Sunday, July 24, 2011


Today's camp was refreshingly simple and involved going no farther than Grandma's house.  While it was less taxing than the travel-filled past couple of days, it was nonetheless full and had enough aggravation to keep my blood pressure elevated and the manufacturers of Excedrin in business.

 We began with our usual Sunday lunch at Grandma's and then I announced that we'd be going for our Native American patches, with a crafting project taught by Uncle Chester.  She had received an antique Native American crafts book for Christmas a few years ago and used this as inspiration to have us craft medicine bags.  A medicine bag traditionally contained items that the owner believed had supernatural powers such as herbs, stones, bone, hair, and feathers.  I had been reading through the book Healing Crystals by Monte Farber and Amy Zerner, which talked about using medicine bags and crystals together.  The kids love to go to Amethyst Bookstore in Symmes Township to pick out gemstones, so I thought this would be right up their alley.  Mostly they were obnoxious about the whole project, especially Foghorn, until Chester explained that she could fill hers with things to help make wishes come true and Foghorn's eyes lit up at the thought that she might turn herself into a mermaid after all.

Chester produced pieces of an old leather purse and showed us how to punch holes along the sides using the awl.  The Professor, who had been making a point of yawning, got into the craft a little bit once he was able to pound something.  We were then shown how to make the thread waterproof by pulling it along a block of wax until it was coated. 

Foghorn had a little trouble working her needle in and out of the leather, but The Professor got the hang of it and we only had a few tense moments when he had trouble knotting it off at the end.

We finished up by cutting small slits around the top and threading a thong through to act as a drawstring to keep the bag closed and to give it a handle.  I opted to have Chester pound my initials in the top with another one of her handy tools.  The Inmates declined.  Originally we had picked out Native American symbols we were going to paint on the outside, but the project had been a little time-consuming and they'd had it by the time we got the drawstring installed, so they called it quits.  The Warden may still put one on her bag, but nerves were getting frayed and we all retired to Grandma's living room to watch Happy Days on MeTV.

As is typical, Foghorn got into the art supplies and began construction of something with paper, scissors, tape, and crayons.  I was ready to leave, Grandma had packed up the leftovers for us to take home, and Foghorn snarled, "I'm not finished with my beak."  Rather than fight her, we started the next episode of Happy Days.  Finally we heard, "I'm ready," and found her with wings and an orange beak.  Then she suddenly blurted out, "What a minute!  I have to empty my chicken bladder."  I don't know what inspired this fowl costume and didn't have the energy to ask.

Back at home, we finished up the requirements for our Video Game Day patches by playing Guilty Party, a Disney detective game for the Wii.  It's set up so that the family can work together to solve the crime, another non-competitive option that works well with The Professor.  Each person is a separate detective and we took turns roaming the mansion looking for clues or talking to suspects and noting information in a notebook.  It's set up, at least in novice mode, so that even relatively young children can do the tasks and it keeps track of things in the notebook more or less automatically.  The Professor patted himself on the back for being the one to successfully accuse the criminal and solve the crime, although all three of us knew who it was.

After dinner we returned to Grandma's to earn our Project Linus patches.  Project Linus is a national organization that distributes blankets made by volunteers to children in hospitals, shelters, and social service agencies.  Grandma and I have donated a number of quilts and afghans to them over the years and I decided this would be a good charity project for my overindulged kids.  I opted for a simple no-sew fringe blanket made with two pieces of fleece, which are then cut in strips around the edges and tied together. 

Since I knew The Inmates' patience would be limited, and since I have so many other things planned for camp week I'm starting to run short of time, I jump started the process last night by pinning the fleece together and cutting the fringe for two of the four sides.  For Foghorn's blanket, I also tied those two sides, so it was half done for her.  I had initially intended to buy fleece at a fabric store, preferably one with a nice 40% off coupon, but I came across kits on Amazon that averaged about $12 a blanket and was cheaper than buying the fleece myself.

At Grandma's, I took The Professor into the living room to get him started on tying the fringe I had already cut, while Grandma instructed Foghorn in using the rotary cutter.  I made it clear that cutter was a round razor blade and ungodly sharp.  At first Foghorn didn't even want to attempt to cut, but since I wanted them to be involved in the whole process I insisted and she finally let Grandma guide her.  They got through the cutting so quickly that I realized I'd been an absolute fool to have spent a couple hours cutting strips with a pair of scissors.  I should have waited for Grandma's rotary cutter and just done it all at her house.  She was done in ten minutes and the fringe was perfectly even.  That is the difference between an experienced quilter and a dipstick who can barely hem a pair of pants.

The Inmates then switched places and The Professor mastered the rotary cutter.  I'd like to say Foghorn mastered the tying, but no such luck.  My kids were born in the era of Velcro shoes and she has yet to even attempt to learn how to tie a pair of sneakers.  The result was that she needed quite a bit of help in tying the 90 or so pieces of fringe hanging down.  It didn't help that she lacked enthusiasm and that she wouldn't let go of her beloved Oinkers so that she could completely use both hands.  Between Grandma, The Warden, and Foghorn, we managed to get them all done while watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  The Professor finished his lounging under the blanket and sitting in Grandma's rocking chair.

The finished product.

The only problem was that they both loved the softness of the fabric and, in Foghorn's case, the pattern of the fabric so much that they were both whining about having to give them up to other children.  (The Warden reluctantly admits to being overly fond of the animal print one she made.)  Forget the fact that they both have numerous blankets, including a couple gorgeous quilts custom made by Grandma to their specifications.  Their motto is "you can never have too many blankets."  The Warden's is "I'm sick of picking crap up off the floor."

We finished off the evening with a trip to the creamy whip and then home for another detective case in the Guilty Party game.  Tomorrow is another inside, at-home day, but if it turns out anything like today I'll need some Valium.

For more ideas for things to do in Cincinnati (and things to do with kids in Cincinnati), please look here.

You might also be interested in:

Camp Gonnawanna - Day 1

Camp Gonnawanna - Day 2

Camp Gonnawanna - Day 3



Anonymous said...

Those fleece blankets turned out really nice. Three children are going to love them.

Kathie said...

Love the blankets!

Kathie said...

And the medicine pouches! Those are so cool! I would have put my initials on mine too.

Corinne said...

What fabulous projects! Love the blankets and the pouches. Tell Foghorn and the Prof I said they're lucky to have such a creative mom. ;)

Darlene's Quilts and Stuff said...

Great job and the kids looks so proud. I am glad they are learning a lot of things from their Grandma.