Monday, March 31, 2008

Handspun, Homemade, and other stuff.

I finally finished spinning up the 2 ounces of merino I've been working on. Yeah, I know! It took me THAT long to do 2 ounces! But to be fair, I only get a chance to spin when the planets align just right and the moon is in it's proper phase, etc. In other words, only when the munchkin isn't around. And usually when that happens, I have about a million other things that HAVE to be done first. So, anyway, I finished spinning my 2 ounces of merino. The color was "forest multi" and it was quite lovely in the bag, burgundy with flecks of pink and green and all sorts of reddish-brown tones.

It's more muddy spun than I expected it to be, but I still think it's quite pretty, even if it's not so bright.

I plied two singles together to get the final product. Jonas decided he needed to help me with this process, but fortunately, he grew bored with it pretty quickly.

Please ignore the absolute disaster that is my office area. It seems that everything in the house finds a way to land in this little corner at some point or another. I'm really not that slobbish. :)

The result is still drying as we speak. I'm not sure on my exact WPI, but it's quite thin. Somewhere between lace and fingering weight, with the occasional slightly chunkier spot. My only problem with plying them is that I do not have a tensioned Lazy Kate, and my singles, on several occasions, decided to snarl up on each other. Perhaps an indication of overspinning? But my plied yarn was balanced, so I guess all's well that ends well, right?

I know this isn't a good picture, but here's the end result wound onto the niddy noddy.

If I'm doing my math right, by counting the number of wraps on the niddy noddy, I've got right around 125 yards here. Not enough for any big project, but enough to play around with, I suppose. No idea what it'll become. Probably a lacy headband or something. What else do you do with 125 yards? Suggestions?

I guess that as I continued spinning I became much better at keeping my single an even thickness because my second bobbin, despite having the same 1 ounce of fiber spun, ended up having quite a bit leftover after plying. I took that leftover single and practiced Navajo plying. The technique isn't all that hard to understand, but it kicked my butt in a big way. I think with some more practice I could learn to really love it, though.

The rest of my day was pretty busy, too. J and I worked on getting the rest of the vegetable garden planted. I hauled hundreds and hundreds of pounds of dirt, and my back knows it, too. But,with the exception of a couple of pepper plants and a few herbs, the garden is done. Hopefully it will do better than previous years. We intended to get it planted earlier this year, but time has been an issue all around, it seems. Oh well. We still have a few months to get these babies established before the blazing summer heat destroys them completely.

Aside from that, we baked some fresh bread,
and J and dad took a loaf to Abuela while I sat down and did some transcription. I have GOT to finish this before it kills me! I don't know why I'm procrastinating so much.

And one last picture, just because.

In cleaning out their attic, my parents came across a ton of my old stuffed animals and whatnot, and sent them home for me to sort through. Now, it was fun to go through the bags and remember all of them, etc. But honestly! I don't need another 50 pounds of plush in this house! I let J go through them to see if there was anything he wanted before I gave them away, and he promptly picked this!

Wait, it gets better! When you squeeze him, he farts. Of course, Stimpy was in there too, and now also resides in my son's room. Oh well, there are worse things he could fall in love with, right?

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter, mostly in pictures

EDIT: For some reason Firefox is showing the pictures in their unedited size and orientation for me. They are perfect in Explorer, though. No idea how to fix it. Is it the same for you guys, too? If so, my apologies, but I ain't doing it over unless someone can tell me a quick and easy fix.

The easter bunny was very good to the munchkin this year. And before you roll your eyes at the Tony Stewart cupholder, it was a very specific request. My kid loves Home Depot.

Afterwards, we went to Granny and Daddy Dave's for egg hunting.


And some more easter goodies...


I remembered at about 8 o'clock the night before that I'd wanted to start a tradition of knit bunnies for J every easter, so I had to come up with something quick. Here's blinding yellow yarn meets quick pattern:
J took one look at it and told me "I like the blue one better." Referencing the one I made him last year. I had to agree.

And Dad showed off his hillbilly roots with his newest acquisition.


And I'll leave you with a dose of cuteness.

This one loves to be held on her back and a good tummy rub. The others, not so much. She'll be the first one to go with her sweet disposition.

That is all.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Air Show, and Knitting, and Kittens, Oh My!

We had a fairly busy weekend around here, but I somehow managed to get a little knitting done, too.

On Sunday we met up with Thomas and Michele for an air show that was literally minutes from their house. I figured that J would really love it, seeing as how he's completely smitten with his model airplanes. Well, he did really like the airplanes, but it was a tough day to be a shortie. It was very windy, and the airport where the show was had no shade, and was mainly dry sandy dirt. The poor kid was getting pummeled with sand in his face and eyes, and it made him miserable almost immediately. No sooner had we spread out a blanket and all got situated did he turn to me and say "Let's go home."

We compromised, though. He took my glasses, and that made it a little better. I was a bad mom and didn't even think about packing his sunglasses or even sunblock. *smacks forehead* I just can't seem to get organized lately at all. I wasn't real keen on him wearing my prescription glasses around, thinking of what horrible harm I might be doing to his vision, but my prescription isn't very strong, and it made him content. Besides, he's a pretty cute bespectacled kid, isn't he? Kind of reminds me of the kid from Jerry McGuire... "The human head weighs 8 pounds."

J's favorite part was watching the F-14 fly. He was amazed that by the time he could hear it, it was already long gone.

We wandered around and looked at all the planes on display, and he even got to climb a ladder to look in the cockpit of one. Fun times.

Afterwards, Michele and Thomas were kind enough to have us stay for a barbecue at their house and J had a grand time chasing around the backyard with their beagle, Diana. He pitched the ultimate fit when it was time to leave, but that seems to be the way lately. The child simply doesn't switch gears well.

When we got home it was already dark, and J was asleep. Wil went in while I was getting J unloaded from the car, and sitting on the entry rug was one of the little kittens. Somehow Kelli (the big dumb dog) managed to get the bathroom door open, and spent the day tormenting kittens. The baby was nearly dead, cold as ice, soaking wet, and hardly breathing. Luckily, Kelli isn't a mean dog. I think she thought that they were just squeaky toys, because if she was interested in eating/killing them, she certainly could have. This is where I am thankful for J falling asleep in the car!

I was able to get the kitten warmed up with hot water bottles and some vigorous rubbing, and rubbed honey on his gums to bring his blood sugar back up. Even then, I didn't hold much hope for him. But once he was relatively warm, supplemented, and dry, there really wasn't much else I could do. I put him back in the box with the others and mom, and said a little prayer that he'd make it through the night.

Amazingly, he did. And now when we're not home, Kelli gets to spend the day in her cage. I just can't trust her right now, and she's picked up a lot of bad habits lately, like peeing on the floor in the livingroom. So, a little crate time isn't going to kill her, and it'll give me peace of mind until these kittens are gone.

Whew... onto the knitting.

I made myself promise to finish up some straggling stuff before starting anything new, so on the ride up to the airshow I finished off an irish hiking scarf that I'd started back in November, and then lost interest in. It's not my favorite project. It's not that the pattern is bad or anything, but I used some acrylic from my stash, and well, acrylic is great for crocheted afghans, but not so good for cabled scarves. Oh well, it's finished at least. Here's the bad picture to prove it.

I had also started a little bookmark for J's teacher, whose birthday is Thursday, but realized that the pattern and yarn weren't doing each other any justice, so I scrapped that one, and I *drum roll please* finally cast on for the Ballet Cami that I was supposed to have been knitting along with Michele for the past 6 months! Michele, I'm just finishing the ribbing! :) And there you have it-- long post done.

Oh, and did I ever show you the tidal wave socks? I love them! This might become my standby sock pattern. Easily memorized, interesting detail without much fuss. A quick knit, even with the impossibly thin and inelastic Tofutsies yarn. I love the color of this yarn, but my love for it ends about there. It's splitty, tiny, and feels 'stringy' on my feet. I could never walk a marathon in these. It would rub blisters on my toes. But they're cute as can be, and that makes them totally wearable. :)

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Gee, thanks

There's no denying that my son is big for his age. He's not a fat kid, just big. He tops the charts in both height and weight, and you don't have to tell my back that he's almost freakishly heavy. It's never been a real issue with us, and we've often laughed at the fact that he and his 9-year-old cousin wear about the same size in clothes. It makes for laundry day chaos. But there is one major problem I've been facing recently: His car seat.

Now state law says that children MUST ride in a carseat with a 5 point harness until the age of 4 AND 40 pounds. Well, we've got the 40 pounds licked, but we're still pretty far from the appropriate age for converting his seat to a booster. But the straps are only rated safe up to 40 pounds, and, well, have you ever tries stuffing a big kid into a little seat? It's no fun. Fully extended, the straps just barely reach around him, and the buckle between the legs? Well, it's most uncomfortably wedged under his butt. Seriously, if he's got on anything thicker than a t-shirt and jeans, forget it.

At a loss for what to do, I recently queried his pediatrician's office with my dilemma. They searched all their safety books, consulted with their manuals, and came up empty handed. No one can tell me if it's safer to convert his seat based on his weight, or to continue cramming him in because of his age.

So, I sat down with all my car seat information, and I wrote a letter to the sheriff's office asking their take on the situation. I was thorough, listing the brand of seat I was using, that it's rated up to 100 lbs as a booster, the positioning of it in my car, my car make and model, my son's height, weight, and age info. And I asked for suggestions on the safest way to strap him in.

Here's the response I received:
"Most straps on car seats are rated to 40lbs. but there are some out there made for larger children and the straps can go all the way to 65lbs. They are not as common but they are out there.

Ummm... ok, well, until I can find one of these elusive car seats, what am I supposed to do? Is my son safe riding with a harness labeled for 40 lbs and under until I can get my hands on (and afford) one of these larger seats? And perhaps a link to an appropriate manufacturer, or seat? That was a lot of help. I'm not asking for them go go out and buy one for me, but just a little help would be appreciated.

Tax dollars hard at work.

Anyone know where I can find the husky seats? And I have to admit that, while his safety is certainly number 1 on my priority list, I'm a bit put off at the prospect of having to shell out a couple hundred bucks for a new seat that he'll use for all of 5 months before he can use the perfectly good booster I already have.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

The things you can find in my shed


Meet Dirty Kitty. She's the little stray that adopted me a little over a year ago. Literally. She walked up to me, climbed my leg, rested her head on my shoulder, and from there on out, she has claimed residence on my porch, or somewhere in the vicinity of my house. She's not the sweetest cat in the world, but she's certainly not feral.

You'd think that working for a vet's office, I'd have had her spayed by now, but to be quite honest, I haven't really got the resources to be taking in every stray that wanders this way, and I've resigned myself to simply being a food source for her, and not getting emotionally attached.

But time works strange magic on you, doesn't it? More and more often we find ourselves saying "Have you seen Dirty Kitty today?" or "I'm going to go check on Dirty Kitty. It's sort of cold out tonight."

Well, as all unspayed little kitties will do, she turned up looking quite a bit larger than usual one day, and we all knew what was coming. What we didn't know is that she'd pick the coldest, windiest night of the year to have them. Actually, she may have had them the night before, during the torrential downpour, hail, and lightning storm. Either way, her timing sucked.

But when I came home from work yesterday and she wasn't sleeping in her usual place behind the grill, and wasn't chilling in the shade under the RV, I knew she'd gone into labor. I also knew that the kittens didn't stand a chance of survival if they were out in the elements.

So, in the dark, in the cold, in the windy yuck that was last night, I waited, rattling her bowl and waiting for Dirty to come home for some food. Eventually, it paid off, and my suspicions were correct--she had had the kittens.

I sat patiently, in the cold, in the wind, in the dark, and tracked her back to her babies.

She surprised me, though, and proved to be a smarter Mama than I had anticipated. She had them in a box in my shed, under my table, behind all of J's outgrown toys.

I guess she knew I wasn't threatening to her babies because, although she won't let me pick her up now that she's an adult, she allowed me to wrangle the box out from under the table, and bring it, the kittens and her inside.

My hall bath is now a temporary nursery until I can come up with a better solution. And while I never planned on getting involved with any of this, and I always swore I'd just let nature take it's course, I have to admit that they are the cutest darn babies I've ever seen.

All but one have manx tails. How odd.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Anything BUT transcription

So today was J's second day of school. Thankfully, he still loves it, and still hates me for returning to pick him up. I guess he thinks that if I forget to come get him he can just stay there forever.

I have very few complaints so far about the school. Only two tiny red flags have been raised for me, and believe me, they're really tiny. Today when I dropped him off, he headed straight for the "house" center with the baby dolls and the dress up costumes and the play kitchen. Then he turned to me, pointing to the purses and dolls and told me "I can't play with these. This is stuff for girls only." I don't know if one of the other kids told him that (most likely) or if one of the teachers told him that. I don't believe in gender biasing. As a matter of fact, J probably has more dolls and teddy bears than any little girl in his class. It balances out the side of him that turns everything else into a gun, sword, or laser shooter.

I simply reassured him that he could play with anything he wanted to. There were no such thing as girl or boy only toys, and left it at that. He proceeded to head to the train table, and I made my exit.

Second tiny flag: Today, in a completely random conversation he revealed to me that big boys should never cry. I had to sit and explain the difference between crying because you're really sad or hurt and whining simply because things aren't going your way. I don't think I like the idea of anyone telling my son that he has to be stoic, but have to admit that he is a bit of a whinebag at times.

Like I said, small things and neither of them are things that would prompt me to really worry at all. Everything else about school is going great, and I think he's already learned quite a bit in his two short days.

Today he brought me home Orange Ovals, a cute octopus made of a painted paper plate and streamers, another octopus decorated with cereal, and an owl. Yes, the letter of the week IS 'O'.

The idea behind him being in school twice a week, besides his socialization and freedom from me, is to give me time to do my school work. This was supposed to be a fast sort of thing for me to breeze through. When I quit working when he was 18 months old, I fully expected to be finished by his 2nd birthday, and working from home. Ummm... yeah, we are approaching birthday 4. Thanks for reminding me. I've never been a bad student. And whether it seems like it or not, I DO like doing the transcription a lot. I just keep coming up with other things that I either MUST do first, or want to accomplish with the small amount of free time I have. To say that I'm discouraged about ever finishing would be a huge understatement.

So, in the two days he's been at school, have I worked like mad to push through this last unit before my final? Ummm... negative. I've scrubbed bathrooms down to the corners behind the toilets. I've done umpteen loads of laundry, I've swept, mopped, dusted, cleaned litter boxes. And today takes the cake: I steam cleaned all of the living room furniture. Then I spun about 1/2 oz of some merino I'm anxious to finish. Then, since I only had about 30 minutes before it was time to pick him up, I sat down and knit on the heel flap of a sock.

I keep telling myself that next week will be more productive school-wise. It has to be, or I'm in trouble, and will be left justifying myself to the hubby who has been gracious enough to put off going back to school himself so that I can finish first.

On the upside, J and I did finish digging out (by hand!) the entire garden bed. All 15x10 feet of it. Oh my blistered hands! Now to start our seeds and finish off the flower beds. Sooner or later our house is going to look a little less trashy, I swear.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

First day of school

J-man approached his first day of school the same way he approaches just about everything 'new' in his life-- with just a smidge of anxiety and trepidation. While I did nothing but talk great things about how much fun school would be, and how many friends he'd make, and how the teacher would love him, he still went to bed last night insisting that he didn't want to go.

This morning was more of the same, and finally broke down into him wrapping himself around me, burying his head and wailing "But Mama! I don't want to leave you!"

Talk about heart-wrenching! I assured him that I would go with him, and I'd stay for as long as he'd like me to. He cried all the way to the car, sulked all the way to the school, then walked through the front door, and I ceased to exist. Hooray.

I asked him, after a few minutes, if he was ready for me to leave, and he just shrugged his shoulders and said "Yeah, go Mama." Then he turned right back to his activity without so much as a goodbye wave.

I'll admit I teared up a little, but in a good way. I was just so proud to see him there, enjoying himself.

I had feared we'd have a repeat of the daycare days of screaming and wailing and misery like we have in the past. But I feel really good about this school, and it looks like mother's intuition is already paying off.

We tried our best to get a good "first day of school" picture, but it didn't work out so well.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

After Midnight

It's been a long time since I've stayed up this late willingly. What, you may ask, has me awake at such an odd hour? A surge of craftiness.

Ever since my SIL proposed the hand-made Christmas, I've been almost fiendishly seeking out ideas for things to make. I'm one of those folks that can come up with a million and one great ideas, but never is capable of following through. This year will be different. I'm financially obligated now.

Over the past week or so I've been craft store hunting, thrift store scrounging, and otherwise plotting the creation of goodies for all the good boys and girls on my list. And it's only the beginning of March! See, plenty of time to screw up a few times and still come up with something before the big day.

I'd love to show you some of the stuff I've been working on, but the production has been ridiculously slow for a variety of reasons.

1. My house is rather small and quite overpopulated at the moment. Take 1000 square feet, divide it by three adults, two kids, two dogs, two cats, an aquarium, and all of the stuff that comes along with them, and you've got a disastrously small amount of elbow room.
2. I haven't touched my sewing machine in about 3 years. Everything I ever thought I knew about sewing is filed somewhere deep back behind the place that helps me remember where the munchkin left his favorite spaceship, which cushion the remote is under, back even behind the little wifely GPS that allows me to always know where hubby left his wallet, his keys, and his glasses. We're just getting reacquainted, and the going is slow.
3. Real life seems to get in the way of the things we really WANT to be doing.
4. If I showed you pictures, then Christmas wouldn't be much of a surprise, would it?
5. Besides the crafty Christmas projects, I've also got a major lawn/garden upheaval going on. Plants can't be tucked back in the closet the way that fabric can.
6. I don't have a dedicated room where I can leave my crafty mess laid out and just shut the door. No. Every time I want to work on something I must pull out the necessary supplies, set up the necessary equipment in a way that will not disturb the traffic flow, interfere with the playspace of small children, or appear interesting to two curious cats. Then, after being interrupted for the 100th time in an hour, must pack it all neatly back away. The set up/clean up takes longer than the actual crafting time.
Let's just leave it with this: There is fabric involved. There are beads involved, and there, of course will be yarn involved. What else? Well, that is still to be determined.

And if anyone wants to know what I need and want more than anything else for Christmast this year-- 1000 more square feet!