Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I FNISHED SOMETHING!!!!

Oh yes, and happy festivities of whatever sort you may celebrate!  We're a Solstice/Christmas kind of family here.  We ended up having a lovely Christmas.  We had a very busy morning involving cooking and cleaning.  We had our feast (a paleo meatloaf with apples that was delicious but very crumbly), and some other stuff I can't recall.  Kids were very excited but things went well.  We went to Church and the kids were in the Pageant, which included my youngest child (playing the role of the cow) doing push ups.  Last year she burst out in interpretive dance, so it's par for the course, really.  Thankfully, it's a family-friendly parish!  We went by our friends' house on the way home, and the kids had a blast, as did the adults.  We got home, got the kids settled into bed and quieted down. Five minutes later, my daughter (the aforementioned cow) threw up all over the place.  I think we had the classic parental reaction, especially given that the stomach flu had been all over my local friends' Facebook pages.  Yes, it involved swearing.

Thankfully, she either ate too many sweets or my husband gave us all mild food poisoning by using expired condensed milk and sweet potatos in the pie, who knows.  We all felt crappy but were fine the next morning.  We had our Opening Of All The Things, got packed up and headed to the in-laws. I've been knitting up a storm, and FINISHED A PAIR OF SOCKS!!!!  Apparently I was half-way through sock 1 in October of 2009, so...well, yeah.   But, I've been plugging away, and I finished sock 2!!  My SIL was very excited and commented several times on how much she liked them, so I had her try them on for me.  














They fit, so with a "Merry Christmas!" the socks became hers.  Because I love finishing things so much...I promptly cast on not one, but two different socks.  (One is sock #2 of the KPPM socks referenced in the above-October 2009 post).  I was making a pair of Spilly Jane's mittens, but the fish weren't popping enough from the background so I'm going to redo them in different yarn, so I took the colored yarn and started a sock with it.  I think I'm getting re-energized with sock knitting!  I love to wear handknit socks!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why I Honor the Solstice

I told my husband the other day that I really wanted to put lights up before the Solstice.  I wouldn’t call myself a pagan (though the Beliefnet “What Religion Are You” quiz put me 100% at Neopagan, then Bhuddist, then UU, HAH!) but honoring the Solstice, the shortest and longest nights of the year feels authentic to me.
I think it’s no secret that I’ve lived through my share of darkness.  There are many labels you can apply to me, some of my own volition, some not, but the one I used to hold to was that of survivor.  Now, however, I prefer to think I’m in my post-surviving, thriving phase! And honestly, does any thinking, feeling, aware person get to be 42 and and not have had their share of darkness? I have a *good* and meaningful life, one I’ve fought very hard to have.  I used to feel guilty for my blessings, but these days I just work hard to appreciate them, to deserve them every day.  I just turned 42 and decided it’s time to dump the guilt. 
So, for me, honoring the Solstice, especially the Winter Solstice, is about acknowledging the truth of light and dark in the world, and in my life.  Here in New England, it’s been getting darker and darker.  It has a big impact on mood, on energy, on the simple rhythm of the day. Even though I know that Winter hasn’t even hit here, that we’ve still got months of ice and snow and shoveling and slush ahead of us, it gives me hope to know that it will be getting lighter.  I don’t think about it as the light vanquishing the dark, because isn’t that also the reality of life?  That just as the light comes, so does the dark?  Honoring the Winter Solstice to me says “I know the dark is there, and real, but so is the light. And light is coming.”
By honoring, I don’t mean that we’re doing any elaborate rituals or anything.  The Solstice is at 5:30 on Thursday morning, so I hope we’ll be asleep!  And Thursdays are busy for us, I work, the kids have school, we’ll go to Karate, I’ve got approximately eleventy-billion Christmas presents to wrap.  By honoring, I mean, I’m going to take note, light candles, turn on the outside lights to light up the long dark night.  I’m going hold my family close, like I do every day, and try to live in the light as much as I can.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Domestic Goddess...not so much.

When I was in college, approximately eleventy-billion years ago, I had this t-shirt with a very frazzled woman on it with the caption "Domestic Goddess."  All you had to do was visit my room to know that I was not, in fact, such a goddess.  My lack of domestic goddesshood extends to cooking.  I'm not a fabulous cook, I don't love to cook all that much, and I have historically been extremely picky about food, what with the whole disordered eating thing.  As I've gotten older, healthier, some might even say, recovered, that's gotten better.  But it's still a challenge, and now I'm feeding lots of other people.  

I've been in SUCH a rut with food.  Almost every night, except when we order pizza, I feel like "OH MAN!! DIDN'T THESE PEOPLE EAT YESTERDAY???"  To cook dinner every night for everyone is a chore.  So, with this new eating (DAY 1 today, yay!) persepctive on eating, all of a sudden, I'm feeling really reenergized about cooking new things, and trying new things.  My DH is happy as he's a much better cook and much more adeventurous eater than I, but due to life circumstances, he eats what I make for dinner.  I'm trying to view this as retraining my palate.  This plan on I'm on sends me a weekly menu (and shopping list, how helpful is that?!), and I'm excited for the different things.  I'm not doing it exactly - for example, today I forgot to defrost anything but I had a quarter ham from TJ's in the fridge, so I made Thursday's Butternut Squash with Garlic and Thyme tonight (SOOO GOOD), with ham, and whole wheat noodles for the rest of the family.  Tomorrow is going to be vegetable-turkey meatballs, and something else - maybe a big salad?  

I have *no* idea where I'm going with any of this.  It's not that I think I'm going to sustain a gluten-free/dairy-free life, but I'm committed to trying this for 30 days.  Yes, over Christmas, aren't I smart? :)  I'll just do the best I can. I figure by the time Christmas rolls around, I'll have been doing it long enough (almost 4 weeks) to get a sense of whether or not I'm feeling better, which will help propel me through visiting my in-laws after Christmas.

And in other news, I knit an inch on my sock.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pondering Change

When I have a minute, I'll take some pictures and post them of the blanket I finished for my friend's new baby!  YES! I finished something!!!  It's amazing.  :)

So, I'm embarking on an experiment, starting tonight.  I feel like the Universe and my gut (perhaps literally) are pushing me to try making some changes to my diet.  I don't want to.  I *really* don't want to, but I'm frustrated with where things are for me, and how I'm feeling, and that's pretty much what I have left to try.  Food is...tricky for me. I've been adamant for many years that my recovery from my eating disorder required me to be able to eat WHAT I WANTED WHEN I WANTED IT!  And, I don't think I was wrong.  Food was so - what's the right word - MORALIZED for me, it was either GOOD or BAD, and by extension, so was I, that I had to make it all good, make it all okay.  However, I'm starting to do a bunch of reading on different topics, and decided that I want to try eating a gluten-free, dairy-free diet for a bit to see if that would help.  I am *so* resistant to this.  I lovelovelove bread, and cheese? Well, cheese makes life worth living, right?  I love cheese.  BUT, I can't ignore the signs.  It's also something I feel like I can take charge of, right now, and what's the worst that could happen? I might not feel any differently than I do now, and I don't keep it up.  I'm committed to trying it for a month.  Yes, right before the holidays, isn't that so smart of me?! :)  I figure there's probably some detoxing involved, but I've done the Master Cleanse (twice), so I know I can handle that.

I'm following someone else's plan for now.  I really need (and love) structure, so I've found a site that will tell me every week - buy this, cook this, and eat it.  I figure if it works for me, after a few months, I'll have more confidence and more repitoire, and I can branch out.  I'd like to get my oldest on a GFCF diet as well, but I'm not sure I can fight the battle right now.

So, I've got the meal plan for the week, I've done the shopping, and I'm going to try!  Tonight's dinner: baked salmon with rosemary and pecans, and creamy swiss chard.  Sounds good, doesn't it??

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Whoa, hello blog.

Okay, somehow almost 2 months went by.  I wish I had something interesting to blog about, especially something crafty.  I don't.

There's a lot going on here. I've been having some health struggles, and I've finally admitted them, and I'm working on getting some help.  Everything should be okay - there's a few different things going on.  One should be corrected with a small surgery next month, and I'm doing more testing to figure out the rest, but we've got a direction, and I found a doctor who actually, you know, listened to me and took me seriously when I said I didn't feel right.  The problem is that this stuff is making me so tired that I can barely function.

The big thing I'm working on right now is evaluating, and then acting upon those evaluations, where, truly, I want to be putting my time and limited energy.  I'm working on saying No, and taking responsibility for what I can and cannot do.  I'm working on jettisoning the guilt that says I should be prioritizing volunteer work that I don't enjoy over social stuff that I do enjoy.  I miss creating and crafting. I'm looking at photo editing software and getting excited about doing a photography class or two next year (if I'm feeling better then).  I miss knitting and sewing.  I've got plans, all these plans, but not a ton of time and, again, no energy.

One of my big things I want to do is finally create a crafting space in my home for my stuff.  It doesn't have a home so it's a huge mess, and disorganized, and crazy-making for all involved!  I need organization for sewing stuff, including a sewing table, yarn and knitting, and some needlework stuff I still have hanging around.  Right now we have an office/playroom that's a disaster and the kids' room.  I am going to consolidate all the kids' stuff into one room (yes they all share!) and turn the other room into an office craft room.  I'm thinking about this unit with a desk and storage baskets.  Can't you just picture it??  So exciting!

Anyway, so that's it here.  Tired.  Lots of stress, my husband's company is being acquired which may or may not be a good thing.  I want to be blogging more regularly! I'll work on it. How about I finish something so I can show you?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Welcome to Fall

Both my husband and I have colds.  UGH.  I feel like this may just be it for the school year.  I think we're actually going to get flu shots this year, since we didn't get them last year, and then a bunch of us got the flu (though I was told that A LOT of people go the flu who actually got the shot but whatever).  We had a good winter last year, though apparently I complained a LOT when we all did get sick as I had people saying to me in the spring "Yeah, you guys had such a rough winter!"  We really didn't, we only had a two week period where everyone had strep and the flu. Which is as fun as it sounds.

I have nothing crafty to report.  So I'll ramble about other things.

As we drove to church this morning, my DH said to me, "Am I exceptionally unanxious?" to which I replied, "I think you're regularly UNanxious in an exceptionally anxious family."  I know I've talked about it before, but I've struggled with profound anxiety most of my life, and it's just exhausting.  What's funny is this was today's Collect (we go to an Episcopal church so we do stuff like Collects of the Day):

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Now, I'll be the first to acknowledge that I've got a LOT of ambivalence about the Christian church.  We go, in large part, because it's how I was raised, we're looking for community, and we want to give our kids roots (the same roots we rebelled against, I suppose).  But it's funny, sometimes I get *exactly* what I need.  


I've heard it said that depression is about the past, and anxiety is about the future, which resonates for me,  I've been dealing with anxiety lately, mainly in the form of having a brain that Will Not Turn Off, so I'm spending a lot of time worrying - worrying about working, worrying about my kids, my husband, the economy, the future.  Interestingly enough, the readings and sermon today sang to the part of me that is so drawn to Buddhism, and the idea that letting go of attachment to outcome, letting go of the notion that I can control everything, or anything, and letting life settle into where it needs to be, that THIS is my path.  I love the concept in Buddhism that wisdom and compassion are like the wings of the bird; without both, the bird cannot fly.  Wisdom, or Right View, is seeing things as they are, "touching reality deeply" (Thich Naht Hanh).


September always seems to me to be a time of new beginnings (all those years of schooling, I suppose!).  I have always been a planner, someone who likes to think ahead. I guess the message I got today was, don't worry so much. Don't work so hard to control everything.  It's not just that it's going to BE okay, but it actually is okay.  If you can let go, and trust - God, the universe, whatever your concept is - you can relinquish that need for control and suffer a bit less.  And it will be okay.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bittersweet














Tomorrow begins a new era of parenting for me.  My daughter - my youngest, my baby girl - is going to preschool!  Now, I've been down this road before, of course.  I  know she's ready, I know she's going to love it.  I feel great about where she's going - it's a coop, I'm on the board, so I'm intimately involved with the school - but just today it was hitting me.  Because I've been down this road, I know, a bit at least, where it leads, and where it leads is out into the big world.  This is the beginning of her having a life that is larger than just our home.  It's wonderful, and it's necessary, but it's so hard, so very hard sometimes, to let them go.

This comes as I'm starting to venture a bit back into the world myself.  It's a good thing, of course, but change (for me at least) is so hard.  I like my ruts, I really do.  We're also weathering the transition of getting the boys back to school.  This year is bittersweet in that as well.  I've got both boys in full-day school, for the first time ever.  In some ways, it's great.  In other ways, well, again, I miss them.  We had a good summer, and it went by so quickly!  I think both boys have a good situation this year.  My oldest is in 2nd grade.  He's on the older side, and for him and the kid he is, that's so fantastic.  He really needed that extra maturing.  We didn't hold him, he missed our cut-off by 7 days, but it's a good thing.  We've also decided to give our younger son a bit more time.  We're lucky enough to have a program in the school, a transitional first grade, which gives him an extra year before first grade.  Again, for the kid he is,  it's such a great thing.  I feel so lucky to have the option!

So, we're all beginning to settle in to the new year.  New backpacks and lunch boxes.  New clothes and supplies.  The air is beginning to cool off at night, and the mornings have been chilly.  I think (HOPE) it's going to be a good year!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Winding down the summer.

It's so hard to believe that we're in the end of summer! Well, given that I put my kids in long pants this morning, I guess I can see it. We've got more than 2 weeks until school starts. This week is pretty mellow - I think we'll squeeze in a visit to the Science Museum this afternoon. On Wednesday, my husband's office is doing their annual picnic at Steep Hill Beach. Next week I think we might try for a day trip to RI to see some friends, so we've got lots of fun stuff to do. Back to school shopping is just about done, though I realized that all my daughter's clothes don't fit, but all her new clothes are way too big. Hmph. In a way, I'm sad to see summer end, we've had a good but very busy one. I'm also looking forward to getting back into more of a routine. I started my new job, and I think it's going to be good! Though a big adjustment. It also really really limits how much traveling I can do with the kids, which is a bummer. I hope the Saturdays won't be for more than a couple of years though.

In terms of crafting....I actually finished something!!


















This is a baby blanket for a friend. Honestly, I'm a bit unsure about the colors, if they're too 70s, but I wanted to do something fun and bright and not typical for her, as she's a fun, bright and non-typical kind of woman! I hope she likes it! The pattern is Lyn's Round Ripple afghan, which is really easy and once you're in the groove, doesn't even need a pattern. I know the Yarn Harlot scorns the ripple blanket, I think it's cute. I like the more circular blankets, and the crochet is so much faster than the knitting for blankets! I did a pinwheel blanket and while I love it, it's just long. So anyway, the Round Ripple, it's 12 point *counts anxiously* star, really, crocheted in the round. The yarn is KnitPicks Crayon. It's really lovely, SO soft! And cotton, which I like for babies. Since this little one is due in October, I think I'm going to do a pumpkin hat too.

Since I finished this blanket, and I had bought an atrocious amount of Crayon, I promptly started another! This is for a friend in CA who is due with her 4th, a little girl, sometime soonish.















I don't feel like the colors are quite right on my monitor - the red is really more of a dark pink. This friend is sort of a super-woman, and I just can't picture her ever being frazzled or yelling at her kids. So soothing colors for her!

And then, two more friends both announced they're pregnant, and there's another one pregnant with twins, so YIKES. I'm thrilled for all of them (and glad it's not me!). I guess I've got to get working!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's hard to make sense of it all, sometimes.

Our community has been rocked by a tragedy. A 10 year old girl was killed in a terrible, senseless accident. I didn't know her personally, but I have friends in common with her and her family, and they are just reeling from it. On the same day, I learned an incredibly joyful piece of news from another friend, so it's been an emotional few days. I'm not someone who believes that tragedy is inherently meaningful. I'm not sure if I've talked about this before here, but I'm not someone who believes "everything happens for a reason." I think random terrible things just happen sometimes. Sometimes people choose to do horrible things to one another, and that's also very very hard to comprehend, but sometimes in life, things just go horribly wrong. There's no silver lining, no saving grace in this instance. At least, not one that I can see. This is not to say that I think everything is meaningless. Just the opposite, in fact. I believe you can grow and come to grace through unbearable pain, and I believe that life, love and our connections to one another are The Thing that make it all worthwhile.

So, I'm hugging my dear ones closer to me tonight and trying to figure out how to create something from this. Not that it will in anyway make it better, but what can I take from this? And the big thing I take is "SLOW DOWN." Take the time to really pay attention and notice all the things around you. Don't miss them.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Freaking Out Just A Bit

Well, maybe more than a bit.

Looks like I'm going back to work! This is very good news - it looks like it's going to fall into place that I'll be working at a newish mental health clinic in town, so very convenient, the money is decent, they're willing to let me work very few hours on my schedule. It's all good, right? The one less-than-ideal thing is that I'll be working Saturdays for the foreseeable future (probably 2 years, on my 5 year plan, and yes, I do have one). But really, during the school year, that's not a big deal.

So, why am I freaking out? Well, I think the main reason is, it's change, and I. Hate. Change. I like things to stay the same, even when I'm unhappy - because, hey! The devil you know and all that, right? (Not that I'm unhappy at the moment.) Being a SAHM, while veryvery stressful in some ways, is also really a great gig! We have none of the stress of get everyone out the door (well, except now that I have two kids in public school, we do), none of the "hey, somebody's puking, what do we do?" Plus, in the summer, as part of my job, we go to the beach. I'm in a rut, really. It's a nice rut. But I think with my littlest one going off to preschool, it's time for me to start pushing myself outside my comfort zone a bit. I've been at home since June of 2003 - my job ended, I was 6+m months pregnant...and we knew that we wanted me home with the kids for "a while." It was really important to me that we do it this way, and we were so, so blessed to be able to do it (well, and we made specific choices to support that goal).

But now, life is getting more and more expensive, and I have this opportunity. So I'm going to take it. Yikes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

*Actual* Knitting Content!!

I Know. I can't quite believe it myself.

I have been way off my knitting game for a long time, months. I'm not sure why - I've been sewing, crocheting, living the busy life of a mom with three kids (I know, my friends with 4+ kids are snorting at the notion). For whatever reason, I've been off of it. I've felt, of course, guilty. Why? Knitting is my *hobby*, it's not my job. In part, it was a really rough winter emotionally, for a variety of reasons, and I've felt for some time that I spent much of it just getting through, and there was no energy for anything else. I feel like this Spring and Summer, I'm rejuvenating, I"m coming back to myself. I cut my hair, I'm working out more, I'm reading like a fiend (I'm currently obsessed with adventure memoirs, I've read 3 in the last 4 days), and I'm crafting again!

One issue is that I've had this stuff hanging around on needles for far, far too long. A quick search reveals that the first sock of this pair was completed in October of 2009. Oy. I hadn't realized it'd been that long! So anyway, this things have just been LURKING around, sulking in the corner. I've got two complete socks (of course that don't match). They're both vanilla socks of my own devising, but unfortunately, after so long, the notes I made about them are long gone. I'm treating this as a good exercise in "good enough." They'll match well enough to wear, right? So, I completed the second foot of 3rd sock! I think I won't try and turn the heel tonight, I'm really tired, but I'm feeling energized about them. I want to get all projects on needles completed (or frogged) and then I'll reassess.


















(I'm just not going to mention the huge KP Crayon order I just made for crocheting baby blankets.)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Quick Saturday Update

Hey, have you heard? It's hot on the East Coast! We've actually had our AC running the last couple of days. I used to really like AC but the years with my husband have changed me. We woke up to a thunderstorm and 72 degrees outside, and we both looked at each other and said "OPEN THE HOUSE!!" It's gonna heat way up this afternoon, so I think we'll close it down again but for now, it's lovely to be sitting with the windows open, listening to the birds.

So, as usual, I was weak and helpless in the face of a yarn obsession and ordered the Crayon for KP. I'm really hoping it'll be awesome for baby blankets! I have a friend who's done some really nice things for me who is pregnant with her first, and I'm thinking of a purple and orange blanket for her baby! I know I'm obsessing over the different small granny square blankies, but the seaming and weaving-in-of-ends is defeating me at the moment. I'm thinking I'll be doing something more like a round or star blankie.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Back amongst the vertical.

Let's just say, yesterday was a tough day. I woke up, felt not great, and ended up spending the day lying flat and still. My wonderful husband shuffled work stuff and took over. He got A off on the bus to home. Poor kid had to stay an extra day because he threw up Sunday night, and he was pretty homesick. Hopefully it won't sour him on the program as my kids would LOVE to have him come back! He was a sweetie. He really bonded with my husband as well.

But anyway! So, we're back in business here. We've got an easy, mellow day planned, which is good, since my energy is low. I'm actually going to do some knitting, I think! I have to say, I am *loving* having slightly older kids who are capable of entertaining themselves and each other with fairly minimal supervision! I think I'm also going to order some yarn today. *sigh* I *cannot* get that silly crochet blanket out of my head, which means I Need to Make It for Someone. I have several friends who are pregnant right now, one of whom is very crafty, so I think it'll go to use! This will be different from the last time where I made a baby blanket simply because I had to make something from this yarn (in Painted Iris) and it ended up being for me! I'm thinking I'm going to order a bunch of Crayon from KP and crochet some blankets.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ugh. What a way to end the week.

3 kids vomiting. Perhaps my least favorite parenting situation ever.

So we've got A with us for an extra day, since he threw up in the middle of the night, poor kiddo. I feel *awful* for him, and just terrible about the whole thing. I reallyreally hope this doesn't sour him on the whole experience!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A couple of random musings...

So far our visit with A, our little guy from NY, is going really well! He's having what I'd consider perfectly normal homesickness, but he's also having lots of fun, and a good time with the kids! It's making me look at some of my parenting habits as well, specifically how much yelling I do...and making me think I need to be more vigilant about that. I don't think yelling works particularly well as a parenting strategy but especially with my oldest, sometimes it's the only thing that gets through.

I am feeling really good today - I ran at about 6:30 this morning, and the mist rising off the lake literally took my breath away, it was so beautiful. I love living somewhere like this, able to walk by water every day if I want to!

I went over to my neighbor's house last night - it ended up being five of us, hanging out and talking. I feel so lucky, I've gotten to know so many amazing women here. When I first had my oldest, my friends were people who had kids the exact same age as mine (and well, that didn't work out so well for me as my two closest friends dumped me when I had my second child!). Now I've got friends with kids around the same age, as well as friends with older kids, and there's not the expectation that our kids our going to be friends, you know, so it takes the pressure off! I feel like I get really valuable perspective from these women - their views aren't the same as mine on all things, but there's a basic respect and affection.

Okay - now I have to get four kids out the door so my daughter can go to her dance class!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Life with A, our Fresh Air Fun kiddo, Day 1

We all survived the first day! Apparently A was very, very nervous. His mom called this afternoon and said he "cried and cried" this morning. He seemed pleased to be here though, and he settled in with the kids very well, playing and having fun. During dinner, he got very quiet and seemed very sad, missing his mom. After dinner, we had ice cream cones and walked down to the lake, where he very much enjoyed that classic game, "Throw Stuff in the Water." We came back here, had every take showers, and got everyone into bed. An hour later, it seems to have settled down.

I think he's a tad overwhelmed - big shocker there! On a quiet day, my kids are loud and intense. Gee, I wonder where they got that personality trait from? Hmm. I really hope he has a good time and enjoys himself! He already told me that our neighborhood was "really different from Brooklyn!"

I am not entirely sure what to do tomorrow. In the afternoon, we'll go down to the lake (the boys have swim lessons) but we have a morning to fill...

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Endless Ikea Trip

I just spent 7 hours on an Ikea trip with my children. And I'm not even insane. :)

I needed to go to Ikea - we're hosting a Fresh Air Fund child next week, and needed, you know, an actual bed for him, and it's time to move my daughter out of her toddler bed *sniff* into her Big Girl Bed, so we decided to purchase a bunk bed. Of course, the one we have that we really like is no longer in production, so we got a very simple wood one. It was actually really cool having all three kids with me there! I feel like we're turning a corner, both with the youngest, who's now three and is just turning into a big kid, and with my oldest, who's so intense. We're using an herbal supplement to treat his anxiety and it's helping SO SO much. So, we got the bed, we got a book shelf, we got furniture for our new screened in porch, we got linens...we got just about everything! I was very excite because I got a lounging chair for me! I really want a nice wicker one with arms and a curved back, but they're...let's just say, they're not in my price range at the moment. So not only did I find a decent second choice at Ikea, it was $40 off! And the chairs I had really liked for the table out there (built by my sweetie) which I had deemed nice but too expensive, were $20 off per chair! I hadn't planned to get them but that seemed like a good deal to me.

With infusions of meatballs, mac and cheese, hot dogs and fro yo, the kids held it together so amazingly well! I think by the end I was more cranky than any of them!!

And now, tomorrow, I get to look forward to putting all of this stuff together!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Home again, home again!

We had a LOVELY 4th of July long weekend out in the Berkshires. There was swimming in the lake, kayaking, lounging around, drinking of wine, and lovely food. I am incredibly lucky that not only did I get an awesome husband when I married my sweetie, I also got a fabulous extended family! For example, my MIL was in the room when I gave birth, all three times, and actually cut the cord of my second son - all by my invitation. I know most folks don't have that kind of relationship with their MIL and I do know how lucky I am!

It is, however, SO good to be home! Today feels like our first real day of summer vacation! I'm hoping to get some stuff done, and to have some lazing around fun. I finally got my paper calendar reconciled with my Google calendar, and now I feel like I know where we need to be and when, which is always a good feeling. I'm not naturally organized AT ALL, so I often feel like I'm just barely keeping up. (So much so that I think it's time for me to explore actual ADD meds.)

I did some crocheting while away - I did another little bear hat, it's very cute! Probably the right size for a 12 month old. I find sizing always baffling - I feel like I take all these measurements, do all the calculations and get different answers depending on which measurement I use. Ah well, it's all for fun, right?

I'm now feeling like I really want to crochet a baby blanket!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

11 years today!!

In those 11 years, we've:

moved 5 times
spent a year apart while I completed my predoc internship
bought a condo
bought a house
sold a condo
bought a car and a minivan
had 4 pregnancies and 3 births
seen me complete grad school and get licensed
seen him change jobs and find a company and work that he's loved and grown with
gained and lost 2 ferrets
lost the lovely Lula cat
gained the boy kitties
and all the countless other events that make up a life together

When I met my husband, I was 28, and recently out of a really, really bad relationship (think abusive heroin addict), and I wasn't looking for the love of my life. I was looking to make my life amazing by myself. Maybe that's why I was ready? Who knows. All I know is that I am thankful every single day that the universe brought this amazing person into my life. He's wicked smart, wicked funny, and incredibly loving and generous. He's got more integrity than just about anyone I know. Before I met him, I was able to articulate my relationship philosophy as this: "I want someone who thinks he's the luckiest person in the world to be with me, and who believes he deserves someone like me." It still takes my breath away that I actually managed to find that person.

Happy anniversary, sweetie!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Exhausted

2 trips down, 1 to go.

Our time in VT was really good, but it's tiring as well. As wonderful and supportive as my parents and sister are, they aren't co-parents. Nobody slept well, so I'm just tired.

We're also making the decision to put one of our cats to sleep. I don't think we need to do it tomorrow, but I also think it's probably going to be in the next month or so. I am heartbroken, but it's the right thing. It's just about time. She's just about 18, and I've had her since she was 6 weeks old. She's part of my...not youth exactly, but absolutely my growing up. We had thought we were going to put her to sleep 15 months ago, and then the vet offered some things to try to improve her quality of life. They helped, a lot, but we're pretty much back to where we were.

This is what I wrote (on LiveJournal!) on March 23, 2010 for her, and it is as true today.

We've made the decision, we're putting A to sleep on Saturday. We came close a couple of weeks ago, but I was so deeply ambivalent that I canceled the appointment. I don't think it would have been a mistake then, but I felt wrong about it, but now I don't know. Amazing what a difference even a week makes. She's losing ground pretty quickly, she's losing weight, she's seeming more and more uncomfortable. She seems just...done. We're having a week of lots and lots of love and scritches and purring, which is good.

This is so hard. The waiting is so hard. I know, in a weird way, it will be easier when she's gone. But oh man, I am going to miss her.

I got A on Sept. 11, 1993, from Angell Memorial. She was about 6 weeks old. My sister went with me. I was living in my studio on Highland Ave in Somerville: we took the bus to Lechemere, and the E line all the way to the end and walked up the hill. It was too early, they weren't even open so we went to some random dive bar and had chicken wings. As soon as I saw her, I knew she was mine. KNEW IT. She was so little, so feisty, so funny and cute.

A was definitely weaned too early, she had a lot of the craziness associated with that, but it was okay. I think we fell in love with each other, and she was mine. She loved to sit on my shoulders and suck on the back of my head. It's how I knew N was The One for me - she did it to him the first time she met him (and then never again!).

She had SO MUCH ENERGY! She caromed all over the apartment.

She went with me everywhere I moved. She's lived all over Somerville, San Francisco, Madison, and Littleton.

When I got her, I had just moved to Somerville from Davis (CA) after being dumped by W, my college love. She's THAT cat, you know? She saw me through so much, so many hard times, and so much joy too. She saved my life (she and L), she gave me something to live for that was so hands-on and immediate, when all the other things I had to live for seemed so distant. I had to survive, she needed me. She taught me not just how to receive unconditional love, she taught me how to give it.

She saw me finally get my shit together, fall in love with N and build a family with him.

I am so thankful that she's been with me, one of the great loves of my life (and if the fact that one of the great loves of my life is a cat is pathetic, so be it), and I'm going to miss her for the rest of my life.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Home and then away again.

Back from CA, and then off to VT tomorrow! I don't think I do well with lots of travel, but these trips just lined up this way. (And we get back from VT on Wednesday and head out the Berkshires on Friday.) I'm really tired. I am *so* glad I went to CA. It was wonderful to spend time with my friend, and I think I was actually able to be helpful. And really, cleaning someone else's house is so much more fun than cleaning one's own!

I will say, I *really* enjoyed the travel part! I like traveling in general, and doing it alone was delicious! I read, listened to music (the only bummer is that the Kindle app on the iPhone seems to be a bit of a battery hog), and...KNIT! Yes, I did!!

I frogged my other Swallowtail and decided to try again with a different yarn: specifically, Dream in Color Starry in Midnight Derby. It's gorgeours! I got through 8 pattern repeats of the leaf lace, and I'm definitely excited to keep going! Especially since it's June 24th and 62 degrees! I think a shawl might be in order.

So, one of the things I did (sorry, total subject change there) while in CA was I visited Davis, the town I moved to after I graduated from college. I got to drive around, see my old apartments, where I used to work...it was really trippy. It brought up some really conflicting emotions - in some ways I was happy there, but in many ways, I really wasn't. It's hard to remember how painful life used to be, but also really amazing to see how far I've come, how much it's NOT painful these days! Of course, it's been 20 years (yikes!), so I hope I've grown a bit.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Going Back to Cali!

So in less than 36 hours, I'll be on a plane to Northern California. BY MYSELF. The reason for the trip is sort of bittersweet - I'm going to help a friend who needed a total knee replacement. I am so sad that she needed yet another surgery but I'm so, so hopeful that this will change her life and really, really improve it. I'm excited to be able to offer actual concrete help, and I'm really looking forward to the traveling. I actually like to travel and I'll be by myself. Reading. Knitting. Listening to tunes. Sleeping! Should be cool. Sadly, I don't think I'll be able to hook up with my West Coast NoCal peeps, I don't think there's going to be time. I would LOVE to go back to Davis, the town where I lived for 2 years right after college, but I think I may be too busy. I'm there to cook, clean, and drive little kids around.

So, I need a good knitting project. I think my current Swallowtail, while beautiful, is doomed. I lost the pattern I'd made notes, I have no idea where I was, I tried to figure it out and screwed it up, so I'm just going to say SCREW IT. I have some other yarn I'm thinking about trying for Swallowtail. I'm not 100% convinced lace and variegated go together, but I don't love knitting with solid color yarn. So tomorrow, one of the many things I need to do is rummage in my yarn and see what I have. I do want to do Swallowtail, I really love it as a pattern. So, we'll see. MAYBE when I get back, I'll have some knitting for you?? Also, I need to bring a mindless sock to do as well, so I can have some sitting and chatting knitting available.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Food for Thought...

It's a seriously cold and rainy day here in Massachusetts (though no tornados, thank goodness!). I've been reading a book that's really pushing me to think a lot about what we're eating. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is fascinating, well-written, and a fun read. I'm about half-way through it, and find myself grappling with all sorts of questions about how we're eating. Coupled with the fact that about 4 times in the last couple of weeks, I've had people raving to me about how much a gluten-free/casein-free diet has helped their child (typically spectrum kids, which my son is not...well, not technically, but close, IMO), AND with getting some less-than-fabulous cholesterol results from my recent physical, it feels like the Universe is sending me a big message about how I'm treating my body, and how I'm feeding my family.

The author talks about the idea of food as an ethical choice. Now this is, of course, not an idea that's new to me, but I've mainly thought about it in relationship to meat. Most of the meat we eat comes from our meat CSA, and I love it. But Kingslover also talks about the environmental impact of eating non-local foods, and out-of-season foods. One of the questions I am feeling pushed to answer is "is my preference for something enough of a reason to make an immoral (for lack of a better term) choice?" An example: I'm not a huge chicken breast fan, so I purchase chicken thighs, which I like better. As I'm reading this book, I'm thinking that just the fact that I *like* them better is really not a good enough reason to participate in the mass-produced chicken market.

So, what are some things we can do to make a difference? We're joining a produce CSA for the summer. I'm super-excited about this, because (1) it couldn't be more local, and (2) I think what we'll get will be a better fit than the CSA we did two years ago. (Lovely people on that farm, but it was just too far). We're also splitting this one with friends, so that'll be cool too. I think I'm going to say that for a while, we need to eat only the meat from the CSA. We have a 10 lb share, and we're splitting that with another friend. We need to eat up what we have in our freezer, and I'm going to resolve not to buy any other meat. Hmm, what about sandwich meat? I'll have to think about this. Personally, I need to cut way, way back on my cheese consumption. I love cheese, I really do, but I think I need to remember that my grandfather died of heart disease, my dad had a quadruple by-pass a few years ago, and it's time to really make some changes. For awhile there, I was making myself a salad for lunch every day, and I need to get back to that. I think it's also probably worth it to find out if my son has a gluten or casein sensitivity, since making either of those diet changes will be a large endeavor.

This is hard for me to do. As I think I've mentioned before, I had a very serious and long-term eating disorder, and a huge and important part of my recovery was making all foods allowable and acceptable. I think figuring out how to make these changes without falling back into the eating-disorder mind-trap is going to be hard. Even though it's for good and healthy reasons, that thinking is never too far from me.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Derailed.

That's how I'm feeling these days. Like I've just gotten off track somehow and I'm not sure what I need in order to get back ON track. I feel like my house is a mess and I am constantly chasing, trying to keep up with it. I know there's a ton of stuff coming up in the next few weeks and I think I've not put it all on the calendar, which is making me anxious. I'm going to CA in 2 weeks from today, to help a friend, which is awesome but also I'm anxious about it, in terms of leaving things in chaos. Money is super-tight right now, and every time I turn around, there's another expense. *sigh*

I know in a few weeks, it'll be so much calmer. School will be out, and I think we all need the break!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Too much to think about!

1. We survived back-to-back birthday weekends! *phew* Of course my oldest was diagnosed with Strep 2 hours before my daughter's birthday party.

2. Tomorrow night I'll be participating in my town's Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. It's an overnight walk - and I've been assigned the 2 am slot for my team. I'd be a bit more psyched if it hadn't been so wet and rainy and depressing, and if I weren't getting over the cold from HELL, which has lasted a good 10 days now. I'm looking forward to it. I'm walking in honor of my dad, a 2-time cancer survivor, and many others. Particularly I'm remember a woman who had a profound influence on my life, who died of breast cancer.

3. We're signing up to host a Fresh Air Fund child this summer! The two coordinators came over and interviewed us and toured the house - which the kids had trashed, it's appalling. *sigh*

4. What else....OOOO, I'm cutting all my hair off on Saturday, I CANNOT WAIT!!!!! It's really long now:


















I can't wait to have it GONE!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Enough with the gloom and doom!

Okay, time to focus on something fun! We're having a busy May in this household - DS2 turned 6 on Saturday! I can't quite believe it! He had 8 buds over for a party, and some wonderful sharing soul gave us all a horrible cold. :) And, my daughter, my baby girl, is turning THREE on this Saturday! Again, how is this possible? She's a total little person!! I am reminded again of how completely lucky I am, how wonderful they are. It's a bit challenging for DS1, who really likes to be in charge and have the attention, but it's a good life lesson to learn - sometimes it's NOT ALL ABOUT YOU. He's doing great but there's been some strain.

So - where are we at. It's mid-May, 6 more weeks of school and then it's all kids, all summer. I decided this year that instead of doing camps, we're doing classes. I think we do better with a regular schedule, and it's going to leave lots of free time for playing, swimming, hanging out. Hopefully the weather will cooperate!

I want and need to get motivated on my own crafting. I have a bunch of fleece socks to wash and send out, which is a bit of an organizational nightmare so I've been putting it off. I need to write up a cover letter and send in my CV for a job I'm interested in. I have lots more decluttering to do here, and of course, knitting/crocheting/sewing. I think I just need to pick on craft project and just commit to it, maybe an hour a day or so. I think I'd feel less overwhelmed if I were getting things done!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Sometimes life is just hard and sad.

I'm feeling both very thankful that all is okay in my immediate circle, but I feel like I'm hearing a lot of terrible news. A friend's husband died, another friend's mother died, another acquaintance has been diagnosed with cancer, and now a childhood friend of my husband's has committed suicide, while this woman's brother is, at most, days away from dying of ALS (at about age 45).

Suicide just breaks my heart, and makes me so, so angry. I don't even know who to be angry at, you know? It's not that I don't get being that depressed - I do. I really, really do. But I can't help but be angry at the people who succeed, about the devastation they leave behind. Angry at a world that crushes people so that suicide seems like the only possible option. Angry at...I don't know. Just angry. And sad.

I wish I had some sort of deep insight or faith, about why bad things happen. I'm not someone who believes every thing happens for a reason. I think sometimes horrible things just happen. I do believe we can learn and grow through pain, and that grace can come from terrible experiences, but that sure doesn't make it any easier, does it.

Uff da, as my swedish in-laws would say, downer of a post! I guess what I'm trying to hold on to is remember the joy in the world as well. It's not *all* pain - there's so much to love and appreciate, and that's important too. I guess that's what makes the pain bearable.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Where does the time go?

Today my youngest son is 6 years old. How is this even possible?? Next week, my daughter, my youngest child, turns 3. This feels really significant to me - she is now the age he was when she was born. My oldest will be 8 in September.

My youngest son is, in my completely unbiased opinion, just a wonderful soul. He's my snuggler, my peace maker. He's sweet, sensitive, funny, silly, smart, connected, and just an all-around lovely little guy. He's incredibly endearing. He has this sweet little voice, these huge blue eyes, and the brightest smile. He loves dancing, singing, dinosaurs, imagination games, his stuffed tiger, his tiger suit. We gave him an explorers outfit with accessories today, and he put it on to take a walk and had me take pictures of him demonstrating each thing (the lantern, the binoculars, etc.). Everyone who deals with him, as far as I can tell, really enjoys him. His teachers just love him and tell me all the time how sweet and wonderful they think he is. He's just a joy to be around, even when he's being a pill, and I cannot fathom life without him.

Happy birthday, my darling boy.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rest in Peace, Krista.

I didn't know Krista Dittmeyer, but I am haunted by her disappearance and death. The circumstances of her disappearance, specifically, the fact that her young daughter was found alive in the car, are so awful, so painful to think about, that I cry every time I do. A 14 month old is old enough to know that her mother isn't there. As a woman, especially as a mother, it just breaks my heart. In a strange way, I'm thankful she was found so quickly, that her family doesn't have to live with the agony of not knowing.

It also just enrages me. Perhaps I am jumping to conclusions, but there's no evidence that I've seen that suggests she was suicidal or mentally ill. There's no evidence to suggest she put herself in that pond. So someone - no, let's be clear, most likely some MAN - put her there. Not to say that women don't do awful, abusive things, or commit horrible acts. They do. But typically women don't kill other women this way.

I, like so many women I know, live with that undercurrent of fear. Now, I'm a survivor of violence, so I'm probably more wary than most, but I think most women in the US know that they can be victimized. Either by a stranger, or much more commonly, by someone they know. This isn't just an individual experience, it's a cultural phenomenon that leaves me so angry I can barely speak.

And, of course, now I'm the mother of a girl. I am coming to believe that just as I think the ability to swim competently is a necessary life skill, maybe self-defense should be seen the same way for young girls and women. My oldest son has started karate, and I am determined that my daughter will study as well. My younger son has loved gymnastics, but told me recently that he wants to study karate as well. Maybe I should join them.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Survived April Vacation!

I am so ready for a good night's sleep!! A few months ago I concocted a plan for this vacation which included driving from here to outside of Philly to see my SIL's family for a few days, and then going to NYC. When I told my friends who live in Queens that we'd be doing this, they INSISTED that we stay at their apartment. It's huge (and free) so we accepted gratefully!

We headed off last Sunday. The 6 hour drive took about 8 hours, what with lunch breaks, potty breaks, missed exits and flooding detours. Our days with the family were great! We took the kids too an amazing park which included an 8-story wooden play castle! The next day all the boys headed off to the Philly Zoo while the girl and I hung out, as she had spiked a 104 fever (OF COURSE SHE DID). Wednesday, we headed off to NY.

We got the key to my friend's apartment, dropped our stuff off, hopped on the E train and headed to MOMA. We were there to see Van Gogh's Starry Night at the request of my oldest son. He was amazed by it, it was so cool to see. We looked at some other paintings but the kids were pretty fried, so we headed back to the apartment. We made the kids a simple dinner, and the adults ordered Chinese food later.

Thursday we had tickets to the Statue of Liberty. It was...a challenging day, made more difficult by the TWO HOUR WAIT just to get through security to get on the damn ferry. The kids did not handle it well, in part because we'd screwed up the timing of food so they'd had a bagel snack but no lunch so everyone was whiny. Once we got there and got food into everyone, it was better. I also hadn't taken into account the fact that my oldest son is quite afraid of heights, so the amazing view was lost on him. We had pedestal tickets, which was more than enough for us!

Friday we got up and out of the apartment and got to the American Museum of Natural History before it opened. It was *packed* (no school in NYC on Friday) but the line moved fast. We got tickets to the Sauropod exhibit that just opened, which was pretty cool. Before we went up, we saw the one mummy they have, which was sufficient, and then did dinosaurs. We were there about 2 hours, which exceeded my expectation. I could have done way more, but we were out of time. We ate lunch and then walked around Central Park and watched a wedding.

Today we got on the road and had a good trip back. I had gotten LOTS of stories on DVDs from the library and the kids were mesmerized!!

So, all in all, a decent vacation but now I'm exhausted!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

So.

Knitting - I figured out which pattern the shawl was. It's Swallowtail, of course. And I was just reading some old blog entries and randomly came across the post detailing the casting on of the shawl, and how many yards of the yarn I have! *happy dance* So, I'm going to keep going, if I ever have the energy and time for lace again.

We had some excitement around here this morning. My oldest got up and collapsed on the floor, sobbing in pain. Now, he's a bit of a...drama queen, shall we say, so I don't always take dramatic collapses with sobbing very seriously, as they tend to happen A LOT. But, this was different. It seemed like he was *actually* in pain and couldn't put weight on his leg, because his knee was hurting. After a couple of hours, we decided an urgent care visit was in order. Some friends suggested that since he had strep and flu a few weeks ago, that we might want to have him checked for this. Ped thought it was unlikely, and initially diagnosed a sprain. We were sent off to the hospital for an X-ray with instructions to walk on the leg as much as he could. Thankfully, we were in out of the hospital in less than 1/2 an hour. We got the call a few hours later that there's "something abnormal" on the X-ray. It's just not clear what is going on, or why he's in such pain (though *only* when he puts pressure on it), so the next step is an MRI. The ped did reassure me that this is NOT a tumor or a lesion of any kind, so we're not worried about Big Bad Scary Stuff (well, not much). I'm hoping for the same outcome as we had the last time he had an anomaly on an X-ray, which is to say, it was absolutely nothing, but last time there was no pain involved. Hopefully we can get the MRI in the next couple of days, and see if it's a fracture or not. But how on earth can a kid fracture his knee in his sleep?

And, of course, we're going on vacation in ONE WEEK. A vacation with lots of walking scheduled.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Well that's ONE way to cut down on projects!

All of a sudden I'm jonesin' to make a shawl (I blame a friend who's been posting gorgeous pattern suggestions). I knew I had a couple on needles, so I pulled out the one with fingering weight yarn, to find that the pattern has disappeared! Honestly, it's been so long I can't even remember which one it was! So, I guess I'll be frogging the tiny bit I have done and starting something new!!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Cleaning Out

One of my biggest frustrations in our home is that I feel like we just don't FIT here. We have Too Much Stuff and it's just cluttered and chaotic. I find it really stressful, to be honest. Now, I am certainly not naturally neat and organized, AT ALL, but I would like to be more so than I am. I feel like the answer is not to get more and more storage "solutions" but to pare down our stuff so that we actually fit in the space we have.

To that end, today I went through all my clothes (except bathing suits). I am tired of disliking 85% of my jeans! Eddie Bauer used to be my go-to and they changed their sizing and took at least an inch, probably two, off their rise, and now they're just too low. People, I am a 41 year old woman who has born three children. I feel like there's a huge market for well-made durable clothes for women who aren't in their twenties but don't feel over the hill yet! Perhaps if I were willing to spend more, there would be more options. :) It felt so freeing to see the things I'm getting rid of piling up! I even *gasp* threw some things away! I have trouble letting go in more ways than one, so this was a challenge, but a good one.

I now know what I have for spring and summer (if they EVER arrive), and once I finish the eleventy-billion loads of laundry that I've let pile up this week and sorted through that stuff, I'll know where I'm at for cooler weather as well.

Now I just need to do this with all the rest of the stuff in this house and we'll be in good shape!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Tongue Tied

Whoa, sorry blog!

I think the title says it all...I just don't feel like I have a ton to say right now. Life is feeling very...not overwhelming, exactly, though talk to me in a couple of weeks when we're deep in soccer-gymnastics-dance-karate-school-LIFE. Definitely busy. I'm actually in a really optimistic place right now. We thought the town was going to auction off the land right next to us, which would mean we would be losing 1/3 of our lawn (which is actually town land), but it looks like that's not going to happen, so YAY! We've had a sort of break through in a really challenging family situation (not meaning to be cryptic, I just don't feel like it's entirely my story to tell) and that's also feeling really hopeful. We keep having moments where it looks like Spring might be coming! Of course, then it snows again. I'm just not in a creative place right now, at least not with knitting. I finished a HUGE sewing project - something like 30 pairs of fleece socks for friends. I need to wash them and then send them off. I'm getting that startitis feeling again, but dude, I have so many projects in flight, I think it's making me anxious. I really need to finish a bunch of things before I can start anything else!!

I'm doing a LOT Of picture taking and having a lot of fun. And it looks like I'm going to be able to take this photography class that I've been wanting to do, I got the childcare gap worked out, I think, so YAY for that!

All in all, I feel like I'm in a waiting place right now, trying to see what the next step is. Which is fine, I guess, but I am so not someone who is comfortable sitting in Not Knowing. Which is why I haven't had much to say lately. I've got lots of thoughts though, maybe I need to bring them out more.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Night Round Up

It's been a mostly good weekend - some down time, some social time, some church...it's funny, none of the kids will go to Sunday school, and so it's a bit stressful managing them during the service, but we get so many compliments on their behavior, so I guess we're doing something right. Mainly we bring stuff for them to do.

I was deep in my creative flow for a bit, and got sort of waylaid. I thought I'd think about what's in flight, and try and get inspired to finish some things this week! The big one is Sockopalooza, which got waylaid when I ran over a pin and snapped the upper knife on my serger. Yes, I've been told one CAN use the serger without it but I really don't want to! I have the replacement knife (plus an extra), so I just need to figure out how to install it. I only have 6 more pairs to do, and then I can send them out. I know, I really am crazy. :)

Knitting...so much. I started a cute baby hat simply because I have the yarn. I'm envisioning a stocking cap. I've got socks, shawls...I've not been feeling the knitting mojo as much. Crocheting...nothing really. I did one of those newborn nests that I'm going to send to a photographer friend in TX. It's cute! I'll try and get a picture up soon - I just need to weave in the ends.

Life in general...I can't believe it's the Equinox today! YAY! I love that it's getting lighter and lighter! I need to start thinking about our summer schedule! It really shifted this week, we had some glorious warm days, and most of the snow is gone. I've got all sorts of thing popping up in my garden, so exciting! We've gotten so busy - both boys are taking piano lessons, we just started DS1 in karate (which is 2x a week!!), DS is doing gymnastics, DD wants to stop Music Together and try a dance class (we're going to do it at the Little Gym, not a dance studio...I'm very very wary of dance for girls - no eating disorder activities for us), soccer starts soon...*ack* I'm exhausted just thinking about it!!! I need to figure out how to balance all the BUSY stuff that we do with down time for all of us. I *never* wanted to be that family that's totally overscheduled, but unless you make all your kids do the same two activities (and you have three kids), there's no way to avoid it. I know, when soccer starts, that's three activities for the boys...I don't really have a justification for it. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How can this be?

There's not a single cookie in this house.

That's just wrong. There are *children* here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In which I admit, once again, that I am a huge geek.

The weather seems finally to have turned here in Massachusetts. We've got stuff growing in the garden, which really excites me! I'm not quite sure what it is, so that'll be fun to watch. I raked all the dead leaves out today, while the kids played outside. We had a half-day of school for conferences, so DS1 went to a friend's house while DS2 had a friend over. DD has been a whine-a-saurus today, so I was very very glad to be outside. I brought the iPhone docking station outside and blasted music while I gardened. LOVELY.

The geek thing is this...I am a *huge* Glee fan. I have been from the very beginning. These days I can't seem to watch it on TV, so I watch it online the day after (or several days after). For those who don't follow, it's a fun show that has, among other things, gay characters who are out. Well, two of those characters (the completely adorable Darren Criss and Chris Colfer) FINALLY got together with the sweetest first kiss I've seen portrayed in a long time. I'm still giddy! So that's geek thing #1. I've been listening to Glee all day, and dancing around. Geek thing #2. I've gotten Bieber fever. A friend is totally into him and just sent me the complete catalog, so I've also been listening to that. I know, silly.

I think I've got Spring Fever.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Thinking Spring!!

I actually finished this hat yesterday, but I'm still in recovery mode (turns out the reason I felt like death last week was that I have strep also! I'm doing MUCH better but my energy is still pretty low - hoping tomorrow will feel like a normal day).














Pattern: Crochet Jana Hat (Ravelry Link)
Hook size: J (I think)
Yarn: Tahki Cotton Classic

The flower is taken from Ann Norling's flower hats pattern.

This is yet another attempt to make a spring hat for my daughter. Which in all liklihood she'll never wear, but whatever, I like to make stuff. I made her one hat that's just terrible. Now I'll admit a bit of a prejudice against crochet. I know, it's not good, but there's a lot of stuff that just looks very...1970s to me. Now unlike lots of people I know, I actually lived through the fashion of the 70s. Granted, I was very young, but I was there. The hat I made is a seriously 70s hat. This hat, though, I think is adorable! I love the colors, I love the yarn, I think it's so cute!

In other news...I started another baby hat, knit this time. It may be way too small, I'm not sure. I need to do another few rows and figure out my gauge. I've got lots of ideas, things to work on, and lots of stuff in flight. I am trying to make one of those newborn nest photographer props but I'm using Homespun and if there's a more annoying yarn on the face of this earth, I have yet to encounter it and hope never to do so. Like I've said, I'm a not at all a yarn snob, but this stuff is just HORRIBLE!!!!! I knit one thing once from it and swore never again, and now I'll add crocheting with it to that list. UGH UGH. What a waste of money.

Hope Springs Eternal

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I made something I like!

And let me tell you, I needed something to go right today. I've had someone home running a fever for a week now: flu, flu, and flu&strep. Not to mention I've had a ton of my own appointments. I think we've spent $140 just in copays in the last 5 days. And I've been getting no sleep, between having a feverish, hallucinating kid in my bed, my ownwretched cold, and then just my own insomnia...WHINE WHINE. Okay, I'm done now.















This is, in case you can't tell, a Bear Hat. It's crocheted, if you can believe it. I think it's a large newborn/smallish 3 month size, but I'm finding gauge hard to measure in crochet. I've looked a lot of hat and bear hat patterns over the last week or so, and this is really an amalgamation of them, I didn't follow any pattern. I'm going to write it out here to the best of my memory, so I can refer to it.

Yarn: Lion Nature's Choice Organic Cotton (I know lots of people scorn Lion brand as "craft store yarn", but you know I'm not a yarn snob. That being said, this yarn is *lovely*, it's so soft and squishy and just scrumptious!) For this hat, I used Khaki for the body (MC) and Strawberry for the edging and the interior of the ears (CC). I also have some Espresso and Almond that I think will be super cute as well. I used most of the ball of Khaki and not a lot of the Strawberry. I probably don't have enough Khaki to reverse the color scheme, but if I hadn't messed up and had to redo the ears, I might have.

Hook size: J for the body of the hat, I for the ears.
Stitches used: hdc and sc. Oh and slip stitch.
Gauge: approx. 2.5 hdc/inch
Notions: a locking stitch marker and a tapestry needle

Note: This hat is worked in a spiral. Mark your first stitch of each row with your marker, so you know where your row ends. You're not chaining any stitches or joining any rounds with a slip stitch.

Foundation row: Chain 3, join with sl stitch in firs stitch to form a circle.

Row 1: 6 hdc in the ring. (6 stitches)
Row 2: 2 hdc in each hdc around (12 stitches)
Row 3: *2 hdc in first st, 1hdc in next st* repeat from * around (18 stitches)
Row 4: *2 hdc in first st, 1 hdc in next 2 sts* repeat from * around (24 stitches)
Row 5: *2 hdc in first st, 1 hdc in next 3 sts* repeat from * around (30 stitches)
Row 5: *2 hdc in first st, 1 hdc in next 4 sts* repeat from * around (36 stitches)

Row 6-15: hdc all around. Join with sl stitch. Cut yarn and bind off.
(At this point I wove in the two ends I had.)

Join pink and sc edging all the way around. Join with sl stitch and bind off.

Note on sizing: It would be very easy to size this up, just continue increasing in the established pattern. Measure your diameter of your circle, multiply by pi to get your circumference, and there you go. I used the very useful Bev's Country Cottage size charts for hat length. I subtract about 1" from her lengths, as these hats are not having a rolled brim.

Ears:

Move to I hook.

Foundation row: Using CC, chain 3, join with sl stitch in firs stitch to form a circle.

Row 1: 6 sc in the ring. (6 stitches)
Row 2: 2 sc in each hdc around (12 stitches)
Switch to MC.
Row 3: *2 hdc in first st, 1hdc in next st* repeat from * around (18 stitches)
Join with sl st and bind off, leaving a long enough tail to use to sew the ear to the hat body. Weave in ends.

Make two. Note on the ears: the first pair I made, I stayed at a J hook and used hdcs. I also made a MC backing and joined the front and back with sc edging. They were very cute, but HUGE and bulky, way too big for this small hat. Using the I hook, the fabric is firm enough that you don't need the backing (I personally think it's cuter but didn't do it that way for this hat). I took them off and redid them, and I'm much happier with the smaller ears. If you were making a much bigger hat, you might want to go to hdcs.

Attach the ears to the body with the tail. Weave in any remaining ends.

Note: it would also be very easy to turn this hat into an ear-flap hat. I used this lady's tutorial, though I think my flaps were one less stitch than hers. I also placed them each on stitch closer to the back.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Learning Curve, Part II

So, I'm working on this pattern (Ravelry link), using this yarn in Fern (so pretty!!). My first attempt, using an I (5.5 mm) hook, it was clearly going to be absolutely huge. Second attempt, using a J (5.00 mm) hook, I thought it was going to be too small. HA! It fit DD, albeit tightly. The 0-6 month version, that is.

I'm frustrated by my gauge issues. Now, I know part of my frustration is that I'm on kid #3 with the actual flu, which is nasty (even though we've been hit relatively mildly). I got very little sleep last night as I was talking my very feverish 7 year old down from nightmares that were close to hallucinations. But, I am not sure why on one pattern, it's way too small, and on another, it's way too big. There's no gauge listed on this pattern, so I don't know how far off I am. Well, how far off I *was* as I've ripped out attempt number two. I'm now thinking I'll just make my own hat pattern and then add ear flaps. It really doesn't look like it'll be that hard.

Unrelated to this, my husband kicked me out of the house today to get some fresh air, so I took the girlie and we went on a photo walk. I could hear the snow melting, and there were even some patches of brown grass showing in places, and it's the first time I really had hope that Spring may actually come this year!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Learning Curve



















Learning new things isn't always easy - especially not for those of us who have the lovely combination of perfectionism and impatience, with just a hint of narcissistic arrogance thrown in. Okay, I'm not that bad, and I've gotten much better in the last 10 years or so. I know I've talked about it before, but it's so true. Knitting and now crocheting has taught me *so* much about curbing my perfectionism, opening up my patience, and increasing my tolerance for making mistakes. For some reason, I've been on this total crocheting jag. I think because I want to make some hats, quickly, and I don't have a lot of time, so crochet is appealing as it's quicker. For some definition of quicker that seems to include needing to rip out 75% of what I'm making. Yeah, insert eyeroll here.

I started a hat for my daughter, realized I'd screwed up the pattern so I ripped it out and made a different one. I finished it, but I really don't like it, and it's not long enough. I don't know why, I have this problem making hats long enough! Then I made the above-picture hat, which turned out COMPLETELY cute, and I think is even the right not-quite-newborn size that I think will be useful for my friend. That's from some leftover craft-store acrylic that I acquired many years ago. I really struggled with the sizing of the pattern - I'm still new-enough at this to not know if the pattern is off or I'm off. Most likely the latter.

So then I found a cute pattern for a crocheted baby helmet-type hat, and I know my-friend-the-photographer would like one. I was knitting her one, and it was going to be HUGE, like it would fit my almost 3 y.o. daughter. So I ripped that too. I'm having gauge issues, apparently. (This, people, is why I don't usually knit items where gauge matters. I'm also paranoid because she told me that the little pink and purple helmet I did was way too small for her 9 lb niece.) So ANYway. I found this pattern, looked doable, found some really pretty yarn, so I waded in. It's really not hard, actually, but now I'm realizing that it's going to be HUGE. The complete opposite of the problem I had with the Bear Hat, which I had to do a 12-24 month size in order to get a hat that would be a bit loose on DD's baby doll. I think before I rip the hat out, I'll shove it on her head (the daughter, not the doll) and if it goes on her head, I'll rip because I do want a closer-to-newborn size. But not tonight, I've ripped out enough today.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The thoughts, there are many...

I am finding crocheting a bit perplexing. In a way, it seems like it should be so straightforward, but like any craft, there are nuances.

I'm working on a hat. Using the recommended yarn weight and hook size, my hat is way smaller than it should be, like 3.3" too small in the circumference. I've followed the pattern but it looks like I'm going to have to add another 6 rows or so to make it long enough (for the size I have, not even the size I am trying to knit). I'm wondering if I just crochet so tightly that my gauge is way, way off. I mean, it obviously is off, but why? That's the main thing I can come up with.

And wow, crochet uses a crazy amount of yarn!

Other than that...yeah. Life. It's okay - getting in the swing again. I feel like I've got so many possibilities right now, so many directions that I'm trying to go in. It's exciting but also a bit scary. It's good, I have to keep reminding myself, it's good. Hard and scary doesn't mean bad.

Monday, February 28, 2011

I love math.

I really do. I think, in part, it's just a good fit for my brain. Much of my (albeit intro) study of formal logic appealed to me in the same way - with the kind of math I like, it's concrete, it's either right or wrong, and you can actually figure things out and know them. For a control freak like me, it's very comforting.

Even though I have approximately 400 projects in flight right now, well, I had a hard day, so I decided to start a project that's been calling to me, a crocheted hat for my little girl. Well, not so little! In about 2.5 months, she'll be three. And she decided to potty train on Saturday. Seriously, she announced she was wearing undies from now on, and that's it. She's doing great, and since it's one of my least favorite moments of parenting, I'm sort of glad she took matters into her own hands and decided to do it. :) Anyway, she's got this cute crocheted hat made out of some sort of straw-type-material and she *loves* it. And it's getting way too small for her. So I thought I'd try to make her a different-but-similar hat. I'd forgotten how crocheting makes my wrists hurt! That hooking, it's tough on the joints. ;) I also chose white, which may not really work with her very fair coloring. Whatever, it's fun and I'm enjoying it.

I made a friend laugh as we had the following text exchange.

Me: I think I must be crocheting tightly. I'm bending this aluminum hook...and I'm only on the second row.
Her: A little tense?
Me: Ya think? Switching to steel.
Her: I love that that's your solution.

It never occurred to me that perhaps I should, you know, loosen up a bit!

The math part is that I need the hat to fit the circumference of her head, but I am crocheting a flat circle. To see if it's big enough, I just measured the diameter, multiplied by an approximation of pi and voila! Circumference.

I think, like most of us in New England, I just need this winter to be over. It's be a tough one. Thankfully we've all been pretty healthy (unlike last winter when we had swine flu, pneumonia, strep, and the stomach flu) but the weather has been hard to take and I've been struggling. I finally acknowledged that things just Aren't Right (again), and that I need some assistance. I'm getting it taken care of, and I'm very confident that all will be well...but it sucks to be back in this dark place. What I've learned from my many bouts of this is that it will pass, and I have enough clarity to know, really? My life is not just fine, but AMAZING. Yes, there's a big stressor (which isn't really my story to tell) but there's so many wonderful things too. This simply feels like neurochemistry gone awry, and so I'm going to correct that.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hopes and Dreams



















I was incredibly blessed yesterday to be able to go visit a friend and her family, including her 10 day old new little guy. It's been a painful road, and it's wonderful that he's here!

These pictures confirmed some things for me - that I have a *lot* to learn about the art of photography; that I *love* taking pictures (well, I already knew that!) and that I want to pursue a more formal study. I could see what I wanted in my head, but learning how to get that image is something I'm going to need some assistance with. I have A Plan and I think it's doable. It's exciting, it feels like the beginning of a journey that I put off 20 years ago because of time, money and practicality.

The other interesting thing was holding this beautiful little baby. I know many people who are not baby people, they like kids when they get a little older. I have to admit, I'm a sucker for a baby. Holding and snuggling this little guy was just sublime, but I will say, there really wasn't any part of me thinking "Oh man, I wish I could do this again!" I'd love to have a life where I get to have contact with babies...and then give them back!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Camera Bag

Of course, it's not new, and it's not really a camera bag...

I came home from VT to a couple of wonderful packages! I've been pondering camera bags and felt like everything I saw was sort of ugly, not my style at all, and most of them screamed "I'VE GOT AN EXPENSIVE CAMERA IN HERE!!!" It's odd, I'm not a bag person, as I've said, but I have a great fondness for diaper bags. One company, Ju Ju Be, has well-designed bags with a lot of great features. Since I've not been into buying new bags for a couple of years, I was unaware that they'd come out with the BFF (let me note that I did NOT pay that for the bag!). It's a larger bag, but not overwhelming and I thought it might work for a camera bag. I also ordered this insert, which fits perfectly in the bag. I am not entirely sure how to configure it. But right now I've got it so there's one big compartment for the camera body with 50 mm lens attached, and then two smaller compartments - one for the battery charger and one for my kit lens (18-55mm). I know I'm going to want a longer zoom, which may or may not work in this insert. We'll see. But, since we've got our Big Trip coming up in April, I think this will work! I can also fit a Be Quick with 2 pulls ups and a pack of wipes on top of the insert, and the front pocket is big enough for my wallet and sundries. I can also fit some more in this bag with these things, it'll be stuffed and they'd have to be small, but it could work. I'm hoping only to carry one bag on the trip, and I know I'm going to want my camera with me.

A few pictures:

Insert with camera (Nikon D5000 with 50 mm lens attached)


















BFF with Insert














BFF with Insert and Be Quick




Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Well, so much for that!

Tomorrow we're heading home. On the one hand, I'm not looking forward to it, but on the other...I am. I love my family, and it's wonderful to be so close with them, but it's hard to be a visitor. My kids are...well, spirited at times, especially my oldest, and he can be a real handful to manage. I had what I think is a MAJOR insight into my relationship with him and why it can be so challenging - all on my part, nothing on him, and I'm hoping it's something I can work with. I get so angry and impatient sometimes, and I have to keep reminding myself, HE'S 7!!! He's just a *little kid*! He's not easy, but I am the grown up, for whatever that's worth.

It's been a good visit. COLD. I'm really, really looking forward to Spring. I know, like everyone else in New England. It's been a tough winter and I'm ready for it to be over. Soon, right? I mean, I don't want to wish my life away or anything, but I'm ready for less cold, less snow, more light, more warmth! This spring may bring some really cool things to my life, and I'm excited.

I think I've said this before, but every time I come home to visit, I am reminded that this really is *home* for me. In many ways I'd lovelovelove to move back here. It's just not logistically possible, but it's a nice dream. And, in any case, I can visit.

So, tomorrow, back to my regular life. I can't wait to see my lovely husband and my sweet kitties. It will be good to be home!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

We made it!!

We're here at my parents' house! Yes, it's not a vacation in the sense of lying on the beach drinking a margarita or anything, but the thing that's so awesome is not having to be in charge of any of the cooking or cleaning! Dude, I *hate* cleaning.

That's not actually true, as I think about it...I don't hate cleaning, what I hate is not having the time or energy...or having them and having my efforts TRASHED 20 seconds later, which is what happens and is so demoralizing.

I'm also coming to grip with the idea that we're just DROWNING in STUFF and we really, really need to get rid of it. I'm so bad at letting go of things, and we just need to do it. I need to get inspired. If I could have a week at home with no kids or husband, I think I could get a lot done, but that's not happening any time soon!

Anyway, I'm hoping to keep up the posting while here, we'll see!