Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Halfway There

Do you ever get on a roll? Things seem to fall into place. Projects appear to fly off the needles. You suddenly have both time and energy. Your knitting basket gets a little lighter. Your stack on the sewing table gets smaller. I am sure you know what I mean. Guess what. It is happening to me right now.

I am finishing my projects, and it feels so good. For weeks I have posted weekly updates on what I am doing with little to report. I am sure it isn't very interesting to read about knitting sweater sleeves inch by arduous inch for weeks. Luckily I laid the needles to rest on that project last week. This week I was able to finish the first pair of infant longies I am making for a set of twins. Technically I still need to weave in the ends and finish the drawstring, but those details are minor. The second pair will not be identical to this pair. I conferred with a knitting expert and we agreed that complimentary would look best. I am hoping to get both of the pants in the mail to the recipient by the end of the week. Ambitious, but I know think I can do it!

In addition to my knitting progress, I also finished a book. After a few renewals with the library, I finished Freedom. Although it took quite a long time to read, I enjoyed it. Several of my friends had read it. I agree with those who said it was a bit preachy, and with those that thought the characters were hard to like. I also agree with those that felt the book was very good. It read fast considering that it was over 500 pages, however the middle was a bit long. This week, I am returning to Coop.
Yarn Along with Ginny

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Crazy New Game

Aine loves to play games. Recently her aunt and uncle gave her Pass the Pigs. Her aunt thought she would love it, however she was not particularly impressed with the game at first. She used the pigs mostly in her play. I would find them scattered around the house. She used the small stub of a pencil to draw or write notes. The game as packaged was not played.
Today this all changed. I pulled out the game and asked if she wanted to play. I read the directions to her, and we laughed our way through several rounds. It was such fun to gamble on each roll deciding when to quit and when to roll again. We would moan when we lost all our points or laugh at the crazy pig positions. Aine was also quite pleased with herself as she added up her scores. She quickly mastered the different scoring options based on pig landings. Her infectious laughter lured her brothers as well. She chortled that it was the best game EVER. I would say it is definitely a winning game despite her initial misgivings about it

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Concoctions

Eamon loves to make concoctions. His favorite ingredients are baking soda and vinegar. The resulting reaction never fails to impress. Recently he pulled out the test tubes, beakers and myriad other science paraphenalia in his quest to create the perfect exploding solution. He added glue and dish soap to his usual mix.

He wrote down his plan including the steps he would use to make his mix. He measured, poured, stirred and made adjustments to his plan. 
He studied his creation intently. We talked a bit about the reaction between the vinegar and glue. He decided the glue was too heavy for his plan.
I pulled out a few of our chemistry books including Science in the Kitchen, The Usborne Big Book of Experiments and Fizz, Bubble & Flash! I think I know what we will be doing for the next few weeks.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Much Accomplished

It has been quite a productive week. I am quite proud of all that I have been able to accomplish. First, I finished The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I really enjoyed the Millennium trilogy, and wish the author had other works. The books read very fast, and I found them difficult to put down. I really like that in my reading these days. I need books that I can start and stop due to the demands of my every day. The characters are well defined, and the story had great twists and turns. The series does, however, have quite a bit of violence. With the completion of this book, I am resuming Freedom. I have 100 pages to read, and then I can call that one done! I am also finishing Ape House by Sara Gruen. I read and enjoyed Water for Elephant, so I am eager to finish her newest book.

One other book has entered my mix. Our family usually has one family friendly book going which we enjoy together. We recently listened to Little House on the Prairie on audiobook together. This week, with a recommendation from Ginny via the Yarn Along, the kids and I are reading Three Tales of My Father's Dragon. It is a wonderful read aloud, and we are all enjoying it. We have finished two of the three stories.

My second big accomplishment this week is my sweater. I finally finished it! Woot woot!!! I am so happy to be done. With the delay in this week's yarn along, I had just the extra time I needed to bind off. I still have some ends to weave in and it will need a good blocking, but I am done! I have now knit myself a sweater. I like how it fits and look forward to next winter and cooler temperatures. Today's forecast is for 88 degrees!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Imagination

"Mama, look I built a DS. I made games for it too."

With a bit of help from his sister, Eamon crafted a DS video game out of LEGOs today. He was so excited to share all its features. It includes several games as well. He switches around the screen for each game after inserting the "cartridge" into the back. He was so pleased with his creation. I am impressed with his imagination.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Season has Begun

The wait has been so long. I wasn't sure they could wait much longer. In the past few weeks, the stirrings began again. "Mama, when can we go to the pool?" Finally this weekend the day came, and our family ushered in the swimming season.

The taller people in the house did not swim, but anyone under 8 years of age did not hesitate. Aine fearlessly jumped right into the water after testing it on the steps.
Eamon was bit more reticent gently easing his body into the water inch by slow inch. Once acclimated, he jumped in making huge splashes.
Benton explored the step area fully submerging his body. He put his head under and blew bubbles. He monkey crawled a bit along the wall as well. He spent a bit of time looking at his big brother and sister. He yearns to join them in the deeper water and probably will by season's end.
Give it a month or so and I think I may join them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Loving it

Benton received a belated gift from his auntie and her family in Texas. He absolutely loves it. He changed outfits several times while exploring his new crown and sword. First he was a princess knight and then a crocodile knight. He and his siblings have been knighting each other and slaying dragons. I am certain he considers it his best gift ever. Now if only it could go in the bath.

Productive Lounging

Our family has been trying something new this week. We set a limit on our screen time, and we have a light's out bedtime. This may not seem like big changes to some, but they are to us. The changes were made after I had a long conversation with my sister. First I was bemoaning our inability to arrive on time to anything. I have found it difficult to be punctual, because we don't want to leave our home. The kids become involved in a game or research on the computer and do not want to stop. I am equally at fault as I love to read blogs, gather craft ideas and seek out recipes. It is just so hard to stop when you are in the middle of something. I talked with the kiddos about our problem.  We agreed that since most of our obligations are in the morning, we would have no screens before lunch. It seems to be working.

My second complaint was the change of seasons. The lengthening of days leads to a lack of sleep in our house. My children love to wake with the sun. This is not a problem during the winter, but when the days get longer, it is a huge hurdle for us. The kiddos love to stay up late exploring, reading and creating. We all love this. They just have a hard time compensating for the late nights by sleeping in when it is light. We have tried room darkening shades as well as multiple layers on the windows. Nothing seems to work. Again we talked and came to a consensus. We turn off lights at a set time. This also seems to be working, although my oldest son can be seen glowing with a reading light on in his top bunk after lights out. We are working on that.

With these changes, we have had a bit more time to just lounge together as a family. I took some of the lounging time this week to work on my sweater. I finished the first sleeve and am halfway done with the second one. I truly, truly hope to finish it by next week's yarn along. I want to finish, because I paged through Oliver + S Little Things to Sew: 20 Classic Accessories and Toys for Children. There are so many cute things to make in this book. I know our first need is new sun hats. I am not sure what I will make after those. There are plenty of options. I will keep you posted. (I am still reading Freedom and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I am more than halfway through each of those. Not sure if I will finish either this week, but I hope so.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

For Asher

We learned unexpectedly that one of the kiddo's cousins is very sick and in the hospital. She has a severe infection behind her eye and in her sinus cavity. She is one sick little girl. Since she has to stay in the hospital for a few days, we decided to make her some cards to wish her well. Eamon and Aine immediately set about making her cards, books, and stories. They have a pile for her. Benton even added a painting. We plan to mail them this morning. We send her much love and loads of healthy, healing vibes.
Get Well Soon, Ash!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Five on Eight

With such cool, nice weather on the heels of a rainy day, our whole family decided to go for a bike ride. We haven't biked together in a few months, because Dave did not have one. (His bike was stolen from our garage. Of course, we had left the garage door open). Fortunately Dave's aunt recently gave him two bikes that she no longer used. They were a welcome gift. He tuned the bikes up and installed new tubes. We were ready to roll.

As we were preparing to leave, Eamon started eyeing one of the bikes. He has felt that his bike is a bit too small for him. Eamon asked to ride the bigger bike. Dave lowered the seat and handlebars for him. After a quick test ride, we all headed out for the park.

The kids love to ride their bikes. Benton tags along behind me. He likes his bike seat so much better than the bike trailer. I think he can see better and feels like one of the riders. They often chose riding bikes over driving places. On this trip, Aine made sure to remind her daddy of all our traffic rules. She only had to scold him once about riding his bike across a yellow line.



The park was deserted. We were a bit surprised, since the weather was so nice. The three immediately set out for the tire swing. After bellies started to ache, they each scattered. Benton set about digging and pretending to be an excavator and bulldozer. Aine continued her mastery of the monkey bars. Eamon practiced his throwing and kicking of a football. They merged activities helping each other on their respective tasks until they all convened on the monkey bars. They climbed and worked together on the spinning bars and slides.
An excited Aine after mastering the rotating bars
After the discovery of blisters (Aine) and a scratch on an ankle (Benton), we set off for home. The ride home was equally delightful. We arrived hungry for lunch and eager for the rest of the day's adventures.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Finally Success

One of my friends called me the other day with good news. She thought I would be excited, but she wasn't sure. There were some issues, but she thought I could handle it. It had happened while she was at a swap meet. She had stumbled upon a sale and saw a vintage typewriter. I was ecstatic.

I have not been quiet about wanting a typewriter. Whenever the kids and I are out, we look for one. I am a bit particular though. I don't want to pay too much and I want it to work. I now have what I wanted.


The typewriter she found is a Royal from 1951. The original sales slip was included in the case. The price on April 5, 1951 was $85.95 after a 15% discount. My friend picked it up for $5. Talk about a bargain.

It has just a few issues. Benton and I worked on it for a bit. He brought out most of his tools, but we only really needed the brush which came with it. I removed a little bit of rust in the inside and the cobwebs from the bottom. Then we worked on the keys. A few of the them are a little sticky. The next step is a bit of sewing machine oil. Once oiled, it should work fine. The ribbon is old though, so I will buy a new one this week.

The kiddos have already started pecking at the keys. They are very pleased with our new acquisition. I think they like being able to type and see the result. There is a level of instant satisfaction to a typewriter that a computer and printer don't have. I can't wait until we have a new ribbon. Don't be surprised if I type you a letter.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Sharing

Finding something you love to do is a wonderful thing. Sharing what you love is even better. Recently I was able to share my obsession hobby with Aine's Girl Scout troop. Her troop had a hobby fair, and they invited friends and family to share their passions. Some came armed with coins, looms, weaving, cameras, geo-caching, and duct tape. I brought yarn.

I displayed a few of my creations as well as my main work in progress. I wanted the girls to see the possibilities that lay in a skein of yarn and pair of knitting needles. I also brought a couple sets of needles and various weights of yarn including a lot of worsted to share. Quite a few of the girls wanted to learn how to knit. I showed them how to cast-on using the backward loop method. It seemed the easiest to share, and they just wanted to begin knitting! After the girls had a row cast on, we began knitting. They were great students. Each learned the knit stitch and were able to complete a few rows. I even had one of the moms pick up needles and try knitting. The troop plans to have another day devoted to knitting. I can hardly wait!

In the meantime, I will keep working on the sleeves of my sweater. I have another six inches to knit on the first sleeve. I truly hope to finish it soon, so I can move on to the other sleeve and eventually other projects. After a long hold period, I finally picked up The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest from the library. I really like this trilogy. It can be very violent, but I think the story is well written. I am reading it on my Nook in the evenings. My gym reading remains Freedom, and I hope to also finish it this week. One thing I realized with the weekly updates, is that I may be the slowest reader and knitter participating in Ginny's yarn along. Oh well, at least I am knitting and reading.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Sleuthing

Aine came running into the house this afternoon carrying a tiny piece of eggshell. She found it lying on the ground right by our patio. It was a blue egg with brown speckles on it. While we were examining it, Eamon and Dave returned from a hike. Eamon quickly joined in the exploration of the shell fragment. He and Aine starting speculating on the type of bird responsible for the egg. They thought it may have been laid by a mourning dove or a grackle. I suggested that they check out one of our field guides.
Eamon grabbed A Guide to Southern Arizona Bird Nests & Eggs from the bookshelf. Quickly turning pages, they discovered that a Mourning Dove lays plain white eggs. This did not fit their eggshell. In the middle of the book, they discovered two pages of egg illustrations. The pictures were in color, and the illustrations actual size. This helped narrow the search. Quickly they found their eggshell and learned that it came from a Great-Tailed Grackle. We read a bit about the bird and its nesting habits. Dave led them outside. It took a minute, but they soon spotted the nest. They wondered if some of the eggs survived, and if we will have a nest full of grackle chicks soon. We plan to just wait and see.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Many years ago, before children and even before Dave, I took scuba diving lessons. I convinced my friend Renee to take them with me. We had an amazing time. We learned in one of the local public pools and were almost certified in Mexico. I loved the weightlessness of diving. You could see so many amazing things while underwater. I never worried about sharks or any other aquatic dangers. It was just fun.

When I met Dave I told him about my adventures with Renee. He was impressed, but he was also quite clear. He had no desire to swim with the fishes. I figured it didn't matter. He could snorkel, and I would scuba dive.

Fast forward a few years and a few children. I still love the water and the ocean. I would love to become certified to dive. I still have my mask and snorkel, although I did donate my fins several years ago. Occasionally I bring out my gear and think about diving with my scuba buddy. I know I will do it again, but in the meantime, my children are the only ones who use the gear.

Recently I noticed the snorkel and mask are showing some signs of wear from the heat. I decided to give the mask and snorkel to the kids. They were thrilled, especially Eamon. He has loved my gear from the first time he spotted it. When he was almost 5 years old, he begged to wear it in the shower. I showed him how to breath with the snorkel and clear the mask with your spit. I think he took the longest shower that day.
March 6, 2008
Now he uses it to underwater dive in the bathtub. He gathered a handful of coins and set about excavating treasure. He spent a very long time snorkeling in the bathtub. I can only imagine what will happen when we go to the pool for the first time this season. I know it is soon, and I am sure he will have his diving gear with him.