Friday, August 30, 2013

The Plant Goddess

This is yet another example of why I love where I work.  It's not just because it's elderly housing, but the people are really nice and there's a big sense of community.  Everyone honestly looks after everyone else and enjoys each other's company, etc.

I came into work this morning and set about my usual routine.  (Turn off alarm, set up laptop, go make a cup of coffee while laptop is powering up and downloading emails)  While my coffee was brewing, I turned around to water the peace lily that Brian had given me when I transferred here from my last property.  (It was a surprise gift with a note that says "may you have some peace in your new job.  Very sweet!  I keep it in the community room because I have no windows in my office and it needs sun, obviously.)

Only this morning the plant was NOT THERE.  Just some dust on the table, along with a yellow ribbon that used to be on the basket.  I was livid!  I am not really good with plants, and I had managed to keep this one alive for a year.  I couldn't think of why someone would steal my plant, especially after all this time.  I checked the trash room, thinking someone might've thrown it away, but it wasn't there.  So I resigned myself to thinking that someone took it and got back to work.

About an hour later, one of my residents, "Muriel" came to see me.  Muriel keeps to herself mostly, spending most days in her apartment.  She ventures out only occasionally, usually because her daughter is taking her to the doctor.  So when Muriel came out today, she came to my office.  And my plant was on top of the seat on her walker!  I said "That's where my plant went!"  She said "Yes!  I took it last night and cut off all the dead leaves, and gave it a little bath and a long drink!"  She continued on to tell me how she went about it and why dead leaves are bad for the plant.  And I'll tell you, the plant looked as nice as the day that I received it.  I thanked her profusely and she smiled, and brought it back to it's place in the community room.

This is a nice story for two reasons.  The first is obvious, someone saw my plant getting a little neglected and gave it some tender loving care.  The second is that my plant gave Muriel a purpose, and she felt good about sharing her knowledge and doing something for someone.  That good feeling is twofold:  I feel happy that my plant is back, and happy to be surrounded by people who care about each other AND their building.  :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

First Day in First Grade

Yesterday when I got up, I had a text waiting for me from one of our old neighbors.  She was wishing Will luck on his first day of school and that she and her son would miss us on the bus stop.

Sigh.  How did it get to be time for school already!  This is the first summer that I've wanted to go on and on...despite fall being my favorite time of the year.  But the time is here....time to fill out forms, pack lunches and earlier bedtimes.

Here's the boys enjoying one last fling yesterday at their favorite frozen yogurt shop.

And our big first grader!  He was a little nervous this morning but handled it beautifully.  Can't wait to hear all about it tonight!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Maine Trip

We took a family trip to Maine two weekends ago.  The move made it pretty much impossible to plan a week-long getaway as we usually like, so it was just a few days.   We went to Lincolnville, Maine, which is a part that I wasn't familiar with at all.  Lots of quaint towns, pretty sights from coastal Rt. 1 and all-around "Fun for the Whole Family!"  We stayed at a resort in a little log cabin, which the boys thought was pretty cool.  We squeezed a lot of fun in those three days, starting off with a pre-trip to Water Country in Portsmouth, NH!  The boys have been begging to go since we went to one in Williamsburg last year.  Sunday morning brought us to a diner for breakfast, followed by a little back-to-school shopping at the Kittery outlets.  Then the trek up the coast, where the air conditioning died in my car (a second time....frustrating) and was fixed with a quick stop at a local Walmart.  The boys and I worked on this while Daddy recharged the AC in the parking lot of a local Red Robin:

34.  Get pictures done in a photo booth(8/19/13)

And as soon as I find them....I will share.  Rest assured, they are hilarious.  Sean isn't tall enough for the bench in the booth, and Will chose a background that cuts off all of us in varying degrees.  Still, a good time was had by all.  

You can cram in a bunch of activities on a short vacation.  We went to the beach, drove up Mount Battie in Camden, Maine, explored Camden and Belfast's quaint downtowns, eat at lovely restaurants and taverns (well, the tavern wasn't so lovely.  But I digress.)  AND hit two local yarn shops.  :)  The yarn shop in Belfast was small but cram-jammed with local Maine yarns, and a super-pleasant shop owner who brought out a small electronic piano for Sean to jam on while Mom perused the skeins.  And the other shop....lovely as well.  It also turns out that they offer occasional knitter cruises on the harbour.  You can bet that I joined their mailing list!  
 Sean playing with the flying tricycle, downtown Belfast.

 Will takes a turn on the flying tricycle.  (It was bolted into place.)

 Boys by the harbor in Belfast.  They really are growing too fast.

 Will took this photo of Mom and Dad by the harbor.

Gorgeous view from Mt. Battie

 Dinner in Camden:  "Mom, I think that this hanging plant is trying to turn me into a vegetarian."

 Playing in tents at the sports store, Rockport.

 Big hug or flying tackle?  You decide.

Sleepy Seanie on the way home, in Brunswick/Woolwich.

36.  Picnic in a park(8/20/13)  

Mount Battie in Camden was lovely at the top, with breathtaking views of the harbour.  We found a shady place to sit and have lunch, and read some more of the first Harry Potter book.  (Will's been begging for about a year to read it, and I relented at our last library trip.  We read a little out loud every day, and he's quickly becoming an obsessed fan, chatting excitedly about all of the characters.  His favorite is Ron Weasley, BTW) 

43.  Build a sandcastle with the boys(8/20/13)

It's not exactly pretty, but it's a castle.  And we had a ton of fun building it.  The boys collected rocks and seashells to decorate, and then we all helped out in creating this "masterpiece."  The moat didn't stay full very long, but then again it never does.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wordless Wedneday: "Wicked Good Waffle"

A waffle with bananas, whipped cream and chocolate sauce.  Wicked good!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tax-Free Weekend

I've always looked at tax holidays as a gimmick just to get people to flock to stores and buy a bunch of stuff they don't need.  I've done enough of that in my life, and 6.25% savings isn't enough of a reason to go out there and buy a TV for the sake of no sales tax.  However, this was the first time I actually was looking to purchase something and it coincided with that!  Happy to participate and stimulate the economy, Massachusetts.  It also didn't hurt that we had a 10% off our entire purchase at Lowe's, either.  That is one of the things that's great about moving to a new house, all these companies send you coupons and stuff.  In fact, I've got a 20% off Bed Bath and Beyond one that I may go out and use later!

So, the dishwasher in this house.  Absolutely HATE IT, it is so loud and it screams kind of like a woman.  We wait to run it at night as we're going to bed, it's so disruptive.  You can only turn up the TV so loud to drown it out before it wakes up the kids.  And the fridge...the freezer on the bottom is great and I love having an icemaker (when the ice isn't freezer burned...ugh that's gross) but the ice eats up a lot of room.  We'd been talking about getting a chest freezer for the garage.  So dishwasher and chest freezer:  PROCURED.  To be delivered in the next ten days.  Which is fine, because Brian spent a good amount of time clearing out the rest of the boxes in the garage while I was yarn-shopping yesterday.  (Have I said lately how awesome my husband is??)  

We were shopping kids-free, so it was kind of like being a kid in a candy shop.  We picked up a pot and pan rack for the kitchen cabinet, so now it's easy to put away pots and pans, instead of having to put some on the floor and counter while you are looking for which one you need.   We walked past the lighting department and this chandelier caught our eye.  Now, the chandelier in the dining room is functional, but kind of dated and ugly.  So why the heck not??  Brian installed it this morning, and it went quickly and smoothly.  


Lastly, the paint department.  I love looking at paint swatches and trying to decide on colors.  We picked an off-white for the boys' bathroom and I'm looking forward to painting hopefully in the next few weeks.  And we have swatches all over our bedroom, from purples and grays to ocean blue and even an accent red.  Not looking to start soon but it's never too early to start planning.  

The Amazing Yarn and Charity Adventures

My friend Maureen is in town, so we of course went yarn shopping.  That is just what you do when you get two fervent knitters together, you hunt down fine yarns.  We headed to two stores in Central MA and came home with lots of great stuff.

The first one was a little shop that I had never been too.  It was nice, but there was nothing that screamed WOW! to either of us.  They did have some baby yarn that I love to work with though, and I'm always looking for ways to make baby hat knitting fun.  Making baby hats for charity is fun and a good cause, but making the same one or two pattern with one skein of the same-color yarn gets boring after a while.  Then....I saw a pattern that I've been looking for since last summer on vacation in Williamsburg, called "Babies and Bears."  I was so sorry that I didn't buy it last summer when I saw it so you can be sure I snapped it up at $6.00 this year!  I also found a book of 99 different stitch patterns, and there's a decorating idea on Pinterest that I want to try in my craft room.

When we got to the register, the cashier was having difficulty with debit and credit cards.  Apparently since it's a tax free shopping weekend in Massachusetts, a lot of people were shopping yesterday, bogging down the system.  Luckily the yarn shop is in a bank building so an ATM was nearby.  So while Maureen went to get some cash to purchase her finds, the woman started to ring me up.  The stitch book didn't have a price on it, and I was surprised when she asked how much I would pay for it.  I said "I don't know, twelve dollars?"  She gave it to me for ten.  While pretty cool, that wasn't the coolest thing that happened there.

She started to go through my yarn, which was five different skeins of baby yarn.  "That's an odd lot you've got there."  And I answered "Yeah...I knit baby hats for charity and this is how I keep it interesting."  She had a couple of questions, such as where I send them.  I told her about Stitches from the Heart, and how I knit 50 baby hats to commemorate my younger son's first birthday.  (I can't help bragging a little, I'm still  pretty proud of myself) And that I send Stitches from the Heart a box every six months.

She slides the yarn across the counter, and says "take it."  You could've knocked me over with a feather!  I said "What? Are you sure??"  She said yes, absolutely.  Then she went on to explain that the yarn shop owner's husband passed away from cancer last year and that the shop owner often donates yarn to charity causes to honor him.  And that they're a drop-off location for knit/crochet items, as she indicates over to a shelving unit brimming full with baby sweaters and hats of all sizes.  I had seen the pile when I had walked in but had assumed it was samples for the store.  She then told me that they have a hard time getting stuff out to the places that they donate items to, and half-jokingly asked if I would like to deliver some of it.  I said "You know what?  You've given me the yarn to make more hats.  If they're going somewhere local, I will give you guys a call and I'd be happy to drop off some things for you!"  I still can't believe this exchange happened.  I'm always thrilled to help out in a case like this.

The second shop was a small shop that just opened.   It was my second time there, and the owner is just so nice and personable.  Maureen and I left with out favorite sock yarn, as well as a few other things.  We're starting a knit-a-long today on a shawlette called "Hitchhiker."  Each of us chose our favorite colors, mine is different shades of purple and gray called "Lotus" and her's is a deep green and some blue.  I really like that place, it's small but the personality and coziness of it is what makes it great.

So another great day on the books for me and Moe!  I love getting together with my old friend and fellow yarnie.  And fun stuff always happens when we get going!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Autumn on the Brain

I think that I must have been a teacher in a past life, because as soon as the calendar hits August 1st I'm all "Oh crud....Summer is OVER."  Where it really isn't...and we still have a lot of plans coming up.  However, school starts August 28th so I guess I'm not so far off the mark.  The commercials for "back to school shopping" on TV no longer seem ridiculous, and fall TV promos are starting to leak on Facebook and Direct TV.  So I guess it's only a matter of time.

My head must be in September, though.  Because lately I've been looking at sweater patterns.  I started a sweater for Hubby the other day, and last night I screwed it up promptly.  I was four rows in when I realized that I hadn't changed to smaller needles as the pattern indicates.  And like every other delicate knitter at 10pm that discovers this, I said "screw it" and put it back in the bag to deal with tomorrow.  Or maybe even another day.  I'm doing a really good job not going crazy Christmas-Knitting and the sweater will be done when it's done.  MY sweater still isn't done, and I started it a year and a half ago.  I started it while on a trip for my brother in law's wedding in Pennsylvania.  The sleeves have me flummoxed, because the stitches keep falling off the double-pointed needles.  My friend is going to help me master "Magic Loop" so this frustrating thing can be mastered but she's expecting a baby any day now.  (And yay!  a new baby girl that I got to knit a sweater for...this comes from having boys.  Whenever there's a girl to knit for I just get so excited)

I think that Mother Nature has autumn on the brain, too.  The past few mornings have been cool, crisp and without a cloud in the sky.  Perhaps autumn is her favorite, just like mine.  Chilly night air, apple picking, sweatshirts and jeans coming out of the closet, leaves falling off the trees, I love it all.  The leaves will be interesting this year too, since this is the first time I've had trees in my backyard in a long time.  Also, once the leaves hit the ground it will be "interesting" just to see HOW CLOSE the MassPike is to the house.  Close enough to hear nighttime construction pretty well, is what we found out the other night.  Despite the cool air outside, the windows needed to be shut and AC turned on just to drown out the noise and get some sleep.

So we're enjoying the last few weeks of playing at the park in the warm sunshine, eating ice cream at all the local places and in a week or two, heading to Maine for a short vacation.  You enjoy your rest of the summer, too.  Because all too soon, it will be first grade homework, preschool for the little one and then the dreaded W-word.....WINTER.