Friday, October 17, 2014

October already?

Summer was good.  For the most part.  It ended on a difficult note with a long bout of the stomach flu sweeping through the family that made us a little grateful to leave the summer months behind and embark on a new school year.

Middle school is awesome.

Second grade is boring.

Over the summer, I applied and interviewed for a position as a literacy aide at the elementary school.  I started work the first day of school and spend every morning until 12:30 working, or looking for work to do.  I enjoy it, when I'm busy.  I'm bored, when I'm not.

There's no way to recapture the months I let slip by.  You'll have to trust that they were full of awesome moments.  The day is full and promises to end with much left to do.  But as I read this morning, Blessed Mother Theresa is known to have said that God only expects us to do what He gives us the time (health and ability) to do.

With that, Josh is going to shut down this episode of Power Rangers and we're off to another day at school with plans to end it as a family watching the Toy Story Halloween movie.

Friday, May 30, 2014

"Are you ever gonna write on your blog again?"

That's what Matt asked me last night.

My answer was noncommittal.  A mumble.

I'm smart enough to figure out all the settings and charts that Blogger has now.  I'm reasonably sure, except when I share a link on Small Things' Yarn Along, Matt is my only reader.  It's hard to feel motivated to sit down and write about what the boys are up to and the family's doing or I'm working on, when the principle audience is elbow deep in the trenches alongside me.

I'm not even sure where to begin or where I left off.  But to pick up from the now....here it goes:

1.  I spent the day at the car dealer today.  The Fit was due for a cleaning and the battery and starter needed to be checked.  Thankfully, it all checked out as good, because the Sebring is waiting for its air bleeder to arrive via Amazon.  Then, I get to play assistant mechanic to Matt as he replaces it.  Don't let on to the Sebring, I'm beginning to hate on it.  But we're a one car payment at a time family.  The Fit will be done in due time, but not as fast as it could be as we save aggressively for the roof.  No one told us that growing up would be like this.  This part is not fun.

2.  I was Auntie-napped from the dealer.  Faith and Moses picked me up and we went to lunch.  They brought their Mommy, because neither of them can reach the pedals and steer at the same time.  Moses puked on me.  Geyser style.  I haven't bothered to change.  These jeans were clean this morning.

3.  I've been bustin' out the lesson plans for next year's Religious Ed.  A year under our belt is helping me plan a little smarter.  Matt doesn't like or want a whole of extra hands-on, creative stuff.  Give it to him straight.  On the rocks.  Josh likes a little mixer, a twist, blended with an umbrella.  Give him something to build, legos, a shoe box, glue and scissors and googly eyes.

4.  Our current to do list is a lot of finishits.  Finish its.  Or Finish shits.  Whatever.   A little here, a little there.  We run out of time.  We have other stuff going on.  The weather is crap.  We can't find the pieces.  I get something as far as I can and need the heavy muscles to come dig it out, yank it up, till it round or chop it down.  We need a few extra hours in every day.  Preferably with day light.  When the kids are sleeping.  What the hell happened to nap time?

5.  Know what happens when a 7 year old tells his Mimi and Grandma he doesn't have many shorts that fit?  They go shopping.  And what's good for one is good for the other.  From the sound of it, the boys will have ample wardrobe this summer and into those first warm weeks of school.  This is good because I was going to make due with what they already have, seeing as I expect they'll need new everything when the weather turns again..  This ultimately would have been fine.  But apparently sometimes they like to have options...even if they insist on wearing the same things everyday.

6.  Matthew had a visit at the Middle School the other week.  We had a parent meeting.  Matt kept telling me to stop wringing my hands.  It's like mini-high school.  But I wasn't the one who actually searched on Amazon for thumbprint locker locks.  They do have them.  Matthew will not.

7.  Summer is nearly here.  3.5 days left of school.  I'm looking forward to having my boys back.  Their first full day off we'll go grocery shopping in the morning.  I expect it will either go well with eager helpers or I'll be gritting my teeth threatening to snatch Matthew's eyeballs out of his head if he rolls them at me one more time.  (Old people seem to find that particular interaction hil-ar-ious.) Josh will be trailing behind whining about cars or books or doughnuts or chocolate milk or his brother or Webkinz or hot dogs or Kool-Aid Bursts or....



There, Love.  I wrote on my blog again.  Now hurry up and get home, would ya?  And never mind that I smell a little like baby puke.

Monday, April 14, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Spring Break, the Beginning

Today was our first official day of spring break.  Matt has taken some much overdue time off and we're all home for a good full week.  The boys return to school on Monday, and Matt returns to work on Wednesday.  It won't be an uneventful week with Holy Week and all of its different rituals and traditions.  We also all have our own plans on what we'll be spending our time doing.



1- This weekend was full of baseball.  Friday kicked us off with back to back baseball practices immediately following trumpet lessons.  Dinner was late.  And a group effort.  The rest of the weekend was baseball in the yard, baseball in the basement, baseball downtown and more baseball practice.  The boys are signed up for the Kids Crew at the Seawolves again, which means they received free admission to all Sunday home games.  Matthew actually caught a ball that one of the players tossed into the stands.  He passed it on to another spectator though because we had a ball a lady caught earlier and gave to them. 

2- We worked a little in the yard.  Both Matt and I are sore all over between all the baseball and yard work and some extra house projects that are finally getting checked off the list!  The boys dug out most of the invasive grassy stuff that fills the back corner, in preparation for the tree to be taken out.  There's a large overgrown bush there too.  I want to take it out because I think it's messy looking and ugly.  Matt wants to wait until we have a plan and resources to put something there.  I'm hoping we come up with something as a family.  We are going to be discussing a Mary's Garden next month...perhaps someone will have an idea or two.

3- The boys were a little dismayed to hear that the regular religious ed was wrapping up this weekend and they have a couple more weeks left.  We spread it out a little more with some different weekends off and we didn't plan more than one chapter a week.  There isn't any sense rushing things.  They may have been dismayed but not disgruntled, given how excited Matthew was that his 5th grade text book just arrived in the mail today.  And how "pissed out"* Josh was that his hasn't been ordered yet. 

*"Pissed out" - When Josh was barely a preschooler he was having a bad day.  Something made him very angry and he looked at me and said, "Mommy, I'm pissed OUT!"  This would be one of many Joshy-isms we've acquired...and enjoy.  Although he does know now he's not supposed to say "pissed" .... and takes great care to remind anyone who slips and does.  ahem.

4- Today is probably our most chopped up and hectic day.  This morning, I left all three boys to their own devices to attend the last of my Monday morning Bible Study sessions.  They had already left for their haircuts when I returned home.  Now, Matt-Squared is off to trumpet lessons.  Baseball practice must be cancelled for tonight - it's pouring rain.  I have a block of lessons.  And we've managed to squeeze in some laundry and ripping out Matthew's carpet.  The rest of the week is mapped out with Wednesday being a special day where we're packing up for the day and setting off an adventure, just the four of us.  Long overdue family time.

5- Yep.  The pink carpet in Matthew's room is gone.  We knew since we moved in that the bedrooms all have hardwood.  We could tell the carpet pad didn't have adhesive on it.  We debated waiting until we could afford to have them refinished.  The desire for something that could be cleaned and was clean won out.  The boys ripped it all out today, revealing some pretty beat up dark stained hardwoods.  A few questions were answered - yes, the light wood through the rest of the house much have been a refinished job by some previous owner.  The doorway into the bedroom looks like a kid who can't color in the lines between the light hall and the dark bedroom.  The nasty matted filthy pink was probably put in by the previous owners, given their paint color of choice is spattered on the floor.  There are other colors and likely nail polish also on the floor.  And yes, people are idiots. 

How people can abuse their home in such a fashion doesn't cease to amaze and shock me.  The scratches and gouges are pretty bad in a few spots.  But we are fortunate, relieved and grateful that there are no weird stains or massive areas of damage.  There's nothing we can't live with until we've saved up to have all the floors redone.  They all need it - the family room floor is particularly embarrassing to me and the dining room has terrible sun damage.  All four of us worked together after lunch to wipe down the floors with a warm water and vinegar wash.  Matt and I washed, scrubbing off what we could.  The boys following closely, drying as we went.  Then we wiped them down twice with the Method Almond Oil I use.  They look much better.  They will do just fine for the time being and they are CLEAN.

6- I always feel so conflicted when people comment that I should be teaching - even those loving, kind friends who don't mean immediately but later, when the time is right and the kids are grown and I'm ready for the next phase.  I feel conflicted because I do like teaching.  But I don't like being a teacher.  My brief stint in a classroom had far more bad things going for it, than good.  I have even less patience now than I did then for excuses and argumentative behavior, laziness and willful stupidity.  I also can't see ever doing what I used to do again - I know what it is to LIVE now.  Why would I ever willingly or joyfully go back to a life where I'm buried and constantly behind on paperwork, lesson plans, grades and grading? 

My certifications are on voluntary inactive statue, but seeing as my previous place of employment didn't file whatever hours I did complete during in-services, it appears I have 0 hours towards the required 180 before I lose the certifications.  That countdown starts up again as soon as they are active and might only be a couple of years - that would be additional work on top of starting over teaching some place.  If I could find a job in this area that is already over-saturated with teachers.

But I do have them.  In case Matt ever needs me to go back. 

Even if I did land an interview, my ideas of what I'd do and tolerate are a little different, or maybe better defined, or maybe I'm just not willing to be forced into compromising anymore.  Extra credit - nope.  Retakes - nope.  Late work - sick or death only excuse there.  I teach History.  If the kids don't read and come prepared for discussions or "activities", then I'm going to lecture.  I'll lecture whenever I want for however long I want if I'm teaching in a college preparatory program.  Full length research papers - not in my class.  I teach History not English.  It was bad enough grading poorly written essays.  The 8-10 pages of crap was torture.  And having to find all of the students' resources to make sure they weren't or prove they were plagiarizing took longer than grading the papers.  And why oh why should a History teacher have to spend hours evaluating grammar and then explaining it to the pissed off students....and their parents.  Not.my.job.

Another teacher told me after my first year, that someday it'd be easier, after I had kids of my own.  They were speaking of the whole issues of classroom management and discipline.  I can see her point. I know how to tell a kid to shut up and sit down 15 different ways without saying shut up and sit down, specifically.  But I don't think that will necessarily make my life easier because my idea of classroom management then or now doesn't gel with having to fill out forms about why I'm sending some little jerk out of my room.  I'm just going to want to tell him to get out even more than I ever did, because it's my classroom, I'm in charge and I don't care who your parents are. Plus, being a mom of boys, I still don't know how to accidentally avoid offending pms-ing teenage girls.

And right there is the biggest of all caveats....when I was young and single and that was my job and I had to rely on myself for everything and I was my only source of income and had bills to pay all by myself, I had to have self control.  I had to play the politics to keep my job.  Throw me in some of those same exact settings and situations now, nearly 10 years later, I'd be much less couth.  I should have been a teacher decades ago, when being the teacher meant something to the students, the parents and the administrators. 

7- On a much lighter note - I'm nearly finished with Faith's Princess Elsa dress.  Matt's sweater is coming along.  I'm on the body ....armpits to waist.  Some of my friends at Bible Study asked if was STILL working on it....I responded, "My husband is a big guy!  6'2"!  This is going to take awhile."  I knit Moses a hat, that was too small.  And I'm plugging away at mindless-ish seed stitch for a living room pillow.  OH!  And the baseball blanket is back out and will grow with every practice and game I knit through.  (See what I did there....knit through, instead of sit through?)

Monday, April 7, 2014

7 Quick Takes: I Owe 14, but You'll Have to Settle for Whatever I Crank Out

 Matthew wanted to help in the kitchen.  
Matt started to tell him he couldn't because of his cold, then turned around to see him in his mask.

 Elsa dress fabric.

 New kitchen light!


 "After" shots.  I never think to take "before" shots, making these rather anti-climatic.

1- That we've been busy might be an understatement.  Spring is trying to ease into the area which allows for more outside time and produces more outside work.  It also inspires hitherto unseen inspiration to knock out small projects around the house.  You know, the stuff we were planning to do through the winter when we were stuck indoors?

The boys bathroom was done a couple weekends ago, but is waiting for the sinks to be finished and one small strip of white wainscoting that needs to be painted.  Matt needed a smaller brush.  We picked that up finally on Saturday.

We've moved on to a few other things....

2.  We finally figured out what to do with the light over the island.  We've had a nice fixture sitting in a box for over a year.  Matt tried to install it a few weeks ago, only to discover that under the existing fixture there was a huge hole in the ceiling.

Enter ceiling medallion.

Painted.

Hung.

Looks good.  Gives us more concentrated and brighter light at the island and improved light at the stove.

And Matt will no longer bump his head on pendant lights hung too low.

But Faith won't have the lights to play with next time she visits.  Neither will my Dad.  Between the two of them, those old lights were batted, swung and tied in a knot. 

3.  We also started stripping an old barrister's cabinet that we've been using as a game cabinet.  The original plan was to sand it and restain it.  Matt started it on Saturday, while I restuffed one of Josh's giant dragons.  (Josh was writing it on my to-do list with angry smiley face pictures for about a month now.)  But the sanding wasn't going well.  There was damage on the topmost surface that wasn't going to sand out and would show through a stain.

Trip to Lowes.

The cabinet is now partially painted a mocha java brown.  We'll get to finish it later this week and hopefully have it finished in time for Easter, which we're hosting.

4.  The outdoor work started in earnest after a clean out across the front.  I moved to the side to clean out leaves and began chopping down the overgrown lilac bushes.  Lilacs are beautiful but these bushes were badly cared for and pruned over the years, long before I hacked at them last spring.  They consisted of long, tall limbs all reaching out from the outer most part of the bushs' trunks, with most of the center portions long gone and rotting.  They were also badly placed and the yard is a mess over there from years of storing a boat or trailer or something.  I have two long limbs left that are too tall for me to handle on my own, then we'll dig up the trunks before dealing with the grass or lack there of in that side yard.

The pile of branches has grown and Matt is tackling the old chipper that was buried in Mimi's shed with new vigor.  After 20+ years of sitting in that shed, Matt hopes he can get it started.

In the meantime, I continued on to the backyard, cleaning out under the neighbors' pine trees that overreach our border.  Last summer, I dug out a huge amount of their ivy that had grown into our yard, a patch maybe 10 ft x 4 ft.  It seems to be clear of ivy still, but was full of leaves and debris from the willow.  7 bags later, it is cleaned out and the remaining wood has been restacked.  That was an hour worth of work after this morning's Bible Study, and enough for today.  Last spring, thinking the pine trees were ours, I gave them a haircut as I worked in that area.  This year I know better, but as branches slapped me in the face and scratched my neck and my lower back every time I bent over, I wished I didn't know better. 

I'm reminded of the annual pruning Coblentz did across campus in preparation for Holiday Tea and decorating contest.  Every evergreen on campus had a middle of the night haircut, and the next day, the entire stairwell of the res hall was beautiful adorned with evergreen branches, all the way up to the 4th floor.

5.  Matthew is well over his cold, but took a tumble outside yesterday.  Now he's nursing some roadrash and a few scrapes.  I'm sure it stings, but he certainly is milking it.  He survived PSSAs last week and is back to the regular schedule of classes and homework this week.  He won't like that.  He got accustomed to coming home and going straight outside every night last week.

Josh is suffering a bruised ego as he and his BFF keep having disagreements that he doesn't know about.  This is what happens when your BFF is a girl.  I think most of it stems from jealousy as he seems to get the silent treatment most frequently if he has been playing with any of the other girls in class.  I'd like to tell him it'll get worst before it gets better.  But I don't want to cause him any further despair.  He is looking forward to his first baseball practice on Friday, if the weather cooperates.  He is also planning to plant and care for his own flower garden this summer.  This weekend he started his sunflowers indoors.  They are put well out of Banshee's reach, because last time he did this she buried a biscuit in his tray of seedlings.

6.  I don't have time to proofread this today.  So, if it's crap, I apologize.  At least it's done.

7.  I promised to make Faith an Elsa dress.  I have a plan.  I have the material.  I have anxiety over cutting into the materials and executing the plan.  She won't let me forget though and is making a list of the dresses I'm to make after this one.  Next rainy day, I plan to take a deep breath, hold it and cut.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

7 Quick Takes: It's Still Too Cold


 1.  Our copy of Frozen arrived!  We were all very excited and made Friday a Frozen Movie Night after we finally got home from trumpet lessons and Matt from work, made and had dinner and settled down.

Faith is getting her very own copy, so this is one princess movie she won't have to borrow from Aunt Sasa.  She needs an Elsa dress.  So that is something Aunt Sasa can take care of - once I make a trip to the fabric store.



2.  Saturday morning, over coffee, I suggested we either work in the yard a little or if the weather wasn't going to cooperate, paint the boys' bathroom.

The weather was wet and cold.  The boys' bathroom is clean and fresh, no more sloppy frogs and mixmash of blue paints smeared across the ceiling.

It took all day.  It was kind of ridiculous.


3.  We have been resisting the temptation to go out to eat or order in when things get hairy.  Saturday would have been an easy night to give in and run over to Sabo's.  Instead, we whipped up the french bread pizzas I had planned.  Also putting together a big batch of chili for later this week....


 4.  And a batch of guacamole.  This is Josh's guacamole happy face.  He's pretty blissed out.  He loves guacamole in the worst way.  He even tried the separate batch I made for his Daddy - with chopped up chipotle peppers in adobe sauce.  It packed a bit too much punch for him.  But he tried it!


5.  Religious Ed this week was simplified for Matthew.  He's down and out with a cold.  They are both working on Lenten/Easter lessons and we get a lot of that in our nightly Lenten devotionals and all of our Triduum traditions.  Joshua enjoyed an extra special project that involved rocks and dirt and Daddy.  We're hoping the grass seed sprouts and fills in for Easter.  On Good Friday, he'll place a Lego Jesus in the tomb and He'll have risen for Easter Sunday.  Alleluia!


6.  Matt also finished up the last of our kitchen gallery last weekend.  I did everything I could to help.  However, hanging these involved measuring and leveling and all sorts of eyeballing and mathematics that just aren't my thing.   


7.  The week ahead could be a quiet one, or it could take a turn for crazy if we get calls for baseball practices.  There's no telling what it might bring.  Unfortunately, it looks to bring more cold and damp weather.  Which besides frustrating after what has been a bitterly cold winter, is making my foot hurt.  The commercials for arthritis treatments aren't exaggerating.  It hurts like a...well, nevermind....it hurts.

Monday, March 17, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Lent and Stuff

1.  We had a busy weekend.  In fact, it wasn't until this afternoon that I realized that the kids didn't do their normal weekend chores.  At all.  Saturday morning found us divvying

up and going in different directions.  The evening found us out on the town.  Sunday was normal.  But after Saturday, it probably should have had a couple extra chores stuck in it.

2.  Saturday morning Matt and Matthew headed off for his baseball tryouts.  He had to be way up at Family First at 8 am.  He received his phone call mid afternoon.  He's on the same team with the same coach as last year.  We are grateful.  He's a good coach with a good attitude about the game.  We witnessed enough of the alternatives last year that we were anxious about who would "draft" Matthew.  Soon enough the practices will start.  Our evenings will be turned upside down.  This year though, we'll be able to take a break from the twice weekly karate classes for the short baseball season.  Without being charged or messing around with any sort of long term contracts.  Grateful for that too.

3.  Josh and I went grocery shopping early Saturday morning.  I put it off from Friday because the boys were off school and both invited friends over.  I had a house full of boys on Friday all day.  It went well.  Nothing and nobody was broken.

4.  I started the preparation for the semi-annual Great Wardrobe shift.  This is less of a hassle with bigger closets and separate rooms for the kids.  No more boxes to shift with seasonal clothes.  Nearly nothing of Josh's fit from last year.  He's built like a tank and he's shot up, again.  Given that Matthew can still comfortable wear his size 10 shorts and they are all slim fit anyway, this meant that I had to go shopping for some wardrobe staples for Josh.  Size 10.  My boys are in the same size clothes.  Different cuts.  But the same size.  So much for hand me downs.

5.  I went shopping for Matt too while I was at it and had 3 different coupon codes.  We stopped buying him shirts a couple of years ago because that has been his Mom's favorite thing to buy him.  We actually asked her to take a break too.  Now we need to weed a few more worn items out and replenish the supply.  In the past month, he's had 3 long sleeve shirts just spontaneously rip up the sleeve.  I like shopping for him.  He likes shopping for me.  That's about the only way either of us get new clothes - when the other forces the issue.

6.  We're in Lent.  This is that awkward house decorating period where the entire world is decking out for spring and Easter and our spring and Easter stuff is in a box.  Only to come out about 2 days before the supermarkets and the rest of the world rip there's down.  Purple cloth on the front doors.  Our family altar cloth has been changed and decked out with some items for the kids.  The boys gathered branches for our Lent tree and we're doing out evening devotionals and placing a new piece every night.  Our current year of Religious Ed at home seems to have expanded their knowledge of some of the people and events we're reading about.  It all makes a little more sense.

7.  I've taken to trying to get the housework done and wrap things up by mid afternoon a couple days a week to take a break.  My evenings are my work.  My days are crammed with to-do lists.  The boys are up later now that they are older and then the remainder of the evenings are a mix of wrapping up the day and folding laundry.  But a couple times a week, I get a half hour or an hour that I force myself to sit down with my knitting and something on Netflix.  I finished the old BBC version of Pride and Prejudice.  I'm now watching the old 1980s Jane Eyre mini-series.  It's better than soap operas and I skip the bon-bons.   

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Yarn Along: Almost

I am very close to finished with this shawl.  I know it because I'm decreasing to the end and can see it.  I also know it because I just started the last ball of yarn.  I had 6.  I worked 3 balls to the center and left 3 balls to the other tip.
The yarn is long discontinued and I searched high and low for a link to it for a previous Yarn Along.  The picture isn't doing the color justice.  It looks much less orange and coppery and much more pink.  I keep thinking that it looks like strawberry ice cream, with ribbons of chocolate running through it, because the mixed fibers has threads and nubs of dark colors.  On close inspection, the dark colors are everything from a nearly black brown to a very dark blue and sometimes green.  I LOVE it.
The pattern is Vienna.  It's so stinking easy, but shows of the nubby qualities and the colors of this yarn beautifully.  It has fairly flown off the needles.  I LOVE it.
With a snowy day before me, and a meager list of things I should get done, I just might have time to sit this afternoon and work on it.  Maybe even finish it!
Then I really must return to Matt's Shredder.  He began pestering about his "partial sweater" the other night.  As an improvement on the sweater he's been promised for years and never happened.

Monday, March 10, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Or 14? 21? How behind am I anyway?

1.  February is too short.  Too many birthdays.  Holidays.  With some illness.  And anxiety as we waited for Moses to arrive. 

2.  I was sick and actually spent almost an entire week just getting the kids to and from school and laying on the couch.  I even cancelled a whole night of lessons and took Nyquil.  I fell woefully behind on laundry and housework, and missed the first of my new book club/Bible study group's meetings.  It was a pretty miserable week.

3.  The weekend following my being sick and behind and frustrated, Moses decided to arrive.  So, we had Faith over for a few days.  I fell even further behind, missed another book club/Bible study meeting and skipped out on my Wednesday Bible study just to catch up. That being said...

4.  We had a wonderful visit with Faith.  We spoiled her terribly and she in turn charmed us for 3 days and 2 nights, leaving the house strangely quiet when she returned home.  Moses is adorable and so very tiny that even Matthew isn't so sure about holding him just yet.

5.  The weather is finally warming up.  Maybe.  I'm not making any plans to start cleaning up the yard until I'm sure that spring is on it's way.  Then I'll start with cleaning out debris, washing the windows and yanking out the messed up lilac bushes.

6.  Lent has begun and we've started our Lenten tree and evening devotionals.  There's bits of purple here and there.  We've all made some plans for what we're giving up or working on in the next few weeks.  Since I gave up Facebook for Advent and never went back, I had to re-think my usual Lenten sacrifice.  I'm still fine tuning it.

7.  A break in the weather has me thinking about summer vacation.  Last year we made the boys passports and filled them with lots of great activities and adventures for the summer.  I"m leaning towards making this the summer of lazy, do nothing and stick close to home days.  I don't know if it's a good plan or because I'm too lazy to make plans this year. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Yarn Along: An Abundance

Here's my knitting.


Here's my nephew.

Here's my niece.


 Another of my niece.  Because I can.


And that's all I've got.

I have more projects than is usually a good idea for me to have going on at one time.  I'm nearly done with one.  Half done with another.  Barely started a third, but it's a quickie.  And the infamous Shredder hasn't been touched but is rolling in the right direction...finally.

I was sick all last week and fell behind on my usual weekly stuff.  Then Sunday, at 2 am, was called into action as Auntie.  My niece, the Princess, is a new big sister.  Now that everyone is tucked back into their own homes, I am well over a week behind on everything.  Hence, snapshots.  No patterns.  No yarn.

I'm reading Courageous Virtue for a book club.  I'm reading Peter and the Starcatchers with Josh.  I pulled my Sherlock Holmes Vol. 1 off the shelf for myself.  I'll pick up with the Anne series again later.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Countercultural

It has come to our attention that we are countercultural as parents.

We didn't intend to be.  Some of the things we've done since the boys were born have since been considered trendy or en vogue.  We didn't just do natural childbirth, we did the Bradley method.  I nursed on demand.  Sometimes, but not all the time, the boys ended up in our bed.  We didn't linger too long with the jarred baby foods.  I "wore" them when they were small enough and my back would allow it.  I learned to look to homeopathic treatments for some ailments and illnesses.  They've both been seeing a chiropractor regularly for several years.  But we did all our vaccines on time.  I bathed them everyday.  I never have been able to stomach the cost of organic stuff.  We've never been opposed to going to an urgent care for antibiotics when the illness warranted it. 

Some of our decisions have flipped us from one side of the coin to the other, probably confusingly so to an outsider's perspective.  We removed them from their Catholic school.  We put them in public school.  They did a year of traditional CCD/Sunday School/Religious Ed at our parish.  We didn't return and chose the homeschool option for Religious Ed.  We limit their screen time, but they both have a DS and we regularly add to their Wii and DS game collections for Christmas and birthdays.  Matt even rebuilt one of his old desktop computers so they have a just for them computer.  We don't have Dish or Direct TV or even cable and only have one tv in the house.  But we put our Netflix subscription to good use. 

We suspect that even those few details might not appear too countercultural.  We're closet countercultural.  It creeps out sometimes with their chore charts but no allowance, the home enthronement and family altar and when we flat out say no to one more extracurricular activity.  It has been out their loud and clear though this week.  In one week's time, both boys were invited to birthday parties with what is apparently the latest and greatest party thing - a game trailer.  I guess it is the equivalent of the kid who was lucky enough to have a pony at their party.  And all the kids want to go.  And all the kids want to have it.  Our boys would have loved to go. And we would have loved to let them.  The game choices are diverse.  They have a wide selection of popular games and all the information about ratings are available.  The party throwing parents make the decisions and have to give permission for those games rated M.

Those games rated M.  We don't play them.  Matt and I don't play them.  Well, he has and might consider some but not with or in front of the boys.  He likes his Crysis game, but hasn't played it since the boys were old enough to accidentally see anything over his shoulder.  Our boys have never even seen a rated M game being played.

Matthew's party was a Halo party.  After much fretting, asking around and researching, we said no.  We made up some lame excuse with the rsvp about having a family obligation.  I was disappointed that a parent would throw a party for a group of 9 and 10 year old boys and just assume it'd be ok with everyone that they play Halo.  I was even more disappointed when Matthew said everyone else went.  One kid had a doctor's appointment.  Matthew had his "family obligation." 

I was just recovering from this soul searching dilemma and crushing Matthew's eager hopes when a party invite arrives for Josh.  I had to leave the mom a voicemail accepting the invitation - a generic game trailer postcard with no indication of what theme or games the 6 and 7 olds will be playing.  I asked her to call me because I did have a couple questions....She didn't call but we did run into each other in the parking lot. 

Halo and Call of Duty.

There are 5 systems and screens in the trailer.  The kids can choose other games but Halo and Call of Duty would be on at least one of the systems because the birthday boy and his uncles play it.  They would definitely be playing Halo and Call of Duty.

Shock.

I muttered and mumbled and oh, well, we don't allow them to play mature games.  We don't do rated M games at our home.  Then spent the rest of the day in turmoil.

I ended up calling that afternoon and leaving a voicemail, taking back our previous rsvp of yes.  No.  Joshua wouldn't be able to attend because we don't want him exposed to those sort of games at this age.

I wonder how many other parents even thought to ask what games would be at the 7 year old's party?  I wonder how many would even care?

We did.  We do.  And with that, we're going to be outed.  We are THOSE parents.  The ones who won't even let their kids attend a party with that game or movie or what have you.  We'll be the ones calling and asking.  We'll be the ones checking on the chaperone situation of this and that party.  We'll be the ones with the kids who won't get their OWN phones for a very long time.  Who won't have a Facebook or Twitter account.  Who will have a curfew.  Who won't have their own car.  Who won't be dating until their 16.  Who won't ever be up on all the latest and greatest music and movies because they aren't allowed to listen or watch crap.

And they'll probably be in marching band too.

Maybe the hardest part is not being countercultural, but knowing that for the boys it's not going to be easy.  It'll be awkward at best.  A good friend encouraged us to find like-minded parents to surround ourselves with, Matt agreed but said the swimming pool will be small. 

The swimming pool will be small.  But at least it will be clean and our kids will know how to swim.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Yarn Along: Shredder, Take 4 and Something or Two Simple

Shredder is finally really and truly in progress.  It has taken 4 times to get it moving along properly.  That's a lot of frustration, ripping, redoing, ripping and redoing.  The most I've had to restart a project has been 3 times.  4 was almost 1 too many more times than I can stand.  I've written out the pattern a couple times, drawn it and worked swatches.  It appears to be on the right track this time.

For Christmas, I made Joshua this hat.  For some reason, it came out way too big in every which way.  I tried felting it.  It helped, but not enough.  I could probably felt it more, but Josh likes it the way it is - he just needs a few years to grow into it.  I pulled some yarn from the stash - Lamb's Pride Worsted in Tormented Teal - and am making him a Hurricane Hat, per his request.  He's anxious for me to finish.  I'm enjoying having something so mindless to knit alongside the infamous Shredder.

While in the stash, I pulled out some bulky yarn called Kabir.  It is apparently discontinued and the link is the best I can do.  It was on a clearance rack in a LYS that was closing last summer.  It was $1 a ball.  One fell off the shelf on me as I was trying to decide if I should get it or not.  I bought all 6 that they had.  I told my husband I had to buy it.  I decided on a simple shawl after much hemming and hawing through Ravelry and my stacks of magazines.  The yarn is busy.  I think something with a simple shape will allow the yarn to just do its thing - anything fussier would get lost in the busy and bulk of the yarn. 

I'm nearing the end of Anne of Green Gables.  I'll likely go straight into the next in the series.  I am loving reading this again.  My perspective as an adult reading it is different than when I was just barely 12 or 13.  I appreciated Marilla Cuthbert before, but I see her in such a different light now.  I like her, whereas before I had trouble liking her.  I loved and still love Anne.

Back to Small Things!

Monday, February 17, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Is February Really Half Over?!

1-  Matthew is 10.  I screwed up his birthday on the registration forms for Little League.  I'm in denial.

2- Both boys are all signed up for Little League.  The season starts April 21st.  They'll be done about the same time school lets out.  Apparently our area starts and ends early because it interferes with people's vacations...or vice versa.  Sitting on the sidelines and in the dugouts in April is not fun.  At least this year I have a good chunk of what we're calling the Baseball Blanket already knit.  It will keep me warm as I work on it during practices and games that I'm able to attend.  It's a log cabin style knit.  It started with all the remaining balls of Lion Brand's Homespun I had from completed projects.  I've picked up new skeins here and there on sale as my stash is depleted and I add more log cabin strips.  It's not perfect, as it gives me plenty of time to practice picking up stitches, but it's warm.

3- Josh's first guitar lesson is tonight.  He's excited but apprehensive.  I am too.  His teacher comes highly recommended...and to the house!  She was in the first class of seniors I ever taught nearly 13 years ago.  It was my first year teaching.  It wasn't a good year.  Being barely 4 years older than my students didn't help.  Neither did not having anything that resembled a respectable curriculum.

4- Valentine's Day was low key for us.  It always is.  We've never had a Valentine's date since the kids came along.  We seldom get dates, period.  So the four of us shared the box of chocolate covered strawberries Daddy brought home and savored the pie with the heart shaped crust Mommy made and watched the Olympics.

5- The boys are home from school today.  They spent over 2 hours outside building tunnels in the piles of snow along the driveway.  They had all manner of digging tools out there.  They were soaked through their snow gear.  They came in for a hot lunch and cocoa and were sent upstairs to shower and put on clean jammies.  It's a jammy/sweat pants day.

6- Banshee went for a walk yesterday.  It prompted the bath that I've been putting off.  She was clean and fluffy afterwards.  The bathroom and I were soaked.  After her blowdrying, she took off downstairs and tried to climb into Daddy's lap.  She's finally speaking to me again.

7- The boys went to Chautauqua with their grandparents yesterday afternoon.  They went for a sleigh ride and played on an ice castle, saw ice fishermen and brought home marshmallow guns.  Banshee likes marshmallows.  


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Not a Yarn Along: I'm Beginning to Hate This

I'm not even bothering to share this post.

I figured out the sleeve set up and increase last week.  It took drawing and writing everything out but I understood what the pattern was telling me to do.  I cast on and knit on.

Then came the raglan increases.  They started out fine enough.  However, I was completely confused by the keep new stitches in pattern part as it related to the ribbing.  I plugged along and made what looked to be a royal mess of things.  I spent a considerable amount of time trying to tink (knit spelled backwards - which means I was carefully unworking stitch by stitch going backwards).  After about half an hour and not even a full round tinked, I ripped it out.  Otherwise known as frogging because it sounds like a frog....RIPPPPIT.  Then I stared at it and several more Ravelry postings of other people's Shredders until 1 o'clock in the morning.

After a miserable and depressing morning, and almost two hours with scrap yarn and scrap paper and the pattern, I've swatched the raglan portion according the directions with no success....without directions with no success....more staring at the computer and trying again according to the directions.  Then,



Dumb shit, to myself I said.

The increases are increasing the sleeve on one side and the body on the other.  I can't make the ribbing work across that marker because it's not supposed to - it's separate.

I hope that now I finally can knit this sweater in peace.  And Matt better wear it all of the stinkin' time....if I can stand to look at it.

Monday, February 10, 2014

7 Quick Takes: February Means Sickness

1- February always seems to bring illness.  Last year, every week one of the boys was home for almost the whole week, sick with something or another.  Last week, we barely avoided the stomach flu and over half my students cancelled for sickness or weather.  The day after Matthew's big family birthday party, he woke sniffly and congested.  He's home from school sick today.  He's not the most cooperative sick person.  He's the one that identified the few things he could do to stay on top of school work.  It took him all morning to complete some assignments that should have taken half an hour.  This is not because he's that desperately ill or tired.  He just found dozens of other things he could do without actually doing anything.

2 - It's snowing.  Again.  It doesn't bother me half as much as it bothers other people.  I'd prefer snow to rain.  I dread that end of winter/early spring season when the dog is covered in mud, the kids are covered in mud, and everyone tracks mud into the house from 3 different directions. This situation might be somewhat improved if some of my students walked up the drive and used the walk instead of insisting on cutting through the year.  I had a hard time saying anything.  Cleaning up my floor is nothing to how they are destroying their shoes - and if their parents don't care...

3 - We'd rather be cold than hot in our family.  We won't complain about the cold.

4 - I'm going to be an Aunt again, very soon.  This is a source of endless joy, obviously.  I'm also darned excited to have Faith stay over.  We're going to paint our toenails and she can take a bath in my bubble tub.  We'll go to the library - maybe a story time if there's one scheduled.  I'll take her out to lunch.  Maybe we'll meet Uncle Matt for coffee at Starbucks if he goes into work.  She'll get to go pick up her cousins at school.  We're going to go shopping for a bear for her brother.  .... I am worried about the whole sleeping thing though.

5 - I get her little dog too.  This is tolerable.  He's cute.  He's lucky he's cute.

6 - I think I figured out the Shredder pattern.  It's coming along.  I'm on the raglan increase part and the biggest challenge is figuring out the ribbing as I add the increases.  I seem to get it well figured the second time around after each increase, which means any awkwardness looks to be hidden in the actual increase.  Anyone who picks up awkwardness in those single stitches in those increases is standing far too close to and looking way to hard at my husband. 

7 - Lots of pictures....









Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Yarn Along: Shredder Always Was a Bad Guy

Want to see picture of my WIP, the Shredder Pullover?



This is it post-frogging.  Post staying up until 1:30 am Tuesday morning trying to rationalize figuring out all the commentary on its Ravelry page versus just picking a different pattern.

I loved this pattern the moment I saw it in this issue of Interweave nearly 5 years ago now.  I always intended to make it for my husband.  I started.  Stopped.  Frogged.  Recalculated yarn.  Bought different yarn.  And tried to break my self in on other sweaters, top down raglans.  So much so, I made my son a top down raglan cardigan with nothing but the cable pattern for the sleeves he picked from a stitch dictionary.  I thought I was ready.  I thought surely now I will understand this sleeve increase and raglan increase the writer has going on.  No.  I surely do not understand.  And judging from other people's work, I'm not alone.  Many have chalked it up to a poorly written pattern.  I am inclined to agree.  Not that I think it was deliberate, but that it is a result of perhaps someone thinking what they see in their head is intuitive and other will surely see it.  Then, lucky them, getting a technical writer and tester who has the same screw loose in their noggin.  Thus allowing this pattern to slip through the cracks to the anxious hands of the general masses, who perhaps just don't see those steps having the same logical progression that these bat-crazy people obviously did.

It's still a beautiful sweater.

I'm giving myself one more chance at it.  My way.  All other WIP done and swept aside.  Anne of Green Gables left alone on my nightstand.  Pride and Prejudice, episode 3, turned off until I get something started and some rhythm going.  I plan to tear the pattern itself apart and rewrite it.  Not just notes, but rewrite it.  I can't make heads or tails of other kind knitters' notes on what they did or didn't do on Ravelry.  Generous of them to offer and perhaps a smarter head can mesh those notes and the original pattern.  But I still keep coming up with markers that don't make sense and repeats that don't fit. 

If that doesn't work, I have two other contenders.  Pretty and on the to-do list.  But I've been waiting a long time to see my husband wear a Shredder Pullover.

 and later that day...


I think I got it.  I had to draw it, then color code and highlight both my drawings and my rewrite.  The pattern doesn't appear to have an error but it seems in an effort to be concise it sure as heck is unclear.  

Back to Small Things....

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Rapid Fire

1. Another reason to appreciate being a stay-at-home by day, Josh knows he can call me because he forgot his shoes.  He understands if I'm running errands in town or babysitting his cousin, he may be out of luck.  But when he knows I'm home, he knows I'll put down my just reheated cup of coffee and bring him his sneakers.

2.  Banshee is about ready for a bath.  I waste just enough time researching groomers that it to be too late to give her one.  Try again tomorrow...or tomorrow...or tomorrow...or this weekend when there's another pair of hands to help.

3.  To explain a recent frustration over a poorly written pattern to Matt, I said this, "It's like code that's f'ed up.  The person who wrote it somehow made it work in their environment.  But then you get it and when you test it in your environment, it won't work.  It just won't work because it's f'ed up."  I either understand his language enough to make sense or enough to be cute in my nonsense.

4.  My first born baby bear is turning 10 on Thursday.  I will have had to bake 3 times this week before it's all done.  I just finished a fresh batch of breakfast cookies for the boys' snacks.  I have to make him cake batter brownies for Thursday.  For Saturday, I will make giant cupcakes for his aunts who also celebrate this weekend.  I do not like baking a whole lot, so this is a big deal.  It also further illustrates the ironic humor that is the fancy gourmet baking cookbook I received for Christmas.  Beautiful.  Delicious sounding.  Probably a pretty coffee table book unless I get brave or crazy.

5.  That f'ed up pattern?  I was up until 1:30 am ripping out what I'd done so far.  Then looking for a different pattern I like just as well.  I found two contenders, but still don't like them half as much as the look of what the other one would be...or could be.  I will give myself one chance to try it again.  Actually, I'm going to try to rewrite the pattern, based on what I know about knitting raglan top down sweaters.  I just have to figure out the left leaning stitch thing to make the cable do what it's supposed to...this is my biggest challenge.  It will require mathematics, spatial relations, scrap paper, markers and chocolate.  So much for knitting quietly and watching another episode of Pride and Prejudice this afternoon. *insert sad face*

6.  I smell cookies baking...burning....nope, just baking.  Phew.

7.  I should probably insert more pictures into these things.  I need to figure out a more efficient way to do that.  In the meantime, here is a picture of Joshua.  A trip to Meadville to meet a friend for lunch was our big adventure that day.  He read the entire Flat Stanley book on the 30 minute trip down, then after a full belly of shrimp, mac n cheese and lemonade decided a nap was in order.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Yarn Along: How I Plan to Get My Mojo Back

Since the holidays, I've been busy knitting.  I've made a total 2 pairs of booties, 2 hats, half a bunny and swatch.  I feel unsatisfied.  One hat was supposed to be done for the holidays.  The booties were quick, easy, planned and purposeful enough.  The other hat, the pink one pictured and the half a purple bunny were not planned.  They are simple, little thank you gifts for adorable girls.  They are not cheerful, relaxing knitting though.  They are knitting that seems to be taking forever, that I have difficulty finding motivation to work on, that are seriously screwing up my knitting mojo.  They were on a whim and a suggestion, totally unplanned and totally preventing me from moving onto the sweater that I was so pumped up to start.  They are roadblocks.  The hat is thankfully done - love the pattern.  A simple long rectangle, folded and seamed up the side....but seemingly endless stockinette as I stared longingly at my sweater's swatch.  The bunny is halfway there.  The goal is to finish it.  Today.  The roads are icy.  The temperatures dangerously cold.  Everything else will just have to wait.  Today, I intend to finish a purple bunny.



After finishing Sally Warner's Finding Hattie, which I loved, I pulled out my raggedy old copy of Anne of Green Gables.  I've been meaning to reread all of those for years.  I will reread them now.  It's as good a time as any and it's just the right kind of story to slip into when the days are short and hectic and the nights are full of catching up on laundry and other assorted grown up responsibilities.

Back to Small Things...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Report Cards and Oregon Trail

Another week come and gone.  Time flies when you're super busy.

1.  Last week is a bit of a blur.  Short weeks do that.  Especially busy ones with an added bonus of babysitting Faith for a morning.  We were all quite glad for Friday to arrive. 

2.  We've been playing a lot more Wii lately.  We got away from playing it as regularly as we used to, but more recently have been playing new and old games on the weekends.  All on my own, I pulled out my Oregon Trail game and in just a couple of sit-downs finished Chapter 2 of my story line -which means I completed my second trip to Oregon.  Matt watched from his seat at the computer.  He wondered aloud why he allows me to drive the newer car.  A team of oxen and a Honda Fit are not one in the same.  Besides, I'm not the one who backed into a light pole on Friday evening.

3.  Friday evening didn't go as planned but went as well as could be for an on the fly change of plans plan.  The boys and I came home from trumpet to unpack and jump into jammies.  Daddy walked in the door with a bucket of KFC.  There was dinner and Wii and a decent Friday night had by all.

4.  I am a working mom.  How now, you say?  I've always been a working mom.  I teach piano.  I've been teaching piano since I was 19 years old.  That's going on 16 years next fall.  I took 3 weeks off when Matthew was born and roughly a month off when Joshua was born.    I've taught with nursing babies in my lap, toddlers at my feet and under my students' feet, kids plugged in, not plugged in, eating dinner, playing with students' siblings, fighting, fussing, napping, listening, watching, giving away the answers.  I've worked.  Not everyone considers this work or at least valuable work that contributes significantly to our family.  But with the recent addition of the last 2 students I can possibly squeeze into my schedule, (bringing my total to 20 students, every Monday through Thursday starting after school and going until 7 or 7:30 every night) I now bring in as much money as I took to the bank when I was teaching full time at Villa.  I work. 

5.  The boys' report cards came home.  They did a great job.  We are proud of how hard they work and happy that they enjoy school.  We are excited to watch Matthew start studying the trumpet more seriously.  We are curious to see if Josh really does take off on the guitar - especially since we're going to try teaching him the basics ourselves.  After we teach ourselves.

6.  Banshee has a new game.  Daddy throws the cookie across the floor and she attacks it like it's a small invasive creature that she must torture and kill.  Then she buries it in her pillow.  Then she decides that is not a satisfactory hiding place, so she must eat it.

7.  I've been informed that 4th graders would not appreciate making and wearing Snoopy ear headbands for their Valentine's Day Party.  Lava Love Lamp experiments were approved by the resident 4th grader. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Oops. It's Tuesday.

Well, hello there ol' Blog.  It's Tuesday.  Did ya' see how that one snuck up on us?  I'm having trouble even remembering last week and now I must try to document it.  At least 7 somethings from it. 

1.  Josh celebrated his half birthday.  He's 7 and a half.  He keeps trying to say he's 8 and a half.  Then I try not to cry or scream or yell about it.  He's 7 and a half.  Matthew is going to be 10.  I'm going to be 35.  Advanced Maternal Age, they call it, I think.  Matt's not turning 34 until April.  We are coming up on his 2 favorite months of the whole year.  The months where it appears that I'm 2 years older than him.  I robbed the cradle.  He bagged an older woman.  He's entertained by this.  I find it less humorous the older we get.  Especially as Josh wryly observed that seeing as I'm older than Daddy, I'll die first.  Then all 3 of them can get motorcycles.

2.  The boys had an overnight at Grandma's and Grandpa's this weekend.  It was a long one because we babysat Faith and didn't pick them up until late on Sunday.  Any extended period of time with their grandparents requires a day or two of adjustment.  For some reason, Josh is super sensitive to being told what to do and requires some extra attention and loving on.  He's also regularly upset by something he watched on TV.  Last time it was gangrene and his toes falling off because they were cold.  This time, it's getting injured in gym class and his spleen rupturing.  Then there's Matthew.  Yesterday it was a lot of eye rolling, huffing and snapping at his brother.  Nobody could tell him anything.  He was right.  Everyone was wrong.  At one point, I made him talk through his logic and then he came to the part where he realized, dang, he was the one that was wrong.  He completely lost it.  He was mad at me.  His brother.  The dog.  The couch.

We call it re-entry.

3.  Speaking of their overnight, it isn't very often we get a break like that.  Date nights don't exist for us.  At least not by our design or according to our plans.  We're at the mercy of whenever anyone else is available to watch the kids.  We've only hired a sitter a couple times and for only those times when we both HAD to be somewhere, like Parent Night at school.  We've never hired a sitter just so we could have a date.  We're frugal.

Being an experience we get so seldom, we consequently never know what to do.  Most often we spend the day trying to catch up on errands or chores or projects, then spend the evening doing much the same we do every evening.  Watching tv or a movie and/or falling asleep.  This time was no exception, but at least we came up with a plan that was a little more like a plan and a little more like a date.  After our day of errands, chores and projects, we tucked in early for take out and Lord of the Rings.  Matt has been wanting to rewatch the trilogy, but with our normal movie start time being closer to 10, LOTR isn't really an option.  By 7 we were in our beat up by comfy jammies, splitting a salad and sharing a calzone, and on our way to Middle Earth and The Fellowship of the Ring. 

4.  Matt built a beautiful light box for over our kitchen sink.  He designed and did it all himself and all this weekend.  I love it.


I'm nearly finished with a hat and 2 pairs of booties.

Josh decided that he needed to create Mii characters on his DS for Jesus and God.  No doves.  The Holy Spirit is out of luck until Nintendo adds animal characters.


5.  Older generations should feel sorry for us today, trying to raise our kids in this world.  Even our parents' generation didn't have to sit down with us and explain that it didn't matter what the state government or the President says, pot is NOT the same as alcohol and it is not ever permissible, allowable or okay under any recreational circumstances.  But we do.  To our regular litany of "No underage drinking, no pre-marital sex, no smoking, no drugs" we have to specifically add "and that includes pot/weed/marijuana."  I'll have to peruse Urban Dictionary to make sure I know all the AKAs of marijuana.


I'm not even going to try to broach our recent discussions and concerns about sex education as portrayed in the media.  Matt is pretty certain that we're all doomed.  A giant comet is going to streak through the sky, what isn't scorched in the inferno will be turned to pillar of salt.

6.  Last night, the Great White Huntress woke us up with loud, fierce barking.  Her alarm bark.  Regular intervals of "WOOF!" at 2:30 am.  I nearly hyperventilated.  Matt tiptoed as best he could down our creaky stares.  She was thrilled to see him, ears twisting in satellite mode, eyes bugging out, dancing circles around him, "BIG BUNNIES!"  She wanted out.  We had a herd of deer in the yard.  Why this night she noticed them, we're not sure.  We see the tracks regularly enough in the yard.  Matt and I moved from window to window watching them make their way through the yard, munching on our evergreen bushes.  After all that I ripped out of the yard last summer, they're probably wondering what the heck happened to their buffet.   No more Ol' Country Buffet here, girls.  This is fine dining.  A la carte.

7.  Today Banshee is tired. 


Monday, January 13, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Polar Vortex and Impending Furball of Doom

1.  We had a snow day last Tuesday and a 2 hour delay on Wednesday.  The boys were happy and so was I, until it came to re-entry to normalcy take 2.  That was a bit rough just as we were trying to get back into routine following the holidays.  I did successfully make french toast for everyone though.  And yes, Matt worked from home because I asked him to work from home.  I was concerned about the roads and the freezing temperatures, accidents, car breaking down, the whole bit.  I'm kind of fond of that guy.

2.  Josh spent the week moping about school.  His best friend has been out all week.  He's alternated between worrying about her because she's allergic to the cold (Seriously.  Hives.  From the cold.) and praying for her whole family because the reason she's been absent is that her Grandma passed away.  I hate to see him so down in the dumps.
Why, yes, my 7 year old son's best friend is a girl.  No mushy, lovey dovey stuff.  They're best buds, BFFs 4-ever.  And I'm just fine with that.  He's is father's son.  I expect he'll always have friends that are girls.  And when someday one of those friends starts giving him the winky, blinky eyes, he'll probably need a smack upside the head to notice it too.  Captain Oblivious, Junior.

3.  Matthew started trumpet lessons on Friday.  It appears to be as awesome as he hoped it would be.  The teacher seemed to believe me over the phone when I explained that Matthew has taken piano lessons since he was 4 and has a very good grasp of basic theory and seems to have a knack for this music thing.  After the lesson, he noted that I was not exaggerating or just bragging.  Why no, of course I wasn't.  I try very hard not to blow smoke when it comes to my kids.  The boy has talent there and I can't wait to see what he does with it!

4.  Banshee is starting to drop a little more fur than usual.  Groan.  I love that dog.  Sometimes though I want to shave her bald.  She goes through massive shedding cycles that leave me vacuuming the entire house daily - sometimes twice a day - emptying the Dyson after every other room.  This situation won't be helped by the fact that we're going to be doing her "grooming" ourselves.  Hence, the impending furball of doom.

5. I seem to consistently miss getting these Quick Take posts done on Fridays.  Fridays are my busiest of busy days.  It starts with groceries and goes immediately into housework, and I slide into the afternoon pick up and afterschool stuff then fall into Friday night.  That's life.

6.  We had a relatively quiet weekend.  I like those.  We're not all about spring training in winter, racking up extracurriculars or even running lots of errands during our weekends.  It happens sometimes.  But I "stay home" to get those chores and errands done for the family, we believe in moderation when it comes to the kids' and our own activities and obligations, and we're trying our darndest to resist that competitive mentality we see left, right and left in kids and parents.

I pulled out an old Harry Connick, Jr. cd the other day.  And this song, Nowhere with Love, which I had forgotten about, pretty much sums it up.  

In a way, I really don't know much at all
And if you say that I'm simple, you're on the ball
On the ball to say that I'm going nowhere
But I'm going nowhere with love
They all say that I'm not impressive at best
That's o.k., I've got nobody to impress
My impression is they'd rather be elsewhere
Oh, I'm staying nowhere with love
Well, it's better to be happy in a cardboard shack
Than to be alone in a castle
All you get for your money is a heart attack
I'd just as soon alleviate the hassle
Every day, I watch the go-getters go by
Even they say the ladder is much too high
Why should I go high, I'm happy below there
Right here in nowhere with love

7.  Matthew is gearing up for a growth spurt of epic proportions.  After his usual large breakfast, he still passed out in Church yesterday.  I hate that.  It is a terrifying experience and has me rubbing the anxious feeling in my chest and clenching and unclenching my hands for hours afterwards.  It also spurred me on to finally make both the breakfast cookies and homemade protein bars I had been planing to make.  2 snacks.  3 rollups.  Fruit.  Veggies.  Yogurt.  Chips.  Dessert.  And a note of warning to his teacher.  It's going to be a long day for Mama.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Facebook Smacebook

For Advent, I deactivated my Facebook account.  I don't plan to reactivate it at this time.  I've gone off Facebook for Lent the past two years.  I limited myself to only posting pictures from my phone occasionally, but neither posting words nor checking the Newsfeed.  I knew it was time for something a little more drastic.

Facebook is a time suck.  It's also a nice little trap for introverts.  You feel like your socializing, maintaining or making friendships.  In reality, you're not.

Facebook came about after I was officially a student.  It was some time later that I joined.  I didn't for the longest time - or it felt like a long time, maybe it was only half a second.  When I became a SAHM, I knew I'd need and want some way to stay connected to big people.  I did kindermusik with the kids, but seeing as you're supposed to be there and interacting with your child, it didn't really lead to anything beyond brief small talk for me.  I tried a moms group at a local Christian church - it was closer than any MOPS in the area at the time.  While it seemed like a great organization, it didn't work for us.  Matthew had separation anxiety and I wasn't about to torture him by forcing him to get used to me leaving him in the playroom.  We then did some playgroups on MeetUp.  That was disappointing as it ended up spiraling into some social hornets nest.  But the online boards there led me to give Facebook a try.  There I thought I'd found it.  A way to connect and stay connected. 

It worked for a long while.  I had Facebook, I emailed my best girls from college regularly, the kids and I had our social engagements - kindermusik, library storytime, zooclass, then preschool and on into school.  But it really wasn't working.

It wasn't until a new friend suddenly and inexplicably unfriended - then refriended - me that it started to click.  The wheels in my head were spinning.  I looked through my friends list and noticed how many people were greyed out because they'd left Facebook.  I looked through the list of people who I accepted their friend requests - mostly old highschool classmates or former students - who never actually interacted with me.  I looked through the people who I had attempted to interact with but didn't interact back.  I looked through the list at names of people I hadn't seen in months maybe years, never heard from or weren't EVER on.  I tried culling the herd.  That was awful and awkward, nixing people.  I thought about scratching that whole account and starting fresh with a just for family account.  I started taking note of how many times a day with a quiet moment, or minute or two of downtime, I reached for my phone to "check Facebook."  I started noting how many times people - anyone - would comment on anything I posted or shared.  I started thinking about the people who I initially joined Facebook to stay in touch with.  So I made a decision.  I shared my plan for Advent, included a link to my little old blog where I try to document and share those things that are important to me - my family foremost and our busy lives - and I pulled the plug.   

I'll admit that I suddenly find myself feeling lonely.  But then I force myself to stare that stupid F logo in the face and realize I've always been lonely.  A long Newsfeed of chatter doesn't and didn't cure that, it just sort of masked the loneliness.  It's like everyone talking outloud into the world at once, but no one is really listening.  It's just static and chatter.  For the most part.  And it's easy to think people are listening but you don't really know if they are or not, until you stop talking.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Yarn Along: Baby Uggs

2 years ago, I knit and gave my sister a plethora of baby hats, sweaters and booties.  She's requested a new pair of the Baby Uggs for The Little Pharoah.   Faith wore hers completely out.  I'm not one to ignore an actual request for something.  Second to actually wearing or using a handmade item, asking for another because the first is so worn out is the highest compliment I can receive.  Actually, maybe that's even bigger than wearing or using the item.

So I've cast on for the pair and plan to make a second as a little gift for a friend who's also expecting.


I'm still reading The Mating by Nicky Charles on my nook.  I'm not a slow reader.  I just don't make time for it as often I'd like.  There are people around here that like to eat and stuff.



Here's a snap of Big Matt's finished Bus Hat.  I like how it turned out and am especially glad that I doubled up the bottom part for extra warmth around his ears.


I've finished the swatch for his Shredder Pullover.  The yarn is Plymouth's Galway Worsted Paint.  I hit gauge with my first try and now only have to double check my math to make as sure as I can that I have enough yarn.  My goal of casting on for the actual sweater by the first of February shouldn't be a problem, unless I let myself get distracted by these baby booties.  :)

Return to Small Thing's Yarn Along.

Friday, January 3, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Baby, It's Cold Outside

1.  This has been the week of re-entry.  I think that's the reason I've never been a big fan of New Year's celebrations.  It doesn't strike me as that big of a deal.  It's like pushing the reset button on something.  It reboots and turns back on.  We eat pork and saur kraut on New Years Day.  I freak out because I have to find the lunch boxes and book bags that nearly 2 weeks before had been cast aside carelessly, I'm out of lunch meat, my calendar hasn't been filled in, I have no cash for anything because I haven't taught a lesson in 2 weeks and the house is a mess of faded holiday decorations and stale cookies.  I'm just not a fan. 

2.  On that note, we don't really talk resolutions around here.  We talk about the plans we have for the New Year, the projects we want to tackle, the things we want to do with the kids.  I plan to knit Matt his sweater.  He laughed when I told him that.  He doubts.  I cast on for the swatch last night.  I will swatch for this bad boy.  This will be the biggest project I've ever tackled.  I'm sure there have been baby blankets bigger in actual size.  But a baby blanket is a square or rectangle.  This has shaping, must fit and has a beautiful cable detail called the Seven Sisters Cable. 

3.  Since I last used Blogger, its format has changed.  Now when I go to my dashboard to work, it shows me all my stats.  Automatically.  I don't have to seek them out.  I can plainly see the 1 person who has read every entry.  .... and that might be me when I click through to view the post.  I'm not sure I have the settings correct so that it doesn't count me.  Awesome. 

4.  We have started planning Matthew's 10th birthday party.  Did you see that?  10.  Double digits.  More than half way to that point where he might leave me for college.  Just walk out the door with my heart and my Matt's money.  Now begins the intense lobbying for the many great local universities we have in this area.

5.  I painted all the upstairs closets this week.  It was a pain.  My favorites moments from that experience were 1.  the boys informing me I looked a mess while I was doing the painting.  I did.  I had paint on my arms, on my butt, down my legs, in my hair.  Closets are tight spaces with weird angles and 2.  when I put everything back into the closets after giving them a couple days to dry and cure, Joshua cheered,  "I have my room back! It doesn't look like a garbage dump anymore!"  Yep.  Sometimes there's a little more me that pops out of them than Matt.  He didn't seem to perturbed by the mess except when he couldn't find his pants.  That bothered him.  The man needed his pants.

6.  I'm actually using the Nook that my family gave us a few years ago.  It's not going to be my only source of books by a long shot.  I have shelves and stacks of books I've picked up here and there, mostly at the library's used book sale, that I need to work my way through.  But I'm using it and actually don't mind it as much as I thought I would.  The two biggest problems I've run into are sometimes I accidentally flip the pages back and forth AND I've never had a REAL book be out of batteries when I finally have a few minutes to sit down with it.  The plus side though are some of the great free books available on it and some of the books you can't find in print anywhere.

7.  Last but certainly not least.  Matthew went to Camp Fitch for his big 4th grade camp out.  I dropped him off at school yesterday morning and will get him back tonight at 5.  The feelings amongst parents seem mixed.  Some hate it.  Some love it.  The kids apparently all absolutely love the experience.  I'm hopeful he's had a good time.  I'm grateful that we didn't get a middle of the night call because he was freaking out at bedtime.  I don't hate it but I don't love it.  I'm not one to believe these experiences are the be all and end all of my kids' lives.  Like highschool.  I hope they enjoy it, learn a lot and are happy.  But I certainly don't expect it to be the best years of their lives.  I think that kind of thinking is a pretty narrow view of life and can result in a lot of disappointment and resentment as life goes on.