Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wait, what? Thursday?

The week has flown by, hasn't it?

The flowers are blooming:

These were a tall tree that created a canopy over my car.  Aren't they pretty?

I finally picked up my ceramic art from the pottery place.  This was a design that we found online (it's a Celtic E).  The guy on the left apparently has no nose.  Sorry, dude.

The back of the mug looked really plain, so I put together this design.  Unfortunately, the green and yellow turned out very similar.  I thought that was a darker green.  Bummer.

I'm working on finishing a quilt that I started ages ago.  It was supposed to be a Flying Dutchman block, which is supposed to look like this:

Sadly, I sewed them all together wrong, so it looks like this:

Not to worry, it still looks cool, but instead of having pinwheels to fly with, it has Friendship Stars in I'm calling the Friendly Dutchman block.  I added a 3" white border and a border of Flying Geese blocks.  However, it's not big enough to fit the King bed, so I decided to add another 3" white border and a border of more triangle blocks, called Broken Dishes.  This is what it will look like when it's done:

Here is one of the Broken Dishes blocks.  I have to make 52 of them and I will alternate the direction so it'll look like zig-zags around the edge.

I'm trying to watch the Hobbit, but I never finished reading the book...which I tried to do years ago.  I don't remember most of the story, except that this hobbit guy went for a long walk with a bunch of annoying guys whose names all rhyme...Hokey, Pokey, Loki, Jokey, Snooki, Pookey...I don't know.  And there's a tall wizard named Gandolf.  The rest is a mystery.  Kelly's not due back til tomorrow, at which time, he might be able to act as translator for me.  Right now it's just making me tired.  Maybe I should just go to bed.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stepping Back (in Time)

I dropped Cammie off at a friend's house and took Ben out to an SCA event.  We first spent some time playing at the climbing structure, which has swings and a really fast slide.  After an hour or so, his very good friend, Mr. L showed up with his mom.  While he wasn't too keen on coming to the event at first, he finally agreed since Ben was going to be there, but after a couple of hours, he wanted to come to another event in costume.  Lauri and I sat and chatted for a while (with seemingly constant interruptions from people asking questions, mostly about Ithra, which is undergoing some changes in the near future). I wish we had more time to catch up, but she had to leave around 2:00.

After Ben participated in a scavenger hunt, he discovered the joys of Youth Armored Combat!  He went out and swung a stick for 20 minutes or so.  Jolgeirr, who was in charge of YAC, asked, "why it's taken me nearly three years to get this boy over to the field?"  I laughed, but I think that had he been part of it a couple years ago, it might have been disastrous.  Now that he's had a year or so of Karate under his belt (his purple belt, in just two short weeks!), I think he's got a bit more control.   I know Cammie will LOVE getting involved in YAC as well...maybe I'll introduce her to it at May Crown, if she goes with me, and if they have YAC activities there.  I'll have to do some research.

After he finished with that activity. We said our goodbyes to our friends and hopped in the car and headed back to town.  We stopped to get Ben a jacket, since he left home in his SCA clothes and didn't bring a coat.  While we were at the store, we looked for a nearby Geocache, but this one apparently looks like a small was a sea of rocks.  We gave it a miss and went on to our dinner date near the border.

We had dinner with Mom & Dad where Dad pulled out a copy of the Naval Special Warfare magazine, the Blast, where he had his story published!  To make things even more interesting, the waiter seemed really familiar...when I first walked in, I was thinking, "Isn't he the guy who used to own that restaurant down the street?"  After we debated it for a bit, I texted Tara (who was at a volleyball tournament and couldn't make it) and asked her what the name of that guy was.  She replied "Mario".  Dad asked, and he confirmed, that he was Mario.

We had a great dinner, great conversation, and the weather held up for the evening, so afterwards, Ben and I went to hunt for a couple more Geocaches (he doesn't like to hunt in the rain--and to be honest, neither do I).  We found one overlooking the water, where this cute snail was hanging out.  I love snails!  I don't know why but these guys are so darn cute and mysterious.  This looks like the same variety of snail that I found up at Mt. St. Helens last summer, but he was about half the size.  After that we another one in a bird feeder before it got too dark to search for more.  It was a long drive home and he was fast asleep when we got there.

Sunday was a slow start, except for Emma's alarm waking me up at 6:15 again.  I could hear it from my bedroom, two closed doors away.  Ugh...  Crawled back in bed.  Went to Burlington around 1 pm to pick up Cammie.  Ben and I searched for four Geocaches before meeting up with them, and grabbed one more after.  I also went to the outlet store and got a few shirts--several of them for $10 each--and a couple pairs of summer pants.

This next week is going to be a little nutty, but we'll manage.  Cammie will be away at camp all week, so it's one less kid to chase after, but we're still double or triple booked for Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.  I'm still hoping to do a little sewing tomorrow.  The machine was out to fix a pair of pants, then put away without getting any quilting done.  Maybe between loads of laundry tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Volunteer Time

This morning, I volunteered at the Big Kid's school. I was told that we were going to be packing gift bags for their big alumni anniversary party, but instead we were putting together photo albums.  They had been given hundreds (thousands) of photos from people over the years and no one has ever put them into albums.  The organizer had put them into generally accurate collections by year, so we just had to sort them by type (sports, prom, graduation, etc.) and put them into the albums with double-stick tape.  I put together 2001-2003.  There were some photos dating back to the late 1980s and as recent as 2006--after that, almost all photos were digital, so they're going to do some kind of Shutterfly books, I think.  I'll be going back tomorrow to do some more after the kids are away at school.

While the Big Kid is volunteering in the afternoons, I'm finding creative ways to entertain the littles.  Today we went to the beach at the Edmonds ferry docks.

The skies cleared and we had a lovely sunny afternoon.  The tide was out, which afforded lots of opportunities to play in the wet sand.

They built sand villages with lots of moats--digging an irrigation ditch from the shallow pools down toward the village.

Ben poked the live barnacles, making them cringe.  They're really funny creatures.

I mean, lookit 'em!  They look like they'll reach out and snap at your fingers.  These are acorn barnacles and are the most common type in the Puget Sound.

After they got good and smelly, fishy and sandy, I took them out for ice cream.  Ben's favorite flavor, Cotton Candy, is back in the stores!  I may have to buy several pints of the stuff to keep in the freezer over winter.  Cammie chose her favorite; rainbow sherbet.

Bathing, medicating, and chasing off to bed!

Monday, April 15, 2013

While the Cat's Away...

Kelly had to go away to the Midwest for a business trip, so it's just been me and the kids for a few days.  We only had about 48 hours notice for the trip, so there has been a bit of last-minute juggling of activities.  Emma has a volunteer requirement for school, which she successfully procrastinated until the very last minute, so she has to complete 18 hours of community service in 10 days.  There are limitations as to who she can volunteer for, so we are trying to get her in for hours at the places that are very flexible with hours.  She chose one place that has after-school activities for children with moderate to severe disabilities.  Because she has to fulfill so many hours, this means she needs to go every day for two hours.  This means skipping karate this week, and makes Thursdays really difficult with having to be in two places at once.  I may have to cancel Thursday's appointments if I can't find a ride for Emma to get home...the person I had planned on picking her up just announced that she's sick. Ugh.

It happens from time to time that I get sick of my long hair and I cut it all off.  I couldn't bear to make it too short this time, but I knew it was time to chop off the old color and go au naturale. I had it bobbed on Friday while the kids were at school.  The gal had styled it funny, so it looked a little too Julia Louis-Dreyfus; I prefer it a little less controlled.  I don't even own a brush.  Sorry the picture is so blurry--my phone's camera always seems to have slime on the lens.  Pocket slime.

Saturday there was a Sounders game, so I went with the gang and met up with Kelly's sister and her husband, who bought the two vacant seats--Kelly's and Daniel's.  I took the bus down to save a little cash; driving down could add up to more than $20 for gas and parking...or I could take the bus for $3.50.  Hmmm...tough call.  Afterwards, Lauren offered to give me a ride back, saving me the bus fare home.  I asked her if she would mind if I stopped to look for a Geocache on the way, just a few blocks from where she was parked.  I found it after several long minutes of swearing at the GPS device as the cold rain increased.  The signals were bouncing all over the place with the tall buildings, but I was able to get on the web site with my phone and read the hints to make the search faster.  Inside was an Argentinian soccer-related travel bug, which I was happy to snag, although I will have to refrain from telling Daniel--his family is from Brazil and he hates Argentina.  :)

On Sunday, we did a few chores around the house, but then I thought I'd take the kids out for a fun painting day.  This also gave me the opportunity to finally finish my mug that I started at the Girl Scout day.  I didn't get any pictures of the things the kids painted, so I'll have to get pictures next week after they get fired.  Emma had a larger piece and she was taking her time with all the layers of paint, so I took the little guys for a short walk to a nearby Geocache.  Ben found it very quickly saying, "What's this?" He's got the eagle eye, I tell ya.

Today's weather was nice in the morning, so I went out for a walk--I need to do this every day, regardless of the weather, but I have a heck of a time getting motivated in the rain and cold.  After school, Emma needed to do her volunteer work at the school, so I took the little guys to the park to play for an hour or so.  Cammie is always drawn to the water, and Ben found it interesting for a few minutes but preferred the climbing structure.

We finally got back at about 5:15, I made a very quick dinner and after getting everyone to bed, decided that I really needed to get some sewing done.  It's been so long--I missed it. I found a baggie of 1930s fabrics and blocks that I had started making, but didn't know what to do with it.  These little Hourglass blocks were in the baggie, along with a bunch of pre-cut fabrics to make more.  I decided that I'd rather not make more of them just now, so I decided to stitch them into a small quilt top.  It measures 20" x 24".  I'm not sure what I'll be doing with this yet...maybe it'll be a birthday gift for Cammie's friend; a little lady turning 10 next month.

A few more days of additional madness as a single mother...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

And the Adventure Begins

Easter vacation ended with little fanfare.  We arrived home for the Troll Stroll, then spent Sunday recovering.

Monday was the night for the guild meeting, so after picking up the kiddos, I headed North.  I had a Geocache trackable that wanted to go on a cruise, so I found a larger cache to put it into near the cruise terminal.  It supposedly had several trackables in it already, so I thought I'd take them out and help them travel on.  However, when I got there it was virtually empty--only the log book and a little trinket.  I hoped that the cache isn't being routinely robbed, and dropped it in.  I found one other cache a couple blocks away at the waterfront, under the careful watch of a couple of...what would you call them?  Non-participants?  The couple was sitting on a nearby bench, enjoying a couple glasses of wine, watching the water and enjoying the rare spring sunshine, and throwing a tennis ball for their golden retriever.  I couldn't exactly search without being noticed since their bench was at Ground I said, "Not to look suspicious or creepy, but I'm looking for a geocache.  There's one near here."  They helped look for a couple minutes, but eventually settled back into the bench and drank their wine.  After a few minutes, I tracked it down in the rocks and they celebrated with me as I signed the log and replaced it in the rock.

I met Sharon for dinner and she told me all about her recent issues at work with an incompetent coworker, some of the crazy politics going on, and her hopes for her career.  Since I really can't post any details, let's just say she's working with another government and isn't getting the credit that is due.

At the meeting, I received a few more friendship blocks, bought some raffle tickets, and got to see a bunch of friends.  Then I won one of the raffle bags!  It included almost 6 yards of Hawaiian-style bark cloth (not sure if it's *real* bark cloth, or a rayon blend) and a beauty kit--nail clippers, nail files, nail polish and remover, and a pumice stone.  When I got home, I set the beauty kit aside...then realized that Emma would probably like it!  I handed it to her and she happily painted her nails with a single coat, and it appears it's a good quality paint!

Tuesday was our twice-monthly Girl Scout meeting.  We decided to take the girls to one of the ceramic painting places and allow them to pick out one $10 piece...then we increased it to $12 to give a few more options.  The girls spent almost two hours painting their pieces.  I started a little bit late, but got the beginnings of the piece painted.  I took it home with me, and two days later, took it back to finish.  After almost 3 hours, it STILL wasn't done!  I have to go back one more time to finish it up.  Can you believe that?!  It's gonna be so freaking cool, though!  I need to fix some of the knotwork stuff--I got some of the overs and unders mixed up, but a little scraping with dental tools and painting over the goofs will fix it right up!

Tuesday night, Kelly came home with an announcement--he was going on a business trip.  I said, "Sure you are.  You've been saying that for a couple years now.  I'll believe it when I see the itinerary."  The next day he emails the itinerary.  So...I get to be a single mom for two weeks.  Ugh.  The up side is that he's not anywhere interesting...not Vegas or LA or London...he's in Kansas.  Seriously.  Wichita.  Tornado Alley in the high season.

Wednesday Karate!  The kids are doing really well.  They're learning a lot, they're focused and getting ready for earning the next belt.  I'm so excited that they're getting closer and closer to earning not just the purple belts, but the honor of wearing the black gi.  At this studio, only purple belts and higher can wear the black uniform.

Thursday, Kelly flew out and made it safely to Kansas.  It was good to know.  Then he sent me an email link of the damage that a tornado did to the plant where he's at...spectacular images, but not terribly reassuring.

Emma's school requires some 21 hours of community service, but she delayed all year and by the deadline had only completed 3.  Now she has about 10 days to do 18 more hours, so we found a place for her to volunteer with developmentally delayed students after school.  She will be spending two hours a day for the next couple of weeks.  Hopefully she'll be able to get all the hours done before the deadline.  She should be able to get 12 hours done by next Friday, and I'm hoping that if a Girl Scout event counts, I will arrange an outing that requires a teen assistant.  If not, then maybe they'll give her an extra week (although she's already a couple weeks past the deadline).  We stopped by to make introductions and see if she needed to fill out any paperwork, then raced over to Ben's speech therapy.  While he was there, Emma and I went to get a snack, then she went to the library to read manga and I did some walking around seeking out geocaches (found three!).

I made a cool discovery while walking around.  A new McMenamin's pub will be opening in Bothell in the end of summer of next year.  This is the former Anderson school in Bothell, which the Portland-based chain is going to turn into a restaurant-winery-brewery-hotel.  I'm hoping that some parts of it will be open before then--maybe the restaurant and brewery part, and the hotel part to be worked on later.

We went back home after where Bekah was waiting for us with hot pizza and Cammie was helping out in the kitchen and doing homework.  We had dinner and watched a special that I've been taking in, The Tales from the Green Valley.  It's a 12 part reality series about a group of anthropologists who re-create a 17th century farm and live there for a year, experiencing life as it was back then.  This was from several years ago, and it was followed by a series about a Victorian farm, and Edwardian farm, and the Wartime Farm (WWII).  Great stuff!

Friday will bring more volunteering, perhaps some Geocaching with the little guys, and wrap up the day with burgers.  Hopefully we'll have a quiet weekend and be ready for a new school week.

Oh, and maybe get an appointment to get my brakes looked at while I have a second car to use.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Long Weekend

The week after Easter meant a week of vacation from school!  After a few obligations early on in the week--karate, orthodontists, etc.--we made arrangements to spend the night at a hotel just outside of Portland.  We headed down on Thursday and had a few adventures over the next few days.

We visited with Mike & Laura and their new baby, Malcolm.  The kids took turns holding him (heavily supervised, of course), and we went out to dinner on Friday evening.

Little Mikey MacMaster turned 9 weeks old on the day of our visit and was about 12 lbs.  Good lookin' chubby cheeks!

The kids also got to play with the instruments, too.
Cammie and Ben took turns playing with the squeeze box...

And Ben was really taken with the skinny little guitar.  It's just his size!

On Thursday, however, I got to spend some time with Heide.  We went out for sushi while Kelly took the kids to the movies.  We looked at homes that she is interested in moving to that will downsize their house and expenses, and did a little geocaching on the way.  Heide found one of them just a few paces away from one of the houses she was looking at.

Heide and I took in a quilt show on Friday that just happened to be going on.  The theme was Red and White, so there were several quilts that were just those two colors, but of course, I was drawn to the scrappy ones!

When we returned from our visit, we had one good night's sleep and then got together with some friends and supporters of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on the 12th annual Troll Stroll!  Our team was small, but we had a good time.  Lauren, Branden, and Daniel were part of our registered team, and we had Bekah and her boyfriend, Neil, joined us for a time before they headed out to get a late lunch.

Lauren ran into a friend who was part of the stroll last year, and here he was a tutu.  Don't know, what happens on the Stroll stays on the Stroll.

At the end, I went to find a geocache up near the troll (it was actually two blocks away), which I thought was high time for me to go see.  After more than 20 years of living in the area, it's a shame that I have taken so long to go see this local icon.  I had to find the perfect place to stand in order to get the troll in and cut out the bums sleeping under the bridge and the camera man (whose lens still got into the right side of the frame) and the many tourists who took turns posing with the troll.  Someone took a bunch of chalk to the statue, which you just have to ignore.

Tomorrow...back to school.  I need to get to bed or it'll be a really hard morning.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Easter Vacation

We haven't done much so far this vacation, at least after Sakura-Con.  We went to visit with Avelyn & family for a few hours on Monday.  We spent a couple hours at the orthodontist on Tuesday.  Karate today. Woo.  Exciting times.

I have a couple of quilts done for Quilts of Valor.  The tops were sewn by a group of ladies in Wisconsin and I've been quilting them up.  I got one quilted up with loops and stars and the second one I did in a wobbly concentric circular pattern that I call Topography.  It looks like a topographic map.  Hopefully the quilt will make it to a soldier who likes maps. :)

I have been reading a bunch over the last couple of days.  There was a book from Nicholas Sparks that sounded interesting, so I downloaded it on Kindle (I love that I have the app on my phone!).  I blazed through it in just a couple days and it was so good, I downloaded another one and ripped through in less than 36 hours.  So I downloaded a third book (none of which have been made into movies, as far as I'm aware, so they were not "the Notebook", "the Lucky One", "Message in a Bottle", "Dear John" or "A Walk to Remember".  Although I might want to read them someday, I already know how they end.  So I selected "The Guardian", "Safe Haven" and "A Bend in the Road", the last of which I am just starting.

We will be doing some visiting in the next couple of days while we have some time available, and hopefully we'll be well rested when the school opens up for business again.

So for a little entertainment, here's a couple pictures.

Emma, reading Full Metal Alchemy.  The main character, Edward, is voiced (in English) by Vic Mignogna.

Ben wearing his new Sgt. Frog hat that Kelly picked up at the convention.  Sgt. Frog is a children's cartoon in Japan that was recently featured on Netflix.  I'm thinking about getting him the first couple of seasons of the show for his birthday.  The theme song is have to read the translation at the top of the video.

I'm hoping we can get some Geocaching done in the next few days.  I'm up to 56 finds now.  Apparently there are a few people who are up over 50,000.  I assume they're the types who travel a lot and make an effort to find a few every day, and have been doing this for 10 years.  5000 in a year at 14 a day.  That's a lot.  I've been a member for about 160 days and found 56...that's 1/3 of a find a day.  I'm  a little off the pace.  Maybe we can get a bunch more this summer.  There's a business district a few miles south with a half-dozen or so hidden around the buildings and rockery.  This will have to be investigated on a weekend when there are fewer people (and more parking spots)!