Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Another WIP . . . Wait . . . a New FO

Yesterday, all in one day, I turned a ball of Karaoke (my recent purchase from The Yarn Barn)

into this:
and this:
and this:

It's Calorimetry from Knitty. I found it on Ravelry as I was searching for something to do with this gorgeous yarn. This next picture shows the colors a little better, but I like the way both pictures look.

This thing is a ponytail wearer's answer to a hat. The description with the pattern says, "this headscarf allows you to wear your hair up while keeping your ears warm and preventing heat from escaping from the top of your head." Very clever. If you look at the pattern on Knitty's website, you'll see it on a person. I'm just not feeling up to modeling it for you. I don't even have a ponytail.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Good Day

Today was a good day.
A few hours at school.
An appointment with my doctor. Given good news and sent on my way.
A little Christmas shopping.
A little yarn shopping (Shh . . . I told my mother I was going to fight the urge. I blew it.)
A visit to the dentist. Given good news and sent on my way. (Believe me - it's just plain old good news that I went! I HATE going to the dentist and have been working a 12-step program to quit my addiction to blowing off appointments.)
A rest on the couch.
Finally seamed up and made ties for the Opal Baby Cutenesss Cardigan:

Made progress on the next one:

Wore my Thujas and they kept my piggies warm.
Good day.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Circle of Life

Woohoo! I finished my Thujas last night! So happy. They'll have their first outing tomorrow - I'll be wearing them to school. And yes, I will lift up a foot every time I pass someone to say, "Look what I made." What? I shouldn't do that? It would seem odd? You guys are no fun.

And so . . . when one project comes to an end, another project begins. 'Tis the great circle of life. Here's my next Baby Cuteness Cardigan. It's for the boy half of a set of twins due to arrive in February. I know I have plenty of time to knit this, but after seeing the twins' mom on Wednesday night and taking note of the size of her belly - already, I thought I should get things going. It's the same Bernat Softee Baby yarn I've used before, this time in Dreamy Blue. In this photo, it appears to have girlish undertones, but it really doesn't. It received the Official Boy Stamp of Approval from my very own 14-year-old boy. We're good.

I got a nice little surprise in my Ravelry message box yesterday. Another knitter is now knitting the Baby Cuteness Cardigan. She saw my finished project on Ravelry and found the pattern using the link I'd posted to my blog post and she's knitting it. Here's what she said: "My philosophy about baby knitting is that it needs to be cute as a button, able to take hard wear and machine washing, and be quick and fun to knit up. It's such a delight, having given up my 20 year tradition of baby blanket knitting in search of sweaters, to find patterns like yours."

Isn't that something? I really don't feel that this is my pattern - it's a modified version of the Mason Dixon Knitting Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono. I NEVER could have come up with this pattern completely on my own. Never. I just think it's wonderful that this woman is knitting it following my modifications. It makes me feel so . . . smart. Boy, do I have her fooled!

In other happy news, I am the proud owner of a new milk frother. My electric hand-blender with the frother attachment was just teasing me the other day when it gave me one final frothing. It's dead. After searching high and low on the internet, I ordered an Aerolatte from I threw a couple of knitting books onto my order to reach the free shipping minimum and sat back to wait for it to arrive. No dice. Although everything was "in stock," the order is due to ship on December 17th. Couldn't wait. Back to the web, checking the sites of several stores in my area. I finally just had to get in the car and go look. I found a Hot Chocolate set (!) that had a frother in it. $20. Done. Mine.

I'ts battery operated and quiet. It uses the same rechargeable batteries that I use in my camera, so it won't cause me any battery grief. Look what it does:

This frothy goodness was made from 1/3 cup of skim milk with a little squirt of chocolate syrup. Amazing. You might be blinded by this next photo, but it shows the amazingly thick froth made whipping a ton of air into skim milk.

Emmie is happy, too. She's a fellow frothy milk lover and she always gets a blob of it before I add the chocolate syrup. She knows good stuff.

I've been doing a whole lot of knitting and frothing this weekend. Knitting. Frothing. Frothing. Knitting. Knrothing. Fritting.

Oh! And my boy cleaned his room! Shhhh. Wait. Did you hear that? It was the angels singing.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I Love My People

For me, this was a very special Thanksgiving. This holiday is a favorite for me - and not just because of pumpkin pie. I have so many things for which to be thankful - three of which are my wonderful family, a job that I love, and my health. These three things came together yesterday in an unexpected gift bag filled with tissue paper. After arriving at my sister's house, my mom presented me with this:

She did the beautiful cross-stitch and she and my dad picked out the matting and framing. I love it. I love that it comes from my parent's hands and it celebrates the career I love, but I love even more that it comes from my family's hearts. Take a look at the label on the back:

I cried like a baby. This time of year marks the 2nd anniversary of my battle with breast cancer and lets me say, "Wow. I got through it!"

My family members all seem to think I handled the whole thing really well. I guess I did okay. Believe me - I had many moments when I felt sorry for myself and had the poor-me attitude, but I guess that overall I was a pretty tough cookie. I did everything the doctors told me to do (mainly because I thought I'd get in trouble if I didn't) and dealt with every single appointment for surgeries, tests, treatments, and check-ins for 18 months. I had to put myself on auto-pilot once in a while, but I did it. I did it because of AND with the help of my family: My son, my parents, my sisters, my brother-in-law, and my nieces. They are my people. I love my people. Thank you, my people!

(There are lots of other people who did so much for me during this time - extended family and friends - and I'm so grateful for all of them. They're my people, too. But . . . my family . . . !)

Okay, now let's share some cuteness:

This is an apple jacket. I ordered it from JaquelineKnits on etsy.

It's meant to protect your apple from being banged and bruised when you throw it in your bag to take to school or work. Isn't it adorable? I would have loved to be able to knit my own, of course, but I couldn't find a pattern anywhere. I was happy to support a fellow knitter by buying one.

Here's more cuteness. One of my student's moms made a turkey cookie for each of the kids as a pre-Thanksgiving treat. There was one for me, too - one of the may perks I get as a teacher. I love it!

I hope all of you had a happy Thanksgiving and had a chance to think about all of the good things you have in your lives.

On this day after Thanksgiving, I'm thankful that I woke up at noon and now have the rest of the day to knit. It's a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mary You? I Don't Even Know You!

This is what happens when indoor recess runs amuck (or amok - both spellings are in Webster's.) Little girls go nuts with the mini white boards and dry-erase markers. They start writing me notes about how much they love me and how I'm the best teacher ever. Then, this happens . . .

This is from a delightful little girl who thinks I'm the bee's knees. I'm all that and a bag of chips. I rule.

I told her that I'm very sorry, but I can't MARY one of my students. It's completely and totally a violation of the rules.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Creative Censorship

I dragged myself to school this morning, forcing myself to show up for the first of 2 1/2 more days before the Thanksgiving break. (Okay, okay, you normal job people - I know your hearts just bleed for us teachers. Hey, YOU try spending 6 1/2 hours a day with 19 kids calling your name at the same time, disappearing to the lav for 20 minutes instead of doing their work, passing notes about saying "Will you be my girlfriend? Yes No (circle one)", whining "My knee hurts from when I fell last Thursday. Can I go get an icepack?", calling out, "I'm done! What do I do now?", making armies of eraser people (!) on their desks, stealing each other's skinny markers, asking "Is it lunch time yet?" and yes, even sometimes calling me Grandma. Really. Do that and then decide if I deserve my Thanksgiving break. Thank you very much.)

I feel better now.

Anyway, I was at my desk getting myself geared up for the arrival of my little Honeybees (Yes, that's what I call them - each year my class gets a new name. I've had Lovebugs, Guys and Dolls, Angel Babies . . . I'm just a big mushball.) when Mr. S., one of our few male teachers, came in and asked for chalk. I pointed him in the right direction, and he took a piece and headed toward the exit door. Curious, I followed him.

"What are you doing?" I asked of the man who one year encouraged a first grade class to save ALL of their pencil sharpening shavings for months to try to fill this giant contraption he made. This is the same man who built a sailing vessel out of styrofoam lunch trays and proved it was seaworthy by launching it at Gulf Beach during a downpour.

Mr. S. answered, "Somebody did some graffiti on the outside of the building and I'm going to make it more appropriate for the season."

On the bricks of the building right outside my classroom was a big, white 4-letter word. It's the same word that can be used to identify a male chicken. First graders would be lining up next to that wall in less than 15 minutes.

Mr. S. used the chalk to change the letter C into an O and added the word "Turkey." Then, he altered the graphic stick figure by adding a chef's hat and putting a stove in front of him. Voila!

The picture isn't the greatest - had to use my cellphone camera, but boy, oh boy, was I glad I took it! COOK Turkey, people!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Scuzzday Sunday

It's amazing what one can accomplish while spending the entire day in pajamas. Today was an official Scuzzday Sunday in my house. The name comes from a friend who told me how she loves to spend a Sunday in pajamas - no shower or hair washing - and just do nothing. Scuzzy - thus Scuzzday Sunday. Since yesterday was my choice day, there were things I had to do today. I didn't choose to do 300 pounds of laundry, but I did it. I didn't choose to wash the kitchen floor and vacuum the whole place, but I did it. I did, however, choose to do this . . .

. . . and I did it. I finished my first Thuja sock. I only made one mistake, but it's minor and I can get over it. The toe came out a little funky looking . . .

. . . but when it's on my foot, it looks pretty normal.

And to prove that I won't be suffering from Second Sock Syndrome, I already cast on the twin. It's just that kind of day.

It was okay for me to have a Scuzzday today, because I didn't end up staying in pajamas all day yesterday. I took a shower, got dressed, and went out to run some errands. I chose to do that. I went to the book store and to a few stores in the mall. It was SO crowded. I returned some impulse purchases that I didn't need - nor love. (I do that once in a while. It's not really a big problem. Really. It's not.) Then I shopped for shoes. As I was poking around the shoe department in Macy's, I saw a woman staring at me. I kept wandering around looking at shoes and she kept turning to watch me. I got a little nervous. I was trying to figure out if I knew her from somewhere. Teacher? Parent? Neighbor? No, no, no. Uh oh . . . did I have toilet paper trailing from my shoe? Nope. Had I tucked the bottom of my skirt into the back of my waistband? Wasn't wearing a skirt. Then she said, "I love your bag." I was carrying my B-4 felted bag. She asked me where I had gotten it, and when I told her I made it, she oohed and ahhed as she petted it. What a great feeling. Macy's didn't have any of the shoes I liked in my size, but I still left there happy.

So Scuzzday Sunday it has been. After my big conference week, I think I just needed a weekend with minimal human interaction. The mall visit must have pushed me to take the day off from the world today. My son was in the same kind of mood, so it worked for both of us. My blood pressure did go up a little bit when the doorbell rang at about 6:00. There was no way I could have answered the door. No way. I was scary. M. looked out of my bedroom window and didn't see a car, so it had to be a neighbor. If it was important, they can catch me when Scuzzday is over. It will be better for them that way. I'm scuzzy.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

You May Now Return to Your Regularly Scheduled Life

I can do this:

And this:

Woohoo! I have my life back. I'm sitting on my couch wearing a ratty nightshirt, my snuggy bathrobe and warm slipper socks watching The Soup on a sunny Saturday morning. This day is mine. MINE. There is nothing - not one thing - that I have to do today. I get to choose every thing I do - for the whole day.

I slept late. I watched TV in bed when I woke up. I got up when I was good and ready. I fed the cat. (Of course, I chose to do this. I didn't have to. I'm sure Emmie would have let me off the hook.) I made coffee - and my milk frother miraculously started to work again. My oh my, this really is my day!

Now, I get to write a blog post. I'll knit for as long as I want to. Will I take a shower? Get dressed? I don't know. I haven't decided.

It's been one of the longest weeks of my life. Three days of parent conferences - two of them causing me to spend 12 1/2 solid hours at school. The grown-ups of 19 children sat across the table from me. There were tears. Only some of them were mine.
The last conference was a bit difficult - an intimidating dad who made it necessary for me to put on my sweetest Suzy Sunshine smile and my sing-song voice. It ended rather nicely, though when this tough guy said, "You're what, 28? 30?" I told him I loved him and that I needed to go home and write in my diary.

I went home exhausted, but thrilled that is was OVER. Done, done, done. Stick a fork in me. I'm done. I still had to get through a full day on Friday with the kids, but I did it. One of the things that made me smile was this:

It's my Teacher's Pet. It was made for my by a little dollface girl as my report card gift. I didn't know that teachers get report card gifts! So cool. She made it completely on her own - her own idea. No directions or model - nothing but a 3rd grader's creativity. At the end of the day, she wanted me to eat some of it. Um. Hmmm. "Oh, I can't wait to eat some," I told her as I looked at the fingerprints in the caramels and the scotch tape that was holding the craft sticks together. "Yum! But I want to show it off to the other teachers first. Then I need to take pictures, but I don't have my camera with me." She bought it. After I took pictures, I pulled off a few caramels and one of the lollipops and hid them in the trash. Yum!

I'm now choosing to have more coffee. Then I'm going to knit my sock. No, wait. I'm going to knit my shawl. No, wait. I'm going to seam up my baby cardigan. My, oh my, it's so hard to choose.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This Post is Brought to You by the Letter A

A is for AVOIDANCE. I am playing a game of hide'n seek from my parent/teacher conference preparation by knitting, shopping, watching lots of TV shows I DVR'd, and knitting some more. Look at the progress on the Candle Flame Shawl:

A is for AMAZING. I'm amazed at the beauty of this shawl and I'm amazed that I haven't messed it up again. I love the way it's growing quickly and I might just have to keep it on my lap during conferences. If I get tongue-tied, I'll just hold it up and say, "Look what I can do."

A is for ADDICTIVE. I put my knitting A.D.H.D. to good use by trying out the magic loop method of knitting a sock. Yowza. I love it. Look!

I'm using Moda Dea Washable Wool in Coffee and I'm knitting a version of Knitty's Thuja pattern. It's easy, but has a little oomph. Here's another look:

Maybe I'll keep this in my pocket at conferences so if the shawl doesn't impress, I have a back-up.

A is for AWFUL. That's the way the black jeans I bought last week at Macy's smelled. I had picked out a nice-looking pair of simple black jeans. They fit me well and I was happy. I brought them home and tried them on again. Hmmm . . . what's that smell? I wondered. It was my pants. They smelled like sulfur. No, really. Sulfur. I threw them in the wash with my new fruity-scented laundry detergent that makes all of my laundry smell edible. Still, they smelled. I had taken the tags off, so I was a little nervous about the attitude I might get when I tried to return them. Yesterday, during my avoidance game, I went back to Macy's. Before I went to the counter, I grabbed a new pair off the rack and brought them with me to the cash register as proof of the smelliness they had before I washed them. Much to my delight, I watched two of the sales people smell both pairs of jeans and pronounce them, "Eew." I was refunded, found a new odor-free pair of black jeans, and bought them. So if you ever have smelly pants, you can return them. You should never have to keep a pair of smelly pants.

A is for AW, CRAP. I just realized that I won't be able to make it to SnB on Thursday night. It's a conference night. Crappity crap crap. Thanks, friends, for missing me last Thursday. I missed you back. Please miss me even more this Thursday and have a Portabello and Mozzarella Panini for me. Hold Katie in your lap and work hard to make her smile. Pet other people's yarn and make a few inappropriate wisecracks. It might be a while until I see you again, so please hold a seat for me! Miss you!

A is for ADIOS.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Isn't She Lovely?

After a slow, angry start, I am loving my Candle Flame Shawl. Okay, I'm loving the bottom point of my Candle Flame Shawl. I haven't gotten very far. It could be due to the fact that I tried to read blogs and watch TV while I was knitting this complicated-for-me pattern. It could be due to the fact that I knit the pattern for row 25 when I was on row 27. It could be due to the fact that I had to rip it out and start over. Now, I feel like I have a handle on what I'm doing and on the need for me to pay attention as I knit. I'm so used to mindless garter and stockinette stitches because I don't always have a lot of brain power left to put toward something that's supposed to be relaxing and fun. I'll need to work on this in small bits and chunks, but I'll finish it. It's just that lovely.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love cake. Now I love yarn cakes. They're so cute. The middle one is my favorite only because it looks edible. It's the organic cotton/recycled soda bottle yarn from Rhinebeck. Looks like my favorite carrot cake.

Now that I've experienced the pleasure of using a ball winder . . .

Yuck. That sounded absolutely horrifying.

Once I was able to use a ball winder and swift to make sweet little yarn cakes out of my hanks of yarn, rather than wrapping the yarn around one bent knee and a foot to wind my own messy attempt at a ball, I knew I needed to have my own. I've added these items to my birthday/Christmas list and I'll keep my fingers crossed. Last weekend, my mother asked me about the "ball wonder" I wanted. After I giggled, I thought that it was a pretty good name for this helpful invention. Only it's hard for me to hear anyone say the words ball or balls without laughing.

It all comes from having a son. I grew up in a girl family and there was never a mention of balls in any other context than the kind you bounce, roll, and throw. The first time I ever took my boy to a Target, I was amazed at what I saw in front of the entrance area. I said, in a rather loud voice, "Look at the big red balls," to which my boy responded in that disgusted, embarrassed can't-believe-you're-my-mother voice, "M0-0-0-mmm!" Can't say balls to a teenage boy.

One of my SnB friends alerted me to the fact that the next time I take M. to the mall in Milford, I can point out that the big red balls are right next to the Dick's. Chuckle chucke.

Okay, now that my parents are thoroughly mortified at the content of this post, I'll move it along.

Although I should be enjoying a long weekend, I'm hanging in that uneasy time/space that Milford teachers experience at this time of year. We sent our first marking period report cards home yesterday. We should all be taking deep breaths, smiling, patting ourselves on the back, and planning fun ways to spend our free time. Except next week brings with it one long afternoon and two long evenings of parent/teacher conferences. I'll be spending time this weekend reviewing folders full of 3rd grade student work, writing notes of things I need to share with parents, and chewing Tums. People might expect that after going through conference time for 7 years already, I'd be comfortable and confident. Never gonna happen. It's scary. Although I always have 80 bajillion positive, happy, wonderful, and just plain old good things to say, there are a few not so good things I have to say, too. The parents love their babies and don't want to hear that their babies don't always follow directions and don't always put their best effort into their work and aren't always respectful of their peers and aren't always good listeners and don't always take responsibility for their actions. These people hate me for telling them these things sometimes. And I so don't like to be hated. It's hard to say things that people don't want to hear.

So I eat Tums.

My shawl is calling.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Love the Boy!

At 7:45 PM fourteen years ago, this boy arrived:

Of course, he was much smaller then. He was an adorable little peanut and he's still an adorable peanut - just a bigger one.

Throughout the years, he's brought me more joy than I could ask for and a whole lot of laughs, like . . .

. . . shouting across the mall at Christmas time, "Look, Mommy, Canna Sauce!"

. . . driving past the Milford green right after Thanksgiving, seeing the white lights decorating all of the trees, and whispering, "Look what Mommy did."

. . . kneeling on the floor of his bedroom angrily throwing all of his Matchbox cars and Hot Wheels and mumbling under his breath, "F*&#ing cars."

. . . years later, coming home from first grade asking me what the "F" word was. "Is it fudge? Fib?"

. . . and asking me just the other day, "Can a person as old as you go out and still call it a date?"

I could go on forever. I love this boy and I wish him a long life full of funnies.