Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Garden is coming for me....

My tiny, "no more than I can handle" garden is trying to take over my life. The summer squash is sneaking into the house at night and depositing beautiful, yellow babies on my counters. The tomatoes have gone feral and are systematically trying to murder all the other plants in the garden, and then, I fear, the world. I'm always fascinated by this time of year. You know, in May you're sure everything will die before you get a single juicy red bite, so you plant just a few more to be sure. You can't see how these tiny black dots will struggle up through the clay to make onions, so you put in just one more row. In June you carefully water the delicate green sprouts, afraid to even breath wrong on them for fear they will wilt right there and you will be left with scorched earth and weeds. And then the heat and rain of July make your garden in to a jungle, a heaving, writhing mass of vegetation that fills you with a creeping kind of dread. The speed of the growth seems unnatural. Surely there is something sinister going on here. I know that pepper plant was only a few inches high yesterday, how could it be over a foot today? I find myself torn between the absolute joy of seeing something I planted actually grow, and the terrible fear that there will be so much that I will be genetically forced to can something. And don't get me started on the sunflowers.
What I Learned From Knitting (whether I wanted to or not) What I Learned From Knitting by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a really cool book but it makes you want to knit instead of read

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Secret of the Painted House (A Stepping Stone Book(TM)) The Secret of the Painted House by Marion Dane Bauer

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Emily just wants to get away from her new house in the forest, but when she gets trapped in a strange playhouse in the woods, she realizes home is just where she wants to be.

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Lenny's Space Lenny's Space by Kate Banks

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a great portrayal of a great kid who just can't quite fit into his world. Assisted by a seemingly perfect school counselor, Lenny learns to deal with the world around him, and finds his own ways to interact with others. Most of the book fits smoothly into a child's voice and point of view. Only the first few pages comes off as awkward, when the author is trying to describe Lenny. "Lenny was mostly selfish, but there were occasions when he exhibited a generous spontaneity that was childlike and winning," A good read and a great book to recommend to kids who don't quite fit in.

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Dragon Hunt (Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy, Book 1) Dragon Hunt by Kim Jae-Hwan

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Not bad. It's your basic set-up for a quest. A goal, a group of people who don't know each other much, a bad guy, and lots of interesting costuming. My only quibble is with WarCraft itself, which is so convoluted that I spent half my time just reading the back-story.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bleach, Vol. 1: The Death and the Strawberry Bleach, Vol. 1: The Death and the Strawberry by Tite Kubo

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is my first foray into Manga. Once I caught on to how to read in the right direction, the story was something of a grabber. I have a feeling I could get addicted, and quite frustrated by this stuff. I have never liked books that make you wait for the next volume for a satisfying ending, and these stories don't ever seem to end. I could spend significant amounts of time fussing about when the conclusion will be published. Still, if you don't think too hard, and just get into the grand drama of the thing, and accept every bizarre twist and turn, it's kinda fun. I would welcome any opinions on what to read next in this particular area.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008


My garden is just bustin' out! Last year, which was my garden's first year, I had pretty good plants, lots of tomatoes. The pepper plants did well, but didn't produce much. This year, the garden is increased in size, and we planted seeds as well as plants. My onion sets went crazy and are quite large now. The onion seeds came along, although they are bunched up way too much. The carrots are coming now too. I am thinning them a little at a time and feeding the baby carrots to the Bug raw. She loves them. We've been picking a few peas every night and eating them raw along with the carrots. The tomato plants are so big, I'm afraid they might take over the garden, and perhaps the world. No tomatoes yet, but there will be. The peppers look pitiful in comparison. We are getting summer squash. We planted two summer squash, two zucchini and would up with three summer squash plants. (I put in one plant after some of them didn't come. hoping I wouldn't get all of one thing. Just my luck.) Bug and I are harvesting dill seed and chamomile flowers to dry. The Japanese beetles are wreaking havoc in the zinnias and marigolds. The zinnias are just now blooming, but I don't know if the marigolds will make it. The potatoes look Jurassic, but I can't get to them to hill them, so I don't know how they will produce. Here's why I can't get to them. We put sunflowers in at the ends of our garden rows, and everything is so close together and they are so tall that they are shadowing everything else. I want them to bloom, but I'm getting to the point of pulling them out before they do because they are so in the way. We had to tie up the tomatoes because they were shadowing the peppers too much. I've got three cherry tomatoes, one in the ground and two in pots. The one in the ground is beautiful, the potted ones are dying. I can't figure out why. I found swallowtail caterpillars on my dill last night. We bought some poison for the Japanese beetles, but now I'm afraid to use it. It might hurt the caterpillars. On the other hand, I don't want the beetles killing the basil. Ah the curse of the gardener.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

On The Wings of Heroes On The Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
The author bio on the back of this book says that Richard Peck has been called America's best living author for young adults. It's true. He can make you smell the summer in the air, hear the halloweeners sneaking through the streets and feel the creeping fear of war coming on. The language is spare and funny and perfectly pitched as the voice of a young boy. But the emotions come roaring through anyway. I love this book, as I loved all Peck's books.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Jack Plank Tells Tales

Jack Plank Tells Tales Jack Plank Tells Tales by Natalie Babbitt

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jack is an all-around lovable pirate looking for a new profession. Natalie Babbie gives us a series of rollicking tales from a bygone time that ring true and feel authentic. This is one of those books that is new but feels classic. A good read, and an especially good listen.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

It's Done, It's Done!

So I finally finished a knitted purse I started several weeks (OK, maybe months) ago. It looks nothing like the picture on the pattern, and I'm not gonna let any experts close enough to pick out the flaws, I'm reasonably pleased with it. As always, I should have been reading rather than knitting, but we are only human aren't we.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Kelly's Island--Day Four

Up not-so-early for breakfast outside again. We kept the Bug outside every morning so it didn't matter when she scattered Cheerios all over place. Bug and Carson played for quite some time and I got some adorable pictures of them both while Bug's Daddy packed the car. We said goodbye and went downtown to get me a smoothie. They make these yummy parfait smoothies call Glacial Grooves. I had a Very Berry and it was tasty. Then it was back on the ferry. We all went up on the top deck to check out the view and take some final pictures of the island as it got smaller and smaller. Then we were off to the African Wildlife Safari Park. OK, so this is an interesting concept. You buy cups of animal food and feed the animals out of the windows of your car. Sounds like fun right? Well, it is, until the buffalo sticks its entire head in the window of the car and decides to stay awhile. Daddy had buffalo drool running down his leg and we left with a long nose smear on the side of the van. The best part was the giraffe at the end who was gracefully snitching carrots out of car windows. As we past him, something spooked him and he ran off. A running giraffe is quite a site. They look like they are running in slow motion while actually covering vast amounts of ground. We also saw a white zebra. We didn't get many pictures as I had my lap full of excited two-year-old and my hands full of food. We took a stroll through the small zoo on the property, and then there was the highlight of this vacation. We decided to see if Bug would like a pony ride. We asked her, and she said, "YES!" She was so excited that she yelled when two other little girls were in line ahead of her. Once it was her turn, she got right on the pony like she did it every day. This was when I expected her to figure out that I wasn't going with her and freak out. Instead she went right around the track and never made a peep. No crying, no looking for mommy, not problems at all. Then it was time to get off. Again I expected crying and screaming. She came right off into my arms like the world's best behaved kid,(which I know she is not.) I want to tell you I was proud, but really I was completely shocked. After that it was into the car and sleep on the ride home. (This kid, not the parents...OK maybe I closed my eyes for a minute or two.) A great vacation. Thanks Daddy:-)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Kelly's Island--Day Three

We got a tip on a great playground, and went over to Addison to play. Bug had a great time although the slides were already too hot. We dropped the van back at the B&B and walked down to the Jet Express Dock. Bug loved the boat ride so much that she cried when it was time to get off. Daddy rented us a golf cart with a truly disgusting baby seat for Bug and we went off to the Put-In-Bay Memorial. It was beautiful and Bug was happy way up at the top, but Daddy and I were holding on pretty tight. We could see Kelly's Island, Pelee Island, Middle Bass, and several smaller islands. I took a bunch of pics and gave Daddy the camera and he took the same pics I had. After finding exactly where we were in the world, we went back down to earth and caught a snake demonstration on our way out. A very nice ranger showed us an all black garter snake, a fox snake and another one we can't remember the name of. After that, we attempted to get lost on South Bay Island by holding the map upside down (OK that was me) but it was too small to really lose ourselves. Then we bought the Bug a Jr. Ranger hat which she loved and took her for a carousel ride, which she wasn't so sure about. She held onto me for dear life and had the terrible "save me" look on her face the whole time. We found a lovely little Italian restaurant for lunch. We specifically ordered meals that didn't include fries so that bug wouldn't want them instead of her meal, and then her meal came with fries. Luckily they were waffle fries which she'd never seen so she didn't realize she had fries and ate her lunch. After that Mommy started to get really tense about an approaching storm. We tried to find something to do with the few minutes we had left before the ferry, but the storm hit in the mean time and Daddy got soaked while Bug and I hid out in a Dairy Queen. We made it back to the ferry dock and caught our boat back home. We still had to walk back to the B&B in the rain. One kind soul on his front porch even offered us a ride. (We were almost home.) We got dried off and Bug watched some TV with Carson while we relaxed a bit. We drove downtown for dinner at Bag the Moon. Not the best food we ate, but very nice staff. Bug fell asleep on the way there, and woke up just as we were done. We ordered her some food, but she was too crabby to eat it, so we took it to go. We wandered around a bit, bought a few souvenirs, including a shiny fish for Bug and a very green dress for me. I made Bug's Daddy stop at Inscription Rock, despite the fact that it is all historical and stuff. The rock is mostly worn away, and I was a bit more interested in the baby barn swallows fledging in the rafters than in the prehistoric artwork. Back home for some TV and sleep.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Kelly's Island--Day Two

Lovely quiet morning on the island. We enjoyed a semi-healthy breakfast and packed up the van for a drive around the island. (This vacation was a constant exercise in packing the right stuff for every eventuality--are we swimming, are we hiking, do we need lunch, snacks, juice boxes? The Bug doesn't understand that Mommy forgot. If she wants something, I better have it!) We drove out toward the east end of the island, finding only developments and private beaches, and we found the airfield. This was really funny. There is a stop sign in the middle of a road and a big sign, "Danger, low flying aircraft." You have to stop and look both ways for planes. We stopped at a parking spot and decided to hike into the nature preserve. We were supposed to find North Pond, but we took a different turn and found a nice quiet beach instead. Since I happened to have Bug's swimsuit in my pack, we decided to try swimming. This turned out to be much more difficult than I thought. The kid didn't want to be in the water, she didn't want to be out of the water, she was scared of the lake, she wanted mommy to hold her, she wanted mommy to get in the water. It went on and on. Daddy finally tricked her into the water by offering her great rocks and holding them just out of her reach. She had to go just a few inches further into the water each time to get them. Daddy also moved the stinky dead fish, so she could wander up and down the beach at will. Daddies are good for lots of things. There was a great sandbar out from the beach. Bug could walk some distance out in the water and it was never over her waist. She had a lovely time, but then it was time to get all three of us back to the van without carrying half the beach in our swimsuits and shoes. Well, it was a goal to aim for, but I'm not sure how well we achieved it. After our swim we had some good pizza at the Wine Co. and Bug fell asleep in my lap during the meal. We took her back to the room and Daddy sat in the room with her, while I went downstairs to the patio to knit. That evening we visited the Kelly's Island Public Library. It was a beautiful little building, wide open, light and full of really good stuff. They had some great toys and things for little ones, so Bug has a good time while Mommy snooped around. Then we went back to the Bed and Breakfast, got on the bikes and rode out to the West Bay Inn to have dinner and watch the sunset. This place must get by basically on the view and the fact that there is nothing else that close. If we hadn't come on the bikes we would have gone somewhere else. The food was pretty good but the service was terrible. We were ignored for at least 20 minutes before we moved tables to find a better waitress. Things got better after that, but I was still pretty annoyed. Bug
wasn't as tired this night, so getting her to sleep was harder, but we managed. (I left out the part where I didn't pack enough diapers and panicked and we ran to all the stores and didn't find them and panicked some more until a nice shop owner promised to pick them up for us on his weekly run.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

First Family Vacation

So my husband decided we needed to have a real family vacation; get away from it all, including the rest of the family and our rather time consuming house. For this, our first expedition into the wider world as a family of three, he chose Kelley's Island, floating gracefully in the wavy waters of Lake Erie. I was excited about this trip, with the slight reservation that I would spend a great deal of my time worrying about ferry boat times, and getting there on time. (I was right.) We left our house in a new/used minivan packed full of two-year-old diversions and 31-year-old diversions including a DVD player, Dora DVD's, a laptop computer, and a minor knitting project. We arrived, as stated previously, perfectly on time for the ferry from Marblehead. The Bug loved the boat, and after I rescued her hat from blowing off to Canada and changed her pants after she peed on me, we had a lovely crossing. We drove onto the island to find our Bed and Breakfast. We arrived only slightly late, unpacked a few items and took off on the bikes to see the sights. I was somewhat surprised at the number of houses and people on the island. I expected it to be much quieter. We took the long ride down Division Street to the North Side of the island. It was one of those terribly long uphill grades that really wipes me out on a bicycle, and I wasn't carrying 30 extra pounds of toddler. My husband really is a champ when it comes to lugging around the Bug. We saw the Glacial Grooves, a prehistoric glacier's footprint. This was pretty cool considering Lake Eries itself is really just one big Glacial Groove! After walking around up by the Groove, we went down to the beach which was of much more interest to the Bug:-) She was somewhat upset when we didn't let her swim in her clothes, but she settled for building a sand castle and getting really dirty. The beach was pretty busy, and some previous guests had left some interesting artwork. A lovely mermaid made out of leaves and seaweed was pretty cool.

After our beach adventure we biked back to the center of town and saw two deer along the way. There wasn't an abundance of wildlife on the island, but what was there was decidedly unafraid of humans. They pretty much looked at us as if wondering, "What's the big deal?" We went to the Pump for dinner; A nice little bar/restaurant, just loud enough to cover any noise my kid might make while objecting to her dinner. We biked back to the Bed and Breakfast and enjoyed an interesting conversation with a teacher from the island. She had some fascinating things to say about island life. We went off to bed, and Bug was so sleepy, she fell asleep with no coaxing whatsoever. There was a minor problem when she fell out of bed in the middle of the night, but we all got over it and slept well till morning. More fun to come. (By the way, only a toddler's parent can say they enjoyed a day that includes being peed on.)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Kelly's Island

Arrived at the ferry perfectly on time. Drove right on board and crossed in less than 30 minutes. Watched two ferries pass going the opposite direction. Everyone was leaving the island while we were coming over. It was supposed to be quiet, but on Sunday afternoon the place was still hopping. Drove around for awhile looking for our Bed and Breakfast. Found it after only one wrong turn. (It's an island, how wrong can you get) Took the bikes out for a drive, and already there were fewer people. We saw the glacial grooves, walked on the beach a little and stopped in town for ice cream. Saw two deer on our way back. None of them seem very frightened of people. Had dinner at the Pump and then stopped for ice cream. Got back to the house and sat out back on the patio for the evening. Bug went to sleep on her own, curled up in the bed. (That's not what is happening now!) And she only fell out of bed once!

Kelly's Island

Fabulous family vacation with a two-year-old:

Don't forget the DVD player for the car.

Expect all the special toys and books you bought for the trip to cause tantrums instead of the distractions you planned

Expect every wonderful, enjoyable and fabulous activity to cause tears when it has to end.

Don't forget to pack extra diapers!

Have fun anyway

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

Today was my daughter's third Fourth of July Parade. She refused to
wear her ear plugs even though Mommy wore them too. Then, when the
firetrucks came by running their sirens, she cried, had to held, and
basically was miserable.

Basic two-year-old concept: "I will refuse to do anything Mommy and Daddy want me to do, even if it is exactly what I need."

Basic Parenting conundrum: "Do I make my kid do what I want, and ruin a once-a-year parade with a tantrum, or do I let her have her way, and maybe enjoy some of the parade?"

I think we both need a nap. She's supposed to be getting one now. What she is doing is talking to herself and kicking the wall beside her bed. (And I'm doing this.)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bird Lake Moon Bird Lake Moon by Kevin Henkes

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Kevin Henkes is usually praised for writing accurately about a child's thought's and feelings. This is nowhere more true than in this book. He captures the frustration and fear of two kids dealing with the fallout of events that are beyond their control, and does so with grace. I only wish there was more of a plot, more of a story arc. I realize that would detract from the realistic feel of the book, so I supposed that is more of a preference than a critique.

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July 3, 2008

Things I ought to be doing right now:

1. reading some titles in my long list of kid lit
2. completing a crosstich project that was supposed to be done two years ago
3. reading one of the many many titles sitting on my shelf
4. knitting
5. reading
6. completing various household tasks that most people would put on top of the list
7. reading

(are you getting the idea here?)

Instead I'm doing this!