Saturday, September 28, 2013

5 1/2

Benton is five and a half today. It has been a milestone not as eagerly anticipated as some. He is too busy to be caught up in such matters. Perhaps it is due to the lack of cakes for such celebrations this year or perhaps it is his growing maturity. Benton is a delight to his family. His positive outlook and pleasure in his world are contagious. Each day is new and exciting to him. Often you will hear him quip, "Dis is the best day ever." He is genuinely happy with his life and sees magic in so many things.

Benton continues to love all things construction. He knows he cannot currently have his own crane or front loader, but that doesn't keep him from coveting them. He will often stop what he is doing to watch big machinery move about in the neighborhood - whether it is the large mower in the park or a truck delivering piles of landscaping rock. He will work a shovel like no one else in the family making sure he does his part. Of course he will also climb and play all over the large pile of mulch in the driveway exclaiming that it is "awesome" while you are trying to shovel the pile.

Benton has begun to assert his own voice these past few months as well. He no longer is willing to follow his siblings or be cajoled by them. He has his own ideas and views. Don't mess with his time on the computer! He is learning how to handle frustration and use his words with the taller people in the house. It isn't easy, but he is working hard on it. He also is finding his voice with others. The other night he approached a man in the park who was doing poi. The young man let him swing his illuminated poi and answered Benton's questions.

Benton still loves to be cuddled and will often climb up onto your lap for books. Most nights he is quite independent, but sometimes he just needs his mama or daddy to lay down with him. He loves his sister and brother and fills our home with his genuine infectious laugh. We do love him deeply and celebrate his time with us.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Blank Canvas

When we bought our house, we knew that the inside of our new home had been completely redone. We had new electrical, plumbing, cooling, and paint. The front landscaping had been done and everything looked good. Everything except the backyard. Our backyard was a blank canvas. Nothing was growing in it except a row of oleanders serving as the fence with our neighbors and one lone bush/tree. We quickly hatched plans for a tree-less treehouse, raised garden beds, chickens and fruit trees. Most of those plans had to be put on hold while we waited for cooler temperatures. It is not fun doing manual labor in 115 degrees!

In the past week or two, we have slowly begun to work on the yard. I have taken a few classes through the Valley Permaculture Alliance, hoping to gather a lot of good information as we design our yard. A fruit tree class opened up a lot of potential for the yard. We have dreams of apple, peach, pomegranate, grape and apricot. The order for those has been placed, and we expect the bare root trees early January. With a whole lot of care, water and pruning, we hope those will be a great additional to our yard.
Dave has been busy with the rototiller, breaking up the hard packed earth to make way for plants and growth. Eamon helped Dave out with the tiller. He took a turn navigating the big machine through the yard. He was quite impressed with his accomplishment. The tilling took a few days due to an errant wheel and low fuel. The fuel was an easy fix, but the wheel that fell off was a bit tougher. The kiddos and Dave took the metal detector out trying to find the missing fastener for the wheel. They found part of the piece as evening quickly approached, which was great fun. A trip to the local hardware store supplied everything else that was needed, and last night Dave finished the job. (Yes, we could have skipped the metal detector as my dad said, but using it was so much fun - treasure hunting at its finest).
We didn't want to till originally, preferring to amend the soil lasagna style instead. A few rains changed our minds. We noticed the yard sloped toward the house and garage creating pools near the structures. Now that the tilling is done, we will be moving some dirt around the yard to lessen the slope. There is much work still to be done, but we are making our first crack at that blank canvas and it feels good.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sweater Season

It began a few years ago when I joined a summer sweater knit-along. Truly the whole premise defies logic. It is hot during the summer. It should be the time for lightweight knitting - socks, tanks, wraps. It isn't the time to knit sweaters, let alone wool sweaters. That first summer I knit three sweaters - Shalom, February Lady Sweater and Frances Revisited. I loved welcoming fall with new wool garments. Since then I have noticed I tend to crank out sweaters in the warmer months(Modern Garden Cardi and Que Sera last year). This year is no exception.
This summer began with my Camp Cod sweater. My first foray into the world of cotton garment knitting. I really liked the result. I thought cotton and linen might be good choices for me here in the desert, but then I catalogued my yarn. It was a bit disconcerting. I have a whole lot of wool and quite a few sweater quantities of the stuff. So, I made a plan to knit those sweaters.

Next off the needles was a Nanook. This sweater was actually started last summer, but for some reason I never made it past the initial cast-on. The yarn for Nanook was bought a year or two ago, and I thought I had enough. I remained in denial until that last skein reached its end yet the end of the sweater was still a ways off. Luckily a fellow knitter on Ravelry came to my rescue. With that additional skein, I was able to finish the cardigan. I love the result. It hits well and is rather elegant in its simplicity. I am hoping I can wear it when we visit colder climes this fall and winter.
While I waited for the final skein for Nanook, I cast on a quick knit. Mud Season caught my eye, when it was first published, for its simplicity, and the fact it was free. Coupled with some Cascade Ecological wool I scooped up on clearance from Webs, it seemed like the next logical knit. I am going to make the sweater short sleeved as instructed, and I hope it will work well here with our mild winters. It is zipping along which is good, because I have plans for a couple more sweaters. I have yarn for at least four more adult sweaters and a couple for the kiddos. (They are starting to give me looks for all the mama knitting I am doing). In the queue are Umbrellas, Paper Dolls, Tea Leaves and Narrangesett as well as Bulle and a newborn Vertebrae. That should keep me busy for quite a long time.

Monday, September 23, 2013


This summer has been tough on me. I am not sure if it is due to our travels, missing most of last summer and this spring, but I am spent. Like many other Arizonans, I am done with summer. The problem is that summer in Arizona is not over. Summer time temperatures are the norm here until the end of October. Lately, though, I have started to notice a subtle shift. We had some rain last week and opened the windows. This week the overnight lows are forecasted in the 70s. It appears that the temperatures may have broken. I am celebrating highs around 105 and dancing when we dip into the nineties! Overnight we fling open the windows to enjoy the cool fresh air. We have resumed walking after dinner with the kids. Dave and I sit in chairs outside while the kiddos eagerly play tag in the park well into dark. For us, fall is here.
With the break in temperatures, our rhythm is changing. We have resumed our weekly park days. The kiddos are unaware that the weather is still very hot (107 last week). They play in the splash pads and run around with friends. Our schedule is filling with classes, park days, field trips and new adventures. Dinnertime is becoming a bit more robust. The grill is being used a bit less and more soups and crockpot meals are gracing the table. All five of us are working together outside in the yard, dreaming of just what the empty backyard will hold. This time of year brings a gentle shift for us here in the desert. If you are busy, you may miss that change of light in the morning and the bit of crisp to the otherwise warm air. Fortunately for me, my children make sure I slow down to notice.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Rainy Day Monday

It started raining in the wee hours of the morning and didn't stop until mid afternoon. It was fantastic. I opened the windows throughout the house as the temperature hovered in the high 70s. We even slept with them open last night. What a rare treat for this part of the country where our usual highs are 105ish.

Aine and Benton splashed in the puddles created along our street, returning to the house soaked to their undies. Eamon walked through our muddy backyard letting the wet dirt squish through his toes. I made butternut squash soup in the crockpot, filling the house with delicious aromas. Dave didn't come home for lunch; his parking lot at work was flooded and parts of the freeway were closed.

It doesn't rain much here, but when it does, we all feel refreshed. It means extra books read, snuggles on the couch, arts and crafts and possibly movies. It was a crazy, wonder-filled rainy day.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


I couldn't stay awake last night, although the story was so very good. I have read the book many times, and each time it grips me. I always gain something different with each reading. When I woke up this morning, I gathered our copy and my workout clothes. Normally I try to head out early to run, walk or strength train, but this morning I just had to finish the last 20 or so pages. I had to find out what happened to Jem and Scout. Again I was reminded of the ending and the brilliance of Harper Lee. That little book is full of so much goodness and insight. She crafts the tale with humble words and speech creating such a treasure.
I am taking an online course right now with Amanda of The Habit of Being entitled Write Now. The class focuses on the habit of writing daily and truly observing; crafting those tales we encounter throughout our lives and noticing the little things we can easily miss. One piece that struck me from the prompts was the belief that good writing comes from reading good works. I truly believe Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is a good work. Recently I also read a bit of Steinbeck. Somehow I had never read his work as a youth or in college. After just the first paragraph, I put it down. It was just so good. The imagery and the information provided in just that one group of sentences was profound. I even paused to share it with Dave.

There are many great works available, but I am continually drawn to older tomes. I even prefer many of the older children's works for the kiddos. So, although I still love to power through current fiction of questionable literary merit, I intersperse those reads with a return to the classics.
Another return to the classics is this sweater I recently finished. The pattern is Cape Cod from Thea Colman, and I love it. The sweater is perfect for throwing over a tee with a pair of jeans. The slight boatneck collar adds a touch of femininity to the raglan when combined with the lace panels in the front and back. I used cotton yarn this time, since I am finally accepting that Arizona is hot, and wool is only so practical here in my climate. I enjoyed working with the yarn, but I am not totally happy with the ribbing. It seems loose although I tried several different needle combinations. I think I may try a twisted rib next time.