Thursday, December 29, 2005

Max's Hooded Zip Sweater

Max has waited patiently for months for his sweater to be finished. Here it finally is. I knit it adapting the Gatsby Cardigan from "The Knitter's Handy book of Sweater Patterns". I used KnitPicks Sierra, which is 100% wool and chunky weight on size10 needles. One picture shows it after it was almost completed, then I added a zipper, I-cord edging along the zipper area, a hood and pockets. Look closely and you'll see lots of endearing mistakes, but the bottom line is that it's done and it is exactly what he wanted. I adapted the Gatsby Cardigan pattern. And if you look VERY closely you'll notice that our living room changed completely between a few of these pictures. That's how we spent December 26th, rearranging the entire living room.

Seashell Windchimes

We are almost finished with Chanukkah and here is a picture of the family (minus the photographer) making seashell windchimes. These along with home made soaps were our standard gift this year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

All this and the kitchen floor, or "How do we survive a do-it-ourselves" kitchen remodel?

We still have not decided on the floor tile to finish the bathroom remodel, but other than that and the final "soft" touches, like towels and bath mats. It's done. So what's next? Replacing the dishwasher with one we got from freecycle! And what better to do before installing the "free" dishwasher than to totally and completely gut our kitchen! Yes ladies and gentlemen, the kitchen floor has water damage down to the subfloor right in front of the kitchen sink. Ginger and William discovered it while removing the ancient dishwasher. They called me at work to tell me. When I got home from work, the site of that floor damage drove me to drink. So it was load up the family and head to Molly's!

We've met with contractors and determined the joists are solid. The subfloor is not and needs to be replaced in at least one area about 4x6'. At this point in time we are planning to do it all ourselves! This means the kitchen will be completely out of commission for no less than 2 months. Aside from moving the refrigerator to the dining room and setting up a small kitchen area in there, washing dishes in dish tubs on the bathroom counter and using disposable cups/plates/silver (or constantly washing our enamel camp dishes) WHAT SUGGESTIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR US? Comments will be heartily welcomed! We cook and eat all meals at home. We are a work and stay at home family. We don't do well with cereal and sandwiches non-stop so at least one meal must be hot each day, plus we'll be on a paupers budget to do the remodel so eating out is limited to out usual once a week. I wonder how long I can operate the campstove inside before I asphyxiate everyone? HELP!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Most of the weekend's crew around the fire

from left to right
Linda, Ron, Jon, Sarah, Roger, Alex, Greg Posted by Picasa

a group hallucination, long horns in the campground!

 Posted by Picasa

lunch on the trail

 Posted by Picasa

Roger helps William strap on the leaf blower

Posted by Picasa

Diane filling fuel bottles

 Posted by Picasa

snoozing after a day on the Karkaghne

Posted by Picasa

Honda Hilton's first visitor

 Posted by Picasa

Welcome to the Honda Hilton

At a trail maintenance outing to Sutton Bluff in Missouri, our Honda Element became the HONDA HILTON. Because we arrived late in the evening and were unable to see if any camping areas were level or didn't have rocks and because it was very cold, I agreed to sleep in the Element. The literature boasted that it could be used this way, but I was doubtful. My back sometimes struggles on "level" ground in a tent even with a great "Big Agnes" self-inflating sleep mat so I didn't think sleeping in a car was going to be remotely comfortable. I was wrong. Make a note for the records. I was terribly wrong. We pulled into the campground and chatted with friends. We then went back to the Element and prepared it for camping. We took off the front headrests and reclined the front seats to meet the 2nd row of seats. We took the gear out of the back and reclined the back seats leaving the headrests on. I noted the "bed" had a drop off around my knees so I doubled up my sleep mat in that area after slightly inflating it. We put our full length Kelty Clear Creek bags out and found we had lots of room left for gear! We put gear bags on the front seats, stored boots and water (the campground was officially closed) and propane cylinder spares in the front footwells. My stove and food slid under the rear seats by the clamshell opening and we even hung a headlamp from the grab bar for a little night light. I suspect we were a tad warmer than if we'd been in the tent, but the condensation was still there. I did, however, sleep beautifully! So we didn't pitch the tent all weekend. This is just another great bonus for the Element. It slept one large adult, one 11 year old boy and a very large Yorki in comfort. We could even do a quick flip and drive to the worksite. So no only will the Element load up for a month at the beach complete with kayak and gear, it will become an RV or Honda Hilton. I'll try a dry run with both kids and see if we can use it at the next maintenance outing. Come join us!
Wear layers. See you there with or without your own Honda Hilton.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Homeschool's cool, but finding friends may be down right hell!

And now to my soap box (drum roll) Cliquish homeschoolers and exclusive groups. Ahhh, time to rant. Skip this if you've heard it. Grab a cup of coffee or tea if you haven't 'cause you'll be here a while. We have had the pleasure and pain of living and being involved in 3 different homeschool groups in 3 different states. I will spare you the diatribe about state laws, but suffice it to say Oklahoma is OK to homeschool in. The founders got it oh-so-right! However, the homeschool group there did not. There was the usual Christian sign-on-the-line group here and there and one broader based group, but it's glory days were behind it when we found it. The families who'd founded it had older kids and had lost their zeal for including new comers. We muddled along, made a few friends for the kids, but because home schoolers don't generally live in the same neighborhood, getting kids together was a challenge. I've heard that the group ultimately resorted to being an e group only. There was a split or two and some smaller cells survive. In Pensacola we weren't exactly unschooly enough on some levels, but Rose did the most angelic thing our first physical visit (we'd been on the e group for quite some time) and introduce all the kids and their ages. Even my little introvert eventually, by the time the first 2 hour unstructured meeting/gathering was over, had found a FRIEND! yep, a friend folks. Bona fide friend. And my little social butterfly was thick in the crowd as well. So we hosted and ::gasp:: kids their ages actually CAME. The boys love their friends and that group, but we're back in TN and it's not the same. It's much closer to the Oklahoma group. Max, the intelligent introvert has had a friend or two but for weirdo parental reasons and nothing to do with him or THIS family, those kids have disappeared. The other boys his age, who I've known since birth, don't reach out to him and he's too shy to try in a large group. We've organized activities, invited people to join us volunteering and hosted small groups at our home, but he hasn't gotten "in". He's supposedly seen as "not wanting to play", but my rant (you knew there was a point, right?) is that this is the most homogeneous group of kids I've seen in a homeschool group. There are no bookworms! If there are, they are excluded, ignored and their families eventually disappear. There are no other options in town except the Christians and they're looking better by the day! At least I KNOW why they don't like us! I'm deeply disturbed by the general cliquish nature of homeschooling groups and the general lack of options for those that don't fit in. I asked Max today if he thought homeschool groups were accepting of quiet kids and he said "Yeah" then walked away, turned back and said, well not here. :::sigh::: So we'll head off to the phones and call friends in Pensacola. They will chat online in RuneScape and eventually, maybe next month we'll squeeze in a 4 day weekend back in Pensacola to hook up and renew our souls enough to keep on for another few months until we can get back. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a group we've visited in MS though. Now can you find the irony if a Jewish Lesbian mom finding a friend for her introverted smart bibliophile kid in a conservative group in MS? I know I can and just to throw a sweet thought out to end this salty rant, the sweet kids that clicked the best with our kids, were from a large Mormon family. Bibliophiles unite!
And if you're reading this Elizabeth and Sam, thanks again for talking to Max, it meant the world to him. We need to host another teen night and get Daniel up here too. That was amazing.