Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My No Sew Fleece Blanket

I finally finished my no sew fleece blanket tonight. I bought the material back in December when we were in the states and I've been putting it off for the past six months. I don't know why. It was incredibly easy. The material cost about $18. If you keep an eye out you can usually find pre-cut kits for about $25, but most of them have children's prints or characters on them and I wanted something different. I apologize for not taking pictures at each step. You'll have to accept my crude drawings as a substitute.

All you need to make one is:

  • 2 equal size pieces of fleece (you can make it whatever size you want, but keep in mind they width of the fabric is usually 54" so if you want a bed sized blanket there will have to be some sewing involved) I believe I got 2 yards of each color
  • Scissors
  • (optional) measuring tape and pins

Lay the two pieces of fabric on top of each other good sides out. The ideal place would probably be a large table but my table was full of clutter and I didn't feel like cleaning it off so I used the bed. If you do it on the bed make sure you don't cut your comforter ;) Trim the edges to cut off any raw edges and make sure they are straight. 
Then cut a 3-4" square from each corner. I cut the first corner and then used the cut piece as a pattern/guide on the other 3 corners

The next step will depend on how anal you are. My mother and law explained how to measure 3-4" in from the edge all the way around and use pins to mark every couple inches. I just eyeballed it using my cut corner as a guide. Cut a fringe all the way around the same depth that you cut the corners to. They can be as wide or narrow as you want. They don't even all have to be the same width if you want a funky look. Just make sure they are all cut the same depth. 

After you have cut all four sides you can start tying the two pieces of fleece together. My single knots all came out so I would suggest a double knot. As an alternative to knotting the fringe you could sew around the edge with a sewing machine and leave the fringe unknotted. I may try that next time. 

When you are finished you have a super warm and cozy blanket to cuddle on the couch with!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day in Europe

Today was Memorial Day and so we paid tribute to our fallen servicemen by making a day trip to St. Avold, France to visit Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial. 

Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial is the largest American World War II cemetery in Europe. The French government granted free use of the land as a permanent burial ground without charge or taxation as a thank you for liberating the surrounding area. 

There are 10,489 graves (10,487 according to their brochure), (151 of them unknown servicemen.)  The wall of the missing contains the names of 444 soldiers and airmen missing in action. As we viewed the graves of these long dead veterans I couldn't help but tear up a little. We stayed, hand over heart, while retreat was played on the bugle, the flag was lowered, and the canon was fired. It is a beautiful and peaceful place for those laid to rest there. I am thankful that they sacrificed so much so that I can have all that i do today. 

Thank You!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday the 13th

Today is usually associated with horror movies and bad luck. As someone that sometimes has a birthday on friday the 13th I don't worry about it at all. 

I had a great day. We spent the afternoon at the park and the kids played in the wading pool. The Tangled DVD that I ordered back on March 24th finally showed up in our mailbox today as well as the new lid for my laptop. (Have I mentioned how much I like getting things in the mail? I just hate waiting for them.) Then our 4 car caravan headed out to China Restaurant Dynastie in Idar Oberstein. If you're looking for a good Chinese buffet in Germany I would definitely recommend this place. You even get to choose a piece of free jewelry when you pay! 

Happy Friday the 13th!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

League of Her Own

"Baseball, to me, is still the national pastime because it is a summer game.  I feel that almost all Americans are summer people, that summer is what they think of when they think of their childhood.  I think it stirs up an incredible emotion within people."  ~Steve Busby, in Washington Post, 8 July 1974

 We had our second practice today. My daughter is super excited to get to practice, but once we get there she gets bored pretty fast. I never played t-ball or baseball or even softball when I was growing up so it doesn't remind me of my childhood, but there is something special about watching your child TRY at their very first sport (even if she's not very good at it and would rather play with the dirt.) At three and a half it's oh so cute. I want to at least give her the chance to see if she likes it and give her time to get good at it (if that's what she wants). They are really just learning fundamentals at this age. They don't start real games until they are five. However the coach did dangle the hint of a possible game at the end of the session. I've seen these children at practice. That would be hilarious to watch!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Dance!

Good thing no one lives below us because we are doing the happy dance!! 

No more diapers!
No more pull-ups!
No more sitting in front of the toilet begging for 45 minutes!
I'm not going to lie to myself, there probably will still be washing out underwear in the sink, but not every night!

Everyone in this house is potty-trained!

I had to call Santa immediately and he informed me that there would be a little purple princess bicycle in the storage room in the basement & we rushed downstairs at 10:30 at night for the very first celebratory bike ride. I told her she could ride her bike at the park with her friends tomorrow. I suppose that means it will rain ;)

Happy (belated) Mother's Day!

I had such a wonderful day yesterday I thought I would wait until today to write. To all you mothers out there, I hope you had a great day as well.  This was officially my fourth Mother's Day since giving birth to my daughter and the amazing thing is that my husband has only missed one of those. (He was deployed to Iraq for the second.) The Army does a great job of making sure you don't spend too many holidays together. I got 3 out of 4 Mother's Days together but only 1 of my last 3 birthdays. Weird huh? Anyway, Mother's Day is one holiday my husband does up right. He realizes when your kids are young it's up to daddy to help make the day special. Last year he helped my daughter make cupcakes.

 It was adorable! This year I took my daughter to friends birthday party and when I came home he had done the dishes (which I can't stand doing!), the laundry, and vacuumed. It was wonderful. Then we went shopping and out for supper. When we got home he had an already wrapped  present hidden from me. My daughter brought it to me and says, "Happy birthday Mommy!" 
Inside I found a Nextbook (an android tablet/e-reader) and a DS game. I was so excited! I've been wanting an e-reader for some time but I never buy stuff like that for myself. This was the most unselfish gift my husband could give me because he hates to read but he knows how much I love it. This thing is great! It came preloaded with 27 classics and it has wi-fi so I can surf the internet, get on Facebook, check my email, listen to music, watch videos, and blog ;)  It does take me a while to type on it though so I probably won't be doing a lot of blogging from it. The DS game was immediately taken over by my daughter so I haven't even got to play that yet. 
Thank you both for making today the best Mother's Day ever! 

I guess I better start planning for Father's Day...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Heidelberger Schloss

This weekend my husband and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. We drove to Heidelberg and had lunch and then visited Heidelberg Castle. It was beautiful! There was free parking up the hill from the castle. We followed the road down which led to some stairs and a path. The path will lead you through a garden that stretches on and on. (Some of the stairs and parts of the path are blocked off due to reconstruction.) The garden and fountains were all outside the area you have to pay to see. There was a gorgeous view of the outside of the castle as well. You can also see The Heidelberg Castle Powder Turret, split by an explosion, as described by Mark Twain in his 1880 book A Tramp Abroad! It's amazing to see such a historic place up close. Tickets to tour the castle cost 5 Euro for adults and 3 Euro for children. Our daughter (3) was free so I'm not sure where the age cut off is before you have to pay the child price. We walked through the gigantic wine cellar and over an enormous wine barrel. There was an amazing view of the town and river from the back side of the castle. We made the mistake of exiting the castle from that side and ended up following a very steep cobblestone path down into the city. We were told we could use our entrance tickets to ride the cable cars but it was getting late and looking like it was about to rain. We hiked back up the mountain (me gasping for breath the entire way. I really didn't think I was going to make it!) It did start to lightly rain as we wound our way toward the gardens. There was some we didn't get to explore this trip but there's always next time!

Downtown Heidelberg

The Castle Gardens

The Powder Turret

View of the City

Another view of the damaged turret

Map of the grounds (See how big the gardens are!)

Entrance to the courtyard

Entrance to the courtyard

Inside the courtyard

Inside the courtyard

Going down to the wine cellar

One of the giant wine barrels

On top of another even larger wine barrel

View of the city/river from the castle

View of the river

A fountain in the garden

Cake my husband decorated with 7's all over it. What a sweetie!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Confessions of an Army Wife........Discipline

Ok, here it is: I don't hit my kid. Shocking? Well around Baumholder it kind of is.

I recently learned that the phrase "Spare the rod and spoil the child" is not from the Bible but from Samuel Butler's "Hudibras", a 17th Century satirical poem. The poem, like his novel, The Way of All Flesh, was written to expose and denounce violence against children. Ironically, this phrase is now used to justify corporal punishment and other punitive actions against children.
The English version of the Bible pre-1377 don't include the line in the form we now use, but they do contain a similar thought, and this is probably where Butler took it from. In the King James VersionProverbs 13:24, we find
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
(At that time, "rod" was the same word as palm frond.) There is often debate here in Baumholder on our discussion pages about parents "popping" or spanking/hitting  their children. (Funny that two of these threads started during National Child Abuse Prevention Month.) That exact phrase above (spare the rod...) comes up a lot in these discussions. It's even gone as far as women giving instructions to other moms about how to pinch their child to get them to behave. Out of 102 posts I was one of three that spoke up and said I didn't agree.  I sometimes feel like the only person I know that doesn't physically discipline their child. I don't even know who I can talk to about it because nearly everyone I know agrees with spanking or hitting. My mom only spanked me twice as a child. One of the times it happened I was four years old. I remember the entire incident vividly. Did I deserve it? Yes, I probably did. I was really naughty. But the thing is, I knew what I did was horrible even without the spanking. I felt really guilty. I still do! This is something that happened 28 years ago and I still feel bad and I would even if I'd never gotten spanked. I don't really consider myself someone who was spanked or hit as a child because it happened so infrequently. I was always more worried I'd lose my privileges. When my daughter got old enough that simply saying "No" wasn't enough I did some research and found statistics on how damaging physical discipline can be on a child. (see the links at the bottom of the page for studies). We use the 2 warnings and then time out method. It usually works very well. I admit sometimes I am having a bad day and my patience is thin and I will yell at her and then feel bad later. I'm not perfect. I just don't understand why so many around me disagree and even look down on me for my method? It seems like for me to explain the reasons I DON'T hit her, it makes people defensive.  I hear over and over again, "My parents did it to me and I turned out fine." As a friend pointed out to me, they can't accept that maybe their parents made a mistake or worse that THEY are making a mistake so they cling to it. On it states:
 " Hitting children teaches them to become hitters themselves. "
Obviously that is what being hit by their parents taught them and they are now passing it on to their own children. I firmly believe that if I DON'T hit my child she will grow up saying, "My mom and dad didn't hit me, and I'm fine so I don't need to hit my kids either." I guess I have that thought to console me when I get down about all the so called discipline in Baumholder.

Just for an example, here are some actual quotes I've read on the message boards (pardon the spelling errors but these were taken directly from the message board and are unedited),

"So my Son for some time now when my son gets into stuff we give him a pop on the hand, butt or mouth and it worked really well he leave cords alone and does really bite any more and for the most part when we say no he stop doing what he is doing (maybe having a little crying fit). So lately he has started to slap me and daddy and will keep doing it even when we say no, and it seem kinda back words to give him a pop in the hand when he does it. Have any of you lady's had this problem. Oh and if you are of the opinion that giving a little pop is wrong. thats great but thats not what i'm asking for. So thank you"
(after someone suggested she be careful that ACS doesn't hear she hits her child) "SCREW acs....they can come knock on my door if they want any anybody out there who thinks they can raise MY kids better than I can please by all means try!!! Girl you do what you feel is right by your children and as long as your are not abusing them then if it works do it. All others need to keep their noses out of others business. Ok my vent for the day is done thank you"
"their is nothing wrong with spanking your child. I hate that crap about spanking leads to kids hitting. My kids wouldn't be the well behave kids they are if I didn't disciplined them and showed them to respect adults & other kids. They would be freaking wild! lol" 
 "I pity the fool that would call the MPs because I spanked my child. I dare someone. As for getting a "warning" I'd tell them where they could stick it. Like someone said, this post..."
"no spanking laws in my state so Im gonna keep on spanking"
"By the way, I spank. I did it with my teenagers and I will do it with my toddler. But, I also understand that it is against the law. We were told when we got here about spanking, so Im knowingly breaking the law."
"I am sorry to say, they will have to arrest me. 16 years ago in Germany, had a German lady called the police on me, cause I spanked my son in the Commissary. The Bible says to spare the rod and spoil the child." 
" Ladies, pinching does work. No one will see, but your child will understand."
" I totally agree....and yes pinching does work right on the back of the mom used to do that to us kids in the commissary all the time and there were 6 of us and she always had control ;0)"
" I wouldn't do anything to hurt my son. and I don't think its fair the way people think anyone who spanks or disciplines their kids is a child beater. I see all kinds of kids that where never spanked and they are horrible kids they are rude and misbehaved. If you don't spank thats fine. Some kids are fine if you don't and don't need it some kids are not going to behave even if you spank or whatever. It worked really well for me i was spanked. and ever time i do it to my son i make sure he knows what he did wrong and most of the time he gets a hug and a kiss."
"I got spanked and I turned out just fine. I spank. I will not tolerate anyone telling me not to, not even an MP. My kids are wonderful and have friggin awesome lives, even with discipline ;)"
That is just a small sampling, but reading through the entire thread again makes me sick to my stomach. I actually got a list of FCC providers here on post to make sure none of them were the women posting these things. (None of the FCC providers were in that conversation by the way.)   Please take the time to read a couple of articles about the subject. I really think it's worth it. 

The long term effects of spanking... (with statistics!)

This site has excellent alternatives to physical discipline...

10 Reasons not to hit our kids...

Great article about spanking vs non-spanking and the effects on different age children

I'd also like to highlight that according to our local paper - The Herald Union - there was 53 substantiated cases of child abuse last year in Baumholder!! That seems like a lot for such a small community. I wonder how many more went unnoticed?
 (p.s. this is MY blog and MY opinion so please don't try to justify hitting a child to me. I am NOT going to tell you it's OK)