Sunday, July 25, 2010

Swim Season: Blogging on Location

I couldn't resist the opportunity to blog on location. Two weeks ago I received my new work laptop computer. I'm getting use to toting around this portable technology. Today we are sitting outside the University's competitive level swimming pool. My computer is preset for this Internet system so I'm easily getting a wireless signal. Mimi's parks and recreation swim finals are going on. We were also here yesterday afternoon for the prelims. In the prelims, Mimi swam the backstroke, breaststroke, and the I.M. She qualified for finals in all three events and she will be in two relays today. So she will swim five events by the end of the afternoon. This is quite a feat since there have been many years with the boys and Mimi that they only swam in a relay event or not at all at conference. This is a reflection of the season she has had.

Yesterday we had a strong breeze that made the ninety degree heat bearable. The drawback to the wind was that several portable awnings blew over at times crashing into kids and onto other awnings. Luckily no one got hurt but several frames were ruined. We were also entertained by the teenage boys as they "cheered" on the teenage dance teams that walked by en mass on their way to their camp competitions. At one point we saw some of our swim boys walking out of the basketball arena across from us. One mom asked me what the boys were doing coming from the arena. I was like you've got to be kidding me. They obviously were in there watching the girls dance teams perform.

Mimi has had a fantastic swim season this year. She has had several best times throughout the season and even had two best times of the three events that she swam yesterday. She has enjoyed getting up in the mornings and heading off to the pool. She seems much more willing to push herself more, listen and apply constructive instruction from her coach and her dad. I don't offer instruction.

I just help send her off to her events on time, give hugs (love getting those wet sloppy hugs on those hot sweaty evenings), give back and shoulder rubs, and dispense the snacks. I'm also the official sunscreen police. I pack the sunscreen and end up applying it on my family. Mimi hates sunscreen and luckily she is blessed with a Mexican skin tone and typically does not burn. I am still an avid sunscreener in the hopes of preventing skin cancer. I do try to slather her with sunscreen much to her protests. I have literally held her down on the ground and put sunscreen on her until she gets too slippery and wiggles away. I always slather Doug as well (Mexican by marriage doesn't give him our skin tone), luckily I don't have to wrestle him to the ground. He has had enough sunburns to appreciate my attempts at protecting his skin. He needs more coating than most. I get the ears, neck, head, and tops of toes to name a few of the places that sunscreen is needed. Oh yea, and I photograph those swim moments.

Doug helps to get us out the door on time, makes sure our van is packed with our chairs, is the keeper of the concession stand money, and helps us stake out our base at the swim meets. He can often be found by the pool deck timing swimmers. Today he will be timing during the finals.

This swim season we have enjoyed hot weather, sometimes too hot. Last year was the year that we had those unseasonably cool evenings where we curled up in towels and wore sweatshirts. It was a struggle keeping Mimi warm. We had one swim meet called due to thunder and lightning. I was glad because we were also having quite a bit of rain. We made up that meet the next night. We then had one meet that was interrupted and delayed due to thunder and lightning. We have to go fifteen minutes without hearing thunder or seeing lightning before swimmers can re-enter the pool. At this meet we had to wait about forty-five minutes. The drawback to this is that it makes for a long night at the pool. We don't get home untill after ten pm.

This season we were fortunate to have my mom and my niece attend a swim meet. Lucky them to have their vacation coincide with one of Mimi's swim meets. We introduced my niece to the all-time favorite Illinois bake sale/concession food snack called puppy chow. I had never heard of or had puppy chow until we moved here. I swear you could have a sale with only puppy chow and make a fortune.

Our regular season ended with a 7-0 record. We'll still have some tough competition at finals so we'll see if we end up as conference champs for the 2010 season. Anyway we have our spirit wear, are tattooed up, and have Sharpied fins, bubbles, and in your face inspirational words. The favorite being "eat my bubbles." My dark blue nail polish dried up and I forgot to hunt for and buy some more this season, so there are no blue finger and toe nails.

Former Coach Brandon is leading the Shark kids in cheers to get them ready for the races!!!

It's a Happy New Day! Swim strong! Swim fast!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cautionary Tale

Last summer I painted Mimi's room. I then began looking for new drapes that coordinated with her color scheme and had planned on making her a quilt. I kept carrying the paint swatches around in my purse and would compare the colors to different items. In December I found some aquamarine curtains at Target and they had the insulated lining. These would help with the heat and cold air as well as block the light. Energy efficient curtains!!

I bought one drape and brought it home. It matched well with the colors on her wall so I bought two more. Now I thought they were a bit plain and after spending years watching HGTV; I thought I could easily jazz them up. In January I bought a couple of yards of the inspirational cotton fabric we used to select our paint colors. This fabric could then be used as trim on the curtains and blocks for the quilt I would make.

January brought costume making for Mimi's dance competitions. Then in March it was time to coordinated the sewing of and help sew Spring Concert costumes for the children at the dance studio. Oh yea, I had a small break in February from ballet costume sewing and sewed circus costumes for the annual school circus.

So family sewing was pushed aside until the summer. In my home cleaning and purging frenzy this summer, I found the shopping bag with the drapes in the linen closet. I pulled them out and found the inspirational fabric in my rubber maid tub of quilting fabric. I then took a pause and organized my fabric tub and keepsake T-shirts that may one day be used in some quilts. At this point I realized I had some time sensitive deadlines such as a gift for a person who was moving onto another job and getting two wedding quilt tops and backings to the woman who does the machine quilt stitching. I need the quilts back well before the wedding so I can finish the last step in the process.

Finally this weekend I was ready to finish the curtain project thus getting Mimi's room one step closer to completion. I decided to place the trim the length of both sides of each curtain panel. I then determined the width of the trim and added an inch for seam allowances. I checked the length of the curtains so I'd know how long to make the trim. I needed to piece the trim as each cut strip was not long enough by itself to fit the length of the curtain panels.

Now I've seen Vern, Carter, Genevieve, etc. add pizazz to plain old curtains by adding trim to them. Actually they probably come up with the idea and materials and some assistant does the work. Whoever does it makes it seem easy. I'm here to tell you while it may be "easy" it takes a long time to finish.

I turned under both sides of the trim. Ironed the sides down, lined the trim up just so on the curtains so it would not be crooked, and then sewed. It took me two days to trim three curtain panels. I burned the tips of a few fingers ironing and bled a bit as I stabbed myself numerous times while pinning the trim. Now that I'm finished, I think they look cute but I'm not sure I couldn't have lived without the trim. I keep looking at them trying to convince myself that they were worth the work. I'm not there yet.

So here is the caution: Things may appear simple, easy, and fast in HGTV land while viewing them from the comfort of home, replicating them at home is different story. They need one of those don't try this at home unless you are an accomplished designer disclaimers at the end of each show.

I'll post pictures of the room once I hang the drapes, finished painting the shelves for the wall, and get her room cleaned again. It will be before the end of summer.

Energy Efficient Curtains

A little tidbit about energy efficient curtains. I ordered some new curtains in the fall for T-man's room. I had him choose from a couple of patterns that I thought would work well with his color scheme. The blurb in the catalog mentioned that the curtains were energy efficient. I thought that would be a bonus as T-Man's room seems to be the coldest in the house during the winter months.

When the curtains arrived I enlist T-man's help in removing the old curtains and putting up the new ones. I'm looking at the curtains and going hmmm. T-man wants to know why I'm commenting on the curtains. I tell him that they don't have a backing fabric so I'm surprised that they are considered energy efficient.

He looks at me like I'm an idiot and he is the smart one and says, "Duh mom, all curtains are energy efficient."
I'm thinking that he means that by having something covering the windows you naturally cut down on the outdoor elements penetrating beyond the window area. I say something like these are suppose to 30% more efficient.
T-man then says, " Mom curtains are 100% energy efficient. They don't use any energy."

How did I end up with such brilliant kids???

Toys and more toys

Today I bribed my daughter into cleaning up her toys in the storage room that we refer to as the cement room, as it is an unfinished portion of our basement. I tried sweet talking her and then tried to coerce her. I think she sensed my desperation and began negotiations. I ended up agreeing to a Mc Nugget meal and a Mc Flurry.

I had a brief moment of optimism as she sat her pouty self down on the concrete floor and said I could give away the rubber maid container of Barbies . I immediately placed the Barbie tub in the give away pile only to hear her say, "No, I think I still want some of them." It went downhill from there.

We organized her American Girl doll clothes and she agreed to let me pack them up and store them. I tried to get her to get rid of the Bitty Baby teeter board that never worked and she informed me that they don't make those any more and people on E-bay would buy it. I jumped on that and said, "Do you want to sell it on E-bay?" No, she was just saying that it could be sold on E-bay.

As I pulled out another tub filled with playskool toys, I sighed as I saw the classic school bus with little people. Like a wild animal my daughter sensed my weakness and said I'm absolutely not giving any of those toys away. So I was left to organized the array of toys and lovingly pack up the American Girl clothes. Mimi kept wanting to quit with the promise of finishing tomorrow. Yea, right.

She disappeared for a few minutes and again my hopes soared as I imagined that I could get rid of her "miscellaneous toys" and maybe a few stuffed animals without her knowledge. Unfortunately I was not as fast as her. Mimi came down with a chair and a book and said, " I'm not going anywhere until you're finished. Otherwise you'll sneak stuff into the garbage."

I succeeded in filling one bag of recycling garbage consisting mostly of American Girl boxes and lovely homes made from cardboard boxes and shoe boxes. Mimi relinquished one (ugly) cabbage patch baby with shoes and a dress, a hair salon kit, a little people's van, a few dress up clothes, and Ken with clothes. Even at that I saw her eyeing them and immediately called Doug to haul the things that were leaving the house out of the house.

We ended up arranging and condensing items into fewer containers. I dressed all the Barbies. Mimi wheeled around the Volkswagen and I the playskool bus. We tried on the black wings, red cape, a black witches hat with a purple feather band, and a sorcerer's hat. Mimi shimmied into a medieval style dress that was child's medium. You could loosely say that it still fit her. Hopefully this Halloween will be cold and she will need a coat over that dress. I may bring the wings and sorcerer's hat to bed tonight. We'll see if there is any magic in those accessories.

If success can be measured in that we can now get around in the storage room without fear of tripping or impaling ourselves on some toy then we were successful. Did I declutter? Not really.

As Mimi and I walked upstairs she asked me if I really thought she would get rid of anything after seeing Toy Story 3. I'm not taking that girl to any more movies.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thinking of Salsa

In May we discovered that our sixteen year old cat Salsa was dying. T-man felt some lumps and we rushed Salsa to the vet. At the time the lumps were not cause for alarm and blood work for various cat diseases and organ functions were were fine. What was concerning was Salsa's weight loss in the past year. We returned home with Salsa with the idea that a change in food might be the only thing Salsa needed.

Little did we know that this was the beginning of the end for Salsa. As the days progressed it became evident that Salsa's hair was losing its luster and he was not his usual self. As I was in the middle of sewing dance costumes for the annual student concert, there was an abundance of tulle, netting, and tutus in various stages of costume completeness. Salsa was nowhere around. Typically Salsa could be counted on to rub up against the fabrics and even chew on them. Salsa would chase the bobbins that fell to the floor or even get on the table and pull spools of thread onto the floor to roll and and chase. It was clear that things were not well with Salsa.
(Here is Salsa in May of 2008. He managed to pull a tutu off the file cabinet while I was at work. He obviously enjoyed wearing it.) Within two weeks we were back at the vet's and it was determined that he was in kidney failure. Due to his advanced age the doctor did not think any of the possible medical interventions would give Salsa much more time or quality of life. So with a few shots to ease his pain we once again brought Salsa home. This time we knew he would die soon. Doug and I broke the news to the kids and hugged the criers. Our kids really have not known life without Sala as he was older than Mimi and a year younger than T-man. After a very long Memorial Weekend with Salsa not eating or drinking and laying listlessly we all said our good-byes to Salsa and Doug and I took Salsa back to the vet's to be put to sleep.

As with any loss little reminders were all around. We came across hidden socks and shoe strings that Salsa would tote around the house. Doug would sit and read the paper by the computer and gingerly move the chair and his feet expecting to find Salsa nestled at his feet. I had my moments when I thought I felt Salsa brush against my leg and when I thought I heard him jumping off the bed. Yet as the month has progressed the kids have slowly begun to wager the new pet requests.

Mimi after a week at Jr. Zoo Keeper Training wants a white rat. Absolutely not!!! Doug appeased her by saying one day when we get a cat, the cat and rat will not get along. So now I'm sure we'll here the "when are we going to get a cat" mantra next. My answer is no time soon. I'm at that point in my life where although cats are my favorite pet I really don't want to raise and care for one.

Today Dugger asked if he and his friend could get an iguana. I said sure if you buy it with your own money and it lives with your friend. Oh no they thought it could live in the basement at our house. Absolutely not!! Well it was either an iguana or an ostrich and they thought an iguana would be better. Dugger also thought that telling me they would name the iguana Salsa might pull at my heartstrings and sway me. Ha ha.

I was reluctant to post this in case some well meaning friend or sister decided to gift us with a pet. If you read this, do not feel sorry for us and give us a pet. I mean it. No more pets!!! I won't open the door if you have a box with holes, a bag of water with swimming critters, or an animal in your arms. Pet rocks?? Just leave them under the Japanese Maple with the other pet rocks that have moved from Mimi's room to the great outdoors.Baby Salsa in Americus, GA. We went to the pet store to buy tropical fish and got a free bag of cat food with the free kitten. We paid for the fish.