Tuesday, August 19, 2014

5th grade?

My little guy had Back To School last night where he found out who his new teacher will be and got to see some of his classmates and heard all about the class rules.  He got the teacher I wanted, I worked with him (yes, his first male teacher!) when I first started teaching elementary school 24 years ago.  I hope he has a great year and learns a lot.

He gets to do band this year and although the band instructor wasn't there last night to be able to ask questions, he will get to pick an instrument.  He has no idea what he wants to play.

School starts Wednesday.  Ready or not!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I get more done

 I get more quilting done when I have a bad headache.  Isn't that weird?  Today after a week of not taking any pain medicine, I finally broke down and took advil and caffeine and tylenol/codeine.  I feel worse for having taken the medicine.
But doing some quilting distracts me from feeling so icky.  All week I haven't felt much like quilting because I just wasn't feeling well, but having a terrible headache and the only thing that made me feel better was quilting.  How crazy is that?

These quilts were both made with panels.  There are lots of ways to use printed panels when making quilts and they make up quickly.

One more day of summer vacation.  Here's hoping for a better day tomorrow.

another one off the list

So I'm not going to make my list of quilts to finish before school starts, but I have one more almost finished at least.  This is another baby quilt for one of the teachers who had a baby this summer.  I don't think she is coming back on Monday, but if I can get the binding done tomorrow will bring it Monday to give to her friend to give to her.  I'm just not good at holding on to things for a long time.  I really like this quilt pattern.  2 1/2 inch strips sewn into blocks and 6 1/2 inch squares.  In 2 hours you have a pretty good size quilt top.  It's just shy of the width of fabric, so no piecing for the backing.  Then, depending on the quilting design, in 30 minutes or less you can have it quilted up and 30 more minutes and the binding is done.  In 3 hours you have a nice baby shower gift done.

I still have 2 more quilts I am supposed to do, but don't think I will even get started on either.  That's ok.  There's lots of time once school starts.  Sewing is very relaxing.

Friday, August 15, 2014

winding up and winding down

I guess I am ready for my summer to come to and end and my school year to begin.  It's not like I really have a choice in the matter.  I have been in to school 3 days this week, so I must like going there even when I don't have to be there and you can tell from the quilt pictures, things are winding down in that department.

After going in to the doctor and having her tell me that I shouldn't be taking so much headache medicine, I stopped taking any pain meds last Saturday.  It's been 6 days since I've taking anything for the headache and I'm still having them every day.  So, I'm not sure how long they can claim these are rebound headaches from taking too much medicine, but I'm determined to stick it out and see just how long I can go without having to take something.

I find that when I'm out doing stuff, I can distract myself and then get to the point where I just have to come home and sit for a couple of hours before I can get up and get going again.  Not really practical when I have to teach, but for these last few days of summer, it's been working.  That's one of the reasons I haven't been quilting as much.  I just haven't felt as well.  When I'm on medicine, I have more energy to get stuff done.

I'm not sure there is a good solution to the problem.

I watched a 45 minute lecture on chronic headache today on youtube and the doctor talked about all the latest theories about people who have headaches more than 15 days a month.  I'm tempted to try botox again, seems like there are other injection sites besides the forehead that might work better, like the back of the neck and temples.  I'm working with the headache clinic Nurse Practitioner now to figure out if there's anything else I can try.

Going in to school today and seeing all of the incoming freshmen students got me a little excited because they are all so small.  I forget just how little these guys are at the beginning of the year.  By the end of the year, they have grown up so much and have turned into the typical teenagers where they know everything about everything, but at the beginning of the year, they are still cute and funny and a joy to be around.

I'm excited for the new teachers.  Once again, we have a whole crew of new faces this year.  I'm not exactly sure why such a huge turnover at our school, but the past 5 years or so, we've had a large amount of teachers leave and there have been a whole bunch of new names to learn.  They moved our parking spaces because we are getting a new library, and those of us 'old timers' got the best spots.  I'm way up there in seniority and got one of the closest spaces.  It pays to stick around I guess!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

quilting for others

Do you quilt for hire?  When I got my long arm last summer, I had visions of quilting for hire and making millions of dollars, quitting my teaching job and doing what I love all day.  Well, that quickly disappeared when I realized how stressful it was.  Taking someone else's hard work and having the sole responsibility of turning all those hours into a finished quilt was just too much stress.

Taking a donated quilt top and making it a finished quilt is fun and stress free.  If the thread breaks a million times, or the foot makes a hole in the top, there are lots of ways to fix it.  But, what if that happens to some else's quilt top?  What do you do?

A friend brought this quilt top over to me to quilt for her.  She asked how much I charged and I said nothing.  Besides the tax issues of charging someone, there's the unneeded stress that goes into making sure the quilt is perfect.  I love quilting and always want it to be fun.

This is the first of the two quilts she asked me to do (well, I made the offer to quilt something for her and she happened to have two finished and ready to go so I said bring them both!).  Normally she sends them down to a friend to quilt, but rather than pay shipping both ways, makes sense to bring them to me.  More money for more fabric and batting.  I think I will even try and get her to start binding quilts for us.  Win, win, win!

See, you sucker them in with the offer of free quilting, but is anything in life really free?  Hey, I will quilt for you and when you pick up your quilt, oh, wait, here's 10 more quilts that need binding, do you mind?  They are so happy to have their quilts done, they don't notice the extra quilts they are taking home.  Then, they feel guilty and just have to do the binding.

I'm a sneaky one aren't I?  And you thought I was just being nice :)

I wonder how many other 'friends' I can offer FREE quilting to?  That is before they figure out it's all a scam and I lose all my friends.

Do you want to be my friend?  I have a pile of quilts waiting.  Come to think of it, I haven't heard from my binding buddies in a couple of weeks.  I wonder if they went into Witness Protection or something...

when you're having a bad day

A precious baby on a quilt makes everything better!  I gifted this quilt yesterday and got the thank you with picture today.  How beautiful is this baby?  This makes me want to go sew something right now!  Or have another baby.  That would be even better, but since I can't just go do that, I think I better go quilt something.

Monday, August 11, 2014

You never know

(this is for the other twin)

So the sad news of Robin Williams passing today really hit me that you never know what someone is going through.  Here this funny man who seemed to have everything going for him was suffering with depression.  If you've never personally dealt with depression or mental illness, you may not really understand why someone would take their own life when they have money and fame and friends.

I went through a period of depression caused by some medicine the doctors gave me for my migraines.  It was horrible.  The feeling of hopelessness and just not caring about anything was so overwhelming.  Just not having the desire or energy to get up off the couch was so heavy.  Luckily I was able to stop taking the medicine and come out of it pretty quickly, but for someone whose own body is making too many or not enough chemicals and who is fighting against their own brain and to get to a point that death seems like the best option makes me so sad.

I hope that out of this tragedy, some light can be shed on the horrible state of the mental health institution in this country.  Too many people I know who have sought help for mental health issues are either put on a waiting list or told there isn't help available because their problem isn't big enough yet.

It's sad that you can get surgery quicker than you can get in to see a psychiatrist because you are thinking of committing suicide.  And heaven forbid a parent tries to get help for a child who is over 18.  Sorry, but they are now adults and you no longer have a say in their lives.

One of the places I love to donate quilts is A Mother's Hope.  They give quilts and hope to mothers who suffer from Postpartum depression.

If you have a desire to make a difference in the life of someone who needs to know that there are people out there who care, they can use quilts all year.  They don't have to be really big and you can make them as girly as you like.  A note of encouragement is always welcome too.

You never know what someone is going through, so even if you don't have time to make a quilt, just taking the time to smile at someone or buying them a donut or cup of coffee (or tea for me please!) or just a minute to say 'thanks' can mean the world to someone going through a really rough time in their life.

(especially a teacher who has to go back to work soon :)

The heart beats a little faster

 So, there's one week left of summer vacation.  Most parents are excited for their kids to go back.  I find my heart beating a little faster this week.  I wake up several times a night from the back to school nightmares.
 They usually involve my classes throwing things and me yelling about sitting down and doing work.  OH, wait, that's normal every day behaviors :)  No, not really.  I don't yell!
 But, it does seem about this time every year, I remember all of the things I wanted to do over the summer that I had good intentions of doing all summer that I never started.  Like organizing my giant t shirt collection, or exercising and losing weight, or making 100 quilts.  Oh, wait, I did that one :)
 This is the quilt for the Vice Principal/counselor whose wife had the baby 4 weeks early.  Hoping to get the binding on today and gift it tomorrow when I take my son in and pay a zillion dollars for his senior pack.  Why is everything so expensive?  Oh, yeah, they are going to Disneyland for their senior trip.  Really?  We went to Disneyland and it didn't cost $200.  Maybe because I lived in So. Cal and it was only about $30 to get into Disneyland 30 years ago.  Can it be that long since I graduated high school?  (only 29 really, but who's counting?).  Since I'm only 25 it seems impossible that I graduated high school 29 years ago.  Math never really was my strong point!
And this is the first of the quilts for my friends who are having twins.  Can you see my humility block?  Yeah, I didn't see it until I was half way through quilting it.  Hey, gotta have one block turned the wrong way in there somewhere right?  If I don't point it out, I don't think the baby will notice it.  Why flowers and elephants?  Well, when I cut the elephant fabric, I only had 11 blocks, so I cut the flower blocks to make enough.  Then, when I got done sewing, I had 4 leftover elephant blocks.  Again, that stupid math stuff.  And to think I taught first grade for 9 years.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Trying everything

 Most of these were done yesterday, but stuck on the machine because of the large backing fabric.
 I made this quilt top at least 5 years ago and it was quite wonky.  But, it quilted out quite nicely.  This was back in the days before I knew you were supposed to make the blocks flat and relatively the same size.  I'm surprised it turned out as nicely as it did considering just how non rectangular it was.  That's why it has sat so long before getting quilted.  I didn't really have much hope of it coming out well, but look, it actually looks like a quilt :)  See, you really can quilt it out!
 This migraine is really sticking in there and just won't let go.  I wish the doctor had a better solution for getting rid of the tough ones that want to hang on for weeks.  I've tried Aleve, Tylenol/codeine, caffeine, taking a walk and taking a nap.  Even going thrift shopping and quilting aren't helping today.  A quiet house (the kids are all over at a friend's playing board games) and watching a funny show just make me want to cry.  The doctors just say, sorry, there's nothing else we can try.
My friend Nancy really has an eye for color on these tumbler quilts.  She has been making them like crazy lately and I'm happy she has been putting the Accuquilt Studio cutter to good use.  Her daughter has come to live with her now (along with her four kids) and she can sew up a storm too.  Once her kids start school in a couple weeks we will have a new quilter among us and I better pick up the pace.  She will be able to churn out the quilt tops double time and hopefully help us cut through the stash at record pace, at least until she gets a job.  Maybe I should give her the keys to my house and she can quilt while I'm at work.  (hey, maybe she wants to be my housecleaner too :)

If you don't thrift shop

...you don't know what you're missing.  Today was the monthly Goodwill 50% off clothes and shoes.  Of course I got a whole bunch of new t shirts for school and was needing some new shoes as well.  I found these Nike leather shoes that are almost brand new.  $5.50

I got my son some brand new Puma tennis shoes for $5.50 and a pair of shiny black shoes for his band performances for $8.00.

Even at the regular price of $11, these shoes are a steal.  If you are looking for clothes for your kids, try the local thrift shops first.  My daughters are experts at finding great stuff, lots of it still has the price tags on it.  People love to buy clothes they never wear.