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. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Yarn Along: Bus Hat

This is Big Matt's Christmas hat.

You'll note that it's after Christmas Day but still within the 12 Days of Christmas.  Barring catastrophe, I stand a good chance of finishing it before the Epiphany. 

The kids are working on a lapbook on the 12 Days of Christmas so that's what we're spending time reading and working on currently.

I'm reading a werewolf romance on the Nook.  It's embarrassing what books I sometimes find entertaining.  That being said, I've never been able to stomach a Nicholas Sparks or your common "beach read".  If I'm going to read a romance it has to have werewolves or vampires or be set in historical time.

A couple notes on the Bus Hat.  It looks different than the original pattern because I started, followed the pattern for several inches, purled a row, continued in pattern for the same length then folded it up and joined the working row to the cast on row.  That made a double think band that will give Matt some extra warmth on his ears.  I'm using Wool of the Andes in Fedora.  I have a lot of this yarn and colorway in my stash in hopes to make him a sweater.  I haven't made him a sweater and I expect that I didn't order enough of the yarn to really do so.  So, I'm using it up for other items and will make him a sweater with something different.  Eventually.