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Monday, February 28, 2011

last day

The last day of February. I actually managed to post every day this month, albeit challengingly (not a word, but you get the idea.) I got an email from the national post each day on your blog people today. I didn't do a theme for February, unless it was post-at-any-cost, but I was intrigued by the theme for March and am wondering if it will be interesting to use (or interesting to be motivated by), at least in part, for posting each day in March. I am also wondering if I am up for that in March, because March is Birthday Month in our family. Samuel will be turning 11 in March and Eva will be 8. Gasp. That's getting to be a lot of candles on the cake(s). I will certainly need to buy more candles this March, an event that hasn't occurred for some time. I've been getting by with the same candles from year to year for a while now.

{Back to posting}- The theme for NaBloPoMo March is In a Word, which was intriguing to me. I like the idea of picking a word each day to write about. What word defined my day. What word do I hope will define my day. What word came up for me repeatedly that day. What word did my kids make up that day. Or even- take a picture to illustrate a word that day. You get the idea. Actually, I really like that last idea and am definitely going to give posting each day some more thought.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Organizing the Halo guys-

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Eva's knit skirt

And I finished Eva's skirt!





Close-ups of some of the yarn and the i-cord cinched waist. Let's see, it's about 14 inches long and wide. The main yarn/color is a worsted weight from Malabrigo at 5 stitches/ inch.

Friday, February 25, 2011

snow

So much for spring. Of course, the snow's all gone now, leaving us only with weather that feels a little-bit-colder-than-usual for this time of year, reminding us of our brief brush with Winter.



There was just enough snow yesterday for the kids to make the beginnings of a snow creature. Here is the head, I believe, of a snow vulture, of all things, to be exact.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

snow day

It snowed! Yep. They said it would and it did! Quick, get outside before it melts!





Wednesday, February 23, 2011

knitting

While I did not finish Eva's skirt today, I did buy yarn for a new project, to be started once said skirt is finished-



I'll be trying this sweater featured on SouleMama. The pattern for the Oatmeal Pullover is found here. I will be using 5 skeins (maybe 4?) of Cascade Yarns 128 Chunky in color 9581. Although, I'll be honest here, I may be heading back to the yarn shop in the near future to exchange it for another color, because once I got it home, it turned out to be not quite what I had thought it was in the store. I thought it was more on the reddish side, when really, it is much closer to a warmish brown. The color chart doesn't do it justice either. We'll see how I feel about the color tomorrow morning. I'd love to see it in the sunlight just to be sure.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

spring weather

Well, unfortunately (for now) there was no Sweet pea planting today. Eva and I were sick and it was too cold for me to be out in the garden. We had one of those mixed-up Portland spring days with sunshine and hail that I love and look forward to. I thought for sure there would be a rainbow thrown in there somewhere. There is snow predicted here over the next couple of days. Now that I know the violets and crocuses can handle snow, I am looking forward to seeing if anything comes of it. I never did buy the kids snow boots this year. It would be crazy if they needed them now, just as I'm planting the first seeds in the garden.

Monday, February 21, 2011

garden news

I remembered two days ago while I was out in the garden that now is the time to plant peas! Yes, it's sow-your-peas-before-President's-Day time again and in honor of that occasion, I bought three packs {of different varieties} of Sweet peas to plant {hopefully} tomorrow. With names like Fairy Tale Mix and Extra Scented, who can choose just one? Last spring I planted my sweet peas too late in the season and I had very few that bloomed. I'm not taking any chances this year.

After I'm done planting the Sweet peas, I will move onto the other types of peas, mainly the edible variety, both shell peas and sugar snap peas.

Sunday, February 20, 2011



Agnes placed just so between the two kids/two laptops.

A little closer-

Saturday, February 19, 2011

spring-ish

It's officially springtime. (Despite the snow predictions later this week. And yes, I know, it is still technically winter.) Still, after spending time outside today, I would say that as far as the seasonal continuum goes, the scales have tipped in the direction of spring. At least for the time being.

Two instances of spring in the air today-



The Columbine is just popping up in a few places.



And- Eva brought me not one, but two small vases of flowers.

Friday, February 18, 2011

game play

I mentioned before that the kids and I have been enjoying playing Carcassonne together after receiving it for Christmas. Something has happened over the last month or so, though, that has made playing the game with all three of us not quite as enjoyable as it had been. Or maybe it's just that things change? and I liked it how it was? Who can say. Did I think we would always be able to play this game together. Peacefully? No. But did I think it would last a bit longer than a month? Yes. I thought for sure I had at least a few months of playing this game with the three of us before it's novelty wore off. And I have to say- it just isn't quite the same when I play with just one kid or the other. There is something about three that adds a bit more dimension to Carcassonne, although it most definitely can be played with two. Something about not {quite} enough variety. I'm not sure. I saw one of its expansion packs at the toy store the other day and am considering buying it to add some variety to the two-person game and a little more flair to the three-person game in the hopes of refocusing Samuel more on the game and less on what Eva is up to. (Aside- Eva has quite a bit more energy and a little less game-focus than Samuel. She is three years younger, after all. I am fine with her playing the game while standing on her head and simultaneously building with her unused figures. Samuel, however, is not. So there is quite a bit of negotiation that takes place around how each wants to play the game. Which sometimes is fine. And other times- I will be honest- is exhausting. Tonight is a case in point for exhausting. Although, to be fair, once the game was over, Samuel was smiling and telling me how happy he was to have continued to play. So that is something. Still, I am looking for ways to have less exhausting and more fine, if you know what I mean. Which might mean, eventually, focusing on playing more Carcassonne alone with Eva and other games alone (like Stratego and Dominion) with Samuel, at least for the time being. Path of Least Resistance, and all that.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

ants

It seems like the ant scouts have come out a little earlier this year-



At least someone enjoyed the tangerines.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

snowy wood violets

We woke up to {a little bit of} snow this morning. I'm happy to say that the flowers who were blooming seem to be all set for a little surprise snowfall.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011



An amazing mushroom covered tree we saw on our way to lunch.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Zoo posing

We went to the zoo recently and Eva and I had some fun with the stone animal statues. She wanted to sit on each one and then some.











Sunday, February 13, 2011

moomin valentine

We made Valentine cookies today with some of our heart {and bunny} shapes. We also got to use some Moomin cookie cutters (and a large pig!) that a friend of mine lent us. We especially enjoyed making the Snufkin shapes and made green frosting for his clothing! (Which sort of made everything look like springtime, something I think Snufkin would definitely approve of.)



Saturday, February 12, 2011

and zen some

Seems like I keep reading little bits of pithy wisdom lately and feeling irritated afterward because the bits seem incomplete somehow, but are being treated as the Truth. And then- predictably- I argue with myself over said wisdom and feel overwhelmed and either stay irritated or decide I am not doing something right or I would understand or relate to or embrace the *wisdom*. These arguments leave my head feeling so dense and tired that nowadays, I get ahead of myself and end up feeling dense and tired before the arguing and thinking can even begin.

A few nights ago, I was reading {very briefly} in one of my Zen books and was just about ready to put it down (too much pithy wisdom for one evening...) when I came upon this little bit of wisdom that seemed just right. And I've been rolling it around in my head, marveling at it's exactness and perfection ever sense.

The section I was reading (from Nothing Special, Living Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck) was- actually- talking about "tossing around fancy concepts". {Perfect!} Concepts like- "Everyone is doing their best," and "Everything is perfect as it is right now." Great concepts. But still- only concepts. Words. Thoughts. Not our actual experience, in this moment. Beck points out that often, we plaster these concepts, these words, right on top of our actual experience, without ever feeling what we are experiencing. And this can be a trap. This can be mistaken for understanding. Too much of this can be "a source of confusion, anxiety and depression."

I loved Beck's example of feeling hurt by someone else- how we might go ahead and explain their behavior and our own experience with a concept like, "Everyone is doing their best" and inadvertently skip the whole messy, painful part of feeling and being who we are in that moment. Skip our actual experience and overlay it with a concept instead. And mistake that for Truth.

The depth of understanding and clarity- not to mention the serenity and peace of mind?- that we are looking for (that I am looking for?), is so much easier to find if we don't try and stack yet another philosophical concept on top of what is actually happening. The next time you are feeling frustrated (or angry. or sad. or overwhelmed.) and a well-meaning person (or book. or guru. or quote.) gives you a bit of wisdom, skip the wisdom and let yourself feel frustrated. Afterward- my guess is- you will truly know, everyone really is doing their best. All of the time. Ta da. But don't take my word for it...

Friday, February 11, 2011

resolution-ish

We ended up choosing to read Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls. I had several great suggestions for our next books and am looking forward to picking up the different holds at the library. Which brings me to one of my semi-serious (as in, I'm taking it seriously. mostly.) New Year's resolutions. I don't really do resolutions, although this year I thought about how, if I had to choose one, it would be to stay committed to all of this self-work and listening to myself and continuing to push aside the extras cluttering up my mind so that I can see more clearly. Etcetera. Peace of mind and all that.

However, in addition to all of that goodness, I had another semi-official-ish resolution about not having quite as many over-due items at the library (and at blockbuster and other such places, but mostly the library, because that is where I am most frequently). And to keep my fines (if overdue items do happen...) to a minimum and paid. So far- I am quite pleased to say- I have had just three overdue items- one specifically when I was too sick to return it. And, the really exciting part is that when I went to pay my fine, I thought I would owe $2.15 (the um dvd's are $1.00/day) I only really owed $.15 for the one book that was one day late. Hurray. I was so excited. Perhaps the library angels turned back the computer clocks for me? I've no idea. My account, though, is currently paid in full, with no overdue items to speak of. Which feels really, really good and much more doable than I had initially thought.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Two kids, two computers



Thank goodness. There is still some scuffling over who uses which and when, but it has mellowed out quite a bit since we figured out the sound on one of them and added a second wireless mouse. Now Webkinz can be played seamlessly on either.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

books

After finishing The Wind in the Willows recently (which, by the way, we really enjoyed. the language and story telling- not to mention the characters- were lovely.), we decided to read something completely different and chose Matilda. We read quite a bit of Roald Dahl a few years ago, but stopped when we got to some of his more gruesome stories, including Matilda, The BFG and The Witches. The timing was right for Matilda this time around, although I have to say I had forgotten just how thick Roald Dahl lays it on with some of his nastier characters. Toward the end of the book, Samuel mentioned that since he has now read so many different kinds of stories, he was trying to find something redeeming in Miss Trumchbull's character. He lamented that he could find nothing and said he remembered {now} how with this writer (Roald Dahl), the mean characters were usually just that- mean. Without a single redeeming quality to be found. Yep.

Then we had a discussion about Miss Trunchbull vs Professor Umbridge {in Harry Potter}. (who, by the way, i nearly stopped reading order of the phoenix because of- because i found her so loathsome.) Samuel thought that Professor Umbridge was the worst of the two, hands down- although they are both, obviously, cut from the same villainous cloth. I think the thing about Miss Trunchbull that redeems her a little bit is that she *is* just plain mean. One of the scariest parts about Professor Umbridge's character is that she thinks she is doing the right thing. Miss Trunchbull punishes the children because she dislikes them. She also thinks that children will always be bad. While she may hope that they will stop doing whatever it is she is punishing them for, she has few illusions that they will ever really change (at least not until they have grown up). Professor Umbridge, on the other hand, actually hopes to change Harry {and everyone else} for the greater good, which, by the way, she believes she stands for. Both characters definitely gave me enough pause (and obviously we've all given them quite a bit of thought) for the time being.

I was hoping to read Treasure Island next, but Eva is adamant about not reading it right now. I'm not sure why. I'm holding onto it, but still need to find something {else} to read next. Maybe another Roald Dahl? I'm not sure. I'd also like to mix it up a bit and choose something quite different altogether {again}.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

game day

I'm really excited about trying out the game Go after seeing it played at a game day for tweens the kids and I went to yesterday. The game day itself was a mixed bag. Samuel had been looking forward to playing several different games with some of the other kids- some that we took and maybe trying out a few other games. We took Battleship, Stratego and Carcassone. I had my doubts about Carcassonne being played but I thought Battle ship and Stratego were a shoe in. (And, it turned out I got to explain Carcassonne to one of the other moms there, which was fun.) He did end up playing a few games of Stratego (and some Connect Four) and one girl even asked to buy it when she got home. So that was fun, too. But there were no takers for Battleship, which surprised me. The real bummer was that *most* of the kids stayed in one large group and played a single game together that way. And, I don't think there were quite a many kids there as had planned, which may have contributed to the game play as well.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Eva really enjoyed her Valentine making class today at The Warehouse with Portland Art Adventures. Both kids have taken several classes with Becky and they have enjoyed the classes and really like her as a teacher/ facilitator. Eva has just signed up for a few more of the upcoming classes. One of the reasons I think both kids are enjoying the classes so much- and why Eva has signed up for more- is the format of most of the classes. Becky brings in a ton of different materials for the specific project and the kids can use them how they like. For the Valentine class, she had boxes, card stock, ribbons, fabric, feathers. So much to choose from in the name of pink and red and purple.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

daffodils!

Eva and I went for a walk today to the park and lo and behold, we saw our first daffodils. I LOVE daffodils, so I took a picture for posterity. Yesterday, we saw the first crocuses in our own yard and on our walk we saw several others popping up in other yards, both yellow and purple. The snowdrops are also in full bloom right now, along with the wood violets. I still have quite a bit of clearing out to do in a few of the violet patches and would love to finish it all up in the next couple of days. We'll see if the weather continues to allow for that kind of time spent outside. My roses are nearly all pruned. It seemed to go so quickly this year and I was reminded today when I was clearing away some more leaves in the front yard that Eva pruned over half of them and most of them in the front yard!



Snowdrops in our front yard.



Daffodils on the way to the park.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

More pictures from our trip to Seattle

The kids had a lot of fun with the giant chess set at the Pacific Science Center-











Samuel at the top of the Space Needle.



All four kids (Samuel, Vivian, Eva and Sabine) in front of a Totem Pole at Seattle Center after the Harry Potter exhibit.

video

Butterflies in the butterfly exhibit at the Pacific Science Center.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Well, the dramamine I took to not-have-motion-sickness on the train on the way back from Seattle worked better than not having taken any on the way to Seattle (as in, I was *much* less sick on the way home, although I still couldn't walk around or look out the train, etc. the ginger ale and saltines also helped immensely...) Still, something about the medicine in the less-drowsy formula gave me an incredibly intense migraine all last night and today. I'm sure it didn't help that I was traveling and tired and all that goes along with that. The kids enjoyed their time at home today and I spent quite a bit of it in bed, either resting or sleeping or spending time with cats. I'm hoping this migraine {that seems to be finally winding down} will be completely gone by tomorrow so I can get back to other things like knitting and taking walks. The sun isn't shining but it has warmed up enough that the outsides were calling out to me today. I'm hoping to spend some more time out in the yard with the now blooming snowdrops. Maybe I'll uncover some more crocus buds while I'm at it...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

harry potter trip day 3

And, we're back. Today we went to the Seattle Aquarium and took a walk along the waterfront and then back to the hotel, much to everyone but mine and Carolyn's chagrin. Still, it was nice to see how close together everything was. I had been looking forward to seeing the sculptures in the Olympic Sculpture Park, but somehow we managed to walk right past {most of} them on our {uphill} journey back to the hotel. Something tells me a trip during the late spring or early summer would be perfect for checking them out. Next time!



The Aquarium was fantastic {again}. Eva had been looking forward to that most of all, possibly even more than the Harry Potter exhibit. Here she is touching one of many many sea creatures she checked out throughout the day. We were even lucky enough to see one group being fed. They place small bits of cut up sardines into the sea anemones and into little crevices where various crabs spend their time hiding. Other fish and crabs eat bits of shrimp strewn through the water.