Friday, April 24, 2009


My daughter is trying her hand at softball this season. What a steep learning curve it has been! Never mind all the equipment she needed, it's just that she never really spent anytime batting or playing catch, so she's been working hard.

Their first game was this past weekend and it was so exciting to don the red uniforms of the Rockville Thunder! She got to play pitcher (which for machine-pitch is standing by the machine and fielding ground balls), so she had a lot of activity. Unfortunately, the team she played against was really good. Really, really good. So the outcome wasn't quite what she wanted.

But she looked good!

There is nothing cuter than an 8 year-old girl all suited up for softball. Go pink helmets!

I also learned that if the batter on the other team has her name spray painted on her helmet with hearts and flowers, get ready because the girl can PLAY. And if the team knows all the chants and keeps it rocking on the bench their entire at-bat - it'll be a tough game. Also, tie dye socks, sleeveless shirts and visors are yet another way to tell softball from baseball.

My daughter's favorite part was learning hand games from the other girls during their at-bat:

I'm thinking that they don't do this in baseball either.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We've been doing a bi-weekly class at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield called outdoor living skills. Led by ranger Kristen Miller, the class has been a great class on all the things that I wish we covered in scouting.

Here Kristen gives a run-down of what we are looking for in our most recent Animal Tracks class.

The nature room is packed with stuffed real) animals, live snakes and turtles, and lots of hands-on furs and skulls.

On our hike out to find animal tracks, we stopped to admire the waterfall.

It's man-made, but Kristen was telling us that the beavers like to help when the water is low by bringing more logs in and helping to build it up.

I also admired the beech tree buds starting to let loose. It had been a month since we last visited, and the difference in the woods was astounding. During our last visit we could still admire the birches and their coppery leaves that the hold all winter scattered through the forest, but on this visit, we admired all the budding trees and the blooming dogwoods.

Now, here's where the action is:

More signs of beaver life:

And a very resilient little stump that would not give up:

Along the trail back we saw this odd stuff. It looked like black asphalt chunks stuck in the trees:

Turns out it is sooty moss. Aphids collect on the undersides of the birch trees, eating. Honeydew collects on their bodies and drips down on the branches below where sooty moss develops. Underneath all of that, there are usually ants that feed off the honeydew.

Here is the whole ecosystem:
The irony doesn't escape me that I drive almost an hour each way to walk through the woods when we live in an area surrounded by woods. However, it is the perspective of our ranger that makes all the difference. She can tell us in seconds what it might take us hours to research - that is if we even noticed. She has a great way of pointing things out to the kids and expanding on their questions to connect and bring a whole new world to life.
Lots of learning, lots of birches and lots of walking in the woods. It was well worth the drive.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mary!

In celebration of her birthday this week, I finally handed off a f.o. to a very dear friend:

That impish grin was what made me think that this pattern would look so cute on her. I think that I was right!

The pattern is Sideways Hat from Knit Picks using their Wool of the Andes Bulky (which is much softer that its finer-weight namesake) from their Cool Peruvian Wool Sampler (which, sadly, seems to be discontinued).

Happy Birthday!!

Long Overdue

A long overdue THANKS is in order to a dear friend who has been looking out for me. Arriving from England were:

the cutest linen towel, chicken serviettes (paper napkins) and a henkeeping book, along with a great big, long catch-up letter and a cup of tea with which to enjoy it all. Fun! What an indulgent afternoon all that turned into.
THANKS again! Girlfriends are the best, aren't they?

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Egg Hunt

Last week marked the umpti-umpth annual egg hunt. We've had one for ages - different folks, different locations - but always FUN!

After spending hours stuffing the eggs, I'm always amazed at how quickly they are found. We had over 600 eggs this year - but it was hard to tell by how quickly they were found. Maybe it was the fast start:

This little one had serious swagga hauling her loot to show her mom:

Love the colors of the eco-unfriendly plastic eggs against the green grass:

Everyone was really good about turning in the empty eggs. Lots of swapping and sharing - and a hopeful yellow dog:

The best part? My good friend brought me one of her long-coveted Lenten Roses - and planted it!

Hope you all had a very happy Easter.

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