Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: A Year In Review

It's that time see what went down in 2011.  I always enjoy reading my answers from the year before.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

I went on my very first cruise.  And it was everything that Brian and I had hoped that it would be:  the most relaxing and fun vacation that we have ever taken!  It's become an inside joke, when things get hectic one of us will sigh and say "I miss Josh."  "Josh" was the cruise director, and responsible for our fun for four days.  It was a trip without kids, and it was awesome.  Someday we'd like to do a cruise WITH the kids too, when they're a little older.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I really don't "do" New Years Resolutions.  However, in 2012 I will be starting the "Day Zero Project..."  which is like a list of things that you want to accomplish in 1,001 days.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Good Lord, who didn't?  It was the year of babies, with friends and family having children.  Plus, my beautiful niece Abby was born in November.  So excited for my brother and his wife, and thrilled to have a girl in the family to knit for!

4. Did anyone close to you die?  

My uncle passed away unexpectedly in May.  He was my Dad's older brother.

5. What countries/places did you visit?

Our cruise took us to Saint John New Brunswick, Canada.  I had never been there before and it was a nice little city.  I was especially happy to be there at the time that we were, there was a horrific heatwave going on at home and it was a balmy seventy-five degrees in Saint John!

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

  Sanity! Just kidding.....  2011 was a tough year in some ways, but we are all healthy, have plenty of food and a roof over our heads.  We're both employed and have many other things that lots of people out there don't have.  So I feel blessed.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I don't remember any of the exact dates, but this year's weather has been particularly noteworthy.  First, the winter brought heavy wet snow once or twice a week.  Then in June, there was a tornado.  A pretty big tornado that devastated cities and towns to the west of us, and got into Central MA.  Then it was followed by a hurricane at the end of the summer, a HURRICANE!  We got a bit of rain damage on that one in our bathroom, rain was blowing into the house vent and it ruined our ceiling.  Again, the cities and towns to the west of us, who hadn't recovered yet from the tornado, got dumped on once again.  And just to keep things interesting, a freak snowstorm the last weekend of October!  Halloween was certainly interesting this year.  Many people were without power around us for up to a week, we hosted friends and families for food, showers, recharging devices, etc.  We were very, very lucky through all of this, never losing power more than a couple of hours.  Based on the year that  it has been weather-wise, I don't dare ask what Mother Nature has up her sleeve.  Or question her mood.  :)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I managed to work three jobs at once.  I worked at my current building while running applications at the new building, plus did some coverage at yet another building.  It was a ridiculously busy November and December, but when I am sitting in my new office next March, it will be all worth it.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not taking care of myself better.  I tend to do for everyone, and forget to take care of me.  I really need to work on that.  Plus, I tend to take on too much personally and professionally, and not realize until I'm in the thick of it.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

It's been a good year. (knocking on wood right now!) No trips to the hospital, nothing crazy to get the doctor's opinion on!  Some antibiotics in our household, but nothing serious.  We are very, very lucky!  Especially with our daredevil younger son!

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The best thing that we bought was time and memories with the boys.  We took them to a couple of children's museums, parks, and shows.  We went to PA to visit Grandmom and Grandpop.  Best money spent:  going places with the kids.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
All of those Secret Santas that paid off people's Walmart and Kmart layaways this year for kids' Christmases.  I loved, loved, loved those stories!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Crazy Black Friday shoppers.  I mean a video game system for your kid worth your life?? Do you really need to bring pepper spray?  This is why I stay home on Black Friday.  No deal is worth it to me to get trampled, shuffled or pushed around.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Bills, bills bills.  Same place they always go.  BUT we did pay off my husband's car and get our driveway re-done in anticipation of putting the house on the market in the next year or so.  A little bit at a time, we'll get there.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Hmmm.  Well, not to sound repetitive, but Brian and I really got excited about a vacation without kids.  Four days of just us, enjoying the hell out of everything that a cruise has to offer.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Sadly, nothing comes to mind.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? I've been some of both this year. Some times have been harder than others. But I've always been a "glass half-full" kind of girl and I've got lots of blessings to count.  (I liked this answer so much from last year that I decided to keep it.)

b) thinner or fatter? about the same.  but I feel really good about myself and NOT putting on more weight during some pretty stressful times.
c) richer or poorer? Richer in some ways....poorer in others. I'm rich where it love and family.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Living in the moment. Relishing life's simple pleasures.  Saying yes more.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Multi-tasking.  Worrying.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With my family, having a simple dinner, eating lots of cookies and watching the kids play.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?

I fall in love a little bit more each and every day.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

I enjoyed True Blood this past summer, and the usual primetime dramas that Brian and I watch.  And I got a bit more into the Food Network.  Brian, Will and I really enjoy "Chopped."

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I make it a point not to hate anyone. There's people that annoy me or I dislike, but hate's a pretty strong word. (yes it's last year's answer, but it still applies!)

24. What was the best book you read?

I didn't read nearly as much this year, and honestly, I don't know if I can pick a "favorite."

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Nothing, really.

26. What did you want and get?
I got to start accepting applications for my new elderly apartment complex!  2012 will see me in my new office and out of family housing for good!!!

27. What did you want and not get?

More time to knit.  But there's never enough of that.  :)

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Hmmmm.  I went to see Bridesmaids and Breaking Dawn in theaters this year.  And Brian and I spent my birthday playing hooky, going out to lunch by ourselves and getting a Redbox movie.  So there you have favorite movie was "Friends with Benefits," for the sheer reason that we got to watch it at home, uninterrupted.  :)

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

See above for birthday plans, and add "finished Christmas shopping."  Plus, the day before, Brian cooked a Chicken and Eggplant Parmesan feast, and made chocolate cream cupcakes and my whole family came over!    I dreaded turning 35 this year.  Once it happened though, I was OK with it.  What's with the anticipation???

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not worrying so much about money or childcare.  Comes with the territory, I guess.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?

Thrown together and harried. My personal sense of style is a bit stunted.  I'm trying to break out of my "comfortable" colors of purple and dark pink, and trying different colors.

32. What kept you sane?

my yarn stash, and knitting my way through it.  Teaching myself new tricks involving needles and yarn.  I knit 12 MILES worth of yarn this year.  That is just crazy.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
None of ' over it.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

I don't know if I'd say I was "stirred" over them....but the ones that I will remember the most are the "Occupy" protests all over the country, and the quiet end of the war in Iraq.

35. Who did you miss?

The people I missed most are the ones far away.  My friends Jen and Heather, Jen is in Illinois and Heather is in Florida.  Heather is pregnant with her first child and I so wish I could see her.  I'm planning a solo trip to see her in early 2012 when Baby Girl is born!

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I've made some new friends in my knitting group, and gotten to know others better.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:

It's important to look up once in a while and assess the situation.  It's equally important to recognize when you've taken on too much, and either let go of some things or learn to delegate.  Also, take good care of yourself, you deserve it.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"You can't live your life, in the baby seat.  You've got to stand on your own, don't admit defeat."
Barenaked Ladies, "Baby Seat."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Boy and his Dog

Just last week, Will and I were talking about dogs. Specifically, it was about how much dogs love to be petted.  I remarked that our dog Joey was certainly no exception, that is his favorite thing in the world.  Joey loves nothing more than idle hands in a free lap, and plenty of snuggles.  Will said, " Well why doesn't he ever want to be in my lap?  I'd love to snuggle and pet him.

Joey must have heard, because the photo is the 2 of them in the car on monday, headed to my parents to celebrate Christmas.  Either that, or he just wanted a little piece of Will's fleece blanket!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yeah, I wear hats now.

I used to be such a priss about hat-wearing in the winter time.  I grew up in New England, I mean, c'mon, it's cold enough here for hats a good part of the year.  As a kid, I'd take it off, because I was "too cool" and apparently hat-wearing was a sign of weakness here in the Bay State.

Well, those days are over.  I am a dork, a weakling and most of all, a hypocrite.  Especially when it comes to my own knitted hats!  The older I get, the colder I get in the winter.  So there.  I wear hats now.  And I'm proud of it.  :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

100 Things in 1,001 Days

I'm not one for making New Year's Resolutions.  They always seem to be the same thing....things that you feel like you HAVE to do.  "Lose weight."  "Stop Smoking."  "Join a Gym."  Blah.  

Recently though,  I heard about this curious thing called the Day Zero Project.  Or perhaps its better-known name, "100 Things in 1,001 days."

Here's what it entails:  the participant makes a list of 100 things that he/she would like to accomplish in the next 1,001 days.  (roughly three years)  You can put anything on your list:  self-improvement items, volunteering, silly stuff...but it has to  be clearly defined so when it is finished you get to cross it off.

I took over a week to write mine, and I made it hit a lot of categories.  There are books that I've always wanted to read, parties I've wanted to throw, places to visit with the boys, etc etc etc.  I also asked my husband for some input (since he is my biggest motivator/cheerleader), and borrowed some ideas from other people's lists.  

Here is my list:  Due Date September 28, 2014. I won't blog about every single one, but have created a separate page so people who are interested can click on the tabs above to see what I've accomplished.  Now.....just have to pick out the first one and get moving!  Care to join me in making your own, or have your own going already?  Leave me a comment so I can make sure to follow you!  

100 Things in 1,001 Days

1.  Read "Anna Karennina" by Leo Tolstoy
2.  Rent a dumpster and clean out the basement
3.  See Les Miserables
4.  plan a family trip to Disney World
5.  perfect macaroni and cheese from scratch
6.  learn colorwork in knitting that’s not just stripes
7.  send a box of handmade baby items to Stitches from the Heart every six months
8.  take a sewing class
9.  plan a better vegetable garden
10.  go away for a weekend to a bed and breakfast
11.  visit three new restaurants in Central MA
12.  take the kids to the following places in PA:  Sesame Place, Crayola Factory and the “Please Touch” Museum.
13.  organize all of the photos into albums
14.  make a donation to a food pantry every quarter
15.  get our wedding video transferred to a DVD copy
16.  Participate in the “Ravelympics” and Go For the GOLD!!!
17.  Participate in NaBloPoMo once.
18.  Give up subscriptions to womens’ magazines
19.  Practice three acts of random kindness
20.  Trade in old, faded purse for something new and swanky
21.  Fold a paper airplane
22.  Read the Harry Potter series
23.  Drive a convertible
24.  try yoga
25.  give a 100% tip
26.  start a charm bracelet
27.  take a cake decorating class
28.  let the boys splash and play in puddles
29.  take the boys to their first drive-in movie
30.  go kayaking
31.  Attend a state fair
32.  Write a love letter to my husband
33.  Try a new hairstyle
34.  Get pictures done in a photo booth
35.  Get a tattoo
36.  Picnic in a park
37.   Ride in a hot air balloon
38.  Buy a lottery ticket
39.  Go ice skating
40.  Watch 5 classic movies
41.  Plant flower boxes
42.  take a “knife skills” cooking class
43.  Build a sandcastle with the boys
44.  build a snowman with the boys
45.  go tent camping
46.  Floss every day for a month
47.  Start taking a multivitamin and continue for a month
48.  Be part of a cookie exchange party
49.  Watch 5 movies from the American Film Institute’s Top 100 list
50.  See a Flyers home game with Brian.
51.  Send a secret to Postsecret
52.  Go to the beach once every summer
53.  Successfully knit a pair of socks.
54.  Mow the lawn myself
55.  send flowers to someone “just because”
56.  learn how to play either Gin or Rummy
57.  visit the Ben and Jerry’s factory in Burlington, VT
58.  Make Baked Alaska
59.  Eat at a Spanish restaurant and speak no English while there.
60.  spend a day in Northampton with just my Mom.
61.  write a short story
62.  use the snowblower by myself
63.  learn how to throw a football with my kids
64.  Play flashlight tag outdoors
65.  Have a yard sale
66.  Dye yarn again with my friends
67.  make lemonade from scratch
68.  bake homemade cinnamon rolls
69.  write the boys letters each year for their birthdays
70.  read all of my old diaries
71.  Make four different kinds of soup from scratch that I have never tried to make before.
72.  Put our house on the market.
73.  Switch banks
74.  Cash in our change jar.
75.  Bake fresh bread, not in a bread machine
76.  Ask my parents to tell stories of our family’s past, and write them down.
77.  Renew our passports
78.  Visit three local yarn shops that I have never been to.
79.  Replace the kitchen trash can with a fancy “Simple Human” one.
80.  Open “Joy of Cooking” to a random page and make something on that page.
81.  get black and white photos taken of our family.
82.  write a fan letter/email
83.  Knit sweaters for my husband and children
84.  Repaint my front door
85.  treat myself to a spa day
86.  take part in a  yarnbombing project
87.  Finish up paperwork to close BVWA
88.  let the boys have a sleepover
89.  Donate supplies to the shelter that we adopted Joey from, once a year.
90.  Give up soda for a month
91.  Go through all of our cookbooks, get rid of some that we aren’t using to make room for new ones
92.  take the boys to a baseball game
93.  go snow tubing
94.  clean out my bedroom closet
95.  donate blood
96.  Host a dessert party
97.  complete a crossword
98.  play every board game that we own, get rid of the ones that we no longer enjoy
99.  Visit Washington, D.C.
100.   Put $5 in our savings account for every item not completed. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

What'd you get for Christmas??

So, what did you get for Christmas?  I'm not talking gifts....I'm talking memories, experiences.

For our holidays, I experienced....

...the excitement of a five-year-old in waiting for Santa!  Though he had to be ROUSED from his bed at 8am, the first sleepy question that we got was "Did Santa come?"  Once he heard the answer he was alllll about jumping out of bed and checking out the scene.  But...roused?  I still find that hard to believe.  But it's true.

......the "whatever" factor of an almost-two year old.  Sean, teething still, wasn't really interested in much of it.  Once you open one gift, he's interested in just that.  So his gifts got opened slowly as the day went on.  Plus, there's really no such thing as "into it" until breakfast has been consumed.

.....the power of overwhelming a kid.  Gift-opening, playing with lots of new things, getting dressed up, running around, skyping with Grandmom and Grandpop, more gifts, visits from Nana and Papa, dinner, no nap, lots of cookies....  They get so excited, and it's a little hard to keep them going.  There were some tears and tantrums, but all in all it was a great day.  Gentle words and understanding went a long way yesterday!

......that my husband, though I already knew this, cooks a MEAN roast.  Lord, I love roast beef and mashed potatoes.

........that if some things don't get done, you don't miss them.  I insisted that we had to bake up the sugar cookies on Christmas morning so that we could decorate them as a family event.  It was a lot of fun the previous year, frosting them before dinner as a way to keep Will occupied.  Anddd....we forgot to do them, after all that baking.  Oh well.  Something to do tomorrow when I'm home with the boys!

Hope your holidays were fun and full of memories.  :)

Christmas Knitting: 2011

Christmas has come and gone, and (most) things have been put away.  There's still leftovers in the fridge, and it's time to tell you, Dear Reader, about all of the lurrrrvely things that I knit for Christmas gifts.

Mom:  Saroyan shawlette

Dad:  Irish Hiking Scarf

Nancy:  Cabled scarflet.  My mom made her the hat, which matched nicely with my scarf!

Kim:  Old Shale Scarf

Brian:  Dudester scarf.  He is hard to knit a scarf for, I learned.  That is because he is over six feet required a LOT of yarn!

I also knit a little cotton cardigan for Abby but I can't locate a picture of it.  And I know that I took one!  Rest assured, it's really cute, in a  "seaspray" blue and will look great on her in the spring.  Perhaps I'll post pictures then.

Yes, I did notice that there are no hand-knits for Hubby or the boys....this is because I had a major FAIL in sizing for Hubby's Hat.  And I did start some stuffed monsters for the boys, but didn't get them finished in time.  So now they're going to be a "just because" gift on a gloomy winter day.  Which, I think, sounds even better.  :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Snuggles

Snugglin' with Sean...taking a break from wrappin', bakin', cleanin' and otherwise preparin'.  Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Spirit and Kindness

I feel like I've heard a lot more stories about "helping your fellow human being" and paying it forward this Christmas Season.  This is wonderful!  Given all of the negativity out there in the world, random acts of Christmas Kindness out there don't get as much publicity as they should.  I mean, we all heard the story about the woman out in California who, while shopping at Walmart on Black Friday, sprayed pepper spray into the air so that she could purchase a video game system before anyone else could get to it.  I mean.....that is a disgusting display of behavior.  And for every story like that that's publicized, you know that there are more just like it that you haven't heard.  

So when I read stories like the ones about Secret Santas paying off people's layaway bills for Christmas Gifts for Children, it shows that random acts are alive and well.  And I know that this one is true...I know one person in real life that had her Walmart layaway for her three kids' Christmas gifts paid off by an anonymous donor.  I say, way to go!!  THAT's the Spirit of Christmas!  This morning I saw on Facebook that one of my FB friends was in Burger King yesterday, buying dinner for herself and her three kids after a trip to see Santa.  She realized that she didn't have enough cash on her for everyone's dinner, so she bought dinner for the kids and nothing for herself.  Soon after, the manager on duty brought her out a tray of dinner, because an anonymous person had seen that she didn't have any dinner, and bought dinner for her.  BRAVO! 

All of these little stories like this, they reminded me of the movie "Scrooged" with Bill Murray, the big speech he gives at the end about changing himself and believing in the Christmas Miracle.  I'll close this post with a little blurb from it.  And with this:  I feel the Christmas Spirit this year, for the first time in years.  Merry Christmas to all!
"And if you give, then it can happen, the miracle can happen to you.

Not just the poor and hungry, Everybody's gotta have this miracle!
It can happen tonight for you all!
If you believe in this pure thing,
the miracle will happen and you'll want it again tomorrow!
You won't say, "Christmas is once a year and it's a fraud." It's not!
It can happen every day! You've just got to want that feeling!
You'll want it every day! It can happen to you!
I believe in it now.
I believe it's gonna happen to me, now. I'm ready for it!
And it's great. It's a good feeling.
It's better than I've felt in a long time." --Billy Murray, "Scrooged"


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nothing Says "Merry Christmas" like Two-Year Molars

Poor Seanie.  Those two-year molars are making my bud miserable.  Teeth have always been tough for him though.  Turns out some snuggling and Tylenol were just what the Doctor ordered.  Oh, and the piano player from "The Snowman Band."  It's especially funny to have Mommy start singing along and then turn it off to see if Mommy can sing without the back-up.  Kind of like my own singing gameshow!

All of the Christmas wrapping for the boys is done.  We took an hour tonight and did it quickly, before anyone could jump out of bed, looking for a glass of water or complain that he "wasn't tired."  And man, it feels so good to get that out of the way!!  No 1:00am wrapping in sleep deprivation, cursing.  Yeah!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Birthday Celebration!!!

Tomorrow I am going to be the dreaded 3-5.......I don't know what it is about birthdays that end in "5" but they bug me.  Still, I have a lot to be thankful for, and I am going to have a great day tomorrow!

My family came out to celebrate with me today, and my husband cooked such a great dinner.  Chicken and eggplant parmesan, and "hostess" style cupcakes.  And even sweeter--he's doing the dishes while I'm typing.

 Awesome cupcakes that spell my name.  There's even mini-cupcakes for the exclamation points!

 My mom made me a shawlette designed by Steven West.  It's knit in a beautiful, tweedy dark green wool.  I love it!

 Posing with a decoupaged box that Mom also made, with spa gift certificates inside!

 Me and my boys.  Can't get everyone to look at the camera.  MWAH!

 Me and my "Big" little brother.  He thought that he'd be funny and teased me about turning 36.  Love you too.  :)

 Dad and his pups, Luke and Lilly.  Big ol' lovebugs.

 The fam....or some of us.

 Will and Sean enjoying their cupcakes.

Papa, dogs and boys.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Virginia Shawl

As 2011 is starting to wind down, I am looking for my newest knitting project.  To be honest, nothing has really excited me recently.  I had mentioned a LONG time ago about a pattern that I was interested in, it's a triangular shawl.  "Shawl" just sounds so...OLD to me.  I mean, it's mentioned in the Little House on the Prairie books.  "Laura wrapped herself in Ma's old shawl to get more wood for the fire."  Not exactly the image that I had in mind.  I am really into neckwear lately though:  scarves, shawls, and the getting-popular shawlette.  And not just for cold winter days, either.  So in browsing my Ravelry queue, I found said triangular shawl again, and in looking at the pattern, I was excited to learn that there are different ways to wear it.  In reading the pattern through, it looks rather easy. So casting on TONIGHT!  In a beautiful wool yarn called "Dream in Color Smooshy" in a fuschia/purple colorway.  This was already in my stash too, so it's not breaking my self-imposed "yarn diet."

I was born to knit this thing, after all it's called The Virginia Shawl.  Fitting, no?  Can't wait to see how this all comes together,  this first project for 2012. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wicked Random Thursday

1.  I still feel sick, and it's been a week.  But I'm still pushing myself to do everything that needs to get done.  If it wasn't for this rent-up and the resulting mound of work, I think I'd stay home today.  And we're out of cold meds.

2.  Regarding the cold meds, I seriously considered for a minute this morning taking an expired Advil Cold and Sinus.  (I didn't.)

3. Last night my friends at knitting tried to convince me that the hat I was knitting for Hubby for Christmas was just too big.  I stubbornly refused to believe it.  I brought it home, put the little bit I had done on top of his head, and it's too big.  Dammit!  My friends were right.

4.  I am not starting a new hat ten days before Christmas.  Hubby will not suffer if he doesn't have a hat on Christmas Day.  And neither will the boys....the little monsters that I started knitting for them can surely be a "just because" gift during the winter doldrums.

5.  With that decision made, I am DONE with Christmas knitting. .  And now I will make a few things for myself.  I deserve it, right?  :)

6.   Later on, I'll pick that hat back up and knit it for charity.  Some man with a big Sasquatch head is going to be thrilled to get a hat in his size!

7.  We have a big surprise planned for the boys this weekend.  It involves a 90-minute drive, lots of Christmas lights and the boys' first train ride.  Hope I'm feeling better by then so I can enjoy it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ho Ho Ho....Hoo Boy. :)

The Main Stressors for the Holidays......

1.  Christmas Cards.  Who's with me!  I know why we send them, because we LOVE receiving them.  There's something really warm about coming home to a mailbox full of cards from friends and family.  Since the kids came into our lives I've gone the "easier" route and gotten photo cards that you just throw in the envelope, address and stick on a stamp before sending them on their merry way.  STILL--picking out a photo to go on it, and then letting the box of cards whisper reminders to you every time you come into the room "'re really late this year, when are you going to address us?  Tick Tock, Woman!"  I've been busy.  Busy working, and taking care of the boys and Christmas shopping and all.  I'm getting there.

2.  Christmas Cookies.  We used to spend an entire day baking cookies.  I'm talking dusk til DAWN, baby.  Every kind of Christmas cookie imaginable, then ship some to out-of-town friends and relatives, not to mention bring cookies everywhere with us.  Ahem.  Clearly, those All-Day Cookie Marathons are o-v-e-r.  We still bake some, but not the magnititude that we've done in the past.  And I think our waistlines are thanking us.  Still---it's not Christmas without some sugar cookies, or Rollo cookies.  I'll remedy that soon.

3.  Deadlines.  WHOOSH!  (Hahahaha, I love that noise.)  With Brian usually finishing a semester of school, figuring out child care for the week between Christmas and New Year's, and this year trying to fill an apartment complex....the heat is on, people.  Also, why would my town put out their kindergarten pre-registration stuff in December?  You can bet that I filled out the forms online for the all-day kindergarten lottery the day they hit my mailbox, there's just too much room for forgetting this time of year.

4.  And the toughest one of all this year?  Keeping up with Santa Claus.  This is the first year that Will has really begun to question just how Santa gets gifts to everyone, and how does he really know if he's being naughty or nice?  Me:  "He just knows.  Now, help me clean up this mess."

Happy Holidays and give yourself an extra pat on the back.  We all deserve it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Family that's Sick Together, Sticks Together

There's been lingering colds in our home already this season, and it's not limiting in the number of times one of us can get it, either.  Two of us are affected currently:  me and Sean.    Sick of the sickies already, and it's not quite mid-December.  I hope this isn't a sign of things to come!

Sean and Will, do Mom and Dad a favor:  when germs want to come home with you, say NO!  :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Advent Calendar

Will and I were recently in a Hallmark store, purchasing the newest member of the Snowman Band.  While we were at the counter to pay, he spied a cheap Advent calendar featuring the cast of Peanuts.  Having read "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" recently he begged for the calendar, and I relented.  

This little cardboard calendar has turned into a wonderful Christmas activity.  In the mornings, he asks to open that day's flap  to see what we're going to do today.  So far, Nana has made paper snowflakes with him, he's gotten to bake cookies with Daddy, we've sung Christmas songs and learned how other countries celebrate Christmas.  But I think my favorite was when Will and I set out last weekend to pick out toys for charity.  He was especially excited to go out to Target with Mommy, and get two toys to donate to Toys for Tots.  The only activity that I put the kibbosh on was making treats to feed the birds.  Because in our backyard, it would be the squirrels and frankly those nuts have plenty.

I find myself looking forward to each morning's unveiling, too.  What will tomorrow bring?  And who knew that a little cardboard "toy" would bring so much fun to our home?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Card Outtakes

The Christmas Cards came in the mail yesterday, ready to be stuffed, addressed, stamped and mailed.  It was NOT easy to get a photo this year!!  While I won't post our actual Christmas card, here are some of the tries to get a decent photo of my two lil' monkeys:  these were all taken at my parent's house on Thanksgiving.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Face Says It All

I've been told that I have an authorative look.  I apparently carry myself in a way that people assume that I am in charge.  Many times I am at a store (be it groceries, clothing or otherwise) and people stop to ask "Excuse me, is this on sale?"  "Do you have any more of these steaks in the back?"  Or my personal favorite, "Miss?  The bathrooms could use some freshening."  Really?  Do I look like I work here?  Or do employees usually walk around with a coat and purse, masquerading as other shoppers?  I'm obviously lacking the butcher's white coat, orange Home Depot apron or red polo at Target.  And rest assured, I do not wear a nametag.

Yesterday was a pretty funny one, though.  I've been working at my new site, taking applications from seniors while the complex is being built.  My mom has been kind to come out of retirement for a couple of days to give me a hand.  (And who better, she was in the business for many years and knows exactly what to do!)  It's been a little slow-going, but it's just the beginning and we have thirty spots to fill, not a hundred.  Anyway, I took a short break to go to the post office and the pizza place downtown, to pick up lunch and check our mail.  I was driving on the backroads to get back to the church hall, when I see a silver car coming in the opposite direction that I am traveling.  The woman driving sees me, and starts flagging me down.  What is that about, is everything ok?  Confused, I stop in the middle of the street and roll down my window.  "Can I help you?"  She is lost and is looking for the church.  I start telling her how to get there, but after a couple of sentences I know that she is not going to find it on her own, and she says something to the tune of "I just want to fill out an application for a new apartment, I really hate where I'm living and need a change."  So I sigh and say "Well, I'm the one giving out the applications.  Why don't you just follow me back there?"  And off we go, at an incredibly speedy five miles per hour.  It ends up taking half an hour to fill out the application interview-style, because "she just doesn't get paperwork."  On the way out, she compliments Mom on her short haircut, saying it's like her own and it's great, because "Only pretty girls can pull off short hair like ours."  I take a gaze at my own shoulder-length locks and think, "What, I'm not pretty?"  :)

So as you can see....I don't even need to be in a store for the "authorative look" to be present.  Apparently my car is "I'm in Charge" looking enough.

Note:  the only time the "Do you work here?" convo doesn't take place is when I have the boys with me.  Score one point for shopping with them.  (And deduct a few for the taking off of shoes and socks in the aisles and begging for candy.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

All Grown Up

If the "last day of daycare" post in September didn't make me sad enough....I got Will's pre-registration letter for kindergarten next year in the mail yesterday.  It's official:  he's a big kid and our world is gonna change come September.

The other day, he was filling up bags and toting them around the house, telling me that he was parking for college.  (What, are you trying to kill me??)   I didn't have the heart to tell him that he probably will have little use for ten stuffed animals and a blanket whilst in college.  I wish I'd gotten a picture.  (sniff)

These are the days that I want to capture forever.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Application Day!

I'm driving out to eastern MA today, to my company's Central Office.  Today, I will not be answering tenant calls or depositing checks.  Today, it's all about putting the applications together for my new site!!!  The better part of the day will be spent sorting attachments and brochures into envelopes, and running a hundred or so thru the postage meter.  Why is this exciting?  Because I wasn't sure that this day would ever come!  But yet it's here....after almost two years of waiting, it's here.  The newspaper ads have been placed, and the inquiries have started rolling in.  It's finally happening.  I'm already feeling busier than a one-armed paper hanger, and a little stressed to boot.  But do you know what?  It will be SO worth it, once I can move into my new office outside of the city, and I plan to retire from there.  :)

Friday, November 18, 2011


Summer 1997:  I had a temp job for a computer training company.  The job was in Framingham, MA, and was a long-term assignment for the better part of the summer as their front desk receptionist.  It was kind of a fun job, one that I had to dress nicely for every day.  This was a far cry from my college uniform of jeans and t-shirts!  I did rather well with the company assignment and they eventually asked me to cover their Boston office for a few days that summer as well.   I remember being excited, asking my mom about which decorative scarf I should wear with my black business suit, and taking the train to the city by myself.  Getting off with the hundreds of other "Boston Businesswomen" at South Station, most of them wearing sneakers with their sensible skirt-suits in order to make the walk.  I wasn't quite as smart and wound up with blisters...but who cares?  I was working in "the city" for a few days!  Walking up Atlantic Avenue, feeling stoked that I was part of the Working World, the Real World.

Fast forward to November, 2011.   I'm driving to Boston next Monday for an important business meeting for my new apartment complex.  I'll wear whatever's clean and in the closet on Monday, and you can bet the ensemble will include more sensible shoes.  I'll hurriedly drop off the kids at their morning destinations, fight morning traffic down the Mass Pike, pay a mortgage's worth to park in the garage and then drive back after the meeting.  Only now instead of feeling "stoked" I'll be mind-boggled with the amount of work there is to be done and viewing the trip home as a pain-in-the-ass. 

Funny what a difference fourteen years makes, no?  I miss that college "get up and go!" attitude.  Maybe I'll accessorize with a scarf to pay tribute to that girl, I miss her sometimes.  :)

Cheatin', Two-Timin'......Knitter?

What is it about having to do something that makes you rebel?  I am fairly close to finishing my Christmas knitting, and the fact that I "have to" finish this is causing me to ignore it.  Instead, I've been seduced by a red lace scarf for myself.  I wasn't even planning on using that just kind of happened.  Good thing knitting projects don't care if you're unfaithful.  They seem to understand that it's not a monogamous relationship.

Still, I've got three things on the needles that I am working on and three's my limit.  Any more than that and I start to feel frazzled.

The "have tos" aren't limited to knitting, either.  I've got an entire to-do list that I've been ignoring for some time now.  Though on Monday, I made a brake appt and a snow tire installation appt for my car, booked our hotel for my brother-in-law's wedding, and ordered a couple of Christmas gifts online.  So it can't be too bad!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"How do you measure....measure a year..."

A year ago, I was just starting the weight loss program at the local hospital.  It was a behavioral program versus a surgical track, focusing on nutrition, exercise and psychology.  I lost about 15 lbs during that time, and I was pretty proud of myself. 

Now, I've been away from the program for some time now.  I don't follow it perfectly, there's no such thing as "perfect."  As a working mom (meaning:  working out of the house every day, because EVERY mom works, and hard!)  with two little boys, a hubby in grad school and a voracious schedule, I eat a lot of meals quickly and on-the-go.  I don't always make the greatest choices, but I'm no longer a "finish everything on the plate" kind of girl.  When margaritas and chips n salsa presented themselves last weekend, I partook.  Because honestly, I get a margarita maybe twice a year. 

But anyway....let's do a little before and after. 

This was taken last year at the start of the program.  I was not at all thrilled to be having my picture taken.  In fact, I was more interested in taking pictures than being in them.

And the two photos that really hit home for me?  I was modeling a shawl last night that I had made so that I could post pics on my Ravelry page.

Front view:

Back view

From the back....WOW!!!  I love it!   Those pants are rather loose.

What a difference a year makes.  "Happy Anniversary" to me, for taking steps to add "years to your life and life to your years."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Working from Home

I've kind of been resisting the "thankful" posting every day this month, because I wasn't sure how much time I'd have to dedicate to posting.  Of course I am thankful for all of the blessings in my life, my family, friends, roof over our heads, continued employment in these uncertain economic times,  etc all the usual things.  But how about an unusual one once in a this case today.

Today I am thankful for sometimes being authorized to work from home.  It was close to seventy degrees this morning, the ides of November.  The slider door is open and I can feel the breeze.  (though the sunshine is dissipating)   I have the training videos that I must follow along to and take mini quizzes after each section.  This will take several hours and took more time than I expected due to setup issues.  But I'm perfectly happy, in my casual clothing and no makeup.  Lunch at my very own kitchen table, accompanied by the dog (of course, he adores leftover chicken of any kind)

Oh, and in between videos.....I'm blocking Christmas gifts.  Soaking doesn't require my attention, so while I participate in the video, the item is in the bathroom sink.  After the video, I lay out and pin the item to the foam boards.  The boys aren't home, so they aren't working together to comandeer my foam boards to build a play structure.  And I won't be frantically trying to do this on Christmas Eve, praying feverishly for it to dry faster than is actually possible so that I can wrap the items to put under the tree at 2am.  YES!!

In conclusion:  working from home once in a while, where the only noise is made by me.  Very thankful.  :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

(Knit) Girl's Night!

When I mentioned at knitting the other night that I was going to Maine to visit a college girlfriend of mine, the invariable first question was "Oh, is she a knitter?"  Why yes, yes she is.  She is a knitter because I "turned" her, kind of like vampires in True Blood.  :)  She came over to the dark side last summer when I taught her how to purl (she already knew the knit stitch) and Damn!  The girl made scarves for her entire family, and is going to start her sixth pair of socks soon!  I created a that loves to go and look at yarn and talk patterns with me.  So this is obviously a win-win situation!

I made it up to Maine on Saturday afternoon, and we ventured to nearby Dover, NH for sushi and yarn shopping at her favorite local yarn store.  (LYS for those in the know)  The store's owner was very helpful and knowledgeable in their stuff, and I picked out some yarn that I will save up for to make myself a clapotis scarf.  (I'm an instant-gratification kind of girl when it comes to yarn, so this is huge for me!)  I figure if I'm going to spend like $80 for one project, it's got to be something that I will love and wear the hell out of!

On the way back to Maureen's apartment, we took a detour to Rochester, NH, where Brian and I lived for about a year while he was wrapping up his Naval career.  The area had changed so much, I barely recognized it!  Our old house had been sold again, and was being completely gutted.  Since no one was around, I pulled into the driveway and we were super-nosy, peering in the windows from the car.  It was so weird.  Twelve years is a really long time, no?  And nothing ever stays the same.

Later on, we met up with a good friend of Maureen's, for Mexican and Margaritas in Portland.  Mexican and sushi in one day?  Wow, that's awesome!  And then after dinner we proved the old ladies that we have become and watched Bridesmaids while knitting...her working on a baby dress and me a red lace scarf for myself.  I was shocked to see it was 1:00am when the movie was over and we hustled to bed.  The morning found us winding sock yarn from a big, messy tangle and then heading out to breakfast.  Then it was the drive back home.

What a perfect night away.  I came home to both boys excited to see me, and a cleaned-up house.  So now I feel recharged and ready to take on the (frantically busy) week!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The 2011 Attack of Big Bertha

If you know me at all, you know that I'm a bugophobe.  Just one big bug is enough to give me a case of heebie jeebies so bad, it's practically paralyzing.  (And if they bring a few friends, it might as well be the Apocalypse.)    I'm not proud of this.  I'm not proud of the fact that a big ol' bug is enough to send me screaming in the other direction.  (no exaggeration.  Remember the big bug in my room above the bed in Moore Hall, Shannon??)

Anyway...back to not being proud of this fact.  Nothing terrifies me as much as a gigantic bug.  (Gigantic--bigger than a quarter)  It doesn't matter if it's harmless.  A bug, is a bug is a bug.  So imagine my dismay when I was home with the boys this morning and I headed into the bathroom, and there was a big centipede lookin' thing chillin' in my bathroom sink.  He (or she, doesn't matter) was bigger than the drain opening.  Once I glimpsed Big Bertha (yeah, I'm making it a she) I couldn't even WALK into the bathroom.  If Big Bertha had graced me with her presence whilst in the shower, I would have jumped out screaming, mid-shampoo.  I texted Hubby about the bug, and sent him a photo.  (I'm pretty sure this is one of the things that he just adores about me!)  He writes back to send Will in there with a magazine to kill it, and to flush it down the toilet.  Yeah Right.

I approach Will, and I explain to him about Mommy's ridiculous fear about bugs and ask him how he feels about killing Big Bertha.  He gives me a wary eye and says "Ok, I'll help."  This is the low I've sunk to....enlisting my five-year old to help dispose of a bug that I can't even go into the bathroom to see fully.  He suggests a big cup of very hot water.  I think....well, I could do that.  So we fill a coffee can with hot water, and I bring it into the bathroom.  When it comes time, though, I can't  bring myself to do it.  What if I just piss off this thing and it comes out to give me a piece of her mind?  Then I supplies!  Ooh Clorox Clean-up.  I go in there, trigger poised.  Aaah!  I spray and run, slamming the door behind me.  Will, "Is it dead, Mom?  Are you ok?"  Ten minutes go by.....and I check.  Bertha's busted.  Only now I can't bring myself to dispose of her.

So I've closed the door and left it for Brian to deal with.  Yes, I'm well aware that I'm a total wimp and you may judge if you must.  Will though, surprised me with a hug and an "I love you, Mom."  I'm a wimp, but a wimp with my family's love and support.  :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Random List, #4,659 (I totally made that up.)

A random list today, of things that I miss.

1.  It's been a really long time since I listened to an album in its entirety.  I know, I'm dating myself just by calling it an ALBUM.  But seriously, I can remember getting excited for a band's new album, then getting it and listening to every track.  Sure, not everything on there was good stuff.  And sometimes, you had to give stuff a few listens in order to bond with it.  These days I just look over stuff in iTunes, and pick and choose songs.  Is it that there's no good "albums" out there or I just don't take the time to look anymore?

2.  The sound of a modem.  Now you just click and Boom!  Internet.  It's much more convenient this way, yes.  I didn't say that this list was going to make sense.

3.  A cellphone as a luxury and not a necessity.  Don't me wrong, I love my Smartphone and it's important to have a phone for emergencies and things.  Most of the time though, I feel like my phone and I are joined at the hip.  It makes one little "beep" (or birds tweeting in my case) and I'm grabbing for it to see who's texting/emailing me.  And if we leave our phone at home, well FORGET IT.  The day's just ruined.  I'm not trying to be sarcastic.  It's a case of our phones becoming part of us.

4.  Letters.  Letters are dead art form.  I can remember taking the time to write someone a letter, and feeling happy that I was putting something in their mailbox that would bring a smile to their face.  Or sometimes, a letter was a better way to take the time to say something difficult.  I'm also a big letter-keeper.  I have all of my husband's  letters from when he was on deployment when we were dating, and he has mine.  Yes, I'm aware of this thing called email.  But it's just not the same.

Other things that I find myself nostalgic for from time-to-time:  watching movies on VCRs.  OK Soda.  When the change under the floor mats in the car could buy half a tank of gas.  Going to a movie and getting popcorn too and still having change from your $10 bill.  Playing cards with my brother to pass the time.  Pictures that you had to send away to be developed.  I could go on and on.

What's some things that you miss from your formative years?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

In Which History Repeats Itself

Listening to the radio in the car this morning:  Barenaked Ladies "Celebrity."  Will, who usually adores BNL, starts screeching that he "hates this music and it hurts my ears, Mommy!"  And then he says it, and my world is turned upside-down.  "I want to listen to some Justin Bieber.  RIGHT NOW!"

Whoa.  First of all, Holy Demands, Batman!  I find I say this almost every day:  "Sometimes it's not about what you want but what other people want."  Mommy wants to listen to this, so we are going to listen to this.  Second of all.....Justin Bieber?????  Bieber Fever in my car?  I think not.  I ask where he's heard Justin Bieber and he says that *I* am the one that introduced him to the music stylings of "Baby...Baby."  Oh hell no.  I'm sure he heard about it at school or something.  Because I listen primarily to classic rock and alternative, with a little bit of pop.  Very little.  That is NOT music, kid.  I report the case of Bieber Fever to my husband a little later and he says "Wow.  Is it too late to trade him in?"  :)

Flashback to the early nineties.  I grew up classic rock.  My Dad is Classic Rock all the way.  WBCN (and the occasional WAAF) Led Zeppelin, Stones, Aerosmith, Doors.  This is what I grew up on.  Not to mention J. Geils, and one of my first concerts with my Dad is ZZ Top.  I remember his chagrin when groups like Milli Vanilli and Color Me Badd were on the airwaves on WZOU.  (now JAMN 94.5...which he would hate as well.)  Bringing home posters of the New Kids.  "UGH.  That's not music, Ginny."  And now that I am an adult, I can tell you that he was right.  (except for the New Kids on the Block.  That was just catchy.  And when they played nothing but "New Kids" on my senior cruise in college, you've never seen a bunch of college girls go crazy quite like that.)

You're welcome, Dad.  I'm thrilled to let you know, that payback is a bitch.  I just wasn't expecting the payback so soon!

Monday, November 7, 2011


It's finally happening!  The thing that I have looked forward to for so very, very long.  My new property is becoming a reality.  My return to senior housing.....where I've always felt that I belong. 

I did a PR event last Friday and met a lot of folks who are interested in applying to the new place.  I'm putting together an application packet and will be doing mailings, and reserving a hall for the housing lottery, and I'm loving every minute of it.  Of course, the transition time between my current job and my new job, well, it's going to be a busy, overwhelming and stressful November/December.  Add the holiday craziness to that and the daily life of Manager Mom, and I'm already feeling a bit overwhelmed.  This is going to be a difficult, yet delicious chapter.  One that I welcome and will perservere.  With the silliness and support of friends, the patience and backbone  of my family and the clicking of my knitting needles, this will be great.  :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Festival Fantastic!

There are two events a year that I look forward to kind of like Christmas.  One is the tent sale at Webs every May, and the other is the Fiber Festival in November.  It would take something pretty serious to make me miss either one of these events.

A delightful time was had by all in my knitting group today.  (And my mom too, she's an honorary member)  it was the Second Annual New England Fiber Festival.  No, not THAT kind of fiber.  I'm talkin' yarn!  Well, yarn, roving, spindles, sheep shearing, and all the accessories that go with it!

It starts with a drive to W. Springfield MA, home of the Eastern States Exposition.  (aka The Big E, held every September.)  The Fiber Festival is held on part of the fairgrounds.  So they DO use those buildings during the year!  :)  There were alpacas to pet and purchase, buttons with funny sayings, piles of roving, patterns, spinning supplies, dyes and YARN!  More yarn than one could ever see in a day.  Everyone is browsing, chatting, and wearing their own handknits.  Some are knitting while walking, which is a skill that I just do not possess.  There are fabulous loaded baked potatoes, corn chowder and ice cream.  And just an afternoon with a gaggle of girlfriends, child-free and full of project possibility.

And now I'm back home, going through my treasures.  I got some more skeins for dyeing, some sparkly gray for a scarf for myself and some special treats for my Birthday Swap Partner.  I'm a little sad that it's all over.  But hey....only six months til Tent Sale Madness!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Nana's Favorite Chair

(Not exactly wordless today!)

While I was looking for a photo and eating my breakfast (I don't know how NOT to multi-task)  Will came into the room and said "Hey Mom, is that your blog??"  It's pretty cool that he recognizes stuff like that now.  When I told him what I was doing, he begged to pick the photo.  So here you go!  This is Will, circa.....2008?  I know, you'd think it was Sean if you didn't know better.  It's tough....we certainly have to label our photos around here.  Will's snuggled up tight in a blanket, probably somewhere between awake and asleep.  He loved blankets back then, and he still does today.  Even on a hot day he loves to snuggle in blankets and says "My favorite thing is soft, Mommy."

Anyway, this is Nana's favorite chair, a leather recliner in her living room.  I love that chair as well, probably for all the same reasons:  comfy, warm, good for knitting and TV.  Actually, everyone loves that chair.  If I thought that she wouldn't notice, I'd steal it.  (Just kidding.  I know she'd notice.  Right away!)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Brian's singing Christmas carols in the kitchen the other morning.  Usually I give him a hard time about bringing them so early.  This year though, I was temporarily confused by what time of the year it is, exactly.  There was ten inches of snow (luckily it only accumulated about five inches) and it was coldcoldcold.  There is a chill in the air tonight outside, and the air smells like Christmas.  Fresh.  Cold.

Many people in Central MA are without power, and it's looking like it may be a few days before they get it, too.  No daycare for the past two days, and many schools closed.  Halloween was  pushed back because of a snow day!  How many times in your life can you say that?  We've been fortunate, with only losing the power for a few hours overnight.  And we've been fortunate to be able to offer a place for friends and family to warm up, shower, eat some hot food, etc.

Halloween was pretty understated this year.  Our town didn't postpone Trick-or-Treating, though most of the surrounding ones postponed until later in the week.  Some towns CANCELLED it.  (that's sad.)  We took our little Pirate boys to the local mall where there was an event going on.  Then, since Daddy had school, we stayed home and handed out candy to all the kids that came to our door.  Will enjoyed handing it out to all the kids, except when they were wearing scary masks.  Then it was "mommy, you do it!"

Sure hope for things to get back to normal soon.  If this is what Mother Nature has in store for the winter, it's going to be a long one.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Donning Mittens for Halloween

I've been listening to the squirrels in the trees in my backyard for most of the summer, and September too.  I've spent a bit of time in my backyard over the past 9-ish years, and I've never heard or noticed them quite like this before.  Every time we open the back door, there's usually two or three (sometimes five!) running along our back fence or skipping along in the grass.  They've been going beserk out there, running up and down and shaking the trees.  They're feverishly storing acorns for the season, and I think I understand their need for speed now.  Dude, it's gonna be an early winter!  Make that a really early one.....first snowfall was the other night and we still have autumn leaves on the trees.

Early snow is nothing new in New England, though usually that happens more often in the Northen parts.  But  they're predicting our first Nor'Easter, bringing down 6-10 inches of snow overnight and into tomorrow.  Now THAT is a little bit ridiculous.  I don't think the kids' Halloween costumes will fit a winter coat underneath!  Yesterday morning I was breaking ice off my front stairs before work, my car doors were frozen shut and we were doing a mad scramble for hats and mittens.  Sean's hat that I made for him last year of course doesn't fit, but he's thrilled with wearing it.  Funny how that works, huh?  Last year he would cry and rip it off in the car, throwing it to the floor.  Will's old hats suit him just fine, and I do have yarn in the house to make them new hats and mittens.  (Of course I stash is legendary!)  I was just hoping that I could hold off and put them in their Christmas stockings.  Perhaps not....

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spooky Jack!

This is Jack.

Jack is something that I knitted for the Halloween Swap with my knitting group.  He was a lot of fun to make, and quite easy.  Felting him wasn't quite so easy at first, I will never attempt felting by hand again!  It's washing machines all the way.

After felting, I used a balloon to make Jack hold his shape while he dried.  It was kind of like papier mache.  remember papier mache?  Good times.

Once he was dry, it was time to pop the balloon, and carve the face.  I drew it on with a black Sharpie, which I intended to cut out completely while "carving" with some small scissors.  I didn't get it all, so Jack looks like he has a bit of burn marks around his eyes and nose.  In other words, close to an authentic Jack O'Lantern!

Insert a battery-operated votive and Voila!  My family thinks that he's one of the coolest things I've ever knitted!

Monday, October 24, 2011

In Which I Make a Decision.

Dude, this sweater is breaking my heart. 

I pulled Ditto out last Wednesday to work on, and got about one row into it.  Then I couldn't help but notice that I was doing the stitches wrong for the reverse ribbing.  And now my yoke has a bunch of holes in it because of mistaken yarn-overs.  Gahhhhhhhhh......

At first I thought....I have less than two weeks to my goal of wearing it at the New England Fiber Festival.  Just motor through and wear it anyway.  Call it a lesson learned in paying attention.  But I just can't do that.  I will always look at the sweater and say "this isn't right."  And eventually, it will be banished to the back of the closet, never to see the light of day because I didn't take the time to do it right.  I don't want to be that girl.  I want something that I can be proud of, something that I can say "Yeah, I made that.  It IS pretty, isn't it!"  Not "Yeah....I made that.  I could've done better." 

So.  I've decided.  The sweater hibernates.  I will come back to it after a bit of Christmas and swap knitting.  And I WILL come back to it.  It's so close to done, even with ripping back the yoke, that it would simply be a shame for it to be doomed to a life on needles instead of worn with my favorite jeans and a purple camisole.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This is why I do it.

I went outside to get the mail today, and something was waiting for me:  A thank you note from Knit for Boston.
It said thank you for the adorable items, and how cute they were, and also included a Knit for Boston button for my knitting  bag.

This is why I knit items for charity....I know that I made a dozen kids in the Boston area have warm hands on a chilly day.  Three adults have warm heads, and two more have scarves, to keep them warm in the New England cold.  It makes me feel SO GOOD to do this, to take a skill that I possess and turn it into something that helps others.  It started as a fun little project, a "bet" to see how many things I could make with scrap yarn from other projects.  And the joy that it has given me has been overwhelming.  I already have three Ziploc gallon bags with scraps from this year's projects to start another personal mitten drive in 2012.  How many pairs will I make?  One can only wait and see.

Right now I'm back on baby hats for Stitches from the Heart.  I have about fourteen, and a couple little baby blankets too.  Those will be mailed out around Christmastime.

I get asked a lot, "Wow, how do you do it?"  It's simple, really.  In between every project listed on my Ravelry page, I did a pair of mittens, or a baby hat.  (Or two, or three.  They don't take very long.)  even the baby hats are from scraps for the most part.  Though my friend Patrick scored a big bag of yarn on Freecycle the other week and brought it in on a Wednesday night to share.  I came home with my own smaller bag, dropping it on the table.  Brian gawked at the big bag and I said "um....yeah.  Patrick said to tell you that he's sorry."  So I am all set for yarn for baby hats for....the next year!

So in closing, I do it because it makes me happy, to give back.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Will's Five!

I simply cannot believe my older boy is FIVE YEARS OLD today. Really, I blink and this is what I see.  

Everyone tells you that it goes by fast, and it does!  You don't think it does until it happens to you.  Because before you know it, their first birthday is here.

And then they start developing their own traits, and fashion sense too.  And they love to model things that you've knitted.

Will, you're a terrific kid.  Your Dad and I love you so much, for so many reasons.  You're sweet and caring, and you are a wonderful big brother.

You're silly, you love to laugh and your sense of humor is impeccable.  And you've already perfected the art of a drive-by mugging for the camera.

You are happy-go-lucky, and are happy to show Sean the ropes.

You love to cook, and spend time with your Dad.  And you're a good sport too, with putting on stuff that Mom makes you put on.  Even though you just don't want to.

You have a wild side, and a wild imagination!  You have lots of ideas, and are quite creative.

And most of all, you have so much love inside you.  You love your whole family, and even though you are a big ol' five year old that "shouldn't have to go to school because you already know everything, you still want Mom and Dad to "snuggle you" and enjoy things like lullabies.

Happy Birthday, my darling.  We love you so, very very much.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Famous Mind-Numbing Pepsi Disaster

At knitting tonight, I was able to move past the pain, and tell this story.

Two Saturdays ago, my family was coming over to celebrate my parent's birthdays.  (their birthdays are close together in September) We had a simple dinner planned with two desserts and presents to cap it off.  My parents arrived first.  (which is not surprising, because my brother and sister-in-law are often late.  The baby coming next month probably will make them later, and that is totally cool)

Whenever my parents come over, I make sure to have some Pepsi on hand for my father.  I know that it's what he likes to drink, I am a good hostess, and I aim to please.  In typical fashion, my dad discovers the Pepsi in the fridge and immediately pours himself a glass.  He joins my mom and I in the living room, where I am showing off something knitty I'm sure.  Soon after, we are joined by the Big Kid.

Big Kid, fooling around and looking for attention, starts spinning around with his stuffed animal.  Then, without any rhyme or reason, he launches the stuffed animal towards my father.  He misses him, but he certainly did not miss the full glass of Pepsi!  It's Murphy's Law, people.  He couldn't hit the glass of Pepsi if he was trying but nailed it when he wasn't.  The glass tips over, spilling its contents all over my living room, and the glass careens to the floor.

At first, I'm calm.  I haven't seen it yet.  All I think that I'm in for is scrubbing Pepsi stickiness out of a rug.

Oh, hell no.  It is much, much worse than that.  To my horror, I discover that the glass is not on the floor.  It is in my canvas knitting bag.  IN MY KNITTING BAG.  ALONG WITH THE PEPSI THAT WAS IN THE GLASS.    Pepsi.  On my works-in-progress.

It was kind of like the moment in the horror movie when the woman discovers the severed head in her freezer.  I went hysterical.  No, scratch that, it's just not strong enough.  I went completely bats*%t crazy!  I start screeching and sobbing simultaneously, freaking out, thinking about what's in that bag.    A half-finished baby blanket for my Oldest Friend.  A cowl for a swap project.  Various hats.  And Ditto.  Oh my.  Ditto!  I have worked on that sweater since May.  I can NOT get those hours back.  I dump the bag onto the dining room table and start throwing the items to survey the damage.  All it takes is seeing Pepsi all over the baby blanket and it's just more than I can take.  It's overwhelmingly heartbreaking, and that's when I locked myself in the bathroom, crying.

My mom, who is a knitter, knocks on the bathroom door and asks to come in.  She asks if the blanket is made of acrylic and I said yes.  She says that she is going to tie the entire thing, on the needles and all, in a pillowcase and put it in the washer.  She leaves to start the task.  Brian comes to the door.  He has surveyed the sweater (which, like everything but the blanket, was miraculously wrapped in plastic bags) and surprise!  Not a drop of Pepsi.  I start crying all over again.  I said, "Can you do me a favor?"  He says "Get you some eye makeup remover?"  "Yeah."  That man, he knows me so well.

At this point in the story, someone in the knitting group says "Oh My God!  I just want to cry for you!  And your husband, what a great guy. He really knew how to handle the situation and calm you down.  And your mom....she rocks!  I wouldn't have thought of that!"  Well, yes.  Mom indeed does rock.  Not only did the Pepsi come out of the blanket, she and my dad wound up all the unused yarn that went a little haywire in the dryer while we were eating.  And kudos to my brother, who when I came out of the bathroom, was washing my dining room table from the Pepsi residue that I had spread during my panic.  He had been coming up my stairs with Kim when he heard me burst into tears and had no idea what was going on.  And Hubby?  He rocks too.  Every day.  But......he rocked a little less when he brought me nail polish remover to take off my eye makeup.  Good think I noticed, huh?  Talk about adding insult to injury!

All's well that ends well, and I have the best family in the world!  As for Will, he got a timeout and a long talk about throwing stuffed animals in the house.  I'm betting he won't do THAT again anytime soon. As far as Pepsi....we can still have it in the house.  Just far, far away from all this knitting.  :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Newsflash: Mom's Still Funny!

Know what one of my favorite things about having a toddler is?  The fact that they are so easy to amuse!  I had kind of forgotten about that, until tonight when Sean and I were playing and he was pretending to push me around the room.  A couple of backwards steps and a big Woooaaahhh!!!!  gets the biggest giggles.  And man, that laughter is contagious.  Or quoting Bart Simpson....that kills, too.  Sean will barely touch my arm and I say "OW!  Quit it."  Multiply times 100 and Sean's laughing to hard he's trying to catch his breath!

I don't remember how long this stage lasts.   But I intend to ham it up, make a complete fool of myself just to keep him laughing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sunny October Weekends Are Good For.....

1.  Knocking down greenhouses.  My brother had an old, crappy greenhouse on his property that his house insurance company was not particularly fond of.  So Brian, armed with tools and a desire to break some stuff (who doesn't love demo work??) headed to RI to take that sucker down.  From what I'm told, it didn't take much.

2.  Golf tournaments.  Sunday was the company golf tournament, organized by Hubby!  Again, I'm told it was a great success, with several golfers, a good lunch and great door prizes.

3.  Slips and slides.  First Sean fell in the family room, taking out the toy bins with him.  He was fine, just stunned a bit.  Then I tripped over the dog, as I was climbing the stairs into the house.  Will examined my boo-boo knee and said "Yup.  Just what I suspected.  DOG."

4.  Knitting, and yarn shopping too.  To take advantage of this delightful, beauty of a day, we headed west to Northampton, so I could get some supplies for the birthday swap.  I had so much fun doing this last year that I decided to do it this year too.  And for 2012, I am also going to help moderate the birthday swap group on Ravelry.  Anyway, back to knitting and yarn right now.....I brought home some fingering-weight for a swap item.  And then of course I picked something for me, some red fingering weight to make a scarf for myself to go with my new black coat.  And Will begged to pick out some yarn to make him a hat, so he chose kiwi green and white, requesting stripes or polka-dots.  Stripes I can do.  Polka dots, well.....that might be a challenge.  I did want to do some colorwork though, other than stripes.  So perhaps this might be the first?  We'll see.

On the needles right now--halloween swap, baby blanket for Oldest Friend, and Ditto.  Still, Ditto.  I have about 1.5 inches left of this weird ribbing, and then I can bind it off.  Then comes the button bands, but those look quick  I am at that point where I am just so tired of looking at it, and I want it done!  I really want to wear it to the New England Fiber Fest next month, so I guess I'd better get crackin'.  Also, I finished the last Christmas gift for people outside of my house.  I don't count blocking it as something that needs to be done in order to cross it off the list, that can come later.

5.  Sean discovering crayons and how much he likes them.  He likes them everywhere, on paper, on the dishwasher and especially on the kitchen wall under the table.  That one is going to be a b#*ch to clean!  We're already thinking re-paint the wall.

6.  Overall, unseasonably gorgeous weather!

Hope everyone had a good weekend, and Happy Birthday to my "little" brother!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Patience, Woman!

Mantra:  I will be patient for the Post office to deliver my swap package.  I will not check their website a hundred million times a day.  Nevermind shake my fist when there hasn't been an update since my Minnesotan Ravelry friend mailed it on September 26th.  (I won't find it somewhat amusing that I mailed my package to her the same day, and she received it two days later, either.)  

I will not grouch, whine, cry or mutter under my breath when it appears the damn box only made it to Des Moines, Iowa on the 28th and liked it so much there it decided to stay.  (Apparently Des Moines is a beguiling place)  Or  be tempted to to jump in my car and drive to Springfield MA when the little ticker on the website says that it got there FINALLY today.  I will not point out to my husband that geez, I could have driven to Minnesota and back in the time that it has taken.  

Why?  Because I am patient.  Yep.  Patient.  That's me.