Timmy studies his scrambled cube for 15 seconds before the timer starts.

Last week, Timmy was on a team representing┬áhis elementary school at a regional Rubik’s Cube competition. It was his first experience, and was the first time his school had entered a team. Timmy was the only 4th grader, the rest of his team were 5th graders. While the team didn’t take home any prizes, they certainly are competitive and I’m sure all the students learned a lot.

Dave, Jacob, and I certainly learned a lot. We had never seen a competition like that! More »

13. April 2011 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,
My dear husband and me at the 135th anniversary Battle of Antietam Reenactment, September 1997.  Can you spot the one anachronism in the photo?  We joined about 35,000 fellow reenactors in the largest ever American Civil War reenactment to date.  Don’t expect a 150th Anniversary Antietam — no one stepped up to lead the planning efforts.

On April 12, 1861, 150 years ago today, the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, as the state militia attempted to take the fort from Federal troops.  While this “battle” itself didn’t result in any casualties — only two accidental deaths due to a Confederate cannon misfire and Union a 100-gun salute, the 2-day incident was the green flag for 4 years of intense fighting and strife that reshaped our nation.

Many of you know this already, but Dave and I are Civil War reenactors.  Perhaps I’m more accurate if I said “My husband and I WERE Civil War reenactors,” but I’m not ready to give it all up yet.  Let’s just say we’ve taken an 8 1/2 year hiatus since we’ve had our two sons.  We did one reenactment in spring 2004 when Jacob was about 18 months old.  Just a day trip, where we usually do weekend encampments.  I enjoy sewing the costumes, and we both really enjoyed a unique way to enjoy a weekend of camping and camaraderie with fellow American history fans.  I don’t know how many times the guys would be sitting around the campfire after a day of “battle”, passing around a flask of moonshine, discussing not sport scores or the federal budget, but rather whose historians’ interpretations of the battle diagrams of the skirmishes between Atlanta and Savannah are most accurate.

But with the war’s 150th anniversary coming up, and my husband being stationed east of the Mississippi River these next 2 years (if not longer!), there’s going to be plenty of opportunity to get back into the hobby, and we’re excited about the prospect.  We’ve been hauling around about 200 lbs. of uniforms, hoop skirts, tents, leather goods, and a replica Springfield Model 1861 musket from home to home all these years.

We’re even more excited about introducing our kids to the wonderful world of Civil War reenacting!  I have sewing patterns at the ready to make some handsome circa 1860s costumes for my boys.

I won’t go into Civil War history here, but I would like to bring to your attention some of the commemorative reenactment events on the calendar over the next four years.  The first significant combat action, the First Battle of Manassas or Bull Run*, will be reenacted July 23-24, 2011 in Prince William County, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.).  Word on the street is that the current economic and political climate is contributing to a lower-key approach to the celebrations, with lectures and walking tours leading the list of commemorative activities, more so than the all-out reenactments.

*Many of these battles are known by two separate names.  The Union Army leans towards geographical features for names, such as Bull Run, the creek that ran through the battlefield.  The Confederates used the names of nearby towns and cities, such as Manassas.  You’ll see other examples of this with Antietam Creek v. Sharpsburg (Maryland), Pittsburg Hills v. Shiloh (Tennessee), and Sabine Crossroads v. Mansfield (Louisiana).

12th Connecticut Volunteers at a reenactment in Narcoossee, Florida, Spring 2004.

I don’t think the First Battle of Manassas will be on our summer travel itinerary this year, but we are looking at other 150th anniversary events during our two years on the Florida Panhandle that might fit our travel schedules.  Shiloh is definitely a finalist (late March 2012)!  It’s easy to do web searches for smaller reenactments near you.  Websites such as the Camp Chase Gazette and Civil War Traveler have extensive information on reenactments, and the Civil War Traveler webpage even has special designators on the 150th anniversary events.  Here are some other key reenactments that will probably do something special for their 150th anniversaries:

Events are also being planned for western and even the Pacific theaters and the calendar links above can tell you more about that.

13. January 2008 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

So…how many of you know that I knit? A show of hands…don’t be shy.

A few of you — probably those who received some of my handiwork as Christmas gifts or baby shower gifts, right? What you probably didn’t know is that my dear Mom taught me to knit when I was about 10 years old, and I was happily making baby doll blankets and pot holders for a couple years. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out casting on/off, or any other stitches besides the basic knit…so I didn’t keep the interest much beyond age 12 or so.

“How the @#$%^& do you find the time to knit???? You’re keeping up with 2 kids, working part time, blogging like mad, making Whoopie Pies and bad potato dumplings!”

Easy, I ONLY knit when I’m either (a) sitting on my ass in front of the TV in the evenings after the boys go to bed or (b) sitting on my ass in a moving vehicle. I did an entire baby blanket (Faith!) on a round trip on Amtrak between Cary, NC and NYC.

So why the recent resurgence? My church started up a Prayer Shawl Ministry summer 2006 and thanks to mill end 1lb. sacks of yarn at A.C. Moore, I was able to quickly make up about a 1/2 dozen or so simple shawls in the latter half of 2006. Before we knew it, the 10-12 ladies contributing were up to our ears in shawls and ended up slowing down our work. In the meantime, I was working on other projects to train myself on all those techniques that I didn’t have the motivation to learn as a teenager. The book “Knitting for Dummies” (again, thanks to my Mom) was great, too! I made up about 10 shawls and simple scarves for friends for Christmas in 2006.

I think 2007 was the year of the baby…I ended up knitting 7 baby afghans in 2007, they’ve ended up all over the place! Let’s see if I can recall: Steve and Heather B., Will and Casey B., Rich and Naomi W., John and Bethany H., Joe and Keri T., David and Dawn H., Paul and Faith T. I have two more in the queue…I hope to start on my next one next week for Baby Girl Courtemanche in St. Louis. I’ve my pink and purple yarn all ready to go.

What am I working on currently? Well, for the first time, I’m making something for my family. Dave asked if I could make up a simple afghan that would match our couch. Poor Dave, I’ve been squeezing the afghan in between all these baby blankets and plastic bag crochet projects (see below about the crochet). With this pattern, I’ve been practicing making cables (i.e., a pattern that looks like twisting rope). Here I am sitting on the couch with the almost-completed afghan. I think I have two more days worth of work. Now, in the lower right you can see a clump of the same pattern…I have two edge panels that will be attached to the final product that will make this pretty big when all’s said and done: about 48″ x 66″. Definitely my largest project ever!

I even started crochet recently — but that was in enthusiasm of a cool project I learned about back in October. The recycled plastic bag bag:

This is the last one I’ll be making for a while…unfortunately, each of these bags takes 100-125 plastic shopping bags from Target or Walmart or Food Lion, but I think it’s the ultimate message when it comes to recycling. It was unbelievable how quickly I cleared out my piles and piles of plastic bags and started soliciting friends for theirs. I was able to do 3 of them for this holiday season, and thanks to Maryann G. and Wendy W. for your bag donations. Megan H., Maryann and Lisa C. are the recipients of my first 3, and if I accumulate enough bags to make another one, my sister will get the next one for sure! These 4 ladies are my favorite reusers/recyclers!

This bag was also the first non-blanket/scarf/shawl I’d done. As the title suggested, I’m most comfortable with simple patterns — I’ve yet to attempt a sweater, hat or anything fancier. I’m part-way through a sock and lost interest in that quickly. Meanwhile, my Mom is putting together matching sweaters for all 5 of her grandsons once a year! I remember last Christmas she said “I think I’ll make some mitten ornaments out of leftover Christmas yarn.” One hour later, she had a little pair finished! I’m not that good, but I really enjoy it.