My Musical Kids

My son entered a composer’s competition and won for the 2nd year in a row!  Here’s a little more on the competition:

In the fall, the competitors receive a musical theme on which they are to write a short piece for piano, no longer than four minutes’ length. Treatment of the theme may range from simple chordal accompaniment to advanced contrapuntal techniques and thematic transformations.

The compositions are then forwarded to a judge who reviews and ranks them, with the winners chosen from each of the three categories, Elementary School (K – grade 5), Middle School (grades 6-8) and High School (grades 9-12).

Having been selected, the winning young composers receive individual orchestration lessons with Terry Lowry, Conductor and Music Director of the CSO, to orchestrate their pieces for a debut performance by the Carroll Symphony on December 13, 2012.  Lowry commented that winning the competition becomes increasingly difficult because past winners who return to the competition have become increasingly better composers with each year’s participation.

The high school category is a little more competitive, and I found out that my boy was the first Freshman to win!  Talk about being a proud mama.

I’m going to go off subject for a second to say, I don’t know how to use my SLR camera.  My husband has tried teaching me and his technological brain and words confuse me.  So I enrolled in an online photo school.  And in case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t pay that price, I had a Groupon.  I am learning more and more and my pictures are looking better (with no flash).  All this to say, I’m still learning on shooting in manual mode and my pictures from the concert night are bad.  Real bad.  I’m including one anyway because I have to tell you about the vest my son is wearing.  The vest was his great-great-Grandfather’s!  My Mom found it in her closet.  I don’t know if I’m more surprised by how well it kept or that my “Pa” was the size of a 14-year-old boy.  This strange pose, by the way, is the beginning of his rather elaborate bow.

12.20 - concert and belt test 021

I love the whole process of hearing my son’s piece come together, and then to hear which instruments he chose to play which part.  The orchestra plays each young composer’s piece at their Christmas concert.  Check it out.


Crayon Ornaments

Before I get to the ornaments, let me show you how I found my daughter sleeping last night.  There is a giant hippo wearing her pajamas on the headboard, an etch-a-sketch on her belly, and an Easter basket on her head.  Maybe it was to protect her ears from her sister’s snoring.  Who knows?


Alright, now onto some ornaments we made today.  My friend sent me a link on how to make super easy and pretty cute DIY crayon ornaments and I thought I’d make some.  You pretty much throw some small bits of crayon into a clear ornament and then melt it with a hairdryer.  Simple.  It would have been a nice effect, too, if my wee one would have known when enough was enough.  Her goal was to get pink on every inch of the ornament; and if that is your goal – then I suggest just buying pink ornaments.

I don’t think my ornaments are as pretty as Alexa’s at The Swell Life, but the kids had fun doing them and it kept their attention for a good thirty minutes.

For another fun and easy idea, check out these glow in the dark ornaments!

Old and Ugly Neckties

While Derek was out of town a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d surprise him with a clean closet and bedroom when he came home.  The kids enjoyed helping me go through some old things, especially his old ties.  There were a few we pulled out, knowing (hoping) he would never wear again.  Seriously, who has a Tabasco, 101 Dalmatian, and Mickey Mouse “Singing in the Rain” ties?  The man I married.  In his defense, I think some of those were gifts.

I had an uber cool vest made from men’s ties when I was in high school, so I searched to find what else I can make with these ugly things.  Below are some of my favorites, click on the picture to link to the tutorial.

Honeycomb Knit Pattern

I had seen some beautiful blankets on Ravelry with a neat honeycomb pattern, and I thought I should make one.  However, having just finished a throw that took me a year to knit, I thought maybe I should try something smaller.  Enter the Honeycomb Pillow pattern that I found while surfing the web.  It looks difficult, but a surprisingly easy pattern with pretty results.

I did make one huge mistake that I didn’t notice until later on, and was too far to frog it and redo.  Can you find it?

Close-up of the pattern.  It’s just two stitches that are slipped along every row to give the honeycomb look.  So simple with such amazing results; can you tell that I’m proud of this one?

The pattern calls for the front and back to be exactly the same, but I figured …. why do the honeycomb on the back of the pillow if you won’t see it?  I decided to do a solid cream color, but learned along the way.  After I knitted a pretty good bit, I noticed the back was about 2 inches than the front – even though I cast the same number of stitches.  I didn’t take into consideration the honeycomb pattern kind of “puckers”, so it’s not as wide as the back.   I had to undo all of my beautiful work and start over, 10 stitches less on the back.

I’ve already started back and hope to have my pillow on my sofa by the weekend!

Some Recent “Firsts”

My son’s first rock concert.  Jack White and it was amahzing.

My first (and probably last) corn maze.  Only one girl ending up crying because we were “never getting out” of there and would never see the rest of the family again.  No, it wasn’t me; but I did leave the maze with a headache.

My oldest first year in high school celebrating homecoming week.  He dressed up for Toga Tuesday, Western Wednesday, and for Throwback Thursday …. he threw it back to the late 1960s, wearing my father’s Marine uniform from Vietnam.  How cool is that?  What’s more impressive is what a little guy my Dad was when he came home from the war.

Squirrel …. In My House!!!

One Sunday night, when Derek was out of town, I heard the shrieks of my girls in the kitchen.  They came running to me screaming that there was something in the house.  My redhead sad, it was small with a fuzzy tail like a squirrel and it crawled across the floor.  My youngest frantically described the critter as having a round face with wings, and it flew across the room.  Now, I don’t know if you remember, but we have had a bat in the house before; and I wasn’t prepared for dealing with one by myself with my man gone.

At one point, I told Red that it was probably just a mouse.  She was adamant that it had a long fuzzy tail.  The youngest was still insisting it flew and was a bat; to which Red said, “Do bats have fuzzy tails?!?!?  I don’t think so!!”  When I showed her a picture on the internet of flying squirrels to ask if that’s what she saw, my girl said, “Well …. I didn’t actually see it … but I KNOW it had a long fuzzy tail because I felt it!”  The girls kept arguing over whether this critter flew or crawled; and I chalked it up to them being a little over-tired from a wedding, a “my brother might go blind” scare, and a funeral all within the previous 24 hours.

They finally dropped it, and way later I went to the kitchen to get a drink and found this:

Goodness gracious, there really was something in my house!  Since I was sure bats and mice don’t chew through wood, I figured it really was a squirrel.  Again, something I wasn’t prepared to deal with without my man.  So naturally, I sent my kids through the house to find the rodent.  In hindsight, I don’t know what I would have done if they would’ve actually found and squished a squirrel in my house!  We never did find or hear any evidence of any animal whatsoever, so I assumed it left where it came from.  I was wrong.

When I came home after taking my air headed boy to the optometrist, I heard clatter in the kitchen.  There was a freaking squirrel in there!  Let me tell you from personal experience, squirrels go completely berserk when trapped indoors with a human.  It would try to leave the kitchen and I’d squeal, then it would flip over and run the other way … up walls, on counters, to a window.   Luckily I have a door outside in my kitchen, so I had my son keep guard so the squirrel wouldn’t run into another room while I tried to sneak and open the door.  Somehow, during all the commotion … my boy and I ended up outside while the squirrel ran through the house and into the living room and up the chimney.

Long story short, this happened a few times …we would try to shoo him out the door and he was crawl up the fireplace until everything was clear.  On Tuesday while the kids were at school, I hid on the other side of the house and left all doors open, hoping the squirrel leave.  After a few hours, I finally just put a piece of plywood over the fireplace.  If the squirrel hadn’t taken the opportunity to leave through the front door, then it could die trapped in the chimney.  Derek told me (from Seattle) that I shouldn’t do that; that he didn’t want to deal with removing a dead squirrel when he got home.  Um …. did he really think I wanted to deal with a squirrel running through my house??  Anyway, I left the plywood there until Derek got home; there was never a foul smell coming from the fireplace and no evidence of a rodent in my house – so I guess it made its escape.

Don’t Play with Air Compressors, Kids

Wow, a whole month passed and I didn’t write a single blog post.  I guess it was from pure laziness, not because nothing entertaining happened last month; because believe me … October was an interesting month.

During the first weekend in October, we were up in north Georgia attending a beautiful wedding at a golf course.  I don’t really frequent the golf courses, so I didn’t know this, but they have air compressors near the club house for the golfers to blow the grass off their shoes.  All the kids were having a blast (literally) by blowing air in each other’s faces.  Not just my crazy kids, but all the kids in attendance seemed to be taking turns.  At one point, I was sitting with my back to the fun talking to a little boy about the joys of Kindergarten when I hear my 13-year-old yell, “OH MY GOD!!!”.  As I turned around to scold him for using the term, I saw my 11-year-old son’s eye puffed out, and all I could say was, “Oh my God!  Get your Dad!!!!”  When I say his eye was puffed out, I mean his eye … the white part of his eye, was swollen!

There just happened to be an ER down the street, so I took him immediately to get things checked out.  As soon as the ER doctor saw him, he told me how serious it was and that my sweet boy could lose his sight in that eye.  He even called an ambulance to get us to a hospital with an opthomologist in Atlanta.  Talk about scary.  Luckily (for our pockets sake) they took a long time and my husband and I decided to drive ourselves to Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta.

It turns out, if you have an eye injury (since you have only two), they get you back in a room really fast.  The Childrens doctor was awesome, and unlike the little north GA town doctor, he kept his cool and didn’t freak my boy out about going blind.  It turns out, the air was trapped under the skin and eyeball, and it would just take time for it to release.

I don’t know if you can tell from the picture above, but on the second day the air had moved down in his cheek and over above his ear.  It was the grossest thing, you could push in and hear the “crunch” of the air pockets.  It almost sounded like cellophane under his skin.  Gross, but pretty cool.

I ended up taking him to a local eye doctor that next Monday, since an official eye doctor didn’t actually see him.  My boy was proud that neither ER doctors nor the optometrist had never seen anything like his case before in their careers.  After some research, the eye doctor figured the air travelled up his nose.  They’ve seen air get trapped in patient’s eyes after surgery if they blow their nose too hard.  The eye examine showed that his sight is perfectly fine in that eye.  The only side effect was that pupil was slightly bigger than the other due to the trauma.

Each day, the air seeped out a little more until a week later, he was looking completely back to normal.

When asked if he and his brother learned their lesson and if they would ever play with an air compressor again they replied with an emphatic, “NO!”  I was proud, until a few minutes later when they asked, “Wait … does that mean we can’t blow the leaf blower in each other’s faces anymore???”  Lesson. Not. Learned.

Boot Camp

Being the idiot that I am, I decided that a great way to get my butt in gear and kickstart my weight loss would be to join a 6-week boot camp.  A 6-week boot camp that starts at 5:15 am.  Let’s just say that I almost ready to quit by week 2.  Well, I saw it through; it ended today and I can see a visible difference in my body.  For anyone who knew I was doing this and is interested in my results, here they are:

Right arm: 12.25″ down to 11.75″

Chest:  40.5″ down to 40″

Waist:  36.75″ down to 35.25″

Hips:  43.75″ down to 42.5″

Right Thigh: 24″ down to 23.25″


My overall body fat went down 2%


1 mile run time: 1st day – 13.01 min; today – 11:56

Push-ups (I did mine on knees): 1st day – 20 in 2 min; today – 46 in 2 min.  More than doubled!

Sit-Ups (I did crunches): 1st day – 73 in 2 min; today – 97 in 2 min


As I said before, I HATED getting up that early.  I feel like 5 am is the darkest time of the night and wondered some mornings if the Amish were even up yet.  However, I clearly had great results in just 6 weeks without really changing my eating habits.  How much more could I change in another 6 weeks?  Do you think I should give it another try?

I’m truly considering it; but first, a nap!

2 or 3 Folds

We enjoyed a few days away in the north Georgia mountains before school started.  My parents had a campsite rented for a few months and let us take advantage of their camper on a week that they weren’t using it.

I saw my first bear in the wild!  He came into the campground the first morning we were there and climbed into a tree and hung around for a while.

The first thing I did was lay food out for him.  Just kidding, I did NOT FEED THE BEARS.  He did come back a couple of days later, though, and grabbed some trash off of our neighbors table …. with the man sitting right next to it!  Isn’t it cute?

Just a short hike away were two beautiful waterfalls.  My mother typed and printed out directions for us to find them.  There were a few typos, like one sentence said to “go back to mail path”, but we were able to decipher that meant “main” path.  There was one point in the directions that said to take a path next to a big rock, large enough for 2 or 3 folds to sit on.  We couldn’t figure it out.  I decided she must have meant foals, so that was one HUGE rock that 2 or 3 baby horses could sit on.  Below you’ll see the rock, not quite on the scale of largeness that I had in my head.

When we got home I was able to ask what 2 or 3 folds were.  Folks!  2 or 3 folks could sit on the rock.  I still think the rock was bigger in her mind than it actually was.

We were told by a lady that lived along our route that the upper falls is Blue Hole Falls.  It was pretty with a very nice swimming hole at the base.  The kids enjoyed it, but the water was so cold they could only stand being in it for about 30 seconds at a time.

The lower falls, High Shoals Falls, were much prettier and a little grander.  There was really no place to play in the water here, but lots of rocks and fallen trees to explore and climb.

And for your final enjoyment, my oldest trying to climb a fallen tree, and falling off the tree – luckily onto a nice patch of moss.

Shit My Kid Writes

My daughter loves to write, but she’s not always the best speller.  For example, “dans” means “dance”.  I tell you this so you can interpret her paper that she proudly showed me a few weeks ago.  I’m still not sure what the fourth sentence was meant to say.

She’s right, she does shit pretty good.  I don’t think I’ve ever had to give her a laxative and …. she always flushes.

Let me tell you, I have never laughed so hard at something any of my kids have brought home.  Of course, it made my redhead furious; but it was a great opportunity to teach her to learn to laugh at yourself, lighten up, life is fun.  When I explained to her that what she wrote meant that she “poops good”, she too got pretty tickled.