Wednesday, January 28, 2009

bday wrapup

Thanks for the nice birthday wishes. 33 feels kind of yucks right now - somehow the odd numbered years make me feel older. I mean, I feel fine, no different from a few days ago when I was still 32. It's just the number that makes me twitch a little!

Hubs sent me 100 multicolored sweetheart roses on behalf of the children. They are stunning! And then we went to the Olive Garden for dinner with some friends. With NO CHILDREN. It was so lovely to sit and eat my dinner in peace without having to cut anything up for anyone else, or discipline anyone, or comfort any crying, or keep anyone occupied while we waited for a table. (As an aside, crappy economy my arse! We waited 20 minutes for a table on a freezing cold Monday night at 6:30!)

Anyway, it was good. The friends we dined with are about 6 months pregnant with their first baby, so we regaled them with tales of new-parenthood all night. Isn't that the way it goes? You get out without your children, and then you do nothing but talk about them all night. Laaaaaaaame.

There has been a smidgen of knitting, and even a little sewing - well, preparation for sewing, anyway - so I will try to get some photos taken in the next couple of days. Right now it's time to prepare lunch, get AJ down for some rest before the therapist du jour shows up, shovel the front walk so said therapist doesn't wipe out, fold the diapers coming out of the dryer, clean up a little so the therapist doesn't think we're animals, and oh, feed myself and sit still for twelve seconds.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

handknits in the wild

I can't believe this sweater fits him already. Seemed so impossibly huge when I finished it...

(Karen, if you squint, you can recognize the outfit!)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

audacity, hope, etc

In a fit of insanity, I cast on for a wool soaker yesterday during the few precious moments when both of my children were napping.

I figure I can try to get it done before D-day...Feb. 10, when the CPSIA law takes effect. Though I am pretty confused about the act itself. If I leave this product listed in my Etsy shop after the 10th, will I be immediately fined? Is some person out there, ready and waiting to pounce on all the cottage industry folk?

And further, are all the childrens' products in all the stores already tested and ready to go? Or will we walk into Target on February 10 and see them ripping clothes and toys off the racks to be destroyed (or tested)? Are companies all falling in line to get their products tested? Will I be able to find and/or afford summer clothing for my children? And what about things like fabric on the bolt? Can I go to Joann's and get cottons for my children to wear, at a reasonable cost? Or will each yard cost twice as much because it had to be tested?

I am hopeful that this act will be reviewed and changed to be more reasonable. I applaud the government's efforts to protect children, but come on. And until then, I will knit away, in the hope that I can continue to produce and sell a few things here and there.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


This will not sound like much to most of you, but we have achieved several little victories around here and I really want to shout them from the rooftops. But it is too cold outside. So I will shout them here:

The boy is regularly holding his head up in the prone position, up on his elbows, and turning his head from side to side!

He is mowing down small bowls of rice cereal like a lumberjack and crying for more!

Tonight he took HALF a feeding orally (Dr. Brown's preemie flow bottles, I love you!) - the most he has ever consumed via his wee mouth!

I really, really needed some good things to happen, and my prayers are being answered. I know AJ will do great, all in good time, all in God's time. But I am impatient! And when I see these little steps accomplished, I am so grateful. Remember, my poor baby did not eat anything orally for 6 weeks in the hospital, and we didn't know if he ever would. The fact that he will not only swallow cereal, but swallow it with ease and cry for more? Nothing short of a miracle in our eyes.

Nothing short of a miracle.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

r.i.p. Ella

Last night my in-laws had to make the difficult decision to put our old dog to sleep. I'm not a dog person, and it's really because of me that they've had her for the last 2+ years, but still, it is kind of sad.

This is Ella eyeballing Daughter about 3 years ago.

She has struggled with pancreatitis for several years, and though she was just 9 years old, she was very sick. I'm glad she isn't suffering anymore. Rest in peace, Ella.

Monday, January 19, 2009

possibly the most boring knit ever

When we went to our feeding clinic appointment last week, I asked, as always, if AJ is now big enough that I can cease feeding him every night (or morning, rather) at 3:00. I want to be clear - if he were waking up crying for food at that hour, I would have no problem with getting up. The thing is, he doesn't wake. I set my alarm, get up, feed him in his sleep, and collapse back into bed. The whole process takes around 20 minutes, but you'd be surprised how much that 20 minute interlude in my sleep takes a major toll.

Unfortunately, we still need to keep working on his weight. So unless I can work the extra 4.5 oz of milk into the other 5 daily feeds, I have to keep getting up. And since he can't quite handle the necessary volume to do that, I'm stuck.

Enter: the most boring of knits. The plain stockinette, top-down raglan sweater. This sweater is the antithesis of what I love to knit (complicated cables), but it is working out great to keep me awake at 3:00 a.m.

Also, in keeping with my desire to save some money (see previous post), I am using up the Patons Decor yarn I got last summer for $.98 per skein. This is going to be a big, loose, hopefully cozy, totally washable sweater for me. I wasn't planning on this for myself this year, but I needed something easy to work on in the dark.

The pattern is great - it's old and kitschy and easy enough to follow:

Raglans Unlimited! Oh, the raglan possibilities! Just look at those hipsters, modeling their raglans. I mock it, but dudes, this pattern book was $2.00 brand new, and has patterns for any kind of raglan sweater you could want (crew necks, v-necks, turtlenecks, cardis, pullovers...the possiblities are, well, unlimited!), and it goes from toddler size 2 up to a 52 inch chest. I'm not sure where my mom got this copy - she thinks she got it about 20 years ago from an older lady who was kind of her knitting mentor at the time. It's good stuff.

But you'd better have good eyesight if you're gonna use it.

Ahhh, I hear crying children. Gotta run. See ya at 3 a.m.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

debt snowball

I've been doing a lot of soul-searching in the past year or so about finances and debt. I have talked a bit about money on the blog, but I don't usually say much except to complain about not having enough. Then I recant and say that we do have enough and I should just shut up and be grateful we're not sleeping on the sidewalk.

Here's the thing - I obsess about money. I really do. Not because I want lots of it to buy stuff, honestly, that is NOT it at all. I really don't even like shopping, I avoid malls, and grab steals online from Old Navy a few times a year to clothe my family. I obsess about money because I have come to hate debt with a raging, fiery passion.

With the latest economic news being so grim and bleak, I have just become angrier and angrier that some fat cat at the top of the heap is taking home millions of dollars while we scrape up student loan, mortgage, and car payments every month. Yes, we have enough to pay them. However, at the rate we are paying them, we will finish paying off our student loans - are you sitting down? - one year before Daughter starts college. That is disgusting!

I will go further and disclose somewhat accurate financial info for reference. Hubs and I are both paying off just over 20K in student loans each. Mine is from graduate school, his is undergrad. Mine has a better rate, so is disappearing almost twice as quickly, even though the amount paid on mine is lower than his each month. Our car was purchased new last April at 0% financing so we could avoid paying interest on a loan. It is now 1/4 paid for (yay!) but the monthly payment to achieve this is very high.

I wish I had come to my current feelings several years ago, before we had children. I wish I had shoved more money towards paying down those damned student loans. Now I literally cringe each day as I think of the interest piling up between payments. I've started throwing a little more toward the principal payment on Hubs' loan since his is at the higher rate, and it's helping a bit, but progress is glacial.

Enter...the debt snowball. Have you all heard of this? It's pretty cool. You can tailor the calculations to your own situation, put in the amount you have available to pay towards debt, and the website will calculate the amount of time it will take you to pay everything off. The basic idea is this: you pay off the highest interest loan first, then when that falls away, take that money and add it to the minimum payment on the next-highest-interest-rate loan. You carry on like this, paying the same amount of money each month no matter what, until your debts are all gone.

In my case, we would pay only the minimum payments on the car and my loan, but put any extra we can towards Hubs' loan. Once the car is paid off in two more years or so, we have to take the amount of the car payment and add it to Hubs' loan payment. Make sense? Ostensibly, this should be no problem because we will be used to paying that amount each month anyway. Then, once his loan finally goes away, in just a few short months mine will be gone also, because the car payment and his loan payment will become a part of MY loan payment.

If we do it right, and stick with the current amounts we are paying, we will pay all three debts off in 65 months. That's 5 years and 5 months! Sounds a lot better than almost 15 more years. It's still depressing when I think I will be 38 years old at that point, and 12 years away from having received my master's degree (which got me into stupid debt in the first place). But Daughter will only be 9, AJ only 5, and we can start to have a better life for all of us at that point, with less scrimping and saving and denying ourselves experiences and things.

I used to think the only kind of "bad" debt was credit card debt. I've never had any, even though I've been using credit cards since I was 18 and went away to college. I've paid my monthly balance in full without fail for 15 years. I thought that made me so awesome. I thought that made me so debt free! I would look down my nose at all those poor suckers who run up huge credit card balances and then can't get out of trouble. Not me! I'm so great, I only have one card and I pay it off! Look at me! SO AWESOME!

But it's not true. I mean, yes, it is good to pay off the credit card every month and I will continue to do so. But I've come to a place in my life where I believe the only acceptable debt is a mortgage payment. It's a rare family that can pay for a house in cash, so I don't feel bad about having a mortgage. But I do feel horribly, terribly bad about paying hundreds of dollars each year in interest on those effing student loans. Thus the dumb ads on the blog. And the etsy shop. And the reselling of diapering accessories. And hopefully a successful yard sale this spring with my mom. Every extra penny I find goes toward knocking down that principal so "the man" can't have any more of our money. Hubs goes to work every day and deals with so much B.S. and for what? We don't have a fancy house or fun vacations. Our children don't have college funds started. There just isn't any extra right now. And that sucks!

I am aiming to dig out from under this debt heap within those 65 months. And when I can find a little more here or there, I will send it off to reduce that time period. My dream is to get it to 48 months, but I'd have to find around $400 extra each month for that. Don't think I can sell that much on etsy just now!

So if you are in debt, no matter what kind, check out that debt snowball site. I'm curious what people feel about their debt. Do you have any? None? If you climbed out, how did you do it? And please, keep the comments kind. I'm not saying anyone is better than anyone else for having or not having debt. Just sharing my thoughts and perspectives, that's all. Please feel free to share yours!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

stuff and more stuff

baby stuff

I have managed, through a careful regimen of stuffing him like a Thanksgiving turkey, to get my son ONTO THE WEIGHT CURVE!!!!! Sure, he's 5th percentile, but dammit, he is on the chart!

We had our feeding clinic appointment this morning, downtown at our Children's Hospital. It was 4 degrees when we left the house, cars were spun out everywhere, traffic was ridiculous, and a trip that should take 20-25 minutes took 50. Thankfully, the parking ramp was not full, and I even got a spot right on the first level. Hallelujah. I had allowed just enough time and we made it exactly at 8:30, so I scrapped my plan of running through the hospital lobby for a coffee and danish from the nice coffee guy I befriended during our son's hostage crisis*. However, they were just turning the lights on in the clinic when we walked in, and we had to stand around and wait! Screw it, next time I'm getting me some breakfast.

Anyway, I was more impressed with this visit than I was the last, though the only person I find truly useful is the speech pathologist, who helps us with the actual feeding of our child. I expressed my concerns about starting him on rice cereal, and she chirped, "let's try him!" So we did. And he ate it. And did not push it out of his mouth or choke on it. Yessssssss. These are the little victories that help me get through my life right now. So we are to go forth and try him twice a day with extremely thin, milky cereal - just a few spoons at a time so he can acclimate to it.

In other news, we saw the geneticist yesterday, who had nothing to offer. Well, she told my son he has a "pathetic little half-smile," to which I responded, "well, that's all you're gonna get, lady." Neither of my children has an upturned smile. And it turns out Daughter cannot close her eyes all the way, nor can she scrunch them up. It was very cute watching her try - she ended up pushing on them with her fingers in an attempt to do as she was asked. Having seen both of my children together, the doctor remains at a loss. We will return when AJ is 9 months old to see if anything else presents itself.

And, drum roll please, my sweet boy can finally lift his head in the prone position! It's so awesome to see him do it, and with no screaming and crying. I believe it is because he finally has a heavy enough body to balance out his giant baby head.

award-worthy stuff

In other news, I got Daughter signed up for a playschool! Yay! Granted, my mom did the legwork and found out the info, but on Monday morning Daughter and I toodled over there and checked it out. It's in a huge, brand-spanking-new church that has an extensive preschool program. I didn't look into preschool yet, though, just a play program for socializing. Poor girl needs to get out of the house and play with some kids her age. This program fits the bill...and you sign up week to week and pay as you go, so there is no commitment and it's pretty inexpensive too ($5/hr). I'm sending her Tuesday and Thursday mornings for two hours.

Yes, I would like an award. I accomplished something, dangit!

And now I must go seek out and consume some caffeine. I limit myself, of course, so my darling son won't spaz out, but the 5.5 hours of sleep I got last night are catching up with me. Oy.

*Thank you, Pam. I use that line all the time to describe our NICU stay!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

road work ahead

I believe I swore I would do this a year ago, but life kind of got in the way...anyhoo, I am finally starting to fart around with making this blog look like something meaningful. Why not, after 3+ years? Sheesh!

Hubs found me a program to use for fooling with photos - it's like photoshop for dorks! Awesome! Perfect for my fried brain cells. So I've begun retooling my header, and will keep on adding stuff to the page until I'm pleased. I know the blogs that get a lot of traffic and followers are the ones with the interesting, interactive, fun layout, so I'm anxious to get going with that. I was reading over my posts from the beginning of this blog adventure, and they were pretty good, if I do say so myself. Lots of projects shown, a light tone - I miss that gal! I'd like to try to find her again and bring this place back to life. I built up a decent readership back then, and I'd like to work toward rebuilding my little online community again. (Not that I don't appreciate all of you who have been with me the whole KNOW that I do!)

I have also placed ads around the page. I'm sorry for that, I really am. But if I can scrape up even a few extra pennies to put toward paying down student loans, etc, I simply must. I hate feeling like I can't contribute to the household income, and if the CPSIA thingy goes through as written, there goes making stuff to sell. Though I'm praying that changes...I have lots of scrap wool to be made into adorable soakers!

Anyway, enough babbling, and it's time to feed the wee child again. Just wanted to explain the dust and debris you'll be seeing around here in the near future as I work on this blog when I have two spare seconds. Here's to a better blog in '09!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

i'm fine. really, i'm fine. just fine. fine.

Hello, hello. I am not as crazy as I sound, I promise!

This blog is kind of like my barstool, and you, my kind reading friends, are the poor barkeep who is forced to listen to me. Sometimes a gal's just gotta vent. I swear I do not write self-pitying posts to get you to leave sweet comments. I do appreciate them - but I am not fishing for them.

You all know how it is to be the busy mom. It gets to be like a pressure-cooker in your head. I don't really have anyone around me right now who I can yell at, so I do that here. I'm not up on a ledge (yet), but I am stressed, and it bleeds onto the blog because that's my life right now.

I don't know...just felt I should say that.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Uuuurgh. I am trying to blog, really I am, but the new year has brought with it a case of crippling anxiety and general sense of unease. I have found myself really struggling over the last few days, to the point where food tastes like lumps of sawdust and I can't sleep very well (bad, indeed, when I only have 6-ish hours to sleep at night anyway).

I am frustrated because I can barely leave the house - say I feed AJ at 11:00 am. By the time I finish it is close to 11:45, and then I have to try and eat lunch, feed my daughter lunch, prep for the therapist du jour, have the therapy session (45 mins to an hour), then hang with my breastpump for 15 minutes, and kabam! It's time to feed him again at 3:00 (which will take until about 3:45). If he sleeps after that, Daughter is getting up from her nap anyway so I can't do much for myself. Can't really leave the house because AJ does need some consistency in his day and deserves a quality naptime, and then we're running into the dinner hour anyway.

I am considering the possibility of quitting the pumping at 6 months. I dearly want to give my son the best nutrition for as long as possible, but if I could at least mix a bottle and bring it along with me, I could go somewhere and feed him on the run, and not have to race back home to pump (5x/day to keep up with his needs). I mean, we are not getting any kind of bonding experience out of it, obviously. I just have terrible guilt over quitting. Stupid, I know! There is nothing wrong with formula! I can tell myself that, but my heart would break knowing I voluntarily ceased providing breastmilk. Good heavens, what is my problem?

And we discovered a few problems with our house that is currently up for sale - problems that require diligence and constant upkeep, which I just simply cannot do. And Hubs, bless his heart, is not as good at taking care of that sort of thing. He has said he will try, because his only obligation (not that it is small) is to go to work each day. But we have a double open-house this weekend and I am terrified the house will not be in showing condition. It is truly keeping me up at night.

It is almost time for AJ to start eating actual food and that is killing me softly as well. I could just go to the store, buy the stupid rice cereal, and try him with it, but I am so scared it will be a failure. Then what will I do? We've been in a pretty nice holding pattern for the past couple of months, knowing how to feed him, and it's become quite easy for me. But having to make this change is scary because of the unknown. If he chokes on his food and cannot eat orally.....well, I don't know what I will do because all along I've been telling myself he will be fine.

The weight of it all is crushing me. I'm so, so frightened of PPD, but even more frightened that it could smack me in the head without warning. I have heldittogether, heldittogether, heldittogether for so many months, for the sake of my daughter, my husband, my son, my parents, and myself. But there are cracks in the armor just now, and I'm not sure how bad they're going to become. I'm not one to feel sorry for myself, but I do just now. I do. I've been through it, I'm still going through it, and I'm so, so tired.

Friday, January 02, 2009

4 months old

I will never understand the ways of the universe...somehow, the 9 months of pregnancy stretch out into a mind-numbing, never-ending vortex of time and space, but then the first year of your baby's life is lived in fast-forward.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

new year, old FOs (and ufos)

Hello 2009! I hope everyone had a safe, fun celebration to ring in the new year. Me? I followed my normal schedule of feeding the baby at 11:00, and collapsing into bed immediately thereafter. I did wake up briefly just in time to see Dick Clark smooching all over his wife. Eeeeehhhh.

So let's start the new year with some old knits! Jeez, when was the last time I even had anything stitching-related here on the blog? Other than AJ's elfin pants for Christmas, I don't think there's been a single project shown here since I gave birth. Yikes!

First up, hat, mitten(s) and scarf made for Daughter, to match her red and navy winter coat. The hat is my own pattern, nothing sophisticated, just a basic hat with spiral decreases at the crown. For the mitten(s) I used worsted weight wool (Lion Wool and Patons) and Ann Budd's pattern from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. You'll notice there is only one mitten shown here. Yeah, the other one is in the house somewhere. If any of you have seen it, please do let me know. And the scarf was knit in mistake rib, using Patons Classic Merino in red, entirely at 3:00 in the morning. I have to wake up and feed AJ, as I've mentioned before, so to keep myself awake as I run his milk in one ounce every 5 minutes or so, I have to knit something really simple. It has to be a fairly large gauge, and I have to be able to execute the pattern in near-darkness. Thus this simple scarf!

Next up is this wee sweater I knitted while waiting for AJ to be released from the hospital. It's my very favorite old standby, the Knitting Pure and Simple neckdown raglan cardigan, size 6 months, knit in Patons Classic Merino (natural mix). US size 7 and 8 needles. I modify this pattern a lot by changing up the rib to other things, my favorite being moss stitch. I think it looks a lot classier. I have made this pattern countless times, and will make many more as my son grows. I was shocked to find that this and one other I've knit fit him now! I think of him as being so tiny, but he is growing!

In my quest to use up some stash and leftovers, I made these Little Turtle Knits longies using the yarn remaining from the sweater above, as well as some mystery wool in an olive color and some red I dyed a long time ago (Lion Fisherman Wool, I believe). Pretty good pattern...I'm glad I bought it and would recommend it. These were knit entirely in stolen moments - just before bed while feeding the baby, or when both kids napped (rare).

And this, sadly, is a UFO that I don't think I'll be able to finish in time for it to fit my rapidly growing boy. It's a 6-month size sweater and though it looks like it will be generous when finished, I just don't have the time or concentration to follow a chart and get it done quickly. Plus it is sportweight yarn, and I think I'm going to be more of a worsted weight gal for the near future. It's just faster. Anyway, I believe this is the last thing I worked on before AJ was born. I really do like the pattern...perhaps I'll put it away and finish it up for someone else's baby.

I have a pair of socks going for Daughter, but the photo I took was so lousy I skipped it. And I started a cabled sweater for her months and months ago...but I can't find it! I know it is here somewhere, misplaced in the melee of moving all our crap around to sell our house.

As for '09...well, my goals are really modest. I do so love to knit and sew, but my time is just not my own right now. I intend to finish up one more pair of longies (in progress now), finish the socks for Daughter, finish her cabled sweater if I can find it, and make myself a Central Park Hoodie (and in doing so, officially become the very last knitter in the universe to make this pattern).

Other things will crop up, I'm sure, like more mittens for Daughter (she brought me a skein of red yarn last night so I could "sew some more mittens"), and perhaps some adult socks, which I have not knit in one solid year. But really, just finishing those things I listed will make me happy and I will feel I've accomplished something besides feeding the baby and changing countless diapers. I think it's terribly vital for moms to find something they love to do and do it, just for sanity's sake. That's why I sometimes skip folding the laundry and just knit a few rows while the kids are sleeping. I know that one day in the not-too-distant-future I will have nothing to do but knit and sew, and I do want to enjoy my children while they are wee, but I don't want to give up my hobby in the meantime. It means too much to me; my hands crave it, my mind needs it.

So, welcome 2009! May it be a productive year for all of us.