Monday, October 23, 2006

Climb every mountain; ford every stream....

Well, we're back. We had a lovely, although tiring, vacation. A. totaled our hiking miles during the car ride home: 23.6 miles, he says. Frankly, it feels like more than it sounds. And it doesn't include the 1.4 miles we walked through Luray Caverns and the mile or so we spent going back and forth through the Garden Maze, but maybe that's getting a little picky.

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

Flower Power

Only a cat who is completely secure in his masculinity will settle down for his afternoon nap on the big pink flower pillow.

Monday, October 09, 2006

And another long break between posts!

It's been over a month! Whoops! I guess my only excuse is that I've been busy actually doing the stuff I should be writing about. Well, here goes:

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!