Friday, December 22, 2006
And don't my ladies look lovely?
We took the kids to New York city this week. It was their first time ever in the Big Apple. We did all the usual Christmas-time stuff. The boys went to FAO Schwartz to see the amazing stuff there, while the girls ooh'ed and aah'ed at American Girl Place. Then we went ice skating at Rockefeller Center. After a walk through St. Patrick's Cathedral and a delicious lunch in the theater district, we took a cab down to Macy's to see the windows, which were spectacular. Then we caught the train home and C. fell asleep in the car as we drove home from the station. New York wore her out!
Sunday, December 10, 2006
We all think it looks great. It is VERY soft and squishy. A testimonial: the other day, after I had not seen the cat for hours, I searched the house for him. I finally found him sacked out on this rug in our tiny powder room. The cat never goes in that room. So there.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
The Moorestown Christmas Parade was this past weekend. The theme was "The Circus;" all the groups participating had to do something in line with the theme. C.s Brownie troop were a troop of trained pink and white poodles. They jumped through hoops and sang all the way down Main Street. The Webelos Cub Scouts were clowns. Our sad clown claimed he would rather have been a pink poodle, but we think probably not.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
We were in Charlotte for Thanksgiving, when A. had his 10th birthday. He had a really great weekend. Aside from the aforementioned fish-riding ...
...there was ice skating--in short sleeves, no less, although it just seemed so wrong to be ice skating in such warm weather. The balmy temperatures and bright sun resulted in a not inconsiderable layer of cold water on top of the ice--water C. got up close and personal with quite often because she was not quite comfortable on the rental hockey skates (no toe pick and weird sizing!).
And nothing says "birthday" like some rock climbing. Again, I am not sure why. Whatever--it was lots of fun! We checked out the brand spankin' new U.S. National Whitewater Center near Charlotte, and it turned out that there were some rather cool rock climbing walls there. I wish I could have gotten a good picture of A's smile after he reached the top on his first climb. :o)
Here he is at the top.
C. will not be outdone, and climbs some pretty good walls herself.
Here she is, at the top!
Monday, November 20, 2006
We took this on the trip to the mountains. Rich got it all to himself while I had to slog through the awful book chosen that month by my book club. Every time he laughed out loud while reading, I would get envious. Having read it now myself, I can say it is probably good that I did not read the discussion of bear attacks before our night of camping. But it was a very enjoyable book overall. I learned some interesting things about the Appalachian Trail.
C has flown through every Disney Fairy book, gobbling them up faster than Halloween candy. She can read one in a day. I wish I could persuade her that she is capable of reading harder books on her own (i.e., without a parent sitting next to her and taking turns reading paragraphs).
I recently "finished" this book--I can't say I read it, because I actually listened to it. I downloaded the mp3 from audible.com and kept a section of it on my little Rio player at all times. It took me several weeks of playing it in the car, during walks around the neighborhood, etc., to get through all 18 hours of it. Now that I am done, however, I have started it all over again. It was that interesting. The writing is very good--he takes some rather arcane science and makes it very accessible for the non-scientist. And the reading is good as well. A and I both really enjoyed it.
A has been working his way through E. Nesbit's work, and liking it very much. So far, he has read The Enchanted Castle, Five Children & It, The Phoenix & the Carpet, and The Story of the Amulet. He also re-read Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux for today's meeting of the library bookclub.
And Rich is still working on the biography of Churchill.
About a month ago, I became completely obsessed with the felted purse pattern in the latest "issue" of knitty. It was so different from anything I had done before. I had to make it. Making the swatch was, um, an interesting experience, but I was not deterred. I changed from worsted weight wool to bulky, and then proceeded to splurge on size 13 and 15 Knit Picks Options needles (not the whole set!) to make the darn thing (love those needles, btw).
Meanwhile, A. has asked to be taught how to cast on. When I taught the kids to knit last year, I did not teach them how to cast on. He and another boy at school who knows how to knit apparently are upset that their respective knitting teachers (their moms) never taught them casting on. A. says he wants to make his school teacher's washcloth for her Christmas gift basket and he wants to do it completely--from start to finish. So ... we had our first casting on lesson last night.
Oy, what a challenge! He is very nimble with his hands, so that's not the issue. With practice he is going to be fine. But it was incredibly difficult for me to take something that I do almost without thinking and break it down into explainable chunks for him. Anyone listening to us last night would have thought that I was an idiot: "You take the tail ... and then your thumb is here, no the other way ... wait, let me think, no you go left to right, wait, no, yes, hold it, let me try that again. Yes, left to right, but then right to left...." You get the idea. When I thought he had it under control, I left him to read for C's bedtime. Big mistake. When I came back, he was nearly in tears.
We'll try again tonight. I promised I would stay by him for all 45 stitches.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
The BarBri bar review books are being returned to George and Chrissy, the friends who lent them. Rudolph's checking the contents of the bag.
Meanwhile, the pmbr Bar Review cds are being prepared for listing on eBay.
I passed the New Jersey bar exam. :o)
Monday, October 23, 2006
We only had rain one night. Of course, it was the night we were in a tent. Nevertheless, I'd rather have rain while I'm sleeping (or trying to sleep) than when I'm hiking. And the days were not nearly as cold as we feared. We were very comfortable in our sweatshirts and jeans, layered with turtlenecks and long undies. SmartWool socks are awesome. Love 'em. May just start wearing 'em for fun.
I am proud to report that C. only spent about 25% of her hiking time complaining that she was tired. At least 50% she spent happily skipping or singing or just enjoying the scenery. The remaining 25% she was stoic, although probably tired. A. was terrific: very little complaining at all. Our longest hike (Rapidan Camp loop), was 7.4 miles long, with a grueling 3+ mile ascent in the middle. It was quite steep for a while there. A. talked during the entire climb. It was enough for me to keep a good pace going while breathing--carrying on a conversation was pretty much out of the question. Clearly, he is in pretty good shape to be able to talk more or less non-stop for this entire ascent. There's something to be said for that, hm? Plus, I think his talking and C's singing kept any bears away.
C. took two of her Littlest Pet Shop animals on each excursion--whether it be to the lodge for dinner, to Luray Caverns, or to the summit of Hawksbill Peak. She was quite fair, and every animal got to go somewhere interesting at least once.
The Lodge at Big Meadows was wonderful. We really enjoyed hanging out in the Great Room before and after dinner. You can play games there, read, or just relax by the fire while admiring the views. A. usually would work on the huge puzzle they always had going. The rooms have no TVs, which is pretty neat. We brought The End, the last book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, on CD to listen to at bedtime.
So now we are back. I have to vacuum out my pit of a car, do many loads of laundry, get the guinea pig back from C's friend, make A's Halloween costume, and go to teacher conferences and Girl Scout leader training and Book Club this week. C. also has a double-header soccer game on Saturday.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
1. School Stuff. A. loves his new Montessori school. I do wonder exactly how much he is learning there, but he is definitely having a really good time. Meanwhile, C. says 2nd grade is "really hard." It's not the level of the actual work--she says that is easy--it's the time- and book/paper-management with which she is having trouble. There are so many papers, and this is the first year where they have to take sole responsibility for writing down the homework assignments in their "planners," and then remembering to bring home the necessary books and compositions books. In case you all are wondering, for the month of September, C. only batted about 500 on remembering to bring the right books home.
By the way, these assignments are nothing to sneeze at! Last Monday, she had to write out definitions for 16 social studies words. SIXTEEN. The test on these words was not until Friday, while they were required to write out all the definitions Monday night. They also had spelling homework that night. All told, she spent an hour (maybe more) on homework, after a 6.5 hour school day and a 1 hour bus ride.
These kids are only 7 and 8 years old. I'm just sayin'.
It is especially hard for C. to see that A. is getting no homework assigned from the Montessori school. I'm going to have to give him some assignments at home , not only to make sure that he continues to learn but also to keep the peace!
We started back up with Latin last week, doing the review at the end of Henle Unit II, and I was impressed with how much he remembered. I want him to start reading more history as well, and I want him to write letters to people. They let him spend whole days on science at math at school. No wonder he is having so much fun!
2. Knitting Projects. Okay. Garter Stitch Placemats are boring. There, I've said it. I have 3 done, and would like to have 6. But I'm taking a break and I'm doing some socks again. It's short attention-span knitting theater.
I finished the Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock wool socks, and hey! they are just in time to keep my feet warm in the mountains next week. The color is #38, Mixed Berries. They don't look quite as bright IRL as they do in this picture. Maybe it's my monitor.
And here is my start on the next pair of socks, this time in Regia Silk Color, shade #183. This yarn is a machine washable wool/silk/polyamid blend. It is incredibly soft and very nice to knit with, but I must admit that I'm not crazy about the colorway. Not the most subtle stripe, is it? It's not regular, but it's not exactly random either.
I think I am going to do a mock cable rib for the leg. I really don't want to do another k2p2 rib leg.
I followed the directions for the yarn-over short-row toes and heels that you can find here and had great success. It was much easier than the wrap-style short-row, and the results look great. (You'll have to take my word for it; I can't get a good close-up.)
Up next: a felted purse. Maybe.
3. Birthday Girl. C's 8th birthday was "the best ever," she says. She had a slumber party, for which I kinda regret giving the green light, even though she had a great time. 6 girls came; 3 got picked up around 10:30 by their parents, while the remaining 3 stayed over. The girls "slept" in sleeping bags on the family room floor, and I "slept" on the couch in the living room while repeatedly hissing "Shhhhh's!" at them. I know C and one friend were up past 1 a.m. Needless to say, there were a lot of tired people around here the next day. But she had a wonderful time.
4. Mountain Plans. We are so excited about our upcoming trip to Skyline Drive. We are planning our hikes, breaking in our boots, etc. We have one night of camping, followed by 3 nights at the Big Meadow Lodge. Aside from hiking, we are also planning to check out Luray Caverns again, or maybe some other caves nearby. Pray for good weather for us--this is our only vacation this year!
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I forgot to take "before" pictures to compare against the "after," but all of you who have seen our kitchen in its former incarnation should appreciate the improvement. The 10-year-old basic formica, annoyingly shallow double sink, and shoddy faucet are gone. Also gone (and I mean "gone" as the garbage men just picked them up this morning) are the cabinets that used to hang over the counter. (You remember those, Frank--the ones you used to bang your head against every time you visited?) We replaced those with the glass front cabinet you see against the wall in the picture. We also replaced the small, shallow cabinets that were around the fridge with fuller and deeper ones. Finally--and this was the best thing--we had the guys build a wall to support a second, bar-level counter.
The new counter is granite: Home Depot's new supposedly care-free granite. It's gorgeous; the pictures don't really do it justice. The only drawback of having such a lovely and classy-looking countertop is that it makes our crummy old builder's grade electric stove look even worse than it really is. Well, hopefully we can take care of that is a couple of years.
We love our new kitchen! The counter is simply beautiful. And we love being able to sit at the counter. It's so exciting to be able to pass things easily between the cooking and the eating areas, that we are getting rather silly about it. "Look, Mom, I am HANDING YOU my dish. Will you HAND ME the milk?" We are so easily amused. :o)
My Mason-Dixon dishcloths are proving quite handy, now that I am actually drying dishes and putting them away, rather than leaving them in the drying rack in one side of the double sink for days on end (cringe). My first two Mason-Dixon inspired placemats (using their log cabin knitting technique with washable dishcloth cotton yarn) are on the bar. My plan is to make six of these, changing the order in which I use the colors.
Here is a photo of the Bamboo yarn cropped cardigan, finally finished up. This turned out wonderfully, which actually was a very nice surprise. Before I sewed it together, I was feeling quite disappointed with it. The pieces just looked messy and plain awful--the pieces were small, and the yarn was so floppy, that I was having trouble looking past the messy ends to see the shape it would eventually take on. But once I finished it and tried it on, I knew I loved it. I've already worn it twice, and I only finished it about a week ago. The picture also shows ... (drum roll) ... my progress on the Endless Denim Cardigan. I promised I would get back to it, and I have. Maybe I'll finish it by Christmas (snort). Maybe pigs will fly. You never know.
Look at all the progress the kids have made on the potholder loop rug! I think we are about 2/3 finished, maybe more. It's going to look very cool when it is done. In the meantime, it sits in a basket between the TV and the fireplace, and any of us can pick it up and do a row or two, or loop together a bunch of loops. You never know when you might feel the need to be silly and crafty at the same time.
In Other News ... Next Tuesday, A starts his new school, The Montessori Academy of New Jersey (link provided, in case anyone wants to see pictures of the school). He is really looking forward to going back to school, although I know it will be an adjustment for him. I was flattered when his new teacher told me that he had told her he had enjoyed being homeschooled. I guess that's a compliment, isn't it? We are going to continue doing Latin at home, on our own, and we will continue to use our history and science resources to get suggestions for supplying his reading habit. Friends of ours already provided this school with a full set of The Story of the World (books and cds), which I think is a good sign. I also know that he will be able to do Algebra there, and physics, chemistry--pretty much anything that interests him. The school is eager to keep their upper elementary kids there, and is hoping to provide a curriculum that will take them through 8th grade. I have my fingers crossed.
Meanwhile, C starts 2nd Grade at her school next Wednesday. She does not have her best friend in her class, and she is very unhappy about that. However, she also does not have the horrible teacher that A had for 2nd grade (and who, let's be honest, probably drove us away from the school), and Rich and I are very happy about that.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
While I was in lovely Somerset NJ taking the bar, the Home Depot men finally arrived to install the new cabinets and rip out the sink and the counter. We are currently in granite counter limbo: that in-between time, after they take out your old counter and before they replace it with something beautiful. This is not the fun time of kitchen remodelling. I must admit, that washing dishes in my tiny powder room sink is getting quite tiresome already, and we probably have another 2-3 weeks to go. Sigh.
Meanwhile, the knitting frenzy began as soon as the bar was over, in spite of the cramps in my hands from all the writing. Hey--I write with my left hand but knit with my right, it wasn't that bad, really. Here are my first Mason-Dixon "warshrags," hanging where my sink ought to be.
Here is the potholder loop rug, about half done. The foot model is C., my enthusiastic apprentice looper/helper. Knitting on these huge needles is cracking us both up. It's like knitting with fence posts or something. But the rug itself is wonderfully squishy, and both kids are enjoying making the string out of the loops. Doesn't it remind you of an old fashioned braided rag rug? It is intended for the powder room, and should brighten that little cave--I mean, room--up considerably.
And here is the almost-complete cropped cardigan with the feather and fan along the lower edge. I also tried to squeeze a picture of the pattern in here as well. In case you are wondering, I do not plan on wearing this sweater over the top of a goofy striped sailor shirt. And I did not make it too small for me, so that it would stretch across my chest and upper arms. Why do they do that, anyway? Well. Mine may be a little too big, as everything seems to be, even though I did swatch and get gauge. I am still working on getting it assembled, and I have one more sleeve and the band to do as well.
The Bamboo yarn is incredibly soft to the touch, but I don't think I will use it again. The strands separate very easily, so you have to go slowly and carefully. It's also very "drapey"--I know that's not a word, but I don't know how else to describe the way that this yarn acts when knitted up. It behaves very much like silk: it kinda just hangs there, if you know what I mean. In retrospect, I wish I had gone even smaller on the needle size; I think I would like it better if the stitches were even tighter. Of course, that probably would have messed up the feather and fan pattern. Anyway. I am satisfied with the results--so far, at least--but I'm not ecstatic.
The next projects are going to be house-oriented. Inspired by Mason-Dixon, I am going to knit placemats out of the oh-so-affordable dishcloth cotton. I'm thinking log-cabin knitting. It should be a fun, cheap, and easily portable project. I also love the M-D idea of knitted curtains. I'm planning a new curtain for my kitchen window, to go over my new sink! However, I don't like the linen yarn they recommend for this project. I understand why they chose it, but, honestly, it's like knitting with butcher's string. I want to see how my swatch washes up.
I will let you all know when the kitchen and my cardigan are done. I will confess that I am a lot more excited about the kitchen, though!
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
A and I looked out the window this morning and caught a glimpse of this Mother and Child crossing the yard. There we were, oohing and aahing and tiptoeing from window to window to watch their progress, while the Home Depot man measuring the kitchen (for new counters, yay!) studiously ignored our silliness.
Unfortunately, I could not find the camera until they had left the more picturesque portion of our yard and were wandering across the driveway. The Home Depot man's truck does not provide the greatest background.
Mother and Child ran away a moment after this when a neighbor started her car, so this was the only shot I could get.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
An entire baby blanket? Done in garter stitch? With color changes every 2 rows? And I repeat ... in garter stitch? Wouldn't a lobotomy have been more fun?
This. Is. Taking. For. Ever. (Like the way I split that word in half for effect? Like how it makes no sense like that? See how I care? See what this blanket is doing to me??!!)
I'm not being fair--it's not just the blanket that's driving me insane. I am currently editing the Article From You-Know-Where. This is the kind of article where you find that your eyes cross after reading 2 lines. Then you have to read those 2 lines over, because you can't remember what they were about. I'm only on page 20 out of 40, and footnote 149 out of 256. Hey! I should take heart: I'm more than halfway done, if you measure by the number of footnotes.
But that's work--I'm not supposed to enjoy that. The knitting, on the other hand, is supposed to be fun for my free time. This blanket, however, oy. It's a bad sign when I have a hard time deciding between knitting something and folding laundry.
The picture above shows said blanket (about 2/3 done) posing with said mountain of laundry. Tell me: which would you choose to do? Notice how I have piled it all on the bed so that I can't sleep until I do something about it all. As an aside: does anyone notice how I messed up the pattern about 5 inches ago? I did not notice for a while and dang-nab-it I'm not ripping the darn thing back now. Please ... tell me you don't see it! Of course, this picture may not be the best one to "show" the mistake.
This blanket had better look GREAT when I am done, or I may just run over it with the car instead of giving it to Jo-Anne. She'd probably be quite happy with a Target gift card, anyway. Sigh.
Friday, May 12, 2006
In the bottom of that same inning, we scored 3 runs to tie the game. After a scoreless fourth inning, it was very dark. The coaches decided that the 5th inning would be the last one. Our pitcher in the 5th inning pitched much slower than the pitcher we had in the 4th inning, so the players on the other team all swung too early and struck out. Now it was our turn to bat.
J struck out. He was followed by P, who hit a single. While C was up, P stole second. Then C hit a brilliant home run right over the left fielder’s head. It was so high he didn’t even see it, so the center fielder had to run back to the fence and get it. By the time they got the ball back into the infield, both P and C had scored. But the second run didn’t count because we won when P crossed the plate. It was an amazing come-back!
Thursday, May 11, 2006
For one thing, it ended up being a sell-out. This meant it was very, very crowded. I don't like crowds like this--crowds so loud you can't hear your cell phone ring when your husband calls you to ask you where is God's name you are. Crowds so huge you have to wait in line just to get on the escalator to the next level. Crowds so immense that they ran out of pizza, and your daughter refuses to eat italian sausage. Crowds so big that when you finally get to your seat, after delivering boys from your team to their respective parents, you don't want to get up again.
The parade was nice, but not exciting enough to justify the 1 and 1/2 hours of waiting the Phillies required the boys do in the tunnels under Citizens Bank Park. Here are pictures of our team (the turquoise shirts) marching around the warning track of the field-- from far back and a zoom shot.
And here is C cheering them on.
Barry did not hit a dinger that night. But the kids learned some new words to yell from the stands. C thinks the nice folks behind us were yelling "Barry's sunk," and I have not corrected her impression. A got the words right, but I think he understands it to mean that Barry likes lemonade.
Another grouchy post. I am so sorry! I will try to be a little cheerier in the future!
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Friday, April 28, 2006
The pattern is very easy: it's just garter stitch. I do 2 rows in each color, so I get a solid ridge of garter in each color. However, there is a twist. I am very lazy about weaving in ends, so I decided I wanted to carry the yarn along the sides of the blanket. But with 4 colors double-stranded, I did not want to carry them all along one side. So I am carrying 2 colors on one side and 2 on the other. When I am using the colors carried on the right side, I knit. When I use the colors I am carrying on the left side (when I am essentially working the piece backwards), I purl. I am using circular needles so I can just flip the piece around and work it from whatever edge I want (although I did put it on straight needles to make it a little easier to take this picture).
So it ends up working like this:
Rows 1 & 2, 5 & 6, 9 & 10 : Using Blush (light pink) from the right edge: Knit.
Rows 3 & 4: Using Violet (purple) from the right edge: Knit.
Rows 7 & 8: Using Cream, starting from the left edge: Purl.
Rows 11 & 12: Using Orchid, starting from the left edge: Purl.
Then you go back to Row 1, and repeat the pattern.
There probably is an easier and better way to do this, but this is what I came up with.
When I am finished, if I really don't like the way the pattern looks on the back, I may end up sewing on a lining to hide it. I will decide when I am finished. If I don't sew on a lining, I will definitely have to do some kind of edging to neaten up the sides. Even carrying only 2 colors per side is looking a bit messy--I am probably carrying the colors along for more rows than the experts would recommend! Oh, well. Hopefully, it will all turn out all right. I love the feel of it.
C's caterpillars have tripled their size since their arrival last Friday. We are all having a great time watching them inch their way around their little jars. Soon, they should make their chrysalides, and we'll be able to move them into the butterfly garden pavilion. We'll keep you all posted!
Thursday, April 20, 2006
What the Earth Is Like
Once there was an earth with no soil or dirt
Once there was an earth with no grass
Once there was an earth with no flowers or trees
Once there was an earth with no blue sky
Once there was an earth with no dark black sky
Once there was an earth with no sun.
Let us make some soil and dirt
Let us make some grass
Let us make some flowers and trees
Let us make a blue sky
Let us make a dark black sky
Let us make a sun
Let us make a moon.
Now the earth has everything.
And that's what the earth is supposed to be like.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
It is pouring here in lovely New Jersey today. It's going to be beautiful tomorrow. It wasn't even that bad yesterday. But today is awful. And, unfortunately, today is Opening Day for the township baseball and softball leagues, complete with parade, celebrity appearances, etc. Bummer.
Here is C in her uniform. They are the Purple team, and need to pick an appropriate name. A is on the Minor League Florida Marlins. I don't have a picture of him at the parade because it was pouring by the time I found my way over to his team and I was afraid to take out the camera.
The celebrities got to make all their speeches under a tent, while hundreds of kids and their parents stood in the rain in the outfield. Still, it was nice, and we are hoping for a good season. Rich is the coach for A's team this year, and I think he might be a little nervous.
Go Purple! Go Marlins! Go Sunshine!