Thursday, June 25, 2009

As Time Goes By...

[We are back from our wonderful vacation in beautiful Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. If you haven't been to that part of the world,'s breathtaking and awe-inspiring!]

There are some things in life that just make you more aware of the passage of time and make you feel older...your high school reunion, your own kids starting school. But the thing that really marks time for me and makes me feel my age is my brother.

My brother is almost 12 years younger than me. To put that difference into perspective, he was in kindergarten when I graduated from high school.

I can clearly remember the night he was born...September 3, 1986 at 10:37 pm. There was a severe rainstorm that night (the kind my dad calls a "gully washer"), and I was a little irritated because my mom and dad had picked me up early from gymnastics when my mom's water broke. He was a month early (after almost being 3 months early) and only 5 lbs, 4 oz. I remember thinking he looked like some kind of reptile because he was long and skinny, his skin was all wrinkly, and he was severly jaundiced. He didn't have a name for 3 days...we were originally told he was a girl, and then..surprise! It's a boy.

Here we all are: me, my sister Kristine, and my brother Sam. I'm about 13, Kristine's about 9, Sam's about 18 mths.

[Don't you love my hair (just one in a 8-year series of bad hair-dos), my sweater (which I'm sure came from a yard sale), and my cheesy plastic pearls? I'm also about 90% sure this pic was taken at either K-Mart or JC Penney. ]


Here's my brother now:

He is 22 (so young!), married, and has a baby, Jake. Without getting into a lot of details, my brother chose a much harder road to adulthood than my sister and I, but he is really working hard to remedy that and has turned out to be a great Daddy.

And little Jake....well, he is simply the sweetest, happiest baby I have ever met! Always smiles and rarely crying.

Jake turned one last week, and of course, I had to make him something. Back in December, I wrote about the Quiet Book I made for my niece for Christmas. My sister says she loves it and takes it everywhere. So I made one for Jake for his first birthday.

The outside cover:

The inside cover:

Try me on!
The one I made for my niece was more "girly" (lady bugs & flowers), so I had to make this one my "boyish" (cars & turtles).

Lift the clouds...

What's inside????

It's a baby turtle!

Once again, I "super" sewed everything down to make sure no little choking hazards would come off.

Count the buttons (or play "I Spy") and pat the caterpillar:

I tried to cover several different activities on my pages: textures, counting, zipping, buttoning, velcro, "peek-a-boo," and "I Spy" to name a few.

Velcro the shapes....

Who's at the door? (With an unbreakable mirror inside!)

I'm really happy with the final result and I hope Jake loves it.

Happy Birthday, big guy, from your Aunt Jenn!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

"Focus on the Journey, not the Destination"

My husband loves to travel. He's lived all over the world (England, the Middle East, the Caribbean...) and traveled to even more places. As for me, I didn't even see the ocean until I was 22, much less cross it. We never went on "vacation" growing up. We either drove 22 hours in our 1977 Chevy Impala ("The Boat") to Louisiana to visit our family or we went camping. And by camping I don't mean a nice RV in a campground. I mean middle-of-nowhere, sleep-in-a-tent (or on the ground), restroom-behind-a-tree dad liked to really rough it.

But my husband really believes that a big part of who he is today he can attribute to having experienced so many different places in the world. It's important to him that we take our children places and let them experience different things. Unfortunately, like it is for most people, time and money are often roadblocks.

My husband is British, and although his immediate family lives here in the U.S., the rest of his family is still back in England. So we travel there every 2-3 years (depending on how long it takes us to save up!) for a visit. We try to go for at least 2 weeks and divide the time between visiting family and sightseeing. So far our sightseeing has been limited to the British Isles, but as our kids get older, we are hoping to use England as a jumping off point to see other sights in Europe. And my husband has a list of other places in the world he'd like to go, from South Africa to New Zealand and lots of places in between.

How is all this travel talk sewing/crafting related, you might ask? Well....what's the number one necessity when you travel out of the country? Your passport!!! When we travel, I usually carry some kind of backpack so that I can keep all the crap you need when you travel with kids at the ready, but still have my hands free for snapping photos...or herding my kids, whichever. And I carry all the travel documents.

A couple of months ago while wasting time surfing craft blogs, I stumbled across a cute tutorial for a passport cover over at bunnybum. And I thought to myself, what a great idea! That way when I pull out the passports at the airport, I can quickly identify which belongs to who with no effort. Plus, they just look cute!

We are getting ready to take a vacation to Banff in Canada this summer, so this week I took a little time to whip up some of these cute covers out of fabric scraps I had in my stash.

Mine is the one on the left, made with some Michael Miller "Peace Blossom" left over from a custom order; my daughter's is in the middle...Ariel, of course; and my son's on the left...using some of the "world traveler" fabric that I used when I redid his room (his room is decorated around maps and traveling).

I didn't make one for my husband....his passport is from the United Kingdom and is different from ours anyway.

This tutorial was really easy to follow and took no time at all. Two 6" by 12" scraps of fabric and about 10-15 minutes and you're done!

Bon Voyage!