Thursday, August 31, 2006

The before

I pulled this picture from a previous post so that y'all can see the dramatic difference. If all of my older pictures weren't tucked away on cd's now, I'd post one of the house post-hurricane with the roof gone and everything. Then you could really admire the difference! But I suppose that this will have to do.

Here's the before picture...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I just realized

that I haven't shown you guys a picture of the house since we finished painting it. I took one just now, after I finished doing a half-assed cutting of the grass. I just wanted to knock it down a little before we get all the rain tomorrow. That way it won't be a big soggy beast when it's time to cut again. I also need to pull out some dead tomato plants and trim some of the other plants- but that's for another day.

So, the color ended up being more terracotta-ish than I really had intended for it to be, but I'm not disappointed at all. And Randy did a great job of it, for a great price. Once we're back in the money again I'm going to hire him to do some other odd jobs around the place. And then, maybe, just maybe, we'll begin our porch sometime before Christmas! Yay! It's going to go there where the front door is and extend out from there about 10 or 12 feet. It'll have to be just a slab for a while, and we'll probably get one of those freestanding gazebo things that are so popular right now as a temporary mosquito barrier until we can actually roof it and screen it. But either way, it'll be nice to have an outdoor space to enjoy.

Ok, time to get my stinky butt in the shower- I literally just finished the yard! And then it's off to pick up the munchkin.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Flipping Mother Nature the Bird

Two years ago this weekend we were in the process of evacuating for hurricane Frances. The picture above is of a three-week-old Jonas, in his carseat, stuck in evacuation traffic, and telling us what he truly thought of the situation. I swear that it was not posed at all.

And here we are, two years later, preparing for yet another storm to blow through.

I'm not exactly bursting with anxiety over this one, since it's a relatively small storm, even if it does strengthen like the weatherman predicts. But I do have some concerns- like the shed door that still hasn't been repaired. Will it withstand another storm, or will it, and the entire freakin shed blow away? And the tree out front that isn't exactly looking healthy anyway. If it falls, will it land right on our brand new roof?

But those are matters for the insurance company, right?

So, I'll go and round up all those things that could be potential missiles- like J's slide and wagon, and I'll put them somewhere safer. And I'll get together our important paperwork and put it somewhere waterproof. Other than that- I'm not going to sit here and stress out over it.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Knitting survey thing

In an attempt to make up for my previous whiney, self-indulgant ramble...

1. What's your worst habit relating to your knitting?
I hate swatching before I start a project. Call it laziness, or just simply impatience to get started. Yeah, I know it would save me a whole lot of headache in the long-run, but it's just no fun. And the couple of times that I've actually taken the time to do a swatch, and it's been spot-on, I still seem to end up with a difference once I actually get started.

2. In what specific ways does your knitting make you a better person?
Well, since you can consider knitting a form of active meditiation, I think it does a lot in the way of making me a better person. To be able to sit down and do something that is relaxing and just for me certainly has to make me a better person. We all need some down-time, right?

3. How might you or your life be different if you were suddenly unable to knit?
Now that I'm addicted to it, I'd probably go through some sort of major withdrawal. I know that when I've gone a few days without knitting anything, I get antsy and grumpy.

4. If money were no object, what one yarn, and what one tool or gadget would you run out and buy first?
Yarn: I'm not really sure, to be honest. There are so many really wonderful yarns out there, but since I'm such a novice I tend to shy away from them because I'm afraid that I won't do them any justice.
Tool: Well, I could go for a really nice set of interchangeables. I really dislike the set I currently have.

5. What knitting technique or project type are you most afraid of (if any)? What, specifically, do you fear will happen when you try it?
Again, I'm still relatively new to knitting, and so I haven't tried a lot of techniques yet. I will say that I've shied away from larger projects, like sweaters, and objects that require a lot of shaping. I'm just afraid that something that big would be such a huge investment of time and yarn, only to end up tucked in a closet, half finished.

6. Who is/are your knitting hero(es), and why?
My SIL, Amanda. She's the one that got me interested in knitting when I sat and watched her working on a sock at my parent's kitchen table about a year and a half ago. She just looked so happy and content. And the way she was able to work with all those toothpick looking needles seemed like magic.

7. Do you consider knitting, for you personally, a mostly social activity, or a mostly solitary activity?
Mostly solitary. There's not a big knitting community around here. I haven't found a single group of knitters in this area. I've worked on a sock in my friend's livingroom while we sat and chatted, but besides that, I'm all alone in my knitting endeavours.

8. Is there a particular regional tradition in knitting that you feel strongly drawn toward (e.g., Fair Isle, Scandinavian, Celtic, Orenburg lace)? Any theories as to why it calls to you?
I really love Aran. All those yummy cables. No particular theories, it's just beautiful, and not nearly as difficult as it looks.

9. If you were a yarn, which yarn would you be?
Probably some weird funky novelty yarn. Not because I like novelty yarns, just that with all their strange lumps, bumps, and textures, that's probably what I'd be.

10. Some statistics:
(a) How many years have passed since you FIRST learned to knit?
Less than one.
(b) How many total years have you been actively, regularly knitting (i.e., they don't have to have been in a row)?
maybe six months
(c) how many people have you taught to knit?
One, sort of. Granny is making slow and steady progress on her first scarf.
(d) Roughly what percentage of your FOs do you give away (to anyone besides yourself, i.e., including your immediate family)
The only thing I've kept so far is a pair of socks.

11. How often do you KIP (knit in public)? i.e., once a week, once a month, etc. Where do you do it?
Not very often. Maybe once a month. Unless you consider public your parents house. I just don't get out all that much, and when I do, I've got the munchkin in tow, and therefore, I'm pretty busy.

12. If a genie granted you one hour to stitch-n-bitch with any one knitter, living or dead, who would you choose and why?
Amanda, of course. Any excuse to hang out with family that's so far away. Besides, with all her knitting knowledge, I'm sure I could learn a million and one things from her. (Like magic loop)
13. What aspect or task in knitting makes you most impatient?
Swatching. See above.

14. What is it about knitting that never lets you get bored with it?
Maybe it's just because I'm still learning, but there's always something new to try. And when I'm bored with what I'm working on, I can always go looking for the next project, which usually gives me the motivation to finish what I'm working on.

15. Describe how and where you most often do your knitting - where do you sit, what is going on around you, what tools do you use and how are they (dis)organized?
Most of my knitting time is during J's nap. Usually I curl up on the loveseat with a cup of coffee and flip the tv over to one of the music channels. I also do a fair amount of knitting in the car when I can convince Wil to drive. Usually I'll invent an excuse to go somewhere relatively far from home so I can maximize my knitting time. :)

16. Which one person is the recipient of more of your knitting than any other?
I don't have a whole lot of FO's, and they've all been sent to different people.

17. What's the oddest thing about your knitting, or yourself as a knitter?
I will not allow myself to start a new project until I'm finished with the current one. I know so many people who are able to keep multiple projects going, but for me it just creates chaos.

18. What do you see yourself knitting - if anything - twenty years from now?
I really love small projects and working on smaller needles. For some reason the larger needles feel bulky and awkward in my hands. Hopefully I won't be plagued with some sort of debilitating degenerative disease that requires me to knit on size 17s. If so, I guess I'll switch to elephant socks or something.

19. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could have only ONE SKEIN of yarn, which yarn would it be and what would you do with it?
Something cotton. I'd knit things and then unknit them .. probably using sticks I honed into needles, since it wasn't said if needles actually came with the yarn.

20. If you were allowed to own only one knitting-related book, which would it be? (you'd be free to browse others, but you couldn't keep them)
I've got a great book that I picked up that has hundreds of different stitches in it, as well as some decent patterns. I'd have to say that it's been invaluable.

21. Is knitting the new yoga? Why or why not?
Naah, not yoga. Meditation perhaps, but last I checked, Yoga was about strengthening and stretching your body as well as it's meditative benefits. I can't see how knitting could come close to that. But if you mean has it become the latest craze that everyone is taking up then yeah, probably. Just not around here. :)

22. What important thing are you trying to put off doing whenever you knit?
Usually I'm not putting anything off, I'm killing idle time. Sure, I guess I could be doing housework or something more useful, but the house isn't a total disaster, so why not knit?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


This isn't going to be one of those cute, sweet, look what my baby did today, and here's what I'm knitting, and look at my plants, and here's what we ate for dinner sorts of posts.

Occasionally you have to dig a little deeper than that and explore those parts of yourself that you often wish to deny exist at all. So, if that isn't your cup of tea, you know where the exit doors are.

I've never been happier than I have been since June- at least not in that personally happy sort of way, where I know that what I am doing is right and good for my family. I mean, I've worked steadily since I was 15, so taking a little break has done me some good-- not to mention the good that it's done for my son. Before I quit he was about 6 months behind in his speech and always sick. No, not just the sniffles and cough sort of sick, but sick sick. Staying at home and watching him develop and grow has been a wonderful thing.

That being said, there's also the other side of this stay-at-home token that no one really sees all that often, and that I never thought would be a factor for me. It's the aloneness of it. Day in and day out it's just me and the munchkin. Sure, he's great company, keeps me laughing most of the day. But even in a shy and withdrawn person like myself, there's a need for companionship- or even the bustle of familiarity of a crowd. Yeah, me, the one that gets sweaty and nervous and more than a little panicky in a crowd, I'm the one that's saying that. This is the down-side to stay-at-home mothering.

Sure, there are mommy groups I could join, there are story times to go to, parks, zoos, and J is of the age where I could probably take him just about anywhere with me, but there's no one to go with, and I'm certainly not the type to go out and do something by myself. Even walking into a grocery store without a companion is sometimes a difficult thing for me. I don't really know or understand why, but if I'm alone I don't feel like I have a reason to be anywhere- don't belong.

I'm not like the other moms that go to the mommy groups. I don't wear nice clothes, I don't spend $20 a week on pedicures. I don't have fashionable hair, have never worn makeup. I don't care what's happening in the soap operas and I don't watch American Idol or any of that stupid crap. I don't know which celebrity is dating wich, or who was in what movie. When I go to these sorts of things, it's almost worse than the silence and solitude of home because here I am, in a crowd, with a group of "like-minded" individuals, and yet, I'm not. My husband doesn't make a six-figure income- we struggle to get by on his salary alone, but we do it for the kid. But whatever- I'm just beating a dead horse here. People like me, we don't have groups.

And then there's the relationship with my husband. It's not much of one, to be perfectly honest. There hasn't been any intimacy between us in years, and lately there hasn't even been much in the way of conversation. I'm ravenous for conversation and companionship, but when he comes home he's sullen, tired, just wants to be alone. Or conversations are always either about his terrible day at work, the bills that aren't getting paid this week, or the extravagantly expensive things he wishes we could afford, but can't.

He won't say so, but he loathes me for not working- for not being "useful". I know that he can't see the value of my role here at home. The way he sees it, I still managed to keep the house relatively clean, I still cooked him dinner, and the laundry was usually done back when I was working. So what am I doing with all my time now? He resents having to get up and go to work every morning, because while he's out sweating his butt off in that van, I'm here, sitting on mine, watching tv and lazily passing the time.

So we don't speak much. It's a wonder we even share the same bed, anymore- a problem which I've considered fixing by bringing in the twin bed from the shed and setting it up in J's room for myself. Afterall, all he does is complain at night when J curls up between us. Not because he's interrupting some sort of intimate moment, but because his space is compromised.

Am I sounding sufficiently whiney yet?

Saturday Mary calls me. Offers me a job. A really great job with excellent pay, fixed hours, and lots of perks. Honestly, it's a job earning more than I ever have before. I want to jump up and down with excitement, squeal like a little kid. But then my eyes flick over to J-man playing with his trains and I remember those mornings where I had to drop him off at daycare- wondering if he was going to be fed or cared for at all, wondering if I'd pick him up in the afternoon with green snot crusted around his nose and a layer of filth on him so thick that it would leave a black ring around the bathtub at night. I thought back to my shy and reclusive kid that let the other kids walk all over him. My sensitive baby who needs nothing more than a hug, but was never given it. And I can't stand the idea of doing that to him again. I can't put him back in a daycare- not even a "good" one.

Wil can't believe that I said no. He isn't acting angry, necessarily, but I can see the dollar bills in his eyes. Why wouldn't I accept a great job like that? Why wouldn't I take some of the burden off of him? But Wil's never had to be the one to drag a sleeping baby out of bed at 5 am, or to abandon him amidst those terrified wails, to the arms of someone who was getting paid minimum wage and felt like her job was satisfactorily done so long as the kid went home still breathing at the end of the day. He can't see the value of my staying home with J, because he'd actually have to spend a few minutes with his son to realize how much he's changed and grown since I've been home.

And besides, if I took the job, even temporarily, what about my school? What about what I want for once? I know it's a struggle right now, without my income, but in the long run, it will be a benefit to us. I can do my work right here and earn decent money doing it. No long hours for J at daycare, no early morning commuting. Doesn't that make sense? It's a short-term sacrifice which, in the end, will do great things for us.

But honestly, when I sit down and I dissect it in my head- in the part of my mind that no one else hears, sees, or probably even knows about, the reason that going back to work full-time, and earning a great income is not a good idea right now is simply this: If I'm raising our son, pretty much on my own, and I'm keeping the house from falling apart pretty much on my own, and now I'm earning more money than he is, and there is no romantic, or hardly even friendly, relationship between us, what's to stop me from leaving him? And so, I declined the position because it was exactly what had to be done.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Who? Me?!

Your Aura is Violet

Idealistic and thoughtful, you have the mind and ideas to change the world.
And you have the charisma of a great leader, even if you don't always use it!

The purpose of your life: saying truths that other people dare not say

Famous purples include: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Susan B. Anthony

Careers for you to try: Political Activist, Inventor, Life Coach

Me-- a life coach? Heh! Imagine how screwed up those poor people would be!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Fugitive and the Puppy Groupie

What have J and I been up to lately? Well, by my lack of posting over the past couple of days, you'd think that we've been incredibly busy, right?

Not really- but we've managed to keep ourselves occupied.

You see, about 12 years ago I had this Nova- best damn car I've ever owned, despite the fact that when it rained, water leaked in from all around the windshield and filled the front seat, and it had no floorboard. Nope, not a bit, just some raggedy old carpet that hadn't managed to fray completely away, and underneath that a maze of pipes and engine stuff that was foreign to my 16 year-old mind, and then the road, running right there beneath your feet. It was a little exciting and a little scary to drive. My passengers often kept their feet up on the seat, as if the road might jump up and rip their legs right off. I remedied this by taking the lids off of largish rubbermaid containers in the garage and laying them across the holes. What can I say, I was genius! :) Actually, I did this mostly because I was tired of driving through three or four inches of water and having it all wind up in my lap. It was like riding the log-flume at the local amusement park during rainy season.

Anyway, I promise that this is going somewhere.

My junior year of high school I had this big debate to participate in on the subject of nuclear testing, and, being the good student that I was, I'd done my research, taken a tremendous amount of notes, had pictures, graphs, everything, all taken from books borrowed from the Melbourne Public Library.

Friday afternoon, despite my shyness and awkwarness in front of a crowd, I had managed to do well in the debate, and I was nearly floating on a cloud of relief as I jumped into my old Nova, tossing all of my books into the back seat. Heidi and I celebrated with coffee, cigarettes and a long drive to nowhere.

Nowhere ended up being two exits north on the interstate where my poor clunker blew a gasket and, tail tucked, I had to give in and call my parents to rescue us from a place we weren't supposed to be in the first place.

So the tow truck came, hauled my big rusty baby back to the mechanic, and although I thought I had collected all of the books and stuff from the back seat, I apparently forgot one.

A couple of weeks later I began getting the letters from the library- first the polite ones stating that I had an overdue book, then stating that I must return the book immediately and my fines were $X. I searched and searched my car once I got it back, and after having no luck finding it, assumed that it must have simply slipped through a hole in the floor when the tow truck picked it up. The book was gone.

So I went to the library and asked them how I could go about paying for the book. It was simple. I could pay the list price of the book, plus all of the overdue charges and I'd be free and clear of it. The total was somewuere in the hundred dollar range. Now, I had a job, and I had some money, but have you ever met a 16 year-old who is willing to pay out an entire week's pay over a library book? Me either.

Almost 13 years later, I walk into a public library, J-man in tow. We're going to story time. But something draws me over to the circulation desk. I have to know.

"How do I go about getting a library card?" I ask the elderly gentleman behind the desk.

He asks me if I'm a resident of the county and do I have a driver's license. I nod to both and produce my license. He smiles and welcomes me to the library system while plugging my license number into the computer.

As he's typing away, I'm cringing inside- will the license number cross-reference to my maiden name and will they find my lost book fines? Perhaps the library police of Stephen King fame will come out and take me away. I'm stroking the back of J's head in that nervous way that I have-- something to do with my hands when there's nothing else I can do. By now, those fines must be really hefty. I'm imagining 13 years of book fines.

The sweet old man hands me a plastic card with my name written on the top in large block letters, a map of the county and all of the libraries marked, and a schedule of due dates on various books. That easy!

And I've got this huge weight lifted off of me- after all of these years. I'm no longer a fugitive!

I check out a book for myself, and take J to story time.

Story time was a fiasco. Biscuit, the puppy, was the honored guest. But the person who runs library time for the library must not have any children of her own because she chose to bring out Biscuit and let the kids meet with him first, and then expected them to sit and listen to her read. Nope- not my kid. Once he has something in his mind, he's like Rainman. So there he sat, excitedly exclaiming "Puh-pay! Puh-pay!" and wriggling from my arms, and heading to the doors that puh-pay had exited through, then breaking down into frustrated angry tears. We had to leave with all the other mothers- the ones with older children- glaring at us like the Palm Bay trash that we were. (Did I forget to mention that we were in a library on the "rich" side of town?)

So, he cried all the way home asking for Puppy, and once we got home I looked online to see if maybe puppy would be making an appearance at anoter library story time soon. To my surprise, he'd be at Barnes and Noble the next morning! Oh, I love it when I can cater to my boy that way!

We saw puppy the next morning, and Barnes and Noble has their stuff together when it comes to story-time. They read stories first, were encouraging the kids to join in, making woof-woof noises when Biscuit was getting into trouble and the like. Then, they handed out little staple-bound coloring pages and set big baskets of crayons out for the kids to color while they went to get Biscuit. It all ran so smoothly, and Jonas was delighted that puppy was back for a visit again! He laughed and smiled and pointed, and as long as I was holding him, he'd get close enough to give him a high-five. But when I tried to take pictures he wasn't so eager to be near him.

So, that's what we've done lately.

In other news, he had his two-year checkup last week and I was told that besides his allergies, he's the picture of health. He's in the 97th percentile for height (37 3/4 in) and 93rd for weight (34 lbs), which I find pretty amazing considering all of the short genes he has floating around out there. I guess he'll take after the Woodruff side of the family. It makes me smile to think that he'll be big and tall like Daddy Dean was.

My only concern was that he's had frequent nosebleeds lately- mostly at night, so I know it's not simply because he's a boy and he's got his finger up his nose digging for gold. He had his first one while we were visiting Laura and Doug (who I still owe a new set of nice bedsheets to)and lately he's had one almost daily. Not always major ones, sometimes just a tiny trickle, but there are also the ones like last night, where he wakes up choking on the blood pooled in the back of his throat, and his entire face and pillow are covered with it. Those are the scary ones that make me worry.

His doctor said that it's fairly common in kids with allergies and not to worry too much about it. If they were truly bothersome she'd refer us to the pediatric ENT. She said that it's likely that he's developed a polyp in his nose and that the allergies and constant runny nose make it open up and bleed occasionally. Apparently an ENT can simply cauterize it and end the problem.

For the most part, I'm against medical intervention when things aren't really life-threatening, and if his nosebleeds were simply the type that were a tiny trickle of blood, I probably wouldn't be considering it, but after last night's blood fest and my fear of him choking to death on his own blood that kept me up all night watching him sleep, I'll be getting my referral tomorrow once the pediatrician's office is open.

Anyway, that's the news from 'round these parts. I'll leave you with a picture from our story-time yesterday.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I'd settle for a cool breeze.

We've all heard of Christmas in July, but dead of winter in the middle of August? Not likely. Still, I seem to have winter on the brain today, despite the heat.

Maybe it's because the skies finally clouded over today and we got a bit of rain, or maybe I'm just dreaming of cooler climates in general, but today I caught myself re-arranging J's closet, weeding out some of his outgrown clothes, bringing some of the stuff from the back that he hasn't quite grown into yet. What's odd about this is that I kept pulling out all of his cute little sweaters and long pants and moving them to the front, as if we're going to need them any time soon!

And to top off this weird behavior I made a big pot of minestrone for dinner- thick and hot and so perfect for a cold day!

I guess I'll just set the air conditioner back to about 65 and pretend like I haven't totally lost my mind.


Jonas loves playing with the books on my bookshelf. I don't mind much, really. I mean, at least one of us is interested in them. Last night he pulled an old book of poetry off the shelf- a collection of major American Poets- Edna St. Vincent Millay and the like. to be honest, it's a book I've never really done much reading from- just picked it up because it was on clearance, and well, how can you turn down a book of classics when it's dirt cheap?

So I thumbed through it a little bit before bed last night, standing under the light of the floor lamp next to the computer. And then I fell asleep with poetry on the brain.

It's no secret that I haven't written anything in years- despite the influence of such great writers in my immediate circle- like Erin and Laura and Mike. But as I lay there last night, struggling to find my way into the land of nod, I began re-writing- editing old stuff that is collecting dust in a folder somewhere. I revised an entire poem that I had written several years ago- one that I had considered, at the time, to be perfect- realizing that it really didn't say a whole lot of anything that I had intended it to. That while the wording was creative, it wasn't complete or coherent. Funny how that happens, isn't it? Time and distance makes the writer more objective.

And so, perhaps later, once J is napping, I will pull out that old poem, rehash it, and try to remember the perfect lines that my mind scribed last night, because, of course, I didn't bother to write them down when they were fresh in my mind.

Perhaps this is the return of my poetic life. Or perhaps not.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cute kid

Just some cute pictures from the past few days.

My little J-Zilla attacking the tiny island of Sodor!

And I suppose this is what you get when you allow your cats to raise your kid. :)This is currently his favorite place to lay while watching tv.

And I just added this one because it's cute, and he's actually eating something healthy! For some reason he's fascinated by the idea that the food you eat goes into your tummy. Every time he wants an apple he says "Abba.." (that's "apple" in J-manese)"Tummy! Mmmm.... tummmm-meee!"

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Birthday Rundown

Wow! Did we have a great party!

J-man's party went quite well. As well as a party can go with a two year old who didn't take a nap. :) Seriously, the cake turned out pretty ok. It wasn't my first choice of designs, but it was well received by the guest of honor. We made a large rectangle cake for the base, and then stacked a nine inch round cake in the center of that. Atop the nine inch round was one of J's Thomas engines, and we decorated it with various swirls, squiggles and dots in Thomas themed colors. It was cute and gaudy, and Jonas wasn't understanding why his favorite toy was perched atop food, but it managed to remain there until he blew out his candle.

For decoration I bought three yards of Thomas print fabric to drape over the table. It's currently in the washer and will become a fitted sheet and pillowcase for his bed once it's clean. (I'm a big fan of double-purpose stuff)

Instead of those little paper noise-makers, we had little wooden train whistles. For party hats, we all wore blue striped engineer hats, and there were also train shaped lollipops. There were the pre-requisite balloons, and we also made railroad crossing signs with various phrases on them. The one behind his cake read "All aboard the "J" train". The one outside at the mailbox read "Woodruff Station", and the ones at the front door and on either side of the garage door said "Choo-Choo! Turning Two!".

Jonas really wasn't big on all of the attention, and spent quite a lot of the time outside playing on the porch where it was more quiet. That's my boy- he's noisy and loud, but he doesn't like a lot of commotion.

When it came time for presents, he was overwhelmed. He hasn't quite grasped the concept of opening all of his gifts. I guess that is a little weird- I mean you open something up, there's a really cool goodie inside, and then instead of getting to play with it, they expect you to set it down and open something else. He wasn't having anything to do with it and turned a little teary. Ok, so he broke down into a foot stomping fit. But Donna, the mail carrier, arrived just in time with a big box for him. We opened it up, and inside was a child sized fold-out Thomas couch from Aunt Mellie. It came at just the right time! He unfolded it, laid down with one of his new toys and calmed right down. Still, I think it would be a good idea if people un-boxed their gifts and tucked them down into a gift bag. All those wires and ties that hold gifts into their packaging are just frustrating to a two-year-old that wants to touch and play with a toy NOW! I'll keep this experience in mind for upcoming friend's children's parties.

He had a great time cutting (to be read "demolishing")his cake, and seemed to love having Happy Birthday sung to him.

After cake, he, and the adult males of the party, returned to the livingroom to play with his incredibly cool new train table. I've always known that the train tables were a hit with the younger crowd since every time we go into a store that has one on display I have to literally drag J away, but I think everyone really had a lot of fun with it.

Still without a nap, Jonas finally gave in to his exhaustion around 7:30, curled up in Granny's lap.

What a big day for my little man.

And it took both of our cars to get his presents home... and that didn't include the train table, which will have to come home in Granny's truck. BTW, a great big thanks to Granny and Daddy Dave for the awesome toy, and to Granny and Steven for assembling it- all 200 screws! YIKES!

So, I stayed up most of the night clearing out J's toyboxes and making room for all of his new stuff. We also took abot 1/3 of his new toys and set them aside to go to Abuela's so that he'll have some fresh and exciting toys to play with there.

J woke me up at 4 this morning asking for one of his new toys, and I had no choice but to oblige. There's nothing like sipping coffee at 4 am while watching "Here Come the ABC's" and listening to a toy drill take apart a truck all at the same time.
(BTW, Amanda, he's afraid of the "e" for some reason. Maybe he thinks it'll eat him? But he's big on the robot saying his ABC's, and loves the pink lamb-rocker-dude in the vowel song.)

He has just now crashed for his nap. I've hauled a load of stuff out to the shed to make space for the massive train set that will be coming home soon. I can't wait! Seriously, one of those toys that'll get hours and hours of use.

I'll leave you with a couple of pictures from the party. The ones taken with my camera are pretty crappy, but Mr. Jim was there, so of course, I'll have the good ones in a few days. :)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Two years ago

I held him for the first time. No one told me it would be this hard, this exhausting, or this rewarding.

Friday, August 11, 2006


It's 10 pm, the night before J's second birthday and I'm full of all sorts of emotions.

There is, of course, that sweet nostalgic feeling of looking at my big boy and wondering where the sweet little baby went. Looking back at pictures from last year's party, I realize just how much he's grown in the past twelve months. I mean, he wasn't even standing on his own at last year's party! Amazing! I guess we take for granted all the things our babies learn to do in such a short period of time.

And then there's the exhaustion of party planning and party prep. Man! I'm beat tonight! I spent about six hours today baking the biggest, gaudiest Thomas the train cake you can imagine! It's huge and colorful and there's a big train sitting atop it! The food is prepped, the table is set, and now all we need are guests.

That's another story all to itself. I've had one actual RSVP, aside from that, I know that Wendy and Steven and Granny and Daddy Dave will be attending, and Wendy talked with Heidi and so I know that she's coming. And I talked to Mary today, and she and Devi are dropping by, but Mary has to go to work. But all of my other invitations- not even a call. Ugh.

And the in-laws... should I even go there? Yeah, I should because I swore that I wouldn't, but I have, and so now I must go there.

Wil sort of, kind of hinted to me that his parents didn't want to come to the party about a week ago. He said that they felt out of place because they didn't speak English. But then he told me that his father wanted to come, but that his mother was still on the fence about it. And then today, thinking that it might make them feel more useful, I asked him to ask his mom if maybe she'd make some beans and rice to go with the food. We all know that the spanish momma makes the best beans and rice in the world! Even then, he made no indication that they weren't planning on coming.

Now, earlier in the week, when he hinted that his Mom didn't want to come, I told him, through gritted teeth, that I wouldn't be offended if they didn't come, and that I understood how she felt. But honestly, I don't think I prepared myself for an actual rejection. I just assumed that they'd set aside their differences and come because it IS THEIR GRANDSON'S PARTY!!!

So, long story short, they're not coming. Which I figured out, not because anyone told me, but because his father gave me their camera when I picked J up this evening and asked me to take pictures for him.

So now, even though I swore that there wouldn't be any hard feelings, there are. And I'm trying my best to get over them. But at the same time I'm wondering why in the hell I've spent this much time and effort trying to make the best birthday party ever when no one else seems to give a damn one way or the other.


But really, it's all about J and his big day, and he's going to have the greatest damn party in the world, even if it is just him and me.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A really cool toy!

The other day Granny bought Jonas the coolest toy ever! You see, Jonas loves blowing and chasing bubbles, but he's just not very good at blowing them yet. Sure, he understands the concept-- hold the little wand up to your mouth and blow like you're blowing out candles. But he always ends up getting the wand too close to his mouth and then he has a mouth full of bubbles and the fun is all over.

So, when we saw this, we knew we had to have it.

A big giant "thank you" to the bubble blowing rubber duckie inventor! You've really made my son's day!

*please disregard the horribly tall grass, the weeds in the sidewalk, and the pile of construction rubble in the background. We are a work in progress right now.*

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Empty Spaces

I know I'm not going to do this any justice, but I'm having to write it down while it's still fresh and raw in my mind.

A card arrived for Jonas yesterday from my grandmother. For as far back as I can remember Mema and Daddy Dean have always signed their cards with their names and two little smiley face people that represented them. A curly-headed woman for Mema, a big-eared smiley guy for Daddy Dean. There's something so special and wonderful about that familiar little scribble at the bottom of every card.

This is the first card that's arrived since Daddy Dean's passing in April, and it didn't occur to me until I opened it for Jonas that there was going to be something so shocking inside- the message "Mema Love You Jonas. Happy Birthday!" and there, just below it, one little curly-headed smiley face with no mate. It took my breath away- left me teary eyed. And I wonder if it was as hard for Mema to sign as it was for me to read.

See, I told you I'd do it no justice.

Monday, August 07, 2006

What a day!

Jonas had quite a day today. More correctly, Mommy had quite a day today- Jonas was just along for the ride.

It's no secret that he's needed a haircut for quite some time. I mean, how many kids make it to their second birthday without ever having a trim?! It's my fault, really. I mean, with delicious little ringlets like his, how can you justify chopping them all off? But he takes after me in the tender-headed department and those ringlets that I love so much have turned into more of a battle than they're worth lately. I can't stand torturing him daily with a bottle of detangler and a brush.

So yesterday I sat and ran my fingers through those lovely curls for the last time. I sat and watched them spring and bounce as he ran with a heavy melancholic feeling in my gut. I never knew it would be so hard for me to finally give in and cut his hair.

But sometimes you just have to give in and do what you know is right, and what you know will make your life easier, regardless of how much it hurts.

Here we are, signing it at the cutesy little kids salon. He really wasn't all that unhappy about being there, it's just that he had fallen asleep in the car on the way, so he was really just waking up.

And here I am disagreeing with the stylist who was wanting to give him a buzz-cut. The hell you're going to take a pair of clippers to my baby's head!

And while he didn't particularly enjoy the experience, despite the colorful atmosphere and the cartoons on the tv, he took it very bravely. Much more bravely than his mother did. (Is it ok to admit that I actually cried as I watched those curls pile up on the floor?)

Notice the unamused look on his face. He didn't cry, he didn't freak out, but he most certainly wasn't going to crack a smile!

And here he is! All done and looking so handsome- and so very much like his DADA.

Still, he is not amused with the whole ordeal. We made it better with some lunch and shopping. More "Toe" parts, (that's Mr. Potato Head, for those of you who aren't fluent in J-manese) and a really cool retro wooden pull along xylophone toy that looks like a frog.

Here's the other really cool thing! While waiting for his turn in the chair, we wandered around in a few of the adjoining stores. Because I agreed to knit Granny a pair of socks (can you say Mystery Sock KAL?!) we went into the A.C. Moore and I let her pick the yarn she wanted. Being the adventurous person that she is, she decided to try her hand at knitting, too. So, two balls of chunky, funky yarn and a pair of size 11's later, I had Granny set to go! And look at her go! By the time I left this afternoon she had already completed three rows on her very first scarf! Aren't you proud of me, Amanda?! I brought another one to the dark side! *evil laughter*

And speaking of Amanda, and of knitting- I came home to find a package in the mail from her. Inside were some really cute pictures of the nephew, these neat goodies from Japan...

And what are those shiny little things there? Why yes, they're my mock croc memento stitch holders, hand made my Mrs. Crafty herself! Here's the closeup. And check out the really cute bulldog embossed card! I'm curious to know if she made that herself, too? Love it!

And that was my very, very big day. I'm still adjusting to the fact that I don't have any sweet little baby curls to run my fingers through, but I have to admit that J-man looks very handsome and very grown up with his new style. And I'm looking forward to not having to torture him daily- not to mention the $10 worth of detangler I'll be saving myself from every month! (No joke, we use about three or four bottles a month!)

Tomorrow is "start cleaning the house" day around here. Gotta start getting ready for the party, and while I don't have any friends that are so snobbish that they'll care about a little dog hair in the corners and whatnot, there's always that need to make things as neat as possible. So, if they're willing, J will go visit Abuela for a while tomorrow while Granny and I get busy with the cleaning, and perhaps a knitting break or two. :)

Birthday Week Begins

We're six days from the big birthday and I feel like I'm completely unprepared! Sure, I've got the cake design chosen. Of course, it's been through several sanity-saving revisions over the past week. And I've got the goodie bag stuff, although I'm not expecting very many little kids- Steven and one of his friends, Devi who is too young to give a crap, and a perhaps three other kids, but they have yet to RSVP, so I'm not holding my breath. It's a shame, too, because I've got killer goodie bag filler! (BTW, if you're school supply shopping, Wal-Mart has RoseArt crayons on sale for 8 cents for a pack of 24! I thought that was insanely cheap.

Anyway, grocery list is made, and the parents have offered to purchase them. How can I turn that down when Wil doesn't get paid until the day before the party?! Very cool of them, so thank you Granny and Daddy Dave!

We've got the Thomas the Train birthday shirt for him to wear, we've got the decorations, we've got the presents, well, most of them. We've still got to get the aquarium, but that'll happen on payday, and of course, along with the aquarium we'll need the fish and the gravel and the plants and all the other things that come along with owning "bubbles", which is what J-man calls them.

I'm finally giving in and taking him to get his 'fro cut sometime this week, too. It's really become so big that it's unmanageable. I'm going to miss those cute little spirals that bounce when he runs, but he's not going to miss the torture of me brushing the knots out of it every day. I'm hoping to preserve the curls, for the most part, just shorten them a little and maybe take some of the bulk out of the back. We found one of those cutesy little kid haircut places up in Vierra last weekend and have decided it'll be worth the splurge to have the distraction of television and other kiddie things while someone's hacking away at what he considers the most sensitive part of his body. Seriously, to hear his scream while I detangle, you'd think I was murdering the poor child. Of course, my mom swears I was the same way. I don't believe her. :)

We wanted to do the obligatory 2 year portraits as well, but we're going to have to cheat and do them post-birthday, but that's ok. I mean, how much does a child change in a week, anyway?

Ok, so it's nearly 8, I hear that the munchkin is awake and trying his damndest to wake his father, too. Heh, I love it! Y'all have a great day.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Title, title, I need a title

So, what does one do when the computer is out of service for a whole three days?

Read on and see!

First, I found the time to finish off my second pair of socks. I've already blogged about this, so I'll spare you a long ramble about my new-found love of short rows, and the fact that I need more practice with kitchener before I ever consider giving away a pair of socks. Here they are, in all their little footie glory. Cute, aren't they?

With the socks off the needles, and needing a (short) break from the knitting, I headed into the kitchen. Among other things, I finally found a recipe for good old white bread that turned out pretty good. You see, my husband is a breadivore and can demolish an entire loaf in a couple of days. Needless to say, a good chunk of our grocery budget goes into satisfying his love of the sammich! And since I'm thoroughly convinced that I can do better than wonderbread and that my efforts are both rewarding and cost-effective, I've worked for some time to find an easy and good recipe with little success. This one came from (of all places) the back of the yeast package. The first loaf was demolished with grilled chicken and a salad of orzo and fresh veggies. The second disappeared along with a pot of spaghetti. Yeah, I know- carb overload- but you only live once.

Done with the bread and eager to pick up the needles again, I got started on this secret project. Secret only because someone who reads here might be receiving this as a gift at one point or another. Here's a little sneak preview. Afterall, how could I possibly do my very first project with cables and NOT show them off?

On Saturday I finished the cabled project while in the car on the way up to a Vierra. They just recently opened an A.C. Moore up there and I was dying to check out (you'll never guess) their yarn selection. I was seriously impressed. Around these parts you can't buy anything but crap, so it was refreshing to find a place within an hour's drive that carries anything decent. Their prices seemed a bit high to me, though, so I resisted the temptation to stock up on all the fancy fibers and just picked up a couple of sets of DPNs instead.

Oh, and get this- just a few days before Wil and I had been discussing how nice it would be if they sold Mr. Potato Head parts individually since Jonas has an entire bucket of parts but seems to have lost all of his eyes. Poor "Toe" has been running around with a nose stuck in his ocular oriface for way too long. Well, A.C. Moore is your Mr. Potato Head mecca, selling every part and piece in individual packages. We stocked up on eyes, and simply because we HAD TO, we bought him a little party hat and a mouth with a birthday blower in it. And of course, we couldn't resist the fireman gear! And they have the largest selection of Thomas trains and accessories I've ever seen. I know where I'll be doing my Christmas shopping for the J-man this year.

Ok, so Monday rolls around, and I've finished off my secret cable project. Once again, the needles are bare, but Jonas wasn't in the mood to let me get started on anything. Instead, he and I headed back into the kitchen for adventures in train cake making. I'm determined to make a three-dimensional train cake for his birthday, and it really doesn't look all that hard, but I figured I should go ahead and do a trial run, just to sort of work out the kinks. Man, am I glad that I did. I now know that I need to use a denser cake batter, I need to flour my pans better. And as far as pans go, I need to find a couple of smaller loaf pans than the ones that I have. I'm hoping that Granny has a couple that will fit the bill. But despite the fact that the cakes stuck to the pans and ripped in half when I turned them out, I think that the train is quite workable. I'll probably do another test with a different batter over the weekend, just to make sure. (A great excuse for dessert, right?) The best part of the practice cake was letting Jonas be the baker. He loves helping me in the kitchen, and since he's so small, there's really very little that he can do. But the handheld mixer was just perfect!

Finally, after J finally decided that he wanted a nap, I got started on knitting my mesh bag. About 20 rows in I realized that I had messed up somewhere, and so I ripped it back down to almost nothing and started over. Yes, I know, it's just a silly bag and it's mesh, it doesn't have to be perfect, but I was adamant to figure out where I went wrong, and besides, with no computer-meaning no school work- what else was I supposed to be doing with my time?

Here's a picture of it this morning.

Not long after taking this picture I somehow screwed up again. Figures. But this time I'm just going to keep going and see how it ends up. Worst case scenerio, I frog it again, right? Amanda, did you have any trouble knitting yours? Somehow, about every fourth repeat I end up with a lonely little stray stitch at the end of the round that I don't know what to do with, but when I go back and check my row I haven't skipped any yarn-overs and all my K2TOG's are fine. *shrugs* We'll see how it turns out.

Anyway, that's the very long round-up of the past few days.

In more important news- the exterior house repairs are moving along swiftly. The painting is complete, except for the part that is getting the stucco replaced. That part is stripped bare to the wood as of this afternoon. There's a huge pile of scrap on the ground outside my front door, a stack of wire behind the house, a roll of tar paper on the roof, three bags of stucco mix on the porch, and a huge pile of sand in my driveway. Somehow I'm supposed to believe that it's magically going to turn into a finished product by tomorrow afternoon. Here's hoping.

And now, it's after midnight, my eyes are blurry from sitting here. We've just about got this computer back to where it needs to be. We've got drivers loaded and programs registered. By this time tomorrow I won't have any more excuses to avoid getting back to work on my transcription courses. But I'm well ahead of schedule, so having a week off is a bit refreshing and not such a big deal.

*yawn* Goodnight, y'all.