Another School Year Begins

I keep telling myself to just take a moment to breathe in and breathe out – and not shed a tear about the differences from the first day of school in 2006 and this year’s photo of our clan:

Rinse and repeat.  Just breathe … and everything will be fine.  (Why-oh-why didn’t I put those bricks on their heads when they were two???)

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    Quilt Block Fun!

    One of the most enjoyable things for me to do is to find a traditional quilt block and jazz it up a bit by playing with the design and creating a whole new quilt block out of it.  So, let’s play the “Quilt Block Fun” game today!

    This block is called the “Road to Oklahoma”:

    This is a 16 block quilt out of this traditional quilt block:

    Now, take the traditional quilt block and play with it, totally changing the appearance:

    And here is 16 blocks with the edited block in the same sized quilt:

    See how much quilt fun you can have?!  Go ahead and try it – I’m sure you will enjoy creating a whole new quilt out of an old and traditional, redesigned quilt block!

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      Another Year Older

      Today, I turn 48-years-old.  In my family, that is a huge milestone that I am so very happy to reach.  I am not afraid to tell folks my age because to me, it means I have surpassed another year that my parents and my older brother did not get to enjoy on this earth. 

      There are a lot of family genetics on both sides of my family that can obviously be deadly.  My father and older brother died at the ages of 36 and 34 respectively, of brain aneurysms.  My mother committed suicide (intentional or not) when she was 35.  For me, being alive another year is a major accomplishment that I am quite proud of.  I want to raise my children.  I want to live long enough for them to succeed at whatever they choose to do after they graduate from high school.  I want to enjoy my husband as much as possible. 

      I want to LIVE life to its fullest!

      Now that I have MS, I can still do all of those things – though perhaps not with as much zeal as I had before the MS was diagnosed and as the disease progresses.  But, I *want* to still do everything I can to make sure that my children have their mother for as long as possible. 

      So, I may be another year older but these four kids of ours are reason enough to embrace all that life has to offer, to the best of my ability, and grow old with my husband and find joy in all the big and little things that our children accomplish.

      My foster parents are taking me out to dinner tonight…and we will have our own little family celebration when I return home.

      Go ahead – celebrate with me!

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        My Kids and Libraries

        As I’ve bragged talked about before, our four children are bibliophiles as much my husband and myself are.  Every single one of us have one or more books we are reading on any given day.  When we are going somewhere, I always ask them to pack an auto busy-bag.  When the kids were younger, they would put books and toys in their bags.  Now that we have a tweenager and three teenagers, their bags have less and less toys in them and can usually be found to have some type of music (iPod, CD player, etc.), their earphones, drawing pencils and paper – and BOOKS.  If we are just going on a short drive, perhaps to church, the kids will just grab a book to read in the auto on the 30 minute drive to town.

        We have more bookshelves filled with books in our house than we do dressers.  More books in our house than toys.  More books in our house than cooking or baking paraphernalia!  We clean out the books that our children have surpassed reading levels and immediately, the bookshelves magically fill up with more books that are at or above their reading levels – which the kids have been keeping in their rooms because the main set of bookshelves in our living room was overflowing.

        I’ve often made a joke of my kids checking out encyclopedias from our local library.  I’ve done this because when my husband was young (before he was old enough to go to school), his folks had a set of home encyclopedias and he read them over and over and even marked some of his favorite pages.  His mother still has those encyclopedias and they still have his bookmarks or lines he put in the oh so many years ago.

        But, it’s not a joke that reading can take you anywhere you want to go and our kids have learned that very well.  Whether it’s a novel to a far away land, a history book to learn about a point and time in history or even an illustrated guide to all birds in the world – my kids will read them.  And check them out, over and over again.

        Our son was probably the most difficult to get to read.  He is very bright, but he got SO BORED with reading.  Part of that is my fault because I homeschooled him for Kindergarten using the books and teacher’s guide that I was told to buy by a dear friend in the educational field.  What I didn’t realize was that it was a two-year book – it was to teach a child to read for both Kindergarten AND First grade.  Well, darn, someone should have told me that because my son plowed through the entire two-year’s worth of the reading program in less than four months!  Which meant any other book we bought for his age and grade level was actually BELOW his abilities.  Boredom set in and he would refuse to read.  When the action adventure books really became popular, I let him check one out of our local library.  My husband was appalled, thinking all our son was doing was reading comics.  I requested the library to add more of those types of books because my son read and re-read those action adventure books time and time again!  The kids were even gifted with an action adventure children’s Bible – and I dare anyone to try to best our young prodigy with Bible trivia because he read that children’s Bible so much, the cover fell off!  And when we go to church, he will listen to Pastor’s sermon and many times, pick up the Bible that is in the pew, just so he can check out a wider concept of the Scripture that Pastor is preaching on.  The library honored my request and got more action adventure books in and our son’s reading escapades flew through the roof!  Although he may still check out an action adventure book when he goes to the library, he will also check out much larger chapter books.  His reading level is now three or four grades above his actual grade in school according to the state’s standardized testing.

        Our three daughters have never had any issues with reading.  They, too, all read above their actual grade level and occasionally my husband or I will have to read through a book the girls have picked out just to make sure it has appropriate content for someone their age.

        Libraries, to our kids, are like theme parks to other kids.  It’s just amazing how we can go into any library (even if they cannot check out books) and they will all become so engrossed in what they are reading or studying that we have to search them out when it’s time to leave.  If we have a little time to kill in town, the first thing they want to do is head to the library. 

        This week, our youngest daughter and I we are spending it with my third foster parents.  My foster mother volunteers at her local library, mostly working on crafts for the young reader’s program.  My daughter came to me yesterday and asked if she could go help Grandma M at the library when she volunteers this week.  She didn’t ask to go swimming.  She didn’t ask to go to the mall.  She didn’t ask to go visit someone.  She was all excited to be able to spend a couple of hours in a library!  On Tuesday this week she was pretty much on her own as my foster mother had to do some data entry that she has been working on.  And WOW was that kid excited to be able to read and read for two hours!!!  On Thursday, my foster mother is going to take a break from her data entry and work on the kids’ crafts so that my daughter can help her – which is a great way to keep the youngster busy and to give my foster mother one-on-one time with my daughter.

        Ah, the joys of some good parts of our parenting that all of our children love sure brings joy to their parents!


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          Emergency Quilt Supplies

          While planning for a trip that will involve some quilting, I try to create a sewing/quilting emergency bag.  Not everyone has what I have in my sewing studio, and there are some things that I just must have to make a quilting adventure go smooth.  Mind you, if quilting is going to be involved, I always ask the person I’m quilting with if they have certain things like a sewing machine, rotary cutter, ruler, etc.  The holy trinity of quilters!

          Keeping in mind what the person already has, this is my list of must-have supplies:

          • Leather thimble – I am allergic to most thimbles, but the leather ones work perfect for me so I bring my own.
          • Nippers – Although a lot of folks have large, sharp sewing scissors…not a lot of folks have the wonderful nippers for clipping seams or corners.
          • Thread – I definitely have my preferences in the brand of threads I use, so I try to carry a spool of ecru and a spool of grey thread.
          • Notebook or graph paper and pencil – There are SO many places where you can draw quiltspiration for designs, especially on older buildings and even sidewalks.  With a piece of paper and pencil, I can draw the pattern on-site and save it for later.
          • Pins and needles – Again, most people have these but I have spent years searching for JUST the right ones that I like to work with.

          The final item that I try to never leave home without is my camera.  Quiltspiration comes in some of the least-expected places and with the camera on-hand, I can just snap a photo and either print it or save it to use at a later date and create my own pattern from it. 

          I can work with just about any sewing machine, cutting mat, ruler, etc. but when it comes to working with the quilt notions that I have at my home studio, these items listed above help me get in my comfort zone for quilting. 

          What would YOU pack in YOUR emergency quilt kit?

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