Turning 40…

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Tomorrow I turn 40 – it feels very surreal to me.  It doesn’t matter how old I get, inside I still feel the same.  My body is older, bigger, a little more wrinkled.  My hair is a little thinner and is turning grey strand by strand.  I’m now the mother of three kids and my life is filled with responsibilities – “me time” is rare, even on vacation, and I can’t just pick up and change things, just because I want to, anymore.  Gone are the days of living off sushi and going to tanning beds (not my smartest moments), and instead of popping out to the store in my Miata, I weigh the importance of what I want against the hassle of herding three kids into the SUV and policing them while in the store.

My life is now exhausting!  There is not a single night that I don’t go to bed completely drained and thankful for sleep, but the older I get the more elusive it is.  I now rely on melatonin to help me fall asleep – it helps me drift off before my brain takes over about bills, and school projects, and things that need cleaning.

There are days when I’ve had enough – that’s actually what I say “I’ve had enough!”  I want to quit and go back to a simpler life, rewind the clock and be young again and get my easy life back.

Except that I really don’t!

I love who I am now.   I’m wiser than I use to be, I’m more confident and I’m emotionally stronger.   I don’t get offended as easily as I use to and I can stand up for myself and the people I love in ways I never could.

More importantly, I love being a mother.  I love wrapping my arms around my children and burying my face in their hair.  I love watching them grow and learn and relate to their world around them.   I would never want to change that for the world, especially not for less wrinkles and  a body less affected by gravity.

Everything I’ve experienced in the last 40 years have gotten me to this place and I am thankful for that.  I don’t want to go back, I want to keep going forward.  I’m excited for the many more years to come!

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October 31…

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It’s that year again where little kids dress up in costumes and go door to door looking for candy…

but not our kids.

If you’ve been reading my blog for the past year, you already know we do not celebrate Halloween.   We’re use to going against the flow of what everyone else calls normal and we are also use to the reactions of people when they find out.  Most people give us that veiled smile, as they say something that sounds like they understand while their eyes cry out “You are causing your kids irreparable damage by withholding this holiday from them!”

It’s the same reaction we get from most people when we tell them we home school.

Here’s the thing…if we were to not celebrate Valentine’s Day people wouldn’t even blink.  If we were to not celebrate Easter a lot of people would just shrug.  If we were to say we don’t celebrate Christmas due to our beliefs, people would be politically correctly intrigued by our differences.  They would wish us “Happy Holidays” while trying not to offend us, but skipping Halloween will apparently insure that our children will need years of counseling.

I get tired of having to explain our choices and quite frankly our children just don’t get why we have to.   They are more than happy to do the activities we do in place of Halloween and the only time they feel left out is when people continue to ask them if they do.

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Instead of trick or treating, we checked into the John Carver Inn and spent the day swimming.  The kids went down the big water slide as fast as their little legs could carry them back to the top.   We had the pool to ourselves all day and I was able to relax in the hot tub reading while they played.

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Eventually they were hungry and exhausted and we made our way back to the room for pizza, candy and a movie.

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It didn’t take long for everyone to get their energy back and we went back to the pool for a lot more fun!  When we walked in we were surprised to see another family with lots of kids playing in the pool.  It turns out we aren’t the only one who don’t celebrate Halloween.  All the kids were thrilled to meet each other and the other mom and I hung out in the hot tub chatting (they home school too).  We had such a fun evening with them that we swapped emails and plan to meet up again at some point!

Once again, we had a fabulous October 31!

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Confessions of a Fabric Junkie…

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Big D and the Little Professor have decided they want to create a show about my love for fabric and quilting.  The Professor thought it would be fun to focus on my quilting – maybe film the process of my work.

Big D had a whole other take on it.  He pictured a dark and shady documentary that would shed light on the obsessive-hoarding side of my need for fabric.  Of course he stated this as we were on our way home from a big fabric sale at Joann Fabrics.  What he doesn’t realize is that I saved him a whole lot of money this past weekend!

It’s really hard to pass up a great fabric sale…so hard, that I can’t and I didn’t!

I shopped and I shopped….and I shopped some more.

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I wasn’t buying fabric for any specific quilt, I was doing what is called…

stash building.

Just between you and me, stash building means buying fabric just because I like it and I want it and maybe someday down the road I will use it to complete a fabric selection for a quilt.  The perfect missing link!

Even though I was technically stash building I did manage to find some very nice colour families that will make some great quilts.

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Pink and Yellowy – Orange

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Black and Cream

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Grey and Yellow

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Aqua and Navy

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Green and Cream

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Orange and White

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Navy and White

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This looks like a repeat but this one is actually Black and White.  I’m thinking of doing a Boston Commons quilt with this one.

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There were also a few different fabrics that didn’t match anything, they were just beautiful!

There were more fabrics, too many to post but all of them just as gorgeous.

Some people like to look at flowers, some like to stare out at the deep blue of the ocean…

I like to submerse myself in colourful fabric and take in the unique patterns.

I like to dream about what could be with each one.  It soothes me and relaxes and it brings a smile to my face!

**** No budgets were blown by the purchasing of the above fabric (that’s just how good the sale was!!!)

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Pin Collecting…

As everyone well knows, I have a few hobbies that I enjoy…mostly quilting, but I’m not the only one in our family with a hobby.

  Big D (yup, still trying to find a nickname for Daddy) has one too – he collects and trades Disney Trading Pins.

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These pins are not for trading.

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Other pins will be traded for pins that will complete these collections.

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The kids collection.

He has well over 100 interesting Disney pins at this point and his collection keeps growing.

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His collection started a couple trips back with two pins that caught his eye – Tick Tock Crock eating Captain Hook and Mickey with a Lightsaber.

Some pins he buys online, some he buys or trades for at Disney and some have been gifts from friends.

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This Hoop-Dee-Doo pin was a gift from friends on their Disney trip!

We love it!

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These three were gifts for the kids from another friend of ours.

We have very thoughtful friends!

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The children and I bought these for Big D’s birthday this year.

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He and the kids bought me this one on our last trip…

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…and we bought him this pin album to keep his collection in.  At this rate we may have to buy him another one on his next trip but that’s ok, I enjoy contributing to his Disney pin obsession.

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Some of the pins are really cool, some are really pretty and some are pretty funny!  I can see the appeal they have to him.  I’ve been tempted to collect them myself but I’m pretty busy with my own hobbies so I’ll leave the pins to Big D.

He and the kids also like to trade pins with the Cast Members when we’re at Disney.  The Little Professor is especially talented in this area and can spot a good trade from far away!  I like the social interaction it provides for the kids.  It gives them the chance to approach a safe stranger and begin a conversation with them where they can develop basic social skills, like looking the person in the eyes and speaking clearly – not always easy with people we don’t know.  It helps builds confidence.

 I can just hear my friends and family pointing out my need to turn everything into a learning experience.

Since they are “Disney” trading pins, all the pins have our favourite Disney characters, show a Disney place or Disney item on them which makes it even more exciting.  The kids love to point out what or who each pin represents.  Out of all the pins we have we’ve only been stumped once…

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If you know who this is, please let me know!!!  We just can’t figure it out.  I vaguely recognize the character but I can’t place him.

Happy Pinning!

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Star Quilt…

I finished this quilt at the beginning of last month, just in time to take it to Ohio and give to my little cousin.   I’m so pleased with how it turned out.  The colours are even more vibrant in person.

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I started with the paisley print on the back and drew the colours out from there.

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I had an idea of what it would look like in my head but during the process I started doubting myself.  It happens with every time!  However, I think it turned out even better, especially since it was my first star block.

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I really love this quilt!

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I did a variety of machine quilting on this quilt which differs from my usual overall stippling.

I left some spaces without quilting to give it a puffier look and to give the quilt more texture.

On the white borders I did stippling but I added hearts into it.

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I think it’s time to advance my machine quilting and try some more difficult designs on future quilts.

I would love to get a long arm machine one day!  A girl can dream!

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Bogs and Frogs…

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Last Saturday we had the pleasure of visiting a cranberry farm with our home school co-op.

Not only was it very interesting but it was beautiful!

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We watched as the cranberries were harvested by machine…

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and by hand.

 It was interesting how the bogs were each slightly lower as they went so that once one bog was harvested the water could be drained down into the next allowing that one to be harvested next.

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While on the tour the kids were given trivia questions to answer.  There’s never a lack of volunteers in a group of homeschoolers!

(I just love this picture of the little Professor in his sweater that Nanny knitted.  It’s now way to small for him but he loves it so much he can’t give it up!)

Throughout our whole visit Benson (the yellow lab) followed us from bog to bog demonstrating his frog hunting skills.  Apparently he’s so good at catching and eating them that he’s cleared the bogs of all frogs since he didn’t catch a single one while we were there!

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At the end we were given samples of freshly picked cranberries which the children bravely attempted to eat.  It was quickly followed by some crasins which were much more enjoyable and then followed by some cranberry baked treats and of course cranberry juice.

The baked treats were the favourites!

As it turns out, the farmer’s wife is from Ontario and she moved to the US to marry her husband years ago!

A very familiar story indeed!

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Nanny

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For those of you who have not yet heard, Nanny (my grandmother) passed away last Friday.   It was quick but peaceful and now she’s in Heaven with our Lord.  I don’t say that lightly either, I know she is there and I will see her again one day.

I had a hard time deciding on whether or not to write a post about this.  I wasn’t sure if this was something I wanted to share but every time I tried to write about something else, I just couldn’t.  It didn’t seem right.  So I’ll keep it simple and tell you a little about my beautiful Nanny…

Nanny was dignified.  She never went anywhere without having her hair fixed nicely and her make up on.  She was stylish and her outfits were well thought out.  She was independent and smart and had a really good, dry sense of humour.  She always made me laugh.  She didn’t put up with nonsense from strangers but she had all the patience in the world for her grandchildren and great grandchildren.  She was kind and thoughtful and never forgot a birthday.  She still sent me birthday cards every year with money in them, to this day.  She always wrote “buy yourself something nice” and underlined it with little curvy lines.  Nanny appreciated nice things.  She would always serve tea and biscuits or cheese and crackers whenever we visited and she would do it on fancy plates with beautiful napkins.  She would also send tea and biscuits and beautiful napkins for me with whomever was coming to visit us – every single time – and she would also send the children treats too.  Nanny was one of a kind!

I love her and I will miss her but I am comforted knowing where she is.  When we came across her bible, she had Revelations 21:4 underlined and it really spoke to me.  I know, without a doubt I will see Nanny again and even though I miss her now, there will come a day when we will be together once more.

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

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Home Sweet Home…

We are home!  Actually we’ve been home for two days now but I’ve been so busy getting settled that I’m just getting a chance to write a post now.

This last trip was one of our busiest, non-stop vacations ever.  It was also a very emotional vacation too.

As you know, we started our vacation in Hershey PA, then we headed to Cincinnati OH and wrapped it up with an unexpected detour to Canada – 2 weeks has never felt so long.

Tonight I want to write about Hershey…specifically Chocolate World .

Chocolate World is located right next to Hershey Park and offers various attractions to see, all of them revolve around…you guessed it – Chocolate!

Most of the attractions cost money but prices for each are fairly reasonable and they offer packages that give little discounts.  All the attractions end with a taste of chocolate because after all what kind of world would Chocolate World be if you didn’t actually get to try the chocolate!

Hershey’s Great American Chocolate Tour is free – I think we can all agree that free is good!

It’s a little ride that explains how Hershey makes their chocolate and it’s super cute.  It has singing cows, a roasting oven you ride through and the scent of chocolate permeating the warm air, while a catchy tune plays in the background.

Yes, I’m singing it right now as I write this…

“It’s the milk chocolate…moo, moo, moo…

Hershey’s Milk chocolate…moo, moo, moo…”

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At the end of the ride as you exit they give you a fun size chocolate bar to eat.  If you go when it’s not busy like we did, they let you stay on the ride, but if your children are as cunning as mine they will politely refuse, claiming they don’t mind getting back in line.  They weren’t fooling anyone!

We also did the Hershey’s Create Your Own Candy Bar.  That was surprisingly fun and really interesting, even kept the Monkey attention…most of the time.  All three children took it really seriously.

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First we were given hair nets and aprons because it’s a factory atmosphere.  Everyone has to wear them or you aren’t allowed to go in.  They had both adult and children’s size.

The children designed their chocolate bars by selecting various options like white, dark or milk chocolate and sprinkles, butter crisps, pretzels and many other fillings, on a computer screen.  Then we watched as the bars were created going down the assemble line.

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Then as the bars went through the cooler we went into a side room and created the covers for the tin box that the bars were going to be placed in.

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It was around this time the Monkey started to get restless – after all, there’s only so long chocolate needs to cool!  One of our tour guides was kind enough to distract him with her hard hat and that was all it took!

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The kids loved the tin box with their custom packaging.  They were very proud of themselves.

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We also took in the Hershey’s Great Chocolate Mystery in 4D movie which was also really entertaining.  They even personalized our experience by letting us text info to them so they could add it into the beginning of the movie.  The Professor, Princess and Monkey were completely caught off guard when Hershey Milk Chocolate (the character) singled them out and began talking to them.  Apparently I was the only one who knew how to text.  They were even more surprised when it turned into a conversation!  And of course, there was chocolate handed out at the end.

Chocolate World also offers chocolate tasting classes and trolley tours but we were pretty chocolated out by that point.  We just barely managed to drag ourselves back to the shuttle bus and spill out onto our stop.

It was the end of the Chocolate World for us!

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90 Years…

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Today I had the honor of celebrating my Grandfather’s 90th birthday with him.  I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my Grandpa these days now that we live so far apart, so it was extra special to be able to be with him for such a great milestone.

Even though today was his actual birthday we had already celebrated previously this weekend with all of our extended family congregating in Cincinnati Ohio – where my grandpa lives – to throw a big party for him.  It was wonderful to get together with everyone and spend the time.  It was more than just a birthday party, it was a much needed family reunion.

Sadly, everyone else left at the end of the weekend.  The campground became quieter and quieter while we waved to each car load of loved ones as they drove off.  The Professor and the Princess would tell us how much they missed each person a few minutes after the car was out of site.  They especially enjoyed hanging out with their cousins and even though they were sad to say good bye, they were glad we were staying a couple more days.

As a child I never really appreciated my grandpa like I do now.  Back then I didn’t seem to have time to listen to all he had to say, but now I cherish every word he speaks.  He is full of wisdom and experience and stories of the past.  He is kind and thoughtful and he has a wonderful sense of humour.  He is also extremely talented when it comes to playing the piano.  I have fond memories of listening to him play for us and tonight it was like stepping back in time as I listened to him play once again.

I would love to be able to do it all again next year!

 

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