delightful things

12 08 2011

Savoring a few photo-less moments, as we wrapped up our home hunting trip and took a brief break by the sea:

swimming laps in the twilight just before dawn, and watching the sun rise in a blaze of rose and gold over the ocean;

sipping coffee with Mr P at a beachside cafe while Bebe happily devours scrambled eggs & a cut-up pile of small pancakes;

wading past the surf zone on a hot day and drifting in calm ocean swells;

building and rebuilding small sand castles around Bebe, who gleefully destroys them and then immediately throws his hands up in shock and pretends to be surprised by the destruction, dramatically howling, “Oh nooo! What happened? The sand castles are broken! What am I gonna do??”;

finding a couple absolutely lovely skeins of Madelinetosh DK at a local yarn shop;

watching evening fireworks with Mr P;

and heading home (current home) again.

Hope you have a lovely weekend.


adventures in home hunting

10 08 2011

Returning to our room every night after 8pm, I’ve had to renege on my previous claim of daily updates. Bebe’s done most of his napping in the car, which works out since the hotel room has been too different from home for him to really settle and sleep.

We’ve interspersed our daily home hunting with big and small adventures: a community barbecue, a beach day, an impromptu dash to the Outer Banks and back. And a change of hotels, since our first place was dirty and increasingly creeptacular – things like neighbors having early morning kitchenette fires; a pit bull (?!) bursting out of a room as Bebe & Mr P walked by, etc.

Which reminds me, did I mention the wandering pit bull we encountered at a house visit? Yep, we saw the large empty dog crate and then looked up to see the large dog. Eeeep! Immediate Scene Exit by the Family Perches + Realtor. Followed by leaping out the secondary front door, closing Bebe into the car, and then finagling some dog distraction so that we could re-open the door, close the main one, and then close the glass door.

In a sitcom, this would be scary-funny. In person, my Bebe was way too close to a seemingly-mild yet totally untethered guard dog in its own territory. Our realtor burned up the cell phone chastising whoever was representing that house. Bad selling agent, bad! And “No, they do NOT want to come back for another look later. No, not ever.”

Carry on, home hunters…

to market, to market

4 08 2011

To find a first house:

1. Make sure toddler has adequate entertainment, snacks, and naptime. Even so, be prepared for mini meltdowns.

2. Find a realtor whose awesomeness entails: being prompt and highly competent at her job; sustaining graceful patience with our active and often screechy toddler (and humorously swapping anecdotes as a fellow mom-of-toddler); pointing out all of the good eateries, specialty markets, and family resources in our search areas.

3. Encroach on toddler’s naptime at your peril. Seriously.

Bebe’s decided that looking at houses is Fun. Especially that big, empty rooms are fun to dash through (back and forth and back again) and fill with loud, happy echoes.

The challenges come when visiting a home still occupied by the owner’s large and/or small dogs; new (because they’re someone else’s) toys; remote controls, water glasses, etc – all of which Must Not Be Disturbed. Confusing boundaries for our wee young human to understand and accept.

Mr. P met Bebe’s occasional eruptions of Shrieking Protest with his usual humor and grace. I handed out abashed apologies like a tissue vendor on a Tokyo street corner (i.e. constantly and accompanied by head-bobbing Excuse Me’s and Thank You’s). Our realtor demonstrated her awesome-ness.

For tomorrow, Bebe says, “Yahhh: let’s go More Houses now please! And apples!” Immediately followed by the contrary, “No, I don’t like go see houses anymore. Or apples. Where’s my blanket?”

Ah, life with a two-year-old.

notes from a road trip

5 05 2011

Recently returned from a lovely little vacation to visit our families in Louisiana. Made it south and back again, squeezing right between crazy weather systems both ways.

Driving down, I ooh’d and aah’d over the passing blossoms of mid-spring. Dogwood trees, whose blossoms seem to hover at the edge of each branch like a cloud of upturned hands, in the shaded undercanopies of the Shenandoah Valley, Blue Ridge Highlands, and the Appalachian mountains. Later the coming-home happiness of seeing towering magnolias trees with their huge, fat blossoms beginning to open up as we passed through through southern Alabama, Mississippi, and south eastern Louisiana.

Driving back, we saw some of the devastation caused by tornadoes in Alabama, Tennessee, and Virginia. It’s a terrible situation for hundreds of families, cities, and towns. Huge chunks of forest uprooted and flung around; immense traffic signs and billboards snapped and toppled; metal cargo shipping containers twisted like a piece of tinfoil and flung across a valley; farm silos bent and cracked open; homes and businesses left in splinters. And really, our route bypassed most of the damage. That was just the edge of the disaster zones. Our hearts go out to those communities.

It has certainly been a year to support the Red Cross, whose resources must be experiencing significant strain with all of the crises across the country. Praying hard for calmer times and continued support for rebuilding in the second half of the year.

On another note, all of those traveling hours meant plenty of stitches done.

road trip crochet

road trip knitting

Another giant rose brooch, slow progress on my lurvely wristwarmers (PurlBee link), and experimenting with a summery linen camisole pattern from the Brave New Knits book (Ravelry/Amazon links respectively).

rows of rocking chairs

Bebe was also a big fan of the wide array of rocking chairs he was able to try out while we stopped for meals along the way. We actually came home with a small one one crammed into the back seat – a gift from his grandfather, not something from the restaurant chain – and he has been completely delighted with that new piece of wee furniture. “Oh!” he says with high excitement, “Look at my rocking chair!”

coloring easter eggs

Best of all, we had a wonderful time visiting family, including a big pack of cousins who traveled in from all over for the Easter holiday. Lots of swimming, manic egg hunting, a mess of melted chocolates, and a huge and happily crowded crawfish boil (including the care and feeding of some young proselytizers whom my mother had met earlier in the week – and then invited over because she was concerned they’d be alone & far from home for the holiday).

Other advantures? We got to catch up with several old & very dear friends. Bebe had his first canoe ride. I introduced my young nephew to the touchable, lovely wonders of yarn at a charming and wonderfully well-stocked LYS (McKneedles in Lacombe, LA). We ate too much of a lot of delicious food. And time, time, time with family.

The only cloud in our family sky: my almost-recovered sprained ankle immediately decided to flare up into random, hobbling pain, so most of my Easter day festivities and the following week was spent laid up with a brace on and lots of books to read. Not so bad, but certainly not as active as I’d planned. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have gone from 2 days of car-squashed stillness to immediate hours of bouncing, dancing, and twirling with the family babies and toddlers. But seriously, how could I resist all of that adorable cuddliness? Impossible!

Home again, we are rested and ready for the wonders and adventures of spring and summer.

after snow, gardens

30 03 2011

Just when we thought it was safe to slide back into sandals, short sleeves, and short pants, Wintry Cold and Random Snow returneth over the weekend. It inspired an intense spate of hat knitting, with some gorgeous yarn that I didn’t think would be used until next winter. Behold, my Every Snow Cloud has a Rainbow Lining hat:

rainbow hat

Perfect for frolicking in the snow beneath flowering trees. Bit of trouble with the dye consistency in the skein – lovely dark rainbow seen in brim/bottom half vs. unfortunate bright Fruit Loops rainbow seen in top half – but I still love this hat. LOVE.

Craft: knitting
Pattern: The Amanda Hat by Gina House (free pattern)
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Lana Bambu (01 – see my cautionary note on the Rav project page)
For more details, see my Ravelry.

Fortunately, the snow quickly melted away – pretty much gone by the following evening, which made yesterday’s trip to the Lewis Ginter Botanic Gardens (Richmond, VA) appropriately green and blooming, albeit a wee bit shivery.

lewis ginter gardens mosaic

1. japanese garden, 2. cherry blossoms on the water, 3. bridge to childrens garden, 4. plum tree, 5. childrens garden – lakeshore, 6. tree bench

And small Bebe adventures that weren’t caught on camera? Just a few:

-tree-climbing with friends – Bebe mostly weaving around and under the low arching, gnarly branches while his older friends climbed higher;

-suprising Mama with some new vocab while seriously entrenched in a giant sandbox (where did he learn about sandcastles?);

-happily sweeping a series of mini houses with a Bebe-sized broom;

-loudly pining over friends’ crackers and chocolate cakes while adamantly rejecting his favorite foods (pbj sandwich and Kashi cereal bars);

-discovering a garden plot full of spinning, silvery pinwheels (staked out to protect flower bulbs from marauding squirrels).

Hope your week finds a few small adventures, too.

a gift of blossoms

22 03 2011

Two of my favorite scenes during cherry blossom season in Japan:

the famous weeping cherry tree

1: the weeping cherry tree (shidarezakura) at Maruyama park in of Kyoto, Japan. This is one of the famous sight-seeing spots during blossom season, and although you can’t see them in the picture, the grounds below these venerable old branches was packed with happy admirers. After blossom season, it’s still a lovely place to meet friends for a picnic lunch, and a short walk’s distance to several of my favorite temples.

sakura at front gate, sonobe hs

2: the cherry trees planted outside the gates to the high school where I worked. As the blooming season waned, the lightest wind would cause a drift of petal blossoms to scatter and fall. Gorgeous way to start and end the work day, ne?

Yesterday I finished making a set of Thank You Blossom note cards – printed front and back text via laser printer (because really, I was not up to writing out two dozen copies by hand); carved a little cherry blossom stamp; fumbled a bit with watercolors;

carved sakura stamp cherry blossoms in progress

and added a few finishing touches with Sharpie pens.

sakura Thank You cards

One of these will be included with each of the 24 items from my Japan earthquake & tsunami relief giveaway. If you’ve contributed to the relief effort in any way, leave a comment in that post (not this one) and I’ll send you a token of my appreciation.

Should I this simple sight
Describe to folk?
Cherry blossoms
Plucked by hand
Would be taken as a gift.

-by Sosei (816-910), from Book I of the KokinshĂ»

air + space

4 03 2011

We try to go out on a big adventure each week – preferably not expensive or complicated, just something that requires a little extra travel and a lot of potential fun.

air and space museum - main hanger

Our big adventure for this week was a trip to the National Air & Space Museum – Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA. Huge hit with Bebe. Huge. Picture the small person trotting along the aisles shouting “oh! airplane!” repeatedly and crowing with delight. Two hours of completely thrilled and active toddler = great museum experience. He made the docents laugh and they joked he was probably going to be a pilot someday.

And then there was the rip-roaring tantrum when it was time to leave. Eesh.

Bebe has an awfully loud voice, and the museum is basically series of open, connected hangers, so you can imagine the shrieking echoes he produced. Moments of public mortification seem to be an intrinsic part of parenthood. Maybe that’s just me – and maybe everyone else has kids who don’t shriek like mine does. Oy!

I was so looking forward to sharing some of the great things we saw at the museum. Unfortunately I turned off the camera flash, which – combined with chasing Bebe – means that my pictures all came out blurry. Boo. But blurry or not, this was totally cool:

air and space museum - enterprise

How often does someone get to stand next to a space shuttle? So cool!

Definitely a trip worth repeating soon (minus the tantrum).

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