Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sign of the Crab

Some projects, well, they take a long time to see through to completion.

When we were heading out to Alaska on a cruise shortly before this school year started, I decided I needed to find a project to bring along to pass some of the time at sea.  I tend to get bored easily if I'm not doing something creative at all times.  The lovely ladies at The Point of it All convinced me that a needlepoint belt would be a quick and easy project.  Since Joseph's Zodiac sign is Cancer, I chose this one with a row of crabs.

Quick and easy turned out to be debatable, or maybe I didn't have as much down time as I had assumed I would.  This was as far as I got during our vacation, just 3 crabs out of the 12 that I needed to make it around my waist, plus some background.

Nonetheless, I continued on once we got home, and managed to finish it up by the new year.  There is something seriously satisfying about putting that very last stitch into a project!

Then the completed canvas sat in the closet for a while, knowing that turning it into a belt was not inexpensive.  The cost of the canvas and thread (about $80) and finishing ($130!!!) combined make this by far the most expensive belt I have ever owned, and probably ever will.  But OH, MY, is it gorgeous!  The leather is like butter, the turned edges are flawless, and the stitching is impeccable.

As soon as Joseph fits into it, it's all his.  Hopefully once he's done with it I'll still be able to fit into it myself.  If not, I know how to make another one.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Great! Falls

(Exclamation point intentionally inserted)

It had been a long, long time since our first visit to Great Falls with Joseph (when he was only 3 years old!).  We rectified that situation with a return trip over the Memorial Day weekend.  This time we explored the Maryland side, and it was a completely different experience.  The Virginia side is really just a big, open park with nice views of the Potomac River and the falls, but the Maryland side also offers access to the C & O Canal and the towpath that runs more than 180 miles all the way to Cumberland (where we visited in 2012).

The canal was essentially a water highway connecting the Potomac and Ohio Rivers and was a "lifeline for communities" along the rivers.  The canal itself drops more than 40 vertical feet in this area, so a series of 6 closely spaced locks were built to help lower boats safely.  Most of the locks don't look particularly functional anymore.

We enjoyed following a series of boardwalks and bridges across the Potomac that took us to Olmstead Island and the Great Falls Overlook.

There are spectacular views of the Falls and Mather Gorge at the Overlook! 

We crossed back and walked along the towpath a little longer until the whining of a bored and ever hungry 7 year old was enough.  I continued on alone down to the beginning of the first section of the Billy Goat Trail, which would have to wait for another day.

On our way out we got to sit and watch a passenger boat go through one of the locks.  No motor boats back then - it was drawn by mules!

Quite impressive how high the boat was raised by the water level inside the lock.

Our little outing inspired me to go out the next day and buy a bike rack for my car.  Even though they have a wonderful free bike borrowing program to utilize, I'd love to bring my own bike down someday and explore on my own.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Simon's Saga

This is a long overdue update on our sweet little Simon, who had quite a serious health scare recently.  The day after we returned from Mexico, well over a month ago now, we came home from running errands, and Simon just didn't look quite right.  He was very subdued, and was kind of staring out into space and drooling.  Brent immediately took him over to the local animal hospital.  They said he was probably nauseous and a little dehydrated, gave him some fluids, and sent him on his way back home.

Brent thankfully thought to check on Simon in the middle of the night, and he found him in seriously bad shape.  He was panting and clearly struggling to breathe, so back to the hospital he went.  It turns out the fluids they gave him earlier in the day had sent him into full-on congestive heart failure, and in retrospect they realized his symptoms were due to progressing heart disease.  He was admitted to their intensive care unit for three days. He needed oxygen (which they pipe into an incubator), blood pressure support, diuretics, even antibiotics.  There were a good many times when we really didn't think he was ever going to get better and come home, and I'm not sure how we would have handled that so soon after losing Jeffrey.

But then, he turned a corner!  He'd perk up when we came to visit, would give us those endearing head butts, and we'd hear that familiar loud purr of his that is music to our ears.  He was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is apparently the 2nd most common problem in aging cats after kidney disease.  Now that it's being managed, he could live with it for years. (Which, after the cost of that hospitalization, he better.)

Simon was very clearly happy to be home, and took his rightful place immediately - which is wherever Brent is.

It is so incredibly amazing to have our handsome boy back home, acting like nothing was ever wrong.

However, Simon Limon is generally less than enthused when it comes to taking his medicine.  Three different meds, two of them are twice a day.  One liquid, two pills.  Have you ever tried to give a cat medicine?  It's got to be like working on a psych ward, or in prison.  It's amazing how many ways he can spit those pills back out.  I am not sure who they are referring to when they say this medicine is highly palatable. It is not palatable to cats.  I've got it pretty well down now with the help of a pill shooter (notice I didn't say "we"...) and we do what we must for our little ones.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


What?!?  How is Pokemon still around?  It's been like 20 years that the "pocket monsters" have been dominating little boys lives in some way, shape, or form through video games, anime TV shows, and the trading card game.  Joseph was going to Pokemon birthday parties in preschool, and started collecting cards at least 2 years ago.  But it is The. Big. Thing. with JT and all his friends.

Whether at home or at school, the second these kids see each other, all they want to do is trade cards. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it, as the cards just keep circulating around.  All I ever see is the top of their little heads staring down at bazillions of cards stuffed into bags and binders.

That last one is currently his best card.  Why, I don't know!  It's amazing that every kid this age knows every detail about these little creatures, but I've yet to meet an adult who has even the slightest clue.