Monday, June 30, 2014

The Lazy, Hazy, Knitting Days of Summer

Hot and humid has arrived in S Texas.  Much too hot to get out and do things that don't involve air-conditioning.  Good time of year to stay in air conditioning and knit.  Some of my summertime knitting projects.

The first time I knitted this Marian sweater, it was in a linen blend yarn that had a nice soft hand and knitted up beautifully.  Unfortunately, that nice soft linen yarn also stretched terribly when I blocked the sweater, and it grew several sizes and swam on me.  I then knit it up in a soft baby merino and silk blend yarn and put 3/4 length sleeves on it, making it a nice fall/winter sweater.  But doggone it!  I really wanted this in a summery linen yarn.  Is the third time the charm??  This pretty linen yarn knitted up nicely, behaved beautifully when I blocked it, and has softened up nicely after a tumble in the dryer.  Here's the result (photo taken before I ran it through the dryer):

Marian sweater in a nice linen yarn
The same designer who came out with the Marian sweater pattern also had a sweet little cap-sleeve pullover with interesting lace effects running down the raglan increases and the along the sides of the sweater.  I loved knitting a scarf earlier this year in a Miss Babs Yowza wool, and was eager to use it again for a project.  Here it is, knitted up nicely in Miss Babs Yowza, in a pretty Fraser colorway.

Phryne in merino
When you find a designer who understands what a "size small" really is, stay with her!  I have knitted several sweaters and been sorely disappointed in the outcome.  A couple of them I've "frogged" and started over, making significant modifications to the pattern to make it SMALL!  One was so unredeemable that I frogged it and used the yarn to make an afghan.

So here's yet another sweater - a cute little shrug - designed by my now-favorite designer:

lacy shrug in merino and silk
I absolutely love this Rowan Baby Merino and Silk DK yarn!  I've now knitted two different projects with it and have been very happy with how they've come out.  I'm also intrigued by this lacy shrug.  If I had it to do again, I'd make some minor modifications to the size XXS pattern to make it fit better under the arms yet stay small enough in the shoulders.  Then I got to thinking....I love the yarn, love the pattern, so maybe I'll make another one in the same yarn, different color, make the minor modifications, and while I'm at it, go ahead and modify it so that the shrug becomes a little sweater.  Stay tuned....the yarn, the needles, the pattern are coming with me on my upcoming trip to run marathons in Spokane and Missoula!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

No Grandkids Were Harmed in the Making of this Memory

My week caring for the grandkids came to an end June 7, when I packed them in the car that morning and we headed east to Louisiana and their mom and dad.

While staying with me, grandson attended a really cool day camp at the Museum of Natural Science in Houston and granddaughter and I shopped, made jewelry, went to Starbucks, ate ice cream, visited the butterfly pavilion at the museum, and had numerous chocolate milk breaks.  We walked what seemed like miles and miles to and from the parking lot at the museum to pick grandson up at the end of each day.  We laughed, we (well, she) cried, and all in all had a good time.

Then it was Thursday, the next to last day of their visit, and granddaughter woke up on the wrong side of the bed, so to speak, and was Miss Cranky Pants pretty much all day.  Nothing seemed to be going right for her and it didn't take much to send her into a downward spiral.  Unfortunately, we had to leave the house at 2:00 PM each day in order to get to the museum by 3:00 PM to pick up her brother.  And we needed every minute of those 60 minutes to get her shoes on, herd her toward the car, give her time to buckle herself into her car seat, drive to the distant parking lot at Hermann Park in Houston, and walk some distance to the museum.  This just didn't allow time for a nap.  A couple of times she fell asleep in the car and I hated having to wake her up when we got there.

What didn't help the little one's mood were the blisters that her new shoes created on the backs of her heels just from the brief time that she wore them the afternoon before.  I suggested she wear socks with her shoes this morning, but in looking at the two pair of socks that came with her, I could see that they were too small and also too thick.  So she wore her old shoes to drop her brother off at the museum that morning but I could see by the way she was walking that she really was in pain.

I'd surreptitiously tucked the new shoes back into their box and slipped the box into the car when she wasn't looking.   So on the way back from dropping her brother off, we returned to the Stride Rite store with the intention of buy some socks for her and asking very nicely if they would take the shoes back in return for a different pair.  They had the same shoe style as her old shoes and since I knew she'd been able to wear these without problem in the past, we tried on the same style in her size.  Same style, different fabric on the upper...a really cute Hello Kitty style with glitter and sequins.  Adorable.  And some truly adorable Hello Kitty socks that she easily and readily wore with her new shoes.  She wouldn't let me put bandaids on her blisters, so I was hoping just the socks and the different style shoe would be enough.

Thursday was pool day for the grandkids and once again I brought suits and towels with the plan to stop at the pool on the way to the house after picking up the grandson from his day camp.  I had chicken in the crockpot for an easy dinner afterward.  We remembered to bring the pool noodles this time!  Unfortunately for the granddaughter, the minute her blistered heels hit the water, she shrieked and cried!  We sat under an umbrella while the grandson played in the pool but soon the temptation was just too much for her and she wanted to go back in, declaring her heels didn't hurt anymore.  We sat on the steps at the edge of the pool but she still couldn't put her feet in the water without discomfort.  So....frustrated that she couldn't go in the pool, frustrated that when she tried to go in, her blisters stung, and exhausted beyond all reason from lack of a nap, the granddaughter just totally fell apart.

I held off her total meltdown by offering her snacks and a juice box and this worked until the big hand was on the six (4:30) and time for grandson to get out of the pool.

We managed to get through dinner without too much drama, but by 6:30 PM the little one was just totally unhinged.  I sent her to her room to get her pajamas on and 45 minutes later peeked in on her.  Still no pajamas on and lots of thumb-sucking going on.  But my attempts to help her get undressed resulted in a shriek-fest so I told the grandson to sneak into the room and get his pajamas and his loveys and put them in the other room where he could go to bed later and have some peace and quiet.

I was determined that my grandson was going to have one night alone with grandma, since he'd been away all day every day and we'd not had a single opportunity to just visit with each other undisturbed.  So I marched into the kids' room amid the granddaughter's demands that I get out, and pulled her clothes off despite her shrieks and protests.  I know this response.  I saw it in Orlando after a particularly long day for her at Disneyworld.  She was beyond tired and totally irrational at this point.

My head was ringing from the shrieks and I may never hear quite right again!!

Her clothes off and now naked, she wasn't going to be coaxed into a pull-up and her pajamas, so I left her alone to calm down and pout.  I knew I'd be able to sneak back in and at least get a pull-up on her, maybe even her pajamas.

Grandson and I had a wonderful hour together talking and laughing as we watched some silly show on TV together.  All was quiet in the kids' room and I suspected she'd fallen asleep.  Suspicions were confirmed when I checked in on her at around 8:00 PM and found her sound asleep on the floor next to her bed.  I easily slipped a pull-up on her as she groggily opened her eyes, but when I asked her if she wanted me to put her in bed, she told me to leave her alone.  So I did.

Grandson stayed up until 9:30 PM, a real treat for him, I know.  He is such a smart little boy and so easy to talk to now.  Lots of things to share with me and I hope he'll never stop sharing.

Tomorrow will be his last day at camp.  I suspect they're both a little home sick and missing their parents.  More so for the granddaughter no doubt.

Friday brought a completely different and cheerful granddaughter to the breakfast table.  We got bandaids on her heels, cute Hello Kitty socks and shoes on, and off we went to drop off her brother at his last day of science camp.

Our morning routine became a chocolate milk for granddaughter and a small coffee for me at the in-museum McDonald's as we let the rush of moms get their SUV's backed out of their parking spots and make their mad dash to the parking garage exit.  I learned this lesson the first morning.  Friday was no different.  We lingered a bit longer and then got in the car and headed back home.  I'd promised her we'd make more jewelry this morning.

We picked an excited grandson/brother up that afternoon and returned home.  They both were excited at the prospect of watching a movie and ordering pizza.  I logged in to Domino's and together we all place the pizza order and grandson stayed glued to the screen watching the cute little animated chef prepare our pizza and then watched the progress as it was baked and then as soon as it went out for delivery, I hussled the two into the tub for quick bath and shower before the pizza arrived.

The movie of the night??  The Great Muppet Caper!

As the kids watched the movie, I began migrating what belongings of theirs I could toward the car.  I got one last load of wash started, assembled the library books, the piano lesson bags, put together a little cooler filled with juice, snacks, cups, paper towels, got the scooter and tricycle loaded, and anything that I knew they wouldn't need before morning.

They both went to bed easily, both exhausted after a long week.  In the morning we begin the drive to their home in Louisiana where I'll deliver them safe and (mostly) sound and spend the evening with my son and daughter-in-law, getting caught up on their latest news on the house hunt, their transfer to San Diego, my son's knee surgery, performed two days earlier.

I did it!  We survived!  The grandkids survived...and were absolutely great and well-behaved, notwithstanding the granddaughter's totally understandable melt-down near the end of the week.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Why Do Butterflies and Little Girls Go Together So Well?

Today is Wednesday and today granddaughter and I drop the grandson off at his classroom then walk upstairs and visit the butterfly pavilion at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  She has an incredible sense of time and can remember exactly what is coming up from day to day.  So it was fun to hear her say over breakfast that today is the day we go to the butterfly house.

At the butterfly pavilion at Houston Museum of Natural Science

The butterfly pavilion is gorgeous.  The walk-through starts at the very top of the pavilion, where hundreds of butterflies can be seen flitting among the tops of the trees and bushes.  Here is really the best viewing spot.  But 4 year old little girls don't realize this and are impatient to keep moving down the winding steps toward the bottom floor of the pavilion.

A real beauty!

Granddaughter leads the way

At the bottom, the serpentine walkways meander through and among the tropical vegetation with plenty of benches upon which to sit and observe.  If one stops moving and stands quietly, soon the butterflies will fly near.  One nearly landed on my head as I stood there without moving.  But granddaughter had other ideas about how best to move through the pavilion.

Another real beauty!

Visitors to the pavilion are eventually sent down spiral steps to a grotto with waterfall and then through the exit door.  So within 15 minutes of arriving....we were done.  Unfortunately.  I did manage to snap a couple of photos, but the insistent "Come on, Grandma" calls from the granddaughter kept me moving and actually got a chuckle out of a couple of women who were walking through together nearby.

the new Hello Kitty shoes

Back in the car, we drove straight to the Stride Rite store in Pearland Town Center.  They didn't have the same shoes that we'd ordered from Zappos in her size, so chose a Keds shoe similar to the ones she was already wearing only in a full size larger.  She happily wore them out of the store and home, where we made lunch, I put some chicken in the crock-pot for dinner, and we had some quiet time before going back to the museum to pick up her brother.

Boredom is beginning to set in with both the grand-kids, as the books and games are becoming "old hat" and the newness of being at grandma's house has worn off.  No games, no crafts, no project books will hold their attention anymore, especially for the granddaughter.  Worse, the grandson has matured beyond his sister's level so that his interests are in reading or working on his very large and very complex Lego kit, and not in playing with his sister, much to her distress.  So the tormenting has begun, which leads to shrieking on the grandson's part, then pushing and fighting on both their parts, then crying on the granddaughter's part.

So, even though there's the promise of Movie Night with pizza on Friday, a movie seemed the best solution for after dinner today.  They both hopped into the tub for a quick bath, got their pajamas on and then we watched Aristocats and the kids loved it!

Tomorrow:  Camp for the grandson, more jewelry making for the granddaughter and then some pool-time in the afternoon after camp for both of them.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Cookie Monster....Or is it the Smurf Monster?

Granddaughter chose the cookie mix:  Blue Rasberry Cookie
and then chose bright pink frosting with pink sprinkles

These taste almost as gross as they look.  Not quite, but almost!  But they're very blue and the frosting is very pink.  Cookie mix and frosting picked out by the granddaughter, it's not my place to question her tastes. :-)

After we dropped the grandson off at his camp we came home and started baking cookies.   The granddaughter is old enough to help in little ways, like getting the sheets and racks out of the cabinet and overseeing my blending of ingredients and dropping the dough balls onto the sheets.  Someone pointed out they look like Smurf poop!

We ate lunch while the cookies cooled down and then iced them and granddaughter applied the bright pink sugar sprinkles with great skill and expertise.  One cookie broke as I slid it from cookie sheet to cooling rack so of course the only thing to do was for each of us to eat the pieces.

I tried to get the granddaughter to take a little nap, but it was to no avail.  But she did spend an hour of quiet time in her room, while I put sausage and fingerling potatoes into the crock pot for dinner.  Before long it was time to pile back into the car to go get the grandson from camp.

We arrived a little early and the class was visiting one of the museum halls, so we waited in the hallway outside his classroom.

Week 1 Camp Program

Outside their classroom, we could see their day's project waiting to be taken home with them:

Day 2 projects:  parachutes and gliders

 I had their swimsuits, towels, sunscreen, and some snacks packed and on the way back to the house we stopped at the pool for a nice swim.

Picking the grandson up after day 2 of camp.
Granddaughter looking adorable in her swimsuit

We got back to the house, got out of our wet suits, and began to prepare for dinner, but as we did I saw the UPS truck pull up in front of my house.  The new shoes have arrived!  The grandson's New Balance shoes were awesome and fit him well.  Sadly, the granddaughter's cute little Stride Rite maryjanes were way too big.  I packed them up and printed out a return shipping label from Zappos website then put the box in my car to bring to the UPS store tomorrow.  There's a Stride Rite store near my house....we'll stop there tomorrow morning after dropping Trevor off at camp.

Then it was dinnertime, then bath time - and time to wash their hair since it had been almost a week and they'd been in the pool twice since they arrived.  Stories and then to bed.

Whew!  I think I'm sorta kinda getting the hang of this.  The washing machine and the dishwasher are definitely seeing more action than they've seen in months!

Tomorrow:  Camp drop-off and then visit the butterfly pavilion while we're there, before running errands, buying shoes for the granddaughter and then heading home.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Every Grandparent's Dream Job

We all dream of this day.  It's the day that we as grandparents are entrusted with our grandchildren for more than just a few hours' babysitting.   It truly is the dream job!

My family discovered the most excellent Museum of Natural Science here in Houston while visiting me after they moved from Hawaii to Louisiana.  It's one of the best in the country.  It offers myriad children's programs all year long, and an extensive summer camp program geared specifically to finely split age groups.  My grandson is now old enough to attend this program so a plan was hatched and grandson enrolled for the week of June 2-6.   There were quite a number of programs to choose from in his 6-7 year old age group.  He chose "Booms and Blast Offs."

At first, the plan was that either my son or daughter-in-law would drive my grandson over to my house the weekend before the camp.  But as the time drew closer, my son's next duty orders came through and they had less than two months to sort all of that out, including finding housing at their next duty station.  So the plan evolved to my daughter-in-law using the week that grandson would be in camp to fly to their next duty station town and house-hunt, and my son driving both grandkids to my house, and my taking charge of both of them for a week.

They arrived at my house late Friday  night, two exhausted little kids and one exhausted son who'd been up since early that morning to put in a full day at work then driving the 6 hours to get to Texas.  But the next morning everyone - well the kids anyway - were up and eager to do something.

I know!  Let's all have breakfast at IHOP!  We piled in the car, headed to IHOP where waffles, crepes, and pancakes were the choices for the day.  The kids loved it!
Nothing beats waffles at IHOP

Right behind the IHOP is a Target store, so we went there after breakfast to pick out some project books for the kids and some kid-specific groceries including more fruit, dried fruit, fruit juice, crackers, food items I could pack for grandson's lunch every day.  A special treat or two even made it into the shopping cart for later.
At the park, on the spiral slide

sliding on the "zip-line"

On the way home, we stopped at the playground to let the kids burn off steam.  Then it was back to the house where we made some half-hearted suggestions for the rest of the afternoon, but in the end, just letting my son laze about the house for a change after a stressful and challenging work week sounded like a pretty good idea for all of us.  We watched the movie Frozen, and since I noticed that the grandkids' shoes were looking a little worn out and too small for them, my son and I picked out some new shoes for each of the grandkids at the Zappos website.  With my VIP account, the new shoes should arrive on Tuesday.  So excited!

We could hold the kids off no longer.  Sunday morning we definitely needed to go to the pool!  My son packed a lunch, we piled into the car, and the kids were beyond excited.  A good two hours spent at the pool and it was time to get back to the house, put the granddaughter down for a nap and say goodbye to my son who had a long drive back home to Louisiana.

Now I'm on my own, taking care of the two grandkids.  It will be a first time for me, handling two kids since I only had one of my own.  I had menus for dinner each night planned out in advance, the food I thought I would need was here in the house.  All I needed was to execute the plan, so to speak.

Enjoying a cappuccino and chocolate milk al fresco

Monday went off without a hitch!  We got the grandson escorted to the classroom at the museum for his first day at camp, then granddaughter and I drove towards home, stopping to enjoy Starbucks (chocolate milk for her) out on the Starbucks patio, then we went to Academy to buy flip flops for the pool (a forgotten item when packing for them), and made a quick stop at the grocery store so that I could buy a few additional items as I fine-tuned the menu plan for the week, including buying some additional fresh fruit and vegetables.

Stringing beads for a necklace

It was time to open the jewelry-making kit!  It held my granddaughter's attention for about 5 minutes.  And then she was over it.  So much anticipation waiting to sit down and make jewelry!  But in the end, it was too fussy and too time consuming for her short attention span.

By the time we got home, got the food put away, made lunch and then ate it, it was almost time to leave for the museum to pick up the grandson.  Barely time for granddaughter to get a nap....I had to wake her and had a very groggy little girl on my hands as we piled into the car.

The grandson was full of news to report after his first day at camp.  It was so exciting to hear him relate his experience in such a grown-up little boy manner!  We had crockpot chicken, rice, fresh vegetables and ice cream sandwiches for dinner.  The grandkids ate seconds of everything (except the ice cream)!

Tomorrow:  The grandson's second day at camp and the granddaughter and I bake cookies together.