Tuesday, November 30, 2010


We've given an informal nickname to the Little One...."The Destroyer."  He is our curious wild child, the one that wants to know what is in EVERY drawer, under everything, how the dishwasher works and is constantly set out to prove that no matter how much, we cannot vacuum enough.  Childproofing was invented because of him and nothing is safe, sacred or left untouched.  We of course, took great care in childproofing our home for both children, but the Big One didn't challenge it quite as much.  So with The Destroyer, you must always have a watchful eye. 

On our way home from PA yesterday, Sean informed us consistently that he is not a fan of long drives.  Mostly by screeching his displeasure, he screamed between naps.  Every time he fell asleep was a welcome reprieve.   Not surprisingly, he disliked the drive home more than the drive there.  Poor buddy, I don't like driving home either.  Somewhere between the MA and CT borders, I handed him my scarf to play with, which usually brings a smile.  And it did not disappoint, our Little One was quiet and played with my scarf for a bit, bringing some peace to our vehicle. 

Unfortunately, when I got the scarf back, it was my turn to shed some tears.  For the beautiful lace that I had created, from yarn purchased while on vacation in Wisconsin, has been disfigured.  Huge strings of yarn have been yanked, by a curious baby who liked the texture of my work.  Although I was sad, I wasn't angry because I have no one to blame but myself for giving it to him.  The scarf is still wearable, as the cool calculation of The Destroyer caused him to pull from the exact center of the scarf.  If I angle properly, the pulls are hidden by my hair and no one can see it.  But *I* know it's there....

Luckily, this violation was discovered in the parking lot of my absolute favorite yarn store.  A nice big skein of Araucania wool/silk blend purchased in a magenta/purple colorway, I vow to rebuild.  :)

Time for Tea

We're back from a great looong weekend in Philly.  The boys loved seeing their Grandmom and Grandpop, and meeting lots of people at Thanksgiving on Saturday.  (note:  Hubby's family has always celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday....it's something that his grandmother started many years ago so you didn't have to choose who you'd spend Thursday with.  Now we'll continue it to honor her memory.   It's a very large family, with 53 people at dinner this year!  Since that's more people than anyone's house can hold, we rent a church hall and everything's paper and plastic, 'cause nobody wants to do THOSE holiday dishes!)  Will enjoyed playing with cousins and Sean loved that he could crawl in wide open spaces.

 On Sunday, we drove to Lansdowne (about thirty minutes away) to visit with some old friends, Scott and Jen.  (Oh my, another Scott and Jen!)  This time it's Scott that's Brian's friend from HS and his wife Jen, and they have two girls, M and K.  (not their real names, obviously.  But what a timesaver...)    We had a lovely lunch on Sunday with grilled bacon, cheese and veggie sandwiches and squash and apple soup.  (I asked for the soup recipe, it is definitely Blue Plate material!)  After lunch we went into their "adult" living room to talk some more.  Adult, as in, there are no toys, no television with Dora the Explorer blaring, just furniture, books and a fireplace. Wow!  I didn't know you could do that!  :)  After some more catching up, Jen asked if we would like some pumpkin cake and tea.  Mmmm....pumpkin cake.

I had mentioned earlier in the conversation about Brian and I trying out tea at night, so at least there's something after dinner instead of ice cream.  Tea is a funny thing for me, I usually only like it when I'm sick.  After all, nothing feels better like tea and honey when you have a sore throat.  But I've been trying out different kinds and looking for something that I really like.  Then Jen said something interesting, "what I really like is the ritual of tea."  And right there in their living room, I finally got it.  Sitting in my chair, at a table with friends, children playing happily in the other "kid" living room, drinking Chai tea, inhaling the spices, I started to relax.  My shoulders dropped from around my ears and loosened up.  I finally understand, tea drinkers!  Yes, some of you drink it as your morning beverage, but I understand it as a ritual.  It's very calming.  One of my favorite blogs, The Yarn Harlot, wrote this post  about her tea drinking and what it does for her sanity.

So today, around 3pm, I'm going to briefly ignore the fact that I have financial reports to tend to, waiting list letters to mail and recertification packets to put together.  I'm going to put off the complaining tenants bickering about each other making noise.  I'm going to sidestep the conversation with the woman who thinks it's OK to caulk her windows shut.  (don't ask!)  I'm going to go into the kitchen, make a cup of tea and sit at my desk for even two minutes and enjoy my tea.  And I hope I'll feel like a better person for it.  I know that's a lot to expect from a cup of tea, but if done regularly I think it's up to the challenge.

Friday, November 26, 2010

An Earlier and Earlier Start

I can remember when Christmas wasn't really mentioned until the week of Thanksgiving, the holiday sales started with Black Friday and continued.  People didn't decorate until at least the day after Thanksgiving, and Christmas Music was nil until then as well.  But every year, it gets here faster.  It's already been here for awhile, I can think back to shopping for costumes last month and thinking "Let's get through Halloween first!"  But lo and behold, it's catalog city in the mail every day, and the shopping bustle has begun.  My own Christmas cards came in the mail the other day, ready to be slipped into envelopes, addressed and sent to our nearest and dearest all over the country next week.  (And it's a great picture, if I do say so myself!!) 

No Black Friday shopping in our house.  If you've ever worked retail in your life, ever, even if it was ten years ago, you will most likely never want to shop on Black Friday ever again.  I still remember my time at the mall, working at the customer service desk that year and wishing I could crawl under a rock.

So my message to everyone out there in the throes this weekend....be kind to each other, and to yourself. Smile to your fellow shoppers.   Be nice(r) to the people who work in the stores.  Be generous to your family as you're begging the kids to sit still during the damned holiday photo. There is no such thing as a "perfect" holiday, and the memories you're making are much more important than the gifts. I know I risk sounding preachy, but so be it.

 I find myself saying the same thing I do at the beginning of every holiday season:  this year is going to be less stressful involving the holidays.  Less Stress!  I am not going to put pressure on myself.  And, as said every year.....THIS YEAR I MEAN IT.  :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Day of Thanks

With Thanksgiving here, it's time to count your blessings.

To my husband, I'm blessed to have a partner who is loving and supportive.  I'm thankful that we have a rule that only one of us is allowed to freak out at a time, and that we can laugh over most anything.  I'm thankful for your flexibility and willingness to help.  And your sense of humor and handsomeness aren't bad either.  :)

To my oldest:  I'm thankful for your wit and humor, and your tiny grip on this thing called sarcasm.  I love that you can make me laugh by repeating me (Chicken at Red Robin??Are you nuts??") and with your thousand-and-one knock-knock jokes.  I'm thankful for your independence and free spirit, though I don't always show it.  You've been an awesome big brother in your rookie year, and I look forward to the two of you growing up together.

To my youngest:  I am grateful for your giggles when we tickle you, and that you love to giggle!  Because I think I love to make you giggle the most.  We love you so much and, this being your first Thanksgiving celebration, are so happy you're here.  I'm very thankful that you're a good sleeper, and that you love to play and coo. 

I'm especially thankful that I am healthy and that I have a healthy family as well.  I'm thankful for having a job, and a home.  There are so many people out there today that have neither, so I am blessed to have both.  I'm thankful that I have somewhere to go for Thanksgiving, and family to spend it with.  I'm thankful to have "extra" funds that allow me to have hobbies such as books and knitting, instead of all of our income going towards necessities.   And I'm thankful for every day, and to be able to share with all of you the things that I am grateful for in my life.  

Happy Thanskgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Winter Sanity Swap

Recently I had signed up for a Winter Sanity Swap through Ravelry.  Just a little holiday fun.   The purpose of a Winter Sanity Swap is to give your partner a little piece of Winter Sanity.  It's a knit/crochet kit that's designed for you to take it out when things start to get crazy and go awry and you soothe yourself back to some semblance of relaxed.  (Or at least less frazzled)  People were supposed to post answers to questions about patterns likes and dislikes, details about your holiday celebrations, and then you go and "stalk" your partner by reading their answers.

The Swap is now winding down and I've really enjoyed shopping for my partner.  I'm now finished and ready to box it all up and ship to Arizona.  Based on my "stalking" her posts, here's what I'm sending her:

--Three skeins of Jojoland Tonic yarn in what I would describe the color as Sonic Blue.  (the same color as my last car, and I loved it!)
--A pack of three Boye aluminum crochet hooks
--a pack of tapestry needles
--a shawl pattern called "Walden."  Despite it being Arizona, I've been there in December and i know it gets cold at night!  I kept the yarn fiber light though, it's an acrylic/wool blend.
--Two snowflake ornaments, one blue and one silver.
--a package of Goldfish, themed "Twelve Days of Christmas.  (Target find today!  Might make a good stocking stuffer for a certain four-year old, and it's pretty cute)
--Lindt dark chocolate truffles
--Chai Tea
--Unicorn stitch markers
--and lastly, a fabric drawstring bag to store the project while she's working on it.  It's a black background with lots of multicolored snowflakes.  I can't take credit for it, it's another fabulous Etsy find.

Then, one night last week I came home to a box from Missouri sitting on my coffee table.  It was MY winter sanity swap package!  I was one of the first ones in the group to receive a package.....and what a nice one it is!

--Handmade crocheted project bag
--Handmade crocheted wrist warmers in the same variegated yarn
--Lindor White Chocolate Truffles
--Scented Pumpkin Candle
--Felted Christmas pin
--Handmade green and silver beaded stitch markers from Etsy.  (Seriously, who doesn't love Etsy??)
--Christmas drink coasters
--Tapestry needle for darning those pesky ends in your project
--two sets of aluminum circular needles, size 7
--a pattern for the Laodice shawl, one that I have been coveting in my Ravelry queue to make for myself
--three skeins of Imagination hand-painted sock yarn in a colorway called "Evil Stepmother."  SO soft and pretty!

To my swapper----thank you, thank you!  To my swapee...Enjoy!  (though I hope that you are not reading this)

Next up is the Birthday Swap!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Moment of Happiness

Every morning, Will asks me if he can go into Sean's room and make him laugh.  This is his favorite thing to do in the mornings, to entertain his little brother.  After I change and dress Sean, I bring him into the kitchen for a snack of Cheerios while I wolf down a bowl of cereal myself.  This morning, Will broke away from watching Nick Jr. to coo at Sean and feed him Cheerios.  Sean was delighted that his big brother was there to play with him, and responded with what I can only call a "joyful noise."  "Aaaaaah!  Eeeeeee!"  Now picture that high-pitched and loud.  And frequent.  With every noise he swings his arms out to Will, begging for more.  It warms my heart.  It also gives me a minute of "peace time" to eat my bowl of kashi and banana a little slower. 

Watching the two of them interact happily, that really makes my day!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Fine Mess

I've mentioned before that I belong to a knitting group that meets up locally on Wednesday nights.  Wednesday is MY night; since it's close to work I leave at 5pm and head straight for the coffee shop.  It doesn't start until 6, but people start trickling in beforehand.  We're a diverse group of women, the regulars include me (a property manager) a pediatrician, a teacher, a store manager and a stay-at-home-mom.  Many areas of expertise represented right there.  And really, there's no-holds-barred on topics of conversation.  We all offer our input on a variety of topics:  childbirth, potty-training, bad landlords, etc etc etc.

This week, the pediatrician raised a good one:  how the heck do people manage to keep their houses cleaned up??  Especially people whose families where both parents work full-time and they have babies.  We all offered insight, such as a chore list on the fridge, utilizing a web service like Fly Lady, etc.   One woman said that they have a rule in their house that toys stay upstairs and if they come down, they go back up at the end of the day. 

It was only this lovely Saturday morning that I looked around my house and thought "How could you give ANYBODY advice on keeping a house orderly??  Look at this hurricane-ravaged place!"  We're the family that has the chore list on the refrigerator.  It lists the things that we "aspire" to do, by day-of-the-week.  For example, everyone in the house gets fresh sheets and towels on Monday nights.  Menu-writing is Friday, groceries on Saturday.  The big kitchen-cleanup is supposed to happen on Saturday morning.  Does it?  Not always.  It's nice  in theory, but we more use the schedule as a way of seeing what we have to do and then ignoring it until it becomes a red-alert item. 

And the clutter, OH the CLUTTER!   With two kids comes a lot of clutter.  I could spend the day picking up, and I swear two children and a dog are behind me, throwing stuff on the floor as I go by.  You start to get resentful, like "why freakin' bother."  So I will only declutter once a day, picking up five things at one time and putting them in their designated places, and then grabbing five more.  

  What also comes with two kids is a drastic decrease in your standards of what will "do" in terms of cleanliness and order.  Most days, if the kids are reasonably wiped clean before bed and we've run the dishwasher at least once, I'm good!  Things like vacuuming become an as-needed chore, like when paint particles came flying out of Will's school bag last week.  Now that Sean's super-mobile, we vacuum more often.    I've learned to live with a lot and am adapting to a new mantra, "Embrace the Chaos!"   I know that things won't always be this way.  As the late, great Erma Bombeck once said, one day you will yell at your child, "I cleaned this up and I want it to stay that way!"  And it will, because childhood will be over.  And you will miss these days.  So with my sanity still intact, I am embracing the chaos.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Five Miles? Really???

Know how people say "every little bit adds up?"  I updated the KnitMeter on my blog with my latest project last night and I'm shocked to see that it is at 4.89 miles!  If you take all of the yarn that I've used for my projects thus far this year alone, the yarn would stretch almost five miles.  That's almost my entire commute from my house to my job!  Most of the projects are little ones, like the baby hats I'm doing for charity or some scarves.  I do have two big projects in there, though.  And I'm thinking of queueing a pattern for a new blanket for my couch next year, to snuggle under and watch TV.  I still have my celestial blanket from my college days, but it's certainly seen it's share of turmoil. 

Wow.  I'm still shocked.  FIVE MILES!

An Occasional Lesson

Meet my latest project:  I don't believe the recipient reads my blog so I can show it off.  This is a hooded baby blanket for a baby shower that I'm going to in December.  The yarn is Lionbrand's Nature's Choice Organic Cotton, in a colorway called Curaco.  I bought it in New York at the actual Lionbrand store, where it cost $5/skein.  The pattern called for three skeins so that is what I bought.

Knitting sometimes has a lesson for me.  Unfortunately, I tend to not listen sometimes until it repeats itself.  So....I can hear the laughter of the Knitting Gods as I run out of yarn at the 80% completion mark.  Well, we're that far into the project, there's no shelving it and picking something else, no time.  The big-box crafts stores (like Michael's) carry this particular yarn, but not in Curaco.  Actually, that's what drew me to this yarn, I'd never seen it in anything other than solid colors in stores.  So it's off to their website I go.

Gahhhhh!  Now the yarn is $8/skein, and the kicker is, it's an additional $4.10 to have it shipped.   One skein of yarn is going to set me back another $12.  But what can I do?  I'm over a barrel and need the yarn to finish the blanket.

Today's repeat lesson:  If the pattern calls for three skeins, BUY FOUR.    (hanging head in shame.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank a Veteran

Today, on Veteran's Day, thank a Veteran for their service!

Thank you to my favorite Veteran.  :)  I went looking for a more polished picture, but they're buried in my basement.  Here's my Hubby in his dress whites at a wedding.

A special thanks to all Veterans out there today!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

First Week of Healthy Living

No, I'm not going to do a play-by-play of diet crap every week.  But I thought the first week was worth noting. 

I had my appointment with the nutritionist, as stated before, and she told me to eat normally for a few days and then look to make changes.  Well, I've found two major areas to work on, and here they are:  I have a serious sweet tooth.  Left to my own devices with things like leftover Halloween candy (still in the house!!) I will eat it, piece by piece until it is alllllll gone.  If I'm stressed out the sugar is the first thing I go after.  Brian and I have a nightly ice cream habit to break.  Which is the HARDEST thing!  After a full day of being Mom and Manager, I feel justified in having a bowl of ice cream.  He feels the same justification.  The second thing:  I am guilty of the Time Crunch Munch. You know what I'm talking about....not taking the time to eat properly because of a busy schedule.  Your Thursday Afternoon should not be sponsored by half a hot dog and two bites of food-program coleslaw.  That kind of lunch doesn't make for a productive afternoon.  So I need to stop expecting it to!

As much as I hate this statement from my Weight Watcher Days, it really rings true:  "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail."   (I hate admitting anyone is right and I'm wrong.)   So after my last day of eating whatever the hell I wanted, I spent some time planning.  I steamed spinach to go with eggs and toast for breakfast.  We're transitioning Sean to table foods, so I made enough butternut squash (my favorite) for ALL of us.   I came up with ideas to get more protein. I set my phone alarm to remind me to eat snacks during the day so I don't attack the junk cabinet at home upon pulling in the driveway.  And so far, so good.

Monday, November 8, 2010

New England Fiber Festival!

I went with a group of knitty friends (and my mom and SIL, who are also knitters) to the Fiber Festival out at the Big E Complex in W. Springfield, MA yesterday.  All I can say is Yarn, Yarn, YARN!!!!  Rows and rows of yarn purveyors, stitch marker sellers, pattern people, and anything else you can think of.  Such a happy place.  Knitters and crocheters are at their happiest either looking at new yarn or perusing new projects, or finishing up something and binding off.  Lots of happiness around yesterday, with people commenting about what knitted items others were wearing ("Omigosh!  So pretty!  Where can I find the pattern?  What did you use for yarn?  Such gorgeous color!  It's our own version of the red carpet, minus Joan Rivers)

Besides the obvious (yarn!  yarn accessories!) we got to see a collie herd up some ducks, a sheep shearing demonstration and got to pet some alpacas.  Alpacas are the softest animals ever.  And if I'd had a spare $1250 lying around and room in my car (ha ha) I could have brought a pair of them home.    The dog and duck demonstration was hilarious.  The ducks kept dividing into two groups and while the dog was going after one group, the others would run in the other direction and "laugh!" 

All in all, an awesome day, with a fun bunch that "gets it."  They understand the joy of looking at and touching yarn, even if it is too damn expensive to come home with me.   I came home with a big bag of yarn for myself and my swap partners, some goodies and some new buttons.  Oh, and a million more ideas of things I'd like to make for gifts and for myself.  My head is spinning!!

(I have great photos to add, but they'll come later.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hot Soup on a Cold Day

It's another one of those cooooolllld days, where it's raining and dark when it's time to get up.  (If I think it's bad now, wait til Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend!)  I have a crappy cold but even that can't stop my appointment with housing court today.  So it's off to get myself and two children ready to greet the day. 

Before I tell the story, let me give some background.  My job is a bit of a unique situation right now, with four days per week worked in a family housing development and one day a week at an elderly housing development in the city.  Today is Thursday, so I'm off to the elderly housing complex after a rousing day of housing court.

Housing court doesn't go as hoped and seems to take forever.  By the time I leave, the rain is falling and it's gotten colder, requiring me to pull out the gloves that I'm lucky I remembered on my way out the door.  I arrive at work, and it's bustling with activity.  After a very fast lunch of half a hot dog and two bites of coleslaw it's time to get some work done. 

After a lunch like that, of course you're starving.  That's when the Soup Angel comes....one of the residents brings me a hot bowl of homemade chicken soup.  I accept heartily, having had his homemade soup before.  And it is delicious--with Spanish-style onions, pasta, chunks of garlic, chicken thighs and red peppers.  The perfect thing for this cold, because of course I forgot the rest of the cold medicine at home and it's been hours since I've appreciated its effects. 

So today, I'm thankful for something simple like a bowl of soup.  It was the perfect thing of my afternoon. I'm feeling MUCH better! It really is the little things that make you happy.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Just a Couple of Favorites

I stumbled across these and just wanted to share a few favorites from Will's babyhood....enjoy!

 Ready to watch some Nick Jr!

Making his best "Goalie Face"

Jack Frost Nipping at Our Noses

I was totally unprepared for today's frost.  The winter coats have been broken out for the boys, and I've picked out yarn to make a hat for Sean.  His coat is adorable, it's tan and white with red accents and Winnie the Pooh patches.  ($4.00 at Savers!  How can you go wrong??  Yeah, it's used.  So what!)  Now I just have to pick out a pattern to make him, which I'm having a tough time choosing.  Brian said to go simple just to get a hat on the poor kid's head, but he's wearing a  hand-me-down right now so it's not an imminent emergency.  I just want something different and a little more challenging.

In other news....Fiber Festival this weekend!  No, it's not a party dedicated to eating oatmeal and bran.  I'm talkin' YARN!!!!  I know, I've made an excellent case for never needing any more yarn after "flashing my stash" a few posts back.  However, I have some specific shopping to do, and I've signed up for two swaps on Ravelry.  The first is a "Winter Sanity Swap" where you send a bag, yarn, pattern, treat and holiday ornament to your parter.  The second is a Birthday Swap, where you make your partner something, and send it with some yarn and birthday goodies.  I'm pretty excited about both of these events and have already started putting together my packages.  My Winter Sanity partner lives in Arizona, and I've always wondered what people in AZ knit/crochet!  My Birthday Swap partner hails from Maine, not too far from the Canadian border.  So there's plenty of things for her to make that are useful to her family.  :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Dreaded Appointment

I was up bright and early this morning to get out the door on time....I had an appointment at the Weight Center with their nutritionist.

I've been dreading this.  I've been to a nutritionist before, when I had gestational diabetes, so I knew what this was going to be all about.   I was afraid that I'd be leaving with a "diet sheet" of things I can and can't have.   It was surprisingly not unpleasant, and I was hopeful when I left, feeling that I indeed can do this.  We spent an hour talking about my lifestyle, my eating patterns and habits and how to focus all of that around losing weight.  It turns out, I am excellent at maintaining my weight, and I'm like most people with some flaws but nothing truly terrible that cannot be fixed.    I left with a food journal and a calorie book.  I'm supposed to eat normally over the next two or three days but write it all down, and then look for places to change.  A couple of first goals:  curbing my sweet tooth a little and work on getting some protein at every meal. 

A month from today I start working with my group of peers in this weight loss center.  I'm getting a bit of a head start because I was supposed to start this in September and got wait-listed.  I am ready for this challenge!  Some people may think that I'm crazy for starting this right before the holiday season, but I really think it will be helpful in letting me indulge some but not go hog-wild!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Our Halloween!

 Daddy and Mr. Bumblebee

Will as Woody, posing with Nana

Another Halloween come and gone!  We really enjoyed it, Nana and Papa came for a visit and we had a nice dinner, and then my dad offered to hand out candy while we took out our little Woody and his brother the Bumblebee.  Will made out like a bandit, and would have happily kept going, but Sean was getting a bit sleepy/cranky and it was SO COLD out last night!  We really missed the balmy sixty-degree weather from last year.    At one point, Will tripped going down someone's driveway and fell, scraping his knee.  "OWWWW!!"  was followed with "I'm Okay!!  Did any candy fall out of my pumpkin?   Did Daddy get it?"  A kid has his priorities on Halloween, right?
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