Monday, August 20, 2012

Grandma Week 2012: Day 8, There's Only One ... Lagoon

I don't care how poor a man is; if he has family, he's rich.
–Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford, "Identity Crisis," M*A*S*H

Today was the last day of Grandma Week for 2012. Most everyone started the day by going to the Brigham City Temple open house. Grasshopper had an school orientation this morning that we felt was important for him to attend, so LadyBug, Grasshopper and I went to the open house on Saturday, and made a quick trip home for Grasshopper's thing at school.

Then we met at Lagoon around midday.
{back row l to r: Jeremy, Julie, Miss Butterfly, Grasshopper, Mr. Bug, Elizabeth
front row l to r: Mantis, Cap'n Underpants, Roly Poly, LadyBug, Grandma}

What with all the fun things to do I don't think we were all together at one time to get a photo of the full group.
{Mark & Pixie}

Because of the varied activities and interests we split up into groups so that the little people could ride on the little people rides, and the crazy people could ride on the big scary rides and the sane people could ride on the more sensible rides. LadyBug is a die-hard roller coaster fan, just like her mom and grandma. She rode six of the nine coasters {only because we ran out of time}, including the incredibly intimidating Wicked {riders launch straight up a 110-foot tower at 41 mph and over the top of the first hill, which then makes a 180˚ turn and plummets straight back down. The ride continues through through steep valleys, high-banked turns, a half-pipe, and a heart-roll inversion, achieving speeds of up to 55 mph.} We laughed, we ate delicious-but-horrible-at-the-same-time amusement park fast food, we faced mortal peril and came out victors! It was an awesome day and an awesome way to end Grandma Week.

Thank you, mom, for a really fun week! I love you!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Grandma Week 2012: Day 7, A Day of Rest

We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. –Erma Bombeck

Usually we do Grandma Week earlier in the summer, but this year my brother, Andrew, was coming home from his two-year service mission for our church so my mom {the Grandma in charge of Grandma week} scheduled {most of} our activities after his return. As we do not have a paid clergy, our meetings consist of members teaching other members the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and when you return from a mission you are often invited to speak in church about your experiences and the things you learned. Andrew and both of my parents were invited to speak in church and attending the meeting together was part of our scheduled activities.

We have one sister who lives just a few blocks from my mom and our brother and his kids live near enough that they don't need to sleep at my mom's. But another of my sisters lives a good 2½ hours away and we live an hour and 15 minutes away, so my mom has a full house for Grandma Week. We sleep on couches and floors, in bunk beds and on futons. Shower times are easily negotiated and everybody is reasonably comfortable. But since my mom's ward {congregation} meets at 9:00 am, and it is best to arrive showered and shaved, my sister put together a schedule that provided shower times for 12 people between 6:00 and 8:00 am. It was truly miraculous. Everyone had hot water and we were in our seats, washed, pressed, fed and relatively happy 10 minutes before services started. It was a wonderful meeting and we enjoyed being together. After church, we had a large pot-luck lunch, with ham and potato salad and lots of yummy desserts. The kids played and the adults talked and we had a really relaxing afternoon and evening.


Attending the open house for the Brigham City LDS Temple is another of our activities. Grasshopper, LadyBug and I went on Saturday night and the rest of the group are going on Monday, so it seemed to fit better between the two days, in this post.

Temples are beautiful, sacred places. They are not open to the public, or even to all members of The Church, except for the few weeks after construction and prior to being put into service. Anyone wishing to view the temple may attend the open house.

Read more about Temples

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Grandma Week 2012: Day 6, Corn Dogs and the Air Force Museum with Grandpa

Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life!
–Albert Einstein

Aren't Saturday mornings wonderful? Saturday during Grandma Week is no exception. There's plenty of time to read the news.
{Roly Poly}

No hurry to get dressed.
{Dogpile top to bottom: Miss Butterfly, Andrew, Grasshopper, Mantis, LadyBug}

And once the chores are done, Grandpa takes the kids to do some of his favorite things.
{Top: Miss Butterfly
Bottom Left: Grasshopper, Mantis, Grandpa, Mouse
Bottom Right: LadyBug, Julie, Roly Poly, Cap'n Underpants}

My dad loves hot dogs, especially ones bought at the gas station C-store. Today he treated all the grand kids to a gas station corn dog picnic, followed by a visit to the Air Force Museum.

After checking out all the cool historical Air Force stuff, they got to make rockets at the Aerospace Center for Education and launch them off.
{Center l to r: Grasshopper, Miss Butterfly, LadyBug with Instructor Larry who did a terrific job, Mantis, Lizard Boy, Cap'n Underpants and Instructor Larry again, Mouse, Roly Poly
Bottom l to r: Grandpa, Lizard Boy, Roly Poly, Mouse, LadyBug, Miss Butterfly, Mantis, Grasshopper, Cap'n Underpants}

Friday, August 17, 2012

Grandma Week 2012: Day 5, Bumper Cars, Bowling & the Aquatic Center Do-Over

Family: A social unit where the father is concerned with parking space, the children with outer space, and the mother with closet space. –Evan Esar

Today we went to a fun center. All the attractions are 99 cents during the summer. We started out with bumper cars. We had two more people than they had bumper cars, so we split into groups; big kids and little kids. It was super fun!
{l to r: Cap'n Underpants, Mouse, Mantis, Roly Poly}

Then we went bowling. Someone put on her flip-flops and forgot to bring socks. She had to buy a pair from the vending machine. At least they were stripey and cute.
{My new vending machine socks. Turns out they were lucky; I got two strikes, a spare and bowled a 103! Wohoo!}

Quote of the day:
Andrew, age [a few days short of] 21
So, Jill, I see you brought your own bowling ball.
{Grandma, Jill, Andrew}

Roly Poly took his bowling seriously. I think he bowled an 86.
{I asked Roly Poly about his socks. His reply: "They're Boise State."}

After bowling and lunch, we we went to our favorite indoor/outdoor aquatic center. We attempted a swim day during part 1 of our Grandma Week this year, but it was a bust. The management was gracious enough to issue us free admission for a return trip.

Quote of the day #2
Lizard Boy, age 7
I was three dollars [to get in] but now I'm free dollars.

{Lizard Boy}

Swim day is LadyBug's favorite. I love that smile!
{Roly Poly, LadyBug, Andrew}

{Andrew, Grasshopper}

Quote of the day #3
Mouse, age 5
After borrowing Andrew's swim goggles and exploring the underwater world . . .
From my observation of goggles, mom's feet are not touching the ground.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Grandma Week 2012: Day 4, Bouncy House and Crafts

When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses. –Joyce Brothers

My mom is so cool. She rented a bouncy house for the day.

Expected delivery time was approximately 7:00 am. Miss Butterfly and LadyBug were up before then, waiting to be the first kids in the bounce house. It wasn't delivered until about 20 after and by then all the kids were awake and waiting. When they got word that it had arrived, there was a stampede up the stairs from the basement and a delighted squeal of, Eeeeee! Bouncy! was heard from Roly Poly as they all went out the door.
{Miss Butterfly}

{Cap'n Underpants & Miss Butterfly}

{Miss Butterfly & Mantis}

During the hottest part of the day, we came inside for crafts. The kids ate about a hundred freezer pops, did fuse bead art and wove bracelets from parachute cording.
{l to r: Roly Poly, Mantis, Lizard Boy & Mouse}

Quote of the Day:
Pixie, age 4
While trying to get her fuse beads in exactly the right place . . .
It looks like I'm going to have to do this the hard way.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Grandma Week 2012: Day 3, Hogle Zoo

Families are like fudge—mostly sweet with a few nuts.

Every summer my mom hosts a stay-cation for her grandkids. We love it and look forward to it every year. We divided it up this year into two parts. Day 1 and 2 were in June. We kicked off part two at the zoo, which is a perennial favorite for our family.
{l to r: Mantis, Lizard Boy, Mouse
Cap'n Underpants, Roly Poly
Miss Butterfly, Grasshopper, LadyBug}

Our little zoo has made some huge improvements in animal habitats over the last few years and we really enjoyed watching the animals, especially the newest exhibits this year; the polar bear habitat and the sea lion and seal habitat. It was pretty spectacular.

At lunch, we had an unexpected guest. This Tom Turkey wandered into the picnic area. That is LadyBug sitting in the chair, so you can see how close he got to us looking for food.

One of the things I like most about Grandma Week is watching the cousins play together. We assigned buddies at the zoo, pairing the smaller kids with the bigger ones. Grasshopper was Roly Poly's buddy and he made it his mission to make sure Roly Poly got to see all of the animals and didn't get lost. I love it!
{Grasshopper, Roly Poly, Miss Butterfly}

Quote of the day:
Lizard Boy, age 7
After nearly completing our circuit of the zoo . . .
Me: I don't think I've had a squeeze from you today.
Lizard Boy: I think that's because you didn't ask.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pinwheel Sampler: Quilting Inspired by . . .

To be creative, you need to be able to view things in new ways or from a different perspective. Among other things, you need to be able to generate new possibilities or new alternatives. Tests of creativity measure not only the number of alternatives that people can generate but the uniqueness of those alternatives. The ability to generate alternatives or to see things uniquely does not occur by change; it is linked to other, more fundamental qualities of thinking, such as flexibility, tolerance of ambiguity or unpredictability, and the enjoyment of things heretofore unknown. –Robert E. Franken, Human Motivation, 3rd ed.

A long time ago I read a story about a future where government experts could detect a person's talents shortly after birth. Only those who had extraordinary gifts were allowed to create. They were removed from society where they were encouraged to develop their talents free from the influence of the work other artists. The story follows a man who had prodigious musical talent. From childhood he lived with his caregiver in a secluded cabin in the woods, and his companion ensured that he was never exposed to any music created by anyone but himself.

The man grew curious and somehow procured a piece of Beethoven's work, unbeknownst to his caregiver. He listened to the music, enjoying it immensely. However, as soon as he had finished, he knew that he could not use what he heard in Beethoven's music in his own. His music became inhibited as he avoided those chords and combinations he had heard in the great composer's work, and eventually his transgression was discovered. For his crime, he was forbidden to ever play music again and he was returned to normal society.

Years later, he entered a bar where an forlorn piano sat in the corner. The temptation was too much. The man could not resist. To the shock of the occupants of the bar, he sat down and began to play, producing the most beautiful and harmonious music from the dilapidated and out-of-tune instrument. It was not long before government officials came to deliver justice to this man who had twice broken the law. His punishment was swift and irrevocable; they cut off his fingers. Surely this would prevent him from breaking the law again.

He was assigned to work on a road crew. Without fingers, he couldn't do much, except for hold a sign. He began to hear rhythms in the world around him and again began to make music, this time without an instrument. He used what was around him, beating out beautiful rhythms and melodies. The officials again came quickly to silence the law-breaker, this time taking his life.

I can't remember what this story was called or who wrote it, but I have vivid mental pictures of it. I may have gotten the ending a little confused, but this story has stuck with me for a long time. I've been thinking a lot about creativity in the last little while. Sewfrench posted about it earlier this month, and since then I've been thinking about how I create.

Once upon a time, I thought I was not creative. I thought that a lack of original ideas made me not creative. In the quote above, which I borrowed from Sewfrench's post on this subject, it says that being creative means looking at things from a different perspective and being able to generate new possibilities or new alternatives. To be honest, I don't think there are any new ideas left. It's all been said and done. But that doesn't mean there aren't creative people.

Think about it this way; using a pattern to make an item of clothing is not considered as an uncreative endeavor. You get to choose the fabrics, colors and perhaps make an alteration or two and you make it your own. Even if you choose the very same colors as shown on the pattern, you’ve still created something that was not in existence before. And nobody says, “well, you used a pattern so you’re not creative.” You can apply the same line of thinking to using a recipe when cooking. Why shouldn't that also be the case with quilt making or gardening or writing? Just because you saw it somewhere else doesn’t mean you’re not creative. And why re-invent the wheel every time, anyway? I consider myself to be very creative, but hardly ever come up with a project from nothing. I almost always see something that inspires me and then make it my own.

I'm plugging away at my pinwheel sampler quilt. I'm SO close to finishing it I can taste it. I have 16 {out of 40} sections of sashing left to quilt and I will be there. This quilt has been so much fun to work on. I don't know if I will ever do such a detailed quilting job again, but it is good to know I can. Since I started machine quilting, I have been watching other quilters who do beautiful work and they have inspired me. I've incorporated a lot of that in my quilt. I've used ideas from Wendy at Ivory Spring, Natalia at Piece 'n Quilt, Leah at The Free Motion Quilting Project, Karen McTavish and Lane at That Man Quilts.

More than a year ago, Lane did a quilt he called West of Paris, Texas. I was absolutely in awe of the spiraling or twisting feathers he did. I was in the planning stages for this quilt and was going to do a sort-of braid in the sashings, but when I saw Lane's feathers I knew that's what I wanted to do. This is the last bit of quilting left on my quilt. I left it for last because, while it is completely awesome, it is also scary. This is my second section. The feathers are not uniform and it looks a bit pinched.

It took me probably five or six more sections to get comfortable enough to know how to fill the space evenly and make the feathers more uniform, but I think I'm finally there.

I'm grateful to those, named and unnamed, who inspired me!

Today's post brought to you by:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I'm A Mormon: Patrice Arkins — Singer, Wife & Mother

If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
–D&C 136:28

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pinwheel Sampler: I'm Finished Unpicking. I Think.

Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.
–Paulo Coelho

My quilt label is once again out-of-date, but I've finally got the quilting done in all of the pinwheel blocks.

This is the first time I've shown the whole quilt top. Just to balance it out, here is the back. I LOVE the windmills along the seam.

I took these pictures on Monday and Tuesday of last week but didn't have a chance to write a post. I finally had a few minutes on Saturday and with the goal of keeping things short and sweet, I spent way to much time editing photos and putting together the above collage. I was going to post just that and call it done, but I started writing, I figured I might as well give you the full guided tour. Obviously, it's a really long tour as I'm just posting it now. And there's a bit of picture overload. Off we go, then.

Block 1A: A little bit of stippling, a few swirls and some pebbles. I wasn't sure how this block was going to turn out. Unpicking was involved so I could do the swirls in colors of thread that stand out better in the pink and brown sections. I think the pebbles done in pink look kind of lacy.

Block 1B: More swirls and pebbles and a big flower which I really like. I didn't care much for this block before it was quilted, but really like it now.

I hadn't planned to add a second row of stitching around the pebbles, but while I was working, it just seemed like that's what it needed. It kind of frames it in.

Block 2A: I was really leaning towards unpicking the swirls in the sashing, but finally decided that I'm OK with having some supercalifragilisticexpialidocious swirls and some supercraptastic swirls and used the Blue Line Eraser to remove my spacing marks. I think I'm done unpicking. Or, at least I'm not going to unpick anything in this block.

Block 2B: This block is one of the first blocks I finished when I was working on this quilt a year ago. It's been quietly avoiding the seam ripper and is one of only a handful of blocks that hasn't been unpicked even just a little. Or a lot, as the case may be.

Block 3A: I finished this block last year as well. This is one of my favorite blocks pre-quilting, but I didn't like how the doodle quilting in the background looked. My options were to unpick and use a lighter color of thread, or add more quilting. I went with the second option and ended up with a lot of thread-play in a color of thread that stands out. I'm not sure how I feel about it. And I don't really have the option to unpick anymore, so I guess it stays.

Block 3B: Again, one of my favorite blocks pre-quilting. And one of the first blocks I worked on last year. I'd just mastered meandering feathers and really wanted to do a wreath. I'd intended to do feathers on the inside and outside, but saw a feather wreath like this somewhere and decided to do criss-crossing straight lines instead. I used a walking foot for that and it was a hassle. But I LOVE how it turned out.

I did an approximation of McTavashing in the background. I probably should have brushed up on it before I did it in the quilt, because I remembered it differently than it really is. At this scale, my stitches aren't as even as they could be. Still, I really like the effect.

Block 4A: I am still undecided on whether to unpick the feathers in those pink triangles in the center. I think it would look better if the thread stood out a little more. I decided to try the straight-line quilting with my free-motion foot on this block. It was scary, but not too bad for a first attempt. And it was a lot less of a hassle than using a walking foot, which makes up for the scary factor.

Block 4B: This is another block that I like more after it is quilted than before. The quilting is fairly simple, but I think it works. I love the feather "swags" in the pink flying geese. You can't see it, but there are feathers in the brown part of the pinwheel as well. I also did the straight-line quilting on this block with the free-motion foot. Still scary, but I did improve a bit from the last block.

Block 5A: This block is another of my favorites, both before and after quilting. I've repeated a few quilting motifs throughout the quilt, but tried to do different things in each block to make them all unique. I really like to do fans or half-flowers in the triangles. I did feathers in the brown section {which you cannot see} that stretch from the corner to corner across the length of each section. They kind of look like kite tails.

I love those little loopy swirls.

Block 5B: I did half-flowers in the smaller center triangles and then did different leaves in the big pink triangles and the brown sections. I really like how the leaves came out. They are kind of rough, but that is how they are supposed to be, instead of trying to be pretty and round and smooth and not quite succeeding.

I used the leaves that we did in the 2012 Free-Motion Challenge in January as filler for the background. The leaves in the background and half-flowers in the center pinwheel are round and smooth and make a nice contrast with the the rougher leaves in the pink and brown areas.

Block 6A: I really like how this block turned out. The dark fabrics are really difficult to photograph so that you can see the quilting. I guess you'll have to trust me when I tell you there are feathers there. Getting the curlicues to come out smoothly in a larger space than I've quilted them in before was a bit challenging, and I possibly didn't do the best job ever on that part. I'm hoping the awesome pink fabric will make up for that. The swirl filler in the background is quite possibly my favorite bit of quilting in this whole quilt, but I can't be 100% sure. I love how it came out, though.

Block 6B: These two Dutchman's Puzzle blocks were the hardest blocks to figure out quilting for. I think it was because I wanted the pinwheel in the center and the large windmill to stand out and the extra flying geese blocks in the corners were kind of in the way. The quilting in this one is pretty simple, but I like the effect.

Again, I used my free-motion foot to do the straight-line quilting. I'm still working on this and not all of my straight-line quilting is this even, but this little section is pretty darn awesome and I had to show it off.

Block 7A: I should quit using the word "favorite" because it implies exclusivity. I'm not sure what other word to use in it's place though and this is another of blocks that is a favorite, both before and after quilting. It was one of the first blocks I finished last year. I used a walking foot for the straight lines and I love how it came out. I had the curlicues stitched in a light pink that blended in, but ended up unpicking and using the darker pink, which I like much better.

Block 7B: This quilt is called In the Pink: A Study in Pinwheels. Even though I have doubles of all the blocks, I wanted to quilt something different in each one. I wanted to stretch myself a bit and I wanted the quilting to accent the piecing. It is fun to compare the different quilting in each of the sets of twin blocks. The difference the quilting makes in the perception of the block is especially evident in this set of twins. In the block below, the quilting emphasizes the three frames around the center pinwheel and you see both the pink and white pinwheels together as a block. The quilting in the block above makes the pink pinwheel stand out and emphasizes only the brown frame.

Block 8A: The loopy half-flower and swirl filler in the background is something different in this block than the others, but I've repeated half-feathers, feather "swags" and flowers.

Block 8B: Again, nothing really new here; arcs, fans, half-feathers. Something about the straight line quilting in the background that frames out the on-point squares makes me think "80's." Is that just me, or does anyone else get that vibe?

I just have the quilting in the sashings left. I'm doing feathers. The finish line is in sight. Sort of.

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