Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Just keep knitting, knitting, knitting

A while ago I wrote a blog article about how I was going to start knitting hats for preemies (Being Useful).  Shortly after moving to Florida, I found a local hospital that even listed on their website that they had volunteer opportunities for people who knit.  I left a message for the coordinator and got a call back a few days later.  After speaking on the phone for a couple minutes I decided to knit hat and sock sets (something I was told they would be able to use).

Last Thursday, I dropped off my first 2, knit baby sets (each consisting of a hat and matching socks).  I included a note asking for feedback so that I know how to proceed.  I heard back from them yesterday.  They said they liked them and would love to get more.  Luckily they don't need preemie ones often, so I've been asked to make them a regular newborn size.  I also got the ok to make a few on the larger size (for those rare babies like my son and nephew who have rather large heads).

She even told me that I should look into selling my sets.  Hmmmm... have fun and make money in the process.  Who doesn't like to do that?  Definitely something I will look into further at some point... just not now.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekly Tidbits

Here is a list of things that I wanted to share this week but that aren't worth their own blog entry (in handy bullet form):

  • My daughter loves animals and has been watching her brother participate in Dog Tales for months.  Now that she is beginning to read, she wants to participate too.  I told her we need to work on it a bit more and hopefully by the end of the school year she will be reading to a dog too.  Got her to read right then and there.
  • My parents are visiting and have watched the kids get in the pool twice (keep in mind the water was no warmer than 70).  They are set to leave late this week and my dad has decided he WILL swim before they leave.  Can't say I will join him  :-)
  • The weather has been quite warm lately (even for FL standards) and it's just shown me that I really need to do some clothes shopping (shorts in particular).
  • I have found a new obsession (Blimey Cow)  Only go here if you are looking for a good, clean laugh.
  • I am a planner.  Not knowing what is happening or is going to happen is not. my. thing.  That must be why I'm being given many opportunities lately to put my faith in God's plan for my life (and the fact that he will let me know His plan when He wants and not when I want).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Help From the Village

This time of year, my parent's (my mom in particular since she was born and raised in Florida) get stir crazy living in Virginia.  That's why, for the last 5 years or so, they have gone on a cruise in January or February.  Not ones to buck such a wonderful and warm tradition, my parents went on their cruise earlier this month.  They decided to extend their warm weather enjoyment by staying at our house for a week before their cruise as well as a few days after.  A couple days before they were planning on heading back home, they were in a car accident (a little whip lash for my mom, but otherwise they are fine).  The damage to the car however, necessitated that it be fixed before they leave.  They are now scheduled to be in the area for a week and a half more while the car gets fixed.

I admit, that fitting 4 adults and 2 kids (one of each gender) into a 3 bedroom house has been a bit difficult, but considering we stayed in their house for 6 months, it's the least we can do.  We figured out the best way to deal with the sleeping arrangements after their first week so that's all fine now.

The interesting side-effect to all this is that I now have extra hands.  I've been able to go grocery shopping without the kids (and occasionally with my mom).  My dad has even taken the kids to a local park a couple times so they could ride their bikes (which means I got stuff done and the kids got worn out at the same time - win win!).

I know I've had this kind of help before.  We used to live close to my parents and we had a few friends who I could count on to watch the kids when I needed the extra help.  My kids were also in school back then so I usually packed "school time" full of errands and other things that I couldn't do with the kids around.

I don't know why it took this long, but I really think I get the phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child"  It's not that a child MUST have many people to help rear them to be productive members of society, but it certainly doesn't hurt.  It also helps the parent be a more productive member of their family if they have a little time to themselves.

Here's to hoping I find some new villagers to share the burden with soon.  I think we will all benefit from it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Where Did THAT Come From?

I realize that I live in Florida and many of you who don't live in Florida probably think that we go swimming year round.  I admit, that I thought that when I first moved here too.  But that is SO not the case.  The temperatures may be in the 70's or higher during the day, but the temps can drop into the 40's and 50's at night.  That means the pool's temp can drop quite a bit at night (we've found as much as 4 degrees).  Considering how much it costs to heat the pool, we've found that just leaving it alone our pool tends to sit around 68 degrees.

Yesterday, the temp got up to 70 in the pool, so you know what?  My kids decided to go into the pool.  It's February!  I could barely put my toes in without feeling cold.  I will admit that they didn't go all the way in (my daughter came close though) and they didn't stay in long. 

Trying to get off that final step (didn't happen).

You know what?  I'm pretty sure I remember being that way when I was a kid.  And I know my husband was too.  He told us a story yesterday about how he and his brother would get into their pool in March (keep in mind they lived in Texas and the temps were around 58 there in March and they would use inner tubes so they wouldn't get wet).  I guess it's just a kid thing; getting in the pool as often as possible even if it is a bit cold.

One other thing, my kids got from me... their lips turn purple after being in cold water.

Yep, she went in her clothes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Things Kids Say

    Sometimes you just have to compile a list of the cute things kids say (at least I do).  Here's a list of some of the things I've found memorable over the last few weeks:

    • My dad was teasing my 5 year old daughter recently and asked her if her leg had to be cut off because of an injury to her leg.  She then proceeded to say, "No.  Does it look like I have a prosthetic?"  Can you tell we've been obsessed with Winter the dolphin and her prosthetic tale?
    • My son asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said, "Obedience... Kindness to each other."   His response, "Well, I don't think that's going to happen."  (I can dream can't I?)
    • We were talking about how my kids weren't going to be allowed to get married for at least 20 years because I'm not ready for them to move out of the house.  My daughter then chimed in and said, "We can move out when we are teenagers, because then we can reach things for ourselves."  I'm so glad that is not the true criteria since my son is already up to my arm pit.   At the rate he's going he will be as tall as me by the time he's 10!
    • We were driving in town the other day and my daughter was complaining of how long it was taking to get to our destination.  I told her it was because of traffic.  She then responded, "I don't like traffic."  After a pause of maybe 10 seconds she said, "I don't even know what traffic is."
    • My son was reading a book that said, "Crocks have very scary tails."  He then paused his reading and said, "I'm more scared of their mouth and stomach."

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Where Has the Time Gone?

    8 years ago today, I got the most important job a person can get... that of a parent.  Part of me feels like he should still be this not-so small bundle of baby.

    Then my son surprises me by making something like these with little to no help from anyone.

    and I wonder how he could possibly be only 8.

    All I know is that I'm going to do my best to enjoy whatever time I have with my little man.

    Happy birthday, son!  I love you.

    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    Legoland Florida

    On Monday, my husband and I decided to surprise our kids with a trip to Legoland.  Our son's birthday is this weekend and I knew of a group that was going at an extremely discounted rate.  It took us a little over 2 hours to get there, so keeping it a secret the whole time was interesting to say the least, but we did it.

    I'll be honest, it took me a little while to get to the point where I was enjoying myself (my daughter HATES to ride coasters, but I love them).  Needless to say, watching Jon and our son walk off to ride the coasters was a bit hard for me.  Once I adjusted MY attitude, things improved greatly and we all ended up having a wonderful time.

    Yes, we got wet and yes, it's made of Legos.
    There are Lego tables for the kids to play with while waiting in line... very cool!

    This shows less than half of the model of Kennedy Space Center (made of Lego's of course).

    Being from DC, I loved seeing the Iwo Jima Memorial made of Legos.

    On a side note, while my daughter and I were wandering through the Lego model cities, we were approached to walk in front of "New York City."  Apparently Discovery channel was there taping a segment and wanted to see more people in the background.  Maybe you'll see us on TV  :-)  Below is a pic I took of them interviewing another kid.

    While the boys focused on the coasters, the girls focused on the "driving rides."   My daughter loved driving the little cars and the boats (over and over and over).

    We did eventually meet up and go to the Imagination Zone where the kids built and destroyed various creations on earthquake simulators. If we'd have let them, they would have stayed here for most of the day I'm sure (especially my son).

    Another reason I was interested in attending this trip was because I am coordinating a trip for the Lego classes my kids attend, and I figured this would allow me to scope things out.  Following is a list of all the things I learned (those of you who don't plan on going to Legoland can ignore the rest of this post):

    1.  It may be winter in FL, but a hat and sunscreen are a good great idea.
    2.  In the Imagination Zone they offer Mindstorm programming classes (45 min long for 8 years and older) throughout the day (space is limited so make a bee line if you're interested and pick your time slot).
    3.   They have what they call "Trade and Collect Minifugures."  You can either bring a minifigure from home (must be complete) or buy one at Legoland for as little as $2.99 plus tax (ask the sales people for details on how much each one costs).   The ones that are $2.99 are packaged in such a way that you can't see what you are getting.  If you get a minifigure you don't want, you can trade with any Legoland employee (they are all supposed to carry at least one) or even friends or complete strangers.  I'd recommend buying these early in the morning so you have all day to trade.
    4.  Food in the park isn't nearly as expensive as I thought.  If you want a relatively inexpensive souvenir, one option is their refillable drinks.  You can get a cup for soda or Slurpee and of course refills are at a steep discount (so again, do this early in the day if you think you will want to refill).  We saw burgers for about $8, hot dogs for $2.50, soda and water bottles for $2.50, and what I think may be the best deal: all you can eat pizza, pasta, salad, and drinks (inside the restaurant of course) for $11 for adults and $7 for kids.

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    The Crazy Uncle

    My husband and I are both the oldest child in our families.  Therefore, we knew we would not become an Aunt or an Uncle for at least a few years after we had children.  At least we hoped our siblings would wait that long (Thankfully they have).

    I will be honest... my brother-in-law loves adventure.  He enjoys mountain climbing (I mean the vertical kind with special gear so you don't fall to your death), cross country skiing (the kind where no one else has gone where you are and there may be an avalanche), biking, and is now into running marathons (he's set to compete in the Boston marathon this spring).

    Based on those things, I always figured he would be seen as the "crazy uncle."  Every family has one.  You know... the family member who everyone thinks is different from the rest of the family.  The rebel.  Well, now that my brother-in-law has a child he has calmed down a bit.  That has allowed my brother to take over the position of "the crazy uncle."

    How crazy you ask?  The other day, my brother visited for a while and he ended up jumping into our pool with the kids (the pool was 68 degrees)!  Even my son didn't go in voluntarily and my daughter would jump in and immediately climb out and wrap up in a towel (Note: I was sane and was sitting in a chair taking pictures).

    Having a water fight with the kids

    My brother also showed my son a bit about his new job / obsession in life.  In December, my brother became a certified rigger.  That means, my brother can pack and repair just about any parachute out there.  Right now he packs parachutes at different "Drop Zones" (businesses whose goal is to have people pay them to take them up in a plane so they can jump from them and plummet to the ground, only to use the parachute that my brother just packed for them).  He's doing this so that he can make enough money to become certified to jump out of planes by himself.  He's about half way to that certification too.

    Showing how he has to check the inside of the parachute cells too.

    Letting my son pack the pilot chute.
    As crazy as this sounds to me, and perhaps to some of you, I can honestly say I have never seen my brother so happy in his life.  It could be that he's in Florida in 80 degree weather and parts of Virginia got snow over the weekend, but I think it's that he's found what he really enjoys and has found a way to make money doing it.

    That's a kind of crazy I think every kid should see.  I hope my kids can find something they enjoy as much "when they grow up."

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    A Thank You To My Wonderful Mother...

    She felt sick for months with nausea, then she watched her feet swell & her skin stretch; she struggled to climb stairs, she got breathless quick, she suffered many sleepless nights.  29 years ago today ;-), she went through excruciating pain to bring me into this world. Then, she became my nurse, my chef, my maid, my chauffeur, my biggest fan, my teacher, & my best friend. She's struggled for me, cried over me, hoped the best for me & prayed for me. I love you mom!  Thanks for everything.

    Thursday, February 2, 2012

    We've Got Skills

    Any of my regular readers know that my son is a fa.na.tic when it comes to K'Nex.  He is constantly making something new out of K'Nex.  For Christmas he received something like 40 lbs of K'Nex (he already had 15 lbs or so).  The thinking behind this was that he would have more pieces to make bigger things.

    He's been able to do that, and so much more!  At one point we had the following things assembled and sitting in our sun-room (I have decided to let him have this area so that I can have my sanity in the rest of the house):  a 4ft tall functioning crane, a roller coaster, a robot, an AK-47 riffle, an oil tanker, a crank shaft, a model pick-up truck, an AK-47, and a Janeson's mechanism.  And he still had pieces left to make more things!  Can you say mission accomplished.  Now all he wants (and Jon too) is more roller coaster track so they can make something bigger.

    The roller coaster

    The AK-47 he made (robot behind him)
    Anyone who knows me well, knows that I like to be organized.  I am the person who packs lunches for field trips the night before and who likes to have a spot for everything.  I am a list person.  And my list's often have sub-lists.  :-)  My kid's toys are no exception to my desire for organization.  So how do we deal with all the K'Nex?  We found storage containers at yard sales and have found the most logical way to sort the K'Nex based on the way my son builds. 

    Sorted by size and or functionality.

    When there are no creations completed, most of these drawers are full.

    Considering my son is not as dedicated to organization as I am (he is a boy who is just shy of 8, so what can I expect really), we have a system worked out to help accomplish the sorting.  After he no longer wants to keep a creation together, he puts it into a rather tall wicker basket.  This includes small pieces that found their way on the floor as he was building.  After the basket gets full, or if he finds he's running low on certain size pieces, we then go through the basket together and put the pieces away.  Luckily my daughter thinks it's great fun to spend time with Mommy cleaning, so she gets in on the act too.

    This cycle repeats itself about every week.  A couple days ago we took apart almost all of his recent creations and he made a tower that he had to assemble outside because it was too tall for our 10 foot ceiling.  I'm guessing we'll be sorting again in a few days.  All I know is that without this system, I'd go crazy!

    This is so tall we have to worry about wind knocking it down.