Thursday, July 31, 2008


Thanks to inspiration from Amanda, I made a yummy dinner tonight.

I warmed up some olive oil and sauteed a handful of pine nuts in it. Then I added in a can of diced tomatoes until it began to simmer. I put in some garlic powder, oregano, pepper and salt and let it all simmer for a few minutes. Then I added a (drained) can of cannelini beans and some parmesan cheese. I realized a little late that I had some green beans I meant to use. Next time I'll cut them up and put them in with the tomatoes. This time I added them in and put the lid on while it all simmered together. I served it over pasta. Yum!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Camping in Pictures, days 3 & 4

On our second full day Heather was ready for another hike after breakfast.

We decided to try the long hike up to the water tower, and the way up went very well.
But once we were up on the water tower, Heather wasn't all that impressed by the view and was getting restless.

So we had a little snack in the grass while Tom and Rachel finished their water tower experience.

It did start to rain a little as we were leaving, but luckily it stopped so we could get all the way back to camp. Being well rested meant that she didn't need to fuss in order to fall asleep for a nap.

Unfortunately, the real rain didn't start until after Heather woke up from her nap, so our beach plans had to be scrapped in favor of books and toys in the tent. Once it stopped we decided to drive to a nearby diner for dinner and ice cream.

On our last morning, Heather was ready for more excitement with her friend Robby.
She even held still long enough for pigtails and didn't immediately pull them out. (A new milestone)
For our last morning, we checked out a different beach. We had it to ourselves for much of the time we were there.

This beach had a playground, too. At this one, the seesaw was the biggest hit.

Before we left, it was time for a little snack.

It took long enough to have breakfast, get ready for the beach and enjoy the beach, that it was naptime on our way back to camp. R and I used the opportunity to start packing up camp and make a fire for lunch. Once she was up, we had lunch and finished packing. And we pulled out of camp within minutes of the checkout time.

We stopped at the ILs on the way home, too. Aunt Tara's dog Jake joined us in the pool.

More time on the towel, too.

She fell asleep in the car on the ride home and had a little trouble staying asleep, but we all got to bed eventually.

I'd say it was a very successful camping trip and fun was had by all!

Camping in Pictures, days 1 & 2

Last weekend we took Heather for her second camping trip. We went to the same place that we've been going for 8 years. It is possible that we will branch out at some point, but with a toddler it is nice to go someplace familiar.

Also, the grandparents are conveniently located on our way, so we were able to stop for two visits over the course of the weekend.

As soon as we get there, Heather points to the swing in the gazebo.

After a lite lunch, Heather took a dip in the pool with her daddy. The water was warmer than our last visit.

When she was done, Heather was very anxious to get her towel laid out "just so" and enjoy a little time in the sunshine.

What's a visit at Grandma's without a frozen treat at the end?

We got to camp within an hour of Heather's bedtime, so I was feeling a bit rushed to get water, firewood and food in her belly before a meltdown. But the new environment was enough to keep her entertained. Although she did get a little mad that she couldn't be the one to carry the water jug back to the campsite. :-)

We started day 2 with some fruit and some books at the campsite.

And we decided that we should take advantage of the cooler morning air for our first hike. We started with a shorter hike around the peninsula since it took us a little while to get our act together and we didn't really know how Heather would respond. Everytime we got near the lake, she would start doing her version of "quack, quack", but sadly there weren't any ducks to be seen there like there are at the lake near our house.

After a little while in the backpack, she felt the need to explore on her own two feet.

She seemed to be getting tired, but a nap wasn't successful. So we had some lunch and headed to the beach.

Digging in the sand is serious work.

So it is nice to take a dip in the water to cool off after all that effort. Lakes are especially nice because they are shallow enough to walk in, even when you're less than 3 feet tall. :-)

There is a little playground near the beach, too. It doesn't have an infant swing, but Heather can swing slowly on the big ones with daddy's supervision.

It was definitely naptime when we returned to the campsite after all of that. Our friends Tom and Rachel arrived while Heather was sleeping and I was doing some work.

Once Heather was enough we decided we had enough time for another hike before dinner. This time I took a turn with the backpack.

This time she lasted longer in the backpack. But given the short nap the day before and the short nap this afternoon, Heather just didn't have a full hike in her and she was too overtired to fall asleep in the backpack.

So I used the second nap of the day to start a dinner fire and get a shower. Heather's favorite part of campfire food was the baked sweet potato. Silly girl didn't even want to try a perfectly roasted marshmallow!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Return and words

We are back from our camping extravaganza. All went well. There are photos and stories, but I don't have time to post them until I get past a current deadline at work. I was up until 2:30 last night (at home) working and I'm staying at the office late tonight. We're supposed to post the final documents tomorrow evening. So life should be back to "normal" by the weekend. Although the unpacking might not get done until the weekend. We'll see how much R did during his day off today.

New words include:
Peek-a-boo ("peek-boo")
Robby (her froggy's name)
Quack quack ("ack ack" when she sees water and expects to see ducks)
Hoot (what an owl says)
Doo-dee-doo (as in a rooster says Cock-a-Doodle-Doo)
Nanny (my mom)
Ba-pa (my dad)

And we are starting to hear some 2 word phrases, such as:
Hi Daddy
Night-Night puppy
Bye-bye kitty

She is also repeating after us, but the words she repeats don't necessarily come back again. And she is more insistent about talking to us, meaning that she gets frustrated when we don't understand. Sometimes we can figure it out and sometimes we just have to distract her with something else. We are deciphering things as best we can as they come. And paying attention to context and where she's pointing can really help.

I'm sure I'm forgetting a few, but I must get back to work. Just a brief afternoon break!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I'm posting to ask all of my readers to direct your prayers to friends of ours trying to adopt an adorable little girl from Guatemala.

Their daughter is now 20 months old. They have had a hellish process and have been kicked out of PGN 6 times over the course of the last year. And their agency is becoming less and less responsive as time goes on.

All that stands in the way is one final interview with the birth mother, a requirement recently added to the process. She is refusing to go for the interview.

Please help me pray for a miracle for this family. I'm here sobbing over my lunch wishing there was something that I could do for them...

Sunday, July 06, 2008

New vocabulary

Heather has some new words and some word wanna-bes (some are hard to
make out without context).

For example, it can be hard to tell daddy and doggy apart, so context
really helps with those especially since both are said often.

Mommy is a bigger part of everyday language now
Bunny, Butterfly, Bird and Bike are not clear but definitely there
Water "wa-ga", Kitty "ki-gee", Apple "bapple"
Sheeps say "baaa", horses say "neeee", Cows say "mooo", owls say
"hoooo", little piggies say "wee"

But we've had two examples this weekend (at least) of times that I look
forward to Heather having more words. Her arm was hurt on the
trampoline over the weekend, and it took a while for us to figure it out
using our powers of deduction. With a mostly ambidextrious toddler who
is prone to get fussy during clothing changes anyway, it took a little
while to realize that she was purposefully not using her right arm. All
seems to be fine now. She's still favoring her left arm, but it is
clear that her right arm doesn't hurt anymore and she has started using
it when playing or trying to get away from diaper changes. ;-) Ah, the
life of a toddler.

The other example was some issue with going to sleep tonight. Part of
it was because of a screwy schedule this weekend. She went to bed late
both Friday night and Saturday night because we had plans away from home
and she was extremely reluctant to fall asleep in the car. But at two
wake-ups were because she was thirsty. It takes 20 questions to figure
out what she needs. If she would just say water or drink, it would be a
lot faster to get her back to sleep. :-)

The couple of weeks are going to be crazy at work, busy preparing for
our second ever camping trip with Heather and going on said trip. I'll
try to keep posting, but no promises. I do have some pictures from this
past weekend to share, but it is dependent on the next few bedtimes
going smoother than tonight did.

If any readers think they might be interested in joining us for camping
(tent sites with running water bathrooms and showers nearby), let me
know and I'll send you the details! You could also drive up to the park
for a day trip while we're there for some hiking, swimming and good
campfire food.

Tagged Again

Despite #4 on her list, I've decided to respond to Annie's tag anyway
and list 5 things I couldn't live without. I also have to agree with
her on two items, but I'll specify my reasons.

1 - My iPod - There are many times it makes my life much better. It
allows me to think about knitting both while I am knitting and when I
can't knit. I listen to a number of knitting podcasts and I have a
line-up of theater related podcasts to listen to when I get through the
knitting ones. It also allows me to watch movies of Heather and look at
pictures of Heather while I'm on the road, and I have a few TV shows on
there, too. Although honestly, I only use the video feature when I'm
traveling. I never thought I would ever use it.

The iPod is also important because there is a significant segment of my
music collection that is disliked by my spouse. :-)

2 - The DVR - Soooooo much better than a VCR and vital for any parent
who doesn't want to stop watching their favorite shows just because
there are rugrats in their lives. The only downside is the limited
space for HD programs, so sometimes it does put pressure on us to watch
our shows asap. I hope that an upgrade someday will ease that pressure.

3 - The child seat on R's bike - I love Heather and R, but there are
certain things that are a lot easier to accomplish when they aren't in
the house. Their bike rides give me 30-45 minutes of time to do the
things that I can't do while Heather is napping (vacuum upstairs, clean
up her room, put away her clothes). I know that they are both having
fun and I get a little productive time, so it is easier for me to relax
after Heather goes to bed.

4 - - You knew there had to be something about knitting on
this list. I considered mentioning my harmony interchangable needles or
my swift and winder, but I decided that they only make some projects
easier. Ravelry can and usually does improve every projects I work on.
I can connect with other people who've made something I'm working on and
ask about the pattern, the fit, the yarn, etc. I can search for a type
of project designed at the gauge I'm getting with my yarn. I can search
for projects by a designer I like. I can see what my friends are doing
and be inspired. And I am inspired to take pictures of all of my
projects and not just the ones for other people.

5 - The bus - I know that there are plenty of people out there who would
rather get a root canal than take public transportation, but I am not
one of those people. Driving in rush hour traffic stresses me out (even
in Pittsburgh where traffic isn't that bad compared to other cities).
I'm not a morning person, so my bus ride gives me a chance to wake-up
and prepare my brain to deal with work and my coworkers. When things
are busy, my commute is the only guaranteed time that I get to knit each
day (and listen to my knitting podcasts). And I've made friends on the
bus. I don't see them as often since my previous "regular" bus was
cancelled, but we keep in touch and I've had some nice chats with people
on my new regular buses.

I'm tagging Jen (Seedling of Knowledge), Michelle (The Spice Rack) and
Katie (Shades of K). Sorry for the low-tech tagging. I'm posting via

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Relaxation vs. Stimulation

I was listening to the Sticks and String podcast yesterday, and a particular comment caught my attention. David Reidy was interviewing Ann Feitelson and asking her if she thought the popularity of knitting more complicated projects like arans and fair isles would increase now that the era of garter stitch scarves in funky yarns finally seems to be (mostly) behind us. Her response was that she didn't think so. There are certainly more people making garments and wearable items beyond scarves, but she seems to think that most people see knitting primarily for relaxation and therefore they are uninterested in doing projects that require more brain power. Conversely, she enjoys knitting for the stimulation and the enjoyment of learning a new skill, designing something herself, trying something new and keeping her brain active.

I guess this explains knitters that I've encountered who won't even give certain techniques a try because they look too hard or they take too much work or they require seaming, etc. I've always been a little confused by these arguments because I can't imagine not wanting to knit something just because it would take a little extra effort. Sure, there are nights that I just want to knit something mindlessly in front of the TV. But really, it is more often that I want some interest in what I'm knitting. If I'm going to knit "mindless" garter stitch, then I need color change or shaping or *something* to make me care about what I'm making. Trying my hand at mitered squares is much more intriguing that doing another log cabin blanket, unless the log cabin square are really small, because there is something to do in the mitered squares every row.

Maybe this makes me strange. But for me, part of the "rhythm" of knitting can more easily be found in a simple pattern than in plain fabric. I find fair isle to be interesting and not at all hard. (Really, it isn't. It's just two colors people!) I recognize that double knitting takes more effort, but I love the finished product and it isn't that difficult. It's even possible to get in a good rhythm with double knitting.

I don't know if this is a line of thought that interests anyone else around here. I think I'm in the minority of my friends that listen to knitting podcasts, even though I know many of you do read knitting blogs. I just find it kind of fascinating the different reasons that people choose to knit and how they enjoy the pastime. I am primarily happy knitting fair isle, intarsia and lace on a daily basis, and others are primarily happy knitting on garter stitch scarves once a month.

Maybe I just like knowing that I'm not alone in the way that I love to knit. :-)