Monday, July 20, 2015

Makeover Madness

The girls and I went kinda crazy the last week or so.  We were sitting on the beach and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of the day. Dave and Kirkham were off on a scout adventure and we wanted to have some "girl time".  What do girls do? we asked ourselves.  So, on a whim we decided to redecorate the house. Make the decorate. We've lived here almost 2 years and we haven't really done any real decorating: we just moved in.

We love the beach and wanted to bring that home. The only caveat: we would not be changing any of our furniture. We started with curtains, did some reupholstering and threw in some accessories.  Afton's newest piece of art was our inspiration piece.

The apartment came with really ugly, faded Aloha print curtains.  They looked super dingy. Afton said they made her feel angry. We ditched the aloha print and bought some cream material. I spent about 6 hours sewing all these simple curtains.  As you can see in the picture below they let a LOT of light in and make a big difference. Though you can't see them due to my poor photography and light balance, they are cute. Super beachy feeling.

Afton's art--the beach scene painted with acrylics over my old Klimt print (it was fading) was our inspiration pieces and serves as a focal point hanging over the piano.  We cleared the cluttery piano books off the top and put some of our most beautiful large shells, driftwood and a candle on one end of the piano and one of my orchids on the other. The piano books were all gathered into a basket on the floor to the left of the piano.

I bought a couple of cute throw pillows and made a few. The coloring in the above pictures is way off. I promise it is a blue and NOT grey.  It was fun playing with the embroidery functions on my new machine.  The girls had a blast learning how to program all of it.

We recovered the seats of the dining room chairs from black to a nice bright blue Waverly print purchased at Walmart. I'm so excited about all the new fabrics they've brought in over the past few weeks! I left the old fabric on and placed a layer of batting and a layer of muslin before placing the new material over the top.  I also scotchguarded the cushions before screwing them back onto the chairs.  This is a very important step when you have kids around!
We also found this cool planter that I just had to have. Of course can't have an empty planter so we grabbed a few plants for a living centerpiece. I was so sick of the old worn table cloths when the table underneath was so beautiful! I fell in love with these woven placemats and, knowing they wouldn't last long alone, bought plastic placemats too. The plastic ones aren't quite the look I was going for but they hide nicely under the woven mats and when it is time to eat we just pull them out from underneath.
The buffet got a pick me up with a new runner made of another beautiful Waverly sea print. Just a few family knick knacks rest here.
I really wanted a seashell wreath. I went a little out of my comfort zone here and pulled out the glue gun.   I bought a wreath form and had a really hard time getting shells to stick to it. At first I blamed it on my lack of glueing skills but Afton assured me it was the form.  I changed it to a cardboard cutout wrapped in wire edge ribbon for stability.  It didn't turn out quite like I wanted it to but I've gotten a lot of compliments on it--and they didn't even know I made it! Or at least they didn't let on that they could tell. I'm not sold on the goofy ribbon.  I'm gonna trade that out for a weathered looking rope maybe. It is stuck to the wall with 2 sets of velcro command strips.
Another out of my comfort zone project: a driftwood clock. It speaks for itself.  I still haven't decided how I feel about it.

We didn't stop with the front room but I will share the rest in another post.  We went on to put new curtains, duvet covers, pillows and more in the girls room, and made changes in the bathrooms and the hallway. It has been a fun project to do with the girls.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book Report

I have spent the past month catching up on everything that I didn't get done during the school year. Scrubbing tiles, cleaning the pantry, harassing the kids, fixing screens, sorting through paperwork, sewing, and reading. Lots and lots of reading.

Most of the books I have been reading I started somewhere in the midst of the school year. A few of them were textbooks that I was reviewing for my classes and classes I am proposing.  I reviewed the Textile Kit Eco Edition for a proposed Textile Science class. I love it! I enjoyed putting together the swatches and I learned a lot from their online textbook. It was a good refresher for me and will be perfect if my proposed course is approved. Basic Sewing for Costume Construction I looked at as a potential textbook for my costume class. It will be an OK resource in the classroom but not right for my class as a textbook. The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy has been a very interesting book.  I am learning a lot from it and am not done yet.  It too is a book for a proposed class, not one I'm teaching yet. And then another book I haven't finished yet is Where am I Wearing: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes, also for a proposed course.

Just for fun I read through a few chapters of Heath's anthropology textbook; the chapters on fashion and the body. Investigating Culture: An Experiential Introduction to Anthropology, an interesting read and I may require my students to borrow the text from their friends in Intro to Anthro to read sections of this.

I also like to steal Dave's textbooks from his Doctoral studies.  The other day I finished The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable and next up is Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull.  I'm really excited about that one. I listened to a podcast interview of him a few months ago and he was fascinating.

The book I think I've gotten the most from this summer however, is What the Best College Teachers Do by Ken Bain. As you can see from the picture above I have marked it up extensively with post its. Here's a list of a few things I want to remember from this book:

  • Does my class change the way students think about the subject?
  • "Knowledge is constructed, not received"
  • "Those who work from intrinsic motivations will pick more ambitious tasks."
  • "Activities most likely to help them learn---struggling, grappling, and making mistakes."
  • "Characteristics of highly respected courses include high demands but with plentiful opportunities to revise and improve their work before it receives a grade, thereby learning from their mistakes in the process."
  • "Avoid the language of demands and use the vocabulary of promises instead."
  • "Know the value that intellectual challenges--even inducing puzzlement and confusion--can play in stimulating interest in the questions of [the course]"
  • "The only way you will ever learn is to read and think." --Ralph Lynn
  • "If students can't learn to judge the quality of their own work, then they haven't really learned." --Paul Travis
  • Teaching is a conversation not a performance.
  • "In real science you're not too worried about the right answer . . .what you are after waits patiently for you while you screw up."--Dudley Herschbach
  • Does my teaching change the way I think about the subject?

Monday, July 13, 2015

How To Make a Hammock

Sorry, this isn't really a step-by-step how to.  If that's what you're looking for check out this Instructable.  The Instructable has a two ply hammock.  We did just one ply.

Cora found the perfect nylon material at Walmart, and it was only $1 per yard! Her material was 45" wide and 3 yards long. She serged the two raw edges and left the selvedge edge intact.  Then she turned and stitched, making a simple 1/4" rolled hem, down each long edge (the selvedge edge). On the serged edges, the short ends, she turned and made a 1" casing. Through the casing she strung some rope, pulled it tight and viola: hammock done.

Afton found her fabric in my fabric stash.  The pink ripstop wasn't quite long enough so she decided to do a color block with the pink in the middle and some grey plaid nylon on each end.  Her project took longer because I made her do flat felled seams on the blocks so it would be strong enough to support the weight of whoever used it. She caught on to the flat fell pretty quick and finished her edges and ends the same as her sister had.  
In addition to the hammocks they each also made a simple drawstring stuff sack for their hammocks. These girls were so proud of their hammocks and excited to show them off to their friends when we went camping at Kahana.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Camping Kahana 2015

Report on last week's camping adventure to Kahana Bay, Windward Coast of Oahu, Hawaii. You must have a camping permit to camp there.  Permits may be obtained through DLNR's online registration site. Permits are only opened one month ahead of time.

We had so much fun at Kahana last year that we decided to do it again.  Monday morning we packed up the truck with all the essentials and by about 2pm we were ready to roll. Dave had to work so these three kids did the majority of the work with just the direction of their dear old mom. We were a great team.

It took us about an hour to set up our campsite.  We put up the EZ corner and then popped the tent up under neath it.  There was threat of rain so we left all the clothes and sleeping bags inside the cab of the truck while setting up.  Good thing we did too, just as we popped up the tent the rain started coming down.  We ferried back and forth between the truck and the tent doing our best to keep everything dry.  Wouldn't you know as soon as we were done unloading and setting up the rain stopped. It's all good.

When our main site was set up I let the kids loose to set up their hammocks.  Afton and Cora made their own hammocks over the weekend in preparation for the adventure. They enjoyed testing them out and showing them off to friends.

They made me test them out too, "to make sure they were strong enough." Apparently they think I weigh a lot more than them. I was all too happy to oblige and get off my feet for a few.

Back to work on starting a fire.  I am not very good at starting fires.  It took me about an hour of fiddling until I gave up and used Martha's briquettes. Big thanks to the Hunters for letting us borrow their fire pit! (In Hawaii, despite what you see in movies, it is illegal to have a beach fire.  All fires must be in an enclosed container at least 18 inches above the ground.) Day 1 dinner: foil dinners!

 Day 2 started off slow.  At least for me. I slept outside with the girls; they in their hammocks and me in a cot beneath them. I had a terrible nights sleep. The waves and wind were great but the cot was so uncomfortable and their were cars driving past all night (the campground is tucked between the bay and the Kam Hwy). The noise hadn't bothered me last year.

Dave got up and went in to work--he had arrived the night before just after sunset. The kids goofed around and did some exploring and Kayaking.  Kirkham drove back to Laie with his buddies to "get some stuff" and were gone for about 2 hours.  Afton had a babysitting job; they dropped the little boy off to play with us at the beach. I read.  All day. It was great.

We kept the fire going most of the day.  The kids enjoyed boiling water over it for hot cocoa and making s'mores. Little Mosely (Afton's babysitee) was well worn out by 3pm.  He had gone Kayaking and swimming and made sand castles.  He roasted a marshmallow and was nearly asleep in his camp chair when his mom came to pick him up.

The night before Cora had been bitten by mosquitos and got 10 bites on the left side of her face.  By mid afternoon her eye was beginning to swell up.  We didn't have any benadryl but I had to run home to take Kirkham to work so I put it on my list to pick up. 

Kirkham was only scheduled for a two hour shift so I waited for him and Dave to get off work (only one car at this time). The waves weren't breaking at Kahana and I needed to get my daily surf fix so while waiting I drove up to the Pipe for a quick session.

Kirkham got off work a little late but fortunately we still got back to Kahana before the sun went down.  Some of the kids were playing in the water still and others were roasting their hot dog dinners over the fire.

The fun and frolicing soon turned into a sunset game of two-hand touch. I was quarterback for my team and Martha was quarterback for her team.

That evening was filled with more campfire stories, Perry strumming his guitar, and banana boats for dessert. When we all tucked in for the night I had a really hard time falling asleep.  A really hard time, like I didn't sleep! I ended up with a killer headache that kept me up and pacing.  Just as the first glimmers of sunrise were peeking over the horizon I was finally closing my eyes in a comfy spot on the lawn. I had to give up on the terrible cot. The lawn was also a perfect spot to find roots to roll into the pressure points on my back--yes, that's what put me to sleep.

A few hours later I woke up with the sun in my eyes and, try as I might, I couldn't fall back asleep again. I spotted Dave out fishing along the barren shoreline. It was a beautiful and quiet morning. The waves were ever so gently rolling in and I knew he was in heaven.  Dave has been working so hard lately.  Between University Admissions, his doctoral program with USC, and serving as Young Men's president he hasn't had much free time.  I was glad to see that he had gotten the morning off and all the kids were still sleeping, not intruding on his solitude. I wandered down just in time to witness his 2nd catch of the day. He skillfully unhooked it and sent it swimming merrily on it's way back into the bay.

Meanwhile, back at the camp the kids had slunk from their sleeping bags to the edge of the campfire and started it up again.  Cora's eye was swollen shut now so I made arrangements to get into the doctor that afternoon. She wasn't in pain, could still breathe well and didn't have a fever so we carried on with our relaxing nonetheless.

When Afton found out her dad was fishing she ran over to watch.  He quickly had another on the line and let her reel it in.  She was hooked!  She spent the next few hours puppy dogging him.  The did some shore fishing and kayak fishing.

Her first "catch": she reeled it in.

Pretty soon Afton wasn't the only one admiring Dave's fishing skills.  Afton ran into camp to change into her swim suit and Cora followed her back out.  Soon Nathan and Austin were out too.  They all took turns fishing and Kayaking.  All the kids walked down to the river and the bridge to play down there.  I'm really not sure what it was like because I didn't go. 

"What did you do?", you ask? I kept my feet in the sand, my butt in a camp chair, and my nose in a book until it was time to go home.

Update on Cora: We took her to the doctor after getting home from camping.  He put her on a 5 day course of prednisolone which made a big difference by the next morning.  Her bites are all cleared up now.  We think she reacted so strongly only because she had so many bites so close together and so near the delicate soft tissue of the eye.  Weird thing is the same thing happened to her cousin Maren the weekend before. Maren is in Washington.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

New Wheels

I got a new car, again. This is the third car we've purchased in as many years. You may recall two years ago we purchased a student's little white VW Golf.  It was $1200 and ran well. It was a perfect little town runner to save us some gas.  We purchased it just before heading to Washington for the summer and drove it for about 3 weeks until the dreadful day Dave was T-boned. He was OK and was able to limp the car home but it was totalled. The driver wasn't insured but agreed to settle with us rather than go to court. We got most of our money back.

Last year we bought a VW Passat. It was $1400. It ran OK but was a bit rattly. We drove it for about 4 months until, over Christmas break when my parents were borrowing it, it got rear ended. It too was totalled.  Gratefully the driver at fault did have insurance so with minimal difficulty we again got our money back. I was very sad to see it go though.

Off and on over the last 6 months we have checked out replacement vehicles.  I knew I wanted something with good gas mileage-at least 24 MPG, comfortable to drive, room for everything we might need in town shopping, and a rack for surfboards.  I wanted a wagon.  At first we looked exclusively at Passats and Jetta wagons but we ended up extending our search to Volvos, Audis, Fords, Mazdas, Toyotas, eventually settling on a little Suzuki Esteem.

Last week Dave popped on me that he would be taking the truck to scout camp this week, I would have to find a ride to the beach to get my surfing in. I knew Jenny would have family in town and with my other good surfing friends all on vacation, I hated the thought of dragging someone new into my business. I was determined that I would find a car.

To my disappointment when I entered Wagon into the Craigslist search box I only got 7 cars returned. Two were vintage cars, two were junkers and the other three were all Suzuki Esteems. Suzuki Esteem? I had never heard of that and it wasn't one of the cars we'd been shooting for. I did some quick research on and found out that it had good gas mileage and the satisfaction ratings were high. 

Two of the Esteems were in town and one was down by Kahana.  I decided to test drive the closer one and determined that if it was OK I would drive into town to test out the nicer models there. I had $3000 set aside for a vehicle and the Kahana esteem was listed for $1900.

We went to test it out looking for problems and expecting deficiencies. These cars don't have good resale value and we figured it was because they were like the suzuki's we had been in as teenagers: tin can flimsy. We were surprised that all the seats were comfortable, seat belts and door handles were solid and working.  Electrical components were all working.  It drove well too and was zippy and fun to drive. In fact it was better than any of the other, more expensive cars we'd been looking at. This car was worth every bit of $1900 except the AC was broken.

The owner said the air conditioning hadn't worked the whole 6 months she had owned the car. We were worried it might be the compressor, an expensive fix.  We offered her $1500 for it and she said, "How about we settle at $1600." SOLD!

I am loving my new car. The turning radius is so little.  It doesn't hurt my shoulder to turn the steering wheel.  It is little and kinda cute. The kids love it.  Kirkham did a test drive in the BYU parking lot and approved it (no permit yet); he especially likes the sound of the horn. And best of all I can easily load up the surfboards on top and hit the waves whenever I please. Welcome to the family little Suzuki Esteem!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Birth Day Memories

My babies are growing up so fast! Afton turned 15 on Sunday and Heath turned 19 today. I am proud of the people they have become and look forward to watching them continue to blossom. This week, however, I couldn't help but think back to their arrivals so many years ago. Here's Heath's story:

We had just moved into a little duplex in Summit, halfway between Tacoma and Puyallup, a few months before Heath was born.  Dave was freshly graduated from BYU and was working as a lifeguard--his old summer college job--while hunting for a "real job". And I spent my days getting the house ready for a baby and working on-call secretarial for my dad's real estate firm. The pregnancy had gone well, baby was healthy and the doctor said it could be any day. I saw him at a 4th of July breakfast, he looked me up and down and told me to call him directly when I went into labor; he was not going to be in the office for a few days.

July 6th Dave's parents came over to the house for dinner and to play cards. We ate fried chicken and I kept my feet up the whole time because they were so swollen.  Everyone took turns poking them and then watching and waiting to see how long it would take the indent to fill back in.  I was super puffy and uncomfortable but in good spirits. Ladd and Peg had brought ice cream for dessert but I didn't feel like having any, a sure sign, they said, that I would be going into labor soon.  Dr Nickel called to check in on me while they were teasing. He would be leaving town the next night and was hoping I would either have the baby before he left or after he got back. I couldn't promise either one but Dave told him about the ice cream and puffy feet and predicted we'd be calling him soon.

He was right. The next morning I got up at 7am to use the bathroom and that was when my water broke. It was just a small gush but I definitely felt the baby settle way down into my pelvis. This was it! I woke Dave up and he called the doctor. Before he even got the doctor on the line my contractions had started and were immediately pretty steady at about 5 minutes apart. Because my water had broken before contractions had begun the doc wanted me to get into the hospital as soon as possible. I wonder now if this also had something to do with his vacation plans?

I hadn't really packed a bag like everyone told me to but I had everything mostly laid out and close by.  We got dressed, packed up, and hit the road in our little red Honda Prelude. I think we got to the hospital by 10am. Contractions were getting closer together, about every 3 minutes when we got there. I walked in, was admitted. Dr. Nickel arrived at some point, as did my parents and Dave's parents and we even had a surprise visit from Dr. Huish, the doctor that had delivered me (he was a family friend).

I don't remember much else of what happened that day except that by the end of it I had a baby in my arms. I got an epidural and at some point I was also given some other pain medication that made me a bit loopy. There was some tearing and thus a bunch of stitches and therefore more pain medication.  I slept that night sitting on ice packs. Dave lay on the chair and the baby in the bassinet. I was shocked to be awakened in the middle of the night by terrible pains worse than  labor pains. They told me it was my uterus contracting, trying to shrink back to size. More pain meds. They came in throughout the night and next day to "knead" my stomach to make sure it was contracting properly and to make sure the baby was nursing well. Both were.

He was so little and perfect and serious. He looked like he knew what was going on. His eyes told me he knew stuff, lots of stuff, like more than I would ever know. He could see through me. He knew my deepest secrets and darkest thoughts but he still wanted me. It made me uneasy and scared and was strangely empowering. At times the look was almost other worldly. Sometimes, at night, I would be nursing him and he would stare straight back at me with his piercing eyes, and I would think "I'm holding an alien! This being grew inside of me, is sucking on me, and staring right through my soul. He will take over and consume me." It was so intimate and uncomfortable and thrilling.
I made this. I made this!--Him!
And he made me.

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