Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Listening


During the hot summer days of Arizona, our family spends more time than usual indoors. Highs this weekend near 118 mean it is not particularly safe to be outside in the sun. Instead we retreat to the air conditioning and other pursuits. No matter what we are doing, we typically have an audiobook playing. Our family loves audiobooks. We listen on road trips, on weekly errands, during the day and sometimes even at night. I am not sure how their love started, but each enjoys listening to stories. Perhaps it is, because I love audiobooks. I enjoy hearing a story told and will listen whenever I can.

Recently someone asked where we find audiobooks. I thought I would share a few of our sources. Most of our stories are from the library. My library has two digital audiobook collections, OneClickdigital and Overdrive. I will often check out the digital portion of our library's offerings for good stories. If someone mentions a particular book that I think is suitable for all three children, I check the library. I download the audiobook to my player to enjoy (I have both an iPod and a SanDisk Sansa Clip. The Sansa is great for WMA files, a popular audiobook format). The digital file can be played at home or in our vehicle. Sometimes we will check out the actual discs from the library to play at home as well. Occasionally I will transfer them to a player and then delete the files when we are finished listening to it (for those worried, this is appropriate per our local librarian. If unsure check with your library).

Another source of books during the summer is Sync audio. This website offers two free audiobooks each week. One of the books is considered a classic and the other is current popular fiction. Sync tries to pair complimentary books together. Not all of them are appropriate for my kiddos at this point, but I still check each week and usually download the book for later. Eamon and Aine both have Sansa Clips for audiobooks that they listen to regularly, so sometimes I will load the story on their individual player based on age and book level. I prefer to listen with them when I am unsure of the book and content.

A final spot for audio is Lit2Go and Librivox. Both offer classics found in the public domain. We download from iTunesU or directly from the sites. I prefer Lit2Go, because it usually has one reader per story, and we can find some children's classics easily. We listened to many of the Oz stories from Lit2Go. The site also gives reading and grade levels as well as the pdf to go along with the selection. One other difference is that Librivox is volunteer powered, while Lit2Go is funded and run by the University of South Florida.

I hope this helps a few of you find audiobooks for your families. We love them, and I hope you do too.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A looming deadline

Last summer, I participated in Camp Loopy. It was a fun challenge to knit three items with differing parameters over the three months of summer. I completed camp and received a skein of yarn. I thought I would join again this year. Easy peasy.

The project for June must incorporate a yarn you have never knit. Not a problem, I chose Trekking XXL. I chose a basic sock pattern and figured I was good. Nope. The biggest challenge right now is completing my project in the thirty days of June. I have turned the heels on both socks and am furiously knitting. With just four more days left, I need to knit 2-3 inches a day. It seems doable with all the time poolside, but I am not so sure. We even are planning a bit of camping for the weekend. Surely that will help my knitting!

While knitting away on my socks I finished the audio version of Girl in Translation. It was good. The characters were interesting and believable, but the ending seemed a bit off. It made sense, but was abrupt. Next up is a trip to the library. I have a few more audiobooks lined up, but I need a real book next!

Joining Ginny and all the Yarn Alongers for a bit of yarn and page this week. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Time Together

The weekend was full of more organizing and straightening but also plenty of fun.
*Eamon and Aine had their first swimming meet. They each received ribbons and enjoyed the whole process. It was a bit warm for the observers, but we stayed cool with watermelon and of course,  legos packed in swimming trunks (who doesn't pack this way?)
*The whole family headed out for a concert at the library on Saturday. We turned out to listen to the rocking sounds of Harry and the Potters. It was a lot of fun to join our friends for the event and meet beforehand for more watermelon and roasted corn. The kiddos took photos dressed in Potter garb, picked buttons from a sorting hat, and listened to Potter inspired tunes. It was a bit loud for the adults as one speaker was acting up, but the band put on a great show full of zany showmanship! Later the adults enjoyed reading up on the performers and their pursuit of a dream.
*I met a few of my long time mama friends for dinner. It was so good to see them. We talk online, but in person is always a bit better. These women helped me through those early years of mamahood. Good food and even better conversation made for a great night.
*Another Craigslist find was tracked down to complete the seating arrangement in the main living space. We like it thus far and are plotting a family art piece for the wall. I will keep everyone posted on how that turns out.
*Legos, legos and more legos were sorted to transform the main bin into a colorful array. Eamon and I decided we needed a new storage solution and think we may have found it. With the help of Trofast frames and bins from IKEA, we now have the legos available for play and a bit more organized. This process led to so many LEGO creations around the house. New spaceships, Hero Factory folks, and playscapes were made. Each of the kiddos spent hours building, which makes me glad I spent hours sorting!
*Lots of drawing comprised the days too. Aine loves to create art and has been working on a few new pieces. She is working to perfect her portraits. Many books clutter the table as all three sketch, color and create.
*From the comfort of our new home, we viewed the supermoon and fireworks at the nearby ball field. Each of us marveled at the size of the moon and the wispy clouds that covered it. We talked about how close the moon was and that it is called a perigee full moon.
*The lawn was mowed, edged and the water timer was adjusted. It turns out that part of our plants are dying, because the landscaping company that maintained the yard previously didn't program the timer correctly. That has been fixed, so hopefully the plants thrive now.
*Dave and I moved things around in the garage and talked about our plans for that space and the adjacent lab space. Much more needs to be done, but it was a start.
*The last of the boxes were emptied and piles were made for Goodwill, Craigslist and friends. We are hoping this week finds the house finally all in order. Phew - what a process.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Letting the Sun Shine in

Many homes in Arizona are dark in an effort to keep the home cool during hot summers. It is nice for cooling the home, but hard for living. I love having sunshine stream through the windows. I like awakening with the sun and following its natural rhythms. Our previous houses have been dark. Our new home has many windows, most of the which are shaded with porch or patio. This house is nice and bright, which is fantastic for me.

For the first week we lived here, we had no window coverings on most of the windows. There were room darkening shades on the kiddos' rooms to help them sleep, but the rest were wide open. I hesitated to cover the windows and block the beautiful sunshine. Of course, at night I felt like we lived on stage. As we unpacked boxes and moved furniture, I imagined the neighbors watching and making up their own stories about our lives. In one of the boxes, I found two long sheer panels that we had used on Aine's canopy bed. Since her canopy is defunct after too many slides down the corner poles, I decided to repurpose the sheers.

I was able to fashion four cafe curtains from the two panels. The curtains begin partway down our paned windows and allow sunshine through them. The house is still nice and bright, but we don't feel quite so much on display! We still need curtains on a few more windows, but those will be finished soon.

As I sewed and hemmed the curtains, I listened to my current audiobook, Girl in Translation. I really enjoy listen to a book while I am doing another task. I am glad my kiddos have inherited this love of the spoken word as well.

* joining in with Dawn for a bit of Making and Listening this week.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Poolside Knitting

Most of my knitting time lately has been while sitting poolside during swimming practice and lessons. Once we leave the pool the work of crafting a home overtakes all else. Now that we have been in the house for two weeks, things have settled into place more or less. There are still a few things to sort, purge and store, but most of that belongs to Dave or requires his insight. This means I may be able to knit and read again at home!

My current project is a pair of colorful socks. When I unpacked the items from storage and the small amount of clothing I had while traveling, I discovered that I had quite a few pairs of wool socks. I am not sure if this means that these should be gifted or that we need to go camping in northern Arizona more. The sock yarn is Trekking XXL, which I have never used. I am pleased with how durable this pair feels. The pattern is Tracks, and I am knitting two at a time magic loop.

Reading at the pool is more difficult. I have managed to read a few saved Internet articles, make a lot of lists, and finish a magazine. My evening usually involves me reading to the kiddos or falling asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. Our current family read is Everything for a Dog . The kiddos enjoyed her other book about a dog. They seem to be enjoying this one as well, although we did just read that  Charlie's older brother died recently. I am not sure how that will play out. Our other family book is one a friend loaned to me. It is Backyards for Kids. Everyone is pouring over it. There are so many great ideas for creative outdoor play spaces. Our backyard is currently an empty slate, and the first order of business is a treehouse. With our friend's yard as inspiration, many plans are being hatched.

Since most of you are visiting from Ginny's Yarn Along, what is your favorite hot weather, poolside knitting? and what is a must have in your backyard? I need a few more ideas.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Season has Begun


Swim season is in full swing around these parts. Most mornings, we head out to the local public pool for swim team and lessons.  Each of the kiddos is thriving in the water. With temperatures steadily in the mid 100s, the cool aqua water is a respite. The kiddos jump out of the car and into the water eagerly. After the first day Eamon remarked that he had forgotten how much he likes swim team. He is working on improving his form and has gotten quite good at freestyle. Aine is busy working on her entry dive and perfecting her strokes too. She did have one morning when she was ill and missed swim team. I asked if she was truly ill or needed a break. She soon realized sitting in the heat with mama was not as fun as swimming and hasn't needed a break again. While the older two are swimming, Benton patiently awaits his lesson splashing in the shallow water. He has mastered breath control and can swim the width of the pool. Next year all three want to swim together and are even talking about the diving team too.

After a full morning of swimming, we head home for some lunch and cool air conditioning. After some food and a bit of play, talk returns to the pool. In the short time we have lived here, we have already ridden our bikes to meet up with friends at the pool. This is no small task in the heat, but fortunately we live very near the pool. At the end of each week, we also have headed out to swim with more friends, jump off the high diving boards, and zoom down the slides in the zero entry area. If I cannot swim myself during all the pool time, I sit and read or knit. With the smell of chlorine and sunscreen filling the air, I can relax knowing my kiddos are nearby improving their swimming skills and enjoying the season. This is the best way we know to survive the summer in the desert - with lots of water time.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Settling

Two weeks ago we closed on our new home and began the process of making it our own. The boxes have been unpacked and a few items hung on the walls. Rooms are still in disarray, but we are settling into our new space. Each day we notice a new corner to appreciate and enjoy. We have played games and built new creations. Art supplies and creating are in heavy rotation. This weekend we cleared off the dining table and can now enjoy our meals without possessions encroaching. The next phase is the kiddos' rooms. They are so happy to have their "stuff" back after a year in storage, which means many of their toys are strewn about the house. This has been a challenge, but after setting up the rest of the house, I think we are ready to tackle their spaces.