Friday, April 13, 2018


Oh gosh...somehow I forgot to post these pictures from Easter. 

We hosted Easter at our house this year which was fun, and also a lot of work.  We had a total of 14 people here including Joey/Andy and the kids, my parents, Dan/Ellyn and Erin and her new BF, Will.  It was wild and crazy but oh SO much fun!!

We ate lots of food, drank many drinks, played cards, laughed and generally had a great time.  It was so fun to have everyone out here to spend the holidays with us.  We have such a good space for entertaining (though...we DO need a new dining room set to fit everyone).  We're so thankful for a full house and family that loves us.

Maybe the best part of hosting Easter was that we did it on Saturday instead of Sunday meaning I decided we were going out to breakfast on Easter Sunday and a nap was mandatory for me, and the kiddos, a perfect Sunday, right?

A New Baby, A New Quilt

There are quite a few babies lined up for 2018 so I started early to try and get a head start.  This quilt is for my very best friend Dan's new baby daughter.  She's due in April and I was slow getting her big brother's knit blanket done a few years back so I knew I needed to do better this time around.

I have been wanting to give hand quilting a try, so when I saw this super fun panel from Cotton and Steel, I knew it was finally time to figure out how it worked and give it a try.  It's hard to see in these two pictures but at the end, there is a closeup of the quilting.  The nice part about this quilt is that it came together pretty quickly.  Since I wasn't piecing the blocks together the process started with quilting the three layers together (top, batting and back).

I used embroidery thread and a pretty big needle to just and stitch around each of the little characters on the front.  I used a sewing hoop and did this almost completely from the couch while watching TV.  I could watch all of my guilty pleasure crap TV and be productive at the same time, win win!

After finishing the quilting I made the binding and machine quilted it to the front...then hand stitched it to the back.  This is how I bind all of my quilts and I've been really happy with the results.  I added a little label to the back so she'll always know where it came from, grabbed a few pictures and packed it up to be mailed.  I can't wait to meet this sweet baby girl when she gets here!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

1 Family x 12 (April)

It's rare that I get TWO good photos in a month, so I'm posting them both.  The goofy one is just too good to pass up.  Happy Easter from the McGraths!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Wisconsin Dells (round 4)

Wisconsin Dells, it's where dreams are made (if you are between the ages for 2-6).  We've been going to the Dells annually now since Abby was about 1.5 years old.  It started with just us and the Stadermann family, but we quickly added the Brackemyer's to the mix and this year, we've hit our stride!!

We took half day's on Friday (and pulled Abby out of school early which hasn't happened before, so she was excited) and we headed up to the Dells early afternoon on Friday.  Let me tell you, that is the ticket!  We got there around 3pm on Friday afternoon which meant the kids had plenty of time to swim and run and play while the adults sat pool side, eating pizza and having a few adult beverages.  The six kids, ranging from Connor who just turned 6 a few weeks ago, to Hazel (2.5) all had the best time.  Lucy was there too, but at just 1.5, she wasn't overall impressed by the whole thing.  It's loud, a little cool, and the bottom of the pools are scratchy, so, I'm guessing by next year, she'll be all in all day!

My kids get so excited for this trip.  I think it has to do with the cold, dark, short days of winter and a glimmer of hope that putting on a swimming suit gives you.  Like, someday soon, we'll be back to pool side/lake side living...but for these two days in March, we can pretend its warmer than it is and that summer is closer than it actually is.

We let the kids be wild and stay up a little late on Friday night, knowing we still had all day Saturday to play and explore.  Since we've been going there for 4 years now, you'd think we'd have our routine all set and we'd remember which areas were best and for what reasons, but I think it took up until this year to finally get the routine down.  We started on Friday night at Wild West (easily the kids favorite area this year).  Then Saturday morning we went over to the Wilderness on the Lake and Cubby Cove.  The Cove area is much smaller (with no large slides) but the water is much warmer and it's usually less crowded in those early hours when everyone just wants to be at the pool.

We headed back to the condo for lunch and naps (for those who needed them, me included) and then made our way to Klondike Kavern with the lazy river and the biggest of the slides.  Unfortunately, that area was the most crowded, the lazy river was more like a CRAZY river (it was packed and moving very quickly) and the slides were all too big for our littles to go on.  So, we let the dad's get a few slides in and then hiked back to Wild West where we finished out the day.

All in all, that was the ticket!  That and the Friday afternoon arrival.  In fact, we were so happy with that that I think next year we may plan to stay on Thursday and Friday night's coming home Saturday so that we can avoid the crazy crowds.  It was so much more fun when it wasn't as busy...and I have a feeling the week nights are the ticket to that.

Since I've got more pictures than stories, I suppose I'll share a bad parent moment we had.  On Friday when we got there, the kids were so excited to just run and play that we had a hard time keeping them all together.  I forced everyone to take a few pictures before they ran in 100 directions but once they got inside the play area they were hard to keep track of.  Abby, Stella and Hazel all took off with Ryan following closely behind, so Jamie and I set to getting our tables all set and unpacking our stuff.

I sat down figuring Ryan had the kids and just started chatting and taking it all in.  A few minutes later I spotted Hazel walking towards us, tears in her eyes, but walking straight for us.  I figured she'd fallen or something and Ryan had sent her over to me.  I popped up to give him a wave, that I saw her and would take care of it, but I didn't see him.  I figured we was somewhere close and he could see me, so I grabbed her and started talking to her to see what was wrong.  A few seconds later a sweet life guard walked over asking "Is she with you? She was just walking around crying so I figured I'd follow her until she found someone she knew". Mommy moment for sure!  I had no idea where she'd come from, or where Ryan was.  I figured he was worried about her too, so we set off to then find him and Abby.

Well, turns out the big kids ditched her inside the maze of tunnels and steps so she figured out how to get down (alone?  EKK!) and came to find me.  Ryan said that once they got inside it was trying to chase a herd of wild cats, which, I get it!  It is!  But still, I felt terrible for not keeping a closer eye.  But, luckily it turned out ok, thankfully!  And, kudos to that life guard who knew enough to watch her until she found us.  For her, I'm so thankful!  (I promise we did a better job of watching them....and teaching the bigger kids to stay together, after that point).

All in all, another great weekend in the books.  I've got tons more pictures to share, so keep reading if you want to see what else we were up to this weekend.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Valentines Day Dance 2017

One of the things about Abby being our first child to go to school, means we often have NO CLUE what to expect when it comes to school functions.  Like, don't even ask me about the first week of school.  I spent the first 2 months of Kindergarten feeling like I had no clue what was going on. Shoot, I still feel that way!  But, slowly but surely we're getting through the year and by the time Hazel comes through we'll know just what to expect.  Well, the Valentines Day dance was no different.  First off, the REAL dance was canceled a few weeks ago due to a big snow storm that came through.  Abby was so bummed to miss it (and to sad she couldn't take her Valentines Day cookies I'd bought to send along) that when we saw the note come home that it was rescheduled, and we were actually going to be home for it, I was sure it would be a hit.

Well, apparently, it was a hit, until they actually got there.  First off though, isn't Ryan so cute in these pictures.  It's so rare that he dresses up, I thought it was so sweet when he asked if I thought he should wear a suit.  I told him he probably didn't need to, but it would be sweet if he did.  That it would make it feel special to Abby.  Well, turns out, he was the ONLY guy in a suit there.  Ryan is NEVER the overdressed one, so I'm sure he felt like a fish out of water. 

Apparently it was sort of a free-for-all with all the little kids just running around screaming and super loud music.  There was very little parent/kid dancing happening and even less for Abby because she was all caught up that she didn't win a raffle prize.  Of course some of her friends had found glow sticks somewhere and she didn't have one so that was a huge catastrophe as well.  Abby's good at a lot of things, but getting over something (or just putting it out of her mind) is NOT one of them.  Ryan said she spent most of the dance grumping around that she didn't have XYZ and saying she wasn't having any fun.  Boo!!

At least she looked excited on the front end!  They ended up leaving a little early and Abby and I had a talk about being thankful and grateful and about how only you get to pick your attitude.  I guess, we'll call it a learning experience and keep our fingers crossed that next year goes a little smoother. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hazel's Quilt

Please excuse these less than ideal pictures.  I realized when taking these that I always used to photograph my quilts using the clothes line in the back yard of our old house.  We don't have on here so taking pictures of these big quilts is super tough.  It's hard to get the camera up high enough and straight enough to get a good shot.  And let's not even get started on the lighting.  If there wasn't 12 + inches of snow on the ground right now, I'd take them outside.  But, this is going to have to do.

This is Hazel's quilt made out of the fabric everyone sent for her weekly picture project.  Just like with Abby, I took pictures of Hazel each week on a different yard of fabric.  It was a great way to show how she grew, talk about the loved ones that help contribute to the quilt and make something super special and memorable for her to have and cherish for always.

I sent this quilt away to be quilted, and I think I will send out all my quilts from this point on.  I've never been happy with my own free-motion or straight line quilting and while I know the only way to improve is to practice, it's also a little disheartening when you put hours and hours and lots of money into a quilt only to be unhappy with one of the final steps.  So, I'll subcontract that part of my quilting process and I'll be so much happier with the result.

Hazel's quilt is ever so slightly smaller than the queen sized one I made for Abby.  Hazel's crib will convert to a double bed when we transition her so I made this quilt the same length as Abby's but slightly smaller width wise so it would fit her big girl bed.  I also felt like a queen size was a big too big for a couch blanket which is what I'm guessing these will become when the girls are big enough to want to pick their own bedding.  I'm hoping they drag these things to college, to their first houses and use them for years and years to come...but only time will tell.

The herringbone pattern I picked for this quilt is similar to what I did for Abby, but different too.  I like that the blocks are nice and big to show off the fabric and i love that I stuck with my gut and used white as the contrast.  I did a very light blue for Abby's because I was worried about the white getting dirty etc but I'd wished I went with my staple white or grey.  Here's a link to Abby's quilt if you want to compare.

For Hazel's back I decided to just use up some of my favorite pieces of fabric from her photo project.  It's a nice way to use up some of the 50+ yards of fabric I have, and a fun way to showcase some of my personal favorites.  I wish I'd done the same for Abby's.  I realized that I'm very drawn to the bright, multicolored fabrics with big patterns on them, but they are hard to incorporate into quilts where you aren't going for a scrappy or childish look.  I have LOTS and LOTS of novelty fabric around here after doing these two photo projects spanning a total of four years, so if anyone out there wants to pick through my stash, you're more than welcome!