Monday, September 29, 2014

Bomb threat at my school

Well, today was fun.  The last 5 minutes of my 5th period class, we got an announcement saying that this wasn't a drill and to evacuate immediately.  I told my students to grab their stuff and get out quickly.  From the tone of voice of the Vice Principal, I knew it was serious.

Too bad I didn't grab my purse, because it is still at school.  We stayed outside on the field for about 45 minutes and they finally told us to evacuate to the middle school which is close by.  Only about 10 of our 80 teachers escorted the kids.  I have no idea what happened to the rest of the teachers.  After making sure the kids got on the bus, called their parents or walked home, I tried getting back into my classroom, but was told that I couldn't.

Good thing I had my keys and phone.  Some teachers had to leave their cars there because they could not get back in to get them out.  The police officer said it would take all night to search the school.

Oh, the exciting life I lead.

hand made

My friend at school made this quilt top all by hand.  I have no idea how long she worked on it, but I'm sure it took a long time.  I'm sure she made it before she had her three kids.  She recently donated it to me to give to the Boles fire victims.  What she doesn't know is that I'm finishing it up to give back to her to give to her daughter.  This is the only quilt she's ever made and I think she needs to keep it in her family.  She cannot sew to save her life and this quilt is quite the accomplishment.  Her daughter is in Girl Scouts and my friend has brought me her sewing machine to teach her how to sew patches on her uniform.  After several lessons, she just can't get the hang of sewing.  Something I take for granted, just doesn't come naturally for other people.

I hope her daughter holds onto this quilt as a family heirloom.

Youngest's Tennis Lessons

 My youngest is 10 and started playing tennis when he was about 4.  He hasn't played in a long time, but has started up with lessons again a few weeks ago.  He has picked up right where he left off.
 He had a private lesson on Saturday and he is getting really good.  He can rally the ball and keep it on the court.  He can serve and get the ball in most of the time.  The coach thinks he is ready for playing matches.  He's not so sure.
Taking him to lessons transports me back 20 years when I was taking my oldest daughter.  There are some little girls who remind me of my daughter.  They are totally uncoordinated and can't remember which foot to move.  They run into the ball and trip over their own feet.  It was hard to remember when my daughter was that little, but seeing these little ones makes those memories come back like it was yesterday.  It's crazy how things work like that!  I'm afraid to blink, or my little guy will be grown and gone!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

close to the end

 The end of the month is coming and my numbers are really sad.  Today I was hoping to get lots of fabric cut and more kits made.  I had a lot of helpers show up at our last quilt day and everyone took home quilt kits and has brought them back already.  The problem is, I just haven't been able to keep up with them in the quilting department!  even with the extra help from my former student every day, I am still feeling so overwhelmed.

I'm in a battle with the new Tech guy who has blocked our access to youtube, where I get lots of great, short videos that I use to teach with.  I've really tried to be patient and wait for him to unblock them, but there just is no communication as to why he did that.  He's making decisions that affect my teaching ability and I'm frustrated.  So, I wrote an email to the Superintendent, School board president and several other high up district office people explaining why I'm so frustrated and then forwarded that to my principal so when I no longer have a job, she will understand :)

She wrote me back and explained that our infrastructure was about to collapse and the new Tech guy has been busy with lots of other things, but I think it is common courtesy to answer emails and let teachers make decisions about how they teach curriculum in the classroom.  If the school board wants to tell me what to teach, and it goes along with what the State tells me what to teach, fine, but let me decide the best method of presenting the material.  I'm using books that were published in 2001 and we have no money to buy new ones.  These kids were raised on technology.  We recently purchased new computers and now I don't have access to the programs and videos for those computers.  So, our laptops have now become giant paperweights.

No wonder I have a massive migraine today.

But tomorrow will come and go and I will either get a response from one of the higher ups, or be ignored as in the past.  Most likely, they will get a good chuckle out of my dilemma and think, 'there she goes again, Tilting at Windmills.'

This quilt is very beautiful and I know someone will ask for the pattern.  The lady who made it just took a random size center square and used strips of different widths around the outside.  It is very beautiful, but it was a bit tricky to quilt since it wasn't sewn to foundation fabric so it stretched a bit and has some puckers.  She agreed that if she were to do it again, to start with a foundation fabric and sew to that, which would make it a bit thicker, but provide stability.  A great way to use up all of those leftover strips and strings.

Here's hoping you had a better day than I did.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

More quilts for the Boles Fire victims

 Here's a couple more quilts finished over the weekend for the victims.  It's so hard to gt quilting done during the week with all of the 'stuff' going on with school and home and getting my little guy to his activities this year.  But I quilt when I can and they are getting done.  I'm considering hiring a helper so the house gets cleaned at least once a month.  That will take some of the stress off me and give me some more time for fun.  Fun is important!  And after the day I had yesterday, it sure would have been nice to come home to a clean, organized house :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Go! BIG or go home

Have you heard the BIG news about the Accuquilt Go! Big fabric cutter?  Here's your chance to enter to win a free electric die cutting machine.  I gain nothing by telling you about the contest other than hoping that someone I know wins.  I LOVE my Accuquilt cutting machines.  Especially my Accuquilt Studio.  I have no idea how I could get so much done without them.

If you enter and win, I hope you make lots of quilts for charity.

Today was a rough day.  I had a student share some very personal things with me today.  Being a teacher at a public high school is a rough job.  I have 30 students in a class.  I have 6 classes this year.  Each student is an individual with a separate life outside of my class.  This student is having some very difficult life events happening and I really felt honored that he shared them with me, but then I had to stop everything to try and get him the help he needed while trying to manage the rest of the classes for the rest of the day.  It's really tough to compartmentalize life like that.  How do you think about something super serious while trying to entertain a class of teenagers and keep things organized and not lose papers and take attendance and...

It's a good thing most days aren't like this and I can come home to make quilts.  It's also a good thing Taco Bell cooked dinner tonight!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

What teamwork looks like

 Great day at Binky Sunday.  Had about 20 people show up to help cut out lots of quilt kits.
 I'm not sure how many kits we got cut out because most of them were taken home to be sewn and will be returned in the next couple of weeks to be quilted and donated to the familes affected by the Boles fire near Weed, Ca.
 We had three Accuquilt Studio fabric cutters going for almost 3 hours!
 These three girls cut an entire bucket of Christmas fabric for stockings for out Veterans and military members who are currently serving.  They will be sewn together another day and will be filled with goodies to say thanks for your service!
 Great teamwork here rolling and cutting.  Look at that huge pile of perfectly cut stockings!
 I love that I can trust kids to not cut off a finger and get shapes that are perfect every single time.
 Lots of scraps were created that were then cut into 4 1/2 inch squares and 2 1/2 inch strips that will be made into quilts as well.  Nothing goes to waste around here.
 Everyone was working and 4 buckets of fabric got sorted and cut.  That sounds like a lot, but I have another 100 buckets in the shed that need some work.  I should have one of these work days every week :)
 Everyone was impressed with how easy the Accuquilt Studio cutter is to use.
 And everyone was looking forward to the next work day.
 We take helpers from the very young to the very young at heart.  A little bit of time, a little bit of fabric and wanting to help other people and lots can get done.

Binky Sunday

This beautiful quilt top was donated recently and is the perfect size for the Boles Fire in Weed California.  I quilted it up yesterday, it will get bound this week and will be on its way by the weekend to bring comfort to a family that lost everything.  I love how so many people are working together to help bring comfort.

I picked up a bunch of sheets at a recent 50% off sale at the thrift store and am loving having those as backing fabrics.  No piecing required before throwing them on the machine.  I will have to remember to check them out the next time the thrift store has a sale.  Goodwill doesn't put theirs on sale, just clothes so I have to watch when Savers or the Opporturnity Thrift store has their.  For $3 I can get a king size sheet which will fit any size quilt I need  to make.  You can't get fabric for that price!  And the leftovers go into the scrap bin.

Today at Binky Sunday we will be cutting up lots of scraps to make quilt kits.  I've had several calls from people wanting to help.  For every call I get, I'm sure there are many more who will just be showing up to help out, plus the teens from my high school will be there with eager hands.  I just hope I bring enough fabric for them to cut.  I never know how much they will be able to work through.  I would hate to run out!

I just loaded a roll of 15 yards of backing fabric onto the machine and am now trying to find enough quilt tops to match.  I got that at the thrift store for $10 a few months ago.  It's a pirate print in red and is perfect for boys.

Tragedy for my high school

Two teens were killed yesterday morning in a car crash and another was hurt badly.  The two teens were siblings.  One was a recent graduate from my school and the other was a sophomore.  The one that was badly hurt was also a sophomore.

One of the reasons we are always working on making quilts is for times like these.  As soon as I find out which hospital the student is in, she will be getting a quilt.  I will also contact the parents to let them know about the memory quilt ministry.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Vacaville Jazz Festival

 Group one is done for today.  I can't believe how much my son has improved in the 6 years since this group started.  it shouldn't amaze me because he has doubled in size so he should have improved in his music ability as well, but the notes that come out of his instrument are actually nice to listen to instead of just farting sounds :)
 My youngest is starting to play the trumpet and it's a scary thing listening to the difference in a beginning band kid and one who has put in the hours of practicing to make something beautiful happen.  But with patience on the part of the student and parent, beauty does come.
 There were many times I wanted to tell him to just stop.  Especially those days when I had a terrible headache.  But I didn't and now I am so glad.  I had lots of people come up to me and tell me what a great job he did.  Like I had anything to do with his success, other than allow him the freedom to make the horrible noises and pay for the instrument and lessons and nag him when he didn't feel like practicing.  Ok, I guess I did have something to do with his success.  I will take the praise :)
And I will thank my parents for instilling the importance of the love of music and playing an instrument in me.  All of those years of piano lessons has finally paid off.  One more year! is what my mom kept saying for 13 years.  See mom, someone got the benefit of the practicing I did.  My son has taken up piano and loves it too.  I may never be a concert pianist, but he has fallen in love with music and has benefitted from the lessons I took so long ago.

Fish quilt for the Boles Fire

This is a great quilt for a guy and will be finished up soon and headed out to someone who lost a home to the Boles Fire, which is what they are calling the fire that destroyed half the town of Weed, California.  The news first said 750 homes, but it was really 150 homes, a church, lumbermill and a school.  the town will take a long time to rebuild.  A friend from school said she has a good friend who just had a baby last month and their house burned in the fire.  That family will definately get a quilt.

We are having a quilt day tomorrow and there will be three Accuquilt Studio cutters working full time to make quilt kits that will be taken home and sewn together.  Good thing I have a lot of helpers and a lot of donated fabric!  Now if only I had a couple vacation days coming up.

My energy level is increasing and I'm able to get a little more done in the evenings so hopefully my quilt production will start to go up.  We are still finishing up the quilts for the Napa Earthquake victims.  I wish I had some more long arm quilters in our group, but we will work with what we have and get the quilts out as quickly as we can.

I also wish I was more organized because I spend half my time trying to match up the backing and quilt tops.  If those were already matched up, I could get more accomplished.  When my friend Judy came over and we spent a couple ours matching things, I was able to work through 80 quilts in a month.  Of couse, I wasn't working during July either, which really helped.  Maybe I should take a day and have a matching party and then spend another day just sewing the backing pieces together so I'm ready to just work on quilting.

But, not today.  Today is my son's Jazz festival.  He plays in 2 bands and over the past 6 years I have learned to appreciate Jazz music!  Crazy how that happens.  When he first started playing jazz, I just didn't get it.  It sounded like random notes and was just noise.  Now, I actually like it.

So, I'm off to listen and enjoy and have a second breakfast.  Hope your day is filled with music or quilting, or even better, both!

Friday, September 19, 2014

In the paper

My friend Carla has a contact with the local newspaper and sometimes when she sends out word that we have a special project, we get coverage in the newspaper.  This Sunday we are working on quilts for the town of Weed, Ca and we got an article in the paper.

I plan to put an ad in the paper about the upcoming Science Fair.  I had no idea how expensive a small ad in the paper was.  Even a quarter page ad costs over $100, so an article like this is great adversiting for our little group.  I've already been contacted by people who want to help out.  I love it when people come together to offer comfort to hurting people.  Imagine if everyone took a little bit of time to help out a stranger.  Pretty soon, we would all be friends.

The world would get a little smaller and friendlier and safer.  It would be great to know that you would have someone to turn to when you needed some help because you had helped someone in the past.

I look forward to Sunday and meeting the new people and making lots of quilt kits and using up lots of the donated fabric.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Quilts for the fire victims in Weed, Ca

We will be making quilts to get to the people who have lost homes in Weed, Ca.  It is about 2 hours north of my home here in Northern California.  I have a friend who has a home in a small town close by.  She has friends who have lost homes in the fire.  Half the town was lost last night.  About 150 familes lost their homes in one day.

It seems that half of my state is on fire right now and while we can't help everyone, we can help some of them.  We won't be able to help all of the families, but we can help some and will do what we can to bring comfort.  Sometimes it seems like there are just too many and it seems too easy just to do nothing because there is no way to fix every problem.  But I can do something and start a ripple effect.  I can help one or two and those people in turn can eventually help someone else and pass along the help eventually.  Imagine if nobody did anything to help, just because we all felt powerless to solve the whole problem?

I'll be getting the word out today and my 'gang' of quilting ladies will attack the problem full force!  We have Binky Sunday on the 21st (this week) and we'd love to have you join us.  We will be working on Christmas Stockings for our service men and women and veterans and quilts for Weed!  We meet at A Quilted Heart in Vacaville from 1-4pm.

Monday, September 15, 2014

can I do one more thing?

Today I signed up to do one more thing.  They say when you want something done, ask a busy person.  My son is a mentor for an elementary school Lego Robotics team and they need another adult to be a sponsor for the team.  Sign mom up :)  Hey, I can add one more thing to my to do list.

I'm quilting again so I must have things under control around here.  My little guy is still sick, which isn't fun and is coughing a ton.  I hope he starts feeling better soon.  Not fun to worry about a little one.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hey look, a quilt!

This was made by my 'daughter' Jenny for a friend of hers from church.  She is so proud of how most of the points match :)  I think she did a great job on it and I love the owls.  She will bind it and gift it this week.  She's hooked on making quilts now and has another 5 or 6 cut out and in the process of getting finished up.  She has plans to make quilts for everyone she knows for Christmas.  I wonder if she will be able to keep them secret that long.


 Morning walk today took us to the same field, but we went further into it and around some more.  In a year, this whole field will be houses.  I know progress is important and people need places to live.  My city is a great place and I welcome new people, but it is so nice to have this open field to walk in, away from the hard sidewalks and noisy cars.
 The dogs love having so many new smells and come home to crash for several hours after our long walks.  Today we did 4.11 miles total, including about half on the city streets.  We have several parks that we can walk in, but there is just something about getting out of the city, even if it is in the dry grass and hard dirt for a few minutes to clear your head.
Just look at the beautiful blue sky and golden colors of the grass.  These are the North Hills my blog is named after.  My church is called North Hills Christian Church and although I'm not making it to church this morning with a sick little one and a headache, I will be listening to the sermon from last week that I missed when I took my daughter to UCLA.  I do love technology in that you can find almost anything you want on the internet.

I should also finish a quilt today.  It was about 3/4 done last night and only needs a couple of rows finished up today.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Starting the weekend off right

 Out this morning early before it got hot for a 3.3 mile walk.  We have the fields close enough that I can walk to in about 10 minutes and my dogs to keep me company.
 It was beautiful out this morninng.
 My little one was trying to figure out how to get down to the water in the canal to get a drink, but we made it home and she didn't die of thirst like she was trying to tell me.  They are both sleeping soundly now, happy for the experience.
These open fields will be houses in a year.  The area around us is growning so fast and all of these homes will be filled with students who will attend my school.  I have no idea where they are going to put them because we are full already.  They have built the school to double what it was when I first came here 15 years ago and it has filled up already.  There were 800 students when I got here and we are over 1700 now.  I can only imagine how many we will be when I retire in another 15 years.  If you build them, they will come.  We are the school of choice in the county and for many miles around.  The new housing areas even advertise they are part of our district on the first signs you see when entering the development areas.  Too bad there's no more room for your kid once you move in!  Minor problem I guess!

Maybe I will even get some quilting done this weekend. :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I've fallen

I'm pretty sure I've fallen off the face of the earth, or into a very deep hole.  I can see the light at the top, and know there is a hope for some rest and recovery in the future, but have no idea when life will return to normal.

You see, when one of our new teachers we hired for this school year decided to quit the day before school started and 5 of us took on an extra class, that meant 4 of us gave up our prep periods.  That doesn't sound like such a big deal and I've always thought that people who complained about not having a prep were wimps.  I mean really, teachers only work 6 1/2 hours a day.  How lazy are they?

I think what is really getting me is that I don't have a break during that 6 1/2 hours.  Once I'm at school, I'm on.  And by on, I mean I'm on stage.  Think about an actress performing on a stage.  Like a play that lasts 6 1/2 hours.  I'm entertaining teenagers for 6 1/2 hours straight.  I have to remind myself that I have to go to the bathroom when lunch time comes around.  I have to remind myself that I need to sit down for 10 minutes and shove some food in my mouth.  That usually consists of a yogurt and maybe a piece of fruit or maybe a granola bar if I have 12 minutes.  Sometimes I forget to eat.  Since I'm the peer tutoring advisor and county science fair coordinator and National Honor Society advisor I'm trying to judgle maybe one too many things.  In my free time I'm doing Binky Patrol and monitoring the local Freecycle and and online Yard Sale group and Cafe group for my county.  They don't take too much time during the day, but they do require daily internet checking.

I have a former student who graduated in June and who hasn't started school yet who has been coming in every day, yes, every day, to help me out.  She stays all day long to help me set up labs, grade papers, pass things back, clean my classroom, organize things and talk to me when I feel like I'm going insane.  I have no idea what would happen if she hadn't been there.  She has seriously saved my sanity this year.

She starts school in a couple of weeks and she has changed her schedule around so she doesn't have to go to school on Tuesday and Thursday.  She really likes hangining out at school with me and helping me.  The other teachers are giving her a hard time for spending all of her free time helping me, but I'm so loving having her help.  I get all my papers graded the day they are turned in and she does such a great job.  She helped me every day last year after school and she wasn't even my TA.  She's just a really nice kid.

On another note, my son got some glasses today.  He's been having lots of headaches lately and went to the eye doctor and found out his eye sight could use some help.  He wore glasses back in 6th grade for a while and then found it was too much trouble to keep track of them.  He didn't complain too much about having trouble seeing the board and usually sat up front in class because of his hearing loss.  He loves his new glasses.  They even change to sunglasses when he goes outside.  Pretty fancy!  And yes, he often dresses in a suit to go to school.  He loves to be different and says suits are just comfortable.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Quilting to cover Napa

I'm still working to finish up big quilts to cover those who lost homes to the Napa earthquake a couple weeks ago.  Some days it seems like yesterday and some days it seems like months ago.  Time has a way of warping once school starts.  Once I'm back in the groove, it seems like I never had a break for summer.

After this weekend's long road trip to drop my daughter off at college, I just sat around the house.  I had a terrible migraine yesterday and am hoping that it doesn't return today.  This will be a long week with lesson planning today after school, dentist appointments for everyone tomorrow, campus cleanup on Wednesday, Tennis and swim lessons Thursday and totally crashing on Friday :)  I have to get some grocery shopping in or we won't be eating all week!

How much quilting can I squeeze in?  I hope there is some!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Taking her back to school

It doesn't get easier to take your kids off and leave them at college, but I do know she will be fine this year and that makes me feel just a little better.

 My daughter got to move in 3 weeks early because she is part of the Resident Life program and will be helping all of the incoming freshmen move in.  She will be planning games and activities to help them feel welcome when they leave home in just a few weeks.
 Her new dorms are gorgeous!  Wish things were this nice when I went to school so long ago
 Of course, she thinks they fancied things up for the summer programs and that most of this will be gone when everyone moves in a couple weeks from now.  She isn't sure where they keep these planters with all the flowers, but she says they aren't around during the school year.
 But, in this drought year, just look at how beautiful the lawn is!
 And one of my favorite flowers, the Kangaroo paw, is blooming nicely.
 I bought a couple of plants and they froze over the cold Northern California winter.  They sure do well in So. Cal.  They are native to Australia.
 They have a very deep blue/purple Agapantha here that I haven't seen up North.
 Her dorms are near the tennis courts and maybe she will play some tennis this year...unless she is too busy playing Quidditch.  She does love her quidditch matches.
 There were planters in the hallways too, which weren't there during the year.
 The bamboo courtyard was a nice place to study or just hang out with friends.

 More planters with flowers.  I told her she has to let me know if they are gone when the kids show up.
 I'm sure these fancy orchids will be gone, but they sure were pretty!
 I should have used my flash to get a better picture.  She's all grown up now.
 These begonias reminded me of my home in Long Beach.  My mom had lots of begonias when I was growing up.  It's too cold over the winter in N. Cal to keep them outdoors, but I wanted to sneak a piece to see if I could grow them inside.  I resisted breaking off a small piece to take home and try to grow.
 A few selfies with my old fashioned camera.
 I tried looking sad...
 But, I just looked creepy.
 and creepier...
 and happy wasn't much better
I love this look my daughter was giving me.  I've seen it so many times before.  I knew it was time to go and let her enjoy her college life.  I'm so proud of the woman she is becoming.  Even if a bit of my heart gets ripped out every time I say goodbye.