Monday, March 31, 2008

random bits

It's been a heck of a week. Busy. Excuse me while I attempt to pull out any bloggable bits and then make fervent promises to post more often. And comment on other people's blogs more often, and reply to comments more often, and, well, you get the idea.

I went to the dentist this week. Twice. First for my regular cleaning, and second because of course they had to find something dreadful. Involving wisdom teeth - again. Back in July they only pulled out two of my wisdom teeth, partly because that's all I could afford, but also because one of the bottom ones has a scary root that is shaped like the letter U. The surgeon said he'd prefer to leave it where it is, and when I was there Monday, a hygienist literally looked at the x-ray and said, "Holy crap! Imagine pulling that out!" It's a caveman tooth, is what it is. And apparently if the bottom one is staying, they'd like to keep the top one too - don't ask me why. My top one had a ginormous cavity in it (wisdom teeth are nearly impossible to keep clean, I'm told; that's why they usually yank 'em), so they did a filling with some kind of medication in it. It tasted like cloves. As she was getting started, my dentist says, "Since it's kind of a big one, I'm going to drill it without using the cold water. You might smell something - don't worry about it." Well, smell something I did. Like she was burning toast in there. And she did not mention that I would see smoke rising from my mouth as she worked. Dude, smoke. Thankfully she's very good with the anesthetic and it didn't hurt at all.

It's starting to feel like it's thawing out around here. Thank goodness. I do like winter, and I'm not looking forward to the summer heat and humidity, but the arrival of spring is very welcome. Yesterday afternoon the kids and I even got to walk the bike path a bit. I missed the bike path! Soon enough the mornings will be warm enough to resume my morning walks with Baby Sister. Although if yesterday is any indication, they'll be a bit different. She rode for a bit, but mostly she wanted to walk herself, stopping every now and then for an impromptu round of "Ring Around the Rosy." There's also a tunnel on the path, running under some train tracks. The local junior high painted a mural in the tunnel, and Baby Sister did not want to leave it. Can't blame her - there's bright colors, and animals, and a cool echo. Eventually she tripped and scraped her hand, and in the ensuing holding and comforting I was able to take her out of the tunnel. I'm thinking there's probably a better way, though.

I've been knitting, too. I'm on the second sleeve of the sweater, and I'm starting to entertain the notion that it might be possible to finish it in time to see the Harlot on April 27th. Possible for me, I mean; I know it would be possible for most people. I've probably jinxed myself saying out loud, though. Or in print, whatever. I also started some socks for Little Brother, out of leftover Cascade 220. I put in a cable pattern so I wouldn't get too bored.

I like them. I let the boys go stash diving to pick out yarn for their socks, and I think this was a good choice - you can't go wrong with Cascade 220. Big Brother, on the other hand, picked out my leftover Lush (50% wool, 50% angora) in a light purply-blue color. Although I have no personal objection to purply angora socks for a ten-year-old boy, I can't help but think they'll be full of holes in about five minutes. We may have to have a yarn-choice discussion.

Hmmm . . . what else is going on? Well, we're doing this.

Not with any real result, but you gotta start somewhere.

Now for the fervent promises: I swear I will blog more than a single crappy post in a week! I will knit like a fiend and share my results! I will visit all the blogs I read, the ones that have posted such well-written, thoughtful posts, and I will leave equally thoughtful comments! I will reply to both emails and comments! And then hell will freeze over!

What time is it? Crap, I have to get ready for work.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

I hope you all have a lovely day, whether or not it is a special day for you. May your eggs be colorful, your family be cheerful, and the Easter Bunny bring you lots of chocolate.

We just made it on the colorful eggs; we did them last night.

Our eggs were brown, so they're kind of sepia-toned. They're more, um, classy that way. Well, maybe not the ones the boys put into every color. As J put it, they certainly look like something that may have come out of the bottom of a chicken. Don't worry, my boys find that kind of thing hilarious. Maybe I can make them look pretty with some artsy-type shots . . .


We'll be heading off to my mom's later today, for what will surely be the usual loud, fun family get-together. I predict some fairly competitive Uno, some green bean casserole, and a box of Girl Scout cookies for everybody. Mmmm, Girl Scout cookies.

Happy Easter, internets! Have a great day!

Monday, March 17, 2008

birthday party

So, Birthday Party #2: The School-Friend Edition was this weekend. As I mentioned before, Big Brother wanted a science theme, complete with experiments (I swear, I didn't influence that decision). I planned some involving airflow, rotational inertia, friction - some of which we did perform and some we didn't - but the biggest hit?

The kids were very, um, enthusiastic with the slime. A bunch of ten-year-old boys, go figure.

It wasn't anything complicated, just cornstarch and water (which, if you've never mixed, you need to do so right now. No, really. You can read this later.). My original plan was to have each kid have his own cup to mix it in, then be able to take it out and play around. I provided food coloring too, which may have been a mistake.

The individual cup idea lasted about five minutes before one kid asked, "Hey Mrs. Big Brother's mom, can we have a big bowl to mix it all together?"

At least I was smart enough to have them take that outside. They really, really got into it.

I just tried not to think about, well . . .

All in all, the party was a success. Actually, I was told that it was "the best party ever" and it "creamed Monster Golf." High compliments indeed. Most of the kids went home with green hands (at least Monday was St. Patrick's Day - they were festive), but luckily I had written that it might get messy right on the invitation. I haven't gotten any calls from angry parents . . . not yet, anyway.

I do have to say, though, I'm glad Baby Sister wouldn't be interested in that sort of thing and that Little Brother's birthday's not until July.

I need some time to clean up my kitchen.

PS - totally unrelated - does anybody know how to get chocolate soymilk out of jeans?

Friday, March 14, 2008

eye candy Friday: cute baby edition

Because I just can't help myself!

I think Big Brother should check his backpack for stowaways when he gets to school.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

knitting update, with ridiculously lengthy discussion of shawl collars

Knitting time is at a premium around here, between work and birthday parties, but I've gotten a bit done. First, Baby Sister's socks:

They're not really anything special - plain toe-up socks - but the model's pretty cute. :)

I've also got something actually happening with the seamless hybrid! And it's only been on the needles a couple of months! (I am pathetically slow, I know.) Here's what it looks like now:

Can you see where I started the second skein? How about now?

It's pretty obvious to me, but there's nothing I can do about it, because a)after scrutinizing the ball band, I can find no mention of a dye lot, b)I got the yarn at the Webs post-holiday sale wicked cheap, it's probably gone, and Northampton is two hours away, and c)I had knit about three inches before I noticed. So I'll have to just get over it.

Hey - speaking of Webs, I'm going to see the Yarn Harlot there in April!! It's going to be great; my mom and my sister want to go, plus Jess and Amy and MadMad and lots of other bloggers too. I'm so excited to actually meet all these people!!

Okay, sorry for the Webs-induced hysteria. Where was I? My sweater. Right - so I want a shawl collar on this thing. I had originally planned to do it the way I believe they're usually done: bind off a section of stitches where the bottom of the collar will be, then afterward pick up stitches around the neck and knit the collar, probably in ribbing, so that its stitches are at right angles to the sweater's stitches, in the front anyway. Like this, except, you know, not on a guy:

But a few weeks ago, I was in a parent conference, and - though of course I was paying attention, I swear - the mom had on this terrific sweater with a really interesting collar. It was shaped like a shawl collar, but it was in the same stitch pattern as the rest of the sweater (cables, incidentally) and the stitches were in the same direction as the rest of the sweater. It looked like you just cast on extra stitches at the bottom of the collar, then start knitting back and forth instead of in the round, shaping the V of the collar as you go. Then you overlap the collar and sew the little seam at the end. I wish I could find a picture of this. If I'm not making any sense, feel free to send me a big WTF in the comments. Here, let me try this:

Anyway, I decided I had to have this collar on my sweater. I was pretty darn excited about this collar, too, as only you knitters will understand. But I wanted to see if I could figure out a way to do it without the little seam at the end. I worried about lumpiness, and also I don't care for sewing.
So here's what I did. When I got to where I wanted the bottom of the collar to be, I put markers at either end of the center 19 stitches, and I cast on 19 more stitches, to get the overlap. But in what at the time I thought of as my extreme cleverness, I didn't cast them on all at once, I did knit 1, make 1 across the stitches between the markers. Then I put the new stitches on a stitch holder. I gave myself a little pat on the back, because there I had it: two sets of overlapping stitches on the front of my sweater, just waiting to be shaped into shawl-y loveliness. Then I turned and purled around the back of the sweater.

Do you see where this is going? When I got back to the collar section, I wanted to have the stitches from the holder be on one needle and the original 19 stitches on the other. You can't really do that without pulling the overlapped part really hard and generally making a mess. First I tried doing it as some sort of double-knitting thing. Yeah - I can hear you laughing. I can't believe I tried that either. I ended up just kind of using the stitch holder as a third needle and moving things around each time I got to that section, until the two pieces were long enough to go on the needles without pulling. Voila:

It would have been easier to just sew the fricking seam. I should learn to stop with the thinking already.

Monday, March 10, 2008

double digits

Big Brother is 10! Happy birthday kid!

Each birthday of your kids makes you feel a bit older, but 10 - that's a big one. I've officially been a mom for a whole decade. I wonder when exactly I'll start to feel like I know what I'm doing . . .

Anyway. The lucky punk's going to have two parties, mainly because he procrastinated in letting me know what kids he wanted to invite. By the time the invitations were ready, to have the party on his actual birthday (yesterday) would have been like, "Hey, want to come to a birthday party? Um, tomorrow?" So yesterday we had family over and next week he'll have his friends come - we're going to do fun science experiments and make stuff like slime and baking-soda-and-vinegar rockets. I'm totally looking forward to it.

Yesterday, of course, was a lot of fun too. It was marked by a strange (for Big Brother, anyway) lack of NASCAR paraphernalia. (Perhaps he has it all?) Instead, there was a bit of this

and a little bit of this.

Such big kid gifts!

It was also great to see family that we really don't see often enough. I couldn't believe how big Brand-new Niece had gotten! (I also can't believe I didn't get any pictures of Brand-new Niece!) I was very happy to get to hold her, and also happy that after holding her - feeling how little and soft she was, inhaling that milky baby smell - I still don't want another one. Phew.

Happy birthday, Big Brother!!

(This last picture was taken about a half-second before that big grinning head was smacked by his brother. Both boys were sorely disappointed I didn't capture the actual smack. Boys.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

much better

The third time really is, apparently, the charm.

This is now everything you might want in a neckwarmer: warm, really soft, and (as I named it in my Ravelry notebook) completely nonthreatening. And go figure - if you make it a normal size, you have enough leftover for some fun nubby handwarmers.

Well, almost enough.

Why, Berroco Ultra Alpaca, what are you doing here?

Somewhat loosely connected to the theme of "much better" - I went out and voted this morning. Which I've done since I was old enough to do so (I missed the 1996 presidential election by a month!), but this was the first time it felt like . . . well, what one imagines the democratic process should feel like. Yay for not having to choose the proverbial lesser of two evils.