Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm still here

My oldest just left this morning to go back to college and I have a second to come up to breathe. We had a great time with her being home, I just wish I didn't have to turn in grades on Tuesday morning. For some reason this year I have been doing more grading of papers at home. I changed my schedule at work so I'm not a late start teachers. That means I start work the same time as all the other teachers and get done at the same time too. I don't have as much time in the morning to get work done while everyone else is teaching. Now, when I have time to grade, everyone else is done working too and they all want to talk. Of course, I'm exhausted from teaching by the afternoon and don't really feel like grading papers either, so enjoy the excuse to chat instead of work. That gives me about 45 minutes extra a day less grading time which has to be made up somewhere. I found out where today, when I spent from 9am until 7pm grading papers and I still have more to do. I'm going to work for another hour tonight and what gets done will go in the grades tomorrow. Whatever is leftover will continue on into the next quarter.

I had to take a chocolate fondue break today and dip some fruit in chocolate or I never would have made it through the day and I also found 15 minutes to cut fabric and sew it back together again. I am determined to get the binding on those 10 or so quilts that have been sitting on the cutting table for months waiting to be finished. They are doing nobody any good sitting there. I haven't found the perfect fabric so I'm using the next best thing...fabric that I can find and that sort of goes with the quilts. Done is better than perfect!

Last week my washing machine went out on me. I guess it was about time. My parents bought it for us when we bought our first house 13 years ago. It stopped agitating and spinning. It would fill and drain and make noises, but not spin. I called a repairman and it was going to cost about $200 to repair and $500 for a new one. I wondered how long the repairs would last before something else went out on it so decided to get a new one. All the places said it would be another week before they could deliver so I headed to the laundry mat. 11 loads of laundry and 3 hours later, I spent about $25 for the week. I knew I couldn't afford to go without a washing machine for another week so went to the local apliance shop and they delivered one yesterday. I spent about $50 more on it than the big box stores to get it delivered the same day, but it was worth it! I've done 5 more loads of laundry in the new machine today. I don't understand how anyone can live without a washing machine. Makes me want to make friends with people who don't own their own washers so they can come over to do their laundry.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I won it!

Well, finally I found out today that I was the winning bidder on the quilt I made for my son's preschool class. I was totally bummed after coming home on Friday and not getting the phone call. I bid $40 for the quilt (they actually put two together for the bid) and they said they would call the winning bidder. Well, since I didn't get a call, I figured someone had outbid me. I was happy they got more money, but sad that I didn't get the quilt for my son. Then, on Monday, I asked about the quilt and was told that they thought I had gotten it, but would get a phone call during the day. Again, no phone call, so I figured I hadn't won it.

Well, today I showed up and was told that yes, I had won the quilt! I took the one that my son had worked so hard on re-arranging the squares on and gave the other one to the teacher whose square was in it. She was very happy to get the gift. Of course, I was asked to make another one in the spring for the room mom who does so much for the class and I agreed. I enjoy making these and they do turn out really cute. The kids all saw the quilts for the first time when I picked up my son and they all wanted one too. I told them I would be back to make more quilts with them. I can see this will be quite the project this year! Now that the teachers know how to have the kids draw on the fabric, I can see many more quilts from these kids.

The other pair of quilts sold for $65. So, I helped make $105 for the preschool class.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

more fabric

Last week I got a call to come and pick up some batting. There was a surprise bag of fabric waiting as well. Look at all of the great kid prints in there!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Preschool quilts #3 and 4

Well, I've been quiet lately because I've been so busy. I just had to get those last two quilts finished for the Country Faire that is tonight. Here they are and I'm pretty proud of how they all turned out. This was really an enjoyable project and I can't wait to do it again. Maybe not so many quilts in a week's time, but I like the children pictures in the quilts and the bright colors make me happy. I am happy with how the corners match on the blocks too. I'm seeing improvement in the quilts I have been making and I think I am ready to start trying some more difficult patterns.

I am going to try to do some half square triangles coming up soon. Those things scare me and I don't know why. Maybe because I haven't tried them, or maybe because there seems to be so many steps and so much measuring and so much numbers. I don't like numbers very much. That's why I teach science, not math.

Oh, and my oldest comes home tomorrow from college for a week. They are on the semester system and have a Fall Break. I can't wait to see her again! I've missed her so much.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Binky Patrol Sunday

Sunday, the 12th was our Binky Patrol meeting. We meet the 2nd Sunday of the even months. There were two ladies who came and hung out with me most of the time and several others who came by for a little while and dropped things off. I always enjoy catching up with everyone and finding out what everyone has been working on the past two months.

Here are some of the blankets and preemie hats I collected. These will go to the local hospital for their program called A Baby is Coming. They give a blanket to each mother as she graduates from the child education class as an incentive to keep coming to the classes.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Quilts in Kazakhstan

You have to look at this slide show of the quilts the my group sent to Kazakhstan. When I saw some of these at church on Sunday, I started to cry. Just look at the faces on these children. These are orphans and I just wish I could take them all home!

It feels so good to see the quilts in the hands of children who love them. I especially love the pictures of the boys with the quilts wrapped around their heads. How much better that fabric looks on a child, than in a bucket in my shed, not being used. I just wish there were more hours in the day!

And on a sad note, my high school lost another student. His name was Ray Britton and he graduated in 2002. He died of heart failure. This has been a very tragic month for our high school.

Girls State Quilt #2

This is the quilt I finished on Saturday for the Girls State Raffle. The picture came out a little dark, I might have to take another one, but it is reds, whites, blues and is about 48x60.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Preschool Quilt Tutorial

Let me start by saying this is not my original idea. I got the idea from Alycia at Alycia Quilts on the left sidebar. Check out her website and help her make a Quilt of Valor! She has a goal of 400 quilts by next May. She has about 200 of them now (130 are quilted) and could use all of the help she could get. When I asked her how she made quilts with her kids, she told me what she did. Since I like to see things as well as read about them, I thought it might be nice to share with everyone in words and pictures how I took what she told me and applied it to the quilts I made with my son's preschool class. I also learned a thing or two on my own that might help you avoid one of the biggest problems I had with these quilts.

1. Prewash your muslin fabric. Don't try to wash a whole 25 yard bolt at one time. Cut it into manageable size pieces, maybe 1 yard each, but not tiny squares either. Dry it in the dryer on the hottest setting. You want it to do all of its shrinking before you get started. I made a nap mat cover for my son and didn't wash the muslin first. The muslin shrank way more than the other fabric I used and now it is all wonky and crooked. It is only a nap mat cover and nobody really cares, but for a quilt, you don't want your muslin squares shrinking tons and making the quilt all crooked.

2. Iron the muslin after it comes out of the dryer if it is really wrinkly. Mine was pretty nice, but having wrinkles in the squares makes it hard for the kids to write on.

3. Tear off pieces of freezer paper. I tried this a couple of different ways. I cut squares of freezer paper the size of the finished squares I wanted and then ironed them onto the fabric and that was ok, but I'm in this for speed. The way I did it was to tear off a piece of freezer paper about the length of my ironing board. Then, I cut a piece of muslin the length of my ironing board and cut it in half the long way. This was with the 45 inch wide muslin. With the 36 inch wide muslin, I left it whole and ironed two pieces of freezer paper to it, one overlapping the other by about an inch. I ironed the freezer paper to the muslin. The freezer paper has a paper size and a waxy side. You will know which side to put down on the muslin. If you try to iron on the wrong side, it will stick to your iron and ruin it. Be sure to iron on the paper side of the freezer paper. This stuff is really cool!

4. Take your freezer paper/muslin combo to the cutting mat and using a rotary cutter, make squares the size you want. I cut my blocks 9 inches. Again, I was going for speed, so I laid the paper/muslin combo over on itself and cut through several layers at one time. The freezer paper is exactly 18 inches wide so that was really nice for cutting.

5. When you have enough squares (make a few extras just in case) let the kids draw on the using crayons. I used Crayola crayons. The really cheap crayons like Rose Art I wouldn't trust. I bought mine at WalMart for 20 cents for a pack of 24 crayons. They weren't on sale, they are always this price around here.

6. Here is where the hard part comes in. Try to get the kids to keep away from the edges. They will want to draw right up to the edge, but you will need 1/4 inch for the seam allowance and whatever they draw or write at the edge will disappear under the seam. Get them to write their name in the middle of the square if possible. Depending on the age of the child, this isn't as easy as it sounds.

7. When the kids are all done drawing, turn the paper/muslin squares fabric side down onto a brown paper grocery sack. Iron them to get the excess crayon off and to set the crayon into the fabric. Do not use the same part of the grocery sack over and over because the crayon will just go back onto the fabric if you do. Move the sack around for each square that you iron. Be careful not to iron too long or you will burn the paper! Also be careful because the paper gets really hot and holds the heat longer then you might think. I burned my fingers a couple of times trying to move the squares off the ironing board.

8. When you are ready to sew, peel off the fabric from the muslin and sew just like you would any other fabric. Make sure you aren't sewing the squares upside down ;)

9. I cut my sashing fabrics 3 1/2 inches. These quilts came out about 43 x 60 inches a perfect size for curling up on the couch with or taking a nap.

10. If you would like to make one of these for QOV, please make them 4 blocks by 5 blocks so they are big enough for the wounded soldiers. You can send them to Alycia for her QOV project at the address listed on her blog. You can even make a quilt top and she will do the quilting for you. Think of how much fun it would be to try this with your child's class. Have each child draw a picture, thanking a soldier for their service to our country, or a picture of what it means to be an American.

I'm going to have my son's 6th grade class do this. I can't wait to see what they come up with.

preschool quilt #2 finished

Boy does it feel good to get so much done in a day. Two quilts done, almost start to finish. Well, not counting all of the cutting, but most of the sewing of blocks together and the quilting AND the binding. That's something to be proud of.

Now, to cut the binding for the Girls State quilt and get that one checked off my list.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get the two quilts made for the little girls of the Richmond Police officer who was killed last weekend. My friend from work is planning on going to his funeral and I was hoping to have her take them to his mom (their grandmother) to give to the little girls. His mother works as a teacher in my district, so if I don't get the quilts done by tomorrow, I can get them to her through district mail and she can get them to the little girls later, so I'm not too worried about this, but would like to try at least.

Tomorrow is Binky Sunday. We meet every other month and I can't believe it is time again. I'm trying to figure out a project for tomorrow's meeting. I think I'm going to try something with half square triangles. Those things scare me! But, maybe if I do them in a public place, where there are experts to help me along the way, I can overcome my fear and make something that works.

preschool quilt update #2

I got one quilt done so far and the second one just needs the binding put on. I have 8 squares for the third quilt, but there are a couple of the kids that I'm not sure who they are or where they came from. The teacher gave me a list of the kids in the class and there are two blocks with names that aren't on the list! So, I needed one more block for the second quilt and just added in the 'mystery' child block and hope someone knows who this child is ;)

I'm going to put together a tutorial for making these quilts tomorrow in case you like this idea and want to do this with your child's class or even your own children. It is really easy and fun. This was not my idea so I hope nobody gets mad at me for sharing something they came up with. Alycia, from Alycia Quilts (on the left side bar) shared how she does her quilts and I took her idea and added my own twist and this is what I ended up with. I'm really happy with the results and I hope that these parents will bid on the quilts and they help raise some money for the preschool.

My little guy helped with his quilt. He picked out the two boys on either side of him because 'they are nice and don't hit'. Then, he put his teacher's square under his because he wanted to be next to the teacher. I may have to bid on this quilt myself!
This is the first quilt, ready to go.

Friday, October 10, 2008

preschool quilt update

Today I got all of the squares bordered. I also asked the preschool director who was actually in the class. Turns out there are 21 kids in the class and 7 from the morning class came over to draw squares. I'm going to take the 21 squares and add 3 teacher ones in and make 2 quilts out of that. The morning kids are going to go in another quilt and I plan to send in more squares for the rest of the kids to draw on Monday morning. I am hoping to get both quilts done this weekend so I have time next week to work on the quilts for the morning kids. I'm not too worried about getting those quilts done because that is just a bonus if I can get all of these done by Friday when the silent auction is!

Tomorrow I will post pictures of the squares and my plan for sewing them together. I figure I've put in about 4 hours so far on this project and have another 4 to go. Not bad for 2 quilts.

I also have the binding to put on the patriotic quilt for Girls State next Saturday which should take about an hour once I find some fabric that will match. Seems I have used up all of my patriotic stuff so I will have to look for some blues/reds or maybe even go with some white. I just hope it doesn't take too long to dig through all of the stash to find something that matches well.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pre School Quilt

I started on the Pre-School Quilt today for my son's Country Faire fundraiser. I went into his preschool class and worked with the kids. I had already gotten the fabric squares ready. I ironed freezer paper onto prewashed muslin and then cut that into 9 inch squares. I had 34 of the squares and there are only 24 students in the class. I figured it was better to have a few extras in case some of the kids didn't like their first pictures or someone messed something up.

I just used regular Crayola Crayons and the kids drew pictures of whatever they liked. It was pretty funny to watch them. The first group, one of the girls drew a rainbow, so everyone in that group drew rainbows. Then, the next group came threw and some apples were drawn. One group had spiderwebs, etc. Whatever one child drew and I made a comment on, other children copied their idea. Some of the children had stories to go with their drawings, one boy told of the play fighting he does with his dad and he told me all about it as he drew the picture...this is me and here is my dad and I'm winning this battle.

The teacher was trying to hurry the children through the group and kept taking the kids' pictures to their protests of 'I am not done yet!' so she had to keep giving them back. Then, another group of children from another room were ushered in. I ended up with 33 squares completed. 5 were done by the teachers and the other 28 by students. I'm not sure where all of the kids came from, but they just kept coming and coming. I will have to make some more squares and send those in because there were more children in another room who didn't get the chance to make a quilt square.

I think I will make two quilts, with 16 squares each. These are going to be bigger than I had pictured.

I cut the sashing 3 1/2 inches to finish at 3 inches. I am using lots of different colors of the same pattern fabric, swirls and circles and it will be like the happy blocks quilts that I love so much. Random colors that don't touch each other. At least it looks good in my mind.

I need to have this one done by next Friday. If I work for an hour a day during the week and some this weekend, I think I can get it done. I hope I can get it done! I pray I can get it done!!!

Pray for me, will you?

Monday, October 6, 2008

tragedy for my high school

This weekend was bad for my high school. We lost two former students. The one I knew was supposed to be a senior this year. He had gotten into some trouble so his parents sent him away to one of those 'scared straight' boot camps and he had just returned not long ago. He was messing around on a motorcycle that he didn't have a license for and crashed and died instantly. He was only 17 years old.

The other was a student who graduated in 1997, before I started working at the high school. My husband knew him as did many of the other teachers I work with. He was a model student and well liked. He worked for the Richmond Police Department and was killed this weekend during a police call. He left behind a wife and two young children.

As I get details, I hope to be able to make comfort quilts for the families. I feel like all of the students from my high school are part of a family and losing one is like losing part of my family. I couldn't sleep last night when I found out about the first boy.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Wedding gift

This is the lap quilt I made for my daughter's science teacher. She had her last year and again this year and really likes her. So, she asked me to make her a quilt because she got married. This is my favorite quick quilt pattern, the ButtonBerry Stashbuster quilt and I can finish one of these guys in about 3 hours. Shhhh, don't tell anyone!

I also quilted another one in patriotic fabrics for the upcoming Girls State dinner raffle fundraiser. It just needs binding which takes about 30 minutes. Hope to have that done this week so I can work on the quilt for my son's preschool fundraiser. I decided to go in and have each child draw on two quilt squares. There are 24 kids in the class and I'm going to have them draw a picture of their family on one square and a picture of their favorite animal on the other square. That will give me enough squares to make 4 quilts. I don't think I will get all of them done by the 17th of October, but at least I will have the squares to work on for the next fundraiser. The quilt will go on a silent auction table. I hope to remember to take my camera on the day I go in to get the kids to draw. I would like to make a little scrapbook of the kids making the quilt to go along with the quilt for the auction.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

feels good

I'm back to quilting. And boy does it feel good!

I'm working on a quilt for my daughter's science teacher. She got married over the summer. It is just a lap size quilt. At back to school night, I asked her what her favorite color was and she said blue. I had a blue top done from who knows when and today I finally got to quilt it. It feels so good to finally have the energy again to get at the quilting machine and get some stitching done!

I also have been working on mini quilts for the kittens in Ohio. I know, there are kittens in California that could use little quilts too, but my daughter is helping out with some kittens at a rescue center and I am sending these to her to take in when she goes. I wanted her to be special when she goes in and not just be another college kid who goes to play with the kittens. So, I've been working on these when I get a few minutes. I have sent her 10 so far and have another three done. Some are quilts and some are mats. I just sit and crochet when I am watching TV and don't feel like grading papers. I finally got the pictures off my camera to share.

And, then there were the phone calls. If you have been reading my blog, you will remember that I am the Binky Patrol coordinator and I get phone calls sometimes. Well, this week I got three calls. Two were from the same family, mother and daughter. They have called me in the past with fabric to donate and they are moving and had one last bag left to donate. Today I was able to pick up that last bag. Look at all of the goodies! Can you believe she didn't want to take all of this with her?

The other phone call was from a lady who has extra batting to donate. She said she has bags of it, some not even opened and will be dropping it off at the quilt shop on Thursday.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Saving the Day!

If I just saved the day, why do I feel so guilty? I hate feeling this way.

Let's begin at the beginning. I was outside, helping my #2 daughter with tennis practice, loading the ball machine and giving encouragement (because I have no idea if she is hitting correctly or not) and I heard some yelling over the side fence, way down the field. We live next to an open field. We have a gate that opens into the field as do about 3 or 4 other people whose houses back up to it and sometimes people will walk their dogs in the field. I couldn't understand what the man was yelling about, but he sounded mad and then these two young boys, maybe 10 years old came running past the yard. They weren't running really fast and I had seen them running yesterday or the day before, much faster, so I figured they had been messing with someone's dog or gate or something and that person was mad at them so they were scooting on home. They ran past and down the way and snuck through a gate that is locked but open enough for little people to squeeze through.

I didn't think too much about it and helped clean up the tennis balls and went inside.

I got on the computer and about 30 minutes later, my husband came in and said there was a police officer at the front door. He said I needed to go and talk to him. When I went out, the officer asked if I knew of any boys in the neighborhood who were about 12 years old. I said my son is 11 and the boy across the street is about the same age, but nobody else in the neighborhood is that age. He asked if I had seen any boys come down the court and said that two boys had set a fire in the field earlier. I told him about the two running boys and that it was about 30-40 minutes earlier. He said that was the right time and asked where they had gone.

I pointed him in the right direction and said I could probably pick them out if I saw them again since I had seen them earlier in the week, I thought the day before running past me as well. I said we would catch them for sure.

So, he drove off and I got in my car and searched the neighborhood. The first time around, I didn't see any kids. What kid was dumb enough to stay outside after starting a fire in the field? Well, sure enough, the second time around the block, there they were outside their house, talking to an older man and running up and down the street. I watched them for a little while to see which house they belonged to and then tried to call the police.

Did you know that if you try to call 911 on your cell phone, you get the highway patrol, and they tell you to call 911 if it is an emergency? And then they put you on hold? I guess you had better not have an emergency if you are on your cell phone. So, I hung up and drove past the boys and got the house number so I could go home and call the police. All this time, my heart is beating out of my chest and I'm about to have a heart attack!

As I go home, I see the police car around the corner, talking to the man who yelled at the boys in the first place so I drove over and told him that I found the boys. The police officer was super surprised that I took the time to drive around and look for them. I told him I wasn't 100% sure that they were the boys, but I was pretty sure I had them and gave him the address.

Then, I talked to the man who put out the fire and he told me about the fire that happened 5 years ago in that field. It burned a house to the ground and how just a little while later, one of the neighborhood boys tried to start another fire because he thought it was so cool. His parents took him to the fire station and had him enrolled in some fire safety classes. At least those parents took responsibility and taught their son a lesson.

So, then, the guy that saw the boys in the first place got a call from the police officer to come and ID the boys. The two guys suggested I go over and talk to the police officer too. So, I drove over and talked to him and said, yeah, those are the boys, I'm 90% sure. The officer said that as soon as he pulled up, the boys started crying. A third boy came over and gave one of the boys a black sweatshirt to put on, like he was trying to hide something so I'm 99.9% we got the right guys. Then, one of the men drove by and gave a positive ID on the boys as well, so I do feel good that we caught the boys, but I also feel bad that I had to be a part of it and my heart won't stop racing.

I would never make a good cop. I would feel guilty all of the time for catching people making bad choices. I want people to make the right choices and not make mistakes.

I'm glad that I was able to help out, of course, now these boys know that I ratted them out and they know where I live and I fully expect to get my house egged or burned to the ground or worse...these boys will grow up and come to my high school and remember me as the lady who turned them in to the police and they will be in my science class. I won't remember who they are. Ergh. Will I sleep tonight?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

positive thoughts

Ok, I am going to try to be more positive today.

I am positive that this sickness is not getting better. I thought I had turned a corner and then today I am feeling worse. I can't stand for more than 10 minutes without getting winded and having to sit down. I was starting to think I might have pneumonia. Maybe bronchitis or some other nasty thing that was keeping me from getting oxygen into my body. I haven't had an appetite for a couple of weeks and have lost about 5 pounds these last two weeks. I've lost almost 10 pounds since school started, which most people would say is a good thing, but I keep losing and losing and I'm not trying to. I'm on a migraine medicine which has helped me lose almost 35 pounds since I started it and that isn't even one of the posted side effects of the medicine. I think they should market it as a diet pill because it works so great. But, maybe it is time to look at switching it or at least look at ways to increase my appetite so the weight loss slows down a little.

I'm also positive that my 6th period class is going to send me over the edge. There are some good kids in there, but I just can't remember who they are because of the three kids who are taking up all of my time and energy. Today I sent two of them out and actually had a good day. I just wish they could stay in the classroom and still have a good day with us.

I am also positive that I can't wait for the weekend! I want to quilt again. I want to play with fabric. I want to try some new patterns and get creative, but I come home at the end of the day and just collapse on the couch.

Oh, and my little guy had a good day today. I talked to his teacher this morning and asked how he was doing. She said that he isn't the only one getting lots of time outs. All the kids who are new to the school are getting them because they aren't used to the rules. But he is doing very well with the academics. I let her know that I was unsure because all I ever heard was the bad things he does. I'm hoping the little seed I planted will get her to say more positive things about all of the children.

I'm also hoping to be able to go in his class and make a quilt with the children. She asked me to make a quilt for the upcoming county fair and I've been thinking about making a quilt by having the children draw in squares of muslin. Then, I would sew all of those squares together with some cute print fabric and put a nice backing and have a country quilt that the parents will want to bid on because their child made a square for it. And I will get to be a part of the classroom for a couple of days and get to see what actually goes on in the classroom.