30 June 2006

Hangin' at the farm

We went back to Eugster's (pronounced kind of like Ike-ster) farm today. We bought shortcakes and whipped topping at the grocery store yesterday and were hoping to get some strawberries at farmer's market. No luck there so we spent a couple hours playing at the farm and then got some berries before we left. I kept my promise to take my camera this time, so here are some pictures!!

Bug checking out the goats. He really wasn't as freaked out as he looks, the camera just caught him at an awkward moment!

Bean wants to be a chicken and go roost:

Both kids checking out the goats and chickens.

Tsk, tsk, tsk...road rage starts so young. "Hey, if you don't like going the speed limit, get your lips off my bumper and pass already!!!"

Construction crew digging in the dirt...

...and digging...

...and digging.

Ahoy, matey!

Can I just add:

Fresh Air + Sunshine + Chasing Chickens = REALLY good naps!

29 June 2006

It's done, but may never be over...

Well, we finally sold our house. The closing was last night, but we had signed our part when we went back to move the piano. They have been finding "problems" with the appliances, so who knows if we will ever be done completely.

Even though this is the house both my babies came home to, after a year plus of trying to sell it and then selling for less than we owed and then problem after problem, I can't even muster up an nostalgia for the stupid thing. All I can say is . I am hugely relieved that the worst of it should be over and the waiting and uncertainty are done. I am hoping that now that we have only one household, we can move into our new apartment in August and get a fresh start and repair our finances.

So, old house...Buh-bye.

27 June 2006


As in art, not walls...Watercolor was the medium of choice.

This is Bean's masterpiece:

And this one is Bug's:

I just love the gray fluffies in this one...they remind me of dandelions gone to seed.

Bug was very prolific. Fortunately, I have tons of "art paper" left over from my dissertation (think 300+ pages per copy times five committee members plus one for me). Bean was more about process than product. She painted one picture that we set aside and after that she would paint a little, tear a little, smear water around a little, suck on the paintbrush a little and repeat. I joined in too for a while...let's just say that I shouldn't quit my day job. The full gallery of art is here.

It's Official!!

While my committee gave me the thumbs up back in April when I defended, at that point I only had the minor details finished. You know: 90 credits of coursework, years of research, almost 300 pages of dissertation, etc.

Now that I have taken care of the important things like library overdue fines, unpaid U-Bills, jumping through formatting hoops for the grad college, it is finally and irrevocably official!!

Almost Finished

The Crumpets is almost finished. I'm just having a little trouble deciding what to do and how to do it with the shoulder straps . I'm also having trouble keeping the woven in ends from crawling out, but Bean looks SO CUTE it in! I will get the straps figured out and post a picture very soon!

26 June 2006

Next project in the wings

The next project that I will be starting is this CUTE fire fighter's hat from New Knits on the Block by Vickie Howell. I ordered wool from KnitPicks this morning, as well as my own copy of New Knits on the Block. The library copy had to be returned. I could have renewed it, but there were so many cute patterns that I decided to go ahead and order it. I suspect there will be a number of future projects coming from it!

The book and wool are officially a graduation present from Grandma W. Is it too soon to start checking the mailbox?


Baby Beanie sitting in a swing.
Swingin' and singin' and doin' her thing.
Beanie swings up!
Beanie swings down!
Beanie-beanie up!
Beanie-beanie down!

Good thing my hand is there or she might put a footprint right in your forehead!!

Kudos to Grandpa H for this photo!

Schoolhouse Rock!

Okay, so everyone my age grew up with Saturday morning 'toons and Schoolhouse Rock. A while ago, Kitty Daddy found a DVD of them and it has turned into one of Bug's favorite videos. I have most of them memorized now. Seriously...I can sing almost any of them on demand!

Interestingly enough, some of my strongest Schoolhouse Rock associations are more recent. One (filed under random things that just seem to permanently lodge in your brain for no real reason) is that a very dear friend of mine and her husband called their first child "Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla" before birth. In retrospect, the baby probably should have been "Rafaella Gabriella Sarsaparilla," and her little brother could have been "Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla." But who knew??

Another involves a friend from my Cottey College days. I was one of her bridesmaids when she got married in 1994 and stayed at her apartment while I was in town. On the morning of the wedding, the two of us were curled up on her sofa waking up and getting ready to start the day. We had turned on the TV and ran into Schoolhouse Rock. Again, I'm not sure why that moment is so firmly lodged in my brain either!

25 June 2006

Possible projects

Kitty Daddy got me a knitting mag at the bookstore today and I'm thinking about making this shell (not the cardi, just the shell). Maybe with KnitPicks Mainline. I think Ivory, Wedgewood, or Antique Rose are the leading contenders.

KnitPicks has so many pretty lace yarns too...

*sigh* Must keep the bad angel away from the credit card and the computer keyboard...


Yesterday morning we went to the big downtown Farmer's Market. It was a zoo, but we had a good time. We bought a pound of the sweetest, crunchiest shelled peas I have ever had, two tomatoes, three cookies, one pistachio baklava, and a bag of fresh cheese curd (squeak, squeak!!). We had the peas for supper last night, tossed with twisty noodles and sun-dried tomato pesto. We had BLTs, the first of the season, tonight. They were yummy, and the tomatoes in no way resembled the cardboard things at the supermarket, but they weren't quite as yummy as the tomatoes that we'll be having later in the summer, when there has been a lot of nice, hot weather.

23 June 2006

Getting close!

Oh my goodness! I'm so excited...it looks like a little dress. I have blocked it and am letting it dry tonight. Then all I have left is shoulder straps and elastic in the bodice, so the next picture should be of Bean modeling the finished product!

Evolution of the pony tail

Pictures are, from left to right: 10 August 2005, 23 February 2006, and 5 June 2006. I made the collage with Picasa...pretty cool, huh?

I'm intrigued...

I have been eye-balling the new KnitPicks Options needles lately. I really like my Denise Interchangeables, but I'm not completely taken by the plastic tips. I have been trying off and on to score a set of Boye Needle Master interchangeables on Ebay on the cheap, but no luck so far. My biggest complaints with the Denise are the plastic (at least with some yarns) and the fact that the smallest needle size is 5. I like that Boye goes down to size 2, but have heard that the tips unscrewing can be a pain.

Things I like about the Knit Picks needles conceptually:

  • That you don't have to buy a whole kit; you can just add needles and cables here and there (as budget allows)
  • The tightening key should help with the unscrewing tendency I have heard about with Boyes
  • Smoother tips and smaller cables than the Denise
  • Although they only go down to size 4, that would mean just a few pairs of small size circulars (and these are very reasonably priced) and I could have the smaller needles the same as the larger ones
  • I have been delighted by the quality/cost ratio of the yarns I have tried from Knit Picks and fully expect that these would be a good value for the money. As good as Addis? Maybe not, but a heck of a lot cheaper!
The good news is that my bad angel is off the hook for a while...there has been such a big response to the needles that they are backordered by a week or two.

22 June 2006

And I thought I was a tense knitter!

Naturally, I knit the way I do everything in life, a little too tightly wound, so I can usually count on using needles a size bigger to attain gage, and needing big, honkin' needles for binding off. However, I have finished the knitting portion of my Crumpets dress and am now working on the crocheted bottom hem. Oh man!

Let me begin by saying that I learned how to crochet loooong before learning to knit and that prior to picking up knitting again about a year and a half ago, I had done way more crocheting. I started crocheting around age 6 or 7 with Grandma O. Both of my grandmas crochet beautifully (I have some gorgeous afghans to attest to that fact), and both helped me along when I was young.

Anyway, this Crumpets hem...nothing fancy, I doing single crochet right now...is taking forever. Not only am I working very slowly, but I get so tensed up that I have to stop every dozen stitches or so. I am maybe 1/8 of the way around and I bet I could have knit three rounds in the time it has taken me so far.

Remaining Crumpeting: Finish crochet hem, weave in yarn ends, block, and knit or crochet shoulder straps. If the crocheting doesn't end up taking me the next year and a half, I should be done soonish. Maybe by early next week???

'Struction Kitty

Here is my cute little spotted leopard in his construction hard hat. This morning, he decided that he needed to be wearing his kitty outfit and a little later he found his play hard hat and announced, "I 'struction kitty!" Of course, mom had to go find the camera!

21 June 2006

Stolen moments

Since knitting is one of my main stress relievers and sanity savers, it is important to be able to find time to do some knitting. With two little ones, it can sometimes be hard! My strategy is to have a big project going when I can find some uninterrupted time (right now, it's Crumpets) and one or more small projects that I can pick up and put down during stolen moments.

One particular brand of little project is socks. I always have a sock in progress and I keep it in a small nylon drawstring bag that I can stuff in my purse or loop around my wrist. The bag is only big enough for one skein of sock yarn, the sock in progress (this one's partner right now) and maybe a ruler or some notes and measurements. That way, it's handy when I have a minute or two. When I take the kids to the playground or park, I loop the bag around my wrist and then I can knit while I'm walking around keeping an eye on the kids or I can park myself on a nearby park bench and go to town! I can drop the sock back into the bag in an instant if I need to rescue an over-adventurous Bean from perilous jungle gym or if I need to go referee a who-shares-what-with-who-and-when discussion with Bug and one of his new "fends" and take it back out again when peace and quiet prevails.

Potty Progress

Since yesterday was fairly humid, but not quite hot enough for the A/C, Bug and Bean spent much of the day semi-naked. Bug used the potty chair first thing in the morning to pee and then again twice in the afternoon. He stayed dry the whole time from nap to supper! We are so proud of our pottying Bug!

The downside for me is that I have been spending so much time soaking up pee from the carpet since training pants leak and some of the day was spent au naturel. Yesterday, the score was Mollie - 1, Bean - 2, Bug - 1. So far today, the score is Mollie - 0, Bean - 1, Bug - 2. Go Mollie!

20 June 2006

If you thought hummus was only a delicious dip/spread...

You obviously have never had a full body hummus spa treatment.

The secret of gorgeous gals everywhere for having baby-soft skin and a clear complexion. The tortilla chips are just a bonus.

Can I just note how happy I am that she was only wearing a diaper at the time? Gives a whole new meaning to "Bean Dip"!!

Books, books, books

What we are reading (in addition to a whole bunch of "quick reads" in Bug and Bean's book collection):

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (J.K. Rowling) - When book six came out last July, I decided that I wanted to reread all five of the previous books before reading book six. Since Bug enjoys listening to stories so much, I started at the beginning reading them aloud. We can read a couple of chapters a week when we are reading regularly, but there are times when Bug doesn't want to listen to a book without pictures and we also took a looooong hiatus while I finished up my dissertation. We are reading (more or less) regularly again now and are working our way through book four.

The Search for Modern China (Jonathan D. Spence) - When I was studying Chinese, I checked this book out from the library on the recommendation of a classmate taking a Chinese history class. It is extremely interesting and well-written, but I can only take history in small doses, so I wasn't moving fast enough for the library! I bought a copy not long after that, but with kids and graduate school and all the rest of life, it got put on a book shelf. I found it a couple of weeks ago, going through books in the shed and decided it was time to read it all. I'm on Chapter Two...the Manchus are quelling the last of the Ming dynasty and the Qing dynasty is on its way in. It's still going slow, but that's okay. I don't have a deadline!

Semi-permanent members of my reading pile include:

  • Raising Your Spirited Child (Mary Sheedy Kurcinka) - One word: Bug
  • How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk (Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish) - Respectful family communication
  • The Discipline Book (William and Martha Sears) - can't go wrong with the Sears
  • The Family Nutrition Book (William and Martha Sears)
I go back and read bits and pieces of these fairly regularly...

19 June 2006

Father's Day

For Father's Day, our big activity was retrieving our piano from our old house. We left it there so we wouldn't have to pay to store the piano since September. There is NO WAY we could have gotten it (safely) up into our second story apartment. So the day was spent driving 180 miles there, picking up a U-Haul truck and wrestling the piano in (as well as a couple of other last odds and ends still living in our old house) and then driving the two vehicle back home to deliver the piano into storage this morning. The one fairly humorous part of the day was that we had breakfast at Hardee's (on the road) and the service was awful. I told Kitty Daddy that it was payback for the breakfast at Burger King (also horrible service) we had for Mother's Day, which was the day after graduation. [Aside to my dad...we had an order of cinnamon raisin biscuits. Apart from the obvious raisin issue, they weren't bad. Probably not as bad as the Carl's Jr ones, but not as good as the biscuits of old.]

On Saturday, since we had 'Bou before going to the farm, it was only fitting that we took Daddy out for 'Cue to celebrate Father's Day that evening. Yummy! Daddy also got a "stained glass" candle from the kids. Bug and Bean each made one (with help) at story time before Mother's Day, so we save one for Father's Day and Kitty Daddy and I now have matching candle jars.

So a belated, but heartfelt, Happy Father's Day to Kitty Daddy and all the other daddies out there, whether their babies are little or grown-up, people or animals, or anything else!

17 June 2006

Morning at the Farm

This morning we spent a couple of hours at a farm that has a fruit stand/market, as well as a petting zoo and kids play area. What fun! Unfortunately, this was a spur of the moment thing and I didn't have a camera with me. Next time...

Anyway, we got to play with little goats and kittens and baby geese and lots of other animals...some that you could pet and visit, others that were in enclosures. We saw some of the ugliest little white turkeys! I think they must have been young turkeys, but talk about a face only a mother could love. And I mean their mother, because I wasn't a bit impressed! Bug and Bean had an absolute blast chasing chickens around the chicken field. They also had a huge sandbox with toy dump trucks and excavators, a paved area with John Deere tricycles to ride, and some basic playground equipment.

Before we left, we bought a quart of strawberries that will be dessert tonight. Yummm! We also got a quart at Farmer's Market on Thursday. Oh my goodness! They were the first real strawberries I have had in ages. It's not that I forgot how yummy fresh strawberries were...it was more selective amnesia so I wouldn't miss what I didn't have!

16 June 2006

The Zen of Knitting

The best thing about knitting for me is the mindless repetition. It gives me a chance to zone out and let my hands go. I find it extremely relaxing and a great way to refresh my mind. So far most of my projects have had significant stretches of fairly plain knitting, with just enough stuff (shaping, colorwork, patterns, etc.) to keep things interesting. If a project has too much going on and requires a lot of concentration, I lose the meditative qualities I love so much. On the other hand, knitting only scarves and dish cloths in single color stockinette would get BORING before too long. I enjoy the anticipation of turning a heel or shaping a toe, as well as the execution.
Life Lesson: Balance in all things.

The biggest challenge for my knitting time is my two sweet kidlings. Bug is 3-1/2 years and Bean is almost 20 months. If they are playing and I try to sneak in a little knitting, they quickly become fascinated by the yarn and sticks. In order to relax a teensey bit longer, I let them poke and pull and play with the yarn. Generally, the result is a completely tangled mess. Fortunately, I don't mind untangling and winding the yarn in a ball too much. Unlike some the thornier problems in life, a messy skein can be sorted out with just a little bit of patience and perserverance. It can be a good reminder for those tasks that require a lot more patience and perserverance.
Life Lesson: Problems need to be untangled one knot at a time.

15 June 2006

Who's wearing the cranky pants today?

It's Mama! It has been one of those days. Story time started up again for a six week summer session after two weeks off. While the kids enjoy the stories and are getting some practice sitting (kind of) still and listening, I am getting fed up. The story time meets at the community rec center during the winter and at a park shelter during the summer and after story time, there is a play time either in the rec center gym or at the park. The problem is a small group (2-4 depending on the week) of older boys (maybe 5 yo?) that Bug has been having problems with. These boys are extremely clique-ish and make it clear that when they are playing with the "cool toys" no-one else gets to participate. Well, Bug is at the age where he is just starting to become very social and is always looking for "fends" to play with.

Today, he started to play with the same part of the park play structure as these boys and they started yelling at him and pushing him to get him away. Bug thought the rough-housing was part of the game and joined in with gusto. I intervened and tried to tell everyone that they needed to take turns and share. The thugs-in-training announced that they were playing here and he (Bug) couldn't. I suggested that the park was for everyone and that we all needed to share. They were having NONE of that! So I tried to steer Bug over to another part of the park to play. Five minutes later, same thing starts all over again. When Bug resisted leaving the thuglets alone, I gave up and we left the park. Bug has a tantrum. Bean is trying to go play with the drinking fountain. Not enough arms to steer both kids when they are resisting!

This isn't the first time Bug has had a run-in with these boys. Next week we'll try finding some place farther away to play and see if we can avoid more trouble. If not, I guess we will need to look for another story time or activity, because it isn't any fun for Bug and I get too upset when no one is cooperating and everyone else is upset. Blech!

14 June 2006


1. Biology A close, prolonged association between two or more different organisms of different species that may, but does not necessarily, benefit each member.
2. A relationship of mutual benefit or dependence.
(The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.)
We have been getting hot and spicy trail mix from the bulk bins at the grocery store. It has sesame sticks, wasabi peas, funky little orange colored curve thingies, seasoned nuts, and *gasp* raisins. Please, do not get me started on the evil nature of raisins and their imminent world domination plans. Suffice to say: Ick!

Anyway, the first time we bought some, I worked my way around the raisins, hoping that Kitty Daddy wouldn't notice that the raisin to other stuff ratio was increasing. However, Bug was in the kitchen during one grazing episode and, lo and behold, he tasted the different components and proceeded to eat ONLY the raisins. That's my boy! Now I bring the bag out on the couch between us at snack time and we go to town together!

13 June 2006

Still crumpeting away

I am very close to being finished with skein number six and I am definitely seeing progress. I think it will take two more skeins, plus part of a third to get the finished length I need. I got some extra knitting in this weekend when we took a road trip back to Iowa.

I still am in love with the Shine Worsted yarn. My only complaint is that I run into a mid-skein join in just about every skein. For the price, though, I really can't even complain about that too much! I am thinking about making a hat to go with the dress. We'll see if I can stand looking at the purple Crocus yarn any longer when I finish the dress!

Park and more park

Monday was definitely a park day! The kids and I went to "Keys" park in the morning for our aparently doomed playgroup (we're 0-3). We had a good time anyway though. We played and ran around and had a snack under a fiberglass cow. Said cow was a member of the Cow Parade herd that will be grazing in our favorite park until mid-October.

We went back to the park in the evening for a free concert put on by the city. The music was by Od Tapo Imi, which is a steel drum band. The band's name is an acronym:

Oil Drums - That Are Pounded Out - Into Musical Instruments
which definitely appealed to my sense of humor. The kids played in the "little park" (that was right by the shelter and the band) and Kitty Daddy and I watched the kids and the band. Bean got her groove thang on in between climbing and sliding. We also had dinner there, as there was a food stand provided by a favorite cafe/bakery, LMNO'Pies. While I have never had anything there that wasn't completely yummy, they have a Mint Meltaway brownie and a Cream Cheese Sugar cookie that are both unbelievable!

12 June 2006

Eye Hairdo

Last Friday, Bug rediscovered a little chicken that we picked up at the dollar spot at Target a while ago. The conversation went something like this:

Bug: What dis?
Me: It's a little chicken.
Bug: What lillah chicken do?
Me: He says "peep, peep"
(not so brief interlude for much peeping)
Bug: What his name?
Me: I don't know. He doesn't have a name. What would you like to call him?
Bug: Eye Hairdo!
Me: Oh, why is that?
Bug: Because he have two eyes
and one hairdo .
Of course! Why didn't I figure that out! Then, yesterday, when I was getting Bug settled into his car seat after supper, ready to finish the trip home and we had the following conversation:
Me: Here's your race car. Here's your blanket. Here's Eye Hairball. Oops, I mean Eye Hairdo. Goofy mommy! Eye Hairball is a silly name, not a sensible name like Eye Hairdo.
Bug (agreeing): Eye Hairdo sensible name (you need to imagine 3-year-old pronunciation, intonation, and lisp, as well as the completely earnest delivery, to appreciate the humor here).
As we continued our ride, Bug was talking to his little chicken and I keep hearing "Eye Hairdo" and "Eye Hairball." He decided that Eye Hairball is Eye Hairdo's mommy.

Conversation number three was this afternoon. I printed out a copy of Eye Hairdo's picture for him and his little chicken was admiring it too and we were talking about it when...
Bug (resignedly): Eye Hairdo only have one butt.
Me: Oh? Would he rather have two?
Bug (looking at me with an are-you-insane look): No. He want three butts like a cow.
I'm still scratching my head over that one. I guess it just has to be chalked up to you can never guess what will come out of a three-year-old mouth.

Road Trip

We took a road trip to Iowa this weekend. We had one small chore we wanted to take care of at the "old house" that wasn't worth the price of gas to get there, but Kitty Daddy's brother was visiting their mom and his in-laws, so we decided to hit the road and see Grandma and Chaah-lie as well as Uncle Tom. We spent the night at a hotel and got to go swimming, which was great fun. Bean is ready to join the Olympic diving team. She had a BLAST climbing out of the pool, walking around the corner to the ladder rails, getting into position, grabbing my hands, and jumping in. Bug spent most of his time kicking and splashing while Daddy held him up.

The other highlights of the trip included seeing a couple of wind turbines while we were driving and driving over rumble strips before a stop sign. Bug thought both were pretty cool and has been asking to when we will see more "white things" (turbines) and "buzzy things" (rumble strips).

09 June 2006

Sometimes the nap gods smile and...

Sometimes they just sit there and laugh their fool heads off. Today is one of "those" days. Most days the three of us hunker down for nap time and Bug has quiet time while Bean dozes off. Once she's asleep, Bug is usually drowsy enough from quiet time that I can tuck him in with his favorite binkit and pillow and he will also be off to dreamland. When it works, it's a beautiful thing.

Today, Bean is just starting to relax and wind down and Bug remembers that he needs to go to the living room for a missing truck. Bean must investigate. I get both settled back down and Bean's eyelids are beginning to droop when, in the distance, there is a siren (police, ambulance, fire truck?). Bug has to go into the living room to check if he can see anything and loudly announces his intentions. Bean rouses and, again, must investigate. 'Bout now, mama is getting frustrated and losing patience, so we all go into the living room for a little while. Since everyone is acting tired, we try again. Same result. So I try to settle Bug on the sofa so I can rock Bean. No go. Another break. Everyone up on the rocking chair...two little ones getting drowsy. Falling asleep? Not a chance. Back up again. Man, it is going to be a cranky evening, but all you can do is create the right environment for sleep and work to get everyone relaxed...there just isn't any way to make the little stinkers sleep. Though on days like today, I have considered duct tape. *sigh* Only kidding, call off the CPS!!!

08 June 2006

Felted Purse

This is the felted purse I knit for Bean. I knit it out of Cascade 220, using Fair Isle for the colors. This was before I discovered entrelac, which would have been perfect for this design. I didn't use a pattern for it...in retrospect, I wish I had made it taller and less wide. I do have a lot of leftover yarn, so maybe I will make a second one and try entrelac.

Why I need to take up spinning, too

Twice a year, when the winter coat is replacing the summer coat and vice versa, I joke that I get enough cat hair to knit a new cat. If I knew how to spin, I could actually do it. The orange stuff on the brush belongs to Kitty Man and the pile on the right was contributed by Kitty Chai. That was just one brushing, I was still getting tons of hair out when the princess decided that she had had enough and left.

Believe it or not, there are resources for non-spinners who want their own cat hair or dog hair yarn...seriously. If you don't believe me, check here.

Library Day

We had a short trip to the branch library this morning. We had some holds that were ready to pick up and two DVD that were due tomorrow after being renewed for a second week. We have been borrowing library DVD's from the "Real Wheels" series. They are live-action videos for kids that Bug ADORES! Kitty Daddy picked up a copy of "There Goes a Truck" on VHS from a sale bin while we were in Iowa City for my thesis defense. It's a thirty-minute video and we sometimes watch it three or four times a day!

The Real Wheels DVD's each have three half-hour "There Goes..." shows. The ones I have found are:

  1. High Speed Adventures (A Race Care, A Spaceship, A Motorcycle)
  2. Land, Air, and Sea Adventures (A Boat, A Helicopter, The Mail)
  3. Rescue Adventures (A Rescue Hero, A Police Car, A Rescue Vehicle)
  4. Travel Adventures (A Plane, A Train, A Bus)
  5. Mega Truck Adventures (A Bulldozer, A Monster Truck, A Tank)
  6. Tractor Adventures (A Tractor, A Dump Truck, A Farm Truck)
  7. Truck Adventures (A Truck, A Fire Truck, A Garbage Truck)
We just returned Rescue Adventures and Travel Adventures and today we checked out Tractor Adventures and High Speed Adventures. They are very informative (I'm learning things I didn't know!), yet silly and fun at the same time. Another thing I like is that most of them say "If you want to learn more about ___ go visit your local library for lots of good books."

Bug also had fun playing with the trains at the library, but our trip was cut short by a Bean tantrum. Mean Mommy wouldn't let her play with the library's computers, so she demonstrated her new favorite skill: going limp, dropping to the floor, and screaming. She's only 19 months, but she's practicing hard and I have no doubt she will be a great talent by the time her second birthday rolls around!

07 June 2006

Teensy soaker

This is the teensy doll soaker I made at the same time I made its larger cousin. It isn't exactly the same pattern...I fiddled with the crotch and tried something new before I finally gave up and got a "real" soaker pattern. So until Mama felted the larger one, Bug and his baby got to have matching butts!

It's starting to look like a dress!

This is Bean's Crumpets dress four skeins in. I've done about a round and a half with the fifth skein that's attached. It's pretty exciting because it is starting to look like a dress. I do hope that the top edge flattens out with blocking and/or putting elastic in the bodice. It's curling a lot right now. I have about 7.5" of plain stockinette to go. Including the bodice, it is currently 8.5" so things are moving along nicely!

06 June 2006

The long-lost chili recipe

On my recipe, it's called "Dad's Chili," but since he couldn't replace it when it went missing, I now claim it as "My Chili"

3 lb coarse ground beef
2 small green peppers, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 oz. green chiles or jalapenos, finely chopped

Cook beef, green peppers, onions, garlic, and chiles in oil until lightly browned. Then add:

2 T chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp tobasco sauce
1 c water or beer
3-16 oz. cans stewed tomatoes, diced

Simmer 45 minutes.

3-15 oz. cans kidney beans*

Stir in undrained beans; cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Makes about 4 quarts.

* One pound dry kidney beans may be substituted. Soak beans overnight, then simmer for two hours before adding to chili.
I've never used dry beans, but included it, since it was in the recipe. If you prefer fresh chiles to the canned kind, I have found that one average-sized jalapeno is about an ounce.

New hit single

Bug's favorite new song (to the tune of Frere Jacques):

What's in the closet*? What's in the closet?
I don't know! I don't know!
Let's go take a peek...let's go take a peek...
A vacuum cleaner. A vacuum cleaner.
Repeat over and over, replacing last line with "A little orange vacuum," "hats and scarves," "winter coats," "Mama's yoga mat," "lots of shoes," etc.

Bug loves having Mama sing on command right now. If it's "sing farm song" or "sing bus song," I gladly oblige with Old MacDonald or The Wheels on the Bus. But after a couple of those, it tends toward "sing big rig song" ??? "sing closet song" ??? Then I just make up words and either borrow a tune or make one up. At least it's a nice change from a hand over my mouth and a "don't sing" command. Of course, now Bean is at that phase! So I've got one saying sing and the other putting her chubby hands over my mouth saying "stop!"

*The closet in question is the coat closet in the living room, in case you're wondering about the odd assortment of contents...

05 June 2006

The Great Flood, V 2.0

After our big play day on Saturday, Sunday was a work day. We spent most of the afternoon working on organizing the garage. This garage is starting to seriously tick me off. For those not already in the know, the first great flood was last September after we moved. Kitty Daddy had been hauling boxes to a rented storage unit when he was commuting back and forth for the weekend before the kids and I moved. Then over Labor Day weekend we officially moved.

The apartment we are in has a chicken wire storage bin in the basement of the building and we also have a (nominally) one-car garage. When we moved in, the garage was all muddy and the previous tenants had left a bunch of broken furniture. We managed to get the furniture hauled away, but we wanted to clean the garage out before filling it with boxes. So we kept the storage unit for a couple of weeks and stowed a bunch of boxes in the basement bin.

One weekend, we hooked up a hose to the outside faucet and started spraying the mud out of the garage. Kitty Daddy was almost finished when the water went off. We went to investigate and the downstairs neighbors had turned the hose off because they had seen water running on the floor from under their basement bin. We investigated further and the pipe leading to the outdoor spigot had broken. Of course, said pipe was smack in the middle of the back wall of our storage bin, so it had been spraying directly into our boxes, then running across the floor through the neighbor's bin.

They had some water damage to stuff on the bottom of the pile, but nothing major. We, on the other hand, had a serious mess. The biggest loss was a full size mattress and box spring and the saddest loss was most of my childhood Little Golden books that I was getting ready to share with Bug and Bean. We also lost a bunch of miscellaneous stuff...some junk, some not so much so. And that was the first "flood."

Fast forward to this spring. When we started cleaning out the garage to go through the boxes and sort and consolidate, we discovered that the major river that feeds the gigantic lake that forms at the end of our driveway every time it rains apparently runs smack through the middle of our garage. When organizing the garage, we tried very hard to make sure that all the boxes were up on crates or pallets, but when we went digging for specific items through the winter, things got shifted around and weren't always returned to their proper place.

Again, plenty of random stuff was tossed. The worst losses was a box containing almost ALL of my cookbooks. The only good news in that box was a pile of recipes on top (that weren't wet) that included my chili recipe that had been missing since last summer! The other sad box included my nice wood salad bowl and a matching picnic silverware holder. Fortunately, the beautiful wood crudite platter we got as a wedding gift was at the very top of the box and undamaged. Most of the rest of the box were things that can be scrubbed (and maybe cloroxed) and they will be fine.

While one goal of ours was to sort through our stuff and get rid of some things, this really isn't what we meant...

Park Day

My Bean is growing up so fast! My tiny baby is suddenly a little girl. She's still enough in the between stage that I get glimpses of my babykins once and a while, but probably not for much longer!

Why is it that when she wears a shirt that shows her chubby belly, it's cute? If I were to do the same...not so cute! Sigh!

We went to the park this morning. I have been trying to start a play group with some moms I have met online and haven't been having a lot of luck. At least the kids had fun at the park. We spent close to two hours there, with a short stop for water and snacks. Bean went down for her nap like nobody's business. Bug needed lunch first and he's spending a little time with his diecast trucks winding down right now. I suspect he'll be down soon...he played pretty hard at the park.

03 June 2006

Day of the Dozer

When you are a three-year-old boy, it doesn't get any better than this! Today was the Day of the Dozer sponsored by a local redi-mix company. They had all sorts of big trucks and sand and dirt and everything that makes little boy's (and mommy enginerd's) hearts go pit-a-pat! Things we did included a ride in a quarry truck, where we got a tour of the whole plant and an old quarry. The company started at this site with a crusher, an excavator, and a dump truck and is now one of the biggest of its kind in the area. We also got to climb on some parked trucks including a backhoe, a grader, a bulldozer, and a redi-mix truck. Bug and Kitty Daddy climbed up into a great big front loader and got to play with the controls (with the help of an employee of course). Bean and I watched as Bug made the scoop go up and down all by himself. Bug was such a good listener and took his loader operating job very seriously. Kitty Daddy just grinned...I'm not sure which of my little boys had more fun!

Bean didn't appreciate the whole thing quite as much as Bug, but at least she got a hard hat! Next year when she is a little older, it will be much more fun for her!

Speaking of next year, some of the other things that we didn't try, but will have to put on our list for next year include operating a back-hoe (dumping sand included), taking a ride on an industrial lift, and riding in a bulldozer. Like all fun things, it was very popular and there were lines for everything, which seriously tests the patience of little people so we only stayed for about 3 hours (including lunch).

The whole thing is an annual fund raiser for a local "Make a wish" type foundation. The plant owners donated the equipment and site for the day and employees volunteered to help out and everything else (food, pop, t-shirts, hats, etc.) was donated, so all the money that they took in went to the charity. In the 14 years they have been doing this, they have raised over $250,000!

The rest of the day's pictures are here.

02 June 2006

Pebbles hairdo

Any Flinstones fans? Bean doesn't like sitting still to have her hair brushed or styled, so the easiest way to get it out of her eyes is a topknot. One evening when we were running errands a sales clerk commented that this hairdo made her look like Pebbles...she just needed a bone. What, to any normal person would be an idle comment, to a crafty mama became a challenge and the Pebbles barrette was born.

I made it out of leftover Cascade 220, and even though I made it back in April, didn't take notes, and don't remember exactly, it went something like this:

  • CO 16 st on dpn
  • Join and knit 8 (give or take) rounds
  • Decrease round: k2tog 8 times (8 st)
  • Knit rounds until long enough to fit on flat barrette (16 or so?)
  • Increase round: k1f&b 8 times (16 st)
  • Knit same number of rounds as at beginning
Finishing: Run yarn tail through stitches with tapestry needle and pull tight. Then flatten middle section and insert where the arrow is pointing. Loop yarn around end (--- this way in photo) and insert needle through same point, pull tight to get bone shape and knot off.

Repeat with CO tail using running stitch around CO stitches to close end. Stitch on to flat barrette with yarn.

01 June 2006

Home Improvement

My two big weekend projects over the long Memorial Day weekend were installing our new portable A/C. At first, we were calling him R2D2, but his final, official name is A2/C2:

He was designed to go in normal size windows rather than our tall skinny living room windows. As a result, I had to remodel the rectangle that the vent plugs into. Out came Kitty Daddy's trusty Dremel and I made the new and improved window vent! The plate had an outer part that was too long for the window and an inner part that could slide out to make it longer. So I cut the outer part to fit and then cut two short pieces on the inner part to make "ears" to fit in the window so it wouldn't flop. Voila!

While the Dremel was out, we also got a 8' long 1x4 and FINALLY got the gate to the kitchen to behave. The pads that contact the wall are flat, but the baseboard is sloped so it was constantly slipping out and having to be adjusted. I cut two 3' pieces off of the 1x4 and then used the Dremel to shape the bottom to fit over the baseboards, but retain contact so the board is flat. Add a couple pieces of the sticky, mesh shelf liner (like the stuff you put under area rugs) between the boards and the wall to keep it from slipping when Bugs and Beans attack, and (again) voila...a gate that stays put!

Ta-da! (Kitty Mommy takes a dainty curtsey)

Walking in the Garden

We went to walk around the local botanical garden this morning. After a icky, humid weekend and a couple of thunderstormy days, we had to take advantage of the nice weather! Very pretty this time of year! This is only the third time we've gone. The first was in October when Grandma and Grandpa were here for Bean's birthday and it was nice, but not much to see outdoors. Over the winter, the kids and I went to the Conservatory to pretend we were on a tropical vacation, but it was too cold to look around outside.

We still haven't seen the whole thing, but at least we saw some areas we hadn't seen before. (Aside to my mom: The Asian garden that you saw in the mag was gorgeous...definitely on the "to do" list for your next visit!!) I would love to go there every week or two and watch the vegetation change and explore other parts, but Bug and Bean still aren't doing great with the "look with your eyes, not with your hands" concept. As they get older, the gardens will be much more enjoyable for all of us!

On the way home, heard from the back seat:

  • Bug: "I havin' a hairball" - we let him watch Shrek 2 with us, so baby kitty now has frequent hairballs. If you've seen the movie, Puss in Boots is what Kitty Man would be if he sounded like Antonio Banderas! I can well imagine Kitty Man singing and dancing to La Vida Loca...
  • Bug: "I havin' a sad hissy fit" - apparently entails a high-pitched, whiny shriek that could shatter glass.
  • Bean: the shrieking phase continues...but just high-pitched without the whining. Boy, was I glad to get home!