Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tub Time!!

There, I've done my Mom Job and have embarrassing photos to show their respective prom dates.  :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Partner in Crime

Everyone has one of those friends.  One of those friends that when you're together, stuff just happens.  Good stuff, bad stuff, crazy stuff.  Stuff that becomes the stuff of inside jokes.  Stuff that's not so funny.  Stuff that if it happened to someone else, it WOULD be funny!

My friend like that is Tracy.  Tracy and I met in college, and stuff's been happening ever since.  We met living in the same dorm, and one night she gave me refuge from a bully.  And we've been brewing trouble and jinxing ourselves left and right, since 1997.

Tracy was here the night that our dog Joey got skunked.  In the winter.  DISGUSTING!!!!  It was not a proud moment in our house.  By the way, it's a true friend who will shuck down to her skivvies with you to wash the dog in ten boxes of douche.  And sit with the stinky dog while you're at CVS, scurrying before the close to buy the aforementioned ten boxes of douche.  (Side note:  you can't help but notice that when the clerk finishes ringing you up and you have that much douche, they do NOT tell you to "have a good day!")

When we hang out together there's parking tickets.  Car accidents (nobody hurt)  Vomitious children in cars.  Boyfriends beamed off to another planet. (Well, it felt like that at the time!)  Inside jokes about dusting under your bed and telling your friends that their breath is bad and they need "to put an altoid in it."  So when this afternoon I got a work call and went to work for some drama, it wasn't surprising that Tracy came with me!  The drama was really my fault, since she made a comment at lunch about it being quiet for us and I said "Don't worry.  The day's still young!"

Everyone should have a friend like Tracy.  A friend that perfect strangers assume is your sister.  One that will know that they have to bail you out of jail with a single codeword.  A friend that is always there for you, to tell you how it really is.  A true friend!  :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Happiness Is....

...listening To the Big One entertain the Little One. Those combined giggles and screeches of joy are priceless!

...having plans on a Friday night. My knitting friends are coming over tonight for snacks and dessert. And of course, knitting!

...a short work day on a Friday, after a long, trying week.

...taking Steps to add "years to your life, and life to your years."

Happy weekend, everyone!
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Magic Trick

I've finally finished my Lucy scarf, and it came out looking like this:

Huh.  Not quite what I expected.  Two balls of fingering-weight yarn and it is kind of short and scrunchy-looking.  I'm not a tall woman, so a shorter scarf is OK but this wasn't exactly what I had in mind....

That, my friends, is where blocking comes in.  Having never "blocked" something, I had to read up on the subject.  The Yarn Harlot sings the praises of blocking, and her stuff always looks amazing.  So she must be onto something.  So out comes my dog-eared copy of Stitch n Bitch, so I can figure out what to do.

First, Lucy gets a bath.  SnB calls for wool wash or some mild shampoo.  Having no special "wool wash" I opt for the mildest thing I can find:  baby shampoo!  Here goes nothin'!  I always say a prayer and cross my fingers whenever I'm about to do something that seems nutty like this.  (like closing my eyes and hoping for the best while plunging a knitted item to be felted in a washtub of hot, soapy water)  In reviewing blocking techniques, I especially liked the line "Agitation is to wool like garlic is to a vampire." 

Lucy needed to be rinsed twice. She also demanded the use of three towels!  I also learned an important lesson:  wet wool STINKS.  The smell of progress is not a pretty smell.  Luckily it dissipates quickly.  Either that or you hold your nose every time you walk by it while it dries!

I set up the ironing board in the dining room, as there isn't a lot of clear table space in a house with two adults and two children.  I laid it out on the third towel of the night, and gently tugged it into shape.  I checked it several times, then allowed it to dry overnight.

Voila!  Just like magic. Blocking....I'm now sold!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Where a Kid Can Be a Kid!"

Will (finally) got enough stickers on his sticker chart for using the potty for a trip to Chuck E Cheese.  Rather than all of us go, it was an outing with just Will and Daddy.  Will's seen the commercials for there for a looong time, and we live pretty close to one so whenever we pass it he demands to know when we're going!  So this afternoon, the two of them went off on their adventure.  Sean and I napped and knitted.  (I'll let you guess who did what) 

Two hours later, I had a little boy who was very excited to tell me all about the fresh cheese pizza Daddy got for them and the foam rocket launcher he won playing games!  However, when Daddy prompted him as to what he would like to earn for his next prize he announced that he was done with using the potty and never going to use it again!  He quickly changed his mind when I brought home a "Slinky Dog" from Toy Story and announced that was going to be his next prize for using the potty.  His response was "I want to use the potty right now!  And I'll fill it to the ceiling!!"

Who said a bit of bribery is a bad thing??  I just hope that he doesn't expect to get rewarded for using the toilet when he's in second grade....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Adventures in Felting

I made a felted bag for a friend who's moving to Texas at the end of the month.  Seems like all of my "knitty" friends are moving.  And none of them are moving altogether close by!  (Texas, South Carolina, Philly....) 
We all got together for our regular Wednesday night meetup, only we presented her with little handmade gifts and our best wishes in the Lone Star State.  The only problem is....what do you knit for a friend moving to Texas??  Due to the heat and humidity in Texas, one has little use for the usual things that one might knit.  Gloves, scarves and hats?  No thanks!

I've been in this predicament before, and I knitted that person a felted clutch.  This time, I wanted to do something a little more special.  So I knitted a Booga Bag. I had some wool yarn just kickin' it in my yarn stash from my first trip to Web's, when I just bought some yarn and didn't know what I was going to do with it.  It turns out that this particular yarn felts really, really well!

Wait....what's felting?  Oh, yeah.  Felting is when you knit something in a wool or wool blend, and then wash it in hot water.  If you've ever washed a woolen sweater or scarf in hot water, you know what happens.  It shrinks.  Then you probably curse up a storm and then throw it away, cause really, there's nothing you can do to fix it.  Felting is doing this on purpose.  It turns into a really neat fabric, just like heavy felt!

Allow me to demonstrate:

  Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky.  Incredible stuff for felting.  I used the center and right yarns for this project, in charcoal and fuschia.

The knitted body.  Notice that the stitches are loose and you can tell that it is a knitted bag.  I also made i-cord for handles, which is a cool technique that produces a long "snake."

Extreme Close-Up!   Woah!!!!!!  (Waynes World reference for you, free of charge!)

Making the holes for the i-cord handles.  This was a little harder than I thought that it would be.  It's really just stabbing the bag with a couple of double-pointed needles, but it was the placing of the holes that hung me up.  Check out the felting up-close and personal.  :)

Voila!  The finished product.  Fuzzy, fuschia and fun!  It's a little bag, big enough for a skein of yarn, a short set of needles and a pattern. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The "Cinnamon Bun"

While driving to work this morning I was behind an old car that looked vaguely familiar.  I couldn't place it right away, but as it turned left and I went straight at an intesection, it hit me.  (the realization...not the car)  I used to have a car just like it!

The car in front of me was a 1983 Cadillac Cimarron.  It was my second car, having recently totalled my first car coming off an exit and attempting to turn left where there was no lane to turn left.  I was on my way to Walmart with Alberto, a Spanish exchange student that stayed with us that fall.  Since there's nothing like Walmart in Spain (back then, who knows what's there now)  I missed the turn for Walmart and decided rather than loop back at the next intersection just to go for broke.  And "broke" was exactly what I got...a totalled car but luckily a totally intact passenger and driver.     (I never said 17-year-old Crafty Mama was brilliant back then.  And I'm sure the accident wasn't the type of "American Experience" that Alberto was looking to have!)

My parents, soon after the accident, tired quickly of driving around their daughter, now a senior in HS with lots of activities and a part-time job at McDonald's.  Not to mention my younger brother, whom I drove around to wherever he needed to go as well.  Did I also mention that on weekends work started at McD's at 6AM?  (I wonder nowadays how the hell I got to work for that insane hour, but it really wasn't a bad shift.  By the time you "woke up" it was already lunchtime and there were only three hours left on your shift.)  Anyway, Dad picked out the Cimarron at a used car lot and it was a "surprise."

It was a black car with a gold-ish leather interior.  My friend Michelle dubbed it "The Cinnamon Bun" and the name stuck.  The biggest surprise was how much I hated that car, and how much it hated me!  When picking up Michelle in the morning for school (a big no-no, but I did it anyway, what a rebel.  No wonder my nickname was Mother Hen.)  it would turn itself to the left while backing out of the nice, straight driveway.  No turning necessary!  In the winter, it wouldn't start in the cold.  I would be outside before school, with a can of starter fluid and spraying it under the hood.  And it would stall all the time.  If I was stopped at a red light, I'd have one foot on the gas and one on the brake, revving the car gently so it wouldn't stall out.  Mind you, this was an automatic transmission.  If I went through a drive-thru, I'd pray silently for it to keep running and not drop off before I could "please drive up."  The kicker was that this usually happened only to me.  My boyfriend at the time would snicker and say "Well it never happens when *I* drive it."  Oh, Lord.

 However, that car taught me some good lessons, and I couldn't complain much, as I had a vehicle whereas many of my friends did not.  And it also enforced a belief I still have today:  everyone should own a clunker at least once.  That way, when you get a reliable car, you really appreciate it!

I don't know what the fate was of the Cinnamon Bun. I know that after I went to college my brother learned to drive on it, but it was soon given to my uncle when we inherited my grandfather's old, reliable Camry. I'm sure by now it's in the Big Junkyard In the Sky. May it rest in peace!

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's in the Genes

I hate Sunday nights.  Almost as much as I despise Monday mornings. 

Why, you ask?  Because on Sunday nights, I am an insomniac.  Any other night of the week, I'm out the second my head hits the pillow.  On Sundays, I stare at the ceiling, annoyed that Mr. Sandman has skipped over my house.  Well, over ME anyway.  Lately, I just end up staying up until I feel tired. Might as well eliminate some of that frustration, and  continue to knit in the living room, watching some crappy movie and waiting for sleepy eyes.  Last night it was midnight (midnight!!) when I finally got sleepy.  That's a rough start to Monday. 

However, I do know of someone pokier than me on Monday mornings.  It's my eldest son.  That just proves that this aversion to Mondays thing is hereditary.  I usually have to rouse Will on Monday mornings, and today was no exception.  Today he tells me he's going to get up so that he can nap on the couch.  He alternates that request with begging to go back to the beach like yesterday.  "Sounds like somebody's got a case of the Mondays."*

We make it through breakfast and he begrudgingly comes with me to brush his teeth.  I peek in on his baby brother on the way:  Sean's on his belly, peeking out of the crib.  He beams when he sees me, my little Ray of Sunshine!  Clearly he does not get that from me, Mrs. "I Need More Coffee."  I hope he's able to hold onto that as he gets older, though I doubt it. 

Remember the sleep you got as a child??  You would wake up well-rested in the morning, looking forward to another exciting day.  God, I miss that!

*Office Space, one of my top ten Favorites.  Rent it if you haven't seen it!  Oh, and can you tell I've been reading Jen Lancaster novels by my footnotes??

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Little Lace

When I first started knitting two years ago, I honestly thought I'd give it up after a few weeks.  I never thought I'd be the obsessed nut that I am, with an ever-growing yarn stash.  And I certainly never thought I'd progress beyond garter stitch scarves and maybe the occasional baby blanket.  And I have made those things.  And so much hats, bags, clutches, mitts....and now I'm making lace!  Yes, Lace!

My friend Alicia from my knitting group made this scarf first, and I just drooled over the photo.  As a matter of fact, two of us in the group are making this scarf.  The yarn, I admit, was a total impulse buy.  I was in line at the checkout in a little yarn store in Delafield, Wisconsin when I saw it on the table, whispering to me.  It talked it's way onto the counter and into the bag.  Four balls of "Jojoland Melody" to go with the Noro Kureyon I had picked out for a bag.  I'm a total sucker.

This scarf is going to be for me and I can't wait to try it on!   Like I said, I've been knitting for two years and so far I've only kept one thing for myself.  It's high time I made something pretty for myself.

I'm pretty amazed at the ease of this pattern, I never thought I'd be able to do this.  I'm already setting new goals;  I have a book on hold at the library on making basic cables, and I want to teach myself how to use double-pointed needles.  I've made thirty hats for Stitches from the Heart (on my way to a goal of fifty by January!)  and they are all seamed.  If I did them on dpn's I could skip the part at the end where they have to be sewn together. 

Right now I also have a knitted bag in the washer.  I'm felting it using hot water and soap.  But that's a whole 'nother blog post!

So Many Books, So Little Time....

I was checking out my list of books that I want to read on Goodreads today, and I'm shocked to see that my "to-read" list now has 176 books!  I should explain:  anytime I see a book that I remotely think I would be interested in, I add it to the list.  After all, clicking is free  (hooray for clicking!) and if I don't add it, I WILL want to read it later and won't be able to remember it!

I just finished up "Me Talk Pretty One Day" by David Sedaris.  As example, that one's been in the queue for two years!  OH MY GOD what a funny book!  I haven't laughed like that while reading in a long time.  Since I work alone, I'll often read a book while I eat my lunch.  It took me almost two weeks of lunch to get through that one, but I didn't mind.  It was funny in a way that I wanted to savor it's humor instead of digesting it quickly and calling it a day.  The descriptions of his family members are bizarre, and the recounting of his life in Paris, struggling to speak French are hilarious.  I went and added the guy's whole catalog to the list.   I'm famous for that as well; once I find an author I really like I'll bone up on their books. 

Surprisingly, I have not yet gotten Jennifer Weiner's latest, "Fly Away Home".  I think I'll make that the first book I download on the e-reader that Brian got me for Christmas.  I's August and I'm way behind.  The people that know me best (and read this blog!) are certainly not surprised!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Birds and Bees: A Primer

I got home  late last night and Will and Sean were already in bed.  Will had just gone down, so I went in to kiss him good night.   We had quite the interesting conversation:

Will:  "Mommy, remember when Baby Sean was in your belly?"

Me:  "Yes Honey, I do."  (cause who could forget THAT, especially so quickly?)  "Did you know that you were once in my belly too?"

Will:  "I was???  At the same time as Baby Sean?"

Me:  "no, not quite.  You're the big brother, so you were there before Baby Sean."

Will:  "Mommy?  When will I get to have a baby in MY belly?"

Me:  " see Will, you probably won't ever have a baby in your belly.  Because you are a boy.  Girls are the ones that usually have a baby in their belly."

Will:''Well, Mommy.....I'm going to turn you into a boy.  And I'm going to turn me into a girl!"  "Waves his "magic wand"  "Bzzzt.  Now you're a boy, and I'm a girl!  And I have a baby in my belly!"

Remind me to try this conversation again sometime.  Like in a few years.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Oh C'mon!!!

We had an exciting week with lots of stuff happening.  First things first...Sean can sit up unassisted!  Not for a long period of time of course, but he thinks it's very cool.  He also tried his first apple juice, and his first Ritz cracker.  LOVED both!  We also switched around carseats, too.  It was time for Sean to come out of the bucket seat, not because he was over the weight limit but I was starting to pull muscles in my neck from carrying him.  So we got new booster seats for Will and turned his old seat back into a rear-facing one for Sean.  Both boys love their new seats, and Sean adores being carried out to the car in your arms instead of the seat.  Will loves the fact that his new carseat has not one but TWO cupholders.  See, it doesn't take much to be cool to a toddler. 

"Oh C'mon" is Will's new favorite phrase.  And by "favorite" I mean he uses it all day and possibly in his sleep.  If he can't find Buzz and Woody?  Oh C'mon!  If I tell him that if he jumps off the chair so he can fly that he'll get hurt it's "Oh C'mon, Mommy!  I'm just pretending I can fly!  I'm using my 'magination."  If Sean startles while I'm making a chocolate-banana milkshake Will shakes his head and informs his brother, "Oh C'mon Baby Sean, it's just a blender!"  But the best one was in the car last Friday and Will said "Mom, can I talk to you?"  I was surprised and turned and said "When did you start calling me Mom?"  "Oh, C'mon Mommy!  MOM is just a nickname!"

My boys are growing up.  It's bittersweet.  I'm happy of course but......"Oh, C'MON!"  :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Potty Chronicles

Ah, potty-training.  Now that I'm in the midst of it I can say with certainty that it is the most difficult part of parenting yet!

We've had some marginal success in the past couple of weeks.  I put up a potty chart in Will's room and told him that for every time he just sat on the potty I would give him one sticker, and if he did anything on it he would earn two stickers.  At five stickers, we would go to the toy store and pick out a little prize.  Last weekend in PA, with six stickers on the chart, we went to Walmart and picked out a talking Woody Doll from Toy Story!  He asked if a Buzz was going to come with his Woody Doll and I explained that he had to earn enough stickers to bring Buzz home.   I then upped the ante, and told him that he would earn one sticker for every time he did something on the potty.  And when we got to twelve stickers  we would go back to Walmart to get Buzz.

Today we're at 11 stickers on the chart, most of them being earned yesterday.  We decided to go for broke yesterday and put Will in big-boy underpants.  He loved the idea, especially since he had chosen the underpants himself.  (Toy Story!  Mickey!  Cars!)  However, by the time I went out at lunchtime to run some errands, there was only one pair of underpants left.  It got better as the day went on, he would suddenly realize he had to pee and then run for the potty, not making it.  But at least he was running for it!  This morning however, he seems content to pee in the underpants.  I asked him the last time why he didn't say anything about having to pee, and he said "Because I was playing!"  So we are back to the pull-ups, but are continuing to set the timer and usher him to the bathroom every thirty minutes.  It makes for a really loooooong weekend! 

I so hope that this is going to be easier the second time around.