Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Josefina & Jeffery Elephant Rug Crochet Pattern Review!

April in her elephant hat I made her.
With the arrival of someone very new and special in my life, I was inspired to make something  just as special and unique.  My niece, April Sue, was born on July 28th and is owed a blog post of her own.  I can't believe I haven't done it yet!

Anyway, back to my project!  I thought about making April a blanket.  There are so many cute blanket patterns out there.  But after thinking about that quite a bit, I decided that all new babies are inundated with tons of blankets, to the point the many just don't get used.  So I continued my hunt.  That's when I stumbled onto the Josefina & Jeffery Elephant Rug Crochet Pattern by Ira Rott.  I was awestruck.  The photos of this rug were just incredible!  It was so cute, I just couldn't help myself.  I knew it would look perfect in their yellow, gray, and white nursery.  I contacted Ira and offered to do a product review of her crochet pattern.  To my delight, she said yes!

Seriously!  Look at this thing!  How could I NOT love it!?
First off, let me just say that you can find this pattern and a zillion more adorable ones at Ira Rott's website.  This specific pattern can be found right here: Elephant Rug Pattern.  She also has a whole line of cute elephant things if you are looking to furnish a whole bedroom or nursery.

So off I went to the craft store to get my yarn.  The pattern suggested using Red Heart Super Saver yarn- 8 skeins.  I decided to use Caron One Pound yarn instead and needed 4 skeins (not counting a bit of whatever color you choose for the bow).

This pattern is made with a 9mm size M/N crochet hook and uses 3 strands of yarn held together the entire time.... That's right- THREE.  At first the thought of working with 3 strands of yarn scared me, but the very first thing the pattern does is point you towards a tutorial that teaches you how to crochet with 3 strands of yarn, all from one skein!  Say goodbye to tangles and knots.  This was an awesome  and easy technique to learn and I'm positive I'll use it again.  One little note about using 3 strands of yarn held together- it is kind of a workout.  I found that my hand and arm would get tired much more quickly compared to regular 1 or even 2 strand crocheting.  But it is definitely worth it when you feel the thick, sturdy rug you are producing! 

I was very impressed with the pattern.  I found the instructions to be clear and easy to follow and even the look of the pattern itself is so cute!  I loved the cheery colors, diagrams, photos, graphics... everything really.  There's some serious talent behind this.  The only place that I got at all confused was on the first ear.  It was not the pattern's fault- it was mine.  I was reading into it too much instead of just following the directions exactly as stated (repeating some things I shouldn't have been). After I realized what I was doing wrong and fixed it, it was smooth sailing.  The diagram was extremely helpful at that point, too, because I could take a look at exactly what kind of stich was supposed to be where.

Here's what April thought of her rug!
This rug is BIG!  Almost 5 feet across.  I looks amazing and everyone who I showed it too was so impressed.  It would make for an awesome gift, but after you finish it you won't really want to give it away.  It's just so cute.  As I mentioned before, it's nice and thick.  It is heavy and feels like it will withstand some abuse, though I don't think anyone will want to step on it- it's too cute.  The ears are perfectly intricate and give this rug the perfect touch of fanciness.  I love it. 

I'd like to thank Ira Rott for the opportunity to make this rug and review this lovely pattern.  It is truly a beauty!

Time for my pictures!

Well, what do you know?!  Mine looks pretty much like the one in the picture! :)

My completed rug and its new owner.  I know she'll treasure it for years to come.
Now that's a big rug!  The 4 month old doesn't even take up an ear!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Due Date! Due Date!

My little sister is a full 40 weeks pregnant with her first little one today!  We are all very anxiously awaiting his or her arrival.  She's asked me to take pictures for them in the delivery room, so I've been staying close by the phone waiting for 'the call'.  She called today to update me about this afternoon's doctor visit.  When my caller ID showed her name, I got super excited and thought she must be in labor!  She wasn't :/.  I told her that she is now banned from calling me until she is actually in labor and that she may only text me or Facebook message me!  I don't need that kind of false excitement in my life!

On July 8th, we threw a little shower for her and Joe.  We made it a coed BaByQ and it was a blast. We played just a few games, a relay, which was wild and competeitive, the standard 'guess the mother's girth' game, and a challenging nursery rhyme triva game.

Everybody had a lot of fun and Haley and Joe were given a lot of wonderful gifts to help them get ready for the baby, who I've dubbed 'Clyde' so far.

My little cousin (the one closest in age but about 16" taller than me) and his wife are also expecting their first baby!  He or she is due to arrive August 1st!  So within a week or two we'll have to new tiny members of the family.  It's a race now to see which one will make its appearance first.

Please keep my sister, brother-in-law, cousin, cousin-in-law and the babies in your prayers for safe (and soon) deliveries that result in happy, healthy babies!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Coin Connection: A Patterning Game

Recently I was contacted by someone from Education.com to see if I'd be interested with sharing a learning activity on my blog.  It sounded interesting, so I was happy they had asked!  They provided me with the instructions for an activity that strengthens math skills and helps them learn to analyze a problem.  My kids really love doing things with patterns, so I think this would be hit for most kids.

Here's the game!

Coin Connection: A Patterning Game
Lots of everyday objects can be fun, whether it’s buttons, beans, or LEGO blocks. But just because objects are fun to play with, doesn't mean they can't teach something, too! By creating patterns with objects, students begin to develop their algebraic thinking skills.

Here’s an activity that uses coins to build problem-solving strategies. With practice, students can use these “manipulatives” to discover lots of key mathematical concepts such as the commutative and associative properties, which will underly addition and multiplication work for years to come.

What You Need:
Table or other flat surface

What You Do:
  1. Model a repeating pattern  using pennies and nickels. You can show a series of two pennies, 1 nickel, or a similar pattern. Ask your child to name your pattern.
  2. Ask your child to extend your pattern by adding what comes next. If your pattern shows two pennies, one nickel, two pennies, one nickel, two pennies; then one nickel comes next. Allow your child to place the nickel after the two pennies.
  3. Add to the challenge. This time set up a repeating pattern showing pennies, dimes, and quarters. Place the coins on the table to show the first two repetitions. You might try something like penny, penny, dime, quarter, quarter. This series shows an ABC pattern, which is a bit more challenging. Ask your child to name the pattern you created. Now have your child extend this pattern by placing the coins on the table to show the next repetition.
  4. Explore some more.  Set this series of coins in a row on the table: one nickel, two pennies, one nickel, three pennies, one nickel, four pennies. Discuss this pattern with your child. Ask him what part of the pattern remained the same (the nickel). Ask him what part changed (the number of pennies).
  5. Let your child experiment! Set him to work independently. Ask an open-ended question like,  “How could you use these four types of coins to make a different pattern?” Encourage him to show you the patterns.
All mathematics is based on patterns, and because generations of mathematicians have clarified their observations, we also know that patterns can even become formulas that underly much more complicated mathematics work in grades to come. There’s a danger, though, in learning the formulas without anchoring them in hands-on discoveries like this exercise: kids may do math “by the rules,” but have no idea how or why. Any time you let your kid practice sequences, make new ones, and think it all over, you are building habits and ways of thinking that can support math success for years to come.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Our Quail are Here!

It's a boy! And a girl! And a girl! And 12 more boys! And 7 more girls! And...

Actually, I have no idea how many boys and girls I have yet, but our quail are here! To refresh your memory, I was incubating 46 Jumbo Coturnix quail eggs. We noticed our first little pips (cracks or holes at the beginning of a hatch) on the morning of May 10th, and by that afternoon around 3:40, our first quail had hatched! It was so adorable and so tiny. Soon later it had a whole lot of brothers and sisters, too! Our final count was 36 successfully hatched quail, which was a hatch rate of 78%.  I'm very happy with that!

Lots of excited viewers!

My son was so excited about our impending hatch that he asked to invite his friend over to watch. He and his sister both came and enjoyed watching- especially his sister.

Here is the video of our first 2 hatching!

Here is the second video update a couple hours later.

I made one more video update yesterday. The quail have now moved from their little starter brooder, which was a plastic tote, and into a large cardboard box. They are 6 days old today and are doing wonderfully.

Check out this photo of their wing development as of today!  I can't believe how fast that start to feather out. All that feather makes for a lot of adorable jumping around and flapping, too. I just love to watch them run and play. It's like they are even surprised and impressed by their new abilities!

Most people who raise quail raise them in hutches, or small cages. I personally don't care for that idea. I wanted to give mine the opportunity to live on the ground, in a more natural environment. We are currently building them a beautful, large enclosure that is coming along great. I can't wait to get it finished up and move them into their new home!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Brennan's Adorable Acrostic Poems

My little man has been learning about acrostic peoems in school. This was the little poem book he made at school.  There are two poems- one about himself and one about our cat.

Brennan is
Really fun
Excited to play
Nise to people
Needs help sometimes
Always fast
North American

Rocky is
Only three
Crazy about
Kinds of toys
Yarn loving

I think he did such a good job and that the poems are so cute!  I think that the North American part is definitely my favorite. :)

Our New Pet Journey!

For a long time now, I've been fighting the city in an attempt to get them to change their ordinance to allow for backyard chickens.  I was hopeful that they would see the light and give it a chance.  But... no such luck.  They didn't.  We had 3 councilmen vote in our favor and needed only one more.  This was our second attempt, so for now, I'm done fighting.  Maybe someday when we get a new council I will try it again.

As disappointing as this all is, I've come up with a solution that will work for me and my family.  We will be raising Jumbo Brown Coturnix Quail!  I did MANY hours of research to prepare for this new adventure and feel prepared and ready to go.  Quail are not mentioned as farm animals in our city's ordinance are are not specifially mentioned anywhere.

Last Saturday, Ryan drove me to Osseo, WI to pick up 40 quail hatching eggs.  The seller actually included an extra 6 eggs, so we came home with 46 new would-be quail!  I got them all rested, sanitized, and placed into the incubator.  Now it's been a week and everything still looks good.  I've been DYING waiting.  It seems like it's been so much longer than a week and I absolutely can't wait to see them hatch on or around May 10th.  How many do you think will hatch?  I really don't know what to expect- always a mystery.

Expect to see some cool hatching photos and/or videos as well as some pictures of tiny, fuzzy, adorable babies soon!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Our Florida Vacation

At the end of January, we took a family vacation to Florida, with the main event being a visit to Disney World.  While it didn't all play out the way I had planned or pictured, it was still a good trip overall and it was very fun seeing the kids experience and enjoy so many new things.

Day .5- January 23rd, 2017: After Ryan came home from work, we packed up the car and headed up

to the Twin Cities.  We were spending the night at Ryan's parents house, so that we wouldn't need to get up quite so early in the morning to get to the airport.  After the kids were in bed and Ryan and I were just chatting with his Mom and Dad, the phone rang and his Mom, Mary, had to hurry out of the house.  It turns out that our nephew had sustained a concussion with whiplash and spent all night in the E.R. so Mary spent the night at their house with 2 of the grandkids.  She got back home just as we were walking out the door in the morning.  As of now, 3 full weeks later, he is still experiencing symptoms of his concussion and is continuing to heal.

Day 1- January 24th, 2017: We're off!  We got to the airport nice and early, shortly after 6am.  We checked our bags without a hitch and walked right through security with absolutely no wait.  We found our gate, went and got some breakfast and kill a little time. We got back shortly before it was time to board.  The flight was smooth, the kids thought takeoff was cool, but were a little bored by the rest of the flight, and we arrived in Orlando early.  Things

slowed down a little bit from there.  Getting our rental car took a bit longer than it should have, but still, everything went smoothly.  We picked up our Disney tickets, stopped for a few groceries and headed to the apartment we had rented.  We got all unpacked and settled in, then took the kids to the main building to play a little pool.  It felt great to be there and the weather felt wonderful.

Day 2- January 25th, 2017: To my horror, my biggest fear for this trip came true.  Bryleigh woke up in the middle of the night with the stomach flu.  She spent the night feeling awful and the rest of us felt awful for her.  Instead of going to the Magic Kingdom like we planned, we spent the day taking it pretty easy while she recovered.  Ryan took Brennan to a really cool

park while Bryleigh and I stayed back and watched a movie.  By late afternoon, she was feeling well enough that we made the hour drive to Cocoa Beach so that the kids could see the ocean.  Bry was definitely still moving really slowly and had not eaten much of anything be she was still able to enjoy it.  The ocean was beautiful.  The kids had fun running in and out of the waves (they insisted on swim suits even though it wasn't really warm enough) and sinking their feet into the sand.  We picked up some shells and took some pictures.  They were impressed by just how salty the water was!  We made it back to our apartment and got everybody cleaned up and put to bed.

Day 3- January 26th, 2017: Finally we made it to the Magic Kingdom! We knew that we wanted to stay for the light show and fireworks, so we went a little after the park opened. The kids were very impressed by Cinderella's castle and had fun riding rides!  Brennan's ride highlight for the day was Space Mountain while Bryleigh loved Big Thunder Mountain. They also had fun meeting several characters and getting autographs in their books.  Their Gigi & JuJu (my parents) had sent some money with each of them to pick out something special they they really wanted.  They both found that something special.  Bryleigh found a Little Mermaid bubble wand that lights up and plays music and fell in love with it.  Brennan spotted another boy with a stuffed

chameleon (Pascal from Tangled) and knew instantly that it was what he wanted.  So we had to track down where in the park to find that specific animal- we had success!  The day went pretty fast, but we sure did wish we had a double stroller!  There was a lot of lap riding and debating about who got to rid or who got a piggyback, or who had to walk.  Needless to say, we decided that a trip to Walmart for an umbrella

stroller for the rest of the week was in order! The fireworks show was awesome, and Bry was in awe of how Tinkerbell flew out of the castle and over the crowd.  She kept calling for her to come back!  Getting out of the park after the fireworks was fairly slow, but about what we expected.  The kids were totally zonked by the time we made it back to the apartment and sleep felt goooood.

Day 4- January 27th, 2017: This was our day at the Animal Kingdom.  We
started off with two strollers, so that helped a lot!  Bryleigh was excessively tired, so she ended up taking one or two little naps throughout the day.  We saw the Tree of Life and Mt. Everest, which are both so cool.  We saw a couple of different shows- Finding Nemo and The Festival of the Lion King, which were totally different but both really great.  We went to "It's Hard to be a Bug" underneath the Tree of Life, which was our mistake of the day!  The kids were terrified of the short hornet part (I didn' know about
that!!) after their wasp swarming a couple of summer ago and were crying

and begging to leave. We got through it, got the kids back to feeling better, and went on with our day!  I think our favorite thing we did all day was the safari ride. We saw a ton of different animals and it was a really cool ride.  When we got off of that ride, we let the kids each pick out a stuffed animal from a little shop nearby.  Brennan picked a rhinocerous and named it Thickhorn, and Bryleigh picked a cheetah and named it Tigie. The animals are adorable and such a fun way to remember that awesome highlight of the day.

Day 5- January 28th, 2017: The nightmare continues!  Brennan now got sick during the night and we spent another miserable stretch of hours just trying to get through it.  I felt so terrible for him- for all of us!  We did kind of a reverse of the day that Bryleigh was sick and she went to the park with Daddy while Brennan and I stayed back and rested.  It was rough and definitely brought us all down.

Day 6- January 29th, 2017: Brennan did fine overnight and was feeling ok the next day, but definitely still very weak and slow. We decided to head to Hollywood Studios because we knew we would be watching a lot more shows there, riding very few rides, and that the park was smaller for walking around.  We saw several shows that were very enjoyable- The Voyage of the Little Mermaid, The Frozen Sing-Along, Indiana Jones, and Disney Junior Live on Stage.  I would have loved to see Beauty and the Beast, as well, but Brennan was so exhausted and it was so chilly that day that we decided to just go back and rest instead.  One of our highlights from the day was meeting Moana.  The kids are very into the new Moana movie!

Day 7- January 30th, 2017:  Epcot day! Ryan and I both love Epcot.  It is probably our favorite park of all. Everybody was feeling good, so we were ready for a great day!  We made excellent use of our fast passes which allowed us to do everything we wanted to do at Epcot.  We made sure to be at the park when it opened.  Then the first thing we did was zoom over to Test Track. We walked right onto the ride, which was so awesome! The kids absolutely loved it and wanted to ride it again, but we had already decided to head over and ride the Frozen ride that was in Norway in the World Showcase.  We know that the lines for that get just insane. We ended up waiting for around 20 or 25 minutes, but got to ride that one, too. Shortly later, we had a fast pass for Soarin' so we got on that quickly as well. It was chilly in the morning to start, but got pretty nice throughout the day.  We spent a lot of time doing all of the other rides we wanted to do- Living with the Land, Ellen's Energy Adventure, The Seas with Nemo, Spaceship Earth, Pixar Short Film Festival, and of course, playing with the jumping water.  We also got to meet Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy, too. After we had used all of our fast passes, we were able to request one more fast pass to Test Track so we could go back and enjoy that one more time.  We ended up staying almost all day- long enough that it was dark by the time we left and go to see the ball all lit up.  It's so beautiful and the kids thought it was so cool.  Epcot was a great day!

Day 8- January 31st, 2017: With our last Disney tickets, we went back to the Magic Kingdom.  The weather was beautiful again!  We repeated a few of our favorite rides- Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, and also did a few new things like rode the Peoplemover and did the Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor.  The only ride that we didn't get on that we had really wanted to was the Seven Dwarves Mine Train.  There was always a very long line for it and we were not able to ever get a fast pass
for it.  Oh well! We soaked up the sun and made the day a little more relaxed since it was more of a repeat day. We stayed at the park until early afternoon and then headed back to get packed up for the trip home.Daddy volunteered to pack up our stuff while I took the kids to the pool.  With the weather the way it was and the circumstances of the trip, we hadn't been to the pool yet!  At least we got there for one swim.  The kids had a great time splashing around I enjoyed feeling the sun on my skin and a little dip in the hot tub with the kids, too. We made sure to get to bed at a decent time because we knew we'd have to get up and moving in the morning.  The last thing we would want to do is miss our flight!

Day 9- February 1st, 2017:  Home is calling!  We got moving with plenty of time to spare, just in case it took longer than anticipated to return the rental car or catch our shuttle to the airport.  It did take a lot longer to get the rental car originally.  Luckily, this time the whole thing was quick and easy.  We made it to the airport with plenty of time.  As we were waiting in line to check our bags, I spotted a scale and told Ryan we should weigh our bags, just to make sure we were under weight.  Sure enough, they were over!  We spent 10 or 15 minutes redistributing weigh amongst our backpacks and the bags, but we were able to make it work.  We checked the bags, headed to our gate, and waited. The flight back was completely uneventful, and Ryan's sister arrived to pick us up and bring us to our car.  We had a lot of fun, but it felt great to be back in MN and nearly home.  When we actually got home, we found a banner on the garage that had been put there by my Mom.  She also had some flowers waiting inside on the counter!  What a great surprise and a great welcome home!