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The boys and I are home after our lovely staycation at our best friends’ house.  They hit the beach, and we spent the week puppy-sitting and making use of their extended satellite TV, cozy reading chairs, and neighborhood pool.  It was a good deal all-around.

Of course, Monday meant that I could take advantage of a new-to-me bench…

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Tuesday, the boys each had a swimming lesson with the neighborhood’s swim team coach.  This young woman has such a way with kids!  I hadn’t been able to get Kalen to do anything resembling a stroke before this day, and look at him swimming right to her!

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Nicky also made great progress in the pool, and he got the hang of side breathing.  He can now make it all the way across the short width of the pool without putting his feet down.  This kid has come a long, long way in just over a year.  I’m in such awe of him.

I also spent an awful lot of time reading (Lynn Kurland – one of my favorites!), and I got a start on that baby gift I mentioned before.  No details until after the shower, but a little sneak peek can’t hurt, can it?

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We really enjoyed our little faux vacay, and it was made even better by the knowledge that Jason will be coming to see us next week.  He flies in Tuesday night to spend a week and celebrate Kalen’s birthday.  We’re all so excited.

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…and I haven’t left the house.  I think I’ve successfully documented all the deck’s built in benches now.

2009-June15 - blog

Happy Bench Monday!

Once a week this summer break, for as long as we’re still in Atlanta, the boys and I are heading over to our dearest friends’ house and taking full advantage of their neighborhood pool.  The advantages to this plan are many:

  1. Good times with good friends
  2. Building on the boys’ few swimming skills
  3. Sanity time for Mommy
  4. Something to look forward to at the beginning of the week
  5. New victims for Bench Monday shots

2009-June8 - blog

Happy Bench Monday!! Notice there wasn’t enough room on the bench for the Mommy feet.  My cellulite and I aren’t that disappointed.

Happy Bench Monday!

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My hook is flying madly whenever I find time to park myself on the sofa…mostly in the evenings, watching Jane Austen movies with Mom and Dad.  Doctors’ waiting rooms also make fine crochet studios, especially once you’ve been through the pattern repeats a bit.

IMG_9407Sólás Caomh by Jodi Euchner

This is one of the most difficult patterns I’ve ever done.  Now that I’m going strong, it isn’t so bad, actually, but the first few repeats were murder.  Cable crochet in and of itself isn’t so hard…what makes it fiddly is the “Shut up, I’m counting!” nature of the pattern, plus the unfamliar motion of working front post stitches behind stitches you just made.

Anyway, I’ve now completed six of eleven repeats, and I’m supposed to have it done for a baby shower on Saturday, complete with border and blocking.  Eh, piece of cake, right?  Riiiiight…

Or, it would be if I didn’t keep taking breaks to scrap a bit.  Hey, in my defense, the poor hands need a rest now and then.

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Yesterday (yay!), PencilLines posted the sketch for this week.  Sketches help so much when inspiration is scarce.  As you can tell, I’m a bit behind in my scrapping.  (Yes, that 19-month-old eating the green popsicle is entering First Grade in a couple of months.  Don’t even ask about their baby albums.)  In the past, I jumped all over, scrapping whatever photos hit my mood at the time.  However, I’ve taken a cue from my dear friend (and scrapping/design guru), Karah.  I’m approaching it methodically now, working my way through 2005.  In a few months, I should have an album to show for it!

Sweet Treat Credits:
Sketch (reversed) by Anna Bowkis for PencilLines blog (#137)
Background paper by Audra Little (A Little Ensanada)
Krafty Brackets Paper by Christine Honsinger for ScrapArtist.com
Noteworthy Alpha by Birgit Kerr
Stitching by Birgit Kerr (Easy Living)
Scrolled Alpha (recolored) & Bird by Lori Musser/Page Frocks (Paper Dreams)
Swirl Stamp by Amber Clegg (Tranquility)
Cardboard Circle and Scalloped Border by Amy Martin (5255 Collab Kit)
Flowers & “Cool” Word Art by Shabby Princess (Happy Go Lucky)
Journaling Lines by Designs by Lili for ScrapArtist.com (Pieces of My Heart)

One of the guidelines of Bench Monday is to “wear something pretty.”  I typically ignore this rule, due to the fact that (a) I don’t really own much in the way of pretty (most of my days are jeans and tops occasions), and (b) what little I do have is packed away at the mo’.

This weekend, however, Mom gave me some more of her grandmother’s crocheted lace.  This time, it was two table runners, and I was especially drawn to the one done in a pinwheel pattern.  It makes a pretty apron, although somewhat inappropriate for use during dinner prep.

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I have quite the collection of antique crocheted lace now, all done by my great-grandmother.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it all.  I suspect it won’t come as much of a shock if I reveal that I’m not really one to have crocheted doilies and table runners all over the place.  One piece will be included with my submission to the Milkweed Project.  The rest will have to bide their time until the right use for each presents itself.

Last year, when we began planning the trip up to D.C. for Heather’s graduation, the plan was to fly up Friday afternoon and stay a whole week, allowing the boys to miss their last three days of school.  (Yes, today was the last day of school – eep!!)  However, a Plan B became necessary when we realized that employment just might not happen in time to pay for four plane tickets up there.  Indeed, it was a good thing we came up with Plan B (thanks again for that shove in the right direction, Mom!), because employment has not yet come along.

So, per Plan B, Jason, Dad, the boys, and I all drove up last Thursday and returned Monday.  (Mom already had her plane ticket booked, the lucky girl!)  Our plans for a week’s explorations of our nation’s capital were squelched, and we instead devoted Sunday to seeing as much as we could without dropping from exhaustion.*

Of course, Saturday was graduation, and I’m sorry to say I have no pictures.  The event itself was spectacular, but I was just far enough away that my little point-and-shoot gave me horrible photos that weren’t worth the effort.  The evening before was the family reception…and boy, was that yummy!  I mean, fun.  It was fun.  The food was yummy.  On second thought, these kind of events are all about the food, so I’ll go back to my original statement.  The reception was yummy!

IMG_9198Left to Right: Me, Mom & the Graduate

So, Sunday, Jason and I took the boys downtown.  I lived in Northern Virginia as a child, but this was Jason and the boys’ first visit to the area.  I insisted that we begin with the Lincoln Memorial.  To me, this is the most moving of the monuments, or maybe it’s just the clearest in my memory and thus the most sentimental.

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We have decided that they really need to build a Metro station nearer this monument.  We hoofed it from the Foggy Bottom station, which isn’t bad at all, until you realize you have a looong day ahead of you, and there’s no Metro line between you and the Mall!

That’s okay, we determined; we’ll make it!  (Insert whiny children.)

I’m glad we walked it, though, because we got to see the Vietnam Memorial, and the new-to-me Vietnam Women’s Memorial, in addition to the new World War II Memorial.  Not much I can say about those, except how beautiful and moving they are.

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I promised myself that I’d keep this from being an image-heavy, detailed posting of our entire trip…so, just for you, the highlights of the rest of the day:

A walk to the Mall * A rest on a bench * Gawking in the Museum of Natural History, to include: * Whales * Fish * Dinosaurs * Mammals * Quartz, Minerals, & Gems * Meeting good friends at the Museum of American History, to include: * Really expensive pizza and hot dogs * Kermit * Science Experiments * Funny photos * Trains * Ruby Slippers * and a Metro Ride to end the day.

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Seeing Washington from a grown-up point of view was a different experience for me.  We’ve put it at the top of our list for a full week’s vacation as soon as we can manage it.

Of course, as we drove back on Monday, the highlight of the trip was Bench Monday.  Bench Monday makes me happy.

2009-May18-blogAt a Rest Stop Somewhere in North Carolina

*We did, in fact, drop from exhaustion, but we managed to belay it until getting back to Heather’s house that evening.

Other than missing an important person*, I had a pretty darn perfect Mother’s Day this year.  Time and good food with my parents, the boys, and my in-laws…what more could I want?

Enter the Day of Flowers.  Between the roses Mom bought for Derby Day, the lilies my sister sent her, and the roses that Dad and the boys bought for us, we have over five dozen flowers in the house!

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1. Kentucky Derby Party Flowers – rearranged!
2. My roses from Dad & the boys, in a vase Mom & Dad bought at a gallery in Florida last year.  Love the effect!
3. An extra Derby Day rose on my nightstand, in a Chambord bottle.  Perfectly sized vase for the space.
4. The Vera Wang lilies from my sister.
5. Mom’s roses from the guys.
6. A few of Mom’s roses pulled out for the living room.

I must extend a heartfelt thank you to Whole Foods for offering Mother’s Day roses at such an affordable price.  I know it’s supposed to be gauche to talk about money and the cost of gifts, but I also know you all appreciate a deal as much as I do, and I can’t stomach the thought of my guys spending $50 on a dozen roses.  So, $15.99 for two dozen?  Much more like it!  A good deal is a gift any mother can appreciate.

As for today…Happy Bench Monday!

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*That guy – aka my husband – who helped me become a mother in the first place.  No worries, we get to see him Wednesday!

Monday, Monday!

It was looking to be a rainy, low-energy day in Atlanta, until…Bench Monday!

2009-may4-blog2A Rainy Day in Georgia
(Or, I Didn’t Know My Jeans Had Red Serging!)

All over the world, women with amazing artistic eyes are sharing photos of their own feet on benches (actual or impromptu) each Monday.  I could not resist joining in.  My first Bench Monday photo shoot involved an umbrella (that’s the swatch of green in front of my legs) and a clear Rubbermaid container on its side to act as a rain shelter for my little point-and-shoot.  I have no illusions about my abilities as a photographer, but I know I have a good eye.  The photographic skills are something I’ve been wanting to learn, so this seems as good an impetus as any.

This bench resides in my parents’ back yard and is actually attached to the deck.  That intense green behind me is an accurate representation of the rainforest feel their yard has on a wet spring day.  Lovely, isn’t it?

I was so inspired by this photo that I decided to revamp my watermark, and I even took the extra two seconds to make it into a Photoshop brush, which I should have done months ago.  Life made slightly easier?  Check!

Rainy day blahs swept away by running back and forth across the waterlogged deck in my bare feet?  Check!

My boys

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