Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More from the Thrift Store

I have been feeling a little under the weather lately.  Blame it on germs from the100+ students I come in contact with each day and then multiplied by the whole new set of pre-school germs Lydia is exposing us to.  Everyone I know seems to have a runny nose and a sore throat and is generally feeling a little extra tired right now.  So yesterday, I found a few extra minutes for some retail therapy, thrift store style!
I found this beautiful, basically new wool herringbone laptop bag at Goodwill.  The zipper pull is missing, so for now it doesn't close, but I don't think I ever bothered to zip my old bag either so not a big deal.  It is less bulky than most laptop bags, but it is longer so it should accommodate my new longer laptop at home if needed.  (Have you noticed that laptops used to be squarish and now they are more like HDTV shape?)  Anyway.  I LOVE my new bag and now realize how dirty and small my old one was.  I wasn't looking for a new bag, but I am SO glad I found it...especially since I think I paid about $3 for it!
OK, I admit, this looks atrocious...but it has potential!  PJ took one look at this confection and threatened that I dare not ever put Lydia in it!  First of all, it isn't her size.  This is one of those slutty adult costumes that is really short, so my favorite thrift store in the world put it in the kid's section and all their kids items are 89 CENTS!!  So, less than a dollar, I got all the trimmings to add to Lydia's Cinderella dress fro Halloween... AND they are already gathered and mostly sewn for me!
Here is the "before" version of the Cinderella dress. I made this a few years ago for a friend's daughter and they were nice enough to pass it back to me so that Lydia could wear it someday.  I sewed the entire thing, start to finish, from a PATTERN!!! Unheard of for me, but it was for a friend.  It is even the official Disney Cinderella patten and everything.  It turned out OK, but not AMAZING.
This is a work in progress, but i think you can see what I am going for here.  This is the same dress that I sewed, but I cut the skirt off of the thrifted dress and added it at the waist of the one I sewed.  Then I cut the front triangle shaped detail off of the thrifted dress and added it to the front of the dress I sewed. I can't wait to tack everything down and then start on dresses to transform myself and Jennifer into Ugly Step Sisters to accompany Lydia!  Hopefully, PJ will be in town for Halloween so he can dress up as the Fairy Godmother!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Surprising Reaction to Pat Summit’s News

As it states SEVERAL times in the following article, I don't follow sports.  I am however a citizen of the world and in awe of seeing someone who obviously loves what they do and who does it so well.  It's inspiring to all those around and sad when, for whatever reason it goes away.  I found myself surprisingly upset when I heard the news of Pat Summit's recent diagnosis with early stages of dementia.  I felt like someone at my new Galtime Knoxville gig needed to write an article about her, the diagnosis, Knoxville's reaction, but I also thought (hoped, begged) that it wouldn't have to be me.  No such luck.  My idea, my story!  I was so touched by the things that I found in my quick bit of researching that it not only helped to explain what i was feeling, but became an article I am rather proud of.  Below is the exact same content that is currently running on Galtime.  Enjoy and WEAR ORANGE on Friday the 26th!

When I heard the news about Pat Summit, I was moved to the verge of tears.  It was a surprising reaction considering that I do not know much about Pat Summit, women’s basketball, or any sport for that matter.  Living in Knoxville, everyone around me seems consumed with the major University of Tennessee sports of football and men’s and women’s basketball.  I, on the other hand, only realize that it’s game day, because I find my car stuck in a sea of orange pom-poms and “Power T’s” decorating the cars on I-40.  I am aware that UT has had some issues with the Men’s football and basketball coaches lately but I can’t say for certain whom the current coach of either team is.  I couldn’t tell you how Knoxville (or any city for that matter) did last year in the playoffs for any sport and I don’t have a clue how we are expected to do this year. 
So last Tuesday, while the East Coast was rocked by news of an earthquake, East Tennessee was rocked by the news of Pat Summit’s early stage dementia diagnosis.  Facebook exploded as my Knoxville friends expressed their outrage and sadness.  When I read the news on my phone, without thinking I lowered the phone and then lowered my head.  Even as I write this, I am inexplicably holding back tears. 
So why the extreme reaction for a woman I don’t know, who coaches a sport I don’t follow?
Pat Summit’s influence doesn’t just reach sports fans.  It started there but she has come to represent, not just women’s basketball, but the concept of women in all sports, and even women in the world .  Starting her coaching career in the 1970’s she symbolizes the dramatic changes that have taken place in women’s athletics (and women’s careers) in the last three decades.  Pat Summit began coaching before Title IX, the law providing equal support to women’s athletics.  In those days, she was not paid much.  No one in women’s sports was given much consideration, financial or otherwise.  Summit reportedly washed the team’s uniforms, drove the team van, and slept with her players in gym floors during away games.  She was barely older than her players. She was also a student, earning a Master’s degree in Physical Education.  After being a working student in the 70’s, by the 1980’s, like many woman of her generation, she became a working mother. 
In her position as coach, teacher, mother, and mentor, the determination and resolve that Pat Summit expects of her players was evident, even non-sports people like me.  As a result, our city has been deeply moved by her determination and her achievements.  As a mother and a teacher myself, I am also deeply moved by the determination and the achievements that Pat Summit expects of her students, both on the court and in life.  For these reasons, Pat Summit isn’t simply the coach of the UT Lady Vols.  Pat Summit is and will always be “Knoxville’s Coach”.  I can only hope that in return, the city of Knoxville will show Pat Summit the same dedication and desire to help her succeed now that the opponent is a mental disorder and not another SEC team. 
According to the notices I have seen on Facebook, the time to rally around our coach has already begun.  Friday August 26th will be “wear orange to support Pat Summit” day in Knoxville.  I don’t dress in orange for game day (I don’t even know when game day is, remember) but you better believe I will be decked out in UT colors tomorrow.  I may even have to track down some pom-poms and “Power T’s” for my car to help encourage “our coach” to fight the good fight.

This is what I wore on Friday August 26th for "Wear Orange to Support Pat Summit Day"!  I made a few extra and let my co-workers have a ribbon too.  Below is Lydia, wearing her orange to preschool.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Preschool Projects Part II

So here was the other craft inspiring moment of panic from the first week of preschool.  I had, by the first day of school, been given no fewer than five copies of the supply list. I dutifully purchased each item and sent it to school on the first day in a big reusable grocery bag. Ieven thought to ask if I should leave the bag to bring home her sheets to be washed at the end of the week.  My simple question was met with a look that told me I had missed some vital piece of information.
Apparently, it was common knowledge, to everyone but m,e that preschool students need backpacks to haul their sheets and papers and what have you each day.  Considering that at Lydia's school, ALL the kids in her class are new to the school, it would have been nice if they had included the words BACK and PACK on the multiple copies of the supply list!  So rather than spend the summer searching for the PERFECT backpack, I was left stopping on my way home at every school supply store I could think of.  I discovered that  the measurements and prices for a standard backpack are both HUGE!  As in $76 for something that came down to Lydia's ankles... AND they were ugly!  Luckily on my 4th stop, I found that Office Depot sells a really cheap backpacks.  In fact,it is so cheap they were even giving it away FREE with other purchases for a short period of time. I missed that deal, but was happy to pay only $5 for the plain pink thing pictured above.  It is big enough to hold standard folders, one of the requirements having to do with preschool homework assignments.  However, being no frills, it doesn't have any extra space meeting the second requirement, that Lydia be able to carry by herself.
So the size was OK, and the price was right, but the styling was not.  I am not a fan of pink and especially dislike the light baby pink color on this particular pack.  When the free lunch is removed from the front of the pack it is just a whole lot of Pepto pink.  Plus, Lydia needs to be able to identify her bag before she can even worry about carrying it.  She will begin her day in before school care in the main building, then take her backpack to the ECE  house across the playground, and then bring her back pack back to the main building for after-school care.  I needed Lydia (and the staff) to easily recognize which pack was hers. It was time to customize!  I settled on the fabric pictured above because it had hints of the pink, but lots of teal and purple to play down the Pepto.
Next I cut out a rectangle of fabric that would fit nicely on the front of the pack and then cut that into 5 sections, one for each letter of Lydia's name.  That way I could cut out her name without too much measuring and still know that they would be the correct size.  I used a zig zag stitch to sew the letters of her name directly onto the top of the backpack.
I suppose I could have stopped there, but I had some pretty teal and brown ribbon, so why not cover up a little more of that pink?  There is a dark pink stripe almost in the middle of the pack.  I placed her name above this line, but decided to add the ribbon to the middle of the line to break things up some more.
As long as I had the ribbon our, the zippers had some white cording on them for zipper pulls.  Why not replace them with the same teal and brown ribbon?  In the end, I was left this big empty pink space below the dark pink line, in the area that is covered by the lunch box, should I ever attach it to the backpack.  I decided a front pocket would be helpful, so I used a large square of the coordinating fabric to add one.  This was the easiest step, but has already been REALLY helpful for leaving notes that I want her teacher to see.
Here is the finished, customized backpack.  I am SO proud of the results and so glad that I found such a good, basic, small, cheap backpack in my hour of need.  Mr. Horsie, who rides to and from school everyday in the new bag, seems to agree with the results, too.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Preschool Projects Part I

When we first toured Lydia's preschool, we were told that students needed to be potty trained before entering the ECE 3 year old program.  Not a problem, since she hadn't needed a diaper since age 2 and a half.  Then last week, one week before school starts, we attend her orientation where we learn that the preschool definition of potty trained involves being able to undress unaided, use the facilities, clean yourself, and dress yourself without ANY assistance.  So, while Lydia is what most parents consider trained she is not very good at undoing buttons, snaps, or zippers.  We have some elastic waist shorts and skirts that Lydia can navigate for now, but I want her to practice her dressing skills before the weather turns cold and her wardrobe shifts to lots of jeans style pants.
This is not a picture of Lydia's wardrobe.  This is a pile of clothing I got at my favorite thrift store (89cents a piece) to make a project I saw on Pinterest.  I remember having a fabric "busy book" as a kid.  I thought about making one, but it sounded like a lot of time. Then I saw one on Pinterest that was made from pieces of real clothing, so less to make, AND the book specifically targets dressing skills.  PERFECT!  So I bought some cloths that had good snaps, buttons, overalls, etc.  I also ended up getting some with interesting graphics.  Then I bought some stiff felt to use as a background material.
This was one of my favorite shirts to play with.  I instantly knew that I wanted to add a zipper to his mouth.
I cut off the lower jaw, creating an opening so that I could sew the zipper to the top of the mouth.
After the zipper was sewn to the bottom jaw, the mouth opened and closes when the zipper is zipped.  I added some felt fire for effect in the background.
The button page started with a shirt.  When you unbutton it, you can open it up to reveal a flower.  
I intend to also sew a button to the center of the flower and then cut a few flower petal shapes from felt that can also be threaded onto the button for extra practice.
This is a counting page.  Each necklace has more beads and Lydia can move them on the ribbon as she counts them.
This frog pocket was on the front of a shirt.  The fly was on something else.  Now Lydia can practice putting things in pockets and can stick the fly to Velcro to let him fly in the air.
I cut the ballet shoes off of a shirt and then added ribbon so Lydia can practice tying bows. When I finished these pages, I punched holes in one side and added album rings that open and close easily, so I can add more pages later when I have more time.......... or as I find more dressing challenges for Lydia to learn.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Tree for Nancy

Lydia began preschool this week and, with that, ended her time with "Miss Nancy's Kids". I have been BLESSED with my daycare situation over the past 3 years.  Nancy is a friend of the family and has kept children at the home of another friend for 6 or 7 years. 

Lydia on her first trip to the Pumplin Patch with Miss Nancy!
For 3 years Lydia has had the advantage of being in a home she knows, with kids who are like her cousins, being cared for by someone who don't just "care" about her, Miss Nancy LOVES (present tense) Lydia.  Lydia loves Miss Nancy, but she also loves the small group of kids who have grown up with her.  Lydia isn't just going to a different school.  All of Miss Nancy's kids are moving on and Nancy will be working in a different location.  We knew the private home situation was coming to an end as the children grew older and thankfully I had a year's notice to find a good placement for Lydia.  There are plans to get together with Nancy and some of the other kids periodically, but I wanted to do something special to show my appreciation for someone who has meant so much to our family.
My begining sketch for the tree.
I stumbled on the idea of a fingerprint tree, like some couples do as their wedding guest book.  I drew a simple line drawing of a tree and then decided it would be more appropriate to add some kids playing on the tree.  I even added a heart that is meant to look carved into the tree and wrote Nancy's initials inside it!  Above is my begining sketch.
I planned to use green ink for the fingerprint "leaves" and that made me want the whole thing to be in color, so I traced my original drawing onto some blue scrapbook paper.  I then added a light watercolor wash.  I, of course, made the pig tailed girl a redhead.  Without my saying anything, Lydia informed Nancy that she was the girl on the swing.  She also decided that the boy was her Daddy.... when he was a little boy!

The finished "fingerprint tree" with all the kids accounted for!
One of the older girls at Miss Nancy's took charge of getting all the fingerprints without Nancy catching on (thank you SO much Ally!). I slipped it into a frame and added a card about making an imprint on Lydia as she was growing.... or at least that is what I meant to write.  The tears were flowing while I wrote the note, so who knows how it actually turned out!

If you wanted to do something similar, and NOT have to draw or paint, there are lots of tree pictures you can pull from Google Images.  Just print and then fingerprint!  Enjoy!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Super Special Gift!

Another kid at Lydia's daycare had a birthday last week. I was told that he really likes trains, but that he probably already has every train toy in existence. When I saw these super hero capes and accessories at Target, I thought he might like them, but I also got an idea to customize them.
The first thing I did was use a Sharpie marker to add the birthday boy's name to the belt buckle on the front.
The cape itself was just a plain color and I had some felt laying around, so I cut out a big letter "A" for "Austin" and attached it to the cape.  I sewed mine, but if you don't sew, you could probably use fabric glue for the same effect.  The birthday boy seemed to like it an everyone thought that I found some amazing custom gift place to buy it....which I think is a complement!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Skirt Transformation Tutorial

Remember that adorable skirt that I found at such a discount, I bought 2 of them?  I mentioned that I ended up turning the second skirt into something special.  Well here it is.  The adorable birthday girl who was to receive the skirt in the first place said that she wanted cloths for her American Girl doll, so I transformed one discount skirt into 2 doll dresses (one for a gift and one for Lydia).
Here is the entire birthday package.  The big girl skirt and the doll dress.  I had some extra fabric from the waistband so I went ahead and made a headband for both the real girl and the American girl doll, too.
 Here is how I did it.  I cut the skirt in half, one for each dress.  Then I cut the side seam out of each half, so I had 4 rectangles,to become fronts and backs of 2 dresses.  I re-sewed a side seam connecting the front and the back, stopping before I got all the way to the top.  This opening will become the arm hole.  I decided where to place it by simply holding it up to Lydia's American Girl doll. I then sewed the same way on the other side of the dress, so I had a complete circle dress with openings for the arms on both sides.
 The top of the front and the back was then folded over and sewn, creating a pocket to slide a ribbon through.  I used a paper clip to pull the ribbon through the tunnel.  I then sewed the big opening on each end so that it would be a little more narrow.  Not actually closing off the opening or sewing down the ribbon, but making it less open so that the ribbon wouldn't slip into the dress by accident.  I also tied beads to the end of the ribbon to be certain it couldn't get sucked up into the tunnel when Lydia pulled on it.

 Gather the ribbon and you have a basic pillow case type dress, for an American Girl doll..... made out of a skirt....bought at huge discount.......making me and 2 little girls very happy!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

This is only a test.. but my man is AWESOME!

So I really kind of did intend to share this picture, but I am also testing to see if my new computer works with my new router while running the other computer AND Netflix on the new wireless network.. all of which have not played well together at various times this weekend.  Ugh!  It's been a technology time suck kind of a weekend, amped up a notch by the fact that we got the new computer because it was tax free weekend for back to school supplies in TN.  So any computer returning, swapping, trading out or replacing needed to be done before the tax holiday ended.  Adding to the fun, I was in and out of electronics department at the same time EVERYONE else in knoxville was doing the SAME thing!  Fingers crossed it looks like the planets aligned and the new network/new computer/old computer combo is working...until I try to add the printer I am sure!
And now for something requiring VERY little technology.  PJ built Lydia a bed sheet fort, in like 30 seconds, and it is BRILLIANT!  She has a four poster bed, so he just slipped a fitted sheet on the posts and tied a string to the top side of the middle of the sheet.  Then he secured an eye bolt into the ceiling (yep, he made a hole in the ceiling!) and tied the string so the middle of the tent is supported. Not crazy that there is a whole and all, but totally crazy about him being the kind of dad who builds tent forts, etc.  Not entirely crazy about the fact that while I have been typing this, my Netflix has shorted out ever 10 seconds, but i suppose that can be dealt with tomorrow!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Re-sizing a Skirt

So here's the story.  I saw this adorable skirt and immediately thought of this adorable child I know, who happens to have a birthday in early August.  Even better, the skirt was discounted something like 80% off, so I bought 2 and figured that Lydia might get one to match her friend.
I bought the last 2 they has, but they were both sized too big for either girl.  Not a problem if you know how to re-size a skirt.  Here's what I did.  First I cut a small hole on one side of the inside of the skirt and a small hole on the inside of the other side.  The hole did not go all the way through, it just cut the lining, allowing me to insert a piece of elastic.  I used a safety pin to thread the elastic from one hole to the other.
Once I had the skirt gathered to the desired smaller size, I cut the ends of the elastic off, allowing them to slip inside the hole just a bit. Then I sewed the elastic in place and used Fray Check to keep the hole from unraveling and looking messy. 
PS, that second skirt in the same pattern ended up becoming something way cooler than a skirt for Lydia.  More on that later.  OK Back to skirts.  If a skirt already has elastic, but is too big, I just cut one small opening somewhere inconspicuous and pull some elastic through the hole.  I pull until the skirt is the desired width, leaving a loop of elastic on the inside of the skirt.
I apply a little Fray Check to the hole and use a safety pin to hold it in place, making it completely adjustable!
So there you have it.  Two different skirts transformed with an easy trick into something that will grow with the child for quite a while.  Thanks to this method, Lydia has been wearing the same skirts for 2 YEARS and still has room to grow.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mama's Got a Brand New Gig!

A few weeks ago my friend Julie, former college roomie turned amazing mommy blogger on Three Moms in One, mentioned that she knew of an online magazine looking for contributors in a few cities, including Knoxville.  I got interested in that way that I do when I can't explain why but I just know that I have to try something.  I sent in my information and a link to this blog and I am now happy to report that I am a GalTime Knoxville ambassador!  I supposedly have press credentials and EVERYTHING!
I don't know that there was much competition for my position, but it seems to be a good fit.  The other two gals on the Knoxville team are both young women living what I assume to be exciting lives in fabulous downtown lofts. I think the perspective of someone less fabulous, less young, and less energetic is much needed in Knoxville!  Just kidding, but I am the only married working mom on the team, so I think I bring a unique perspective that lots of other ladies in Knoxville will appreciate.  

So far I have two articles up on the GalTime site.  My first article was about a bigger than average gal (me) in a smaller than average town (Knoxville) attempting to learn trapeze.  My second article is all the info I found out about while preparing for the upcoming TN tax free Holiday.  Did you know that the deal starts at midnight on Friday?  I am actually awake, right now, at 11pm waiting to go to Walmart to (FINALLY) replace my broken laptop. 
Some of my GalTime content will be a slightly different slant on topics that I discussed already on this blog, sometimes stories might run in both places simultaneously.  I'm not completely sure how it will work having two places to write, but I have really enjoyed the writing that I have been doing here and I am excited about the opportunity to share some other ideas with a different audience.  Now to come up with about 2 article ideas a month.  This site, Liddy B and Me has always just been what I am doing or making with, for, and sometimes in spite of my family.  My GalTime articles need to be slanted more towards events and ideas that interest women, specifically in Knoxville.  I think my next article will be about the different locations for thrift store shopping in Knoxville (how are KARM, Goodwill, ACB, and AmVets differnt). I might eventually do something on the different places to train for a marathon in Knoxville.  Feel free to pass along other ideas that pertain to women and Knoxville and thanks in advance for your support of this new venture!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Our Annual Iowa Trip

 We just got back from our annual trip to visit my family in Iowa.  Once again we were able to gather all the cousin's kids for a group picture.  This was the third year that we were able to take this picture and it always takes some coordinating... along with toddler wrangling.  This picture takes place after a big family dinner, usually with about 20 people all piled into my cousin's house.  Several of the families had to make arrangements to be there and often to drive in from out of town.  I feel so fortunate that so many people are able to be in town on the weekend that we drive up.
 Here are all the same kids last year. You can read about last year's trip here and here.
 Here is the previous year's picture.  You can read about that trip here.
Here is a picture from our first year taking Lydia to Iowa.  No one thought to take a group picture that year. I was just getting used to blogging... and being a mom....and going back to work.  You can read more here,

Monday, August 1, 2011

Art and Oddities at the City Museum, St. Louis

 Along with being overwhelmed by all the noise, the heat, and the climbing at the City Museum in St. Louis, I was visually overwhelmed by all the interesting decor.  Imagine Cracker Barrel.... on CRACK!  There were robots, old signs, giant circus posters, neon lights, toy trains, and tons of textures.
 This little classroom had walls made from old windows, so people could look in on what was happening.  Check out the window treatment made from old ties!
 The walls were all covered in something interesting.  This is a detail of a HUGE wall covered in old printing press stamps.
There was an area that had a huge safe you walked through
Those walls around it were old safety deposit boxes.
 This is a divider wall made out of glass bottles.
 A wall of broken mirrors reflecting me taking a picture of it.
 At the top of Lydia's favorite slide was a wall of stroller wheels.
 The walls outside the restrooms were made out of bread pans.
 Some walls were made out of old walls from old interesting buildings
 These were both part of the gift shop.
 This was my FAVORITE area in the whole museum.  It was a big open area, with lots of tunnels and tubes on the perimeter.  It was sea themed and sparkly.
 There were tons of mirrors, some broken, some not.  This one had fish glued to it so they looked like they were swimming.  Notice the torn silver ceiling treatment.
The floors were covered in fish mosaics..... so were the columns.
The City Museum even had some real fish floating around for us to enjoy.
Thanks City Museum for some really amazing and odd visual stimulation!  To see my OTHER POST on the stuff to climb on, slide down, fall into, and hopefully not get stuck in at the City Museum in St. Louis CLICK HERE.