Monday, February 28, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes

Not a full day, but about eight hours made a huge difference last Friday.

The morning drive out of the neighborhood was a foggy, eerie one.

The drive back to the neighborhood later that afternoon was just as eerie...

...but the morning haze was replaced by striking sunlight and foreboding clouds.

Even with the sun, it looked like it might spiscioucate a little rain.

You won't find a definition for spiscioucate (say "spish-u-cate") online or in any dictionary. I did my best with the spelling. It's a word my grandmother use to describe a rain-threathening sky, one that was dark and commodious.  I think it's a fitting description for this afternoon sky.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Peace Poem

We adults can learn so much from our children. Everyday they say and do things that, if we listen and do what they say, life could be so much better. Like this for instance. It is a poem my 2nd grader wrote. I found it posted on the wall outside his classroom today among 16 other poems of peace profoundly penned by seven and eight year olds. I snapped a shot of my son's with my phone.

I love it, the last two lines especially. It is hard to make peace sometimes. Just look at the Middle East. Just look at world history; pick an era. Just listen to talk radio and cable news. Just look at our own government. Just look at your own family. Now look at it all like a second grader and know that peace is possible. Somebody just has to recognize it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Full Frontal Spring

The recent warm temps have tricked me into believing that spring really is right around the corner. Deep down, I know that this is just a tease and we will again be wearing winter clothes at least for a few weeks. So while I am in a spring mood, I decided to dress up my front door to match.

I made a trip to my local crafty store to see what they had that I could hang up, straight off the shelf. I was not impressed with the offerings. Everything looked too fake, too kitschy, too pastel, too much like a dusty old wreath that you might find on Crazy Aunt Lou's front door. I'm a creative girl with a mind of my own, so I figured I could make something myself that would be oh so much better than anything I could buy pre-made. So I did.

Here's what I purchased for my project: a selection of yellow forsythia and orchids, pale green and beige berries, a lemon tree branch, a half yard of burlap and two types of yellow ribbon. I already had the floral wire.

I arranged the flowers and foliage to please my eye. I have no training in flower arrangement; I just know what looks good to me. I tightly secured the stems together with the floral wire and evened the stem lengths with wire cutters.

I cut my half yard of burlap in half again to make it almost square. (I purchased more than I needed just in case I made a mistake).

The fabric lady at the crafty store showed me a cool trick. Burlap is hard to handle and difficult to cut a straight edge on. To remedy that, pull a loose thread in line where you plan to make your cut. The fabric will start to gather and bunch. Slide the gathers toward the opposite end and continue to pull the thread completely through. Once the thread is completely pulled out, the gathers disappear and you are left with an open row in the burlap where you can make a straight cut.

I used this trick to make a faux gathered-top bag out of my burlap. I did so by not pulling the thread completely through. I pulled threads from both sides and moved the gathers to where I wanted them so the burlap looked like this.

I did this on two opposite ends of my burlap square so I got a rectangle with two gathered ends.

I then folded the rectangle in half to resemble a bag shape.

Here's another angle to see the bag shape.

I had chosen two different styles of ribbon, one was to be the main pattern and the other an accent. I cut my two different ribbons to length, the main one about a foot longer than the other. Not being one who likes bows, I tied the ribbons around the bag in sort of a makeshift slip knot, making sure both ribbon patterns were visible.

I left the sides of the bag open but tucked them in, shaping the bag as I did. I could have sewn the sides and made an actual bag, but that would have been a few more steps and pictures to post. Instead, I slipped the flower stems in the bag and secured the bag to the flower stems by threading floral wire through the bag at the back and looping it through the stems.

Now I was ready for full frontal spring. Down came the ice skates that have donned the front door since early December. And up went my new, custom and completely unique spring door hanging.

If this doesn't say, "Welcome Spring!", I don't know what would.

Monday, February 14, 2011

And The Award Goes To...

Not the Grammys. I'm talking about The Pinewood Derby. The race has come and gone and like most things in life, it didn't turn out exactly like we planned. It turned out well for the most part but the specifics were just a bit different than we had expected.

Awards were won, but not the ones the boys predicted. We predicted the "Shag Mobile" (as in carpet, not Austin Powers) would receive the award for Most Creative Use of Materials, given that it is most likely the only Pinewood Derby car in the entire Cub Scout history to be completely encrusted in pipe cleaners. But interestingly, it was awarded the Most Colorful honor. And in direct opposition to the performance of its predecessors, it actually had some speed and won 2nd place overall in the heats for Leonardo's Den.

The other surprise was Helios' car/skateboard. It was awarded Most Creative Use of Materials rather than Best Vehicle That Is Not a Car as predicted.

Awards for the boys' cars were not guaranteed. The competition was stiff. Just look at the field of competitors.

On the downside, another unexpected event was that Helios needed a proxy to represent his car. You can't participate in the Derby like this.

Yes, the stomach bug has come back to our house. But so far has taken only one direct victim. There were collateral damages in that we had to cancel dinner guests to our house Saturday night a mere 20 minutes before their planned arrival. I hope they enjoyed the pizza they most likely had to order. Hubby, Leonardo and I had to eat more appetizers, spicy salmon and red velvet cake than we would have normally eaten had our dinner gone on as planned. Okay, maybe we ate the same absurd amount. But we felt we had to keep eating. Thankfully, we didn't get sick with that menu.

Anyway, Leonardo was well and happy to play proxy on Sunday.

I was sad to miss his very last Pinewood Derby ever. He's a Webelos, on his way out of Cubs and on to Boy Scouts. To console myself about these facts, I had to eat an extra piece of Valentine cake on Sunday while I sat at home tending to the sick during the Derby.

While we still have a few pieces of cake left, I really should put some in the freezer for when Helios is feeling better. But not all of it. I might need a piece to console myself about something else today, like the fact that my still new washing machine is leaking and I have all that extra stomach virus laundry to tend to. Or I might choose to look at the positive side and need to celebrate something like the nice weather. Either way I'll keep one piece out for me just in case while I wait for plumber to arrive.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Fragments

I'm back to unload my Friday Fragments, bits and pieces that by themselves might not be worth a whole post. But put them together and it's lots of fun. In no particular order, I give you:

A new favorite pasttime: Inspired by think.stew's Wordfuse, hubby and I have lately taken to creating words and randomly texting them to each other throughout the day. Here are a few recent faves:
  • Yo!diferous - (adjective) having a natural aroma that evokes a verbal response.
  • scrumpdubracatious - (adjective) having the quality of deliciousness and sliminess in equal measure (i.e. pudding, not-so-secret-family favorite Angel Pie)
  • whackmonious - (adjective) characterized by being ridiculous, self-righteous and piously proud of it.
  • sneedweedler - (noun) cannot share this definition; for our ears only
Forget the SuperBowl, the Pinewood Derby is here! My boys have been diligently sawing, sanding, gluing, and shellacing in preparation for this Sunday's smackdown. They have set their sights yet again on the coveted awards of Most Creative Use of Materials

And Best Vehicle That Is Not A Car

I think they both have a really good chance.

Under community service - An open letter to the ladies (and perhaps men) of YMCA locker rooms all over the country: I'm not pointing my thoroughly anti-microbial scrubbed fingers, but some need to be reminded that it is bad manners, as well as falling squarely on the list of the worst community hygiene practices, to sit completely naked on a community bench with nothing between you and the bench. Whether before or after our shower, we should refrain from placing our private parts on community property. That's what those nice little towels they hand out at the counter are for. I haven't confirmed this with the CDC but I just feel it's right.

Happy Friday!

Mommy's Idea

This post is linked up with Mrs. 4444s Friday Fragments.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

An Early Spring is Good News, No Matter How You Get Your Information

My kids are getting a much different elementary education than I did. How do I know? Here's a comparison of our Groundhog Day experiences:

My 2nd grade experience, February 2, 1974:

Complete a mimeographed handout about the groundhog.
The purplish ink on handout is still wet when given to students.

My son's 2nd grade experience, February 2, 2011: 

Watch actual Puxatawney Phil footage on YouTube via classroom computer.

My future grandchild's 2nd grade experience, February 2, 2048:

Converse with live Puxatawney Phil hologram beamed into the classroom and not have to rely on archaic technologies such as internet connections and YouTube.

But maybe by 2048, we won't be relying on a groundhog for seasonal information. Either way, all I really care about is that we do get an early spring. Bring it on.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Strike Up the Band

Good news - our elementary instrumental music program is safe. The Board of Ed decided yesterday to keep the program funded and operating. Let the music play!