Sunday, September 21, 2014

Another Peek at the Peacock

 It's been three weeks since you last saw the proud little Peacock Stole-in-progress, and I'm happy to report that what you're looking at is what this looks like at THE END OF CHART #6.

It turns out that Chart #6, despite being a whole lot of rows, was pretty much just a eight row repeat that was easily memorized, so I took to knitting up eight rows a day for the last two weeks, instead of the formerly-planned-on fours row a day.  As a result, I've finished up this chart two weeks early.  Today I will venture into Chart #7, which has some stitch symbols waiting for me to learn.

The stole is at Row #204, and there's 304 rows per side, so we're getting close to being done with the first half!  (Yep, once I reach "the end," I get to pick up all those live stitches waiting on the lime-green yarn and literally knit all of this AGAIN.)

I love, love, love the peacock feathers part of this pattern.  The beginning charts with the diamonds were hard for me and I despised them, but once those are out of the way, this is such an enjoyable knit.  I really like the double yarn-over rows!  The peacock feathers are surprisingly simple and I still smile triumphantly each time another row of completed feathers emerge.  Pretty, pretty!

I talked to my granny (the $500 phone call that actually cost $17) after the last Peacock post went live, and she is beyond excited that this is finally happening.  She's never bothered me about it not happening, and I've apologized profusely over the years about it not happening, but both of us were eager to see for it to happen, so we're both just a little ridiculously excited that it is finally happening and not kicking my butt.  Yippee all around!

I've decided that I will not add beads to this project.  The idea has been swimming in my head for a long time, but I've decided that beads would just be a little too much.  Given also that it's a long rectangle, adding beads on the ends will add weight to the ends and I think it will stretch and distort the lace pattern.  The pattern is fabulous without any extras added to it, so we're going to stay the course and knit it as written.  Goodness, do I love the color.

Chart #7 is the beginning of a bigger pattern of peacock feathers, so next month I'll be able to show you something new.  Yippee!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Weekly Report: September 8-12, 2014

Another week in Australia is finished.  We had our “Home Blessing Hour” this morning so that the house is a little nicer for when Michael stays home tomorrow, and I’m sitting down to type this blog post after doing some grocery shopping and filling up the cupboards.  Life is good.

It was a rough week.  Homesickness is really starting to rear its mournful little head, and all six of us are feeling a bit melancholy.  I’m missing my friends, easy access to crafting supplies, and just plain being comfortable with my surroundings.  I phoned my granny for a chat, and the connection was cut about fifty minutes into the call, and then I didn’t have any more credit to call her back.  I started with $500 of credit.  It’s about $10 a minute to phone the States on whatever plan we have that I did not choose.  Didn't know that.  I have since found out that my phone call did not cost $500, but rather $17.  Michael has $500 of credit on his phone, I had $17.  Not so big a deal anymore.  $17 per hour to phone the States.  Much better than $500.  At that time though, I was not feeling good about the situation.

Michael scheduled to have internet installed at the house, and we received our brand new internet router in the mail, and I settled in to be at home between the hours of eight and twelve for when the technician came to hook up everything.  I promised the kids we could go swimming after the internet guy left.  Twelve ‘o clock rolled around—we had lunch, and still no internet guy.  I was not comfortable with answering the door in my bathing suit, so we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Michael phoned about six that evening to let me know that the internet company had just phoned him to let him know that there are no internet lines available in our area, so there will be no internet for us.  By six it’s practically dark here, so no swimming that day either.  I was bummed, and the kids were bummed.  Boo to that day.

So how am I updating the blog without internet?  Well, I’m writing up my posts in my word processing program during the week, choosing my pictures and saving them in a special folder, and then I pack up the kids and my computer and we head into town to Michael’s work.  Once there, I set myself up in his office and “borrow” his company’s internet to schedule blog posts for the week.  Michael takes the kids to the drive-thru and they come back and we eat fast food in his office while I finish up my posts and writing back to people who have written throughout the week.  It works, so I guess I shouldn’t complain.  Don’t get mad at me when I don’t answer an email right away, BECAUSE I CAN’T.  Sometimes I receive emails on my phone at the house if all the wires are connected, there are no solar flares and there’s not a cloud in the sky, and Zeus is feeling amicable that morning, but it’s a rarity.

The kids are not happy that they’re going to miss Halloween, and they’re starting to really miss our pets and their friends.  I was thinking about throwing our own Halloween celebration here, but the more I think about it, the more odd it seems.  It’s spring here, which is not the time to place pumpkins on the front step and serve spiced cider and pumpkin pie.  The whole concept is just completely out of sync with what’s going on weather-wise here.  Michael and I have an idea up our sleeves about Halloween—mostly just a diversion—that should satisfy the kids’ desires for something fun on October 31.

There are no yarn shops in or near our town.  And guess what?  Knit Picks doesn’t ship internationally.  And, as you know, I can’t browse the internet for Australian yarn shops for yarn either.  I need sock yarn.  And needles.  I can’t sit still in the car, so I want to start a pair of socks because lace knitting and hand sewing are both a no-go for me with the motion of the vehicle we have here.  But I can rock the plain knit that’s required for a sock.  That’s all I want.  But no.  No yarn for me.

Which, you know, is probably for the best because, unbeknownst to us when we signed the rental papers, this house doesn’t have a dryer.  Every single thing I wash has to be line-dried.  My apologies to those of you who love the smell of laundry dried on the line, or love the idea of being so green and environmentally responsible, but I would never, ever choose to line dry my clothes.  EVER.  And now I’m forced into the practice.  I will concede a little bit and say that the sight of white bed linens waving in the breeze beneath palm trees is a rather idyllic scene that stops me in my tracks for a moment.  That is pretty.  But I have to start doing the laundry EVERY DAY by about 7:30 so that I can hope to get through the minimum three loads each day before bedtime.  (And, to stop the “Good gracious, what are you washing every day?!?!” questions, I will tell you:  1st: Bedding, 2nd: Cold clothing, 3rd: Towels [remember that pool in our backyard?] or Whites or Warms)  Six people make a lot of  laundry, especially now that those “babies” and “toddlers” are getting to be rather big kids.

Deep breath.

Alright, so that’s all out there.  This move isn’t perfect.  And that is totally OK.  There are so many things that make it OK:

It's not quite the type of picture I want to use to share
what the sunsets are like, but it's pretty nonetheless.
The sunsets here are amazing.  On those drives into town to do my frenzied blogging, I sometimes feel like I can barely breathe because my heart is so full with the beauty of the sunset over the sugar cane fields.  We get gorgeous sunsets in Utah, but they’re different here in a “liquid gold” kind of way.  That’s the best description I can give you.  I hope to schedule some time to try to capture it on film so I can at least try to convey the beauty to you all through photos.

The break from the internet is actually kind of nice.  I’m slowly falling more and more out of the Facebook loop, and the world is not ending.  When I am able to log on, I’m mostly annoyed that I’m wasting my time reading stuff that doesn’t matter to me.  How much time have I wasted scrolling past people’s random quiz results, political rants, and complaints about how long their work days are?  (But then there’s a crafterly friend who posts a work-in-progress, and I’m all like, “Woot, woot for Facebook and its awesomeness that allows me to stay updated on my friends’ projects!”)  And my “blog post evening” is something the kids and I look forward to—it’s like a family date at Michael’s work!  The kids think it’s awesome to hang out in Dad’s office, mostly because he keeps a stash of snacks and treats for them and lets them watch funny cat videos on You Tube while we’re there.  I’m not sure how much he enjoys it though…we’re quite an intrusion into his space.

The pool is wonderful, and the kids are practically swimming already.  I see nothing but good from this, as long as I keep everything locked down and safe.  It’s nice to have “fun time” scheduled into our school day a couple days a week, where I’m not drilling or supervising skills that the kids don’t like doing.  We’re just playing together.  We don’t get a lot of that at home.  It’s always reminding them to practice piano, to do their chores, to clean their rooms, to get ready for practice, to re-do that assignment because it’s sloppy, to please brush their hair and teeth, etc.  Without all the outside commitments we normally have, there is time to play in the pool for an hour or two in the afternoon.  I’m not saying I want to permanently change things around to allow this all the time (musical instruments and sports are good things), but it’s nice to take a break and be able to just hang out for a season.  I’ve felt like the “little kids” portion of our lives together has been slowly sealing off, so it’s nice to take a breather before we plunge into the “big kids” part with all its hormones and drama.

No yarn shop…sucks.  All I need is sock yarn and needles.  I’m not going to pretend to be a bigger person over this.

This part is going to sound boastful:  I’m realizing that I’m good at my job I’m here with no dryer, no cookbooks, and hardly any curriculum, but it’s all working out just fine.  I can work the extra time for laundry into my day; and, oddly enough, the laundry being harder to do has made me more consistent about making sure it’s done.  You skip a day this way and it hurts, badly.  Laundry is just too easy at home, I guess.  It turns out that I’m a good cook and that the past eleven-and-a-half years of cooking has settled somewhat permanently in my brain.  I can recall recipes without needing to look at them, and I’m using techniques to make food, rather than blindly following a cookbook.  I feel like some sort of Kitchen Wizard!  And school is going just fine with our pared-down school day working off of the barest offerings of curriculum.  I spend a lot of time mentally berating myself over what I don’t get done, and how what I do get done doesn’t measure up to my own expectations.  But I’m looking around here and seeing that, perhaps, I’m better at this than I’ve led myself to believe.  It’s a nice feeling to feel successful.

Those internet troubles and line-dried laundry opened the doors of two of my neighbors’ homes.  One of them had a package that the delivery man left with me (because he saw me outside, hanging my laundry), and when I took it over to her that evening she asked me how I was adjusting.  It was the same day as the no-show internet guy, and I was really upset about it all, so I just said, “The no internet thing has been tough.”  She could not believe we had been here this long with no internet; and, even though we had met for the first time only two minutes before that moment, marched me over to another house in the cul-de-sac to meet another neighbor who was more “tech-smart” than herself.  They could not believe we had no internet, and a heart-warming twenty minutes of introductions and talking began.  They are super friendly, and they’ve been looking forward to us moving in.  They’ve loaned us scooters for the kids, and they have grandkids who will be visiting soon that really want to play with our kids.  They’ve offered their own computers and privacy to Skype with our family back home should it all become too much.  They’re wonderful, wonderful people.  Maybe that’s why we’ve had to have such hard luck with this “no internet thing”—not having internet makes it more likely that I’ll leave my house and talk to other people in real life.

There’s always that point in a big trip where you get really, really down, and I think we’ve reached that point.  However, I’m not worried because the low point is the low point—things will probably start perking up a bit soon.  Adjustments won’t seem so hard, and the different nature of various things here might just start to become automatic.  It is drop-dead gorgeous here, so whenever it really starts to feel like too much, I go outside and look up.  There’s something about palm trees and the sun burning down from a bright blue sky that just calms you.  I remind myself to take a breath and feel grateful for the tropical landscape outside my door because it’s temporary, just like the interruptions and challenges in my regularly-scheduled day.  Take a break, because this trip is a special opportunity to actually take a break, and those don’t happen to everyone.  Be thankful, be calm, re-focus.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

2014-2015 School Pictures

Miss Bluebird is in the fifth grade this year, heading out into the world of more independent work, and also more…work, period.  Her end-of-year test results were phenomenal last year, so what we’re doing is working splendidly.

According to the educational philosophy that I follow, she’s entering into the Dialectic, or “Logic,” Stage of development, which is characterized by the compulsion to point out the errors in everything.  (I’m finding this to be an apt description of life with Bluebird at the moment.)  This is the time to start a formal study of logic and reasoning.  I’ve started her on Mind Benders books, and she’s almost done with the entire year’s worth of workbooks at this point, a mere ten weeks into the school year.  Sigh.  It’s always like this.  I’m trying to decide whether or not to order more Mind Bender books (Read:  HUGE shipping costs), order the more formal logic texts (shipping), or wait until we get back to the States to move ahead more with any of this.

She’s doing her math mostly on her own each day, and doing well with that responsibility.  I’m trying to give her more writing-intensive assignments, as I think our studies haven’t involved enough writing.  She was full-on writing phobic during her early years, and I backed off in order to keep everyone alive.  I can see where that wasn’t a good idea; and yet, at the same time, I don’t think it will be too taxing for her to get back on track.  No more excuses, it’s the fifth grade.  She seems to have accepted this mandate, although she’s really not happy about the “everything needs to be in cursive from now on” rule.

Due to the restrictions of space, we did not bring all of our curriculum to Australia.  We left Latin and Grammar at home, along with most of our books because I planned to do a lot of writing (which can count as grammar-in-action) and I assumed I’d be able to find books at the local library to meet our needs.  However, we have next-to-zero access to the internet, so being able to browse the online catalog and reserve the needed titles is severely limited.  It’s impossible to do all that on the fly while at the library because I have a four-year old boy, so Bluebird’s literature selections have been widely varied thus far.  (Still crossing my fingers for some internet at home…)

Goals for this year include learning to swim (we have a pool at our house here in Australia, and I’ve devoted considerable time in our regular school day to being in the pool because it’s that important to me), becoming a more proficient writer, improving fine motor skills, and improving in the areas of spelling and math computation.

Penguin is in the third grade this year.  She’s supposed to start Latin, but yeah…we’ll pick that up when we get back home.

She’s on track in just about every subject, and her end-of-year test scores were very good last year.  We’re just going to continue the course.  I’d like to include more writing for her as well.  Writing’s important, and I’m sensing that we should put a little more effort into her reading comprehension skills, which will mean being better about narrations and dictations.

This kid is easy to teach.  She listens quietly, asks questions when she doesn’t understand, ploughs through her work on her own without needing reminders to focus, tackles her chores, and then heads out to play.  No drama, no obstinacy.  With Bluebird being so intense at times, and Junebug apparently lacking any sort of ability to sit still, I am so incredibly grateful that Penguin is such an easy student to work with.

Goals for this year include learning to swim, becoming a better writer, and improving in the areas of reading comprehension and math computation.

Junebug is a first grader.  I keep thinking she’s in Kindergarten, and I have to remind myself to expect more out of her school-wise. 

None of my kids have been reading by the beginning of the first grade, and Junebug is no exception.  She has actively fought me on learning to read, and I’ve backed off until now.  It’s first grade now, and that means learning to read whether you like it or not.  We’ve really gone head-to-head on this, and I think she’s finally accepting that this is going to happen.  It feels like we’ve actually made some progress in the past couple weeks, for which I’ve breathed many a sigh of relief.

She does fine in all her subjects, so the main focus with her is getting her reading as soon as possible.

Goals this year include learning to swim, learning to read proficiently, and cleaning up her letter formations.

And then there's The Boy, Mr. Monkeyboy himself.  He's in his last year of preschool, and he loves school so, so much.

We're working through Saxon K, and it's way easy for him.  We're also doing Letter of the Week and beginning phonics.  I'll ask him to do a lot of cutting and coloring this year, in preparation for beginning penmanship next year.  And, of course, lots of read alouds together.  Gotta get those snuggles in before he grows up too much!

Goals for this year include learning to swim, learning all the sounds of the alphabet, and finishing Saxon K.

I've got my hands full, but it's all good.  Happy New School Year to you all!

Want to take a trip down Memory Lane?  Click here for last year's Back to School portraits.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Penguin's a Paper Piecer!

Penguin adores paper-pieced hexagons, so much that she’s taken on the goal of making her own needle case out of the shapes.  She came across a little packet of pre-cut hexagons and hexagon templates at the local quilt shop a few weeks back, and set off determined:

I think she’s doing some pretty good work, especially when you consider her age.  When she assembled this full hexie “flower,” she was over-the-moon proud of herself.  (Her “pleased” smile is so adorable!)  She could barely contain her excitement as I carefully tied off her thread, and then she asked if I’d take her picture and post it on the blog so family could see her work.

So there you go, family and friends, Penguin is officially an EPP-er!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Weekly Report: September 1-5, 2014

We’re ambling along.

Since we have no access to the internet at our house, the kids do a couple different keys of their Math Wrap-Ups each morning instead of their usual XtraMath.  Junebug is studying her +2 math facts at the moment, so she goes through that particular key a couple times each day.  It’s working out rather well.

A big moment this week:  Junebug read a traffic sign all on her own!  We were heading into town to pick up Michael from work, and as I got onto the highway on-ramp, Junebug squealed in the backseat, “That sign says ‘Exit!’”  When we arrived into town, she again squealed, “That sign says ‘Stop!’”  Ladies and gentlemen, I think we’ve arrived at the place where the phonics start making sense.  (Which is good, because I was arriving at the place of “When is this going to start making sense with this kid?!?!”)

Math takes up all my time these days, which I was expecting because I have a kid in Saxon K, Saxon 1, AND Saxon 3.  That Saxon 1 & 3 combo is awful.  I remember when we went through it with Bluebird and Penguin two years ago, and I knew I’d despise it when it happened again with Penguin and Junebug.  Oh, the time spent on this everyday is just demoralizing.  The last time through, it was because Bluebird fought me on every. single. little. thing.  This time, it’s because Junebug will. not. sit. still.  Junebug’s also not reading yet, so I have to read every question aloud on her worksheets.  I know I’ve had to do that with both Bluebird and Penguin before, so I’m trying not to get hung up on it, but man, lots of time spent on Junebug’s lessons each day.  The girl can’t sit in one spot for more than seven seconds. 

Thankfully, Bluebird is pretty much self-contained, math-wise.  She heads off to her room or the living room and just sits down and reads over her Saxon 6/5 lesson herself and then does the assignment.  Once you get past Saxon 3, your teaching schedule opens up considerably.  I grade her stuff once a week, and she’s sitting in the 88-95% range on her assignments.  I will happily accept that.  (Actually, I might break into a little song and dance if I think no one’s watching…)

We had an amusing moment when Penguin discovered that her penmanship assignment for the day included a picture of a kangaroo and the word “Queensland” for practice

Random aside:  Yes, we’ve seen kangaroos.  Quite often, actually.  I originally thought they were like deer in the USA, but I’m starting to believe that kangaroos are far more common than deer.  We see a few of them every week, usually in little herds of three to seven.

Sadly though, we also see lots of them in various states of decomposition on the side of the road; and we happened upon a very fresh accident a few nights back where the fresh ‘Roo was lying in the middle of the road and the smell of burnt tire rubber was heavy in the air as the driver of the offending vehicle stood on the side of the road looking very, very horrified.  Penguin was quite distressed by the scene, and the rest of the car ride home had us discussing the event, until a kangaroo jumped out in front of our car while we were at a stop sign and hopped nonchalantly past us, across the street and into the night.  Penguin cheered up considerably after that close encounter.

Monkeyboy is enjoying preschool.  He’s also started drawing pictures; his latest fascination being the members of his family.  I about died from the cuteness of his portrait of Penguin:

Bluebird’s latest fascinations are making fun of my yarn habit, and Vikings:

And, not because it’s important, but because it makes me happy, my flower bouquet from this week:

There’s a little stand beside the road going into Bargara that sells flowers only on Fridays.  It warms my heart to see that little family out there, so I’ve decided to try my best to treat myself to a bouquet each week.  These were fragrance-free lilies, which I loved because I think perfumed lilies smell like pee.  I’m looking forward to the selections in the coming weeks!

I hope your weeks were lovely, and that your weekends are wonderful!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Vera Scarth-Johnson Wildflower Reserve

If you can believe it, I have managed to take the kids on a nature hike that they have declared “even worse” than the anti-climatic trek at Sharon Gorge.  This time it was to the Vera Scarth-Johnson Wildflower Reserve, a spot that I really thought would be rather idyllic and gorgeous, but alas, I was quite wrong.

You see, the problem is that it’s winter here.  I keep forgetting that, and I’m pretty sure that all these flowery descriptions of these trails are based upon what you’re going to see in the spring and summer months.  What we’re seeing right now is that lovely gray (but kind of green) and mostly dead (but not really) end-of-winter scenery that my kids aren't really excited about.  I’ve made a mental note to return to this spot in another month or so, as I have great faith that it will be much more pleasing to the eye at that time.

Nevertheless, we did go on the walk, and there were some interesting and new-to-us species of flora all around us.  Namely, the weird “scruffy clam cone” trees:

I’d tell you what they were if I had regular access to the ol’ internet, but I don’t, so we all get to remain puzzled as to the species of tree.  It was a weird landscape to behold, lemme tell ya—the white sand trail and these stark trees standing against the piercing blue sky while a lonely wind pushed around it all.  It was weird to be in a place that felt so desolate and so barren, and yet be surrounded, almost suffocated, by all these plants.  It was a very eery place.

We saw some flowers...

Once again, there was the promise of a river at the end of the trail; and it was a promise I dangled out in front of the Brookelets while they complained incessantly about the boring-ness of the landscape and how long the trail was, and how thirsty they were, and, and, and…I reminded them that the last river had been quite pretty, and that the view across the river had been rather lovely, and that it would be cooler by this next river and a nice little rest before we headed back.  We came to the end of the trail and saw this:

And that is how you score an “even worse than the last one” grade—when you promise your kids a river, make them walk through a mosquito-infested patch of scratchy trees, and end up presenting them with a scorched expanse of shrubbery where the river was supposed to be.  You’re welcome.  Enjoy it.  Love, Mom.
The odds of the next hike being better are enormously in my favor, don’t you think?

Although we did find a burrow of some sort, and I earned even more demerits by not allowing them to crawl into the hole, or throw rocks into the hole, or poke sticks into the hole.  You’re welcome.  Enjoy full use of your limbs and eyesight.  Love, Mom.

All in all, I enjoyed the little hike, and I’m immensely interested in finding out what those scruffy clam cone tree things are.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Star Spangled Headache of Personal Liberation

The only quilty project I brought with me to Australia is Junebug’s eventual bed quilt, affectionately named the “Star Spangled Diamonds Quilt” because it (originally) was made only from Riley Blake’s “Star Spangled” fabric collection, and it’s made out of sixty degree diamonds, pieced together EPP style.  (I expect no admiration for my naming skills on this one.)

It was to be my (ironic) Australian masterpiece, making use of my time down under to hand piece seventy-two blocks out of brilliantly American-patriotic fabric—as my time here is time without access to a sewing machine.

(Funny aside:  When I asked our “relocation specialist” if it would be possible to bring my sewing machine with me to Australia, she actually laughed out loud and asked me why I would want to do that.  “I quilt,” I replied.  “Oh,” she said, “Well, why don’t you treat this trip as a vacation rather than keeping up on house work?”
I made some sort of agreeable murmur in response, so shocked I was that she would even assume quilting was some sort of obligatory chore I had to do.  I’d forgotten, what with my past decade surrounded by the Maker Movement and amazing fellow crafters, that not everyone looks upon creative pursuits as enjoyable ventures.  And while it’s true that, based upon the state of our luggage’s contents when we arrived in Aus, my sewing machine was better left at home, I am missing it sorely every day.  House work.  Sigh.)

So I have this immense, entirely pieced-by-hand project; which is totally OK because I have no sewing machine.  The timing is perfect! 

The timing, yes; the execution…well, not so much.

While smugly pleased with how my life had ironed out so neatly to allow for all this hand piecing, and looking forward to my six months of blissful stitching, I had an entire house to pack up into suitcases and put everything else in storage.  I packed up my craft room first, seeing how I knew exactly what I needed in our new home, creativity-wise.  Easy peasy, pack it up.  First.  Then pack everything else on top of it, around it, and in front of it.  The craft room’s contents are contained in boxes in the farthest corner of the basement, with bookshelves, clothing, and furniture stacked neatly around them all.

Which was fine until I realized, after arriving in Australia, that I was fast running out of my main fabric—the mostly white prints that make up the stars in each block—and upon taking a moment to do a quick count, I realized that I was indeed short on those fabrics by more than half.  In fact, I only had about one third of the needed amount.  One third, because I only cut the same amount of white as the colors, momentarily forgetting that there are six white diamonds in each block, and only two of each color.  I have all I need (and then a little extra) of the red, aqua, and blue fabrics, but the main fabrics are short by two thirds and, even if I could remember exactly which box those fabrics were packed away in and could describe it to our house sitters, it’s in the farthest corner of my basement, hedged in by almost everything we OWN.

[Insert an entire week of silent fury at myself for being such a smug little idiot.]

So, as I came to the eventual acceptance of my situation, I decided I had a few options:
1.       Have the house sitters find my original fabric.  (Highly unlikely.)
2.       Buy more Star Spangled fabric and pay the ridiculous shipping to have it shipped to me in Australia.  (Bank account difficulties make this near impossible right now.)
3.       Put the project aside until we returned home.  (Then what the heck else am I going to do with my fidgety self while we’re here?!?!  And, remember, the timing was perfect for this project!)
4.       Buy some low volume white fabric here in Australia and just grin and bear the fact that the fabric would no longer be mostly from the “Star Spangled” fabric collection.  (Oh, heart…everything will be OK…I think.)

You see, somewhere along the journey of immersing myself into this quilting world that exists nowadays, I’ve picked up on the sentiment that staying within a particular fabric collection will draw more attention to your work.  I see all these beautiful quilts being made from single fabric collections, which guarantees perfect color coordination and theme incorporation in fabric choices.  I like that.  I also like that this kind of perfect color harmony appears to afford more pins, comments, likes, and awards.  And I’m of the opinion that this particular quilt could be a serious contender at the next county fair, what with the hand piecing and theme.  (Patriotic counts for a lot at fairs!)

With a resigned heart in regards to my quilt’s descent into obscurity, I made my way (on the left-hand side of the road) to the local quilt shop here in Bundaberg.  When the kids asked what we were doing, I sighed and said that I’d left Junebug’s quilt’s fabric at home in the States, and that we were going to try to find some replacement fabric here in Australia.  “We get to buy fabric for my quilt in Australia?!?!” Junebug squealed, “That’s SO COOL!  I’m going to have Australia fabric in my quilt!”  And she skipped into the store, eager to begin the hunt.

We found two mostly white polka dot prints straight away, although I didn’t really want to get the red and pink polka dot fabric because pink broke with the whole “red, white and blue” thing we had going on in the quilt.  “But Mom,” Junebug frowned, “the pink dots are pretty, and there aren’t a lot of them.”  Sigh.  Alright.

We came across some plaids and ginghams, but those received an instant thumbs-down from Junebug.  “What is wrong with plaid?” I asked, while simultaneously trying to smother Monkeyboy’s hands within my own in an attempt to save all the thread, buttons and embroidery floss from disastrous endings.  “I don’t know,” she said, “it’s just too square-y.”
“But it matches the whole ‘Fourth of July’ theme of your quilt,” I said, “it’s actually rather perfect.  See?  Picnic blanket fabric.”

She wrinkled her nose.  Fine, no plaid today.  Perhaps I could talk her into it at a later time.

And then we went head-to-head over the next fabric choice.  While it technically had a white background, it was a floral print teeming with not only pink, but also yellow and green.  “This fabric does not match your quilt,” I said, breathing hard as I struggled to keep Monkeyboy on my hip, “put it back on the shelf and let’s look for something that matches better.  There’s no yellow or green or pink in your quilt.  It doesn’t go.  Put it back.”  Junebug, who had spotted the bolt on her own and brought it to me with triumph shining in her eyes, cast her eyes down upon the fabric in her hands, running her palm over the print, tracing the flowers with her beautiful little fingers before murmuring to herself, “But it’s so pretty.”

And that was the moment that woke me up.  My adorable little girl, my first grader missing one of her front teeth, had found something she thought was beautiful and I was shutting her down based upon the imagined opinions of complete strangers.  The fabric WAS pretty; on any other day I’d buy a yard of the stuff based simply upon its eye candy merits.  It would look lovely in anything, but it would completely destroy the cohesive look I was going for with this quilt.

This quilt…was her quilt.  Her quilt.  Her quilt that we had dreamed about and planned out together, with her input being the highest priority every step of the way.  (Why else would I ever, EVER agree to hand piecing an entire twin-sized quilt?!?!)

Pins and ribbons be damned.

I whisked that bolt of fabric out of her arms just as she was turning to take it back to the shelf.  “You’re right,” I said, “it is pretty.  How about we get twice as much of this one as the others?”

The gap-toothed smile she gave me was all I needed to know that I’d made the right choice.

 It really is pretty.

Rundown for the month of August:  I whipped out twelve more blocks, smashing my record of five blocks in both June and July.  I now have twenty-two blocks done, only fifty more to go.  (That’s 30% done, people!  Woot woot!)

Goals for SeptemberI’d like to piece at least ten more blocks, and hopefully get one whole quadrant of the quilt pieced together (eighteen blocks).  I had to divide up all my “original” white stars into four piles so that the fabrics will be distributed evenly throughout the quilt; so, although I have more than eighteen blocks at the present, I can’t piece them together.  Once I get enough “new” white stars put together to add up to eighteen in one section, I can start assembling.

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