Thursday, July 31, 2014

Picture of the Week - 7/31/2014


This post is very likely to be a giant cliché.  And while clichés are probably likely to cause lots of people to go running, I've never shied away from a good lesson to be learned from something.

So today's lesson...  Failing is really not a bad thing.  In fact, failing is pretty healthy.  It's also critical if you have any desire to ever improve...  in anything. 

If you never struggle in school, you will never figure out how to learn. 
If you never forget your lunch or lose your keys, you will never devise an organizational strategy.
If you never screw something up while rushing, you will never figure out that doing things right takes time.
If you never make a bad choice, you will never appreciate all the good ones. 
If you never fail, you are not taking the risks you need to take to really shine.

Without "failure" there is no growth.  Pretty cliché, right!

There are 2 different things that have brought this little life lesson to the surface for me lately.  One is Spencer and football.  The other is quilting. 

Spencer first...

You will all recall that Spencer, while having a great time and zero regrets, did NOT get much playing time on his football team last year.  He learned how to be a good teammate and he had a blast participating on a winning/championship team, but not getting playing time in the games was a pretty hard lesson for a kid who thought he was DA BOMB.  (For the record, I do not consider his experience last year a failure in any way!)  He came out of that season determined to be better.  He knew how much harder he had to work.  He knew how he should eat and what he needed to study.  And that less-than-satisfying experience last year has molded my oldest into kind of a beast. 

  • During warm ups, he pushes himself when the others don't.  The coaches seem to be noticing.
  • During team talks, he positions himself next to the head coach instead of melting to the background. No more out of sight, out of mind.
  • When there is a need for someone to do something, he runs. 
  • When the team has a water break, he's the first one back up on his feet with his helmet on ready to go.
  • He's got the added benefit of a relatively early growth spurt and is easily one of the most fit "big men" on the team.  He's pretty impressive in a football uniform.

I don't know, yet, if the months of personal training he ASKED FOR are going to pay off in playing time.  He is off to a pre-season tournament this weekend in Knoxville and then there are a few more weeks of practice before the regular season line-up is finalized.  I don't know if he will be a starting Defensive End or a backup Tight End or a bench warmer.  I am praying that we can cap off this whole 18 month experience/life lesson about working for what you want with a happy ending - and some playing time. 

Without the struggles he went through last year, he would never have the work ethic he has now.  The things he learned should serve him well in many, many areas of his life for years to come.  And if that's not a good example of turning a "failure" into positive change, I don't know what is!

Good luck Spencer!  I will love you with all my heart no matter what role you are pegged to play on the Paladins 6th grade team this year. 

And then the quilting...

So I'm participating in a quilt along right now.  The idea is pretty simple - a group of like-minded folks follow a facilitator (in this case the pattern designer) through a series of blog posts and lessons to complete a project at the same time as the other participants.  This QAL is so perfect for me it's almost comical!  I get to play with fabric.  I get play in online forums.  I get to comment on other people's progress and pictures.  And I get to post my own pictures for people to see. 

If there's anything a quilter (in the age of social media) loves, it's nearly instant feedback.  And I seem to be particularly keen on sharing as I go, so I've been having a BLAST with this QAL using a Celestial Star pattern. 

I've completed almost 3 blocks now and have another about halfway done.  I flew through the first 2 blocks I tried.  I was feeling very successful.  Then I cut fabric for #3.

I was feeling very pleased with myself until I started sewing.  I messed up left and right.  I had pieces in the wrong places.  I sewed stuff on backwards.  I messed up the colors.  I questioned my templates.  I miscounted when cutting and had to stop and cut more stuff out.  I ripped out so many seams that I thought I was going to cry.  I worked on this thing for at least 4 hours.  Probably more, but I refuse to admit to spending more time than that on a 18"x18" square of fabric.

I was determined not to let it beat me.  And then I finished it and held it up to admire (trying to look past the visible marks left from the seam ripping.)

And don't you know it that the whole thing is crooked.  Because that's how I colored the pattern.  I wish the outside red points were lined up with the corners.  I can't see past the fact that they aren't.  It bugs me - a LOT.  Boo!

So I set this guy aside and decided to learn from all the challenges.  I will not cut pieces without stopping to make sure my blocks are oriented in a way I like.  I will color both sides of all my pattern pieces to help prevent mistakes.  I will double-check and take my time.  I will count all the pieces I cut before I move on to the next step.  I will slow down!

It still bugs me, but I can tell you that the stuff I learned from this block made putting together #4 easier.  And I expect that the rest of this project will involve lots more sharing of happy finishes and much less frustration.  Live and learn...  and don't be afraid to share along the way!

PS - Rooster is NOT a helpful quilting companion.  He very much wants to eat my pin cushion. 

I am wondering if transferring the POTW emails into a blog format is gonna be another failure.  Please send along your thoughts.  Would you rather I stick to emails?  Do you think the blog is a great idea?  Should I do both?  I could send email and update the blog for archive purposes?  I would love some feedback on this!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Picture of the Week - 7/24/2014

Well I've gone and done it now!  I've gone all "2003" and finally started a blog.  I'm so fancy!


I hope that you will all join me on the blog -

Eventually I will likely stop sending out emails (which is sooo 1990's) and just post on the blog, but I'll do both for a while until I make sure everything is working.  I promise to still write a message every Thursday so you can continue to keep up with all the crazy stuff we get ourselves into!

There may actually be MORE stuff getting posted too.  I should mention that one of the main reasons I decided to try out this blog thing (aside from the fact that EVERYONE has a blog these days) is that I am participating in a QAL - Quilt Along - and in order to be eligible to win prizes, I have to be doing something called a blog link-up.  This is all new to me, but it was pretty clear pretty fast that I couldn't link up my blog if I didn't have one!  So in addition to loading up this blog with archives of all the old POTWs (which is going to be pretty awesome once I get it done), you may also see extra posts with pictures of the boys or the pets or my quilts or anything else that strikes my fancy. 

Speaking of getting ourselves into crazy stuff and pets...  here's a picture of our newest family member, Rooster.  He came to us from Bob's sister Karen.  He's a pretty awesome cat!  So VERY chill...  I bet he had a blog a decade ago! 

Rooster is not phased by the kids AT ALL.  Even though they are always up in his face, he just sits there.  He is also pretty OK with Ozzie.  Their initial meeting was a little dicey, but after a swat across the face, Ozzie knows where he stands and Rooster just looks at him.  Willow is another story.  That's taking a bit of time because Rooster is afraid of her - and I can't really blame him.  So for now we are keeping them separated and letting them visit through a gate.  Things get a bit better every day and I'm sure in time they will all be fine with one another and only creating occasional chaos. 

Hope you all have a really great week!  If you see my dad around, wish him a Happy Birthday.  We get to celebrate with him this weekend. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Picture of the Week - 7/17/2014

Well this has been a weird week.  A very weird week.  The weirdest week I've had in a long time.
So what's making this so weird is that Bob and the big boys have been gone since Sunday.  They went up to Ohio so Spencer and Quinn could go to a lacrosse camp run by the Ohio State lacrosse coaching staff.  It's a happy bonus that they are also getting to visit with family and friends while they are up there.  By all accounts, it sounds like both the camp and the visiting have been highly successful.  I'm glad they have had such a fun week.
The other thing that has made this week weird is that I have worked from home most of the week.  This is for a couple of reasons - one is that the dogs (and yes, I realize this sounds a little crazy) aren't used to being home alone all day.  It's easier to just be here than to clean out Ozzie's cage every day.  They are spoiled.  (Also high maintenance.)  The other reason is the construction project at my office.  It's finally starting to wrap up, but things kind of came to a head this week as they started tearing down cubes and rerouting network cables and all that stuff.  To say that an office construction project is disruptive would be a gigantic understatement.  The good news is that I've been told that my new office is ready and I can move in any time.  I might have to make a trip down there to check this out this weekend!
I don't mind being home.  It's kind of nice.  But it's weird! 
I don't mind Bob and the boys traveling.  I'm happy they are able to do it.  But it's weird to not have them here.  I miss my boys!
Last night I took Zane and Beckett out for dinner and to do a little shopping.  It was fun!  But so weird!  I don't usually have the two of them out and about without the rest of the family.  We had dinner at Chick-Fil-A and it would have been very easy (expected actually) for people to think that these 2 little blonde boys were my only kids.  It felt like I was somehow cheating on Spencer and Quinn!  (Weird, right!)
Then we went to buy some new shoes.  I love buying new shoes for the boys.  They really all only have 1 pair of shoes at a time - so you can imagine how quickly they get worn out.  The attached picture is one I made the boys pose for because I wanted a picture to use for today's potw.  They are sitting in funny positions because they wanted to make sure I could see their shoes.  I love Beck's face!
After that we went to Walmart (big night out) to get supplies for our new cat.  Yep - we're getting a cat.  A big orange cat from Bob's sister Karen.  She's moving and needs to find a home for him and I've wanted a cat for a long time.  Bob has always been hesitant, but after spending some time with Rooster, he caved.  So when they get home tomorrow we will have a cat.  Let's hope that we can manage to get Rooster and Ozzie and Willow to come to some fast agreements about how to live together. 
All in all - a weird week indeed!  Anything weird going on in your life???

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Picture of the Week - 7/10/2014

Goodbye lazy days of Summer.  I very much enjoyed you while you lasted!  You will be missed!!
Might seem a little crazy to be saying so long to summer, but our carefree (and schedule free) evenings have passed yet again.  Football practices have started.  Evening lacrosse camps and a trip for Bob and the big boys to Ohio are up next on our calendar.  The boys only have 3 and a half more weeks before school starts - and those weeks are pretty jam packed.
I am so grateful that our summer days have been SO MUCH FUN!  I mean like seriously FUN!
I think that we have turned a bit of a corner.  No more wee babies in the house.  And while I miss the wee babies - and probably will ALWAYS miss having a wee baby in the house - it's pretty freeing to know that we can skip the occasional naptime if we want.  It's liberating to be able to leave the house without a diaper bag (still a little risky, but risky can be fun, right!)  It's very very nice to sit on a blanket on the side of a creek where I can see all 4 of my dudes playing and know that they are OK and don't need me right by their side.  I love my babies, but my BOYS are totally awesome!
Clearly Beckett has undergone the biggest changes between last year and this one.  He's kind of skipped over the toddler phase and is just one of the guys.  He's fearless and funny.  He is actually more adventurous than Zane.  (Someday this will probably worry me a lot...)  My little guys have always loved being outside more than inside and now that Beck can put on his own shoes he often heads out the backdoor unattended.  Thankfully he is still too short to reach the fence latch or I'm sure we'd have to expand our perimeter to find him.
Last weekend was a special treat.  First of all it was a long weekend - and when you are working and trying to squeeze in fun several times a week, an extra day off is a blessing!  Then there was the weather.  Man-o-man was the weather perfect.  It wasn't a typical Atlanta summer weekend at ALL.  There was virtually NO humidity and the temps were nearly 10 degrees below normal.  The sun was out and so were we!  We had a blast!
Here are a couple of pictures of Beckett on our water slide.  It took him a few minutes to get warmed up to the idea - and Quinn was SO AWESOME helping him up and down the first time - but once he got going it was GAME ON!
I hope you are all enjoying summertime!  We will be busy trying to cram in a few more trips to the pool around all the stuff on our July calendar.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Picture of the Week - 7/3/2014

Happy (slightly early) 4th of July!
How nice to have a holiday on a Friday!  And a long holiday weekend with lots of downtime is a definite win!
I was talking to Bob this morning about the fact that I didn't have any good POTW pictures this week.  So he decided to help out while I was at the dentist.  (He's a keeper!)  Bob chased the little boys all over the front yard on the way to school this morning.  They weren't exactly in the mood...  but they did have fun!  Zane wanted to put his arm around Beck.  Beck did NOT want Zane's arm on him.  The picture I'm sharing is right after Zane snuck up on Beck and put his arm around him.  Ornery!  At least they are wearing red, white and blue!
I hope you all have a fantastic - and SAFE - holiday weekend.  We're going to haul out the giant water slide and maybe pack up a picnic and head downtown for a Braves game.  All the best kinds of summer fun!  And I have every intention of sneaking up on any boy standing still and putting my arm around him every chance I get!