Some Time Away

Dear Erin,

I know all the snow is a hassle (at least, I know it abstractly; snowfalls are not a normal part of my life and never have been), but you make it sound both fun and cozy. And you got a proper snowman out of it, which is impressive. I remember our little snowman that we built on the side of the road one year on the way to New Hampshire for Christmas and how much work it was. That was, what, thirty <cough, cough> years ago?

So no snow here. This is what it looked like this weekend.

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I feel slightly guilty posting this picture at you, but you’ll notice it’s not stopping me. I took the weekend off. Left Little Mister with Charles and went to a church women’s retreat. And it was lovely. Both outside.

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You can just see the rainbow starting to form above the wave.

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My phone is very artsy on my behalf.

And inside.

20160123_173524The speaker was good, the seminars were pretty good, the fellowship was very nice. It was a good break until Sunday, when I got to come home to this little monster

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Sorry, not the best quality picture.

and his dad, who had sent me lots of pictures of them having fun over the weekend so I could relax and not worry about them. A thoughtful man, isn’t he?

Since then, I’ve been working on something that looks like this:

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No details yet, but I’m guessing they’ll be a bit late getting to you, because whether or not the snow at your place slows them down, the monster at mine is also a very effective hindrance to such as this.

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Snowed In

Dear Kristen,

As you alluded to in your last post, we’ve been pretty chilly over here.  The whole state, it seems, is snowed in – us included.

Here’s what being snowed in is like.

Friday:

Waiting expectantly and looking for it starting at 7:00 – even though the forecast says it won’t start until 10.

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The snow starts at 10 as forecasted and we are VERY excited.

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This is her”excited” face.  At least in posed form…

Within an hour, hour and a half, this is how much snow there is:

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And still it comes.  Munchkin wants to catch snowflakes in her mouth (and eat handfuls)

IMG_3168 so we’ve taken the time to get dressed (approximately 45 minutes – we started almost immediately after it started) and Little Man has a perpetual “Huh?” face.

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He’s also extremely top heavy, so he falls over every time we sit him up.  But its a glorious time in the snow!  Matt and Munchkin stay out for a while and Little Man and I come in after about 15 minutes.  And the snow keeps coming.

And coming.

M & M go back out for a little in the afternoon, while Little Man and I enjoy the fire.

It keeps coming.

Saturday:

There’s a lot more snow. And a TON more wind.  So much wind that Little Man and I only last 5 minutes outside and when Munchkin finally comes in, there is snow in every possible crevice of clothing and she adamantly insists she doesn’t want to go back out. As the day progresses, the red sled that was fully visible at 11 is completely covered by 3.  The wind howls and it looks like a white out.  No one is out.

Sunday:

The wind has stopped, the snow has stopped, and the sun is out!  There’s been no sign of a snow plow in our neighborhood and the total accumulations from the storm are coming in.  11-16 inches in our area (we had about a foot).  2 feet at Matt’s parents’ house.  And almost 3 FEET at his aunt’s!

We will see this stuff for a. while.

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But sunny days, I have been assured, are the best snow days.  Perfect for building snow forts

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and snowmen.

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Eventually the snow plow will appear and we’ll be able to get out, but for now we’re set with firewood, coffee, and popcorn.

Christmas Knitting, pt. 2

Dear Erin,

I had meant to write on this last Friday, thereby making last week a knitting-themed week, but it didn’t work out. It seems like your recent travels have been successful in the sense of getting to where you’re going safely, for which I’m always thankful. I think you’re home for a little while now? In fact, perhaps you might be stuck at home for awhile with the winter storm you’re supposedly going to get.

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I could have sent you this to help keep you warm, but it was a Christmas gift for another family member, and it was gone before the holidays.

So, I guess I actually couldn’t have sent it to you.

It’s a cowl – Spectral – in yarn Miss Babs Yummy. It was a kit I bought last year, so only a little bit of each of 5 colors, and the satisfaction of having a purpose for materials, applying them to that purpose, and using them all up to create and give away something someone will like. Win win win.

The woolly goodness I have on the needles right now is going to you, so no pictures at the moment. It’s going faster than anticipated. I might actually get it to you close to on time, and that would be a win win win, too!

 

Top 5 Necessities for Car Travel with Toddlers

Dear Kristen,

What beautiful gloves!  I know that she will enjoy them, even in Florida.  Having been in Florida recently when it was 35 degrees when I woke up, I’m very confident she will get use out of them.

As you alluded to, I was out of commission last Friday and couldn’t write.

Because I was traveling.

And we’ve been traveling. For. A. While. Like weeks.

With small ones.

And on the heels of your post, no less, I find myself feeling as if I am in the same boat – though we weren’t on a boat.  Or a plane like you.

Now I’ve talked about the difficulties of driving with sweaty babies before.  And also about how the car seat is the bane of my existence.  This is different.  These are my top 5 pieces of advice for traveling with toddlers in a car for an extended period of time. (Our typical travel times extend from 2 to 12+ hours, so this is for those who have a death wish family in far off places.)

  1. Good Intentions – We leave EARLY in the morning when faced with a 12 hour trip.  Our intentions are that the kids will still be very sleepy and rest from the point of entry into the car until breakfast. Those intentions are lovely. Optimistic even! This last trip, we were out the door and backing out of the driveway at 5:00 AM.  Woohoo!  And Little Man screamed in the back from 5:10 until breakfast.  (We missed out on your good luck.)
  2. Snacks – Here is my suggestion on snacks.  They need to be easily consumed by little ones and not so messy that when they throw them in anger at being in the car seat for 5 hours, it won’t necessarily become a hazardous waste zone in your car if you can’t find said snack until March.  If you know what those snacks are, could you let me know?IMG_3063
  3. Playgrounds – They need to be released from their five-point cage harness and burn off energy.  This is a MUST.  For this, and because we have a limited diet, AND because we love them, we choose Chick-fil-A.  Almost all of their restaurants have indoor playgrounds, perfect for when you travel in the cold and or rain.  Our preference is to eat breakfast at one of these – grab some yummy biscuits (except those of us who are GF) and head to the play area for a solid 20-30 minutes.  Worth it.  Now, Chick-fil-A is not PERFECT.  They are closed on Sundays, so if you are traveling on that day of the week – sorry.  Also, for future reference, they open later on New Years Day.  So you may drive up at 7:30 – but you won’t be served.  And then you will spend the next three exits trying to find a McDonalds with an indoor play place and you won’t find one and you will settle on a random one and your kids will get wet climbing on the playground.  Just warning you.  Now if you are traveling I-95, check out this site about playgrounds.  These will come in handy later when both of our kids can run like the wind.  The younger still falls on his face.IMG_2970
  4. Distractions of All Kinds – And you should have LOTS of them.  They can be books, singing toys, a running list of lullabyes to sing, stacking toys, dogs, an older sibling (very handy) and a movie.  The trick is that you need to be able to rotate them quickly.  This requires you NOT to sleep when you are not driving, as you need to be available to switch out toys/books/etc and you may need to climb in the back.  So no sleeping parent in the passenger seat!  Having an older sibling available is helpful.  Especially a first child who’s a girl.  She’s willing to help and suggest how to calm down her screaming brother.  She will even sing for a little bit when you start to get car sick and dry mouth from constant singing while turned backwards for 30 minutes.  That’s when the concert breaks from the opening act to the main event!  Its very sweet and only a little off tune.
  5. Prayers – Its a necessity.  All of the four above are likely to fail at some time or another.  Or maybe even all on the same trip!  But Jesus does not.  And we arrive – frazzled, tired, hangry, and sometimes in tears – safe.  And we didn’t lose anybody on the way.  And we had moments of laughter, even if its just laughter at our ridiculous life and situation. And when I pray, I know He likes me and loves me even on the crazy drive from Virginia to Florida.  Even when I’ve lost my patience entirely. Or I feel like I can only give up and there’s still Georgia to get through.  He still hears us, loves us, and forgives us.  He offers a fresh start every moment of every day – and if you remember nothing else, remember that as you face a long drive with toddlers.  And preschoolers.  And elementary kids. And middle schoolers. And high schoolers.  Its sound advice.

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Christmas Knitting, pt. 1

Dear Erin,

Today I’m showing you one of the two gifts I made for Christmas this past year, and we’re going to ignore that I had intended to make at least three other things in time for Christmas. Two is good enough.

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These are the Mericash Wristwarmers, done in Three Irish Girls’ Glenhaven Cashmerino Sock (color “Kale”), which means that it’s mostly wool but has enough cashmere in it to be really, really soft and nice to work with.

And I happen to have lots and lots of this yarn left over because when they mailed the original order, they sent it to the wrong address. Neither party knowing this, when I told them I’d never received the yarn, we decided that they should re-dye the order and send it to the correct address. Of course, after this conversation the original order turned up, so I ended up with two skeins.

The gloves are really not a hard pattern. A lot of visual bang for your buck (especially when the lace is stretched out a little more than it is in this picture). The only trick is you have to pay attention. Seems to have been a hard thing for me to do during this project, as I ripped back two or three rows nearly 10 times! So I really knit about one and a half pairs of these. It’s a really good thing that yarn was so nice, I guess.

And as I didn’t get any knitting time on the plane on the way to VA, I didn’t get these finished as early as I would have liked. But I did manage to get the second one to the recipient just in time for her to travel back to 80 degree Florida, where I’m sure they will come in super useful!

Overall, a fine knit, a lovely yarn, and an end product I’m plenty satisfied with. (And I think my sister-in-law liked them, too.) Two thumbs up, would make again.