Thursday, December 18, 2014

Beginner Sewing

Paige and Allie and a friend are learning to sew this fall.  We get together about twice a month and work on some beginner projects.  So far they've made a fall wall hanging and an apron.  The aprons went fairly quickly, but as usual I underestimated the amount of time it takes a beginner to sew.  Paige finished her apron first and was able to use it today when we were making Chex Mix.  Allie's will get completed tomorrow when we have a little time without any running around to do.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

To Read or Not To Read

A number of my on-line friends are setting goals for reading a certain number of books next year.  I've made and surpassed goals the last few years, but am considering a twist to my reading challenge this year.  I need to limit myself to a smaller number of books next year.  The simple problem is that I read too much.  In 2014, I read more than 125 new books and over 270 rereads.  The rereads usually happen when I run out of new material and need to get to sleep.

My addiction to reading keeps me up until every book is finished, even when I have read the book before.  It's not uncommon for me to still be reading at 4:00 am when the household is sound asleep.  Knowing that everyone will be up in a few hours doesn't deter my need to complete the book.

There seems to be an obsessive gene in my personality that causes me to be excessive in anything I pursue. When I work out at the gym, I'm there for two-three hours, knowing full well that any movement will be uncomfortable in the days following.  When planning the upcoming school year, every subject and lesson is planned over the summer.  (We may not get to everything, but the plan is created.)  It's time for me to work on moderation in my life.

So my reading goal for 2015 is to read 1 book per week, including rereading books I love to revisit.  This goal will be a much more difficult challenge than reading more books, but will still allow me to enjoy one of my favorite past times.

 Are you challenging yourself to read more next year?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mangled Paychecks

When Mike and I got married, he had an account with a local credit union.  I used a bank for my savings and checking accounts.  After several months, we merged our accounts to his credit union due to the savings from lower fees.  We were even able to keep our account with the credit union when we moved because they had just merged with another credit union that had offices in the town where Mike works.

The small town where we live doesn't have an office for our credit union, so Mike does almost all of the kid's banking when on his lunch hour.  Madelyn delivers papers and gets paid by check every two weeks.  She signs the checks and hands them to Mike, who promptly puts them in his back pocket for safe keeping.Unfortunately, it's not a very safe location.  Two of Madelyn's checks went through the laundry over the last few months.  She had to go into the paper office with the shreds of her paycheck and ask if they could reissue the checks.  The secretary and the newspaper laughed the first two times, but when it happened a few weeks ago, she wasn't quite as amused.

Madelyn was so embarrassed that it took her a month before she returned to pick up her three paychecks. She signed the checks and handed them to Mike who took them to work safely stowing them in the back pockets of his work slacks.  It was a busy day at work and he wasn't able to get away for a lunch break and forgot the checks.  One of the girls helpfully put a load of dark clothes through the wash for me and (you know where this is going.) 

He called me from work and remembered that the checks were in his slacks.  I raced to the washer and opened the door.  The checks were soaked but hadn't been through the spin cycle yet.  I carefully peeled them apart and set them on my sewing table to dry.  The edges of the checks ended up slightly mangled, but all the numbers were clearly visible.

Mike finally took the wonky checks to the credit union to cash.  The teller had to reinsert the checks several times before the machine was able to read them.  Actually, it took over 15 minutes to read two of the checks.  The teller looked at Mike and asked if it would be possible for his to get the check reissued.  Mike just shook his head no and the overworked teller returned to sending the battered check through the reader.  Eventually, it was able to get the necessary information off the check.  As the teller was handing Mike the money and slip she said, "Thanks Tim,  See you soon."

She had listed the checks on someone else's account.  Mike felt terrible.  He handed her back the receipt and explained that he wasn't Tim.  The teller was frustrated and explained that she could transfer the transactions through his account, but she wasn't sure what she would do with the cash that would be subtracted from the cash count on her drawer.  Mike left her musing with the problem. 

Yesterday, while doing laundry, I found invoices for customers in the back pocket of his work slacks.  I may sew all his back pockets closed.  It would make life a lot easier for everybody.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


It's official.  I finished my novel!  Woohoo!  I ended up writing a mystery novel this year for NaNoWriMo, instead of the humorous book based on our home renovation experiences.  Mike encouraged me to write something entirely fictional and now that I finally reached the end, I'm glad I followed his advice. 

There are many errors in my novel, but I learned so much about plot and character development this year.  The need to prepare more before actually writing became quickly apparent when the first victim in the story wasn't killed at the appropriate time.  It was necessary to go back and rewrite an entire chapter, because the story couldn't move forward with the character still alive.  Some of my best dialog had to be scrapped.

Last year, I had planned to return to my novel in January and begin revisions, but never did anything further with it.  This year's novel isn't worthy of further efforts, because my plot isn't strong enough.  So although my first mystery will remain a document on my computer that will never be shared with anyone else, it helped me grow as a writer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Art Prize 2014

We headed to Grand Rapids to see Art Prize today.  The weather was perfect for a day outside.  Mike had taken the day off, so we were able to attend with most of the family.  We arrived around 10 in the morning, when most of the crowds hadn't arrived yet.

My children were enthralled with the variety of skulls painted on the side of a building.

I love this mosaic guitar.  It was huge and the design was very intricate.  The back looked as good as the front.

Allie and Paige loved this gigantic set of pipes.
These turtles were so cute.

Allie found a piece of the fence that had broken of the top.  They made perfect glasses.

Several years ago, we saw an exhibit at the Meijer Gardens called Juggernaut.  This exhibit reminded me of that exhibit.

Madelyn hitched a ride on Joe's shoulders.

Check out Paige's new hand!

We had a great time as usual.  I hope that we're able to go again next year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cross Country

This cross country season was bittersweet for me.  Joe had another successful year, but at the end he told me that he doesn't think he wants to do cross country in college.  All of his friends had graduated last year, and although his team-mates were nice kids, he didn't enjoy it as much any more.

Joe at the beginning of his first home meet at the beginning of the race. 

Talking with one of his coaches at the end of the race.

It was a little warm and humid that day.
The season finished a few weeks ago, it wasn't Joe's best season, but he lettered again and received his 3rd year plaque at the award ceremony.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Carve Your World

My Etsy shop is finally beginning to pick up with sales and view.  My daughter who does a nice little income from her bun holders kept encouraging me about the time it takes to develop people looking at your items.  She helped me with labeling and provided some hints about how to move my items up on the search list.

My shop started with my hobby of letter boxing, where I create hand carved rubber stamps.  Planting letter boxes, led to creating artist cards with more hand carved stamps and I now possess over 500 hand carved rubber stamps.  I'm not selling those stamps, but I enjoy carving so much that I carve stamps for sale.  My Lutheran Rose stamps are by far my best selling items.  Probably because they are unique and aren't able to be purchased anywhere else.

For Christmas, I created some ornaments using my personal Lutheran Rose stamps. 

Because so many of us are huge Doctor Who fans, it was necessary to make Doctor Who ornaments as well.

The kids have requested particular Doctor Who villains and Doctors, so I'm busy carving more images to meet their needs.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014

It's National Novel Writing Month again!  Amy and I have been busy writing, writing and more writing.  Last year, I wrote a children's book about some of the crazy things that my children have done.  It was a pleasure to write and I enjoyed writing about the events from a child's perspective

This year, I'm writing a mystery that is producing a much greater challenge.  At one point, it was necessary to backtrack in the story, because I had forgotten to kill off my first victim!  I had spent so much energy trying to make the setting realistic that I completely forgot where the story was headed.

I'm enjoying the process of writing something completely from my imagination.  Some of the characters have become very real to me, evolving into people with their own unique personalities.  It's been surprising my outline for the story has needed to change as the characters grow. 

There are a couple of blog posts planned and partially written that I hope to complete later this week.  One involves some crafts the other a fabulous field trip. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Corn Maze

When I was 5, my family moved to Michigan from Illinois.  In all the years that we've lived in this wonderful state, I have never been to a corn maze.  They weren't a popular activity when I was a child,  but I never managed to take my own children when the mazes became a fall thing to do.  Saturday afternoon, I broke out of our weekend rut and took Paige and Allie to a corn maze.  Katie and her fiance went with us.  We dropped Madelyn off for a cheer leader event and drove to Harvest Moon Corn Maze.  It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, perfect for an afternoon outside.

Allie, Katie, Paige and George posing for a photo before the fun begins.

We had to stop to pet the goats.  Paige loves goats.  This was her favorite part of the day.

After tearing ourselves away from the goats, we did the 'Lil Maze.  Katie and I took opposite turns at each choice to see who would get through the maze first.  We tied.

Paige on the corn slide.

Allie's turn!

Overcoming our fears of giant spiders.

Beginning our trip through the large maze.

Alison and Paige leading the way through the maze.

Finally, we made our way out of the maze.  Allie felt it necessary to kiss the ground!

Persevering to the end!

It was a fun afternoon, and we can all cross "Going to a Corn Maze" off our Bucket List.