Sunday Snapshots (of home)

Ocean City, NJ was lovely. We had perfect weather. Every morning was spent on the beach.

From Ocean City, NJ 2013

(More pictures of our vacation can be seen by clicking on the album.)

Elly had a blast in the ocean and digging in the endless sand.

Still it was so nice to get home.

While away, the vegetable garden had exploded. So, today was spent picking zucchini and peas.

Elly helped.

She even helped shell the peas.

Home sweet home.

Vacation Notice

We are leaving for Ocean City, NJ tomorrow morning. Elly knew of our plans a month ago and has been ready to go all that time.

The past two days of packing have just increased the “Why can’t we go now?” questions. Though I am excited to put an end to those questions, I am not looking forward to 2 hours of “Are we there yet?” questions. Perhaps I will be the woman who invents the vehicle that can transport you to your destination by the push of a button. Necessity is the mother of invention, right?

Typically, on beach vacations, I never set foot on the beach as there is little that I like about the sun, cold ocean water, and sticky sand. Elly, on the other hand, would live by the water, so truly a compromise or two will have to be made. Hopefully, a little hand quilting will do wonders to help me forget my surroundings. If that doesn’t work, a glass of port at the end of the day should ease my sun-weary feet.

Hope you have a wonderful week! I’ll be back with lots of pictures.

Mixed Feelings over Crayola’s Renovation

In January, Elly and I went to the Crayola Experience (previously the Crayola Factory) with the Mom’s Club. Since then, she has been asking me to take her back. So, on Saturday when Dan was headed to a board game get-together, Elly and I headed to Easton, PA.

The first thing you notice is that the layout is different. The entrance is bigger and more inviting. Naturally, the price per ticket reflects the new changes by a modest increase to $15.99.

They have added some neat activities like making your own marker and labeling your own crayon, but Elly could have cared less. We zoomed right past both stations.

One new activity that did interest Elly was getting to pick out her own sea creature, a turtle, on a computer screen, color it, and then watch it come to life on the big screen.

Though like before, her favorite crafts were working with model clay and working with melted crayons.

Last time, it was the ball elevator that kept Elly entertained for long stretches. A ball elevator was still there, but the kids could no longer pick the balls up and put them on the elevator. It was all done automatically. True, she could now direct which way the ball came down like a pinball machine, but it wasn’t as memorizing.

This time, the indoor playground held Elly’s attention. She could have played on it all day long. I was less impressed. To me, it looked like they stuck a McDonald’s playland in the middle of their building. If I wanted Elly to spend the day on an indoor playland, I would have taken her to the McDonald’s on High St.

After Elly saw the indoor playland, all remaining crafts had to be negotiated. A break from the playland was taken to work with the melted crayons but a promise that she could go back on the playland after was made. The same deal was made to encourage Elly to decorate a paper tie for Daddy.

Overall, Elly had a blast. She didn’t want to leave. She asked to go back the very next day. So, despite my misgivings, it was a success.

Unfortunately, the whole trip ended on a sour note for me. In front of the playland area was a place for the kids to draw with sidewalk chalk.

Written in yellow chalk were the letters KKK. It could have been a kid practicing his K’s, but they looked awfully neat and precise. More likely, it was just some kid being stupid. Still I found it vulgar. Rather than take a minute to track down a Crayola staff member and have them wash it off, I quickly grabbed the nearest piece of chalk and scratched over it. In no way do I blame Crayola for it. Likely, they would have done the same if they had found it first.

After, Elly and I headed home. On the way, we stopped by a McDonalds where Elly got to run around in their playland for free.

Slowly Painting the Living Room

The old walls are not terrible , but the 50-year-old golf-green carpet has seen better days. For 8 years, I put off ripping this carpet out. Then, a hole formed and pushed up my timeframe.

Still the rug has not been ripped up. An ugly, tattered rug like this is the perfect drop cloth.

The walls were a light yellow. It was nice, but it was also a bit plain.

I kept with the yellow theme, but just punched it up a notch. Oh, how I love bright colors! They make me so happy.

(only 1 coat of the new yellow next to the old yellow)

Only 2 walls have been painted. Both were painted with only the use of a brush. Due to the windows, front door and fireplace mantle, so much had to be cut in that it was just faster to work with a brush. There are 2 walls left to paint. Little will have to be cut in on the two remaining walls, making a roller the more efficient tool. The only reason I would use a brush is to keep the look consistent. The brush strokes are visible to me.

So, should I paint the other walls with a brush or have I been staring at it too long? Will anybody notice? Will anybody care besides me?

Once the walls are painted, the last of the ugly green carpet can be thrown out. Hurray! I will likely bake a cake to celebrate.

Spoiling our Dog

After making Jake dog biscuits for his birthday in May, I realized how easy they were to make and have kept Jake well supplied in homemade biscuits ever since.

Though the book called Baking for Your Dog is chock full of different biscuit recipes, I have only used the “Christmas Sausage Cookies”. Too many of the other recipes call for crazy healthful ingredients like wheatgerm, seaweed powder, and buckwheat flour. I love my dog, but I simply refuse to buy fancy flours just for him to eat. He has to muddle through with the flour selection on hand.

Dan says I am spoiling him anyway.

Yet, Jake is in his senior years now.

I hope when I am in my senior years that someone will make me homemade treats.

Sunday Snapshots (of the new KidZooU)

Since purchasing a Philadelphia Zoo membership, Elly and I have visited the zoo three times. On the last 2 visits, we spent the majority of our time in the new KidZooU.

The KidZooU section is located in the old elephant home. When the elephants moved to their new homes, the place was revamped for the kids. It’s like a Please Touch Museum except better because the kids get to touch animals.

Elly loves it!

Outside in the barnyard area, she’s petted several goats, a few sheep, and a horse.

Elly’s two complaints have been that she isn’t allowed to feed the animals and she isn’t allowed to sit down next to the animals. Although hay is provided for all the animals and the animals are almost always munching on it, the staff does ask that you not pick the hay up so little fingers are not nibbled along with the hay. Dear Elly desperately wants to feed the animals and I find myself constantly reminding her of the hay rule as well as discouraging her from finding rocks on the ground to feed the animals. Oh, the things I thought I would never have to say.

As far as Elly’s desire to sit next to an animal, well that is just her way of making friends with it. It is the cutest thing. The zoo staff discourage sitting on the ground only because the animals urinate and defecate on the ground. It’s understandable.

Outside, there is even a playground for the kids. Though it is designed for the older kid and not the population of 3 and under. Poor Elly had a panic attack on their rope bridge and I had to go save her.

Inside the KidZooU, Elly has pet a Madagascar hissing cockroach. How I wish I could show you a picture of that! Alas, Elly insists that I hold her while she pets the cockroach; it helps her be brave.

Though the cockroach is the only animal we have been able to pet inside the KidZooU, there is no fear a kid getting bored. Like I said, it’s similar to a Please Touch Museum, although to be honest, I have never been to a Please Touch Museum despite my best friend’s open invitation. Must rectify that.

Elly’s 3 favorite things to do inside the KidZooU are to play in the ant cave which is filled with foam ant eggs,

to play in the barn designed for children 3 and under,

and to operate the recycle box elevator.

If you have the opportunity to visit the Philadelphia Zoo, I highly recommend the KidZooU.

Excuses for No Preschool

Elly turned 3 in February.

In September, most children her age will head off to preschool for at least 2 days a week. Elly will not.

I could come up with a few excuses to justify my decision, but the main reason is because I want her home with me for 1 more year. This is my time with her. Starting at age 4, she will be going to school for the next 13 years. If we count the college years, then she will go to school for 17-21 years depending on how much education she needs for her career. One year less won’t stunt her growth and it would mean the world to me.

But back to those excuses. You do want to hear them, don’t you? Of course you do.

Like most parents, I think my child is wicked smart. Either that or I am losing brain cells by the fist fulls because I have already lost arguments to Elly.

Thanks to the Moms Club, socialization is not an issue. Almost on a daily basis, Elly meets and hangs out with kids her age. She even has 2 best friends and none of them are family. The only best friend I had at her age was my older sister.

Elly has been exposed to every craft supply I can get my hands on. During the winter months when it is too cold to go outside, we make a lot of crafts. Other moms that have watched me buy supplies at Target and AC Moore have expressed amazement because they don’t have the patience for such messes. Thankfully, Elly’s favorite crafts are not overly messy: sculpting and painting. Though I just introduced her to pottery. It truly looked like a bomb had gone off when we were finished. Thus, I have deemed it an outdoor only craft.

We don’t sit at home. Yes, Elly is her father’s daughter and loves to play video games, but I do not.

When she is with me, very few video games are played. Instead, I keep her busy. We go to the zoo, the library, the local playgrounds, and anything else I can find. Idleness is the devil’s playground. It is also a fast ticket to madness for any mom.

They are pretty good excuses, no? Still that is exactly what they are: excuses. I just want one more year to spend every day with my little girl. She is growing up too fast as it is.

Just today, she told me that she wanted to go to school. I explained that she would indeed go to school in another year. Then, she asked if moms could go too. I said no. “I would miss you”, said Elly. Me too.

Quilt Top Finished

Appliqueing the Dresden plates by hand took a lot longer than I had planned.

The plates are really big and most often I only accomplished hand sewing half of one down before it was time for bed. Of course, sickness and daily life ensured that I didn’t get to work on the quilt everyday.

Still the process was enjoyable. I got to watch a lot of Miss Marple. The series is not quite as good as Murder She Wrote though it is in the same vein, but perhaps that is because I am bias. I just adore Angela Lansbury.

After appliqueing the plates, the next step was to create a quilt sandwich. The only way I know to anchor the back fabric when a quilt becomes this large is to tape it to the floor, so that is exactly what I did. Blue painters tape worked brilliantly in this case.

A million pins were placed all over the quilt top to keep the sandwich together. Despite using quilter’s safety pins which are curved, my fingers were still bleeding by the end.

This is where I stopped in the process a few days ago. It always takes me a few days to build up my courage to start quilting and even then it might take a glass of port to push me into making the first line of quilting. I truly love to quilt. It’s the best part of making a quilt. Yet, it always gives me the butterflies. Part of me feels like I am taking a Sharpie and marking all over an art piece.

Sunday Snapshots (of fair rides)

The last time I took Elly to the Boyertown playground, we noticed that they were setting up for a fair. From the swings, Elly could see the merry-go-round, the ferris wheel, and the dragon roller coaster. It was pure torture.

When Dan and I took her on Saturday if she would like to go to the fair, she jumped for joy.

She rode the merry-go-round.

She rode the caterpillar.

She rode the motorcycle.

Yet, her favorite ride by a long mile was the dragon roller coaster.

I lost count of how many times she rode the dragon. It was a good thing we had splurged and bought her the wrist band. She got her money’s worth.