Thursday, March 28, 2013

A close shave

So it turns out that I should not only be grateful that the kids were super good on the way home from our road trip, but more importantly that we survived the trip.

My car has been driving just a little bit funny for a week or so, and on Monday I noticed that the steering wheel was turned a good 45 degrees to the left in order for the car to drive straight forward.

Hmmm.  Time for a front end alignment?

My sister watched the kids Tuesday afternoon so I could run over to Meineke for a quick alignment.  I noticed on the way over that the car did a bit of a fishtail over a bump . . . figured I must really need that alignment!

Since the guy at Meineke is 1000% smarter about cars than I am, he thought the whole fishtailing thing sounded weird.  He headed out for a quick test drive, and I settled down to get caught up on People magazine.

The car dude came back pretty quickly, and as soon as he pulled into the garage I started hearing exclamations . . .

"Dude!  It's not an alignment, I don't know what's wrong, but it's not good!"

Up went the car on the lift.


Uh oh.

"If I had known that was what was wrong, I would never have gotten into that car!" exclaimed the test drive guy.

"She's lucky that didn't snap altogether!"

"I can hear the check I'm going to be writing getting larger and larger with each exclamation point," I commented to the nice older couple in the waiting room with me.

Test drive guy waved me out to the garage, and I joined the small crowd gawking at the underside of my car.

"See that?"

Uh, no.

"Right there, that crack."

Ok, yes, now I do see the giant crack running thru the giant pipe-like thing attached to my rear driver's side tire.

"You have a crack in your rear sub-frame.  See how the tire is tipped in at the top and out at the bottom?  It could have snapped completely at any time while you were driving your car.  You are VERY lucky that didn't happen."

"So can you fix it?"

The dude that seemed to be in charge gave me an incredulous look, held back laughter (unlike the other two), and said a firm no.

"You are going to have to get the entire rear frame replaced.  If it can be replaced.  But the bolts are pretty much always rusted in place, and you'll have to find a body shop willing to attempt it."


Two and a half days later, our car is still sitting at Meineke.  Because we can't drive it home, but haven't figured out if we are even going to get it fixed.  Because the body shop guy still hasn't taken a look at it.  And is it really worth fixing if the underside is a rusty mess and is going to have other problems crop up?  I don't know.  What I do know is that there are a lot of positives in the midst of all this . . .

1.  The sub-frame DIDN'T snap completely, and the kids and I DIDN'T have a horrible accident in the middle-of-nowhere on the New York interstate at 75 (I mean 65) miles per hour.

2.  Meineke is only a mile from our house, so I finished my errands on foot and walked home.  And the glowering skies didn't open up and drench me on my unexpected walk.  So that was nice.

3. We live right in town, and can walk to the library, post office, bank, and even Walmart if need be.  So if we are without a second car for a bit, it's not the end of the world.

4.  Friends have stepped right up to help.  One friend with auto body skills said he could weld the car back together for us.  Unfortunately, we have since discovered that there is nothing to weld because the whole thing is basically a big flaky mess of rust, but it was still a nice gesture.  Other friends offered to loan us their Jeep until we figure out our plan of action.  Super generous!

5.  I had an appointment to get the car inspected on Friday . . . and plans to replace all the tires.   (Probably when we took it in for inspection and wouldn't be able to sticker it with the current tires!)  So at least we didn't just put a bunch of money into it right before this happened, as I had with my Corolla right before I totalled it.

6.  I got to go on my road trip before my car quit on me!

Guess this serves as a good reminder to go get our wills notarized that we have had sitting in the "to do" pile for six months . . .

But seriously, so many things to be thankful for.  Tonight I gave some extra kisses to those two little peanuts of ours, feeling very blessed and thankful that God kept them (and John and I!) safe, when we didn't even know we needed protection.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The game of golf

Yesterday I got Sophia up from her nap a little early to come downstairs and make lemon bars with me.  We had a lovely time making the crust, with Sophia sneaking little bites of each ingredient (not such a fan of plain flour or butter, but watch out with the confectioner's sugar!) every few minutes.  Popped the crust in the pan, now to make the top lemony part.

Just then John walked up from the basement with his golf clubs.  "Time to put these in my trunk, spring is coming!"  Of course, he had to drive a few practice balls in the yard before loading the bag in the car, and when Sophia saw him out there swinging she was off like a shot.

"I have to play golf with Dada!"

"What about the lemon bars?"

"I'm going out to play golf!"

Sophia hurried into her boots and jacket, and dashed outside after grabbing her own golf bag from the living room.



Sophia puts everything she's got into her swing.



Contemplating her next move . . .




Dirty snow off a golf ball is always yummy, don't you think?


Hardcore golfers, out in the snow!


Walking the . . . white?


"I need this one, Dada . . . it's pretty big!"


"See the snow, Mama?  See it?  See it?  You sure?  Let me see the picture!"



"Here's what you have to do, Dada."


This three-year old's golf bag would NOT be complete without a pink golf ball.


Guess I have two golfers eagerly awaiting spring this year.


Almost time for another drawing, April 1st will be here before we know it!  This time the drawing is for  a set of cloth napkins . . . I'll include a pic in my next post.  Be sure to "like" Ad Libs on facebook, become a follower of my blog, or comment on a post to be entered in the drawing!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A renewed love of color

Since we got home from our road trip, Sophia hasn't stopped talking about the sleeping bags that her little friends slept in for the week.

"Can you buy me a princess sleeping bag, Mama?  Please?  Please, please?"

Because everything is princess-y these days.  I don't know how she got so obsessed, having never seen any of the Disney princess movies, but she is ALL about those gals.

At the same time that Sophia has been going crazy for a sleeping bag, I have been thinking about the amazing quilts my friend Laura has made for her family.  Totally different from anything I have ever done.  She meshes together fabrics that I would never in a million years try to make work, and they don't just work . . . those quilts SHINE.  Simple in construction, with impact to spare.  LOVE her artistry.  Her love of color and patterns spills over into every room, turning a house into a warm and inviting home.  I only wish I had taken some pictures for you all!  Another time, another roadtrip . . .

The other thing I have noticed since we got home is that 50% of Sophia's sentences start with "Can you buy me . . . "

Not a fan.

We had some funsies for the roadtrip, new coloring books and the camera, yummy snacks, and *gasp* . . . a stop at McDonald's on the way home.  And apparently the funsies have turned Sophia into a grasping materialistic beast.

So I brainstormed.  Because sleeping bags really are fun.  But I don't want to pay $20+ for a crappy Disney one that will fall apart after three washing.  And don't want to get bedbugs from buying one second hand.  And want Sophia to know that not everything has to come from a store.  Add in my Laura inspiration, and I decided.

Time to make a sleeping bag.

And not just make a sleeping bag, but make it for free.  I decided that I had to pull all the supplies out of my current fabric stash, no trips to the store.  I dug thru my craft dresser, and came up with a whole slew of fabrics I wanted to use.


In order to make a standard size toddler sleeping bag (28" x 56"), I decided to cut 49 eight and a half inch squares.  Minus the seam allowance each square would be 8", laid out seven by seven and sewn together.  Eight inch squares, times seven equals a 56 inch square.  Fold it in half to be a sleeping bag, and you get 28" x 56".  (I love sewing math, but get that not everyone is a nerd.  Let me know if all that needs a little more clarification!)

Next I scavenged for filler.  I ended up grabbing two fleece blankets that we don't use much, as well as a flannel sheet we don't have the match to.  Yes, I would have loved to pick up a super cute coordinating flannel for the inside . . . but no buying for this project!

I tied together the layers with three of the six ply from black embroidery floss at each square's corner.  Black would not have ordinarily been my first choice, but it was what I had on hand and I decided to use it rather than trying to cheat and get some white or other color from my sister.  And black totally breaks me out of my crafting comfort zone!  Of course, it turns out that I LOVE the black.

Layers tied together, I moved on to the edges.  I cut four-inch strips of fabric, and made them into a LOOOOONG strip of one-inch bias.  I lined the edges of the sleeping bag with it, folding it in half and using the bias to finish it off.  Rather than trying to hide my stitches, I decided to emphasize them with a contrasting purple thread in a zig-zag.



A non-princess, no-cost sleeping bag that Sophia LOVES.  She squealed with delight when she saw it, composing an "I love my sleeping bag!" song on the spot.  She insisted on sleeping in it on the floor last night, and has already asked to tonight.  As I type this she is cuddled up in it on the floor, just hanging out.



Sophia isn't the only one who loves her sleeping bag.  Jude likes to dive bomb his sister when she is in it, though he is loath to climb in himself.  Just being nearby seems to be enough for him!  I am thrilled with how it turned out, and already have plans for some more fun summer sewing.  Maybe some small picnic blankets on my etsy site, who knows?!  Lots of blasts of color and pattern mixing to come!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

This is the Stuff

This has been a pukey week.  First Jude had the bug while we were on our roadtrip, and now John has some nasty thing.  The man is laid out in bed, looking pretty pasty, and hasn't eaten in 24 hours.  I mention food and he has to run for the bathroom.

So it's natural that I might have urps on the brain, and was thinking "Wow, this soup really does look like puke" as I put away last night's dinner.  (Very yummy soup, I might add, which both kids ate.  Seconds for Jude!)  I usually store leftover soup in gallon ziplock bags, so I can store them flat (for easier thawing) in the downstairs freezer.  Last night was no different, as I poured the quart and a half of leftover soup in the bag and turned to put the pot in the sink.

Except as I turned to put the pot in the sink, the bag leaned to the side and a pint of partially pureed white bean and carrot soup poured out, gushing into every crevice of my stove.

Funny, I had just been thinking before (and after) our roadtrip that the stove needed a good cleaning.  The inside window was so covered with ick that I could barely see thru with the light on.  Well, last night it got that cleaning.

All I could do was laugh.  If anyone had been watching, they would have wondered what the crazy lady was up to . . . it was 9:15 at night, and I was trying to head to bed so I could get plenty of sleep before another day of taking care of three sickies.  Earlier in the day Sophia had carefully placed all the alphabet magnets on the stove.  I not only had soup down the front of the stove, pouring all over the inside of the glass, inside the oven, spattered four feet out on the floor, and pooling in the drawer under the stove, but also all over F G H I J K L M N O.

I wasn't sure where so start, but finally plucked the bean goo filled letters off the stove and tossed them in the sink.  Thank goodness I had a half-full roll of paper towels under the sink, which I used for broad strokes, cleaning up the giant pool of soup from the floor.  After that I fell to dismantling the stove.

The drawer came out easily, unfortunately dragging thru bean goo on the way out.  Clean the bottom, clean the inside, put it aside.

Now to take apart the door.

A little MacGyver was required here.  I didn't feel like going ALL the way down to the basement for a screwdriver, so it was fortunate for me that John keeps his Leatherman in the kitchen junk drawer.  The screwdriver bit handily unscrewed the handle from the oven door, and the door fell apart.  I did catch the front of the door before it could hit the floor, so no broken glass in the goo.

I never realized before how many layers there are to an oven door.  But now I know it is somewhere in the realm of 17.  Each time I would get one layer of metal or glass cleaned and think I was done, I would start putting it back together only to realize that there was another drip inside some bit or other, and have to take it apart and clean more.

At last all of the soup goo was cleaned up, and I screwed the handle back on.  This was a ten minute project that involved all my limbs, as the layers of the door all wanted to pop apart with the least provocation.  I finally got the handle back on by holding the front of the door with my right knee, inside of the door with my right elbow, handle with my left hand and knee at various points, and the Leatherman with my right hand . . . . ridiculous.

As soon as the cleanup was done, I realized that I was not going to bed yet.  Because the soup was gone, but the inside window still had the last four years of cooking grime baked firmly in place, and I just couldn't leave it.

You know what doesn't work on the inside window?  Barkeepers Friend and a green scrubbie with lots of elbow grease.  Know what else doesn't work?  Baking soda and vinegar.  I thought maybe I could middle-school volcano the grime off, but no go.  I was at my wits end when I finally thought to try a small metal spatula.  Success!  Lots of elbow grease, leftover Barkeepers Friend and baking soda and vinegar, and a metal spatula does the trick.  Inch by inch I scraped off the years of spatter.  I hope my oven doesn't explode from all the chemicals next time I turn it on, because I followed all that up with an "all-natural" glass cleaner . . . couldn't have streaks after all that work!

Of course when I had finally finished all of that cleaning (an hour later), I realized I was out of stainless steel cleaner.  So the outside of the stove was just not going to look as nice as the inside.  Oy.  I briefly considered the "This Old House" suggestion of using mayo as a polish, but decided I just couldn't do it.  Seems to be in the realm of using ketchup as spaghetti sauce to me.

In need of creamer to make our Walmart coffee palatable, I headed out into the "snowstorm" this morning.  Perfect timing, actually, because the roads were perfectly clear but the weather channel had scared everyone into staying home so I had the store to myself.  Creamer, check.  Stainless steel cleaner, check.

Ignoring Jude clinging to my leg when I got home, I grabbed a rag and polished away.  Voila!  Our stove looks as good as the day we moved in . . . probably better, actually.  I am going to enjoy the cleanliness for the next 30 seconds before Sophia and Jude go back to mashing their faces on the glass to see inside and putting drooled on alphabet magnets all over it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Home again, home again

The kids and I had a great time on our road trip last week.  We had to cut it short due to a certain 3 1/2 year old being more than a little homesick, but managed to fit in a terrific amount of reconnecting with friends.  I was so enjoying visiting in fact, that I never even bothered to pull out my camera.  Well, I think I did once.  But once does not document a roadtrip.

Fortunately, John and I had decided to give Sophia the kiddie digital camera I found on clearance at Walmart a year and a half ago.  Best $30 I ever spent!  She took to it like a duck to water, and now we have a little budding photographer on our hands.

So here goes, our road trip as documented in photos by Sophia (and a couple other little guest photographers) . . .


































I feel refreshed now that we are back home.  A little strange, considering our 1,000+ miles driven and sick kids, but reconnecting with friends is GOOD.
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