Friday, December 16, 2011


Gabby's take on the rubix cube:
"It's the color block that I need to fix."

Gabby, when Nate took a piece from our Little People Nativity set:
"Nate stole Jesus!"

* * * * *

Nate now believes that upstairs is 'up hill.' So we hear things like:
"Come down da hill!!!"


"She's up da hill."

Then there was, "Daddy take offone dindow." Which turned out to be "Daddy opened the window."

And also, "Biaper"

"Say 'd', 'd', diaper."

"D, d, biaper."

* * * * *

Kate, as Gabby was chattering away:
"Stop talking constantly! Stop chattering! Stop gabbing! Stop talking!!!"

[Pot, meet kettle.]

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Twelve Days

I read a post over at Passionate Home Making that I was really drawn to. I love presents and giving them. Justin and I are on a fairly tight budget so that I can stay home, so there aren't a lot of frivolous purchases made. I saw the 12 days of Christmas idea and really thought it would be impractical, but then I started thinking about how to pull it off. After all, there are things I buy anyway that fit some of those, and some inexpensive extras that could stand in for some of the others.

Unlike the original Twelve Days, I am not repeating so we won't have 12 partridges, or 40 golden rings, or the like. And I'm also sure my sister is laughing because I can not stand the song, but it was just too good of an opportunity to pass up!

I haven't finished this little activity yet, so here's what I done so far...let me know if you plan to do this for someone in your life too. Justin isn't usually all that interested in gifts, but he has gotten excited to see what I have waiting for him each afternoon, so it has been a lot of fun for us both. Some of the things are very practical every day things or even things I have coupons for, but it makes sure he knows he was thought of, and that's the point, after all.

1 Sugar Free Coffee Creamer,

2 Bags of Popcorn,

3 Cans of Low Sodium Soup,

4 Razor Refills,

5 T-shirts,

And 6 Diet Root Beers (in the glass bottles)

* It can be hard to find items sold in groups of 7, 9, and 11, so you might want to save some homemade or creative ideas for those days!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nine Patch Quilt Guide: Quilting

Lay your backing material, cut a smidge larger than your finished quilt top, face down.

Next top this with the batting.

Then place your pieced quilt top (face up) on top. Be very careful that all of these pieces are perfectly flat. This helps to keep your quilt from puckering.

You then pin your quilt with quilting pins--huge safety pins that can pass through the three layers easily.

You can machine quilt (long straight lines are easiest, but you can get as fancy as you imagination allows
or that your machine will do for you),

followed by knotting the loose ends: sew the loose threads through to the back and knot with it's match on the back side.

Alternatively, you can knot the quilt. To do this, thread your hand stitching needle with several pieces of embroidery floss (not standard thread) in a coordinating color. Tie a knot on the top of the quilt and trim it, allowing an inch and a half of the floss to remain, as decoration and to keep the knot taut.

The very last step is to finish those edges.

The first option is to use bias tape (choose wide double folded tape in a color that coodinates with your quilt). Cut all of the edges of the three layered quilt to be exactly the same. Turn the end of the tape under to cover the raw edge. Fold the tape over the edge of the quilt and pin it with straight pins. When you get to the end of one piece of tape, just repeat the steps.

At corners, tuck the tape to help it form the turn. A simple straight stitch will secure the tape and close up your edges.

The other way to handle this it to fold the backing fabric over the batting

and then fold the front of the quilt in.

Again, use straight pins to hold it in place, then stitch over the edges with a machine or by hand.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December Busy-ness

I've been a busy little bee, but not much I can write about. It is the time of year for secrets! Miss Kate and I have been busy sewing though. I haven't taught Gabby how to sew just yet, but she's helped with some ironing for one of our projects, supervised of course. It is nice to have them actually start to get involved in the gift making and giving this year.

We finally got our tree up. Justin and I put up the tree on Saturday evening with lights and beads, and the kids got to help us put the ornaments on after church on Sunday. I love our tree.

It is full of ornaments I made growing up, that the kids have made, that my students gave me when I was teaching, and ones that Justin and I have collected or been given over the years. There are ornaments that represent our alma maters, our hometowns, and the children's first Christmases.

We also have some of my grandparents' ornaments, though those and the glass balls my parents gave us shortly after we were married are tucked safely away for when the kids are a little older and have some plastic stand-ins for now.

And now it is on to baking...treats for a Christmas party, homemade fudge (okay, that's not baking!), and of course there will be Christmas cookies!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Nine Patch Quilt Guide: Piecing

This is the second in the series of three posts in making a Nine Patch Quilt:
(click here for planning)

Stitch with the right (pretty sides together).

(Stitching 2 three square tall strips)

I piece the nine patches in strips of three blocks and then piece the three strips together, making a 9 patch block.

After all my blocks are made, I put all of the blocks in piles according to the columns in my plan.

I make each column.

Then, I piece each strip together to make up the widths of the quilt.

The final part of the quilt top is to add the border (which is totally optional).

After the top is finished, be sure to trim up all the loose threads and be sure all the strips are fully attached.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Happy 90th!

My Grannie is turning 90! The kids and I had the chance to celebrate with her and some of the family yesterday.

(Five Generations)

She raised six children, has 11 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren, not to mention all the other people who call her Grannie too.

She's seen a great deal in her 90 years and we are fortunate to have had her with us for so long.

Happy Birthday Grannie!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

About a Visual Latin Give Away

Justin and I decided we would like to teach the kiddos Latin in elementary school. We figure it is the basis for many other languages (including ours), so it would help in language study. I've also heard it helps in decoding a lot of vocab on those SAT and GRE exams or in med school (to which my husband groans), so it will be a nice information set for them to have there too.

I have not studied Latin, so I have been looking for a couple of good Latin programs to choose from that don't require the teacher to know Latin. I had been leaning toward Latina Christiana, but thought I would take a peek at some other reviews of Latin programs at Cathy Duffy's Homeschooling Resources Review site. I happened upon Visual Latin earlier this week and watched a sample with Kate. I think she needs at least one more year of reading before we start the program, but I really liked it. It is video based, so she can see the written words while she hears it (and I can too). Hey, if I win it now I'll learn it ahead of her.

When I checked my email this morning, I found they are giving away some copies of it. So if you are interested in getting your hands on a course in Latin, here is the link to the contest.

If you tweet, blog, etc, etc, etc... you can get an extra entry.

Friday, December 2, 2011


When I find Nate standing on top of the dresser we keep the TV on (thank you Daddy for attaching it to the wall!!), Kate says, "Boys, if you can't hear them they are probably taking the house apart!"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Critic

We have read through all of the Little House books. The girls adored them. They routinely play "Laura and Mary." The stick horses have been renamed Prince and Lady after Almanzo's horses. The baby dolls are often stand ins for Carrie or Grace. We hear words like 'wraps,' 'milk pail' and "Nellie Olsen."

It is absolutely lovely.

After the last book was returned safely to the library, I thought I would give them a real treat. I checked out the first episodes of Little House on the Prarie, the TV show. "But Carrie's hair isn't golden. Why doesn't Pa have a beard? Pa never worked on Sunday! Why did they lie?!"

"Kate, they didn't lie, they just added more things to make a show."

"Why would they do that?!"

"The books wouldn't be long enough to last all the years the show was on TV."

[An incredulous look]

I wonder what she will do when she sees how Eponine is virtually written out of the Les Miserables movie, how they had to abbreviate Little Women to make it fit, and don't get someone else in this house get started on the Lord of the Rings!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nine Patch Quilt Guide: Planning

Making quilt can be as simple or complicated as you want. This is a simple 9 patch.
First choose the size of the quilt you wish to make--you can measure the bed you wish to cover, remember to allow if you want to tuck it in.

The next step is to plan the quilt. For example, will a border take up part of the widths or are your squares going to the edge? Will you use biased tape or do you intend to turn the edges under (requiring a few extra inches) to make the edges?

Let's say we're making a 35" square baby quilt. There will be 12 nine patch blocks and 13 solid blocks (some of mine were printed marked 'r' and others where white, hence the markings on my paper). I decided on one 5" border, rather than the two I originally had planned.

I sketch it out on quadrille paper so I can decide upon a pattern.

I decide my finished squares will be 5". I add 1/4" per side (not per width or height), so I will cut 5 1/2" squares. For my 9 patch blocks, I divide 5 (from the size of my finished squares) by 3 (as the patch will be 3 blocks wide by three blocks high) and then add 1/4" per side, for 2 1/16" square. (These sizes are totally arbitrary, just pick the size that works for you--smaller squares require more sewing, but allow for smaller pieces of fabric and more designs.)

large block = x = 5" squared
block for 9 patch = y = x/3" squared + .25" squared + .25" squared

And maybe you thought you'd never have any use at all for basic algebra and geometry after high school!

** I'll post about more steps next week! **

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Some recent gems from the littles:

Gabby, as PawPaw was chasing her with the grilling tongs: "I am not a hotdog!"

Nate, upon seeing the advent candles, "Happy bi'thday, to you! Light 'em!"

Friday, November 25, 2011

Filling the Advent Box

I love celebrating Advent with my family. I love the symbolic candles, the carols, the reminders about what the season means.

We keep a nifty Advent box that my father made for us a couple of years ago. The actual number of days in Advent changes each year, since it begins 4 Sundays prior to Christmas, so our box has 24 drawers, one for each day in December leading up to Christmas.

I made a list of the things that will be in our advent box this year, along with the scripture verse and carol for each day! Feel free to take from it and adapt it as your own. I've seen neat advent calendars made with little gift boxes, match boxes, and even simple envelopes. Most of them match up, but there are a few odd ones--no stories about Christmas cookies or ornaments in the Bible, so those days don't 100% match up.

We bought a tiny nativity set a few years ago and that is where many of our little pieces can from. I also use little bitty ornaments.

(November 27th-Hope (Isaiah 40:3-5))

1-angel (Luke 1:26-38)
Angels we Have Heard on High
2-Mary (Luke 1: 46-55)
Mary Did You Know?
3-ornament we will make ornaments (John 1:1-4)
O Christmas Tree
4-Peace candle (Isaiah 9:6)
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
5-envelope make Christmas cards (Matt 2:20)
Go Tell it on a Mountain
6-Joseph (Matt 1:18-25)
Joseph's Lullaby -Mercy Me
7-crown (Isaiah 9:6-7)
What Child is This
8-movie (Revelation 12)
O Come, All Ye Faithful
9-sheep (Micah 5:24)
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
10-bow we will wrap presents for friends (Matt 2:11)
Happy Birthday to You (Jesus)
11-Joy (Isaiah 52: 5-9)
Good Christian Friends, Rejoice
12-paper pyramid to represent Egypt (Matt 2:13-15)
Spirit of the Age -Michael Card
13-animals (Luke 2:1-7)
Away in a Manger
14-cookie cutter make cookies (John 1:14)
Deck the Halls
15-shepherds (Luke 2:8-20)
The First Noel
16-rocks to represent the line of David (Matt 1:1-17)
Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
17-singing ornament we will go caroling (Luke 2:13-14)
Angels from the Realms of Glory
18-Love (Jer 33:14-16)
Silent Night
19-Nativity Ornament (Micah 5:2)
O Little Town of Bethlehem
20-wise men (Matt 2:1-12)
We Three Kings
21-lights (Isaiah 9:1-2)
There's a Song in the Air
22-candy canes (Isaiah 53:5)
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
23-star (Matt 2-1)
O Holy Night
24-Jesus (Luke 2:1-2)
Joy to the World

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Two Ain't Got Nothin' on Four

Oh my goodness. Who is this angry little thing that comes out of my normally sweet little gal?

She picks on Kate before they are to get up in the mornings. She refuses to help clean up her messes. She is becoming a full time job on her own. We will get there, but there are days it feels like I'm banging my head against a brick wall.

Yesterday we were walking into the store and she let go of my hand and took off. We hold hands in parking lots. We do not go it alone. So as I was telling her this she wandered off, like into the line of one of those powered wheelchair shopping carts, so I had to pull her back. That made her more angry, so I had to carry/pull her out of the way, as half of the opening of the store was closed off and we were very much in the way. As I tried to tell her what we need to do in public, she covered her entire face with her arms. I marched onward. She stayed put. It was busy. It was crowded. She was hostile. She thought she had won, but girlie doesn't know her Mama. There was only enough snack for two, so she didn't get any. There was only enough dessert for the rest of us. Natural consequences, natural consequences. No grocery store, no special food for you. Don't mess with that laundry folding marathon I had scheduled!

Now, I suppose I better get to the store before there is no food for anyone.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Twice in the past week, I've had strangers hold open doors for me. The kids are getting older and I'm no longer carting a ginormous double stroller with me, but they held the door in common civility anyway. When I thanked the first gentleman, he told that we made his week in allowing him the honor. I missed that when we were in Kansas!

I am trying to teach our children manners. It isn't always easy. People often dismiss us when we try to correct our children's manners. Sure, they are young, but if we don't teach it now, they will develop into big kids or even grown ups without manners. I love to hear Nate say, "Tank ooo," and I'm always proud to see the girls use their manners too. Hopefully as they get a little stronger, they will be holding open doors for the people behind them too.

I have an etiquette curriculum, but I have to say that I think the best thing for their manners lately has been reading the Little House books. Those kids are well behaved, treat each other and their parents kindly, and are sweet loving girls. Maybe we'll re-read these every year!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Oh dear. Evidently I'm not the only person who exploded coffee lately. Every once in a great while I look at the stats for the blog. I was looking at the referring searches--it's fun to see what people (in the most general sense--it doesn't tell me any details about individuals) are reading. People have checked in to look at Cat in the Hat hat cakes lately and turkey crafts. One individual typed in "microwave stopped working after coffee exploded in it." If you've stopped back by, I hope your microwave is working now!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Giving Thanks

Our little Thanksgiving craft from this past week.
Kate wrote her own from the list I scribed for her. Gabby wrote with a bit of help. I wrote for Nate, of course, but he gave me his list too.