Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Behind the Scenes

Have you ever been behind the scenes at the airport? Driven on the tarmac in a bus? Toured the airport fire station? Spent time with the airport police watching their canine and handler locate something? Slid down a firepole? Watched a specialty fire engine spray with three different nozzles? Learned all about the airport? 
New light rail bridge over the runway (purposely built high enough for a tipped place to fit under)
Modeling the high heat clothing the firefighters must wear (withstands much higher temps compared to the typical brown outfit)
Miss Aine taking her second trip down. Eamon and I did it also.

 We did.

As part of the Arizona SciTech Fest we toured the airport. After a bit of a mixup involving the help of a kind police Lieutenant, we joined the tour. The kiddos and I spent two hours visiting the airport and learning about this city within a city. It was very cool. If you are local, you should check out the upcoming events the festival is hosting.

Monday, February 27, 2012


This weekend was a full one with a bit of busy and a bit of relaxing. After running around town, the kiddos and I headed to our local library complex on Saturday for some pottery and food. Our community participates in Empty Bowls each year. It is a fundraiser aimed at ending hunger in your community. Eamon and I began going when he was a wee, only child. We took a few years off as our collection of pottery bowls was sufficient, and our budget was tight. This year, down to one bowl, we decided it was time to go again.
The kiddos love to go and pick out a piece of pottery donated by our area high schools. Each one is very specific in what they want. Benton settled on his blue bowl immediately. He picked it up and declared it his own. No other bowl could sway his decision. Eamon and Aine took a bit longer. They lingered over the bowls changing their minds as a new one grabbed their fancy. Eamon took the most time with it and ended up switching bowls right at the end. Aine enjoyed finding one for Dave too. She found two that coordinated which became the mama and daddy bowls.
During our wandering, we talked about the area organizations the event would help. We are very familiar with them as our Girl Scout troop as well as our family volunteers time with each (iHELP and the Escalante Community Garden). Coincidentally we had spent the previous day in the garden weeding and thinning the beds with GS.
The kiddos ate bowls of soup and bread while we listened to music. Eamon ran into the ceramics studio to pick up his pieces from class which he doled out to each of us with pride (I now have a pin container, a pretzel, and a honey pot). As we sat I fixed an error in my knitting, enjoying our wonderful weather, vibrant community and full belly.

Friday, February 24, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in a Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Handknits

The scanner continued to beep as the woman at the checkout evaluated me. I could tell she was inspecting my sweater. The green is very rich and the style different from what you would normally see so close to the university.  Finally she remarked on my "beautiful sweater." I thanked her and proceeded to pay for my purchases. She kept looking until she asked the eventual question, "Someone didn't make that, did they?" Her voice conveyed respect, interest, and admiration. I told her that yes I had knit my sweater. She swooned as she called to another cashier telling her that I had made my sweater. With much  praise they oohed and aahed over the garment including anyone nearby in the discussion. I was embarrassed yet pleased. I could turn ordinary yarn into a beautiful sweater. As I walked away I could hear her tell others about the woman and the green sweater. With a spring in my step. I wanted to turn around to tell her I had knit my socks too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

When in Doubt

This summer while vacationing in California we traveled to Sequoia National Park. The forests were beautiful and truly awe inspiring. While camping there, I started a sweater for myself. I had selected a basic pullover for the pattern and some beautiful Quince and Company yarn. The sweater flew off the needles as bulky yarn is quick to knit. I modified the pattern very little and was pleased with the result.
As I wore the sweater my initial pleasure was replaced with discontent. The neckline was huge. Not one to give in easily, I grabbed some extra yarn and my crochet hook. With hooking instructions from the Yarn Harlot I added some stability to the neckline. This helped a bit, but the fit was still not quite right. I decided it needed better shaping, changes to the yoke, more length, and different yarn. I set the sweater aside.
As the time has passed, I keep thinking about the gorgeous yarn and the cast aside sweater. I tried wearing it again, but still wasn't pleased with the look. A few weeks ago, I started browsing Ravelry. With some searching I came up with three other options for the yarn. With the yardage available in the sweater, I could knit either the High Line Scarf, the Modern Garden Cardigan or the Iced Cardigan. I thought about frogging the completed sweater, and I stopped. Did I really dislike it that much? I do, so I frogged the sweater, and it actually felt so good. I now have the yarn balled and ready to make into something new. I am still trying to decide between the three patterns, which is fine. There are still two projects on my needles and a long queue to knit. Still the yarn is calling. It wants to be something beautiful. So, which would you make?

(Joining Ginny for the weekly Yarn Along. The above tinking was the biggest knitting accomplishment for the week. As for my two live projects, I am almost finished with the Holden Shawl. I finished the suggested repeats and am now doing another section of the lace, since I have a lot of yarn remaining. The sweater has only grown an inch or two. Reading is hit or miss. I am having a hard time focusing on one book, so I have been reading a page or two from several).

The Games We Play

Everyone has been playing games in our house. A whole lot of games. We play them settled into the middle of the family room floor spread out with plenty of room. We play them on the couch under blankets or at the dining room table surrounded by art supplies and paper. There are times we play them outside on a huge quilt surrounded by sun and sky. No matter where we are, our family is all about games.

Some of the favorite standbys have been making an appearance this week. Mancala and Mastermind are two of these games. Aine is still considered the resident Mancala expert. Yesterday she gave her older brother some lessons on strategy. She played several games with each of us, always looking for a new partner. We have an official gameboard, but you can easily make the game with two small cups or bowls, an egg carton and 48 stones. You place 4 stones into each section of the egg cartoon and use the two bowls as your mancala scoring pits. There are directions all over the internet, so learn, play, and be ready for Miss Aine!

Our other long time favorite is Mastermind. The other day four of us set up a game center outside playing Mastermind for Kids. Aine and I began playing and were quickly joined by Eamon and Benton. Everyone loves taking a turn playing code maker and code breaker. Our version is a bit easier than the standard, since there are only three pieces used to make the code. We also like the whimsical animal pieces. A regular set is on our shelves too, but for now we like this one. I love this game and can remember playing it in 5th grade. My teacher set up a station in the back of the room where people could challenge and play each other.
In addition to the old standbys, we have two new games in the rotation. Ticket To Ride is probably our favorite new game. I read many great things about this game, so I decided to buy it a month or so ago. It has been a huge hit. Eamon particularly loves this board game. He held the record for longest route for quite a few games until his mama tied him in a brilliant move (or so I say). The three of us play often during the day. Benton usually teams up with one of us and enjoys placing the train pieces around the board. Whenever anyone visits they usually are asked to play. The whole family really likes this game and finds the premise quite fun. Despite a pricier cost, I would recommend it.
Our other new game has been on our shelves untouched for a couple years. That is actually quite embarrassing to say, but the kiddos never seemed interested in the game. I think my sister bought it for us when she saw it at the thrift shop, thinking we would love it. We just never tried it. Finally this week that changed when Eamon and Aine pulled Cranium Cadoo out to play. They really enjoyed it and had a lot of fun. Both of them had an area they liked better than the others. Eamon preferred solo play while Aine liked the group cards. We molded clay, drew pictures, decoded puns, acted out words, and laughed a whole lot! It is really a good game.
What games do you enjoy? Are there any lurking on your shelves waiting to be discovered? Does your family enjoy games as much as ours?

Friday, February 17, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in a Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Slow Progress

I wanted to quickly check-in with my friends who participate in Ginny's Yarn Along. With all the illness in the house, you would think great progress would have been made on the knitting. Nope! I am still plugging along on the Bedford sweater body and the Holden shawl. The sweater seems to eat a whole bunch of yarn, and I have a sick feeling that I may not have enough. I am trying to ignore that feeling and forge ahead. The sleeves are reverse stockinette, so I keep telling myself that I should be fine. We shall see.

The shawl is moving ahead slowly as well. I am just starting the pattern portion of the shawl. I haven't used a lot of yarn so far for this project, since Wollmeise has very generous skeins. I am hoping to make the shawl a bit bigger, and I think it will happen.

There is also no great progress to report in my reading. I am still reading The Night Circus with a little Yarn Harlot thrown in for quick bedtime reading. A generally slow week here for sure. With my time divided between the two projects as well as reading, progress is not easily forthcoming. I even had to throw in a little sewing to satisfy my urge for a quick result! Hopefully next week will find us all well and with more to share.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I told you

I was reminded this week of a story my sister shared while growing up. I don't have any recall of the memory, but it is quite vivid for her. While getting ready for school she had complained to my mother of a stomach ache. My mom dismissed the complaint as my sister often complained of illness to avoid the unpleasantness of school. My mom bundled her up and sent her off to the school bus. My sister vomited shortly after boarding the bus. My mom then had to picked my very sick sister up from school. The resounding cry then and in the years that have followed was, "I told you."
This week has found us sick in one way or another. A stomach bug pushed aside the familial complaints of sniffles for a few days. Aine was the first to succumb to the illness vomiting on her birthday. When Aine first started complaining of an upset stomach, we had just eaten dinner and copious amounts of cake and ice cream. I dismissed her belly ache as food related. I held her while we watched a movie together. Her complaints continued culminating in a trip to the bathroom. Her first words after becoming ill were, "I told you."
Gifted with a brief window of health on Saturday, the kiddos and I decided to ride our bikes to the park. Usually Benton rides with me. Everyone pulled their bikes out of the garage to check tires including Benton. With helmet in place, he insisted he was going to ride his bike. I tried to gently dissuade him. I told him it may be too far for his legs (around 1.4 miles). He insisted he could do it. I grabbed the bike lock just in case we needed to abandon his mode of transportation part way. Benton rode his bike with finesse tackling the distance in stride. As we approached the park with Benton's little legs furiously pedaling the whole way, he quipped, "I told you."
Yes, my dear kiddos, you told me and reminded me to trust you. Too often I think I know best. Best for you, best for me, best for others. This week was a great reminder that I do not know all. I only know my truths. Thank you for reminding me to trust you to know your truths. If there are mistakes along the way it is only part of our learning, part of the journey. I will listen more closely and trust you each more deeply. I am hopeful that you will not have to tell me "I told you" again.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

At Long Last

Many weeks ago, I pulled out my sewing machine to work on belated holiday gifts. I had a few other sewing projects in mind at the time as well as some the kiddos had dreamed up. I was energized and had a plan. With gusto I finished one of the family quilts. I was on a roll. And then I stopped. After a few days of inactivity, I put away the ironing board and iron. I left the sewing machine hoping it would remind me to sew. It didn't. Instead it just became one with the dining room table.

I kept making excuses. I didn't want to pull out the cutting mat and tracing paper. We were busy with other things. I didn't have time. Finally this week I shrugged off the excuses and did some sewing. I still didn't want to spend loads of time tracing and cutting. I just wanted a quick project to get me back on track. A few buckets seemed the perfect start.

With pirate skull fabric scraps that a friend had given me and a pair of Dave's old jeans, I set to work. The pirate fabric had already been cut into three sets of buckets. I pulled out some batting leftover from a quilt and set to work cutting the jeans. Benton sat on my lap while I sewed the buckets. They were super easy, and I had three in under an hour. My little helper immediately claimed two of the bags. The other was set aside as a gift.

Later while working on the kiddos' computer, I kept muttering about all the games laying around the desk. The disks to games continually find their way to the floor and often fail to work after repeated abuse. While huffing and puffing, I had a moment of clarity and came up with a solution - the third bucket bag. I grabbed the bag and began filling it. The size was perfect and now the games and headset are not strewn about the area. It worked perfectly. The kiddos love it. Best of all I now have my sewing mojo back.

Friday, February 10, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in a Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
Flip flops in January, overflowing bag, knitting, kanteen, cape - that's how we roll

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Testing the Water

A true Arizona child, Benton yearns for the days of summer and endless hours of swimming. For the past two months he has donned his swimsuit and rash guard on a regular basis wanting to go to the pool. He insists that it will be warm enough. He assures me that I can just sit on the side while he swims. I don't need to even get wet or swim myself. He tells me he will be fine.
Finally today we ventured out to the pool. While playing outside, Benton rushed into the house. He returned donned in a swimsuit and too small rash guard. We were off to the pool. Gingerly he and his older sister dipped their toes into the water while standing on the steps (Eamon remembered his November dip and refused to participate reminding Aine that the water is very cold). When he tired of that, Benton stood at the side of the pool watching the water shimmer in the February light. I watched him staring at the water, knowing he was going to jump. I was right. Taking a few deep breaths, he jumped right into the pool. It was cold. Really cold. In the frigid water, Benton kicked but couldn't get back to the side. With outstretched arms, Aine and I pulled him to the side. His little lips were quaking, but he had a huge grin. After a long wait, he was back swimming.

Two of my three knitting projects are coming along swimmingly. I worked for the first part of the week on the Holden shawl. I discovered that the blues, greens, and purples of the yarn are joined with a bit of magenta. These flashes of color look good together thus far. No real signs of pooling or flashing. I am eager to get to the lace section as I am still in the foundation rows of stockinette stitch. With any luck this week will find me working on the lace.

While convalescing this weekend with Aine and then feeling crummy myself, I cast on and focused solely on my Bedford pullover. This style of sweater isn't my normal pick. I prefer cardigans and more fitted pullovers. After using the Rowan Purelife Wool for my leggings, I just knew I needed a slouchy sweater made from it. Enter the Bedford pullover. After spending far too much time on Ravelry reading notes, I decided to reduce the ease that many incorporated into their sweaters. I am making it with zero ease and hoping for the best. I have knit the ribbing and 2-3 inches of the pattern. I am loving the squishy fabric. I am sure it will make a great lounging sweater.

As far as reading, I actually finished a book this week. (Cue the fanfare!) My hold on Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children came up. Since it was a digital title, I downloaded it right away. The storyline is very intriguing in the beginning. I could not stop reading it. Toward the middle and end of the book, it lost its intrigue. I think it fell a bit flat. I also don't like when books seem to be set up for a sequel from the start. Sometimes I just like a self contained story.

Once I finished the Peculiar Children title, I needed something new. As you can see from my pile of books, I had some time to browse at the library. I picked up a few selections that others have recommended on the Yarn Along with Ginny. Currently I am reading The Night Circus. I have only just begun the book, but it seems like it will be good. Of course, it is due tomorrow, so I am going to have to check it out again. My library has a section of newest releases that are always available. These titles cannot be placed on hold. Since they cannot be reserved, you can only check them out for a week. My strategy is to return the book and subsequently check it back out. A week is just not enough time for me these days.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Quiet Days

I have been waking early these past few weeks. While everyone stills sleeps, the house is quiet and I have a few minutes to just think. I treasure this time by myself. Instead of leaving to go to the gym or run through the neighborhood, I have been sitting. Most of the time is spent catching up on the internet, reading or knitting. Often I brew myself a cup of tea as well. I enjoy so much of our time together. I would not trade my family togetherness for anything else in the world. However, I do so need a bit of time alone with just my thoughts to keep me company.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

7 is Big

Our weekend was spent celebrating sweet Aine's birthday. Her celebration was a unique one this year. Typically we venture out on a day of her choosing, but this year there was a wrinkle. Dave sprained his ankle on Thursday and was unable to walk great distances. Undeterred Aine came up with a new plan. After a special dinner at "pa-chote-lay" (Chipotle for the uninformed), we came home for cake and a family movie. A tummy ache interfered with Aine's movie watching and later that night she vomited. The next day was spent quietly as she continued to feel crummy.

Through it all, Aine remained her happy, positive self. She truly is a magical little girl. She did not complain about her odd celebration. Each obstacle was taken in stride. She enjoyed whatever the day brought and never really complained. In all she does, Aine approaches her life with pleasure.

Aine is a vivacious wonder, delighting people everywhere she goes. This year has brought growth and adventure for Aine. She continues to love those around her deeply. She has matured and is better at channeling her strong emotions. She also is getting better at dealing with her brothers and using her words when confrontation arises. Babies continue to enthrall her, and you can often find her around the smaller people helping the mamas out. With a style all her own, she embraces the world. No one could ever call her reserved.

This past year has brought so many changes for our little girl. Dave and I keep say to one another, "Seven is big." I know seven will bring grand things for our dear sweet girl. Seven is big, and I know Aine will pull it off with finesse.

Friday, February 03, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


While I was folding laundry, I overheard Eamon reading Calvin and Hobbes to his brother and sister. He loves this comic. When Eamon's hair was a bit longer, he would scrunch it Calvin style. His stuffed tiger is named Hobbes. I think he even fancies himself a bit like the mischievous Calvin.

As I listened I was so impressed. Eamon is typically reluctant to read to anyone even though he has been reading for a long time. (I am not really sure if he began reading at age 4 or 5. He just seems to have always been a reader). With all that he reads, he declines whenever I ask him to read aloud. He always insists that he doesn't read well to others. As I listened, I smiled as he used different voices for Calvin, Hobbes and the parents. He had amazing inflection and story-telling finesse. His audience was enraptured.

As he read, I could hear all three of them laughing together. His voice, combined with each peal of  laughter, was truly music. I peeked around the corner and saw them huddled together enjoying this closeness as well as a few oranges. I hesitated taking a photo fearing I would disturb their moment together. I am so glad he read to them and that they listened.