Friday, October 29, 2010

longies for sale

This is something I have been meaning to do for several years. I finally, finally got around to making some longies to sell over on etsy. I'm always so uncomfortable putting a price on my work, but I do feel that these are very well made, and they do take a really, really long time to knit up due to the tight gauge of the waistband and upper hip (US 3 and 5 needles = slow).

So there they are, one newborn pair. I can take a limited number of custom orders for these (in a range of sizes), so if you know anyone looking for longies made with love and care...check 'em out!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

thoughts on education

I wonder if it is possible to mourn the loss of something you never actually had. Oh gosh, that sounds crazy.

I have long experienced a weird nostalgic feeling when I look at old (meaning from my early childhood) books and educational materials - I am sucked in by those awesome hand-drawn illustrations and the fonts that look like handwriting (or is that actual handwriting?). You know, the whole Free To Be You and Me thing, with the hippy-dippy style and the recipes for things like coffee-can raisin bread. Which you can't even make properly anymore because coffee doesn't come in 1 lb. cans these days.

I have vague memories of the Methodist preschool I attended in 1980, just as that era was ending. I can remember the smell of the room and of the poster paints, the look and feel of the sand table, the smooth oak of the furniture and cubbies where we put our coats. In my memory it is a serene place, warm and safe and fun.

Early elementary school holds some similar memories. Sitting around the table in Kindergarten, writing with those fat red pencils that clanged just so in the metal cup when you put them back. The metal scissor rack with those crappy scissors...and there were never enough lefties for the left-handed kids. And the milk - oh, the milk! - being wheeled into the classroom in a metal crate on a 4-wheel dolly. The cartons were red, I think. That was for snacktime, back when the school provided the milk and Kindergarten was only 1/2 day, because 5 year-olds were still kind of babies back then.

A week or so ago, the 4 of us went to Daughter's school for the annual PTA ice cream social. We're new at this, so we figured we'd better go. Don't want to look like deadbeat parents who don't participate, etc. The school holds 600+ students, and I think most of them were there with their parents, siblings, and in some cases grandparents. It's a big fundraiser, I guess. We paid our $2 each, got our ice-cream cups, and waited in line outside the cafeteria. Once we got in it was bedlam. There was hardly room to move, and as we made our way through the line with a squirming toddler, my sweater dragged through someone's ice cream. We got our melty scoops, sat at the nearest empty table, and Daughter burst into angry tears. We could barely hear her telling us she wanted to sit over there, where her classmate was sitting. So we hauled our gloppy ice cream and the children to where she was pointing. Of course right then her friend's family got up to leave, so Daughter pouted in her chair while AJ cried because he did not have his own ice cream. Hubs took AJ for a walk while I cajoled Daughter into just eating the stinking ice cream. It was so, so crazy in there. I asked Daughter if this is what it's like when they eat lunch each day and she said yes...except it's way louder.

And in that moment I was flooded with guilt and anger that each day is like that for her. She wasn't really eating her lunch the first couple weeks of school, bringing home a half-eaten sandwich and both her dessert and fruit. I was so worried, but in that moment I totally got it. Who would want to eat in that environment?

Then she told me about how a kid has been hitting her in the head with his lunchbox. And that same kid, it turns out, punched her in the stomach during lunch, on more than one occasion. Now, before your inner mama bear roars, you should know that we pried the truth out of her and she had been snatching his glasses off his face. That doesn't excuse the punching, but it does save us from potentially embarrassing ourselves.

And then there is the fundraising, which we have been hit with 3 times in the first 7 weeks of school. Nowadays they just send the items home with the kid and tell you to either buy it or send it back. Awkward. Hate it. I find that highly inappropriate in a public school, for which I pay exorbitant taxes.

What am I rambling about? Well, I guess I just feel like my kid is getting a raw deal sometimes. She is actually quite happy, so this does not stem from her, it is coming entirely from me. It's just not, to my mind, the ideal environment to shape a small human. And that makes me sad. Because a kid hitting her in the head with his lunchbox is just the beginning, you know? Hubs, while concerned about her, tends to brush it off as part of the "learning to navigate the world" process. But how come a 5 year-old has to learn to navigate noise and bedlam?

I would dearly love for her to be in a calmer, quieter place. I guess that's what draws me to the homeschooling blogs and the Waldorf blogs. We live eighty gajillion miles from the nearest Waldorf school, so that's out, but I think she would really thrive in that environment. I wanted to take her there for their preschool program, but we moved away. I read the literature and I was so into the idea that morning snack was a group affair, and all the kids had the same thing (oatmeal and apple slices) which they were to help prepare. They would also observe the mothers doing the useful work of ironing the napkins and assisting with prep and cleanup. When my mom heard about that she thought I was NUTS. But I think it speaks to educating the whole child, I really do. And I think that incorporating all aspects of daily life into education might make it a nicer environment for all the kids...reducing the urge to, say, hit someone in the head with your lunchbox.

I have a degree in education, but only now am I truly seeing what all those articles and books were about. The segmented school day, the disconnected subjects and the noise level...oh my word, the noise level! My baby girl grows further away from me every day, I can feel it - it's in the clothes she wants/doesn't want to wear, the snippy tone she adopts, the eye-rolling when she is asked to help out with basic chores.

It's uncomfortable for me (us?), but it is what it is. Hubs says I worry too much...but I often think we're not worried enough. I guess I just don't know. I know others feel it too, which explains the rise in homeschooling and the popularity of alternative schools like Waldorf. I think folks are seeking a kinder, gentler educational experience for their precious children - a softer beginning, a more comfortable introduction to the world beyond the home.

I wish I could express this jumble of thoughts a little better, a little more clearly. It's really quite emotional for me so it's difficult to articulate well. I guess it's just something I'll continue to ponder as my kids (and I) move forward.

Monday, October 25, 2010


My knitting has been utter crap lately.

I hate it when the mojo leaves me, whether it be knitting, sewing, cooking, or whatever else I do. It's awful to hold raw materials in your hand and have them feel cold and unyielding. When a skein of yarn becomes just that, rather than an inspiration, I get bummed.

I think it was just the result of the changes afoot around here - Daughter staring Kindergarten and learning to navigate new waters, both children being sick twice already since school started, AJ having surgery, going to endless MD appointments, experiencing the change of season...I watched a documentary about stress a few weeks ago and it said stress can actually make you "stupid" by messing with the chemistry of your brain. It also ages you by breaking down the protective portion of your DNA. I'm paraphrasing, and badly, but the show made me feel a lot better about how I feel, and how I have felt for several years now.

So anyway, I've been doing a lot of ripping. I start stuff, knit a little, hate it, rip it. All around my house I'm finding balls of discarded yarn, all wiggly looking on the outside from being unraveled and rewound.

Luckily, over the last week or so, the knitting mojo has returned. Phew! (I always panic a little bit when it's gone, because wow, what would I do with all this yarn if I quit knitting? Crisis!)

I started this several weeks ago for myself...and wow, do adult sweaters take forever to knit or what? I am spoiled by all the wee small things I've been knitting for the past 5 years. It's obviously just a basic neck-down cardigan, and I will blog more fully about it when it is complete. 1 and 3/4 sleeves to go and I'll have a cozy new winter garment.

It's kind of been a frenzy of starting - here are some socks, also for me, just begun from some Joann "sensations" (say it with jazz hands!) sock yarn. Very soft, nice colors, mindless and enjoyable. Nice.

Last week, two mornings in a row of low 40s temps had Daughter digging through her outerwear bin searching for mittens. All she came up with were two ratty looking mitts my mom knit for her two years ago. They're stained and getting too small. I quickly cast on for some new ones over the weekend.

And finally, a finished piece of knitwear! Man, it felt good to knit something start-to-finish. These are LTK picky pants, on their way out the door as a gift.

The startitis continues, with a pile of yarns and patterns collecting on my dining room table. When the mojo returns, it comes roaring back!

May you knit more than you rip. Happy makin'!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Every once in awhile something really fries me and I feel the need to get it off my chest. Since no one really reads here anymore, and the risk of offending anyone is low, I guess I'll use this space.

A couple of days ago a really popular blogger posted about a decision her family has made regarding raising some livestock...which will then become their food. I think the real beef (no pun intended) her commenters had was with the naming of these animals by her children, but I got so tangled up in the comments I can't be sure.

Anyway, I applaud her decision to do this. I personally feel we are all quite far removed from the source of our foodstuffs, whether animal or vegetable, and families that teach their children at a young age that these animals are the source of that stuff on styrofoam trays at the supermarket are to be praised - in my opinion. Now, I am choosing to voice that opinion here, in this space that belongs to me. Anyone can do that, this is America, whee!

But many commenters went rather far. I noted several instances of people "questioning her parenting decisions" and saying they "would not be coming back" to her blog.

And that got my ire up!!! Wow! What a ballsy, rude, inappropriate response to a woman humbly sharing her family's new lifestyle. She did not say they are allowing their children to play in the middle of a 4-lane highway. She did not say they are allowing their children to handle toxic chemicals. She did not say anything, to my mind, REMOTELY OFFENSIVE or inappropriate. She just gently explained and introduced the animals that are joining their farm to assist with work (turning soil, making compost, etc) and eventually be butchered for food.

In the "old days" (a personal fascination of mine) you hunted meat to live. I'm sure many of those commenters west of the Mississippi wouldn't be making such comments if they really thought about how they came to be living where they are. Do you think pioneers in a wagon train 200 years ago had the luxury of feeling bad for the animals? Hell no. It was shoot Bambi or starve to death. The Ingalls family named their work horses (remember Sam and David, and Pet and Patty?) as well as their milk cow (it was Ellen), and there is a passage in The Long Winter where Ma tells the girls that they will butcher Ellen and the heifer calf if they avoid starving to death. Did they want to? Of course not, but they would do it if they must.

To me it speaks of a pretty sissy attitude if you are upset with a family because they get a couple of pigs, name 'em, and then intend to eat them. Could I do it? I'm not sure. I'm kind of squeamish and I don't have a real good alternative right now to buying my meat on those styrofoam trays. But would I ever, ever, ever tell another person (or all that person's readership) that I disapprove of her parenting because of her choice? Please.

Yes, the internet is a worldwide, public forum. Yes, if you post something for all the world to see you are opening yourself up to potential criticism (I recall a shocking [to my mind] flap right here when I once said I thought people coming to church on Sunday unbathed and dressed as slobs was inappropriate...hoowee!). But that doesn't excuse people. How dare anyone question another person's parenting choices in a public forum...especially when it is about something like raising meat? I run across stuff all the time on the internet that makes me think, "wow, geez, that's not what I would do." But I keep it to myself, for pete's sake.

I must say, the blogger in question handled the issue with maturity and grace. But wow, did it make me mad.

Friday, October 15, 2010


The day dawned so, so beautifully...frost on the grass sparkled in the sunrise. It was cold, but so pretty.

Then I noticed the green stuff coming from my son's nose, and the disgusting viscous ooze coming from one of his ears. We spent the morning at the pediatrician's office and Target (where I spent $28 - that's $4 for the antibiotic and $24 for the other stuff I found while waiting for the medicine). When we got home I dumped the little guy in the bathtub to get rid of that yucky sick smell, then we cuddled on the sofa and nibbled some lunch.

Now the sun is gone, it is windy and cold, and the clouds are threatening. The breakfast and lunch dishes are waiting. I need to clean up the kitchen, fold the laundry, plan dinner. But I'm just sort of sitting here at the kitchen table amid the mess, watching the leaves blow off the enormous maple trees in the backyard...resting.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

straight up retail therapy

Well, the past few weeks have chewed me up and spit me out the other side...guess I am intact!

My sister gifted me with an early birthday gift - a superfancy Cuisinart coffee maker to replace my old ghetto sunbeam model (with the smashed carafe). Oh, people. It is so good.

And late last week I was feeling low, so I browsed around online, clicking here and there, until I found a particularly good sale at I had a bit of money kicking around in my paypal account, so I decided to treat myself to some yarn that I certainly do not need! But ooooohhh, it is so pretty:

That's 11 skeins of Regia "Galaxy" sock yarn, and 8 balls of Rowan Cashsoft Aran. I've never worked with a Rowan yarn before, but at around $2.50/ball I jumped at the chance. This will become a beautiful, soft red cardigan for AJ. I have a lot, so I think I will make a bigger size to fit for several years. The Regia yarns were $2/skein. And by spending over $35, I got free shipping to boot.

It was retail therapy, plain and simple, and I am not ashamed. All that pretty showing up on my doorstep did, in fact, make me feel better!

Friday, October 01, 2010

just keep swimming...

Last night I smashed the coffee pot while I was washing it.

Couldn't have happened at a worse time, really, as we are in the throes of two insane weeks filled with medical appointments, surgery, days off of school, out-of-town visitors, and therapies. I am running as fast as I can and still totally not keeping up! Despite the fact that I feel I constantly do laundry, it is piling up faster than I can knock it down (it reproduces, right?), and I swear I just clean up the same pile of toys from the family room floor three times a day. Still it always looks like a bomb has gone off in here. Oy.

So we are french-pressing today and it's not really working for me. :(

Chin up, chin up...just have to get through one therapy session, one eye doctor appointment, and one early dismissal today, and I can crawl into my knitting basket for a few minutes of relaxation.