Friday, July 26, 2013

Back to Quilting

I've finally got around to working on Gareth's quilt again. I've finished my first round of cutting strips and am on to sewing blocks together. The quilt will have about 450 blocks total, and I'm starting out with 100.

Center squares with the first side of "logs" sewn on
Last night I got the second light strip on all of these, got them cut apart (I'm chain-piecing), pressed, and pinned to the dark strips that'll go on next. So I'm half-way through the first round. They'll have four rounds of "logs" altogether. After I finish this first round I'll take 20 of them and add the second round. Then I'll add the third round to that 20 and the second round to another 20. Apparently this is a good way to work on them so that you feel you're making progress because eventually you complete 20 blocks every time you sew a round of logs on. I'm hoping I can get an hour or so of work in every evening for the rest of the summer. I have no idea how far that'll get me, but it'll be that much closer to being done!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A (Semi)Completed Project

Gareth loves reading, especially in his bed at night. Which I'm totally fine with, except that we were ending up with piles of books strewn all over the floor. A few years ago a friend posted about a book sling thing she was making for her kids' room, and it seemed like a good way to get the books up off the floor. I shared the idea with my mom, who found a pattern for some bags that could perform the same function. When she was here after Malcolm was born we went out and bought some fabrics to use. She wisely realized that with a new baby around the chances of me actually getting around to making the bags were pretty slim.

A few months ago she sent the finished bags out to me:

And a couple weeks ago a friend and I finally got around to hanging them.

They're not completely balanced at the moment, but also very adjustable still because we used some fairly simple knots. And the upper tier is held in place simply by wrapping the rope around the dowel a couple times. Maybe at some point we'll try and get them more permanently mounted. But for now it seems very stable and seems to be working. I'd like to figure out how to get the lines of the ropes mirroring one another better - not sure if it a problem with how the weight is distributed or just with how we have the dowels positioned or what. But, like I said, it's very functional for now and we'll see if we ever get around to figuring the rest out. Gareth uses the smaller bags for his flashlight, pencil, and other small toys. The other four bags work well for various sized books.

Monday, July 22, 2013


We finally got around to purchasing our first tent. After some research, I decided we should go with the Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6. Aluminum poles and several good reviews on retail and forum sites, the lower profile is apparently better in windy conditions and it splits into two rooms, which Gareth is very excited about. With the rainfly on you also get a small vestibule at the front entrance, good for leaving shoes and whatnot.

After Malcolm went to bed last night we let Gareth stay up and help us set it up in the back yard. Pretty easy set up. Gareth enjoyed helping put the poles together and push the stakes into the ground. We didn't bother with the guy lines since we were just going to take it down again. And then Gareth was overcome with giddiness when we let him play inside the tent for a bit. Excited to have a room in the tent that will be just for him and Malcolm (I threatened to keep the small room for myself and make the boys share the big room, which he protested against loudly). He was devastated when we told him he could not sleep in the tent last night, that we were going to put it away. Of course, his sleeping bag isn't clean, and Ryan and I still need to purchase bags for us. But I think once we get those purchased that'll be the last big item we absolutely must have before we can really use the tent. Of course, considering how long it took us to get the tent purchased (I decided which kind to get months ago), it could be next spring or summer before we actually go camping.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Summer, Thus Far

We've been having a great summer thus far. Gareth and I are about halfway through his school papers - deciding what to keep and what to toss. We've done some yard work and some household cleaning that was long overdue. There's a ton of work left to do around the house, but we've been having some fun as well.

Gareth was thrilled when we let him use some of his saved birthday/Christmas money to buy himself a large lego set. He opted for a Star Wars X-wing Starfighter. It took him a few days to build and he's enjoyed playing with it ever since. When a younger friend broke the wings off the other day he was devastated. It'll be good for him to have to rebuild it. He wants to go buy another large set, but we've told him he needs to save some of his money and will have to wait a while before buying another large item like that.

The first week of break we also went to the Science Center with some friends. They have a new exhibit that Gareth loved. And Malcolm always loves the play area. This time he was big enough to explore the water trough a bit.

Gareth has spent a fair amount of time almost every day riding his bike up and down our street. He's gotten to know three boys who live a little bit down the block and a girl his age who's also further down the street. She and Gareth have spent a lot of time riding back and forth between the two houses. There are also a couple families on the street who have three year olds and babies right around Malcolm's age, so we've had a couple of playdates with them as well. Not as interesting for Gareth, though he's quite good about playing with the younger kids, and it's a chance for Malcolm to get to "play" with some other babies.

Last week we made some sugar cookies and used a decorating set I'd purchased a while ago to frost them. Gareth had a lot of fun, and making decorative stuff was a lot easier with the supplies we now have than with traditional frosting bags. We also got Gareth signed up for the summer reading program at the library. He's been doing a lot of reading.

Some of my cookies
Gareth decorating, obviously
Some of Gareth's cookies
Yesterday we headed out with some friends from the street to check out Golden Gardens. Gareth has been before with other friends, and I walked down briefly with a friend just before the end of the school year because he was aghast that I hadn't been and walks down there every day. But this was my first time taking both kids and intending to stay to play for a while. We got there at 9:30, which was good since we drove and it's easier to find parking there that early.

Malcolm on arrival; I wasn't fast enough to catch his cute crinkle-nosed smile
Malcolm started out on the swing and was happy there for a good thirty minutes or so.

Then he checked out the wood chips (always a favorite) for a while.

Gareth climbed on the cool rope structure (he's in the bright green shirt).

After a while we headed down to the beach. Malcolm was pretty content to hang out on the towel and carefully explore the sand. He eventually got a little braver. I took him down to the water and, while he didn't completely freak out, he wasn't having the time of his life either, so we headed back to the dry sand.

Gareth enjoyed having his feet and legs buried in the sand. After being at the park for three hours, we got ready to head home. Malcolm and Gareth spent a few more minutes on the playground, checking out the spinning disc things and the ropes and swings again before we drove home.

The playground here is one of the best I've been to. They redid it just a couple years ago and it's awesome. Appropriately ship-themed since it's close to the water I guess.
The big kids play area
The littler kids play area (still a little big for Malcolm)
Malcolm was asleep within a couple minutes after leaving and didn't even wake up when I brought him inside - one sign of a very successful outing.

The next couple weekends will be busy for me with band, but we should be getting out on some hikes soon and I'm hoping to hit the science center a few more times and possibly the arboretum as well before school starts up again.