Monday, November 30, 2009


Ugh, we are sick AGAIN. Head colds for me & the kids this time around. If this keeps happening it's gonna be a loooooong winter.

Time to watch Tinkerbell for the seventy-hundredth time and try to catch a cat nap while the kids are otherwise occupied!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

the best vest

I am so excited about this.



My son will be sporting this wee vest for the Thanksgiving holiday. I love it, love it, love it.

Size 18 months, Patons Classic Merino in dark gray mix and cognac heather, US 7 needles. The pattern called for some kind of weird ribbing pattern, so I modified it to regular 2X2.

Did I mention that I love it??

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Nativity Story

Yesterday I sat down with Daughter, while she peacefully played with play doh, to try and gently explain "the reason for the season." As I started talking about going to church and celebrating baby Jesus' birth, she interrupted me.

So here is the Nativity Story, as told to me by Daughter, age 4.5:

"MOM, mom, mom, I know this story. Mary and Joseph looked for a place to stay. They went to the place but it was all stuffed with people. So the man pointed to where the cows and the donkeys and the horses stay. There they made a bed of straw for Mary in the hayloft. Then they went to sleep. But Mary woke up in the middle of the night, because she saw that the baby was born!"

(Daughter shrugs)

"And they wanted to name him Jesus."

So there you have it.

(Apparently Grandma has a book called "The Baby Jesus" and has read it with Daughter. I had no idea.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

just what i needed

It's amazing how bad a day can be, and then how equally good another can turn out.

Today I am basking in the glow of watching Daughter at her last swimming lesson, and being told by the teacher that she can move up to the next level after the holidays.

My to-do list got mostly accomplished over the weekend, and my family actually thanked me for scrubbing the bathroom.

Two nice, respectful, efficient men came to my house this morning and replaced our old, beat up, drafty, hollow-core wooden door that leads to the garage with a brand new, tight-fitting, fire-safe steel door in an hour and a half. My gosh, it looks gorgeous.

I took AJ for his second flu shot, and asked that he be quickly weighed. Turns out he is gaining steadily at about 1 lb/month, which is above average, even as we play around with his tube-feed calories to try and get him eating orally. Yes!

I am still reveling in thankfulness that the washing machine was not actually broken and did not require a several-hundred-dollar service call.

And the best, best, best thing - the mailman brought back the package containing two wool soakers I knit for an order and mailed over two weeks ago. The recipient moved and the forward didn't work for some reason. I thought the package got lost and I would have to reknit the items and mail them again at my cost. For some reason I was totally beside myself about it, and just about fell to my knees with relief and gratitude when the package showed up today. I will be re-sending the package priority mail with tracking this time!

Now I can make some tea, relax with the Christmas music playing on the radio, and work on the other knitting projects in the queue, while AJ naps and Daughter plays with play doh. Dinner is all ready (pulled bbq pork, defrosting, from a huge batch I made a few weeks back). The house is...well, it is clean enough! And there are no current laundry emergencies.

As you all know, I really, really, really needed a good day. And I am so thankful to be having one.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

to do:

  1. All on-line Christmas shopping
  2. Any Christmas shopping that cannot be accomplished on-line (hopefully none)
  3. Clean crusty bathrooms
  4. Change burnt-out bulb in funky hanging hard-to-reach light fixture in bathroom
  5. Finish washing sheets and remake beds
  6. Finish AJ's Thanksgiving vest
  7. Dress kids in Christmas outfits and take photo (do I trim AJ's hair before or after the photo attempt?)
  8. Order Christmas photos
  9. Empty dishwasher
  10. Refill dishwasher
  11. Make chili and cornbread for dinner
  12. Divide and package up bulk meats purchased this morning and freeze
  13. Iron
  14. Make Christmas cookie list
  15. Purchase and replace smoke/carbon monoxide detector that keeps beeping randomly for no reason
  16. Figure out what to put in the advent calendar, especially for the baby (really, what can you give a baby?)
  17. REMAKE two wool soakers to replace an Etsy order that apparently was lost in the mail
  18. Get butt in gear working on rest of knits people have requested
Now, that does not all HAVE to be accomplished today, but most of it does. Tomorrow is Daughter's final swimming lesson, which will be the first time we have actually seen her swim (spectators are only allowed at the last one), and after that poor AJ will be so tired we'll have to shoot straight home for nap. This week is going to evaporate in a flurry of therapy, home repair (outside person coming in to do some work for us), and Thanksgiving. Then it will pretty much be December, so it's time to bust a move.

Things I am thankful for:
  1. That I was able to diagnose the problem with the washing machine that I mentioned a few posts ago. I got lazy about replacing the lint filter on the drain hose, so the utility sink drain clogged up with lint, and was not draining properly. That caused the washing machine to back-fill with rinse water, so I had to manually re-run the spin cycle each load. Went to walmart last night for some drano, let it work overnight, replaced the lint filter today, and voila, we have a functional washing machine again. Take it from me: do not be lazy about replacing your washing machine lint filters.
  2. My awesome mom, who made two pairs of mittens for my kids in about two days before leaving for her Vegas birthday adventure. Both kids need them, and I asked her to whip them up for use in the advent calendar, because I just do not have time to knit anything more right now. She rules.
  3. The amazing weather we've been having, which has allowed us to keep the heat set at 60 degrees in the house. Our gas bill is low, our expenses are under control. It feels good.
  4. The amazing markdowns in like, every store. I have been able to pick up some amazing bargains to feed and clothe my family in recent weeks, and our dollars are stretching farther than I thought they would, living in this more expensive place.
Ok, deep breath time. I'm off to begin chipping away at my to do list. And I'm going to try very, very hard to have a good week.

I hope you all do too!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

it smells like vanilla barf

So far we have had a pretty nice day. Some friends came by for a quick playdate this morning, then mom stopped by after lunch so we could give her a little birthday present (she is 60 today! wow!), and now Daughter is painting while I scurry around tidying up.

But dammit, if my son's feeding tubes come apart in his crib ONE MORE TIME, you will hear me screaming wherever you are.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

seeking peace (oh, and an F.O.!)

Thanks for all the kind words yesterday and today.

I guess what I am looking for in my life is some serenity. These other moms I read about in blogville seem to have the market cornered on serenity. That's really the best word I can think of to describe the feeling I get from these inspirational women...they and their children just appear to be so...serene.

I'll likely have a little more to say on that subject in the near future, as I've been perusing two books - "The Children's Year" and "Festivals, Family and Food" - and ruminating on what they say. I bought "The Children's Year" over the summer and have been slowly looking through it when I have a minute, and just got "F, F and F" from the library but I am heading over to Amazon after I finish this entry to buy my own copy. It is awesome. I think I'll also pick up "All Year Round" as these three books seem to go hand-in-hand. I just can't believe all the great, beautiful ideas they contain, from recipes to crafts, from songs and verses to clothing patterns, from fables and stories to directions for making household items we use often.

Today was a better day than yesterday...but I let Daughter lay around on the couch and watch two videos after lunch while AJ took his nap. Yeah, that's an ok thing to do, but not everyday. At least not for me, that's not what I want for my family all the time. So I am searching, searching, searching to find rhythm for our days that makes sense and makes us happy...something to help us find that elusive serenity.

I'm also going to do the very simple step of investing in some more storage for our toys and whatnot. Perhaps if it is better contained, and somewhat hidden away when not in use, then I will not feel so surrounded by it all the time. I'm also going to go through with Goodwill/trash bags and purge some stuff, Hubs' opinion be damned. I don't care if he does think I'm a cruel Scrooge. I'm the one who does the most battle with small plastic parts around here.

Also helping me feel some inner peace today are: the chicken soup simmering on the stove (smells divine), and Daughter's finished vest:

Loosely based on the baby vest pattern in "Knits, Knots, Buttons and Bows" just for rough measurements/stitch counts, but liberally adapted to suit my needs (such as knitting in the round...I hate seaming).

I made the ribbing into seed stitch because I think it's more feminine. I also used seed stitch around the armholes and neck, but need to steam it because it keeps curling in. She was so excited to wear it, she took it from me as soon as the last end was woven in.

I'm flattered that she likes it so much. She has even declared that she will wear it tomorrow as well "because it's not even dirty!"

I used about 1.5 skeins of Patons Classic Merino in woodrose heather, on US 7 needles. Next up (and cast on while Daughter watched Tinkerbell today), AJ's vest. I hope to have it done for him to wear on Thanskgiving.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

bad mommy

I'm in the middle of a Bad Day.

I think it started when Daughter burst out of bed with even more than her usual verve...oh wait, no, it actually started when AJ found Daughter's little guitar leaning up against the couch where she left it last night, and then did a face plant when he tried to use it for a walking support. I had my back turned (OF COURSE) so I did not see the actual fall, just the bleeding chin and goose-egged forehead that followed. THEN Daughter came flying to see what the hubbub was about. And was snotty with me when I asked her to head back upstairs to change out of her pull-up. ("Mom, I just came down here. Do you really think I want to go back upstairs?")

Then, while we were having breakfast, we noticed we did not hear the shower, and discovered that Hubs was still snoring right through his alarm. Daughter went up to goose him, and once he got himself ready for work it somehow became my fault that he was running late. ("Why did you guys let me oversleep?") Excuse me, grown man, but your alarm has been going off for 2 hours...I already have 2 children to care for in the morning, I am not taking on wake-up duty for the other adult in the household.

Then we somehow ended up running late ourselves, for a library Thanksgiving event at 10:30. On the way out the door Daughter managed to step on AJ's fingers. I spent what felt like an inordinate amount of time bundling everyone into their warm outerwear, only to have them rip most of it off the second the car started. Got to the library just at 10:30 and had to do that inelegant dance of rebundling the children and stuffing the small one into the stroller while making sure the big one didn't get hit by a car.

During the event the adorable wee girl sitting next to Daughter kept coming out with this horrible, deep, wet chest cough. Great.

And is there a full moon? Because I've never experienced such poorly behaved children in my life. Kids were literally doing somersaults and skipping around the room while their parents mooned at the ceiling or wrangled their smaller kids. In what was perhaps my best moment of the day, I noted that both my children were behaving beautifully. However, I did feel slight annoyance that the woman leading the event chose to read a Dora book and a Clifford book, which were both only loosely about Thanksgiving. Dora the explorer? I would think we would hear a story about Pilgrims and Indians. I realize it's not PC, but it is the whole basis of the holiday, no?

Got in line to check out our books afterwards, then moved off to the side to get bundled up again. A dad from the storytime event said, "you in line?" And I said, "oh, I'm sorry, no!" and moved over a bit more. And then he said, "PHHHT! I've been standing here behind you!" Whoops, I guess it's my fault that you're an idiot, dude.

And then we came home, and while Daughter ate lunch AJ really did not, and instead cried and cried. And I just got angry. I got more and more irritated and angry trying to get him to eat, and he was smearing baby food all over his face and in his hair, and I was just so mad about it. Finally I gave up, washed him off, and put him in his seat for the stupid tube feeding. Then I emptied the dishwasher with a liberal amount of cupboard door slamming and silverware clattering, and started crying halfway through because the day was just sucking so much and it was only 12:30.

In the next 30 minutes I cleaned the entire kitchen, and vacuumed everywhere because, oh joy, we had PT today for AJ. Which he does not even need anymore but I don't know how to get out of it. And she comes at 1:30, which is totally his naptime now that he doesn't sleep in the morning anymore. And today? Today she was almost 15 minutes LATE.

Daughter has been crabbing and whining at me (no surprise, she is totally feeding off my mood) so I finally made her lie down on the couch - she is now sound asleep but I hear the baby fussing upstairs.

The washing machine has decided the spin cycle is for suckers, and I just found a load of diapers sitting in about 4 inches of water (clean rinse water, thankfully), even though the dial says the cycle is complete.

I'm not even looking forward to the holidays because it will just be a month of trying to keep the baby from hurting himself in/on/around/hanging from the Christmas tree. And then more stuff will come into our house, and where am I going to put more stuff?? We have too much stuff as it is. I want to get rid of a bunch of it, but I am accused of being a cruel scrooge when I suggest that perhaps we could donate some old toys and stuffed animals. (Also, as an aside, my MIL dropped off the kids' Christmas outfits last week. If you've been reading here long enough, you know what I really mean when I say I appreciate the thought [even though she bought Daughter a 3T and AJ a 6-9 month size].)

You know, this is totally a 24 hour job, and while men's jobs have generally gotten easier and less physical over the years, women's jobs have not. Sure, we have washing machines and dishwashers, but otherwise? I mean, I don't yet have a self-scrubbing bathroom, do you? I don't have babies that can dress or bathe themselves, or change their own stinky diapers. And while generations ago women were expected to stay home and do their work (with the help of their children as soon as they were big enough, I might add), now we also have to run errands and take our kids to events, and if we demand that they do some chores we're being unreasonable and mean. And I can't just let it go, people, because I have therapists coming into my home several days each week. I'm not going to allow my home to descend into a sloppy mess. I just can't. The rug has to be vacuumed if someone is going to be crawling around on it with my baby. The booster seat and surrounding floor cannot be caked with old food if someone is going to be working there with my baby.

I just don't feel happy and joyful. I feel like a maid. Daughter is becoming mouthy and obstinate, and while it pains me, it doesn't surprise me. Again, she feeds off her examples. I want to be a good mom, I really do. Not just in the general providing food, clean clothes, and shelter kind of way, but the creative, stimulating, fun kind of way. I'm just not sure how to do that when the work seems never to get done. We are so cluttered, and I never want to even get the paints out or play with playdough because oh my gosh, I don't need more mess. Which is a terrible attitude!!! I don't want to have that attitude!

Ugh! This is just such a rotten feeling day.

Ok, ok, dinner is at least in the oven (roast chicken and cheesy potatoes, don't you want to come over? You know you do!) and both children are still asleep. Which bodes poorly for bedtime but whatever. I'm going to sit down and knit a few rows and try to fix my head.

Thanks for 'listening.' I feel a bit better blowing this all out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

why I am not able to blog very much just now

Oh boy. I've got a teething, mobile, wild man on my hands. You guys. AJ has, in the last week, gained the ability to CLIMB THE ENTIRE FLIGHT OF STAIRS.

Yes, that's right. My poor, weak, low-tone baby, who one year ago could not lift his head from the mattress, can now scramble up the entire flight of stairs to our second floor without batting an eye. One day his big sister was sitting a few steps up talking to me, and he wanted to get to her, so he just up and did it.

This kid is AMAZING.

He also took about 3 totally solo steps a few nights ago, but hasn't repeated that feat. He is an absolute tornado of activity every minute he is awake. In fact, he is starting to really dislike having to sit still in his baby seat for feedings, which I am hoping to use to my advantage as he grows and understands more about what is happening. Maybe once he can understand that the choices are to eat food or sit still for 45 minutes, he will come around.

I took both kids for their first H1N1 flu shots today (now praying that was the right choice, of course), and they are both out, so this is precious mommy free time. Which I am going to use to clean the disgusting kitchen floor under the table, and finish laundry, and clean the bathrooms, but I really quickly wanted to post something pretty.

I finished one Christmas stocking for my sis and her husband. It still needs a hanging loop, and a good wash 'n block, but it's done. Yay! This is made from about 1.25 skeins of Wool-Ease in cranberry, on US 7 needles. I wanted to use all wool, but couldn't find the colors locally and did not want to wait for an order to arrive. I needed to get going on the holiday knits. Only what, 6 weeks till Christmas? We've had such unseasonably warm weather it doesn't feel like holiday time at all.

Ok, so now the order of operations is: finish vest for Daughter (almost done), make vest for AJ, make second Christmas stocking, make sweater for baby of Hubs' boss, make ornaments*, make mittens for AJ, make knitted items for Etsy shop (I am dreaming of longies).

*Wee glitch in the holiday gift plans: one of our therapists is Jewish, but because her husband is not, I had thought they put up a Christmas tree. But they do not, they just get Christian holiday treats from their grandparents, but not in their home. ANYWAY, was going to make ornaments and give them with a Starbucks card or something. Can I still do that? I was going to make the wee sweater ornament to hold the gift card. Should I still plan that, and just make it in blue & white instead of traditional Christmas colors?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Wow, I have written lots of dorky blog titles in 4 years of blogging, but that one is a real groaner.

So here's the deal: I have sweaty kids. In the summer my poor son has near constant sweaty wet head, and I change his clothes at least once a day, especially when he is on the move. Daughter prefers to be barefoot all the time, and it is all I can do to get her to at least wear an undershirt when it is cold. In winter, she is at least amenable to wearing socks (most of the time) and AJ seems quite comfy in just a one-piece outfit, or one layer of cotton shirt and a pair of pants.

But I have to knit for them! What's a mom to do? We have an overflowing basket of hats and scarves. The sweaters I am making are sitting on shelves and in drawers, largely unworn. Boo!

I think the answer might be...vests.

I have never liked vests much, for myself. Yeah, I went through a phase in high school when I wore men's suit vests with my grunge clothes, but never sweater vests. But on kids? Kind of cute. And I do believe it's important to keep their core warm, especially as temps dip toward the 30s and 20s (and hopefully not below, but probably).

Here's the other part of the deal: Michael's craft store has my all-time favorite workhorse yarn, Patons Classic Merino, on sale for $2.50 per skein. That is the cheapest I have EVER seen it, and I am dying to just buy and buy it, stocking up on every color I like.

We went yesterday morning. I let Daughter choose two colors for herself (wisteria and woodrose heather), and we chose together for AJ (dark gray mix, and then a striped one with dark gray and cognac heather). This is my kind of retail therapy, people! 4 vests for my kids for $17.50!

Now I just have to find time to make them.

(currently in the queue: red xmas stocking (1/2 done), green xmas stocking, pink baby sweater & hat, mittens for AJ, xmas ornaments for therapist gifts, and now vests...and that does not even count the 2 sweaters in progress for me...oh help!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

one goal accomplished

I've been having a difficult few days...or maybe more like a week by now. Sometimes it just comes over me and I simply have to give in for awhile. It's really stressful having a child who doesn't eat (much). So many issues surround eating, and the pressure is kind of all on figure out what I can try to feed him, to shop, to cook, to puree to just the right sounds so simple but it is an overwhelming job.

And when he won't eat more than a few mouthfuls at a time...well, it feels like a personal failure. No need to leave me comments about how I'm doing a good job, doing all I can, etc....I appreciate the thoughts and the support, I really do, but this is not a mental issue for me, it is an emotional burden that I cannot shake off no matter how hard I try. Yes, he sometimes eats well, like that one day last week when he wolfed lunch, but it takes only one day of three-mouthfuls-and-I-quit to undo my feeling of success.

So when I feel I am failing in one area of life, I turn to working really hard at other areas, just to feel a sense of accomplishment. This weekend we raked and removed millions of leaves, trimmed trees, cleaned up the patio and put away the rest of the summer stuff, and I even climbed up and cleaned out the gutters so we don't end up with ice dams again like in our old house. I mopped all the sticky gross floors, cleaned all the bedrooms, and caught up on the laundry. By Sunday night I was wiped out, but at least I felt that something got done by my hands.

I also finished up one of my knitting goals - I made AJ some sweet little knitted pants/long johns/longies. I don't intend to use them as an actual diaper covering, so they are not technically longies, but they would certainly work underneath another layer if needed. Though we don't have the draft problems of our old house, so they will likely just be pants.

The kid is in near-constant motion these days, and I just can't believe that one year ago he couldn't lift his head from the mattress. He's cruising along the furniture, the walls, people, anything he can get one or two fingers on, just for a bit of balance. It won't be long till he's running around after his sister.

Anyway, this project accomplished two goals: make knitted pants, and use up some stash (though I did a bit of, uh, stash replenishment today, which I will share tomorrow). I used two balls + part of a third ball of knitpicks sock yarn purchased several years ago for socks for Hubs. Turned out this yarn felted terribly (sock garden, maybe?) so I ripped the socks and the yarn sat. I don't know the color...labels are long gone. The pants were knit on size 2 and 3 needles, and I loosely followed a pattern in an old Leisure Arts book for size 6 month pants, just increasing stitch and row count where I needed to. I LOVE THESE! And I would make ten more pairs for him if I had time.

Unfortunately after one wearing the knees are already a pilled mess. C'est la vie, it is 100% merino wool. How many kids can say they had 100% merino wool pants that were soft as butter? Someday he will appreciate it.

Back tomorrow with (what else?) more projects added to the queue.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

big step

I've been writing crafty posts lately, but I need to interject a personal one.

Today my son ate almost 200 calories BY MOUTH at lunchtime. Then he made the sign for "all done." And I wept with happiness over both.

That doesn't sound like a big deal, probably, but when you consider that each of his 4 tube feedings per day is 237 calories, it is HUGE.

It means we can safely cut out several ounces of Pediasure given through the tube., which will encourage his hunger and reduce tube dependency.

I met with our totally amazing, awesome nutritionist yesterday and she gave me lots of ideas for fat-filled but healthy foods to substitute for tube calories, if he will eat them. Right now it's a lot of baby cereal made with whole milk, and 2nd foods puree with oil in it to boost the fat and calories, but I am thrilled with whatever he will eat by mouth at this point. He is also finding cheerios and rice krispies to be acceptable, and happily shovels them into his mouth by himself.

I am cautiously optimistic.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

so many soakers

They go by many names in our house: "those underpants" (my dad), "those soakers you have to knit for the ladies who order them" (Daughter), "those thingys" (Hubs), and of course, their actual name, "wool soakers."

Over the past several weeks I've made about 6 or 8 of them, mostly for custom orders through Etsy. (The gray and red one is still up for sale over there.) Interestingly, they have all been newborn size, so I have now memorized the numbers and can knit one of these little guys over a couple nights of TV watching. I just finished up my final custom order (the brown one above, and the green one you see started there).

Now I can move on to making mittens for my son, two Christmas stockings for my sister and her husband, and a 12 month size sweater for the baby of Hubs' boss. I made them a 6 month cardigan and they liked it so much they requested another in the next size! They offered to pay for it, but come on. I couldn't take money from the guy who goes to bat for my husband at annual raise time.

Problem is prioritizing. Daughter is also begging for some handmade doll clothes (her dolls/animals "are all FREEZING, mom!"), and I really want to make more stuff to list over on Etsy, like some longies and toys. Ay-yi-yi. Oh, and there's the Knitpicks ornament kit I the cuff of one mitten ornament knitted at Daughter's swimming lessons two weeks ago, and that's it. Christmas is going to be here in like 5 seconds, so I'd like to get a few of those made for gifts.

One final word about soakers: I've got 3 very lightly used size 6-12 month soakers up for sale. I made them for AJ, used them a few times, and he has outgrown them. They never saw solid waste, only wet, and have been washed and air-dried. They're over in the sidebar - drop a line or a comment if you are interested!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

lil' punkins

I'm not positive, but I think these might be the cutest, sweetest things I've ever made.

Two wee pumpkins for our entry table in the front hall. The dark orange is Knitpicks palette, the lighter gold is Knitpicks merino style (both old leftovers). The stems are a bit of green Knitpicks sock yarn, quite old, which I haven't even used to knit socks yet, so I guess it can't be called a leftover.

I wish I'd had time to whip up some more of these to list on Etsy. The little one (about 2" diameter) has a jingle bell inside - so fun for a baby to safely throw around! I think I will do some of these knitted balls as Christmas ornaments/toys and list those instead.

Monday, November 02, 2009

4 years (?!?)

Happy Blogiversary to me! I can't believe I started writing here 4 years ago! November 2005...amazing. Daughter was 6 months old, I was lonely and bored out of my mind. I loved reading blogs and finally thought, hey, it might be fun to try this out. 4 years later and I have shared more than I ever dreamed I would. I have made wonderful friends. This medium is really incredible.

We are finally back from Stomach Virus 2009. It was a doozy. Now we are in flu-avoidance mode.

Being sick for almost a full week put us totally out of whack schedule-wise. And now, on top of that, we have appointments or activities 4 of 5 days this week. So we are playing catch-up even as we race forward...lots going on.

I have several orders to finish up for Etsy, and as I type I can see semi-completed projects languishing everywhere. Hopefully I can scrape up some time to post them throughout the week!