Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Quilt Along Catch-Up, Part Deux

FINALLY! I just sat right down the other night and put together the last blocks for the quilt-a-long. I am very proud of my quilt blocks as this is the very first quilt I have ever made. Joel's grandmother is a quilt-making machine so I've never really felt the need to make a lot of these since we are already covered in beautiful blankets. But now I see why she does it. They are so much fun to make!

So, when I finally finish this quilt, it will be a special one since it was made by me. I'll probably try to hand embroider my name and the date for the back of the quilt so I can live in infamy and people can marvel for decades to come at how sloppy my seams are even with using a sewing machine.

Here are the blocks, starting from . Some of them may be repeats for you, but I am sure that I have at least shared the first two blocks. I have been way behind on this so it's really a recap.

Block 3

Block 4

Block 5

Block 6

Block 7

Block 8

Block 9

Block 10

Block 11

Block 12

And here they all are in my final layout:

Now I am on to more cutting and sewing as I try to finish the massive border!

On the path...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tag, Part Deux

Wow! I'm really feelin' the love here in blog-land. Another good bloggy friend of mine, Em, has tagged me too! Although, this tag limits me to a six word sentence (Editing! I can't take it!). Aren't you so glad? No more sagas of random and seemingly unimportant stories of me.

Well now down to business. I'm back to the rest of this meme. The theme? It is my 7 strangest life experiences. Mind you, as soon as I've finished this meme, I will have thought of probably 7 even WEIRDER experiences than these. So, I'll sock those away for later. Now, on to numbers 4 -7.

Life Experience #4: Everyone has mentioned to me that I should include my house-alarm experience and after sleeping on it, I agree. So, here it is.

When I was a senior in college, I auditioned and made the cast for Tommy (the Rock Opera). A local theater company in Birmingham (Alabama) was putting this great show on and I was very excited to participate in a "real" play rather than one through a school or acting class.

Through participating in this play, I made some very good and interesting friends. One of them was a 30-year-old woman who was a grant writer for a local children's theater company. She couldn't have been any cooler. She lived in a slightly shady part of town in a beautiful old house built in the 1920s. In this house were gorgeous antiques that she bought from around the US and the world on her many travels. I was in awe of her and her house and her basic coolness and the fact that she would want to hang out with me.

One weekend, she asked me to check in on her house and feed her cat, I think, while she was gone with another acting troupe. All I had to do was master the complicated security system. Of course, this probably wasn't all that complicated to her or the rest of the world in general but it might as well have been quantum physics to me.

Don't get me wrong, I am a pretty bright girl. But all that was chucked out the window when I found out that if I didn't disarm the alarm in exactly 60 seconds - going through a ritual of opening the door, closing it, entering a code and then pressing the green key and getting the all clear tone - the police were going to be notified and she would be slapped with a hefty fine.

I tried to back out, but over the course of the afternoon (I was there to have lunch with her and hang out), she convinced me that it would be no big deal, that I could master it easily enough and I could even bring over a friend to hang out that weekend if I wanted to. We practiced this over and over until I felt comfortable and parted ways.

The weekend came and it was getting time for me to come on over and check on things and feed the kitty (somehow I can't remember if there was a cat or not, but I'm going with it). So, I called up my good friend, Nik, and we headed over there for an evening of fun and girl stuff.

We got into the house and I ran like mad to the key pad and entered the code and got the all clear. Everything seemed okay and I showed Nikki around and we ooh-ed and ahh-ed over all the cool stuff. Then we decided to head out to Five Points to get something to eat. So, Nikki stood outside (I had her significantly scared of the alarm too) while I entered in the code and hit the RED button and walked out.

A lovely evening passed uneventfully and we headed back to the house only to find a note from the COPS that they had been by and that the alarm had been set off. They were one call away from slapping my friend with her hefty fine.

We went inside and I ran to the keypad and entered the code but nothing was working! I didn't get the little reassuring beep and after 60 seconds, the phone rang. It took a while to convince the security company that I wasn't an intruder and that I just had a hard time trying to disarm the alarm. I gave them her code and they confirmed but said that a cop was already dispatched to the house and could I please stay and talk with that person?

So, by this time Nikki and I were freaking out a little bit and the freak out level was slightly heightened when the cop finally arrived (while we were already in our jammies) and asked us questions about the alarm and why we were there.

I went through my spiel again and the cop left AND MY FRIEND WAS GETTING SLAPPED WITH A HEFTY FINE. One more false alarm and she was going to get her service terminated. So, with a heavy heart and feeling extremely immature and childish, I called her wherever she was - in California or New York or something like that - and spilled. She was so gracious about it and remarked that she appreciated that I called her and was so nice about it.

About that time, Nikki slid into the door frame with her coat over her jammies saying, "Let's get outta here!" I agreed. We hastily packed up and I faced the keypad for yet another time. Nikki stood out on the front stoop with the door open telling me to hurry over and over. Wouldn't you know it but I couldn't get that alarm to set! So, we made sure everything was locked up and ran like crazy to our car as if something was biting at our heels.

I never saw my friend again, or her house, and mailed back her keys. I think we emailed each other for a while, but the alarm pretty much destroyed whatever friendship might have developed.

After having further experiences with home alarm systems, I found out that the alarm wouldn't set that night we were trying to leave because the door was left open so Nikki could dance on the front stoop, urging me onward and waiting for me to run out. Oh well!

Life Experience #5:That last story brings me to my fifth experience and that was my crowning achievement in my theater life. I got to dance on top of a pinball machine in The Who's Tommy. It was cool.

Life Experience #6:I once pierced a girl's ear with my bare hands and an earring post with a pointy end. I KNOW! I was grossed out too. In high school I was a member of the dance team/colorguard and we spent a lot of time traveling to competitions. Needless to say, some of the girls on the team were a little rowdy. Me? No, I was the good girl on this team believe it or not. Anyway, we were at yet another competition and staying in a hotel with only a few chaperones. I was in a room with three other girls and NO chaperones.

One night my friend, Jamie, decided that she wanted two earrings in her right ear and somehow persuaded me to take a sharp earring post and drive it into her ear. She held an ice cube to it for about fifteen minutes and then held onto hear teddy bear and let me go for it. I counted to three, swallowed the throw up that was threating to come spouting out and pushed as hard as I could.

It didn't go through! Only 3/4 of the way. I KNOW. We both squealed and Jamie jumped up and down with her bear and I did a hopping dance in a circle, shaking my hands and saying, "Ew - I'm sorry!" over and over. But Jamie was determined to have the earring. I guess her parents wouldn't let her have another one. Well, I tried to back out but in the end, Jamie had her third earring and I had a reason to stay up all night reliving the icky feeling of driving a small, blunt object into someone else's flesh.


Life Experience #7: I once had a dare from a good friend to sign up on a match service online. I was 25, bored and up for a challenge. My friend was also 25, bored and ready for a man. She said that the first one to get a man wins. I am not sure, looking back, exactly what this meant because getting a man could have so many connotations. Does it mean meeting the man? Dating the man? Pulling a bag over the man's head and smuggling him over the state line? Well, anyway, that was the challenge so I signed up.

I immediately got a lot of flack from friends and family saying what I was doing was crazy and I would only meet creepy old men or psychopaths or child molesters. Keep in mind that this was before or or anything like that was popular. I believe the website I joined was run by a single man out of his basement as a hobby. Whatever that man's intentions were, he did a good job on the site.

I got a few emails from some crazy guys. One was a man in his mid-forties (no offense to those of you in that age-bracket) with three children. I think his youngest was 12.

One man was from Chicago and liked to take pictures of himself with his webcam. Unfortunately the camera was at an angle where you were really looking up at his face so I only really got to get intimately acquainted with his nose hairs.

One guy seemed promising and we chatted for a while but I soon found out that he was crazy. After about five emails or so, I cheerfully recommended foregoing the self-help books and seeing a therapist and blocked him.

Just when I thought I was going to lose the bet and my friend was going to win, I got an email. It was just a line or two asking me if I was interested in chatting and to please check out his profile in the meantime.

That person was my husband. My sweet, awesome, best friend, great father of a husband. So, I met my husband online. On a dare. I wasn't really looking, but he found me. And I'm glad he did.

Stay on the path!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

So, this is my first participation in a meme (thanks Troye) and I've been asked to share seven little known facts about myself. As most of you know, doing something like this is hard! Especially when you have to dig up yet more little known facts about yourself. Sharing person that I am, most people know the quirky, little known facts. I'd rather talk about that stuff rather than the weather. Hmmm... maybe that is why I get the odd looks.

Anyway, I've decided to do a theme on this meme. This will narrow my focus and the next time I'm tagged, I'll know what to do. This meme theme will be: Jen's Seven Weirdest Lifetime Events. So, this should be easy, right?

Lifetime Event #1:
When I was little, I was a praying girl. I would pray for my dollies, my teachers, my family (usually twice), my pets, my bedroom set, our neighborhood, and generally anything else that I might have come into contact with in my small world at that age. This is probably why I wasn't always called on to pray before dinner. People were hungry. Usually at dinner prayers I would have to pray for everything, right down to the spices on the casserole, obviously.

So, being the well-meaning parents that mine were, they would often try to help guide me in this journey by trying to explain things and also introducing me to bible verses. This one in particular: "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalms 37:4.

Well, I was certainly delighted, I prayed a lot didn't I? In my child's literal mind, this meant that I could pray for my deepest desire. Something that had been locked in my heart for a long time (probably a month) and that God would grant it! This meant that I could be...

A Thundercat!

Yes, I wanted, in my heart of hearts, to be a Thundercat. Not necessarily one of the main characters, but a new Thundercat - a JENNY Thundercat. So, I prayed for months, being as delighted as I could be, to become a Thundercat.

Thundercats were cool! I loved rainy days because that meant I could take the automatic umbrella and have it shoot into the sky while I shouted, "Thundercats! Thundercats! THUNDERCATS, HO!"

Alas, I was never made into a Tundercat. I sort of expected it, but I was still hopeful. I guess God knew that when I reached dating age, I would probably not want to be a large, cat-like humanoid with fur all over her body. It was certainly worth a try.

So, when I was little I prayed to be a Thundercat.

Lifetime Event #2:
When I was about nineteen or twenty years old, I auditioned for the Cincinnati Opera.

Yes, you read that right. The CINCINNATI OPERA. What's even funnier, I had no idea I was auditioning for them. I honestly thought I was auditioning for some sort of summer ensemble and that I would stand in the background in a peasant costume with a chicken or something, singing things like, "Oh yes, Oh yes!" or "Si, oh si" or whatever language the opera happened to be in. I imagined doing intimate, summer shows in a small pavilion, hanging out in the background and enjoying the experience with the actual opera singers took the summer off and did their thing.

Let me back up and just let you know that I grew up doing theater productions (all aspects: performing, tech, scenery, etc) and took voice lessons during college at that time. I enjoyed trying out for productions around town during the summer for something fun to do in the evenings after work. I had just started voice lessons with an instructor the year before who decided that I needed to start learning Italian, French and German arias. I also remember that she had a magnificent voice and that she spit on me when she sang. Well, how else would you have good diction? I think I got really wet when she sang German.

So, the advertisement in the newspaper said, "AUDITIONS! Summer Opera chorus. Sing two arias in the language of your choice." Weeeeeeeeeeeelllllll, whaddya know? I ONLY knew two arias. They were in Italian. What the heck?

I guess what should have tipped me off was the fact that the form I was filling out asked questions like: Please check which professional guilds you are a member of (list of said organizations). If you did not check any organizations above, would you be willing to join a guild in order to perform with the Cincinnati Opera? Please check this box if you agree. My stomach dropped.

In the next room, I heard a high note explode into life. I think I also heard dogs barking outside. Out of the practice room came the most magnificently dressed creature. She had on a designer suit in white linen, jewels were everywhere and the brightest red lips I have ever seen. I suddenly took in my surroundings and noticed that I was surrounded by divas. Excuse me, Divas. Capital "D". Men and women. All doing the roller coaster voice exercises, stretching their diaphragms and strutting around like self-absorbed peacocks.

I would have seriously just put down my clip board and walked right out but I didn't drive myself to the audition. Parking was tight downtown so I had my dad drop me off since he had some business to attend to downtown as well.

I checked the box.

During my audition, I was just placed in a rehearsal room so I wasn't as intimidated as I thought I would be. There were four people sitting behind a table with kind faces so I handed my sheet music to the accompanist, announced myself and my arias and began to sing. I only got through part of one aria when a woman at the table cut me off and began asking questions.

The audition went well enough and I expected to be on the losing end of this audition. When I went to check out the call boards later, I didn't see my name anywhere. I gave them a call so they could tell it to me straight. I didn't make it right?

"Jennifer?" the voice said at the end of the line.
"Yes? That's me. Howard is the last name."
"Oh," she said. I kept waiting for something else but the line was silent.
"Am I on the list anywhere?" I asked, doubtful.
"Well, they weren't sure what to do with you, so you are still being considered."

What? WHAT? Still being considered? I was beside myself. Maybe I still would be the happy peasant, singing in the background with a chicken in tow.

Or, maybe not. I was eventually cut.

I later found out from a friend as well as a voice major at a nearby conservatory that Senior voice majors practice their entire senior year to audition for the opera. Well, it would have been nice if the newspaper ad would have explained that! Geez.

I was considered at least.

Are you tired of reading yet?

Lifetime Event #3:
Once, very late at night, my friend, Nikki, and I were driving around Birmingham. I think it was one of our many late night runs to Moneer's or the Purple Onion. Nikki was driving and I was in the passenger's seat. Neither of us was talking at that moment and I think that we were tired and ready to get home.

Then suddenly, I had this great urge to clap my hands. I have never had this urge in my life before that or since. So I did. And Nikki, who was in the middle of driving the car, DID THE EXACT SAME THING! We both randomly clapped, just once, at the exact same time.

That event really freaked us out and got us all excited at the same time. What are the chances? Some friends draw blood to become blood brothers/sisters and be bonded for the rest of their lives. It just took a supernatural "clapping" to bond us together.

Okay, okay. So those stories were really long. I'm tired of typing now so I'll do the other four tomorrow. Give your eyes a rest.

Thanks for the tag, Troye!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Letter People

I have already gotten a couple of comments about not having any idea what the Letter People are. Well, here is a little informational video about them. I used to watch the Letter People in kindergarden and I remember Miss A, Achoo! and Mr. T, Tall Teeth.

Now that I've seen some of these videos, it's pretty scary what we used to watch as children in the 70s. What on earth were those writers and directors thinking? In this clip, you will be able to better hear the theme song I was talking about in my last post, but you will also get a disturbing scene with a turbaned man getting attacked by a green elf for no apparent reason.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I'm back!

I've been back for a while, but it seems like I've been gone forever. I did have a nice time in Oklahoma City and the group got a lot of things accomplished for work, but I really did miss my babies terribly. Oh, and my husband of course.

So we celebrated by going to the Frederick Meijer Gardens this past weekend to check out the butterfly exhibit, the children's gardens and play area and the sculpture gardens. This was our first time going and we loved it so much that we have decided that we are definitely coming back when everything is in bloom.

We spent some time in the arid garden indoors and it really made me want to go on vacation. Has anyone trouped to a tropical place with their VERY small children? Well, maybe someday soon, right?

Here are Channy and Ava contemplating the cacti.

Let me tell you how hard it was to take photographs in the butterfly exhibit. The exhibit lanes were too narrow for our double-wide stroller so we had to get the kids out and carry them through. They LOVED the butterflies but it is difficult, to say the least, to try to take steady pictures with one hand and holding a wriggling baby in the other. Here's an example...

So, this is the best butterfly shot I could manage.

We also walked over to the Michigan Farm where Channy ran around petting all the farm animal sculptures. He was having a great time running all over the place like an ant scurries around in circles before it reaches its destination. There was a dinner bell at the farm that Chandler really enjoyed ringing. Ava slept through most of this. I guess the butterflies wore her out.

Come and meet the letter people.
Come and visit the family!

Words are made of letter people...
A B C D, follow me!

Okay, so no one joined me in the Letter People theme song rendition, but those sculptures reminded me of my beloved childhood puppet show (it was your typical high-tech 70s children's show). So, I was inspired and threw out my jazz hands to sing the song with abandon. Joel pushed the kids farther ahead and pretended he didn't know the crazy blond woman trailing behind singing her heart out. Oh well. There were some beautiful and fun sculptures in the gardens, but the letter people were my favorite.

This reminds me that spring is coming and also that I have a lot of work to do in my yard.

Stay tuned for some crafty updates as I get settled back into my routine.

Back on the path...