Sunday, November 25, 2012

12-year-old quote of the day

"Where's my syllabus?" Seriously. He has a teacher that hands out a syllabus at the beginning of every grading period, and he has to check it every day to find out what kind of homework he should do to prepare for the next day's quiz. My ear just isn't trained to it yet.

Friday, August 3, 2012

After almost ten years…


Jon’s nursery is finally complete!  It was one of those projects that got put on hold, and then after we bought a bunk bed and he moved in with his brother around 6 years ago, the nursery became a dumping ground for all the stuff I didn’t know what to do with until we could barely get in and out of it anymore.  I always felt that I wanted to someday complete the project and take pictures before tearing it down, and I’m so glad I did. Even I had forgotten the tremendous amount of thought and creativity that went into some of this.


For example:  This was in the days before personalized wall phrases were available.  I printed the phrase on a piece of paper, blew it up to fit on 4 pieces of paper, and stood on a ladder painstakingly chiseling the outline of the letters in the wall with a pocket-knife.  Then I just filled in the inside of the letter with a paint pen.  The use of an overhead projector might have accomplished the same thing, but I didn’t have one..


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The Beatrix Potter swirls were “traced” using a throw blanket I was able to stick a pencil tip through the weaving of and make a dotted line.  The characters are simple wall decals.

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Oh, yeah.  Did I mention converted this room into a nursery?  It was originally my walk-in closet.  We moved our “closet” into the linen closet next to our shower.  Amazingly, nearly all traces of it ever having been a closet have been erased or are not noticeable to the point of Ashley telling me that it’s unfair for Jon to have had such a neat bedroom when he was a baby.  She had no idea that it had ever been a closet.


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This is the window valance I made.  I’m no seamstress, so as I recall it took several hours.  I found the fabric on ebay and remember how thrilled I was that it matched the theme so perfectly.  Take a look at the “Jonathan” blocks to the left.  I actually made those myself.  I couldn’t find any Peter Rabbit nursery blocks, so I made some.  I painted some toy blocks and put scrapbooking stickers on them and then sprayed sealant on them to make sure they all stayed put.  The clothes on the clothesline were swiped from some plush toys, but fit perfectly in with the story of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle. 


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…and I didn’t stop with just the front.  I filled every side with letters and numbers.

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This is the left half of the room.  You can see the curtained entrance on the left.  I absolutely adore this crib set.  I believe it might be the last one ever made, because it had been discontinued and I was very lucky to have found one in stock.


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I made the crib sheet myself using the fabric mentioned above.  Again, I’m no seamstress, but I know enough about sewing to make a fitted sheet.  Let’s just say the fabric will fall apart before those seams ever rip.  Anything worth doing is worth doing well.  The Beatrix Potter plush toys had all been discontinued and were exciting ebay finds.  The fuzzy, curly fur had a nice antique look and it took forever to collect all the ones I wanted.  Especially Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail. . .

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I had the idea to make an ottoman out of these bunnies with berry fabric.  They’re technically supposed to be picking black berries, but the red made a better presentation.

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I love the throw that’s hanging over the rocking chair.  It was a perfect match, and was on backorder for the longest time.  I wouldn’t have stressed about it if I’d known when the room would finally be complete.

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I’m so proud of this little corner.  Using the corner to tie in with something in the story was my mom’s idea.  I was lucky to have a wall decal that went perfectly with it.  Again, this was before the days of “make your own wall phrases,” so though it wasn’t nearly as painful as chiseling the borders on the wall, it was one letter-transfer at a time, and a lot of leveling.

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Mr. Jeremy Fisher was another fantastic ebay find.  His colors are perfect and he’s fishing right over the fisher-price aquarium toy.  I remember it wasn’t mentioned in the auction that he was a wind-up music box thrown into the bargain.  What a fun surprise!  The throw over the head of the crib is what I used to trace the swirls onto the wall.

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Right below “Mrs.” is a cottony cloud attached to the wall.  There used to be several more, but as Brandon got taller and taller, he tore them off one by one and made them into long snake-like creatures to play with.  He’s certainly been tall enough to reach the top one for several years, so I guess at some point, he forgot about them.  This plush Tiggy-Winkle is the only true antique in the whole nursery.  She honestly looked better by a mile than any of the updated versions.

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This is the other side of the nursery.  Karlon made the changing table and I covered it with a vegetable fabric skirt.  I painted the clouds, background and drawers on the armoire, and then put Tatouage fence posts on it to make the gate Peter Rabbit is squeezing under.  I had to cut them down narrow enough to match the fence-space on the Peter Rabbit.  The swirls on the drawer also compliments of the throw.

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A fun idea to cover the Diaper Genie.

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A little toy box with some classic toys.

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The middle basket is baby cologne and soap from Crabtree & Evelyn.  The whole nursery still smells like a baby.  I made the blankets in the left basket from some cute fabric.

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I carved a duck footprint out of a sponge and sponge-painted these.

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Notice the lovely brown box behind the armoire.  About 4 years ago, our security company came in and changed out the small cute box that blended into the scenery with this giant thing.  I cried.  You can still see duck footprints all above, below and behind it.  The 4 baby ducklings were bought around Easter time and were a perfect match.

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I love these “elegant and uncomfortable” clothes hanging out of the chest of drawers.  Mrs. Tabatha is cleaning up Tom in the background and getting ready to dress him.

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This is from “The Tale of Two Bad Mice,” which might be my favorite Beatrix Potter story.  They go into a doll’s house and are delighted with the dinner set on the toy doll table, and are so disappointed when they find out it’s not real, they make a mess of everything.  The lettering was made to look something like mouse footprints.

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I love this little chair and pillow.  They look like they were purchased as a set, but it was just a very fortunate match.

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The Tailor

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I also made the blocks on the side table.  But I didn’t do all six sides for some reason.  Maybe some were supposed to be flush with the table?

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I was so thrilled to find a little Peter Rabbit toy that was a perfect fit for inside this watering can.  The flower pot to the left has a reversible lid:

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I think that’s it!

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I'm amazed at all the stuff and ideas I worked into this little closet. It's got everything a nursery needs, and it doesn't have a crowded feel to it, either. I think I'll leave it the way it is for a little while before I tear it down.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Welcome Steffiann!

She is the most precious, adorable, angelic little puppy. Cute as a button, she looks like one of those perfect little stuffed dogs with the little black eyes, only she's warm and wiggly and she licks your nose with her tiny pink tongue. After three weeks, she's completely crate trained and practically housebroken (a total of 4 accidents in the house and NONE in the past 7 days!). We'd have named her Angel, but that name already belonged to her grandma.

Isn't she precious?

It all started 4 or 5 years ago with one of those promises we parents make without much thought, thinking whatever kid is involved will either forget all about it or else we'll worry about crossing the bridge when we come to it. . . Well, Ashley wanted a baby brother or sister. Many of her friends had baby siblings and all I heard for several months were questions about when she could have one too. It didn't matter that she already had a little brother, because they're so close in age that she was still a baby when he was born and she doesn't remember a thing about it.

So I promised her a dog. The deal was if she didn't have a baby brother or sister by the time she was ten years old, I'd get her a puppy. I never heard another word about a baby. Every statement from that moment forward went something like, "I can't wait until my 10th birthday when I get my puppy!" I heard this several times per month for a couple of years. She hadn't forgotten. She wasn't going to forget.

As soon as I realized this, I began researching. Ashley wanted a small dog that would stay sort of puppy-sized for its whole life. I figured puppy-sized compared to Stetson, our gigantic Golden Retriever, would be easy. She already had something in mind, though, and she called it a "poodle." My good friend, Carolyn, (and Ashley and Brandon's first-grade teacher) got a little white "Bichon Frise" and named her Daisy. Ashley loves Daisy with all her heart and thought she was a "poodle" because of her curly white coat. So she requested a poodle. After doing my research, I amazingly came up with a list of 2 (TWO!) breeds of small dog that were both friendly enough by nature to get along with our resident large-breed, and have a sturdy enough bone structure to hold up to hectic family life with three of not-the-gentlest kids (is that a nice way to put it?) And only one of them had a curly white coat -- the Bichon Frise. So I talked with my friend Carolyn, and told her the whole story. She said that she was considering breeding Daisy!!! We got the calendar out and counted backwards. As it turned out, Ashley's birthday would fall almost exactly to the week when the next possible litter of puppies could be adopted. Everything went right exactly according to schedule. Carolyn and I jumped up and down when we found a "husband" for Daisy. We jumped up and down when we found out she was expecting. All a secret to Ashley. Meanwhile, to throw her off track, I took Ashley to Petland and checked out a Maltese and a Westie. When Daisy finally got so huge, we couldn't keep the secret any more, Carolyn and I talked to Ashley after school. Ashley was so happy - just for Daisy - she was about to burst, and then we told her that one of the puppies would be her birthday present. The joy couldn't be contained. She was beaming. She was crying. She had to sit down. She hugged Daisy. She hugged Carolyn. I hugged them both. Ashley loved Steffi before she was even born.

The puppies were born the Saturday after Thanksgiving. There were three girls and two boys. I couldn't believe tiny little Daisy had 5 puppies! (where did she keep them?) Carolyn brought the puppies to school occasionally in December and then every day after Christmas break. We got to hold them and play with them every day. They were all adorable, but our puppy, Steffiann, was like the little lamb of the bunch. Plus she had the most darling little face with a nose perfect enough to look like it'd been swiped off a toy. What an Angel. We had planned to name her Steffy to go along with Steve, our box turtle, and Stetson, our Golden Retriever. But when we met her, she was so much less that perky A-type personality (though there's plenty of that in her) and more like a sweetheart "Mary Ann," so we just added "Ann" to "Steffy" and called her Steffiann.

What an adventure it's been these three weeks! Stetson wasn't quite sure what to make of her at first, but it only took a few days. He LOVES Steffi as much as the rest of us. It's very entertaining to watch them play together. He likes to go get a toy, dangle it in front of her, and then play "swing Steffi around" after she jumps up to grab it. Just in the past few days, they've been content enough to snooze together without picking a playdate.

Even our most pragmatic family members (Karlon and Brandon) have had their hearts melted by our little Steffiann. Her tail wags so fast you can hardly see it when either one of them enter the room.

Ashley is an excellent, responsible dog owner. She's been nearly 100% responsible for potty training, to the point of getting up at "opening yelp" at 7ish each morning and sometimes standing outside in her raincoat with Steffi on the leash. Those first few days when Stetson didn't quite know what to think of Steffi, Ashley kneeled down next to Stetson, hugged him and cried and cried and cried because she never ever wanted him to feel scared or sad or lonely. . . and there was no way she could tell him what she meant. I told her to tell him anyway. He understands more than you'd think.

So that's the amazing story of Steffiann. We're so proud of her! And I'm so proud of Ashley. She totally deserves to own the sweetest, cutest puppy in the world.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Good, Old-Fashion Fun

The irony of tonight's activities is really something worth blogging about.

We're halfway through summer and the kids are already tired of everything. Brandon came downstairs whining about being bored. I happened to have been dusting all the things on the entertainment center at the time and ran across a DVD that my dad brought -- a sampler from the various seasons of The Howdy Doody Show, his favorite show as a kid. As Brandon was complaining, I popped it in the DVD player. Within minutes, Brandon was laughing, thoroughly enjoying the show, and no longer bored.

Ashley and Jonathan were at the kitchen table working on something together. When Karlon and I looked closer, we saw that they had made themselves some "new toys." They didn't know it, but they had reinvented the "paper doll." Jonathan's was a Mario character with various accessories that could be interchanged, and Ashley's was a traditional little girl with various hats and gadgets that could be held. They played with them like they were puppets for well over an hour. Karlon and I didn't realize the irony until later. . . that Brandon was glued to The Howdy Doody Show, while Ashley and Jonathan were playing with paper dolls at the kitchen table.

. . .I guess it must have been 50's night :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dialogue of the day

Ashley: *MOM*. . . there's a show called Looney Tunes on and we were wondering if it's safe to watch.

Mom: Yes, it's fine.

Ashley: Great! . . .Hey guys, Mom said it was okay!

Jon: I remember the old days when these guys were babies.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More 4th grade humor

In what ways was Jerffrey Magee's life traumatic?

Brandon's answer:
Jeffrey Magee's life was traumatic because his parents died when he was 3 and he became an orphan. He also had to go live with his aunt Dot and uncle Dan who were very strict. Also, he had to go to school.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A funny journal entry

I found this entry in Brandon's school journal. It's not dated, but it's from at least three spelling-tests ago, so I'm guessing it's circa (roughly) the-last-week-of-October. The writing prompt was "What makes a good friend?"

Brandon writes:
Ismail is my best friend. We play capture the flag together and when Ismail or me are team captains, we choose each other first. So far, we've been team captains twice. The first time the score was 2-3, so we won. But last time it was 4-1, so we lost.

Me and Ismail also play soccer and football. Sometimes we even play made-up games, such as get the ball in the hoop, or maybe even one-legged race. He almost always helps me win and I help him. He's also honest and loyal. I haven't figured out if he's trustworthy, so I'll ask him.