Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Another Day :::Poof::: Up in Smoke

I know we pack a lot into a day, but some days fly by so quickly I seriously don't understand how it can already be dark out--even as I marvel that true darkness held out till a quarter of eight tonight.

We got up early enough, thanks to Max who actually offered to take Emily outside on her walk. This NEVER happens so I was pretty happy about that. Then we were all sucked up in the vortex that was today including two trips to the grocery store, a trip our to our favorite horse farm for composted manure, a trip to the doctor to get some shots (which ended up flirting with drama as the doctor they'd seen last summer had failed to record in their records my intention of splitting up their shots, so they were wanting me to come back this summer and have all eight diseases plunged into my twins at once and I'm just not into that--and then, just as suddenly, it was no big deal. The nurse found an understanding doctor to sign for it, the twins got two shots, two stickers, and mooched Easter cookies off the nurses at the nursing station--which made it ALL better), Emily to the groomer, Max to his piano lesson, me to the post office and the library and everything else on this list, while Chris toiled away at his desk writing his freelance writing thing.

Normally I think of Thursdays as the big hairy do everything day, so this doesn't bode well for tomorrow (swimming and piano for the twins, group music theory for Max). Plus I have to pack for the three of us and figure out which knitting to bring along. Today I set aside the OWS to work on the Shetland shawl, which to my inexperienced-lace-knitting mind is like setting aside your calculus text to do a few pages of statistics instead (except that I was way better at calculus and statistics).

Today the piano teacher asked if Max was going to do this weekend of activities at the end of April and I was sitting there trying to not feel totally overwhelmed by the chunk of our lives devoted to piano lessons and piano practice--when suddenly it occurred to me that I could just say no. So I did. "Yes, we'll do the recital, but I don't think we'll try to do the other weekend there at the end of April."

And she said, "Okay." And that was the end of it. Ha! I'm so proud of myself.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Off to See the Wizard . . .

This weekend I am taking the twinks and heading to Michigan for a weekend with The Aunts and Great-Grandma Helen (she's my grandma, but she's my kids' great-grandma) and at least one cousin and of course, my Uncle Denny. We are going to go hear The Yarn Harlot talk on Sunday, and I think Saturday is set aside for sitting around and knitting. Or maybe shopping or something. I don't really know. I just know it's a little four-day road trip and I'm very happy about going.

. . . . When I'm not feeling a little guilty, because technically, we're beyond broke and it's going to take us until about the end of June to get caught up. But Denny has been nagging us to come since we moved here and it was Chris who said, when he heard about the Harlot's new tour, that we should really try to find a way for me to go . . . and when I asked if the twins could come, everyone was so enthusiastic about it. (But none as pleased and excited as the twinkies themselves.) So we're going.

The OWS (Orenburg Warm Shawl) is being more cooperative today, so I'm off to work some on that. It really is pretty when it's not being impossible.

Ben and Milo officially graduated to the next level in YMCA swimming. They're little Rays. Yay! My dream of having all three boys on the swim team this summer is still alive! (unlikely, but alive anyway)

It was gorgeous here today. 75. I was thrilled until about five minutes ago when the first mosquito of the season went buzzing by.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Can You Take Your Knitting to Couples Counseling?

I really think it might be time for the Orenburg Shawl and I to get some professional help. It's not so much that I think I might have some issues to talk out as it is that I am convinced the shawl needs some help with communication.

I am finally on the body of the shawl and I have to admit that the left and right border look smashing and the Russian graft, which I thought was going to look stupid, looks beautiful. Not at all how I thought it would turn out. Which is about what I could say, only in reverse of the pattern in the body. After working hours (at least 7) on the shawl yesterday, I went to bed having ripped back to the second row because in spite of spending about 4 hours altogether trying to find the error that was causing all the rows after about row 11 to be off by a stitch, I couldn't. I couldn't find the error. So I ripped back like 20 rows (only about 3,500 stitches in all) and once I had everything properly back on the needle and the stitches pointing in the right direction . . . gave up and went to bed.

I woke up sick with a sore throat and aching head and general wooziness and spent the day running on half an engine--and I'm relieved that I started to feel better around 6pm or so. I'm hoping to be more productive tomorrow.

Ben and Milo signed up for four more weeks of swim lessons. They're finally getting it. They can swim from the wall to someone standing about ten feet away. Ben has even surpassed Milo (he has a stronger kick), but they're both feeling pretty good about things. Even though they could probably pass the Eel level, we're keeping them there for now because the teacher they have now is good at making them listen and stay on task. Ben and Milo can charm paint off a barn and derail trains with their banter, so I attribute all their progress to the teacher. The teacher promises she'll continue to work with Ben and Milo "pass the Eel skills," so I'm happy to leave them with her. The other option is private lessons with her and that's just too spendy this spring.

They're making good progress in piano, too. So I'm thinking they're in a bit of a cognitive growth spurt. This is appropriate as they spent most of January and February having a physical growth spurt and they're just so big and tall now. Max is taller every week, too. I need to go acquaint myself with the local goodwill if no one is going to stay the same size through a season for awhile.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

If You Teach a Boy To Read . . .

The most amazing thing happened this evening. While we were at church for boy scouts, someone was giving away their yahtzee game. We agreed to take it home with us as we are a board-game playing family. I put the game on the kitchen table and then left it unattended as Max and I talked over his day in the kitchen. When we came out of the kitchen I found Ben and Milo sitting on the floor, the contents of the box unpacked and set up (correctly) on the board. They had the card with the directions on it, and Milo was reading them aloud.

I can't imagine their attention span permitting a full round of the game, but I was tickled by their determination (and Milo's reading skills).

Max got his second report card of the year. They get three a year here. There are no letter grades, just a narrative paragraph for each subject area. He's doing fine. I was pleased.

I'm working on more socks. I have a sock and a half of sportweight yarn socks done for Ben. They're cute. I'm on the leg on a pair of worsted-weight yarn socks for Chris. I have a skein of sportweight that I need to swatch for gauge--those will be for Chris, too. I also ripped back my French Children's sock. I'm still going to make those socks, but I'll make them in a solid color yarn. In the meantime I'm on the leg of a pair of socks for me. I'd like to knit another pair for Max, but I'll wait until I've got some of the other socks finished.

I'm mostly spending every spare second working on the Orenburg Shawl. I want to have the right and left border done and have the pattern for the main body well established by the end of the month. I want to finish the entire shawl by the end of April and then pack it away in the Christmas present box with the mittens and the other scarves. But the shawl requires singular attention to the chart, so I'm working on finishing up the striped wonderful wool child's sweater and the socks during occasions when I want to be knitting, but not necessarily with so much concentration.

As soon as I get the Orenburg done? I am so totally finishing the garden shawl for me. This shawl is turning out so beautifully and I'm giving it away!! So I want one to keep :)

Monday, March 19, 2007

More Photos of the Snow Storm

We bought this toy shovel for $5 about 6 weeks ago. It is the PERFECT size for Ben and Milo and they make good use of it. Here is Milo busily clearing the walk in front of the house.

Max fighting the mighty wind.

Milo tossing snow over his shoulder (click on it to enlarge).

Milo's path. Already getting snowed over.

Robin in the Holly Tree. There were a half dozen of them flying in and out and eating the berries.

One more. This picture Max took. I think it's very funny :) It's the garden stake poking out of the top of the snow.

Who-Hoo! I Did It!

Not only did I remember to take photos of finished objects during this afternoon's snow storm, but I figured out how to use Picasa to upload more than one photo at a time!

So, Max, age 10, wearing his new red striped sweater. My own pattern, Brown Sheep's Prairie Silk.

My take on "Fetching" in Berocco Ultra Alpaca.

My finished Finnish Mittens. The person who gets them knows they're for her. Do I tuck them away and give them to her as a stocking stuffer next year or just send them on over, knowing she won't be able to wear them until next winter?

The finished cotton sweater for Sarah's Sabbine, although I'm thinking now that it'll be too small for her and I should send it along with a second sweater--then this one can be for little sister--at least in another two years or so.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow . . .

Chris, Max, and I got out there around 3 this afternoon and shoveled the walk and driveway. The snow is wet and coming down fast, so I didn't want any of us to have to try to shovel it all at once. I'm really glad we did. It was enough work as it was, and it's still coming down steadily. For awhile there it was coming down at the rate of 2" an hour, and although I think it's slowed some, that was pretty impressive. It's weird to think that earlier this week it briefly hit 70 and my lawn in all its ugly entirety was exposed. On the one hand, I'm ready for spring. On the other--the snow looks a LOT nicer than my icky brown lawn.

I let Emily have a good romp while we worked on shoveling. She ran and ran, but never too far. She doesn't go for distance now that Thor is out. She still runs back and forth and ignores us when we call, but now she keeps us in sight. When we go inside, she goes inside.

Tomorrow I'll try to take some pictures of my finished projects. I just have to find the camera.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Dude, There Ought to Be a Warning on the Label

So I'm working on an interviewing project to expand my portfolio. As part of that I have to actually leave my house and go interview someone. So I did that this morning, and after one false start (my interviewee forgot our initial appointment, but when I contacted her, immediately made time for the interview) we had a very nice time together talking business. Between the initial appointment and the time we actually got together, I developed sinus problems. This is some kind of weird side effect of the medication I take, although a rare one. Since my nose insisted on gushing snot in response, I had to take something, so I took Benedryl. I made it through the interview okay, although I'm awfully glad I took very detailed notes on my computer instead of just jotting down key words because I would have been up a creek later when I tried to remember what she said.

Anyway, I went home and within 20 minutes passed out in one of the chairs. I managed to wake up long enough to answer the phone twice, (although I can't remember who I spoke with the second time) and then I gave up and went to bed.

It was a pleasant way to spend the day, but the day was mostly spent before I had enough brain cells working at the same time to actually write up the interview. Oh well.

Yesterday I wrote to Gary Ibsen at the Tomato Fest. I asked him for hints regarding the lack of germination of the Wonder Light. He wrote back that he's sending me a new packet, plus a packet of Dagma's Perfection tomato seeds. How cool is that? Actual real customer service. So I'm hoping those will arrive quickly and I can get them started.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Spring Preview

They say by the end of the week, it'll be cold again and the highs will fall back to the low 40's, but for yesterday, today, and tomorrow--it's a spring preview. The snow is melting so fast that water runs down the street in front of the house. My garden, which has been at least partly covered in snow since early February, is revealed in its entirety for the first time today (lookin' kinda haggard. It'll need some attention as soon as it thaws out.)

In general, the melting snow reveals . . . decaying leaves, dead spots on the lawn, dog droppings, dreary evidence that I don't do much to the outside of the house between November and March.

But just as Milo and I were starting to wonder how we were EVER going to get this place fixed up nice again we saw . . . the first crocuses.

We oohed and aahhed at their tiny purple-blue beauty (and how FAST they come up and bloom!) and I silently thanked the previous home owner who was wise enough to bury crocus bulbs randomly around the yard. Or, maybe it was the squirrels, I don't know. But they are so pretty and you don't notice the mud that surrounds them at all when you're looking at them.

I finished Chris's socks. At last. Only sportweight yarn for the boy from here on out. But the finished pair is handsome (if ordinary looking) with simple tiny twisted cable ribbing, a standard heel flap style heel, and Austermann Step Yarn in Color Nachtblau. It's very soft yarn and knits up very nicely on size 0 steel needles. I had to buy a second skein to finish the socks, of which most of it is left--so I'm guessing at some point I'll make some socks for Ben or Milo out of what's left.

I've redone all I frogged of the Orenburg shawl and am in the final minutes of having to decide what size the finished shawl will be. The directions are a sort of loosey-goosey, "work 5 times" with a portion of the chart marked off--and then handwritten next to it, the designer has written "can do up to 9 repeats." Well, I figured out that in order to make the REST of the pattern work, you really can do 5 OR 9 repeats. 6 or 8 won't work at all. 5 or 7 and section 2 of the boarder will work out, but the main body of the shawl (which you knit last) won't.

My greatest fear is that I don't have enough of the main body color to knit the bigger version. But the designer swears that there's enough. So I'm leaning towards the 9. I know the shawl will block out, but it just looks too small at this point.

Ha Ha

I took an apple slicer widget and pressed it over the core of an apple. Then I placed it in the center of the table. "Ooh!" said Max, "a complimentary apple!"

He pulled a slice from off the apple and said (in what I can only assume was an "apple voice") "I really like your haircut!"

He replied to the apple, "Why thank you!"

Ok, I'll Put On My Homeschool Teacher Hat . . .

If you'll all remember that when homeschooling, sometimes you just read the stuff a half hour before the lesson, and you're not quite sure yourself exactly how the experiment will turn out. Although some of the tomatoes on my list are from last year, I got them started too late and the bitter cold came before I got many of them to ripen. The Wonder Lights never germinated last year at all. They haven't germinated this year yet either. They may simply take longer to germinate--or they may be a bad batch. I didn't order a new pack. My experience is that seeds are good for at least a couple of years before they lose viability.

My goal is to find a half-dozen varieties that I really love and just grow those, but seeds are cheap and it's an awful lot of fun (if you really love tomatoes) to experiment.

I can tell you this, Dy--you have a longer growing season there and absolutely no reason not to have a good time with tomatoes. I buy from this guy and these people. I've had greater reliability from the heirloom seed people, but they also have heirloom everything, so they have fewer choices for tomatoes in general. I would head out to Lowe's this weekend and get two or three of the long window trays with the little peat pots. Order some tomato and pepper seeds (go with the italian varieties of sweet peppers and whatever flips your cookie for the hot peppers), rehydrate the little peat pots, and plant two or three seeds in each. Put the lid that comes with the kit on top and set in the sun. Keep a corner cracked to let air circulate. That's all you should need. Once the seedlings have true leaves and you can start to see the roots looking crowded, peel off the netting carefully and transplant into a bigger pot with regular potting soil. You can buy peat pots, but I just make pots out of newspaper and a stapler. It's really easy and when you go to put the plant in your garden, you don't need to do anything. The newspaper will rapidly decompose and the roots will grow right through it. Find out from your local extension office when your last frost date is and you can transplant after that date. (Look up info on "harding off" first.)

An heirloom seed isn't necessarily organic, and isn't necessarily not a hybrid. The Mortgage Lifter is a good example of this. It's a hybrid of at least four (maybe 5) different varieties--however, it's considered heirloom when the tomato has stabilized to the point where its seed consistently reproduces itself with the desired characteristics. This means also that the seed has been around for awhile, but I don't think there's a set number of years that an heirloom has to be around to be an heirloom. What it is NOT is genetically modified in any way. You can go to Dave's Garden to look for feedback on different varieties. Here's one for the Mortgage Lifter.

This year since I have a bigger plot, I bought LOTS of varieties, of which I plan to actually plant maybe half of them. I wrote the name of each on an index card and I'm trying to take notes on what each variety does.

Up here it's still too cold to just put the seeds in front of the window. So I have flourescent tubes above the seedlings and a plant heating pad under the seedlings. The peppers can take up to three weeks to germinate, so they're usually the first ones to start. I start onions, too--although that's less important. They can be direct seeded.

Where you are, you can go ahead and put spinach, radishes, and lettuce seeds in the ground. You can put Smidge in charge of the radishes since they're fast growers and he can harvest them in only three weeks after planting.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

It's March 11. Shall we talk tomatoes?

Oh, let's. The first tiny, tender seedlings have pushed through and I'm just so excited. It's going to be a good year for salsa, I can tell already. (Although I'll feel better when the hot peppers are up.)

Here's what we here at PupDudes Farm are cultivating in the way of seedlings this year. They are all indeterminate. I don't plan it that way. I think there are just way more indeterminate varieties than determinate varieties:

Cherry Tomatoes:
Tonadose Des Conores: An endangered heirloom cherry tomato from France, the very red fruit have an orange tinge inside and a long, lingering flavor. Productive vines produce loads of these tiny jewels that seem to melt in your mouth. 60-64 days, early season.

Blondkopfchen: Name of this heirloom means little blond girl. Plant produces phenomenal clusters of 20-30 very-very-very tasty gold/yellow grape-sized (1/2") cherries. Put this in your mouth and see if you can keep from smiling. (This is where you catch on that I'm copying and pasting catalog descriptions.) 75 days, mid-season.

Everything Else:
Black Prince: Originally introduced from Irkutsk, Russia and is regarded as a "true Siberian tomato" that does very well in cooler climates. The Black Prince tomato is said to have considerable health benefits beyond the presence of lycopene. These deep garnet round, 2-inch (2-3 oz.) tomatoes are full of juice and incredibly rich fruity flavors. Perfect for eating fresh, and in cooking in tomato sauce or other culinary wonders. 70 days, mid-season.

San Marzano Redorta: Named for a mountain, Pizzo Redorta in Bergamo, Italy. This is Gary Ibsen’s preferred Italian paste tomato. A much larger tomato (8 oz., 4-inch) with much better taste than its cousin, San Marzano. Good enough to eat off the vine with the bonus of ending up with more tomato paste per plant. Yum! 78 days, mid-season.

Wonder Light: aka Plum lemon. Seed for this was collected in 1991 from an old seedsman in Moscow. Fruit is pointed on its ends just like a lemon with solid meat, almost like a paste tomato. 2 x 3-inch (6 oz.) fruit is a bright, clear-yellow tomato with mild sweet flavor. Perfect tomato for salads, tomato sauce, or even a wonderful yellow catsup. 78 days, mid-season. [This is my second year trying this variety. Last year none of my seeds germinated. This year? None so far, but we're still very early on. I'm determined.]

Kellogg’s Breakfast: 1 lb., pale to deep orange beefsteak tomatoes originally from West Virginia, that are thin-skinned, meaty, have few seeds and a fantastic sweet, tangy flavor. Juice and inside flesh have the same bright orange color as orange juice. 80 days, mid-season.

Amish Paste: Very productive heirloom from Wisconsin that produces up to 1-pound, deep-red oxheart-shaped, meaty fruit. (Probably one of the largest paste tomatoes) Lots of sweet, tomatoey flavors from this coreless meaty fruit. A great slicing and sauce tomato. 81 days, late season.

Russian Big Roma: A favorite heirloom paste variety. Disease resistant plant produces lots of huge (2 x 4-inch), deep red, fruits with exceptionally rich tomatoey flavors. A perfect sauce tomato. 85 days, late season.

German Red Strawberry: This German heirloom produces large, red, oxheart-shaped tomatoes that are shaped like a much larger strawberry. Plants yield an abundance of meaty, 3-inch wide by 3 1/2-inch long fruit that can grow to 1 pound. Shape of fruits can be inconsistent. Copious amount of delicious, robust, "old-tomato" flavors with a lingering sweetness. 85 days, late season.

Tobolsk: 100 year old heirloom, originally from the Urals near the city of Tobolsk, Russia. 3-inch, round, light yellow to orange fruit with excellent sweet flavors. Perfect balance of acid for it's deliciously sweet flavors. A rare and precious new find! 86 days, mid-season.

Amana Orange: Huge heirloom beefsteak named for Amana, Iowa. Light-orange fruit that can grow to 2 pounds or more. Mildly sweet , very pleasant, almost tropical fruit in flavors. 90 days, late season.

Believe It or Not: An old -time favorite Heirloom. Prolific large (1-2 lb.), red, smooth-shouldered slicer with great flavor. 90 days, late season.

Brandywine, Red: An old heirloom variety from Virginia that won Grand Prize in 1907. Possibly from the Ponderosa strain around 1889. Big plants produce lots of 1-2 pound, pink/purple, meaty fruits with a slightly thicker skin than most heirlooms. A wonderful low-acid tomato with abundance of sweet flavors. A great canning tomato. 90 days, late season.

Brandywine, Yellow: A vigorous potato-leaf heirloom from Gary Platfoot of Ohio produces large amounts of 3 to 4-inch, yellow-orange, round, flattened, great tasting beefsteak fruit. 90 days, late season.

About half of the varieties have sprouted tiny little one-day-old seedlings. Hopefully the others will come along soon.


In other news, Chris is still in California and I'm . . . ready for him to come home. This week's schedule is all off since it's spring break and half of State College, PA has fled to . . . I don't know where they go, but they're not here. I thought about taking the gang back to Washington D.C. to do an educational tour of the Smithsonian, but I'm supposed to do that big drive back to Philly on Wednesday and I'm not sure I'm up for that much driving. Then again, the house wants cleaning again, so maybe we'll just stay put, blow bubbles on the back deck, enjoy the few days of beautiful weather in our own back yard, and do a little smidge of spring cleaning.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Thursday was swim lessons and sewing up Max's sweater (I sewed up Sabine's sweater last night). I was reminded how much I hate sewing up and why I always put it off, but nevertheless, am happy with the finished results. It was piano lessons for the twins and picking up the Orenburg shawl again. It was Max's group piano lesson and more lectures to all three of them on listening and being respectful and just generally having to put my foot down about certain things (some days are like that). And then as suddenly as it began, it was over.

Tomorrow begins spring break. I have no plans other than knitting, cooking, and cleaning. But mostly knitting. With this "calendar club" thing I'm doing, my goal is to knit one Christmas present each month. January's was a scarf and February's was a pair of fingerless mittens. March's is another scarf (I don't get to pick the project, the store owner does). In this case, it's one I dislike enough that I'm refusing to do the one she's picked out and I'm doing one from a knitting book I already own with the yarn I bought to do hers. I have to pick up Chris from the airport on the day of this month's class anyway, so I'm sticking to the spirit of the thing, but not the actual object. Having made that decision, I promptly tabled the project and put in its place the Orenburg shawl. Now that I have the right needles, the right techniques . . . I want to make some real progress. If I'm going to be unemployed for at least another week, I might as well get my shawl "out of retrograde" and moving forward again. That means completing at least four repeats of the right border chart. I think, and I may be fooling myself, that I can make that much progress in a day if I don't do much of anything else.

But it's time to finish the Orenburg. Enough futzing around! I am in FINISH THINGS mode! I sewed up two sweaters this week! My next two projects to be completed will be Chris's socks and the Orenburg shawl (in that order). I tend to have at least two projects actively going at the same time. One smaller one that goes with me to swim lessons, piano lessons, and anywhere else there might possibly be waiting involved. One larger or more complicated one that stays at home. So these are perfect.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Life in a Musical

Milo lives occasionally in a musical. During these periods, much like Japeth in Hoodwinked, he must sink everything he says. Today is a snow day (happy sigh, I went back to bed after checking the school district website and slept another three hours till 9am) and the boy is in great spirits. So I heard warbling up from the basement a song about drinking chocolate milk and going to talk to mom.

I made a deal. You guys get naked and get yourselves dressed in clean clothes, then I'll get you the chocolate milk.

Ben is still trying to reopen negotiations, but I'm sticking to my guns.

Jill delivered the girl scout cookies I ordered. I have girl scout cookies. I have yarn. I have . . . no real need to leave the house!

Monday, March 05, 2007


It is unbelievably, freakishly cold out right now. A combination of some Canadian air and big wind. I think we're scheduled to get a few more inches of snow on Wednesday. Yesterday I successfully ignored the cold and made up handsome looking tags for all of my tomato varieties. Today I went out to this tree farm/country store type place that I've passed often, but never been in. I had the twins so it was a whirlwind tour, but it was a cute little place with a kind of alternative attitude. Birchbark baskets, exotic varieties of honey, and lots and lots of flower and vegetable seeds. They were charmed by Ben (who charms on purpose, and thus is supremely satisfied when he gets the desired result) and Milo and I found some good onions, but not the specific plant I was looking for. They said they get that plant only in plant form (not seeds) and put me on a calling list for when it comes in (brussel sprouts, if you're wondering. Chris is always threatening to feed them to the kids, so I thought I'd call his bluff and try growing some.)

I miss him. I made the plane reservations and I drew up a list of what he should do there everyday and I was the one who decided he needed this long stretch of time, so there is noone to blame buy myself. But I tell you what, even a happy little introvert like myself NEEDS her Chosen Few and when she counts them and there is one missing . . . it's tough. But our weird life is such that we are rarely without each other for more than a couple of hours. This will be our longest separations since the twins were itty bitty infants and Honda got the bright idea . . . well, anyway. We don't spend all that much time apart.

Where was I? Oh yes, the twins and I were shopping. After the garden place, we went to Sam's Club where we stocked up on ketchup, mayonnaise, Raisin Bran, various varieties of frozen nuggets, cleaning solutions, and dairy products. We went home, unloaded the truck, and went to fetch Max. Then we went to Wegman's where we got a very early (and light) dinner of chinese food from the buffet and sat and planned out the meals for the next two weeks together. (It is funny to meal plan with two five-year-olds and a 10-yr-old. Luckily the 10-yr-old has a basic understanding of good nutrition and the 5-yr-olds weren't hungry--having just eaten--so they weren't feeling very demanding.) This gave us our final grocery list, which took us no time at all to round up. We paid for that stuff and went home and collapsed. The kids watched Treasure Planet and I balanced the checkbook.

Now, somehow, it is a quarter to ten and the house is quiet and the boys are sleeping. I am going to knit for a few minutes and then join them.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Peaceful, Snowy Sunday

It flurried on and off today. I happen to think falling snow is one of the prettiest sights there are (assuming you're not stuck, say, on an interstate with no gas, three kids in the car and six inches of ice on the road). We were late to church because by the time we got home last night I had three kids hysterical with exhaustion. Max kept waking up for the last 45 minutes or so, not being able to recognize where we were in the dark, and assuming we had hours more to go--then he'd start crying his odd keening cry and I'd reach out and try to comfort his half-awake self there in the dark. So I couldn't bring myself to wake them this morning--and we were late.

But we did go and we had fun. The twins made pinwheels (I missed the pinwheel/Jesus connection, but I'm sure it was in there somewhere) and Max's scout leader found him and gave him his Pinewood Derby Kit (which made his morning) and then . . . then it was noon and time to go home again.

I spent the Sabbath reading about tomatoes and snoozing in the green chair in the living room while trying to get some knitting done. In between I made phone calls trying to hook up Chris with some Northern California missionaries because he really needs another set of hands.

Tomorrow is Monday and that means school and preschool and meal planning and grocery shopping and cleaning the kitchen top to bottom. Oh, and knitting on Chris's sock because the sock yarn apparently came in to the LYS on Saturday while I was away. There was a message on my answering machine. So maybe Chris will come home from California to a finished pair of socks.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A and B, Chris, and the National Boogie-Man Convention

Today we took Chris to Philly so he could fly to CA for a few days to help his Mom get her house ready for market. We saved $230 or so after you take into account the amount spent in gas there and back twice. I'm not sure what the return trip will be like when we bring him home, but I have nothing but pleasant things to say about today. This is because I have family in Philly. So we didn't have to turn right around and come back home.

We went to the home of my cousin, A, and his wife, B. A's sister, my cousin B, was also there, as was their mother, my Aunt G-G. These are good people and *every* time I am with them I find myself thinking that I have *got* to find a way to get together with them more frequently. But it is 3 hours and 45 minutes from door to door and that does spread out the visits. (They also have a strict no real names on the internet rule which is very smart of them and we would too if we hadn't already used our real names for so many years that that would just be hopeless of us.)

We briefly entertained the idea of going to the zoo there today because it was so deliciously beautiful out and the zoo was celebrating Seuss's birthday. But the clouds rolled in and the sky acted like it was thinking of bringing in real rain--and so we settled in for an afternoon of board games and watching a movie and playing with an old XBox and that sort of thing. A and B's son, K, wasn't quite sure what to make of my gang, but eventually seemed to decide that they were as good an afternoon's entertainment as anything else, and he played happily around us in the way that very young people do. I worked on fixing a knitting problem and tried, unsuccessfully, to keep from getting sucked into Ice Age. But I failed. It isn't long before you really want to see Manny return the little squirt to his grieving Neanderthal father.

Eventually we packed up and hit the road and I called a neighbor friend to take care of Emily when I was an hour into the drive and still seemingly in the gravitational pull of Philadelphia. She very kindly agreed to take care of the dog and I drove the rest of the way with some really tired little boys. Three hours later I pulled into the driveway where I was astonished to see a fresh coat of snow all over Pine Grove Mills. We really do live on the side of a mountain. Sometimes I forget that.

Anyway, we came in the house through a side door and up the stairs and found the front door WIDE open. Oh, jeez. I have a HUGE fear of the Boogie-man when Chris is not home. I can really make myself nuts worrying over nothing when he's not home. I check the level of the wood pellets and it was clear that there was no way the door had been open all day. It made perfect sense that the door just hadn't been closed perfectly behind the neighbor when she came to take care of Emily and that anxious Emily had opened the door herself when she found the opportunity.

Nevertheless, I had to call Chris (who had just landed in CA) and have him reassure me. He told me in no uncertain terms that there was NO WAY that the Boogie Man was hiding in the house somewhere since he had sat elbow to elbow with a large number of Boogie Men during the trip out and it turns out that this week is their annual convention in the Bay Area (which, if you think about it, makes sense. I mean, the weather is a little warmer there and the Bay Area is strange enough to host all those guys.)

So, reassured that the local Boogie Man is at the convention taking seminars this week on how to be a Better Badder Boogie Man . . . I now feel I can go snuggle up with my littles and my dog and go to sleep. (The littles and the poodle all know that when Daddy is away, they get to sleep in Mommy's bed ALL NIGHT. They think this is because there is more ROOM in the bed. Only Mommy knows it's because Mommy is a BIG CHICKEN.) Good night, everyone. I hope your Saturday was as full and satisfying.

P.S. B, if you're reading this, I humbly request your recipe for the lunch meat we had today. Max *never* eats that much (real) lean meat. He'll only eat pseudo meat like chicken nuggets or faux-hamburger. I *know* Chris would love that recipe, too.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Ahhhh, That Was Nice

It was a beautiful day. It was 50 degrees and blustery and sunny and I was out and running errands in it.

Since I've picked up a short but full-time project, I let myself get some of the gardening supplies I wanted for this year. I also needed some groceries to get us through the weekend until I do a full shopping trip on Monday.

I put some sweet pepper and hot pepper seeds in some seed-starting trays and put them under the light box.

And somehow, that was most of the day. It's leftover night, so I'm off to see what the kids might want and then retire to a comfy chair. We'll spend the day in Philly tomorrow, so we'll be up early again. I'm going to bed just as soon as I can justify putting the kids to bed.