Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mother Necessity

They say necessity is the mother of invention...

When S broke his arm the Medical Center did give us a sling to use, but the strap really bothered his neck. That night I presented my son with a stack of fabric from my stash, he chose Nemo (thank you Maggie) and I got to work. Well, I got to work after hearing him explain how I needed to cut the fabric so he could see Nemo, Dorey, and a shark. He went over it twice - just to make sure I got it right. (Yeah, I'm pretty sure he inherited that one from me.)

Again, my pack rat nature ended up being a good thing. See that shoulder strap with the nice little closure? I took that off of a pair of jeans my mother gave me and squirrelled it away about eight years ago. The jeans were cut up and now live in a blue jean quilt but all the while that little strap survived two moves and then languished in a drawer in my sewing room - just waiting, knowing some day it would save the day.

Since the strap on the other sling was really bothering his neck, I covered this one with two layers of fleece that I inherited from my friend Wendy. There's that pack rat again...

Wearing the sling still isn't his favorite thing, but I think this one is at least tolerable.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cash for Klunkers

Today my son traded-in his splint

for a brand new cast

and even though it doesn't involve a tax credit, Mama is thrilled.

Thrilled because even though he has to wear the cast for a month, it's waterproof, so bath time won't be an issue, and there are no more physical restrictions. Yeah! That cast is rock solid and the doctor tells me his arm will be fine even if he falls and lands right on it. Which he did this morning with his splint and it scared me to death!

I'm just in awe how breaking his arm hasn't slowed S down at all, so I've been cringing about every five minutes. S loves to run and jump and spin and no matter how much I tried to keep him slow, it just wasn't going to happen. You've got to remember this is the little boy who can trip over his own two feet alone in a gym and has more accident reports on file in the pre-school room than all the other children - combined. (I think he must have inherited that from his father's side of the family.)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Chuckle for the Day

Last week, while the kids, Grandma and I were out walking behind the West Bluff, we came upon this "Chipmunk Crossing" sign. The kids thought it was a little silly until we looked up and saw this little guy:

That little chipmunk had no fear! S walked up to the wall slowly, well as slowly as a five year-old can, and was able to get quite close before "Chippy" got scared and finally hid inside the the wall.

Thank you for all the love and kind words for my son. He is doing really well- the arm hasn't slowed him down one bit! I'll post pictures of the Finding Nemo sling I made for him as soon as I can get him to stop moving long enough to get a picture. Today we are off to a friend's Barn Dance. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


This post contains graphic images of my son's broken arm. If you are squeamish, do not read any further.

I'm serious, quit now.

For those of you who are still here, my poor little guy went back to the ER today because he broke his arm. S and a friend were playing and jumping and the friend landed on S's arm - accidentally breaking it. Oops.

He was such a trooper. After it happened he just walked over to the sitter and said, "I think I broke my bone." She took one look at his arm, sat him down with an ice pack, called me and we all raced to the Medical Center. Surprisingly, he didn't cry. She said he didn't cry at all. Even when he saw me.

It didn't take an X-ray to tell he had a broken arm. Thank goodness it was just a "green stick" fracture so setting it wasn't very difficult. Even so, I still couldn't look at it right away. When I was finally able to look, this is what I saw:

He finally did cry, OK he screamed bloody murder, when he realized they were going to give him a "poke" - an IV so they could give him medication. Dr. Karen gave him morphine for the pain so she could set the bone and versed so he wouldn't remember having it set. The versed worked well. She gave him two injections of painkiller right into the break sites - neither of which he remembers. But he remembers that poke, but says his bent arm didn't hurt that much.

After the bones were set Dr. Karen splinted it. We have to go back on Monday to get the cast. I didn't realize that they don't cast broken bones right away due to the swelling.

Poor little fella. After a walk home in Papa's basket, S ended up having a wonderful afternoon at home - watching all the TV he wanted. (A rare treat at our place.)

Given that my son has more accident slips at preschool than all the other kids do - combined, somehow I think we'll end up at the ER again someday. However, I am keeping my fingers crossed that we don't see it again soon!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sugar Rush

The Candyland birthday bash went off without a hitch. I knew it was a big hit when my son looked at me and said, "Mama - you're the best ever! I love you." He wore his shirt and his crown all evening and even wore the crown to the babysitter's house today.

Pretty much everything was homemade. From the garland that circled the room,

to the napkins, the centerpieces (sorry - I didn't get a decent picture of them - they are made out of rock candy) and the place cards on the table. (I'll explain the Snow White thing in a minute.)

The table was completely covered with candy - so much so that everyone got a toothbrush to take home. Luckily Halloween isn't too far off so I can get rid of all the leftover candy. If it doesn't disappear, I'll end up eating all of it. And I do mean all of it!

Snow White really couldn't make it - that is what my daughter calls Cousin Dwight. We thought he'd get a chuckle out of it if we put it on his place card.

And, my son loved his cake. Which was a really good thing - because Papa usually makes the cakes in these parts. This year he couldn't because he was out of town fishing until the morning of the party. Gulp! That meant I had to do it...

I had wanted to do more of the of the game board on the top of the cake, but after I had the batter mixed up I couldn't find my cake pan. Aargh! Luckily a neighbor was willing to loan me hers to get me out of the pinch; it was just smaller than mine. But everything ended up turning out all right in the end. Since I can't pipe / decorate with frosting to save my life, I cheated and used other things instead - namely more candy! The little gingerbread house was my son's favorite part of the whole day. In fact, he skipped cake and ice cream and just munched on that house. After all my worries about whether or not that stinking cake would turn out or not, I'm so glad that he liked it. Papa's cakes are a tough act to follow.

Phew. Now that that's over, I can sleep for a day or two and then start thinking about Halloween costumes...

Monday, September 21, 2009

I'm Five

I'm five, I'm five, I'm a big boy now I'm five.
I can dress myself, I don't need mum to help me anymore.
And when I sit in my father's chair,
my feet can reach the floor.
I'm five, I'm five, I'm a big boy now I'm five.
My mother doesn't spank me just for going without a hat.
'Cause she knows darn well that I'm too old for that.
What does she think, I'm three?
Not me.
What does she think, I'm four?
I'm more than four.
I'm even more than four and a half...
I'm five!

-Milton Schafer

Some of you may remember that little diddy from the Muppet Show. I use to love the Muppet Show - back when I was about five. My son turned five yesterday and I can't believe how quickly these five years have passed. Didn't I just bring him home from the hospital? It sure feels like it.

I started contracting six weeks before my due date. Given that I live on Mackinac Island and deal with a limited ferry schedule, my doctor was not pleased. He asked me to leave the island, be no more than fifteen minutes from the hospital, and he put me on "limited mobility." It sounds awful, but it is not as bad as "bed rest"; I could get up and walk to the bathroom, take a shower etc., but I couldn't really go out. No walking, no bike riding, no driving, etc. Sounds awful, but my parents house in Petoskey is just about seven miles from the hospital so it was perfect. My husband commuted to and from the island so he could continue to work, while I stayed on the mainland by myself until my mom flew home from Malta a few days later.

Somehow we managed to keep him cooking for three more weeks, but at 4:09 am, at exactly 37 weeks, my water broke. My son was delivered via c-section a little over two hours later. I knew I would have to have a c-section since he was breach. His little bum was so wedged down in my pelvis he couldn't lay flat and touch his feet to the bed for over a month.

He was such a good baby - happy and good natured. He just wasn't an eater. (After a short while the lactation consultant from the hospital told me it was OK to give him formula after I nursed him, and he finally he started gaining more weight.) He still isn't an eater. Today he is only in the tenth percentile for height and weight - at five he wears size 2T shorts. He needs 4T pants for the length, but I have to get the adjustable waist kind or they will just fall off of him.

I don't care that he is on the small side. As his mother, I adore him. Currently some of my favorite things about him are:

  • He uses words like gigantic, scarce, disgusting, and heinous.
  • If we use a word or phrase he doesn't know, he asks us to explain it.
  • At bed time he often asks if he can leave the light on and read for ten minutes. (Even though he can't really "read" yet.
  • He always wants me to rock him in my arms for a minute or two at bed time.
  • Please and thank you are part of his vocabulary.
  • He loves snakes, bugs, frogs, and slugs. If it creeps or crawls he'll want to investigate it.
  • He loves pink, Barbie dolls and mermaids and does not care what other people think about it. He likes them and, in his mind, that is all that should matter.

I love you buddy. Happy birthday...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Weekend Sewing Project # 2

Fat Quarter Napkins

I didn't use fat quarters. I bought yardage and cut it instead. Except for the backs; those are made from a curtain I made to fit a window in a house we lived in a very long time ago. (Which the pack rat in me knew would come in handy someday. So what if we moved out of that house six years ago and I still had the curtain in my basement.) Of course, I didn't buy enough fabric to make the eight napkins I need for the party, so I ended up with six peppermint ones and two blue ones. Somehow I don't think the birthday boy will mind. He'll just have fun choosing which napkin he wants to use.

I love the weight of these napkins. Since they are two layers of fabric they are heavier than you expect when you pick them up. They ended up taking more time than the ones I make by just rolling the edges on my serger, but I do like how these turned out. They would have been twice as expensive too if I hadn't already had the backing fabric, so I probably won't make these again for myself due to the extra cost. But, they would make a nice gift.

I love making a set of napkins for my son and daughter's family birthday dinners. They look quite festive sitting on the table and every time throughout the year we reuse them, the kids end up reminiscing about their birthday. I get to hear their memories from that day. It is wonderful I tell you, to hear their thoughts pour out. Often they are things I wouldn't have expected them to remember. Plus, this set will be perfect to use around Christmas...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

King Candy

This year we have a new addition to our family birthday traditions: the birthday crown.

It just seemed the year to do it because, you know, when you get to the end of the Candyland game you arrive at the Candy Castle to hob knob with King Candy. And, of course, what five year-old doesn't love a crown.

I made it with buckram (it was leftover from making 1830s bonnets when I use to work at Fort Mackinac) that I covered in fabric. The buckram worked perfectly - I'm so glad I remembered I had it tucked away in my daughter's closet. (I'm also glad I wrote down my son's head measurement earlier this summer.) The crown is wonderfully light and I think my son will be really excited when he gets it on Sunday morning. Next week it will probably end up in the costume box, which is just fine with me.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tutorial: Raw Edge Applique Shirt

I love birthday shirts. My little ones beamed when they got their birthday shirts (here and here) last year, so I plan on making them as long as the kids will wear them. My son will get this one when her turns five next week. Of course, I had to use my new favorite technique - raw edge applique. Thank goodness Jo Ann's had their Christmas fabric out in July- the peppermint candy fabric worked perfectly with my son's Candyland birthday request. I just love how the frayed edges on the five set it off against the red and white background.

If you'd like to make your own raw edge applique birthday shirt, here's how I did it:


Pre-washed shirt (mine was $3.50 at Wal-Mart)
Fabric for applique
Spray fabric adhesive
Water soluble marking pen
Stabilizer (I used wash away stabilizer)

What to Do:

1. Using a font you like, print out whatever number you'd like to use. I printed out several sizes and held them up to the shirt to make sure I liked the size. I ended up using the font Arial Bold and a font size of 350. (I wanted the five to look similar to how he is taught to write them in school.)

2. Cut out the number leaving about 1/4 inch around the outside. Use this as a pattern and trace it onto your fabric.

Just remember to make sure that the number you cut out will face the right direction when viewed from the right side of the fabric.

3. Search through your dishes and find a plate or bowl that is about 3/4 of an inch larger than your number on both the top and the bottom. You could also use a compass to draw a circle. I just traced my plate on the wrong side of the fabric using a water-erasing fabric marker. Cut out the circle on the line.

4. Lightly spray the back of your number with fabric adhesive and center it on the right side of the circle. Don't worry about the shirt yet. It is easier to stitch the number to the circle and then stitch the circle to the shirt. I did not use stabilizer for this step.

5. Using your presser foot as a guide, stitch around the number. My stitching ended up being about 1/4 inch from the edge of the five. The exact distance doesn't really matter - just use this same presser foot and stitch settings later on when you stitch around the edge of the circle. When sewing around curves it works best to stop sewing, life the presser foot and pivot the fabric. (Quite easy if you have a Bernina with a knee lift.) I have found pivoting without lifting the foot tends to cause puckering.

6. Once the number is attached to the circle, use your scissors to snip all around the number. Sharp scissors with a pointed tip work best. Clipping all the way to the stitching is just fin.e Just be careful not to cut through your stitching line. Work slowly so you don't cut through the circle fabric either. If you are using a flannel fabric do not clip quite as close to the seam. When I've used flannel it seems to fray more and I've had some fray right through the stitching line into the design.

Once you have gotten all the way around your number, it should look something like this:

7. Cut a piece of stabilizer that is bigger than your circle, but not bigger than the width of the shirt.

8. Now it is time to attach the circle to the shirt. Place the circle on the shirt and find placement that you like. After you've decided where you want it, turn the shirt inside out. Lightly (and I mean lightly) spray the stabilizer with adhesive and stick it to the inside of the shirt.

9. Turn the shirt right side out. Make sure there are no puckers or wrinkles. If there are, turn the shirt inside out and reposition the stabilizer so it is nice and smooth.

10. Lightly spray the back of the circle with adhesive and stick it to the front of the shirt. Just like you did for the number, stitch around the outside of the circle using your presser foot for a guide. Remember to lift and pivot; it takes a bit longer but it's worth it.

11. Snip around the outside of the circle just like you did with the number. If any of your blue markings show, just spritz them with water and they will disappear.

12. If you didn't use wash away stabilizer you may need to remove it. I like the wash away stuff because it just dissolves in the washing machine.

13. Throw the shirt into the washer and then into the dryer and it should come out nicely frayed and ready to wear. If it isn't frayed enough, just throw it back in for a second washing. My photo was taken after one trip through the wash.

That's it. Your shirt should be ready for celebrating a special day.

If you make one, leave me a link in a comment so I can check it out. I'd love to see what you come up with.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

3... 2... 1... Blast Off!

We've been having way too much fun lately launching 2-liter bottle rockets at the park around the corner.

Just pour in the water...

Make sure the passenger is comfortable and pressurize the bottle to about 50 psi...

Yes, that's Belle - the first princess in space. Doesn't she look thrilled?

Then count down, pull the release cord and blast off. You might want to stand back; as the pressurized air inside the bottle expands it forces the water out. It provides great lift but also has a tendency to give those standing near by a shower.

What a fun way to spend the evening, don't you think.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New Threads

That Sponge Bob shirt I made a while back was such a big hit, I used the same technique to make a shirt to match my daughter's new skirt. Just like Bob, it is raw edge applique, but this fabric frayed much more nicely and I love how the white edges blend into the white shirt.

I see more more of these shirts in my future...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Winding Down

Summer officially ends for us tomorrow - when I return to school. (Schools can't begin until after Labor Day in Michigan.) We're trying to enjoy our last day of lazy by dyeing Queen Anne's Lace* and geocaching. No Bridge Walk for us this year. Maybe when the kids are a bit older...

I'm also feverishly working on Candy Land birthday items. Soon I'll have a shirt, a crown, and a few other surprises to share. Until then enjoy the Queen Anne's Lace. My son loved how quickly the blue dye worked. (We used gel food coloring.) Within four hours some flowers were already blue. The orange worked well too, but the red and yellow - not so much.

* I read about this on a blog somewhere, but for the life of me I can't remember where. So my apologies for not giving credit where credit is due.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Music to My Ears

A couple days ago we had one of those days. You know what they're like; those days when no one can get along, everyone is on edge, and every little thing becomes a gigantic crisis worthy of tantrums.

Somewhere in the middle of it all my son started tapping on a cake pan with an unsharpened pencil. I tried really hard not to let it drive me insane (which I must admit it did, but I held it together.) The next thing I knew I was getting out lots of different pans and bowls and telling him to have at it. Both of the kids drummed and sang for about 45 minutes. Happily together! No more, "Mama, K touched me," or "Stop looking at me!" Surprisingly an unrestrained musical (though I use that term loosely) concert was all it took. We snapped out of our funk and managed not to kill each other for the rest of the day.

Then papa came home with this book from the Imagination Library. It was a perfect bedtime read that night. Five Nice Mice is a story about some mice, who after being kicked out of a "frogs only" concert, build their own instruments, put on their own concert, invite everyone, and end up cooperating with the frogs to make beautiful music. It's a wonderful story. If you haven't read it yet, it's definitely worth checking out of the library the next time you are there.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Weekend Sewing Project #1

A skirt for my daughter...

The pattern in the book actually makes a sundress like this one. (You can find its maker here.) It just isn't warm enough to wear something like that on Mackinac, so I made K a skirt instead. The skirt took less than an hour from start to finish. I just love projects like that...

I measured a skirt that K already had and cut my fabric one inch longer. I just cut across the width of the fabric so it ended up being about 44 inches wide. Using my serger, I sewed up the side seam and rolled the top edge. Then I hemmed the bottom and followed Heather's directions to shirr the top. Easy as pie!

I'm pretty happy with the result. Although when I make the next one I will probably go with a smaller width of fabric - maybe 35 inches. This one shirred just fine and will stay up around her little tummy, but I think a tighter waist would be better. I would hate for her to lose her britches while she is running and jumping on the playground at preschool; how embarrassing.

This will be her first year of school. My baby girl is growing up. High school graduation will be here before I know it, won't it. Sigh...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sew Along

About a month ago my friend Maggie suggested I buy Heather Ross' book Weekend Sewing. I've learned over the years to listen to Maggie, and as usual, I was not disappointed. After I told her how much I liked the book, she suggested we do a "sew along."

So throughout September and October Maggie and I are going to work on some of the projects from Weekend Sewing. Though you know me - I probably won't make things verbatim from the book; I am certain to alter them just a bit. Plus I'll be working on a Candy Land birthday party as well as Halloween costumes, so things won't be 100% Heather Ross around here.

You'll join us, won't you? C'mon, you know you want to! Grab the image above and the button on my sidebar and use them. (If you need help adding it to your side bar email me and I can walk you through it - it's super easy.) Let me know you're in (via comment or email) and I'll include you in a list of participating blogs. Then, as you finish a project from Weekend Sewing, post about it. In two months you might finish one project, or maybe you'll finish three. It really doesn't matter - just be inspired and have some fun. That's what this project is all about.