Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Take Along Projects

I usually don't like knitting socks. The problem is that I really like wearing handknit socks. I feel like it is an arduous process. The needles are so small, and I have such big feet. This year I wanted to reduce my sock yarn stash, so I have made quite a few shawls and a couple pairs of socks. A few weeks ago while still traveling, I finished the socks on my needles. They had languished a long time, so I wasn't quick to replace them. Instead I started making holiday gifts for my kiddos.

I missed socks though. So I cast-on for another pair of socks. Socks are just so portable. The colors can be fun and the patterns intricate. I tend to knit two at a time, because I know my weaknesses. I like to be finished when I cast off.  My new sock project is Riff from Knitty using the leftover blue yarn from my MKAL shawl. I am loving the pattern and yarn so far. The heel increases are approaching and I think I may just be turning into a sock knitter. Or at least one who doesn't take six months to finish a pair. Ahem.

For reading, I am listening to The Marriage Plot. It took a little bit to appreciate, because it is the same narrator as a series of children's audiobooks we have listened to. It was a bit distracting for me. I am over that now and trying to get into the story. It centers around a young woman and man and the separate yet interconnected lives they live and the loves they have. Dave read Big Susan to the kiddos a few nights ago, and they enjoyed it. Not sure what is next for bedtime reading, but it will probably be either Starry River of the Sky or Comet in Moominland. Both of those are from our Read Loud book group with Annie of Bird and little Bird. Looks like a trip to the library is in order!

Do you have a special project you take with you that is small and portable? Read any good books lately. I know I will have loads of recommendations from everyone at Ginny's Yarn Along.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Preparations

The weekend was spent finalizing costumes. One stop at the thrift store, and we were set. Well, almost. We still needed a pair of cowboy boots, which were found four stores later. I think Aine and I skipped when we spotted them on the rack at Ross. She was beaming when we discovered that they fit and were within the budget. Success. Everyone was happy.

As soon as we arrivgd home, the clothing was washed. Once clean those costumes were donned and have been worn almost every minute since. The kiddos can hardly wait for trick or treating tomorrow night. To make the wait a bit more bearable we have enjoyed parties with friends and a bit of candy corn Rice Krispies.

Friday, October 26, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in a Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Welcoming Autumn





The temperatures have begun to dip in Arizona. We have been experiencing cooler morning and highs in the 80s. The feel of fall is definitely here. To celebrate the season, we headed to the Desert Botanical Garden with our homeschooling friends for the annual Pumpkin Festival.
After playing a few games, we hopped on the hayride. A hayride in the desert is quite a different experience, but my kiddos know nothing else. With a quick run through the maze, they set about finding the perfect pumpkin. I had vivid memories of last year in my head, so I reminded them to find a pumpkin they could carry back to the car. Last year we had two gigantic pumpkins weighing down the stroller eliciting grins from everyone we passed.
Circa 2011 with our huge pumpkins
Aine and Eamon found big pumpkins again, but assured me they could carry them. I think a year has made everyone a bit bigger and more able to handle the large pumpkins. I found this picture from last year and compared it to now. The pumpkin still looks pretty big.

2011

2012

Benton spent quite a bit of time decorating his smaller pumpkin. He was quite pleased with the result. The other two did not want to spend time at the decorating table. Aine drew a face on her pumpkin, which she plans to carve next week. Eamon is still plotting his design.




 After listening to the band a bit and taking in the event with friends, we headed back to the car. The temperature was getting a bit warm and we were ready for lunch. The kiddos love this tradition and I am glad we have friends to share it.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stepping Back in Time

Eamon was the first to announce our voyage back in time. We have been playing outside in 90 degree weather since our return. After wearing knit hats and warm coats last week, we have returned to summer. Today was spent at the park enjoying the gorgeous "fall" weather (83 today) and reconnecting with friends after our time away. We miss the colored leaves and chilly days, but are enjoying the gift of more sunshine and a bit more summer.

Monday, October 22, 2012

No Stopping Him

Our weekend was full of all things two wheeled. I took Benton's training wheels off on Friday. Without a look back, Benton took off. I tried to give him a few pointers before he mounted his bike, but he didn't need them. He pushed off and rode immediately. I was flabbergasted. A few bumps and scrapes later, and he is a bonafide two wheeler!






Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Productivity Swing

Car driving implies an increase in knitting time. With a long trip ahead of us, I knew I would be busy. The first order of business was outfitting my family in warm gear. First I made the kiddos' hats several weeks ago. Dave already had a hat, so I was the only one left. The day before leaving Michigan, I cast on a hat for me. I chose a bright orange yarn from Sweet Georgia. I really liked the bright, no-nonsense colorway. I paired the yarn with the Wood Hollow pattern from Through the Loops. I speedily finished my hat in the car the next day just in time for freezing temperatures in Minnesota and South Dakota. I was very glad to have the hat to keep me warm.

When the hat was complete, I considered making matching mittens. This plan was foiled when I realized that I didn't have the right sized needles at the ready. Instead I pulled out the red garter stitch swingy cardigan and set about finishing the sleeves. It was very slow going. I just couldn't get into a good rhythm. Garter stitch in the round is not quick for me. With just a few inches to go I set it aside and cast on a holiday gift for Aine. I saw a poncho from Grace a few years ago, and knew I wanted to make one for her. When the right bright pink yarn came along, it seemed like the perfect combination. Aine's poncho really came together quickly. Miles and miles of stockinette were a great match for the miles and miles of driving we did. The poncho body is finished. I am just now working on the hood, and I hope to be done with this gift by next week. i showed it to my mom and she agreed that Aine will love it.
I managed to read only a few pages of A Prayer for Owen Meany while traveling. Instead I listened to many audiobooks. Our family finished so many good ones. A favorite was Farmer Boy (Little House series), since we had visited the site of the Ingalls Plantation and could greater appreciate the story. We also listened to Betsy-Tacy and a few boxcar children mysteries. During a repeat listening of one of our audiobooks, I was able to finish The Tiger's Wife. It was a good book, which was made better by the reading of it. I am hoping to read more now that we are back in Arizona and our travels are over.

So what are you reading and knitting along with Ginny? Have you started holiday gift making? Do tell.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Home again, home again

After more than six months and over 14,000 miles, our little family is back in Arizona. We arrived late Monday night tired and road worn. Our adventure has been fantastic, but it is nice to be back. We are spending our reentry together stretching out, shooting hoops, playing some wii, getting haircuts, knitting, reading and preparing to resume our normal life. Sorry about the onslaught of posts. They didn't upload for some reason while we were traveling. Give us a few days to relax as I am sure more adventure awaits us.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Pacific Northwest

Friends of ours moved to Portland a year and a half ago and have been wanting us to visit. It finally happened on our trip home. I have never been to the Northwest and was pleasantly surprised by the depth of green and beautiful surroundings. I am not sure how I would do living in such a place as I would miss our Arizona sunshine, but it was a fantastic place to visit.
On the way into town, we stopped at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. It was a great introduction to the area's landscape and history. We sat through a talk on falcons and were able to learn a bit about the Red Tailed Hawk, American Kestrel and Great Horned Owl. After the talk and viewing of the live birds, we continued through the exhibits and the trails outside. We saw a large osprey nest, hands-on displays relating to Lewis and Clark and an area for children.
The trails outside were beautiful. The day was overcast, and we just escaped the rain as we walked. The kiddos found many colored leaves as well as fish in a nearby pond. The river was beautiful as it coursed past the center.

We left the gorge and drove into Portland. My friend and I escaped for a bit to see the town (including TWO yarn stores). While visiting we ate locally and drank a bit of beer. It was a great visit, although it was too short. We are making plans to visit again. And yes, she wants us to move there!

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Devil of a Tower

The final national park we visited was Devils Tower in Wyoming. In 1906 this soaring landmark was the first to be declared a U.S. National Monument. Dave remembered visiting the tower as a youth and of course recalled its inclusion in popular culture.
Can you spot the climbers? 

The kiddos were amazed by this structure. We spotted it as we drove along the road and marveled at how impressive it appeared. Dave mentioned hiking around it as a kid, but he remembered it as a long hike. I found some informations indicating there was a quick route around the circumference and a park ranger confirmed this. We set off to explore. The kiddos spotted a few animals and most of the answers to their junior ranger guides as we walked. The path was paved and quite easy. We saw climbers ascending the face of the tower. The kiddos wondered how the climbers scaled such a mountain. We read about the tactics many climbers use and noted that the tower is a popular climbing spot. Dave was fascinated by the many fallen rocks which surrounded the tower. I noticed that many were hexagonal, and there was a placard discussing this. It made it very real when we could touch the mammoth fallen rocks and try to determine where they had sheared off the tower.




The climber was descending the side of the tower



We ended our time at Devils Tower in the learning center reading about the significance of this site to so many different cultures. The kiddos were enthralled by the Native American stories and prayer flags. We finished up the day talking with a very kind park ranger who shared other stories. The kiddos then earned their badge, and we set off for more exploring.


{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in a Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Other Side


Paired with the quirky Americana of South Dakota is true natural beauty. Our family took in the visual treats of the state in the prairie as well as in Mount Rushmore and the Badlands.

The Badlands were such a different landscape. Eamon and Aine compared it to their view of the moon or Mars. The rocky formations were white and rugged. We hiked around one trail to get a better sense of the area. It was breathtaking. The kiddos continued their space exploration game, calling out to one another as if they were astronauts. We jumped from rock to rock finding our way along the trail. Dave took many photos trying to capture the beauty.









From the Badlands, we ventured toward Mount Rushmore. I had never been to this national memorial. I am glad we went. The black hills were a much different environment from the Badlands despite their close proximity. Eamon determined that the place was called the Black Hills due to the dark pines which covered the mountains. From our park ranger, we found out he was right! We participated in the tour of the memorial as well as the Junior Ranger program. The kiddos enjoyed hunting for the answers to the program questions. We talked about the artist, Gutzon Borglum, who created the original casts for the presidents. Dave and I were impressed to see the original design included more of the presidents' torsos, but the actual rock did not lend itself to such carvings. We also wondered about the people who executed the design swinging from bosun chairs high in the air. It is such an amazingly impressive stone carving, and we were all glad to have seen it.