Archive for December, 2010

Closing out 2010

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Hi, beloved readers. I know. You thought I left you behind for good. I mean, hello – July. That was the last time I posted. I’ve been having a little blogging crisis over here behind the scenes. I mean, I have lots of great stuff going on that I could be blogging about. It’s just that I’ve been too busy doing it – and, well, sleeping – to cruise on over here and type it up. And then after a while I kind of forgot how to jump in and do it.

But here I am missing the ole blog. I like writing about our little suburban lives. I like recording the great things we do around here every day, both large and small – they are mostly great. Of course, there is a LOT of little drudgery and crap that goes on around here too, and I’m going to be honest when I admit that holding back on the desire to rant on some of those little things has bottled me up a bit. But this space has always been a place where I’ve tried to focus on the positive, and I want to keep it that way.

So, I’m going to try to blog a lot more regularly in 2011. I have WordPress on my fancy phone, and I’m going to try to post on something like a daily basis, and to be satisfied with that even if it is just a photo snapped on my phone camera with a quick caption. Surely capturing those small happy moments that happen each day is better than nothing.

Meanwhile, I’d like to share a few highlights from the last half of the year.

The garden was a major project and source of entertainment for the girls and I all summer long. Once we had it built and planted, there was not much left to do but the occasional watering, and pulling a few weeds here and there. I spent hours and hours, if I were to add up all the minutes stolen here and there peeking at my growing plants, watching the fruit develop, hoping for results, and picking the nice little harvest. There were good and bad results – about a third of the space in the main bed was spent on broccoli and brussels sprouts which in the end yielded nothing. We’ll do that a little differently net year – planting those plants earlier and where they cannot take over the other poor pets. We had volunteer tomato plants sprouting out of the compost pile, which I found hilarious. Here they are not long after I first noticed them, but by the end of summer they were practically taking over the lawn.

This picture of the garden caught me off guard when I spotted it in the files – the plants all look so small here, compared to the mass we ended up with in August.

We had huge crops of kale, lettuces, cucumbers. There were a few beets and onions, those which were not overshadowed by the dreaded broccoli plants, quite a few delicious potatoes, which I thrilled at digging up – it was like a treasure hunt! We had a good number of tomatoes and peppers and carrots too. The pea plants yielded well, and most of them were eaten straight from the garden between games in the yard.

Julie became a true master at riding her bike this summer. It just clicked for her after a few tries this spring, and they spent many hours riding up and down our quiet street.

Sophie tagged along with her training wheels. There were also a few excursions to the local library on the bikes – the first time Julie rode her bike while I ran along with Sophie in the jogging stroller, but after that Julie and I rode bikes with Sophie in the trailer behind me. I was (am!) so proud of my big girl. We’re looking forward to next summer when we’ll be able to ride the greenway trails to local lakes, parks and restaurants. Now that the new overpass is open nearby, we have great access to lots of bike paths and will even be able to bike to Target, the grocery store and local swimming pool.

We did make it to the swimming pools quite a bit this summer, but there was plenty of water play in the back yard as well…

In August, I reached a huge goal. I trained all spring and summer for my first triathlon, and I not only finished, but did so in a time that made me proud. I had a great cheering section – you can’t really see it in this picture, but we are all wearing special t-shirts we made for the day. It was incredibly hard work, but I really focused on setting a good example for my girls and I am planning to do an Olympic-length tri in 2011. Fitness has been a big part of my life this last year, and I feel great – but I will admit that it takes a lot of my time and energy, some of which is stolen from things like blogging and even fiber arts. The friendships I’ve made at the gym are priceless, though, and fitting into size 8 jeans again is almost unbelievable.

The girls and I took our annual trip to the State Fair in August. I had a few things entered, and won a few ribbons, albeit nothing monumental. I did enter handspun yarn for the first time, and got a second place ribbon. The girls got their faces painted (which I love having them do as much as they love having done) and we ate ourselves silly.

September came around and Julie headed to first grade. Sophie was very sad in this picture because she was losing her playmate and didn’t get to start school till a couple weeks later. They play together so very well, but both have been enjoying school – and Sophie will be headed to Kindergarten on the bus with Julie next fall.

Julie’s birthday comes close on the heels of the start of the school year. This year she chose a party at a local painting joint called Simply Jane. They provide the canvases with pictures for the kids to fill in, and all the materials to do it plus some instruction. Very fun! And now she’s seven!

She wanted a fairy theme to her party, so I did my best to make fairy cupcakes. At least they tasted yummy.

Here we are later in the month showing of a new pair of knee-high socks. There have been several other projects in the works – I’ll probably show some of them off along the way, but you can always go check out my projects in Ravelry if you’re dying of curiousity. Of course, now that I mention it, that’s not very up to date either. <sigh>

One of the people I swim with twice a week is a firefighter named Phil. He invited us to come tour his station, and we took him up on it in October. I don’t know if they enjoyed the ride around the block in the big pumper truck…

Or spraying water from a real fire hose more. But it was super-cool to go on the tour, and Phil showed us *everything*. He even put on his whole suit of gear, pulled out the jaws of life for us to try and lift, showed us the infrared camera, and took us down to the basement when Julie asked what they had down there. (Turns out they have a place to park their cars, a gym to work out in between calls, and a laundry room for cleaning sooty gear).

Also in October, there was a “fun meet” at the swim school the girls go to. They both participated and did their best while we cheered them on. Swimming is something that we really enjoy doing together as a family, and another sport that I’ve been doing my best to model an interest in.

Joe and I got all fancied up to go to his 20-year high school reunion. I have a funny look on my face because my mother-in-law was trying to use my fancy camera and I was trying to get her to just push the right button. I felt quite glamorous in the red dress I borrowed from one of my gym friends. I loathe shopping for clothes, especially dressy ones, and she rescued me after I’d done my best at the mall and come up empty-handed. I really don’t think this picture does the look justice. All I wanted was to make my man proud, and I think I did okay.

Halloween rolled along, and we had our usual fun. Sophie wore a hand-me-down monkey costume, and Julie and I put together a Blossom-the-Powerpuff-Girl costume for her. Yes, I knit the hat and the sweater. The hat is a Hallowig with a big bow attached to the top.

My brother-in-law Dave and his fiance Jinnie finally got serious about getting married (long story!) so we headed over to the sculpture garden at the Walker Art Center one beautiful November day to take some pictures for their engagement. Jinnie wanted to send the pictures to her parents in Korea. I took a ton that day, and it was super-fun playing photographer with them in their fancy han boks and doing fun poses.

Before Thanksgiving, Julie got an assignment from school to decorate a turkey picture by gluing small objects to it like seeds or noodles. We went with cut-up bits of yarn, and I made a copy for Sophie to use. It was fun, and messy, and I got to finally use up a teeny bit of the solid sock yarn scraps I’ve been hoarding.

oh – here’s another finished project – I made a pop-tab purse for my MIL for Christmas. I think this is my favorite pop-tab bag so far, and I should totally write up the pattern for this shaping. She’d pretty much asked me for one, and I think she liked it when she opened it on Christmas. I’m curious to see whether she actually uses it or not.

And then – then we all flew out to Hawaii in the middle of December for Dave and Jinnie’s wedding. We yanked the kids out of school for 10 days right before winter break (it’s going to be a shock next week when they start back up!) and it was totally worth it. They traveled SO well, and this is a trip that they’ll always remember. Here they are doing their thing quietly on the plane. I packed a ton of books, music, coloring, craft activities, and yes, even video games and a netbook with videos for them to watch. But they did not make one inappropriate peep on any of the six! flights we took coming and going.

The whole extended family – including Jinnie’s parents and brothers – stayed in one big house together, and I was very nervous before hand about how that was going to work out. I’d even packed a secret stash of chocolate so I could go hide in the bedroom and let out some frustration. But my worry was completely unnecessary. We all got along famously, it was wonderful to get to know Jinnie’s family while we were there (even though we don’t speak a common language, we managed to communicate with lots of smiles, a few crazy pantomimes on my part, and some translating help from the bilinguals in the group). The girls loved being with their grandparents the whole time, and I loved watching them play together for long stretches.

We hiked up a mountain past a lighthouse, and I carried Sophie on my shoulders most of the way up and back down. It was beautiful, and worth it if you include the bragging rights.

There was much fun on the beaches, including snorkeling and wading through amazing tide pools.

The girls were obsessed with climbing this palm tree…

oh, there’s the amazing tide pool – it was on the north shore of Oahu, and we saw lots of fish, hermit crabs, sea urchins, and beautiful coral all while wading around in nice sand and still, warm water.

One of the best parts of staying all together in a house was the big group meals. We ate a lot of Korean home cooking, but I cooked steaks and baked potatoes for everyone one night.

We took a trip to the aquarium in Honolulu, and it was really cool. They had a nice self-guided tour that kept the girls busy for well over an hour.

Let me just say it was FREAKY spending December in Hawaii. I mean, we missed out on a 20-inch snow storm while we were gone. And the juxtaposition of palm trees and Christmas trees just blew my mind. Also, I had all the presents bought and wrapped before Thanksgiving, and had a bunch of cookies in the freezer at home before we left too. Because I had four days to get the house and dinner ready for sixteen of our closest family when we came back.

Here’s Jinnie’s mom with Joe and Dave’s mom cooking dinner on the second night we were there. Cooking and eating together is a great way to bond.

And on the wedding day, we cleaned up well. The girls were flower girls, Joe was best man, and I was just there to enjoy myself and take pictures.

It had rained the first couple of days we were there, and was raining hard the morning of the wedding, but it cleared of perfectly in time for the beach-side ceremony.

And here is our side of the newly formed family – Joe’s parents, Jinnie and Dave, Joe, me, Julie and Sophie.

Here’s the wedding couple at the Pae Bek ceremony – a korean wedding tradition.

A few more vacation highlights – eating at a roadside chicken stand. We were caravanning over to the other side of the island for a tour of the Polynesian Cultural Center, and we passed this place that smelled so good I got on the cell phone and hand the other cars turn around with us and go back for lunch. Totally yum!

There was a pool in the yard at the house we rented, and the girls and I swam a bit every day. The water was pretty cold, but felt fine once you got in and swam around a bit. Joe’s dad braved it with us a couple of times, as did his mom. I think Joe got in the pool once, but he was kind of a baby about the cold water. :-)

And finally, I purchased a new bikini and wore it in public for the first time since before Julie was born. Joe thought I was hot, and that’s all that matters. Yes, I am a silly goof.

Whew! That barely scratches the surface of the tip of the iceberg. But you’ve had a few highlights. Now I can move forward with the day-to-day minutiae.