My blog about knitting, teaching, and being a mother to two energetic young boys.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Where it All Began....

On Monday, my DH and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. How crazy is that - time seems to be speeding up! To celebrate, we left our children with their grandparents at the family cabin on Palomar Mt. while we stayed in downtown La Jolla for 2 nights. For old times' sake we decided to visit our Alma Matter: The University of California, San Diego (UCSD). We both graduated from UCSD's Revelle College (designed for science nerds) in 1993 - DH in the traditional 4 years, me - 4+. After graduation, he and I loaded up his 1978 green VW pop-top and drove (with lots of push-starting/popping the clutch - think "Little Miss Sunshine") to Alaska. The rest, as it is said, is history (and hopefully a very long future).

Here's my dorm - one of Revelle college's "mud-huts" called Galathea. My room my freshman year is the corner room on the 3rd floor. My friends and I thought it was a great idea to live in the same dorm again during our sophomore year (the year DH and I met) - an idea that quickly got old. We moved to the 4th floor on the opposite side. DH lived in an adjacent mud-hut called "Discovery" - often shorted to "Disco" by some practical jokesters. I wonder how many times UCSD had to replace the -very letters.

This is the Revelle anchor - outside the cafeteria which at the time was named "Anchorview". DH and I both worked there during school. Say what you will about working for the dining services - not very glamorous, I know. However, when it comes to cutting your grocery bill as a poor college student, working at the 'caf' was just the ticket. The anchor is constantly getting make-overs. In the dead of night, groups of students will come and re-paint and decorate the anchor. One contribution while we were at school was the anchor covered in cotton balls.

This is Urey Hall - home of the physics department. However, most Revelle college students know this building for the annual Watermelon drop. According to Revelle history, a physics professor asked his students one year how large a splat a watermelon would make if it were dropped from the top (7th floor) of Urey Hall. Good science is based on experimental results, so of course students took a watermelon and chucked it from the top of Urey. It is now an annual tradition - complete with a watermelon talent show to determine the watermelon king/queen. After the drop, students enjoy watermelon chilled in the Revelle fountain.

This is what we knew as Central Library, now known as Geisel library. It was renamed in honor of Theodore Geisel - better known as Dr. Seuss. His widow has made countless, generous contributions to UCSD, so in 1995 the library was renamed in their honor. It's a fantastic library, one of 9 on the campus and one I wish I could say I took great advantage of. However..... I think I only used it maybe twice. Primarily as it was far from my dorm & 2nd, being in the library was more of a distraction for me. I'd always find something else to do - doodling, counting calories to maintain racing weight as the varsity coxswain, (the link takes you to a great LA Times article about being a female coxswain for Men's crew. I was on the women's crew - but one of my teammates, Meghan and a former suite-mate in my dorm, Annette, and my former coach, Jack, are all quoted) or just people watching.

This is the Sun God - a piece of art in the Stuart collection and icon of the UCSD campus. I remember when I first arrived on campus, my dad thought this was the San Diego chicken. :0) This is where the Sun God festival used to take place while we were at school. I think I only got to attend the music festival once, as the timing always seemed to coincide when I was up in Sacramento for the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships.

The trip down memory lane was fun - it's amazing how much the campus has changed since we were there. I'm glad that not only did UCSD provide me with a fantastic education but also the opportunity to meet my fabulous DH. UCSD was just the beginning of many, wonderful adventures.

Happy Anniversary DH!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Put Me In The Zoo!

Our San Diego visit continued Friday with a visit to the world famous San Diego Zoo. We've visited the zoo countless times, but still find it quite fun. Our primary reason to visit during this trip was to visit the newly opened Elephant exhibit. What used to be The Mesa is now Elephant Odyssey. You begin the journey through the expansive exhibit by walking through pre-historic times. A mock-up of the La Brea tar pits and other fossils great you upon your arrival. The exhibit suggests what southern California looked like and the critters that inhabited the region in prehistoric times. I think the highlight of the exhibit for the boys were the numerous models of various animals.

"Ouch!" - Disclaimer: No 7 year olds were harmed in the taking of this photo. Feet belong to an elephant model.

Lions, Tigers, and Bears - Oh My! While we didn't visit the bears (with the exception of the Polar Bears) We did see Lions and Tigers. My oldest loves Tigers, so of course we have oodles of photos. Of course - tigers aren't always cooperative with photo shoots (how fickle models can be!). So - most of the photos captured are of the tiger "making room for his next meal". I'll spare you the visual.

The favorite part of the zoo for my youngest was the Harpy Eagle. During 1st grade his class engaged in a theme study of Rain Forests. One of the animals found in various rain forests is the Harpy Eagle. While a very interesting looking critter, what fascinated my son the most was that this bird was able to carry off Howler Monkeys. What skill! Good thing they're kept in an enclosure.

Monkey See, Monkey Do! -

I saw this at one of the exhibits - thought it was a great reminder for times when we think we are powerless to right injustices in our society.

Still knitting - something to show soon.


Sports Fans

Our 3-week vacation has begun. DH had been down in San Diego taking a class for the past 2 weeks, so the boys & I flew down Monday night to join him. Direct flight from Anchorage to LAX - very nice! Now that AK air charges for checked bags, we carried on 2 bags & checked 1 + carseats (no charge for those, TG), made getting out of LAX relatively easy. (Finding the correct parking garage is another story..)

Our first event was attending the World Football Challenge on Tuesday night at the Rose Bowl. My favorite English Premiere League team, Chelsea FC, was playing. I've been pretty excited about this game & seeing my favorite player, Michael Ballack. However, come to find out the night before that MB had injured his toe during their stint in Seattle, and was flying home for treatment. What?!? Apparently there are better toe doctors in the UK? Oh well -

Team Stretch

We were seated in the Chelsea fan area- behind the south end goal. Not too bad, and the price was right. We were able to watch Petr Cech (goalkeep) warm up. Very exciting. This was also the goal Chelsea was shooting for during the 2nd half & where we were able to watch Lampard convert a penalty kick for a 2 - 0 lead. A man behind us gave my youngest a Chelsea flag to wave during the match. Apparently the man was from London, so the flag is truly authentic. He let us keep it & will be a nice adornment to my classroom this year.

Overall a great evening - Will Ferrell was the honorary captain for Chelsea, Charlize Theron was in attendance to support the Special Olympics, and I spied Ashton Kutcher (w/o Demi) sitting on the sidelines. Pretty fun. Finding our car was quite the challenge after - most fans were parked at the adjacent golf course & there was really no rhyme nor reason to finding your spot. We wandered the course in the dark for quite a bit before we were successful.

Day 2 of vacation brought us to Petco Park to watch the trouncing of the Padres by the Florida Marlins. Pretty quick game w/a 5 - 0 final in favor of Florida. Bummer... I guess all of our good karma for the team of choice wore off the night before.

The nice thing about the baseball game is that it provides plenty of opportunity for knitting. During the soccer match, you stand for the entire 90 minutes w/non-stop action. Not very conducive to knitting (at least not for me). So - I've almost finished sock #1 that I cast-on during our flight from Anchorage Monday evening. My goal is to finish at least 2 pairs of socks prior to Sock Summit.

Well - more to come. Plans during our San Diego visit include time at the pool, the beach, and a visit to the World Famous San Diego Zoo.

Perhaps some knitting photos on the next post. Before you log off for the day, be sure to wander over to Winston's Mom blog to wish her a happy birthday! Ciao!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Speaks to Me....

In honor of the latest Harry Potter Flick.....

rupert grint, alan rickman and daniel radcliffe
see more Lol Celebs

This just made me laugh so hard. I think I need this as a poster to hang in my classroom. Anyone see the film yet? What did you think???

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Stumped on what FSSHW could possibly mean? Why: Finished Sock Summit Home Work of course! :0)


Class: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Moccasin Socks taught by her daughter, Meg Swansen
This wasn't a first choice for Sock Summit for me, but think it'll be fun nonetheless. Most sock knitters are aware of the issues 30,000 potential Sock Summit attendees had on the SS server (sounds like a doomed ship!). When I tried to log on at the appointed time, the server was experiencing difficulties (with 30,000 hits, no wonder!!). I had to log off & try again as I had a *cough* spa appointment *cough* to go to (I was on my Alaska cruise at the time). I know - no sympathy for me. Anywho - when I got back to register, most classes were full, including all of my 1st & 2nd choices. So - this looked interesting - a sock with a reinforced foot - might be quite cozy during the winters!

Yarn: Filature Lemieux Québécoise - 100% wool. This is the wool suggested for the class. Being the model student I am, I of course didn't want to go with just anything..... Being that this yarn is 100% wool, it feels a bit scratchy. I'm hoping after a nice soak once the pair is complete, they'll soften up.

Needles: KPHW: US Size 5. Yup - nice big needle + heavier weight yarn = quick knit!!!

Pattern: EZ Moccasin socks with at K2P2 rib along the leg & foot. Nothing too fancy, but the leg isn't the showcase of the project, so a simple ribbing is quite okay. Made for great knitting during The Closer & the kids soccer games (they each scored a goal in their respective games - whoot!)

HW Details: Cast on 44 stitches, do a K2P2 (or some variant) for 6 - 8" (I think mine are about 6.75"). Place 6 stitches on a holder for the heel & then continue flat with slip 1, ssk, pattern to last 3 stitches, K2tog, K1, turn. Easy as pie. Since it was so quick, I opted to get the leg done for both socks - that way I can focus on the foot & heel during class & will be more likely to finish these in a timely manner after sock summit is over.

As my reward? Perhaps I'll cast on another pair of socks (those RSC Fraggle socks haven't seen the light of day in a while) & perhaps have a piece of:

Blueberry Boy Bait - a recipe I discovered via fellow knitter, PDXKnitterati. The cake is quite moist & a yummy way to use fresh blueberries. The wild berries aren't yet ripe here in So.Central AK, but Fred Meyer's has had them in the store on sale recently.

A+ for me! :0) Ciao!

Monday, July 13, 2009

FO: Ishbel

Ta da!! May I present, Ishbel:


Pattern: Ishbel by Ysolde's Whimsical Little Knits collection.

Size: Large - too big to be worn as a neck scarf, but I think it will be lovely draped over the shoulders to ward off the evening chill.

Yarn: Queensland Rustic Tweed - a wool/alpaca blend. I used less than 2 skeins. I'd estimate about 1.5

Needle: KPO Size 6. I think I could easily have gone up a needle size or two.

Mods: Inspired by Blue Garter's Ishbel, I decided to add nupps as well. These add a nice finishing touch to the scalloped edges. I tried to knit the nupps as loose as possible so that when I was doing the purl bind-off negotiating purling 6 stitches at a time wouldn't be too cumbersome. I think I did an okay job, although during the bind-off phase which took me a couple of hours, I kept thinking, "gee, this seemed like a good idea at the time..."

Overall this is a great introduction to lace, and it is my first completed shawl. Don't know if I'll knit it again, as repeating the same charts over and over gets a little tedious. I'm glad I'm finished (it did go rather quickly as it's fairly easy) and I'm happy with the finished product. It's destined as a gift for a friend who's been so kind during my knitting forays to the pacific northwest.

I'm on a roll - expect a few more FOs in the near future!


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Take A Hike!

As my reward for finishing Ishbel on time (on the 11th - a day early!), I thought while it's blocking I'd take advantage of the glorious weather we've been having and get the kids out of the house. I asked the youngest where we should go & he said 'to Eagle River'. I haven't been to the Eagle River Visitor Center in years, so I thought this would be a fine destination.

I love getting outdoors, but I must admit that my inertia over the past few years has increased. It's just so easy to stay home & hang out. I think that's due to being so crazy busy during the school year that the summer invites pure leisure. The Eagle River nature center is only about a 30 minute drive from our house. From there you can access several trails, including the 26 mile Crow Pass trail. Hubby and I hiked it (overnight) about 10 years ago & I'd love to do it again when the boys are older as it includes a crossing of Eagle River. Check out Midwife Knits' blog for incredible photos - it'll make you want to don your pack right away!

The hike today was not nearly as ambitious - 2 kids + geriatric dog doesn't lend itself to anything too strenuous. We opted to hike down the Crow Pass trail to Eagle River about a 1.7 mile walk (3.4 miles round trip) according to the signs. The walk is pretty easy & takes you through beautiful trees & ferns.

A few boulders along the way provide opportunities for king of the mountain.

Breaks in the trees provide views of the Chugach Mountains and Eagle River valley.

At the Rapids campground area there is a set of stairs leading down to the river. A shallow pool at the shore allowed the kids to get their hats wet for some welcome relief from the sun and heat. Joulee (our dog) greatly appreciated this as well.

All I kept thinking here was "Kids Don't Float - wear life vests". Oops - didn't bring those along, so I was on constant alert. I was more worried about Iain who has a history with falling into rivers. Happy to report that he stayed dry. :0)

Happy kids to be outside (and at the turnaround point). All in all, an easy hike for kids & elderly pets. I was happy Joulee was able to make the journey, much of it with a 'pep in her step'. My overactive imagination kept my mind filled with images of her collapsing on the trail and me having to carry her up the hill to the car. We spent many hours hiking and skiing these trails when she was a pup and younger dog, so I figured if this was the afternoon she chose to leave us, then it would be doing what she loved to do. Fortunately this did not come to pass and she's happily lounging in the shade of the backyard with me.

Getting out with the kids on my own felt great - just like changing the head light of my car and replacing our wireless router on my own.

Now to rest before the evening's soccer game. FO: Ishbel coming soon!

Get out and enjoy the outdoors! Ciao!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Out of the Mouth of Babes...

From my youngest this morning: "Happy Birthday, Mom! How old are you?" When I told him, he said, "Man, you're old...". Yup - better old than dead! :0) Not over the hill, yet - but I can sure see the summit! :0)

On this day many, many, years ago:

1) Richard Nixon was President of the United States

2) Mini Skirts & Bell-bottoms were in fashion.

3) "Mama Told Me (Not To Come)" by Three Dog Night was on top of the billboard charts

4) Gasoline cost .36 per gallon (not sure in which city...)

5) According to, in 1040 - Lady Godiva rides naked on horseback to force her husband, the Earl of Mercia, to lower taxes. Let's hear it for strong women! :0)

The following celebrities & I share the same birthday:

DH is out of town, so we had a mini-celebration and early presents (cute dress) last week. The boys gave me a Starbucks gift card (feeding my addiction), but probably what I'm most excited about is this:

A new insulated garage door! Fancy windows (although the jury is out as to whether or not I should call the company and ask to have 2 more installed. What do you think? The angle of the garage frame doesn't cut of the corners as much as we thought they might, but my dad thinks adding additional windows will cause a greater gap near the brush border.) - Supposedly this new fangled garage will increase our energy efficiency (R-value of old garage door: maybe 3 - 4. R-value of new door: probably 12!) Whoot!!! The increased energy value and the fact the entire house won't shudder as the door opens & closes is exciting indeed.

Tonight's plans include a BBQ at my dear friend (BKFF - Best Knitting Friend Forever), Winston's Mom. Since the kids aren't at the age where cooking is really an option, having great friends willing to do something special is great. I'm certainly lucky!

On the knitting front, Ishbel is not yet done, but I'm ready to move into chart C. To be honest, knitting charts A & B multiple times has lost it's charm. I'm ready for something 'new'. Hopefully I'll have a FO to share soon.

Until then - happy knitting! Ciao~

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Way It Should Be....

Summer is here in all of it's glory! The holiday weekend was fantastic - bright, sunny skies with temperatures in the low to mid 70's throughout Anchorage. Alaskans really can't ask for anything better....

The thermometer reading to the left is from today - in the shade! Yes, it's a hot one over here on the east side of town, although the bright skies have made way for a slight haze. Not sure if there's a fire somewhere blowing smoke this direction, ash from Mt. Redoubt's February eruption getting stirred about, or just dust in general unsettled due to lack of rain. In any case, we'll take the warm weather.

Since we don't own a pool (most Alaskans don't), the best way to cool off is the classic 'run through the sprinkler'. Waters the lawn & berries (the strawberries have taken off!) & entertains the kids simultaneously - perfect!

To dry off, the boys & their neighborhood buddies went into the front (please ignore the clover - the front lawn is having issues this year...) to lie in the sun. The photo op was just too cute to pass up. And in case you think I haven't been blogging because I haven't been knitting, well - let me present the current state of Ishbel:

I'm through the stockinette portion & charts ABA. Just charts BACDE & bind off to do. Whew! I'm using a US6 and Queensland Rustic Tweed, a DK wool/alpaca mix. I probably could have gone up a needle size or 2, but I figured gauge doesn't matter too much for a shawl. At least that's my story & I'm sticking with it! :0) My goal is to finish & be ready for blocking by July 12th. I'd like to have it totally done before the boys & I leave for the lower 48 on the 20th (San Diego, wedding in Las Vegas, and of course Sock Summit in Portland! )

Well - better go if I'm going to finish Ishbel on time. Ciao!