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.