Monday, December 31, 2007

It's 3:45 am and I'm blogging about knitting.

Just so you know, in case there's lots of typos.

Baby Sister woke up a little while ago and needed to be held. She's asleep now (I think), but I am most certainly not. I could go lie in bed and stare into the dark and maybe listen to a podcast and not sleep, but this seems more productive. Plus I haven't posted anything about knitting in forever.

This time, right after Christmas, might just be the very best time in the knitting year. There's new goodies, maybe some gift cards burning the proverbial hole in one's pocket (guess who went to Webs yesterday!!), and most importantly, the Christmas crunch is over. I've still got stuff on the needles for a couple of January birthdays, but that deadline just doesn't seem as troublesome. This time just seems really full of promise, knitting-wise.

At this time last year, I was making myself a pair of Fetchings. They were the very first thing I ever knit in the round - one on double-points, and one magic loop, to see which I liked better - and the very first time I used really nice, non-chain-craft-store yarn. It was some pretty handpainted merino I got on eBay; I've still got a bit left. It's hard to believe how much I've learned in the past year - honestly, what did I do before knitting?

I also mention those Fetchings because what am I working on right now? More Fetchings. These are in Berroco Ultra Alpaca for my sister's birthday on Friday. I had already made her a cabled neckwarmer with the same yarn, but I gave her that early because she picked up the boys from school during the week before Christmas and she had one rather harrowing experience (I should give that its own post; it was pretty funny). Anyway, she deserved a thank-you gift. There was enough of the yarn leftover for the matching gloves, plus a book, to be her birthday gift. Right now the first is done except for the thumb, and the second is just past the cables at the wrist. These go crazy fast. Oh yeah, magic loop won out, by the way.

Although I didn't plan it to be all cutesy or anything, I made some fingerless gloves in gray for my sister's boyfriend, too. These were for Christmas, and sort-of loosely based on the Knucks pattern. Very loosely - I didn't actually use the pattern so much as the idea of fingerless gloves with "knuckle tattoos." These spell out BORN 2SK8. I tried to work out getting my sister's name in there somehow, because we both would have found that really funny, but I couldn't do it. Also he may not have actually worn them. In the picture, the adult-sized gloves are modeled by 9-year-old boy hands, so you kind of have to use your imagination.

Fear not, though, those 9-year-old boy hands shall not go un-warmed. Big Brother got some nifty flip-top mittens. I was totally making these up as I went along, and I'm very pleased with the way they came out. He is, too. I used the same yarn as for the gloves I just mentioned, which was the Knitpicks Bare that Jess and I dyed up a little while ago. It was supposed to be solid black, but it turned out this semisolid gray-black. Which I love even more.

Little Brother will be getting some of these, in orange, very soon. I pinky-swear.

The very last Christmas present I got done was a felted laptop cover for my dad. It was super last-minute; I felted it the day I gave it to him and it was actually still a little damp. This was very stupid and risky, I know, due to the unpredictability of felting, but I think (hope) it will fit the laptop okay. He thought it was pretty cool, anyway, so that was good.

Lastly, I can't do a knitting post today without mentioning the fact that Big Brother has been doing some knitting again!

Um, I'm not sure why he knits topless. (And no, J, I'm not going to do the same.) He's working on a wristwarmer for himself out of this fuzzy, shiny, silver yarn he picked out. It's sort of chain-mail-meets-bunny-slippers, you know? It's actually been put away for a little while but I just couldn't resist sharing the pictures. I hope he will pick it up again, and I think he probably will. He has clearly inherited the knitting gene; a little while ago he said to me after tidying up his room, "You know, I have a pretty big stash for my age." Said stash has since shrunk - apparently he didn't tidy up particularly well and a half-skein of Lion Brand wool ended up in the laundry. Want to see what an entire ball of yarn looks like when you felt it?

Don't worry, he wasn't upset; he thinks it's hilarious. As do I, to tell the truth.

Well, it's now getting close to 4:45 and I'm thinking I ought to try to get in a little bit of sleep. It is New Year's Eve, after all, and I usually at least attempt to see the ball drop. See you next year!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I must have been a very good girl

Alternate Title: Flashing the Loot

Okay, of course I know that Christmas is not really about the gifts, and we did have a wonderful gathering of family and friends here. There was camaraderie and laughter, and my children were happy and grateful. We made cinnamon buns for breakfast, played a few (hundred) board games, and enjoyed each other's company.

That being said, anybody who knows me will tell you that inside, I am about five years old. Plus it's my blog, dammit, and I want to show off my Christmas/birthday goodies. Just look at the pretty fiber!

The white one is an entire POUND of alpaca from Jess. I've spun some of it already, and it is just ridiculously soft. I was originally going to dye it first, but I couldn't wait that long. Again, about five years old. The brown and the green are J.Knits merino from my wonderful children. I'm currently deciding if it wants to be two separate skeins or put together somehow. Hmmm . . .

I also got some fabulous knitting bags from my mom and my sister-in-law. Packed with all those fun little knitting goodies like row counters, stitch holders, measuring tape, etc.

Indeed, knitting Santa was my friend this year. How 'bout you?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

December 22

Yesterday was my birthday - I'm 29 (no, really). I know what you're thinking: yup, it's darn close to Christmas. Blame my parents. Really, they're serial offenders - my sister's birthday is in a couple of weeks. This time of year's always kind of been my-birthday-Christmas-sister's-birthday all rolled up in a celebratory jumble. We're really close in age, too (a year apart), so we always get cute matchy-matchy birthday gifts. Sweaters, scarves, gloves, one color for me, one for her. It's another little family tradition I'd miss over the holidays if it wasn't there.

We spent a pretty low-key day; actually, I had to work in the morning. It's hard to really celebrate the day, too, because December 22 is also the day my mother-in-law passed away, four years ago. She was an outgoing, outspoken, incredibly caring woman, and it makes me a bit sad that only one of my children remembers her.
So yesterday we went to church, where my father-in-law has a mass said for her every year. We're not religious at all, but she was, so this is the one time of year we go. It's hard for the kids to be still and quiet in church, especially Little Brother. He kept whispering things like, "Why are we kneeling?" and he looked at me wide-eyed when the priest said "Christ." I could read his mind: Mom, that guy just said a bad word!! Still, they made it through okay.

Today was when the celebratory holiday time really began - call it Christmas, part 1. To be followed by part 2 and part 3 over the next couple of days. We went to my aunt's house to see my dad and that side of the family, and eat some Syrian food. Yum. My newlywed cousin and her husband were there, along with her friend and her friend's baby boy, who was just a little younger than Baby Sister. By the end of the evening, they were hanging out and wearing each other's shoes. If that's not bonding, I don't know what is. :) This year for the first time we did a Yankee Swap among the adults instead of exchanging gifts (yay cutting down the knitting list!), which I think was a success. I ended up with a gallon of windshield washer fluid and a Mel Brooks movie, and my sister won $50 on a scratch ticket.

Tomorrow will be Christmas Eve with Polish food at my father-in-law's house (it's all about the yummy ethnic foods, I tell you), then Christmas Day J and I will have a small group over.

If I don't get a chance to post in the interim: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours. Enjoy your loved ones, your celebration, your food, the season!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

hello again!

Wow, you're still here!

Well, it's been a trying week, but look what J did!

before (aah! scary!)


As Stacie noted in the comments, that guy's a keeper.

It is so weird to go from posting every day to being unable to post for over a week. What the heck should I write about? I couldn't possibly mention all the things that struck me as "blogworthy" during the week, even if I could remember them; it would just be ridiculous. There's new knitting and spinning, but I think that can be its own post. I guess I should just write about the biggest stuff this week: the new job and the weather.

We got a big fat winter storm or two this week - about a foot of snow on Thursday and another six inches or so on Sunday. The kids were totally excited - and when I say "the kids," I'm including myself. :)

Here's the view from the window Thursday night:

And some Friday morning shots:

The kids got the day off Friday (as did I) so the boys had a lot of fun playing outside. Baby Sister did not really care for playing in the snow, which I guess is understandable when it comes up to your thighs. So I did not get to spend any time in the snow with the boys. Luckily, our backyard has a good-sized hill, so they can sled even if I can't actually take them anywhere. Mostly, though, it's all about the snowballs. I love this picture of Big Brother really putting his heart into his throw:

I was especially glad for the snowed-in time this weekend after going back to work last Tuesday. It's hard to be away from your kids, even when you know they are in more than capable hands. Especially when you know they are sometimes giving those very capable hands a hard time. . . (I feel I should note: Jess put them up to that.)

The good news is that I do like the new job. It's a little overwhelming at present - these Sylvan people have their own language, I swear - but I think with time it will get easier. Once I understand all the different programs we teach and learn the myriad of acronyms I will hopefully stop coming home at night feeling like I'm brimming with information and if I'm not careful it will spill out my ears. And I must say that as I've been going back and forth between different centers on different days to train, I have yet to meet an unpleasant person. So it's all good. Except for missing the kids, of course.

Monday, December 10, 2007

disaster strikes!

Oh, yes, there was disaster yesterday. But before that (and after that, actually) there was good stuff. So I'll talk about that first.

In the morning Jess, my mom, and I drove to Fairhaven for a Ravelry brunch at Eva's Yarn Shop. You read that right - a Ravelry brunch. The owner, Eva, opened her doors a couple hours early, discounted pretty much everything for that period of time, and invited the Ravelry mob to come on by, and bring some food. It was such a great thing for her to do, and evidently I'm not the only one who thought so, because the place was packed! I'm sure pictures will be popping up on other blogs soon. The blogs of smart people who remembered to bring cameras.

The store itself was spacious and beautiful and full of yummy yummy yarns. I did not go crazy this close to Christmas, but I did get some Sheep Shop Sheep One in the poetically named G129 colorway. I can't show it to you, but more on that later. I will definitely be going back to this place soon - I'm adding it to my mental list of post-holiday yarn shopping destinations.

I got home from this lovely outing to find my computer eviscerated on the kitchen table. This, of course, would be the aforementioned disaster. J did his diagnostic poking around, which he thankfully does have some talent for, and he thinks it just needs a new power supply. Which he has already ordered. And maybe it is a sad commentary on my life how much suffering the lack of this computer is causing, but that doesn't so much make the suffering go away. Our older computer was upstairs in the boys' room, for them to play solitaire and write little stories, so we brought that down and hooked it up. At this point I have the internet, s-l-o-w-l-y, but I do not have email. I opened the email program on the old computer and found some well-aged spam but no inclination to get any post-2004 messages. Most troubling, though, is the fact that all my pictures are on that computer. Yes, yes, I should have backed them up. I know that, I knew that, but it doesn't do me any good now. So I can't show you any pretty yarn, or my pretty Christmas tree, or the gloves I finished yesterday, or my adorable children, or . . . well, you get the picture. (Actually, you don't. Ha! Puns at my own expense!)

So hopefully the computer will be back to normal soon. And to take my mind off it, perhaps, I got some good news yesterday: I got a new job! I had interviewed for a Director of Education position at a local Sylvan center last week, and they liked me! The best part about these interviews, though, was this neat little personality test thing they have you do. It consists of a few lists of items or statements, and you put them in order from best to worst. The whole thing took about ten minutes, but they got so much information from it. When they went over the results with me, I couldn't believe how accurate it was. Like, bordering on creepy kind of accurate. It even said that I am not all that great at presenting myself and touting my accomplishments, so they should take this into consideration when evaluating the interview. How great is it, to go into an interview with that kind of disclaimer?
So . . . yeah. Working full-time again. The simple fact is that I really need to. There was only going to be so long that we could get away with being a one-income household, and the time has pretty much run out. Which sucks, because I would prefer to be home with the kids, but I guess I don't really want to whine too much about something so out of my control. Out loud, anyway. I think I will like the job (that test did say I was an optimist), even if I don't like being away from my babies. And I'm sure I will have more to say about it once it gets going.

The other good thing from yesterday? Brand-new Niece is home! We got to bring the kids to see her (the hospital wouldn't let them) and it was so sweet. Baby Sister was a little apprehensive at first, probably because a newborn doesn't really look like what she pictures as a "baby," but once she figured out what it was she was very excited. "Baby! Baby! Baby hand! Baby nose! Baby head!" I love that there's another little girl so close to her age in the family. The boys both got to hold her (they are baby experts, you know) and declared that she looks like Baby Sister. Probably because she's, you know, a baby. I used the word "baby" ten times in that last paragraph. Sorry about that.

And I'm also sorry for such a long, picture-free post, but I wanted to get everything in so I don't feel like there's things I missed, and I should post about them while they are still fresh. Because I don't think you'll hear from me again until the computer's fixed - I am not loving the slow internet and the Windows Millenium Edition. Send me some good technology mojo, will you? :)

Friday, December 7, 2007

It's a girl!

My brand-spanking-new niece arrived this afternoon, weighing in at 7lbs, 11oz. Everybody is doing quite well.

I haven't seen her yet but I bet she's adorable.

Yay for new babies!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

step one

Yesterday morning I drove up to Lexington, MA, for the initial screening for my egg donation. It was quite a long morning, not that I'm complaining about getting everything done at once. I'm glad, though, that most of the process will be able to be done a lot closer to home.

The first thing I did was to take the MMPI test, which consists of 567 true-false statements. 567. Most of them seemed pretty straightforward but I did notice a trend toward paranoid-sounding things: Someone is trying to rob me. Someone has control of my mind. Someone is out to get me. Followed by something innocuous like I enjoy watching movies. And of course, since it was an office setting, they were required to have the radio tuned to the local soft rock station. At this time of year, that means the Rod Stewart and Mariah Carey are alternated with a few different renditions of Jingle Bell Rock. You have to wonder, really, if this has an effect on the test results.

Next I met with the doctor, who went over how it all works (which I had already read about and talked about with other people), and the nurse, who gave me the much more detailed, this-is-what-you-will-be-doing-on-this-particular-day version. I'm sure I will share more of this as it happens, but essentially there will be a few weeks of pills, just normal birth-control pills, followed by about two weeks of injections, then the actual retrieval. That I won't share much more of, because I think hearing details on medical procedures is just Too Much Information, don't you? And about the injections - I'm really not skeeved about them. Seriously, after you've had three kids, pretty much naturally all three times, a needle is not such a big deal. My husband, on the other hand, is a big squeamish wuss. He had to have blood drawn while we were there, and he complained about it intermittently throughout the rest of the day. They took one vial from him and eight from me, is all I am saying.

The last meeting was with a counselor. I haven't had any experience with therapy before, and I am not what you might call outgoing and at ease with people I don't really know, so it was a little weird for me. She was very nice, and very earnest, and asked a lot of probing questions. About my experiences being a parent, and my reasons for wanting to be an egg donor, which is completely understandable, but also about my childhood, my family, etc. I guess that's also revealing, but I gotta say as I was talking about my parents being divorced since before I could remember, and the remarrying and divorcing again, and all of that stuff, I was thinking oh my goodness I sound so dysfunctional. And of course the phrase "dysfunctional family" has been used to the point where it really doesn't mean anything, but I've never applied it to my family. I kept wanting to say, "But I'm fine, really."

Anyway, unless they decide I am just too psychologically damaged to proceed, it's a waiting game for a couple of weeks and then everything will start. I know a lot of the process might be unpleasant, but I have to say I'm really looking forward to it. The timing is just great; my sister-in-law is going to have her baby any day now,* and it's such a reminder of what's really happening and why I want to do this. I'm very excited!

*Dude! My father-in-law just called, and she's on her way to the hospital right now! Now I'm very very excited!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

trimming the house

I had a big discussion with Little Brother this weekend on what the phrase "trimming the tree" means. He couldn't figure out why you had to trim it, and what if it's a fake tree, and do you need a saw, etc. etc. etc. We've had these sort of talks before; any kind of idiom just goes right over his head, and no amount of explaining will convince him that it doesn't mean just what it says it means. Sometimes living with Amelia Bedelia can be tiring, but for now just using the title "trimming the house" is kind of making me laugh.

Anyway, this weekend was also spent, um, decorating the house. We don't have our tree yet, that will be this coming weekend, but most things are up. We'll probably be making and adding more paper snowflakes until February, though. I love these patterns. I also love that so many of our decorations are handmade. My favorite is this wreath, made by my mom:

It hung in the house every year when I was a kid, along with its matching tree skirt (well, the tree skirt didn't hang, but you know what I mean), and then my mom let me take them when I moved out. Maybe I'll let one of the kids take them when that time comes, or maybe I'll be more selfish. :)

Not quite as nice, because I'm not particularly good at sewing, are our stockings:

I made these last year, because the stockings we used to have were . . . how can I say this nicely . . . blindingly ugly. Hmmm, that wasn't all that nicely, was it? Well, they were crocheted (by a lady my mother-in-law knew who sold them, not by any family members) in plasticky acrylic with a big scary Santa head on them, and half the time she'd misspell the name at the top. Even my poor sewing is better. Someday I'll knit nice ones.

Lastly, speaking of plasticky acrylic:

I cleared such rubbish out of my stash a few months ago (liberating!) but I saved these partial skeins of red and green, to finger-knit garland. It's a fun watching-a-Christmas-movie project, all festive and requiring no attention. I still can't really knit without looking, except for this. The skinny red one will go on the tree, and the fatter red-and-green will probably go outside.

On Saturday J and the kids will go get the tree - for some reason it has always been a manly manly tradition around here that the manly man will bring his brood to go snare a Christmas tree, 'rassling it to the ground, probably, and bring it home to his little wife. I don't really question it, and frankly the hour or so of quiet is nice. Our other Christmas-tree tradition is, after the holiday is over, to cut the branches off and save the trunk. Then that's the first wood we burn on our campfire in August. I used to enjoy taking pictures of the kids standing next to the naked trunk, instructing them to make a really sad face. No, really, they thought it was funny, but I guess there's only so many years in a row you can tell the same joke, you know?

Hmmm, we're sounding a little weird about now.

Friday, November 30, 2007

done and done

I heard tell that there was supposed to be an "I did it!" badge to put on the blog, on this, the last day of NaBloPoMo. But the site is down at present, so just pretend it's here.

I did it!

Somebody said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." Hang on a sec, let me Google . . .
Socrates. Socrates said that. Well, this month I feel like I have been living a very examined life, trying to mine my daily existence for things that might be interesting enough to share. Looking back over the month, I guess it was hit or miss. I mean, did you really care about the fraction of an inch of snow that stayed for about two hours, or the Perler beads? Probably not. But the process of trying to see things I might not otherwise pay attention to, or to say ordinary things in such a way that they were interesting, well, it was a bit different and fun. I wonder if it will take me a while to stop.

And here's where I cop out and leave you with some cute kid pictures (my dad, if he's reading, should be thrilled). I think I should maybe slowly back away from the computer for a day or two. Unless, of course, something genuinely interesting happens. See you soon.
To my fellow NaBloPoMo-ers: Congrats!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

finding fun

So, what exactly should you do with those felted beads you've made? Well, googly eyes are always fun.

And if, say, your 9-year-old son is sitting at the table doing his homework, and you sneak around the other side of the table, ducking down so he can't see you, and you slowly poke the googly-eyed guy right up next to him, and say in a funny voice, "I'm waaatching yooouuu . . ."
Well, he will about fall off his chair laughing. Not that I would disrupt my child's studies in such a way, of course.

Actually, I take that back. I would, and I did, do something like that. Because they're kids, and they're not going to be kids forever, and I like to take opportunities for fun when they arrive.

Today we received a package in the mail: the gigantic order from Omaha Steaks that my father-in-law sends us every Christmas. You know what is the best part? (Besides their freaking awesome au gratin potatoes, I mean.) It comes with a big chunk of dry ice. Dry ice is so. cool.

ETA: There's more, a lot more, to this video than those 5 seconds. Sorry - I'm not sure why it didn't all post.
Here's to taking time to find fun!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

just when I thought I had nothing to blog about . . .

Little Brother's class has head lice.

Say it with me: Ewww.

Most of the class got sent home today, Little Brother included, and so we spent the afternoon washing things in hot water, spraying things, shampooing, and combing. Although I have to say, when we did the combing, we didn't see anything. On Little Brother, J, me, or Baby Sister. And Big Brother was checked at school yesterday and there was nothing there. So, may be they were just extra careful in sending people home? I'm going with that theory, because it makes my skin crawl a little bit less. We'll do the second shampooing and combing in a week or so, and then forget this ever happened.

And if you'll excuse me, I need to go do something relaxing. Knitting needles or spinning wheel? Decisions, decisions . . .

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

the nos have arrived

I think my daughter is taking advantage of my desire to give her some autonomy.

At snacktime:
"Baby Sister, would you like some cheese?"
"Some apple?"

These are all tried-and-true favorites, by the way. She was, at one point, quite easy to please, and I gotta say I liked that about her.

"Do you want your milk?"
I give her the milk, and she throws the cup on the floor. "No."

She ended up having peas for her snack. A little bowl of peas, only peas would do. There was a similar scene when it was time to put a sweater on (would you believe it - 60 degrees in late November?), although she mixed it up this time by saying she wanted a certain sweater, then changing her mind, then changing it back again, etc. It's fun, really.

That's pretty much been my day so far, and I'm thinking the rest of it will be about the same. I did have a bunch of extra laundry to do, as the dry indoor air induced a middle-of-the-night nosebleed in my husband, and it looked like I murdered him in bed. So, yeah, there's some excitement there . . .
The fact is, it's November 27th and I'm just plain running out of things to say.

Actually, that's not quite true. First, go read this. I'll wait.

Oh, hi, you're back. So this is a topic I've been thinking about a lot lately, out loud with other people and internally. I do have things to say about it, and I guess right now I'm just waiting for my thoughts to become a little more coherent. What it boils down to is that I've been bouncing from part-time job to part-time job, all in the education field, for a while now. Mostly this is because I want to be home with the kids as much as I can, but I guess I am also feeling my way towards what will bring me joy. And the etsy store and the craft fair and all the stuff Jess & I have been discussing lately is all part of it too.

Is it selfish, to want to not just have a job but The Right Job? J is completely supportive of me, but he never talks about his job in terms of joy, or fulfillment. Actually, he likes to complain, if you ask me, but I think he's fairly happy. He gets along with the people he's with, he gets to tinker with things, equipment, every once in a while, and I know he likes that. I don't know that that's in the same category as what I am thinking about, or what Amy's post was about, though.

Now look, here I go, writing about this all stream-of-consciousness before my thoughts have
become coherent. I'll stop now, but I'm sure I'll revisit later.

Monday, November 26, 2007

a spinning post

Yes, I have been tempting the Christmas-knitting fates and continuing to do a little bit of spinning. See, I think the fates are on my side. The evidence: I got an email from my aunt last week suggesting maybe the adults just enjoy each other's company for Christmas, and only do gifts for the children. Yay! That cuts about a third off my list! See what I mean?

So as far as what I have been spinning - I ordered some fiber, a blend of cormo, rambouillet, and corriedale wool from this etsy store. As least, I thought I did. Turned out, when I read the listing a little closer, it's all from the same sheep, and the sheep is a mix of cormo, rambouillet, and corriedale. Also, his name is Ray. How cool is that, to know the name of the sheep your yarn comes from?

I wanted to play with overdyeing things a little, so I picked a darker-colored wool. Here's what it looked like when I got it (picture is from Artclub's etsy listing):

I put it in the dyepot with a little bit of orange dye:

Yummy, no? It was actually on the stove when J got home from work that day, and I had to hurriedly inform him that the nasty brown bubbling stuff that smelled like zoo + vinegar was not our dinner.

And here's how it looks now:

I like it. Actually, I liked it both ways. I remembered to divide it in half before spinning it this time, so I can hopefully make a two-ply without too much left over. So far I've spun the first half, although I haven't got any pictures of that yet.

When I ordered that wool, they also sent along a little free gift - a small amount of some mystery wool (white, very soft) carded together with some pink and green sparkly stuff. Not something I would have ordinarily chosen, but I figured it would be perfect to bring along to the craft fair. If somebody wanted to try out the wheel, I wouldn't really care too much if the yarn got all messed up. It spun up into this:

Such a cute pretty sparkly little skein! It's not enough for anything, really, but I think my horizons have been broadened.

But that's enough of this nonsense for now - those gifts aren't going to knit themselves, you know.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

craft fair report - for real

Well, I'll come right out and say we did not do as well as we had wanted to, sales-wise. I'll also say it's not a big deal. We had fun, we got a lot of knitting/spinning/planning done, and we do plan to do it again at some point. And all the leftovers will be up on the etsy shop by the end of this week, so hopefully it will get bought anyway.

As for the day itself, I took notes throughout because I am a nerd like that, so here is what a day at a craft fair (well, this particular craft fair) is like:

6:24 - Woke up, 24 minutes later than I meant to. Because of course this is the day my trusty Baby Sister alarm clock does not go off at about 5:30.

7:20 - Most things were packed up already, except for Cricket (the spinning wheel). I covered her with a blanket and strapped her into the backseat. It looks rather like I am kidnapping a small child. I decided to bring it because I figured it would be something interesting for people to check out. I did get a bunch of questions, and "Look - she's making yarn!" Didn't really seem to interest anybody enough to make them buy anything, though.

8:47 - We arrived at the school. Only 17 minutes late - not bad.

8:50 - I bring in Cricket, and a Rumpelstiltskin joke is made immediately.

9:29 - We finished setting up. Whaddya think?

10:00 - Fair officially starts. I don't think anybody really noticed.

10:20 - First sale! Yay!

11:00 - Knit knit knit. Jess is working on three of these at once, because she doesn't like knitting the same thing twice. Clearly, the girl is crazy.

12:30 - My family shows up to say hello. The boys got to make some crafts and play some games; I think they had a good time. They arrived just in time to steal some of my lunch -thanks, guys.

1:15 - It's Jess' family's turn. I think there was a brief overlap when everybody was there, but you know, a baby's nap time can only be tampered with so much before consequences must be paid. Basically the men & kids left when the babies told them to.

1:40 - A guy making balloon animals shows up. He does a nice job, and he entertains the children by making sound effects and yelling really loudly when he finishes a balloon. It scares the crap out of me every time.

2:03 - Speaking of scaring the crap out of me, a kid comes up and starts grabbing at Cricket. This was not unexpected, and I did bring her with the intention of letting kids (or adults) give it a spin (ha!) if they wanted to. But my heart nearly stopped when he just ran up, all hands and no supervision. I didn't freak out or anything, I just showed him how to sit and treadle (he treadled really fast) and answered all of his questions. Some of them were really cute, not that I remember any of them now, and I managed to keep him from losing a finger to a rapidly spinning hook. Or breaking anything. So all was well.

2:24 - Mmmm . . . . sugar cookies.

2:30 - Scary fur lady. Check out Jess' pictures - not to be believed.

3:48 - We clean up and head out. I had a good time, and I saw some really beautiful things that other people were selling. I have to take a minute to show them to you - no affiliation or anything, of course, just things I thought were really nice and I'd like to share. Here and here, go take a peek.

As I said before, the planning time alone was so great to have. Jess and I tossed around a lot of ideas. I don't know where we're going to go with all this stuff, or how serious about it we're going to get, but it certainly is exciting to think about.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


It's been a long day, and I promise I will share it in more detail tomorrow. For now, though, I hope my fellow NaBloPoMo-ers will forgive this quick post.

Hey look, a funny hat!

runs away from computer . . .

Friday, November 23, 2007

black Friday

So did any of you head out to the stores in the wee hours of the morning, set to empty your wallets at the altar of the retail gods? Nah, me neither. I've done it before, actually I've experienced the day-after-Thanksgiving mania from both sides of the retail counter, and at this point I don't have any strong feelings about it either way. I doubt you are shredding the fabric of society if you choose to go, but I think I'll stay home.

In high school and college, I worked at a toy store. With Jess, actually, because we have way too many things in common. The day after Thanksgiving is nuts in a toy store, as I'm sure you can imagine. We would have a big meeting about a week or so before, and the contents of the super-secret special sale flyer that went out on Thanksgiving day were revealed, amid much oohing and aahing. Or in some cases, holy crap we're going to run out of those before the store even opens. Everybody had to work at some point on the big day, and really the most fun shift was the early morning. By afternoon any excitement the day might have had is gone, and people are just tired and grumpy. But in the morning, people really are excited, and if they are hoping to snag that year's Big Toy That Is Generally Impossible To Get, their hopes have not yet been dashed.

Speaking of such toys, I was working there when some of the big ones came out. Remember Tickle Me Elmo? The original one, when just the shaking and giggling was enough. Now they fall over laughing and kick their feet and roll over and slap the floor and no, I'm not kidding. But the first ones just giggled and shook, and if you stacked up about ten of them and squeezed them all at once you'd get something resembling a skyscraper in a gale. Not that many people had an opportunity to be around ten Tickle Me Elmos at once in that particular year. Really, I am blessed.
There was also Furby, which was big but I don't think quite as big. Furbys were fun to keep on the counter for if it ever got slow. They really were pretty entertaining, in a kind of creepy way. They had that weird robot voice, I think that was the creepy part.

The first couple of years after we didn't work there anymore, Jess and I would go to the toy store for the day-after-Thanksgiving early morning. It was pretty fun to see it from the other side. And it wasn't like we didn't have any kids to buy for; we did have an actual reason to be shopping there. Gloating at those who had to be working was just a little bonus.

This year, as I said, there was no shopping. The day was hectic in a different way. Somehow an explosion of some sort hit my house without me noticing, or at least that's what it looked like. Then there's also that, you know, craft fair thing going on tomorrow . . . but I'm not nervous about that. Nope, not me. Because I think we're ready. Really. Ahem.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Today is one of my favorite days, a fall holiday laden with food and family and giant balloons. This morning the kids and I made a big batch of monkey bread, then settled in to watch the Macy’s parade, which I am just enough of a dork to totally love. I don’t know why; looked at objectively the parade is pretty awful, but I don’t question the love.

Later we will head to my mom’s house for dinner, a very low-key event. Potluck even, so nobody is unduly stressed. My brother and my aunt will also be there, and we’ll have a great afternoon filled with food, board games, and football/knitting, depending on your inclination. (For my mom it will be both.) Without my sister there, it will certainly be quieter, and she won’t be bickering with my brother, but it will also probably be a little less fun.
We’ll head home after dark, with the car full of leftovers and with any luck, a sleeping baby. I’ll be looking forward to next year already.

This celebration is something I am thankful for, and it seems a little silly to let this day pass without mentioning others as well. There are the obvious, and most important things: my healthy family, the fact that I am able to have this family and to give that gift to someone else. A strong and happy marriage, where maybe our interests aren’t the same but we support each other and are never at a loss for something to laugh about. That my extended family is all close by, all in good health, and all speaking to each other. A few close friends who are, in essence, family too.

Then there are other things I am thankful for, the things that don’t quite occupy the space of family and friends, but satisfy a different part of me. Knowing how to knit, and (sort of) how to spin, is being able to transform materials from one thing to another. It is magic, and I am thankful for it. It means I can make something entirely unique (because of course even if you are following a pattern, and paying as much attention to gauge as you possibly can, you’re not making a carbon copy of anything) for myself or to give away. For anybody, but especially I think for people who spend a lot of time taking care of other people, a creative outlet is essential.

And finally, a list of smaller things that I am thankful for – not so essential for the most part, but things that maybe make a good day better, and a crappy one not so bad:

  • the internet. Okay, maybe this one is essential. What, exactly, did I do before I had a blog?
  • hazelnut coffee
  • the advent of the digital camera
  • snappis
  • fall leaves, of course
  • the fact that Baby Sister still naps every day
  • the fact that my boys actually like school, and learning
  • my big warm bathrobe

Happy Thanksgiving, internet. Enjoy your turkey. :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

before & after

The winds of change are a-blowin' around here today, it seems.

sigh . . . . I am going to miss those curls, though.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dude. It's snowing.

My inner five-year-old is jumping up and down, and I'm not ashamed to say that my outer 28-year-old is not far removed. Come February I'll probably not be so excited (although, really, who am I kidding?), but now my thoughts are pretty much "Oooh, look at that!!" Like my backyard:

This picture is deceiving; it's really only sticking on grass/leaves. Most things are just wet. Like my car:

Yeah, I tried to get a picture where you could actually see that snow is falling, which you can see best against a dark background. My car is black, so I figured that would work. You can sort of see it - see? The little white lines? Snow, of course. But I know my big goofy reflection kind of distracts from the snow. Eh, oh well.

This afternoon the boys and I will bake cookies. This evening, although I do have to work, I will settle down after everything's all done with some knitting, a cup of coffee, and J. I will spend today welcoming the snow. Even if it's not really here for a while.

Monday, November 19, 2007

big things and little things

Lately I've been knitting a lot of little things. Actually, over my 2-ish year knitting history, I've knitted mostly little things. Hats, mittens, socks, etc. Which is why I can't get over the size of this to-be-felted seat cover I'm working on:

It doesn't actually look all that big; if it were a sweater, I wouldn't even be halfway done. But to somebody used to all those little things, it feels more like this:

Miles and miles of stockinette, receding into the distance. When I pull it out of its bag, and when I'm knitting on it, it just feels like there's so much fabric all over the place. Hanging all over my lap - I'm so not used to it. One thing I can say, though, is that I'm so glad I did the chart after the plain bit. I can't imagine finishing the interesting part and having about 100 rows of plain knitting ahead. . .
Another little thing that is feeling like a big thing to me: this is the first Thanksgiving I will be spending without my sister. She's going to her boyfriend's family's house, and I guess it's kind of
surprising it hasn't come up before, both of us being fairly well into adulthood and all. But J has always come to my mom's house with us, and my sister Nancy has not really been seriously enough involved with a boyfriend for it to be an issue. Don't get me wrong: I and everybody else in the family like the boyfriend a lot. I'm just, at the moment, thinking, "Oh, yeah, that was going to happen . . ." It'll be different, that's all.
And lastly, something that is a big thing around here: yesterday was the final NASCAR race of the season. Her are my boys all geared up for the race:

Jimmie Johnson won the championship, if you're interested. J, for one, is pretty excited.
See you tomorrow. :)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

bloggy makeover

Hey - didja check out the new header? Hard to miss it, I know, it's freaking huge. (All attempts to make it smaller only made it bigger, so there it stands.) I've been meaning to add it for ages, pretty much since I started blogging back in January. Originally, I wanted to have a picture of one of those Newton's cradle things, like this:

but all the balls would be balls of yarn. Cool, right? But maybe a bit ambitious. So I decided on the picture of Isaac with his needles, but I couldn't figure out how to draw on the picture. The only photo-type program I have is the one that came with my camera, but after my playing around and helpful instructions from fellow bloggers I knew how to trim pictures, add captions, tweak the color, contrast, brightness, stitch pictures together, and get them into the header, but I couldn't draw the freaking knitting needles in Isaac's hands. This is where it had sat since late summer.
So the other day, J comes home from work and starts telling me how he and his friend at work were playing around sending funny emails to each other.
"I sent him a picture of a big SUV, and I put a garden gnome in the driver's seat and 'canyonero' on the license plate!" he told me. (The man works very hard all day.)
"Tell me how you did that." I asked him urgently. Perhaps I missed the point of his story.
Anyway, it turns out he did it using the Paint program. Can you believe that? Paint - the program I used to play around with as a kid on my dad's computer, making blocky pictures of horses and castles. Occam's razor, you know?
So there it is, pretty much how I envisioned it. I did have to combine it with another picture to keep it from being a big scary stretched Isaac across the top of the screen, but that's okay - I got to put in some of my beloved fall leaves.
Funny how a little thing like this just makes my day. :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

100 things about me - part 2

So, where was I? Oh, yeah, being a nerd in school. Onward:

11. I graduated second in my class in high school. I got into an Ivy League School, but it was a smidge out of my price range.

12. I went to Rhode Island College instead, and I think the education I got was just fine, thank you very much.

13. I majored in physics, so anything you may have heard about a lack of personal attention at a state school does not apply.

14. I'm reasonably sure that during my years at RIC, the physics professors outnumbered the physics majors. And I don't just mean the physics majors in my year, I mean all the physics majors.
The good: lots of individual attention, plus since I was the only graduating physics major in 2002, the departmental award was in the bag.
The bad: many classes had to be independent study. Ever try to learn about quantum mechanics on your own out of a textbook? I don't recommend it.

15. Big Brother was born when I was 19, during my freshman year in college.

16. I vastly prefer the term "surprise" to "accident," or worse, "mistake."

17. J was a chemistry major at RIC at the time, and Big Brother became something of a science department mascot. I would meet people, and they would say, "Oh, you're Big Brother's mom!"

18. We managed a crazy schedule - both of us at school full-time, J at work full-time, and some semesters, me at work part-time. In spite of all that, Big Brother spent most of his time with a parent or grandparent. My mom and J's parents are heroes.

19. We were married in 1999, when Big Brother was a year and a half. It was a perfect day in October.

20. Little Brother came along the next year. Both J and I have siblings close to our own age. I think that is a very special bond, and I wanted it for our children.

More later . . .

Friday, November 16, 2007


First, an "eye candy Friday" fall leaves picture; the last one, I think.

  • Is it a sign that your relationship has gotten too, um, comfortable when your husband sends you a love letter via monk-e-mail?*
  • Flu shot = clingy, sort-of-cranky baby. Consider this a public service announcement.
  • When two people with two cameras take two sets of pictures (lots of pictures) from the same photoshoot (I swear, I tried to think of a word that would better reflect our unprofessionalism, but came up empty), it is going to be a giant pain in the ass to figure out which ones to keep and print. Even more so if it is a new computer/printer/photo-printing-and-editing program with which you are working.
  • I stop nursing and suddenly my jeans are a wee bit tight. Crap.
  • The fall leaves are dancing today, and it's colder than it looks outside.**
  • Baby Sister's winter jacket is jaw-droppingly cute.

And I think that's all I've got. See you tomorrow.

*The chipmunk thing is an old inside joke. Sorry about that.

**as sung by BNL.