospital and he underwent about five hours of surgery.  They ended up fusing 5 vertebra together.   The surgeons said that he is incredibly lucky to not be paralyzed.  They said that they had seen less traumatic injuries that had left the victims paralyzed for life. 

Would you believe He was up and walking around the hospital just a day after surgery?!  He's leaving the hospital to head home tomorrow.

Our family will be giving Thanks for quite a while for this miracle!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Stripes of All Kinds

The first set of stripes involves stairs!  The first two coats of espresso bean brown have been applied and I'm waiting for it to dry before applying paint to the other steps.  That won't happen until Monday probably.  I'll be very busy next week.  The kids will be at the grandparents for a few days and I'll be diy-ing as much as I can while they're away.  Call me crazy, but I kind of like the steps like this from this view:


You should see us doing the "every other step thing" around here.  Up is no problem, but down?  Not quite as easy!  I just about killed myself trying to take a basket of laundry downstairs this morning. 

The second set of stripes are the Noro kind.  I started on a set of Elizabeth Zimmerman Mitered Mittens for the BFF and have been working on it during car pool rides and other places where mindless knitting is called for.


Don't you just love the colors?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


So there I was freaking out about the stain on the steps when I heard "Mom, there's blood!"  followed by a sneeze.  I rushed to the living room and there on the floor was a huge amount of blood, but the victim wasn't one of the kids, it was our geriatric dog (she's around 18 years old or so.)  When I got there, she had moved about six feet away, to the nice new living room rug.  Yeah, can you see where this is going?

I grabbed some paper towels and was cleaning up the first mess when I hear another sneeze, followed promptly by two more sneezes.  This dog had the Mother of All nosebleeds.  Before we could corral her, she had left two more sneezy, bloody messes in two more rooms (including on the dining room carpet.)  Yuck.

We (the kids and I) hit the mass panic button and finally got her hemmed up in the kitchen where at least the floor would be easy to clean.  While this was going on, I rushed to call my Sis-In-Law who worked at a vet's office for years and is our repository for all animal knowledge in the family.   Then we got to work cleaning up all the mess. 

The poor dog's nose was gushing blood and was really gross, poor thing.  We laid down moving blankets, made her comfortable and made sure she wasn't going to die on us over night and went to bed.  First the steps disaster and now the dog one.  I was completely stressed out by this point. 

The good news is, she's fine.  The vet kept her all day under observation, gave her antibiotics and there's been no more nosebleeds.  The bad news is that not one person knows what caused it and it could happen again at anytime. Yep, two hundred odd dollars later and the vet is clueless.  

Being a pet owner is so much fun.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Plan B

Plan A - was to stain the stairs.  Plan A will now have to be abandoned I'm afraid.  Now let me begin by saying that this is not the first time that I have stained things, so please believe me when I say that I am not an incompetent beginner.  That being said however, this project did not turn out like I expected.

Evidently, the sloppy paint was A) oil based and B) had over 30 years to really get into the grain of the wood.  Also, there are traces of adhesive that were not apparent to the eye that has also gotten down into the wood.  You could spend a million years sanding these boards and they still wouldn't turn out right.

I used a hand sander, a palm sander, two detail sanders and a belt sander at various times on these stairs.  It's not the lack of sanding that caused problems.

I did two steps and then stopped due to these results:

It makes me sick to my stomach that they turned out this way.  They're polka dotted for heaven's sake!  They look worse in person, trust me on this one.   I abandoned the project, left all my tools and crap in the foyer and walked away to try and come up with a solution.

So, on to Plan B.  Paint!  Well, first primer, then paint.  I went today and picked out a lovely dark brown paint from Behr called Expresso Bean that will be really nice on these stairs.  The next complication will be to get the paint on the stairs and not have foot and paw prints all in it.   I see some late nights in my future.  

This was not the only disaster last night/ today, oh no it wasn't, but I'll tell you about that one tomorrow.  I need to calm down a little.  :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

DIY Frenzy

If you remember, I began working on my stairs in July.  Guess what?  Still not finished, but I'm darn close now.    With December 5th coming closer and closer (I'm hosting a Ladies' Tea) the scramble to get this project finished has begun.  The risers have been painted white and they look like this now:

We've been using them like this for a while now since I've been swamped with other projects.  As I am the only one working on these and there is only one of me, obviously it's taking a while.  
Today I was sanding the stair rail.  To see a before and after, look at the two rails in this shot:


Now imagine, this house was built in 1980.  That's thirty years of oils, dirt and wax buildup on the rails.  Nasty.  It's taking a while just to sand that down.  Totally gross.  I won't be sanding down the one on the far wall in place.  It's going to have to be taken down completely and moved into the garage to begin sanding down that one.  I couldn't do this with the one that has the spindles in it though.  It's been a total pain in the neck to sand that sucker too.

I've started taping the risers and walls off and will begin staining the treads today.  I may have to be placed into a nice, soft padded room after I corral the two cats, two dogs and one four year old out of the way so that I can start.    Ack! 

So, progress has been made and is continuing as you are reading this.  Hopefully I'll have another progress report for you tomorrow.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Little to Show

The crafting posts this week have been pitifully nonexistent.  I do apologize. 

So here's what's up in my little part of the world. 

Knitting:  The knitting that I am working on is un-postable due to it being Christmas-y in nature and the recipients happen to read this blog occasionally.   So there goes any cool progress reports there.  I hate this time of year on the blog just for that reason.

Time Waster Extraordinaire:  I got my FREE (free from earning Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks)  Ipod Touch (4th gen.) from Amazon a couple of days ago and I've been sucked into messing with that toy like you wouldn't believe.  I now understand the whole attraction to the Iphones.  I just couldn't see paying the exorbitant prices that AT&T charges monthly for a smart phone.   The best part is that not only do I not pay monthly fees, but I got the whole thing free, free, free.  I love the word free.  :)

Tea Time:  I'm hosting a ladies tea next month and it's causing all sorts of DIY panic around here.  I'll give details on that next week.

So there ya have it.  Lots of stuff going on behind the scenes, but little to show for it.   

Thursday, November 11, 2010

More Out of the Mouths of Babes

Yesterday as I sat at my desk I heard a loud questioning "Mom?"

"Yes?" I answered.

There was a pause as if great thought were taking place, then the Youngest finally asked his question:  "Have I been married yet?"  

"Not that I know of" I replied while laughing hysterically.

Then today, I was filling some jars with dried beans for better storage in my pantry.  "Beans are yucky" he said.  "They're not my favorite bean."

"Well, what is your favorite bean?"  Another long paused ensued as he thought about it, then he looked up at me and grinned and said:

"Jellybeans!  They're full of calcium.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nutty When Shopping

Am I the only nut out there that goes shopping, sees an item, and says "I can make that!"    It doesn't matter if it's knitted, sewn, glued or duct taped.  If I see something that I like and it looks doable, it becomes a challenge.  I must now go forth, find or purchase the materials, and craft it.  This is not necessarily a frugal habit by the way.

Case in point - This weekend I went shopping with my Mom.  I found a shop that had two sweaters that I found intriguing.  Simple construction, fingering weight yarn and a decent price.  Now instead of buying them like a sane person, I took them to the dressing room and took about a thousand pics of it.  If I had had my measuring tape with me, I would have spent even more time in there taking measurements. 

I really liked this stitch pattern that I found on one of them:

Does anyone know what this stitch pattern is anyway?

So there I was snapping pics like a nut.  It would have cost maybe $20 bucks to buy the whole thing then and there.  Did I?  Nope.
Here's where the extra nutty part comes in.  Yarn ain't cheap.  Let's say I went into my local yarn shop and started grabbing skeins of yarn.  If I purchased enough yarn to make the particular item that I was photographing, I'd probably spend upwards of $60 bucks.  Worth it?  Only for the crafty challenge satisfaction.  

Will I do it anyway?  Probably, since I'm crazy like that, but I'll make some major modifications first.  I'm also one of those types that can't leave well enough alone.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Funeral And Some Strays

The Youngest and I went to a funeral over the weekend in another state.  The day began pretty early.  I loaded the car,  watched the Eldest get on the school bus and then we were on our way as well.  Now the first part of the trip was nothing remarkable really.  It took two hours and ended up at my folks' house in Alabama.  We were there a scarce half hour and then loaded up and rode another three hours to the actual funeral.

Now keep in mind here that I was traveling with an extremely active four year old.  He's not the type to sit in a chair for hours on end and be happy about it.  He surprised be me though.  There was not one whimper to be heard on the entire car trip there. 

Once we got there though, he pretty much exploded out of the car.  This was unfortunate since we walked right to the graveside for the ceremony.  He was hyper, very hyper.  He tried to rush to the coffin and take up all the cool chairs in the front.  I grabbed the little suit and pulled him to the back, far away from the grieving family.

I considered sitting on him, primarily for warmth though, not containment.  It was so freaking cold and windy that day!  I did threaten the kid with just about everything in the book to keep him quiet.  Keeping him still was out of the question entirely.  He finally became preoccupied with kicking and moving around dirt with his dress shoes and I pretended not to notice and most of the solemnity of the occasion was observed.

Observed of course, until two stray puppies decided to come see what all the people were doing out there and Hey!  There's a kid!  They came barreling straight for him, the only one in the crowd their size.  These puppies were about two and a half feet tall once they stood on their back legs and stretched out as far as they could go.

So there I was, trying to keep two incredibly cute pups off of him while keeping him off of them and trying to do everything in silence in respect for the mourners.  Other people hanging out in the back were all enjoying the show and trying not to laugh out loud at the chaos that two muddy puppies and a boy kept cooped up in a car too long can create.  Some help they were.

But it ended as well as could be expected and we shoved the poor boy back in the car and ended up in a tiny little hole in the wall food joint called "It Don't Matter."  Pretty clever little name for a restaurant.  We spent maybe another hour there and shoved him back in the car for another three hour little jaunt back to my parents house.

Would you believe that he never complained, cried, pitched a fit or anything?  Amazing.  He pretty much looked like this the entire day:

Smiles and all.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Cub Scout Space Rocket Derby Entry

That time of year is upon us once again, The Cub Scout Space Derby!  The Eldest and I put our heads together to come up with a design that most other boys would not be using.  I've found that boys tend toward lots of flames for their rockets and cars and that makes me want to go in another creative direction entirely.

My first comment to him was, "You don't want to follow the rest of the pack do you?"  He gave me The Look.  Oh yeah, the scouts are considered a pack.  Okay, poor example.  Moving along.

So what did we come up with?  A number two pencil.  The school year might be affecting us just a bit.  Dad was ordered to go shape it properly and then we got to work.


I've found that when doing something like this, the devil is all in the details. 


Notice at the bottom of the yellow section.  See the rounded petals there?  Ever noticed how when you sharpen a pencil that you get those petals?  Details definitely add realism, don't ya think?  For the silver part, we used a silver sharpie paint marker and once it dried, used a black sharpie to make the lines.

The Eldest did a pretty good job painting didn't he?

Would you believe that I happened to have the correct size stencil for the number two?  This is why I never throw away any crafty stuff.  I use it over and over and over.  Of course, this could be why we have very little space in our garage.  Bins full of craft supplies take up a lot of room.

I'll be out of town tomorrow for a funeral, so I'll just go ahead now and wish you a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

How to create a Dr. Blowhole Notquiteapillowpet

Resuming yesterdays post...

While at the grocery store a couple of days ago, The Youngest saw a unicorn pillow pet.  "I want it!" was immediately shouted.  He doesn't care for unicorns particularly, it's just that the pillow pet commercials have completely zapped his brain making him think that he has to have one, now, Now, NOW!

I mentioned to him that he doesn't  like unicorns and that stopped him in his tracks for about 30 seconds.  "I know!" he said, "I want a Dr. Blowhole pillow pet."  Are you guys familiar at all with the Penguins of Madagascar cartoon?  It's a family fav around here.  Dr. Blowhole, a dolphin, is considered the Penguins' Arch Nemesis.  He looks like this:

dr. blowhole

And to familiarize yourself a little more, here's a quick clip explaining him:

So I told the kid that sure, I'd make him one if we found a dolphin at the thrift store.  Well, I thought I was pretty darn safe on that one.  I mean, how often do you see a stuffed dolphin at the thrift store, right?  Dang if he didn't walk right in and put his little hands on one.

I needed a pillow and some chenille, stat.  Both were found at the next store we went too, Old Time Pottery.  The perfect color blue pillow was $5 and I grabbed a gray chenille throw for $7.  I would have paid a lot more than seven for the same amount of fabric at a fabric store.  I'll save the unused portion for a future project.

Here are the steps that I used to make the Notquiteapillowpet.  You could do this with any stuffed animal, my kid just wanted something extra super specific.

How to create a Dr. Blowhole Notquiteapillowpet: 

1.  The first thing I did was to cut the dolphin in two parts and remove the plastic pellets that were in there:

2. Then I opened the pillow at one end and removed the stuffing from it.  The cat was feeling vaguely threatened by the huge ball of fluff.


3.  Laid out the pillow on top of the chenille throw and cut out a piece of the chenille to be the same size.


4.  Next, I turned under the edges of the chenille and pinned it to one side of the pillow.  At this point I also pinned the dolphin tale at one end and added some loops and tags for the fastenings.  Note:  If you are making an animal that has four legs, you would want to put the tail in the center of one of the sides, not at the end.  I was going for a lengthwise dolpin body.  EDITED TO ADD: You would also want to move the strap to the middle of the pillow so that when it was folded and strapped together you would sew four "Legs".

5.  I sewed up the two long sides and the tail end and then stuffed the pillow body again with about 3/4 of what I had originally pulled out.  Here's one side:


And the "flipper" side (sorry, couldn't resist):


6.  Next I pinned in the head and sewed it up as well.  No pic of this step, so on to the next!

7.  Now came the hard part.  How to make the monocle and the strap that it goes on that only goes half way around his head and then attach it.  I threw out all sorts of ideas before settling on felt for the strap.  I hot glued it to the dolphin's head like so:

The monocle was pretty easy.  I took a blue bottle cap, and drew all over the top with a black sharpie marker.  Then around the very edge, I drew a circle with a silver sharpie paint marker.  The last step was painting a large red dot in the center of the black with some acrylic paint.  Once dry, I glued that onto the felt.


So how do you think The Youngest liked his Dr. Blowhole Notquiteapillowpet?  I'll let you judge for yourselves:

Closed with dolphin shape:



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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Newsflash: Dolphin cruelty siting!

Newsflash:  Dolphin cruelty siting!  Unnamed sources have reported the alleged mutilation of stuffed dolphin purchased from thrift store.


The sources have also confirmed that some of the dolphin parts will be casually thrown away and wasted.  The rest will be horribly mutated into a so-called hand made "pillow pet".  But not just any pillow pet, oh no.  There are big plans for this one!


More to follow tomorrow!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Post Halloween Lego Minifig Costume Follow Up

The Lego Minifig Halloween Costume was a roaring success this year.  The Eldest had people stopping him on the street last night so they could take a picture of him.  Too funny.


A few last minute notes about the costume should anyone wish to make this as well:

1.  Make the hole in the torso section smaller than the bottom of the neck part of the head piece so that it rests squarely on the torso.  I ended up making them the same size and it actually sat on his real shoulders and wasn't comfortable.  It also moved around quite a bit too.

2.  Carve out a section in the top of the head piece so that it fits snugly against the top of the head. This will also keep it from moving around so much.

3.  A problem occurred with the torso/box rounding over his shoulders instead of staying square.  I took two paint stir sticks, wrapped them in a rubbery material used to line cabinets and hot glued them into the shoulders.  It fixed the rounding and provided comfortable support as well.  I don't think this would be as much of an issue with an adult, but a 10 year old boy has small shoulders and needs all the help he can get.

4.  If I made this again, I would go ahead and attach the heap piece to the torso to keep it from moving around, especially if this was for a child.

Hope everybody had a great Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Girlie Birthday

Since today is the Second Anniversary of my 39th birthday, I took a girl's morning and had some fun!

We had coffee at the coffee shop, a real treat for me and then we had pedicures.

Last but not least, I treated myself to a Fascinator hat (for a tea that I'm hosting in December) and a fun and obnoxiously huge ring:


I love the hat.  Who doesn't love feathers, flowers and lace on their birthday?

Wanna know what the kids gave me?  An electric tea kettle that I've been eyeing for a while and the Youngest picked out the most eye irritating fuchsia colored lipstick that you've ever seen.   The kind that little old ladies wear and that makes me look like death warmed over (not the best look for someone as pale as I am.)   Completely cracked me up.  His favorite color is pink and he was so proud to have picked it out for me.  I'll be sneaking out to exchange that for a pink that's a little more wearable for me.  He'll never know the difference.  :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

He Won!

Guess what?  My costume His costume won the School Ball Costume Contest!

The kids were absolutely fascinated by it:


The Dads completely geeked about it.  I was asked about a hundred times how it was made and then they couldn't believe that a mere woman had made it.  I mean, what woman works with joint compound?  :)

My other favorite costume of the evening was a giant story book.  The cover opened up and revealed a story inside.  The best part of her costume?  The (working) book light that was attached to it.


The Lego Man and the Story book both took home top honors.  One for most creative and one for best homemade.  When the Lego Man was announced as the winner, you should have heard the place cheering.  It was very cool and The Eldest was "cock of the walk" for the rest of the evening.

Here's an "action" shot of my two guys:

The little guy was not told to pose, he's just a natural born actor.  :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lego Minifig Halloween Costume I wanted to share something that I am absurdly proud of, The Eldest's Lego Minifig Halloween Costume!

(This is sans child of course since he's at school as I'm writing this up.)

There have been lots of Mommy hours put into this project.    It all began with this inspiration.  I want to thank those guys for creating these costumes and putting up such great pics of the whole process.

Some details:
1.  The mouth is made of screen that has been painted to resemble teeth.  The wearer of the costume can easily see out, but unless you are very close, you can't see in.
2.  The head began as styrofoam and posterboard that I covered in three layers of joint compound.  After much sanding, it was spray painted within an inch of its life a tradional Lego yellow.
3.  The hands were constructed in a similar way.  The child will hold the paper towel tubes that are connected to the hands.
4.  The torso piece was put together from a couple of different boxes and was to me, the hardest part of the whole project.
5.  The face was hand painted on with acrylic craft paints.
6.  For the logo, I did a google search and grabbed an image, then threw it into Gimp to enlarge and clean it up.  Once that was done, I Modge Podged it on.
7.  Everything has been sealed with a clear gloss sealer spray paint.

You can see how the process came about here and here.

From the top:

From the back:


The Eldest will be wearing a long sleeve red shirt (mine) to cover his hands while he is holding the hands part of the costume.  For the legs, he's going to wear black pants and regular old tennis shoes.  I'll probably have to lead him around so he doesn't run over his friends.  There is no peripheral vision when wearing the head piece.

Want to know how excited I am about this project?  Well, let's just say that The Eldest and I may have to arm wrestle over who gets to wear it on Halloween.  :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Paper Mache Space Shuttle

I keep repeating to myself, "On Friday it will all be over, On Friday it will all be over, On Friday..."  I've been so bogged down in projects for the Eldest for the past two weeks that I've had zero time to work on anything for myself.  Not really for myself, but projects that I am wanting to complete.  I've got a couple of super secret Christmas Gift knitting projects that have been stalled and I'd really like to get back to work on them.

One of the projects that the Eldest is working on is way beyond anything that I ever did in 4th grade.  He had to read five books, take a test on them, do a thinking map for each book, complete a bibliography for each, create a project that shows off his topic (which was space) and make a presentation on it which for him also will be including a powerpoint slide show.   I never had to do anything like this until I was in high school.

I have never seen a 10 year old yet that had any sort of time management skills.  I've had to stand over him for the past two months with a whip in order for him to get this thing finished.  It didn't help that he chose to make such a huge (1/40th scale) and involved creative project either.  But, it's finally finished!  We just have to get it safely to the classroom tomorrow morning.

Here's the final product:


In retrospect, we should have gone without an opening cargo bay, but this is what he wanted.  It does open and they do have tiny little one inch hinges holding them on.  He applied a thick coat of Modge Podge to it last night to seal it and harden it a little bit more.  I'm very proud of him with this project.    Not many 10 year olds could tackle a paper mache project of this size and have it turn out this well.  I think it turned out great, but I'm just a wee bit biased!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Decorating

This year I haven't had a lot of time for Halloween yard decorating.  In fact, I decided that I really didn't want to carve a pumpkin either.  My solution?  Make a Mummy O' Lantern.  I also took a page from Centsational Girl's book and made a small Vampire punkin.

The Mummy O' Lantern was super easy.  I used spray mount adhesive and stuck two large googly eyes to the front.  Then, after spraying more adhesive to the rest of the pumpkin, I applied strips of cheesecloth around it trying not to be too neat about it.  Instant Mummy!


I did put up a few spiderwebs, spiders and skeletons around the front door:


Can ya find me in the pic? :) The Autumn flowers are totally fake.  I put them in my planter every year in the Autumn and don't worry about them again until it's Christmas and I replace them with some fake poinsettias.

The skeleton on the door was a Dollar Tree find:


A tree:


Notice the fall Auburn football flag in the background. War Eagle!

And even the mailbox got some attention this year:

The yard decor is not as elaborate as I usually do, but it's still fun for the kids.