Thursday, January 31, 2008

knitting catch-up

With the holidays and birthdays over (for a little while, anyway), I've been indulging in a bit of selfish knitting. But first, I did manage to finish J's socks.

I used the Yarn Harlot's sock recipe from Knitting Rules, with the addition of a wafflestitch pattern (k2,p2 for two rounds, then knit two rounds). He says they are super warm. They ought to be, as they are made from leftover Berroco Ultra Alpaca - 50% wool, 50% alpaca. There, now he can't say I haven't made him any socks. :)

On to stuff for me! The first thing I finished was a pair of mittens, using the same Rowan Chunky Wool I used for Baby Sister's mittens. Because I am that kind of cutesy matchy-matchy mom. Anyway, I just kind of made them up as I went along, although I did rip off the peekaboo opening from this pattern.

I put a "wildflower" stitch pattern from a stitch dictionary I got for Christmas on the back, which I think is a very pretty pattern.

The pictures are misleading; I made these way too small. I swear, they looked okay while I was working on them, but they are actually ridiculously small. If I use the peekaboo opening and just pretend they're fingerless gloves, they work okay, though. I'll eventually make other mittens - I just didn't feel like doing the same project twice, you know?
I'va also started -gasp! - another sweater. I've really been much more of a small-things knitter, but I'd like to be more of a sweater knitter. I'm just pretty slow, and I lack the necessary attention span. I'm determined, though, because I bought this pretty color of Araucania Nature Wool at Webs, and I deliberately bought a sweater's worth. I'm making a seamless hybrid a la Elizabeth Zimmerman, using my own calculations (I actually did a real, good-sized swatch!). I'd like to try to add a shawl collar, but I don't think I'll have to worry about that for a while. At my pace, the collar is a couple of months away. Here's where the sweater stands so far - a few rounds past the hem.

I am rather fond of that hem, though. I used a little bit of the sock yarn I had dyed with Koolaid last spring, and I picked up the cast-on stitches at the appropriate point so I don't have to sew the hem down later. It is a joy to behold, if I do say so myself.

And finally, because I do love the small projects, I made my self a hat. It's the Tillie hat found here, and I'm a little bit in love with it. It turned out to be just the perfact marriage of yarn and pattern, although I did not use the called-for yarn. I used my Sheep Shop Sheep One, and I got gauge on the first try (holy crap! swatching again!), the yarn was soft and wonderful to work with, and the colors are just perfect. Best of all, it seems I've finally found a hat that doesn't look stupid with short hair.

Take a look at those colors again. You know you want to.

Aside from finishing the sweater, I think I'm going to fall back into a more evenly distributed gift/selfish knitting pattern now. Already I just finished some garter-stitch slippers for Little Brother. All I've got left is to felt them down to his size, so I'll post about those soon. Big Brother will be getting a pair too. Mmm, garter-stitch slippers, just like my mom makes 'em. :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

a new me?

So it's been about six weeks or so that I've been in the new job, and I feel like I've kind of settled in. I did the important things like cleaning out all the crap in the desk (Hours of operation for fall of 2006? Hello?) and putting a picture of my adorable family on top of it (the same picture that's in the sidebar, actually). I pretty much know how to use the different computer programs. I've met all of the students here, and taught quite a few of them.

I'm really liking this job, which is funny, because it's kind of exactly what I thought I didn't want after I left teaching high school. I hated, hated the fact that when I left work, I wasn't done with work. There was always planning, correcting, etc. to do, and it's just a fact that teachers do a lot of their work at home. (Which is one reason why it kind of drives me crazy when people try to say that teachers aren't actually grossly underpaid, when you look at the hours per year that they work, and summers off, and blah, blah, blah . . . but I digress.) After doing that, and trying to keep both the family and my sanity intact at the same time, not to mention that's when I was trying so hard and wanting so much to get pregnant, and goodness, I'm getting carried away here. What was I saying? Right, I wanted a job where the work would take place entirely at work. Actually, I told myself I wanted a job with the least amount of responsibility I could get away with. I was thinking salesperson, office-filing-type person, something I didn't have to think too hard about. And my job is totally not that. The important part worked out - my work does take place entirely at work. But I actually have a lot of responsibility. I'm planning kids' programs, setting up their testing, checking their books to make sure everything's going the way it's supposed to, doing the scheduling, I even have teachers who, for lack of a better word, report to me. And go figure, I really like it. I guess I didn't want something where I didn't have to think, just something where I could think about work when I'm at work, and home when I'm at home. Not that I don't think about home when I'm at work, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, my original intent with this post was to talk about the changes I've noticed since I've been back at work. Because it is a big difference, and I know pretty much every parent confronts the work/don't work dilemma in some way, at some time. I've pretty much run the gamut of the situation; I've been a full-time mom, a full-time working person, a part-time working person, a full-time student, a part-time student, all since my kids were born. So I figure I can share, well, not my wisdom (stop laughing!), but at least my observations of how I've felt these past six weeks.

  • I miss my kids and my husband. Of course. Even when you know they're in good hands, and I do, it's not easy.
  • I'm more emotional. This may have something to do with crazy-ass hormone levels at the moment, but I'm not sure. The other day, I was listening to a story on This American Life, and I cried like a baby in the car. The really telling part - it was a repeat of a story I had already heard, and though it was certainly quite sad the first time, it did not have that effect on me.
  • I have to really pay attention to keeping up with other things in my life that are important to me. Like knitting, and spinning, and the blog. I don't have as much time, but I do think they're worth it. Frankly, I have to be more than just a mom and a teacher, as important as those jobs are.
  • My house is . . . well. I'm sure you can imagine. J does a great job, he cooks awesome dinners and does all the dishes (Yes! My most hated chore!) but it's a lot. My kitchen floor? I don't even want to think about it.

Maybe I am a new me. Probably every time somebody does something new and different they become a new them. ("New them"? Does that make sense?) I know I'm still finding my way through a lot of this, but I think it will be all right. We'll see what the kids say about it all in a few years . . . you know, in therapy.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


I lied to my boss the other day. Yep. Right to his face.

See, I had told him about the egg donation (obviously, since I'll need time off) and he said he was interested and curious and did I mind if he asked a few questions. I said of course not - pretty much everybody I have told (you know, besides the entire internet) has asked questions. I'm figuring he'll ask what most people have: Do you know the couple you are donating to? What made you decide to do an egg donation? Stuff like that.

Well. That wasn't what he asked. He asked, "How do they retrieve the eggs?" And I just kind of went, "Ummm . . ." for a couple of seconds, and he continued, "Do they do it surgically, actually make an incision?" And I said, "Yes. Yes they do."

Which is a total lie. But I simply could not bring myself to say the word "vaginally" to my boss. Dude, he's like my dad's age. Plus I've known him for what, six weeks or so? I just couldn't do it. So there you go, that's where the title of the post is coming from. If you Googled your way here looking for something else, well, sorry about that.

While I'm on the topic, the egg donation process is moving right along. I'm having checkups a couple times a week now, for bloodwork and ultrasounds, and it looks like the whole thing will happen next week, maybe Wednesday-Thursday-ish. I'm excited about it . . . and also kind of looking forward to the whole thing being finished, I have to admit. All the poking and waiting and testing and yeah, especially the poking - it's a lot. I'm still happy I'm doing it, and I would still encourage more people to do it, but I will be glad when I'm done.

And hey, maybe I'll blog that day, while I'm all groggy and weird from anesthesia. That could be fun, right? :)

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Do you know what Boswash is? I mean, without going and Googling it?

Yeah, me neither. FYI, it's the megalopolis formed by the cities along the east coast from Boston to Washington. Makes sense, I suppose. And although the teacher, not to mention the big geek, in me would think it's pretty cool - no, I am not starting some sort of Fact of the Day thing around here. Really, like I'd keep that up. I bring the Boswash thing up for a reason, and I'll get there in a minute, just bear with me.

Those of you with kids, or kids-to-be (hi, JayJay!) either know or can look forward to those days when your kids are little and you are infallible. You are the smartest, coolest person in the world. The music you like totally rocks. There is nothing you can't do, and nothing you don't know. Your kisses heal wounds, for pete's sake. And everybody also knows that it simply does not last. Somebody lets them in on the secret that parents are actually normal human beings. So not fair.

Lately we've had a spate of what you might call Teenager Moments around here. The thing is, I don't have a teenager. I have a 9-year-old. Fine, he's nearly 10, but still. The other day, I was looking over the tests his teacher had handed back to him, and I noticed that he had gotten a bonus question on one of them right, which was "name five cities along Boswash." So I said, "What's Boswash?" He gave me this look - honestly, "withering" is the only way to describe it - and said, "You don't know Boswash?" (For those of you who don't know Big Brother, he has this deep, kind of monotone voice. Since everything he says already sounds sarcastic, the effect was really just heightened by this.)

And, I took him out to buy a cd (we had a deal involving the breaking of a bad habit - way to go, Big Brother!) and he picked out a cd I had never heard. He picked out something by a Cool Band that his Parents Don't Know. Fall Out Boy, if you wanted to know, and yes, I did look over the lyrics. Because I am not a cool mom. See?

And lastly, take a look at this:

Those are last year's and this year's school pictures. Can you believe that? Fourth grade: crew cut, polo shirt buttoned all the way up, glasses, silly grin. Fifth grade: long hair, no glasses, band tee shirt. What a difference a year makes.

Well, there's the evidence. My oldest son's little-kid-ness is slipping away. It's not completely gone. He still loves those matchbox cars, and the other day, when riding in the car and giggling with his sister he said, "Baby Sister, you're making me laugh too hard. Oh, my guts!" Maybe not a Cool Teenaged thing to say. But here's the best part: he's still a great kid. Whatever that little kid is being replaced with, it may be different, but I think I'll like it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

shoot - I missed it!

I missed my own blogiversary, can you believe it?

As of January 12, I had officially been blogging for a whole year. This might not be a big deal for a person who still has that battered, dog-eared journal that chronicles their teenage years, but I am a person who still has a few pristine, mostly empty journals that chronicle a few weeks of a teenage year. So keeping this up for this long is pretty surprising for me. If only I had known the secret to maintaining a journal: let other people read it. But then everybody would have known that I thought Andy was cute and that Renee and I spent all of French class passing notes with random song lyrics on them and boy that Jess was a total bitch. (Ha! Just kidding on that last one.)

Anyway, I just wanted to do a quick post to commemorate, and because I have been rather neglectful of the blog lately (ergo, missing my blogiversary). (Is "neglectful" a word?) I'll even be super-cheesy and link to my first post, in which I am very boring. And I will offer a promise to post more substantially later, really.

It's not like the journals, I swear.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

mostly spinning

Well, phew. That was a false alarm. The computer is fine; if you want more details J left a rant at his own foolishness in the comments. I think all the around-the-house projects are wearing on him, poor guy.

I'm totally going to write about spinning to day, because I haven't posted any spinning since November, but first I want to show you this:

That came in the mail last week; it's the medications I'll be using to get ready for the egg donation. Scary-looking, right? I was overwhelmed when I first saw how much stuff was there, but on closer examination it seems the pharmacy just sends a lot of extras. Not extra medication, but extra needles, alcohol wipes, gauze pads (which I don't need), ginormous terrifying mixing needles (which I also don't need), etc. I've actually already done three injections so far. They're all subcutaneous as opposed to intramuscular, so it's not bad at all. The needles are very short and very fine, and it really doesn't even feel like anything. Up until last night, I had not noticed any side effects, either, but I woke up about 4:00 this morning feeling very crampy and uncomfortable. I don't even know for sure that it was related to the medication, although I don't know what else it would be, but it was not particularly fun. After getting up, eating, and moving around a bit I feel a lot better, though.

So that's where the egg donation process stands so far. The nurse says the actual retrieval will probably be at the end of this month, but they won't know exactly when until it is much closer. I'm a little nervous about that part, I confess. I find that comparing it to childbirth in my head makes it seem a lot less daunting. But enough about all that - how about some spinning?

I haven't been spinning all that much lately, unfortunately, but it doesn't really matter for the purposes of this post. It's been so long since I talked about spinning I've still got a bunch of stuff to show you. Remember this wool? It was from a cormo/rambouillet/corriedale cross sheep named Ray. I bought it from, and I overdyed the natural brown color with a little bit of orange. Here's the final result:

I think that's about a dk weight, and let me take a moment to say woo-hoo that my spinning has gotten consistent enough that I can say what weight it is without laughing out loud. Woo-hoo! I'll enjoy it while it lasts, because I found that spinning a whole new fiber is something akin to starting all over again. Here's a skein of that wonderful soft squishy birthday alpaca:

It's much more uneven than the wool, but I'd call it maybe a heavy worsted or chunky weight. It was a completely different experience to spin, much more slippery and it shed like crazy. The slipperiness made it go really fast, though, which was cool. And the skein itself? Just incredibly soft. I've still got a bunch of the alpaca left, so I'm hoping when it's all spun up it will be enough for a sweater. Maybe this one, but I'm not sure yet.

The last yarn I've got to show you is perhaps not the prettiest, certainly not the softest, but I am nonetheless rather proud of it.

Do you know what that is? It's part of the fleece! That's yarn Jess and I washed, dyed, carded, and spun! We're totally Little Red Hen over here! (I washed the wool, I dyed the wool, I carded the wool, I spun the wool . . .) I was a bad blogger and I did not really document the process at all, but fear not! There is still a buttload (wool is measured in buttloads, did you know?) of raw fleece in my basement, plus about three-quarters of a buttload that's been washed but nothing else, so I will take lots of pictures and post about it next time. I pinky-swear, which apparently works, because the last thing I pinky-swore about on the blog got done. See?

Well, that's about all the spinning. I did start some of my Christmas wool, too, but there's not enough done to show. At the rate I'm going, I guess I'll post about spinning again some time in March!
But before I go, is there anything cuter than a stuffed alpaca, made from alpaca?

Perhaps not. :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What, again? WTF??

Okay, I'm blogging from work which I probably shouldn't do so I shall be brief.

We're rearranging furniture in our living room, to try and make things look a bit less, well, craptastic, and in doing so we plan to move our computer over a little bit. Not far, maybe about five feet. It will still be in the northeast corner of the room, but on the east wall as opposed to the north wall, to be probably way too specific. However, the cable wasn't long enough. No problem, J went out and picked up some more cable and some connectors and fixed it all up. Except now the modem is being cranky and we have no internet. Again. Thus ensued a ridiculously lengthy discussion of exactly how old the modem is, said discussion encompassing, among other things, in what order we re-did the rooms of the house after moving in, where J was and what he was doing while the cable guy was installing the modem, when I graduated from college, the ugly yellow couch in our basement, and J's truck. We think it's between four and five years old. Is that old, for a modem? I don't know. Sigh.

So what do you think, was it NaBloPoMo? I blogged everyday for a month therefore my ability to blog must be compromised for the next two months? Sigh again.

Friday, January 4, 2008

birthday girl

This is just a quick little post to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my fabulous sister!

Crazy Aunt Nancy, as she is known to my children (a name she gave herself, btw, even if it is fitting), is funny and cool and the best person to call with a fashion issue. She knows way more about music than anybody else I know, and she makes family get-togethers both a lot louder and a lot more entertaining. Even though we are so very different, I love having a sister so close to my own age, a person to call when a memory strikes me and nobody else will appreciate it but her.

I alluded in my last post to her harrowing experience while babysitting my boys - in which my well-meaning mother insisted that she wash Baby Sister's diapers while she was watching the boys, as a nice little favor for me. Dude - if you have never experienced the washing of cloth diapers, I'm sure you can at least imagine it. J doesn't even go near this job. Oh, he'll change them, but after they are off the baby they're all mine. Poor Auntie Nancy described her laundry room horror - she was almost in tears - complete with her snarky little nephews laughing their heads off at her. "What do you mean, you're never having babies? Babies are cute." Really, the girl deserves a medal.

So, happy birthday Nancy! Hey - you know what I did shortly after turning 28? I started a blog! *hint, hint* :)