Tuesday, February 28, 2006
I really need to get over to Belleville though to buy more white flour because 100% whole-wheat flour french bread just isn't quite the same . . .
News. Hmmm. Well I finished the first twin sweater and I'm well into the placket on the second sweater. I might, possibly, finish it tonight. We'll see.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
The fact is though that I've learned a few important things over the last two weeks.
The first is that we've turned a corner my family and I. Even a year ago it would have been unthinkable for me to attempt to finish one child's sweater, much less two. I didn't have time for anything. If I wasn't working for pay I was working on getting us moved. The year before that I was just slowly starting to find time for myself again with two two-year-olds and a 7-yr-old. I hadn't knit since the twins were a few weeks old.
Breaking ties with my longest-running client who had always been my most time consuming and disfunctional client--but had in the few years finally become so much so that it was interfering in my ability to get anything else done--has left me feeling a bit odd. Shouldn't work be harder than this? I mean, I'm in the middle of a huge project but sometimes I even get to take the weekend off! That never used to happen. (It didn't happen this week, but that has more to do with the cold I've been fighting than the work.)
There's no denying the fact that I had a little time to knit almost every day for the last two weeks and some nights I got to sit with my husband and watch grainy television of the olympics for a few hours at a stretch while I worked. It felt so deliciously normal. Something we've put off until we had more time and less stress for so long now.
The sweaters are turning out well. There's plenty of room in the shoulders in the bigger sizes. The annoying yarn is fantastic once knitted up. The long skeins of yarn which are so flippin' annoying when you're knitting because no matter how careful you are the last few feet tangle mean that there are only a half-dozen or so ends to weave in. I found some pretty blue buttons to finish them with. I might get them both finished by tomorrow night--or maybe not till Wednesday. But soon. I clearly have more time to knit that I thought I did.
When I'm done with the current round of child and baby sweaters, I need to take a week or two to plan out this spring's garden. I haven't done nearly enough yet. But it's nice to know that with a little effort I can finish a sweater before the child has had a chance to outgrow it. Yeah, me! I'll post pictures soon of the finished sweaters.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
I was good at math, but only my teacher noticed. I picked up computers early on--but when you're a nerd, you hang with nerds--I didn't catch on that this was still special until I got to college and found that most of the other students didn't know how to check their own email. Email back then was different. It was in-network only. I could only get email from other people at my own college or from other colleges with the same network. I had two friends who attended schools where they *could* have sent me email--but they didn't know how to use the email system.
Compared to Chris, I'm an uber Geek. I admit, I never played Dungeons and Dragons--okay, wait, maybe twice. But Chris, as geeky as he was (and he WAS), still rose above the other geeks for two reasons:
1) His music was not geeky.
2) He got the lead roles. All of them.
I didn't get the music. I still don't really get the music although I can appreciate that some of it really has something to say. But tonight as I bob my head more or less (Chris will say, "less") in time to Mercy Me on the headphones and type along--the worst of the work out of the way and cruising hopefully towards that point tonight when I can turn off the computer and start trying to regain my knitterly competitive edge--it's occuring to me that I'm doing NOTHING to discourage my kids from thinking Mom is soooo uncool. She is geeking out to Christian Rock!!!
It's true. Alaska the Uncool. (Better than Ethelred the Unready, no?) Good thing we gave them some good looks. Maybe they can attract some beautiful young hip brilliant woman to bring us some cool, hip genes for the grandchildren.
I'm off, Barenaked Ladies just came on the headphones and I might have to get up and dance badly.
I have nothing to complain about. I've SSK'd since the dawn of my knitting experience. I have no idea why I suddenly had brain damage and SKK'd improperly. All I know is, it's not good. Here is sweater #1. Not too bad.
I'm only this far along--it won't be too painful to rip back four rows and do it right.
But here's sweater #2. This is going to hurt. I was already five rows into the seed-stich placket thing. I was going to go buy buttons this morning.
But it didn't look RIGHT. So I investigated and sure enough--there's just no excuse. Me and Lyndsey whatshernoodle who grabbed her snowboard and lost the gold. There may be no recovery from this. I have 29 pages to write this weekend. I know for a fact that four of those pages are time consuming. The others go quickly--but how quickly? There's still TWENTY-FIVE of them!
I took the sweaters to the yarn store to get the buttons. I showed everyone my brain fart. I asked for opinions.
They said leave it.
I said but there's two--they have to match.
They said, "Make the same mistake on the other one."
I nodded at the wisdom of this. I bought my buttons. I came home.
I CAN'T DO IT!! It's one thing to leave in an error that you think noone might really notice.
I was totally cool with this one:
There's a stitch I dropped there and in feeding it back up the edge it popped out a bit from the other around it. It's on a back seam. Noone will notice. I knit on.
But it's a WHOLE NOTHER BALL OF WAX to intentionally make the same mistake in an entirely different sweater.
Sigh . . .
I was so proud. See my creative use of office supplies when I ran out of stitch markers and stitch holders? Binder clips and binder rings. I'm a genius!
But there was nothing to be done for it.
I'm off to pick up 281 stitches. Then, I promised myself 15 pages complete before I pick up the needles to go forward.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
I woke up this mornin'
Crawled out of bed.
Coughin' and hackin',
But not quite yet dead.
I put on my clothes,
I think they were clean
I can't quite be sure,
who cares--they were jeans.
The baby was hungry,
(He told me so.)
He wanted cheese bread.
So I made some dough.
My big boy said "Mom,
we're out of dog food,"
so I scrambled the eggs
and fed them some, too-d.
I needed more words
to appear on the paper
I couldn't get anything done. So I grabbed the keys and went to the post office where the last of the Olympic Yarn I needed was waiting. (That was some seriously fast shipping from Angelika's Yarn Store--and it was very nicely packaged.) From there I went to the Woo-Woo health food store. I don't really like this place. No reason. It's just not a warm, welcoming place. It feels . . . stuck up, somehow. But they had herbal throat-calming tea and I wanted that.
Back home I made the tea, yum, but now my cough was more noticeable. So I took some cough medicine. [Then I got an unexpected email sending me another day's worth of work that should really be turned in on Monday.] But an hour later I was STILL coughing so I had two puffs of albuterol.
And then, the albuterol and the cough medicine got together and threw a wild party. I could still work, (probably because I wasn't second-guessing myself every three minutes), but that was it. No walking (at least not in straight lines). No driving. Needless to say, Chris left five minutes ago to take Max to his group piano lesson.
Wheeeeeee. I sit still and yet I move. Unfortunately, after three hours, the cough is back. I don't dare take more albuterol lest I start levitating.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Please consider this note a formal notice of eviction. We here at My Body are aware of your evil plans for domination. Although it's been 17 years since we removed the tonsils into which you had bought condo space, we still vividly recall your repeated attempts to take over My Body for as far back as we have clear memories. In fact, if these things were tracked, we're pretty sure we'd make the Guiness Book for the number of times you tried (and failed!) to take control.
While you may have won the battle against pennicilin, rendering it useless in My Body, we would like to assure you that we WILL win this battle. We have Health Insurance, and we're not afraid to use it.
You've chosen the wrong victim. One good flash light and we needed no stinkin' swab. We still remember what you look like, even in your infancy. :::shudder::: No, you can not go undetected. Choose some other Body (but not the kids, they're covered, too--don't even think about it) and be gone.
With great disdain, and swallowing proudly in spite of the pain,
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Can I say something? Of course I can, it's my blog. Life is good today. It might be that post-horrific-cold high--that warm fuzzy feeling you get when your throat finally stops swelling long enough for you to swallow and you can keep your train of thought long enough to make it all the way to the end of your sentence. (A real plus when you're trying to write the sentences for pay.) But regardless of the cause, I'm happy today. March's mortgage is already paid, I got to play with Jill's new puppy (the puppy is cute), Max is kicking decimal butt, and even though the Olympic ticker is turning ominously orange . . . there's still hope.
Ben rocking out to Mercy Me:
Today's baking experiment:
We'll see. It's a 100% whole wheat crust, cherry jam filling using my aunt's homemade cherry jam, and juice from the cherry jam added to the glaze. I'm letting them cool completely and we'll eat them as snack tomorrow.
I knit the front and back of the first sweater, then discovered that it was coming out way too small. It was knitting up like a size 4. Probably my gauge, but whatever. Ben *is* built like a barrell up top. So I switched to the placket-neck sweater in Last-Minute Knitted Gifts (which was a Last-Minute Christmas gift from a swap I was in) in part because it involves almost no sewing (there is some grafting in the armpit).
I really love the way this sweater is constructed so far, although I still have my doubts about the room in the shoulders for the boys.
A few days into this I learned that a friend of ours who I thought was having a baby at the end of March is delivering on February 28th, so that put me into full knitting-pink mode. I'm doing the Baby's First Luxuries set from Knitters Stash.
And I was swatching up the yellow machine-washable yarn anyway, so I cast on and started the first 12 rows of the bottom of the placket-sweater for baby Oliver who isn't due until June.
Yep, since I have SO much work to do right now, I started five sweaters simultaneously, and then got sick.
:::smacks head against wall::::
So, progress thus far:
1. Too small sweater--no progress. It has a front and back and 80% of a sleeve. It's tabled until after the Olympics.
2. First Placket-Neck Olympic sweater--85% done. It has the main body, two sleeves, and the first portion of the yoke done.
3. Second Placket-Neck Olympic sweater--not so much. It has the main body and the first two inches of the first sleeve done. I'm hoping to finish up that first sleeve today and do the second sleeve tomorrow.
4. Baby's First Luxuries in pink--the body of the sweater is done. It needs two sleeves and three rounds about the neck. Then it needs a pair of socks. Still seems totally doable by March 3rd (assuming Mom and baby stay in hospital for four days following c-section).
5. Oliver's yellow Placket-Neck Olympic sweater--no further progress and none expected until early April. But it is a pretty yellow.
Sounds good doesn't it? I could pull this off and have a few days to spare! There's only one itsy bitsy problem.
I have one skein of yarn left at this point. Yep. So I got online and found the dang yarn I've grown to dislike and ordered more of it. Thankfully, noone else likes knitting with it either (although blessedly, it feels GREAT knitted up--wonderful weight to it, perfect for the late winter and through the spring) so the price was significantly reduced.
I feel like the Spanish ski team when the Italians lost their luggage--including all of their skis--at the airport. For days.
Will the yarn arrive in time? I don't know. I probably have enough for the sleeves. If I have to, I can frog the sleeve of the two-small sweater in order to finish the Olympic project. I was trying to avoid that because the sweater was coming out nicely and it looked like one for the gift drawer. It's up to the USPS now.
Monday, February 20, 2006
I am quite pleased with my progress, if not my product. There is a clearly demonstrated moebius half twist. I have 10 inches, and must go to 15 or 16, before I knit a totally baffling boarder on it, and then must block it. Should be doable. My dissatisfaction with the product is we all know the correct definition of lace is, "a PATTERN worked by hand in yarn or string fine enough to make a nun curse" Mine has no pattern- I am knitting froth. There is some small hope that the blocking will bring it out, but when it is a surprise when one ends the round with the pattern intact, one does not expect miracles.And Charlotte's cat, Tabby, saying, "Would someone tell her that turning on the heat is NOT a waste of our nation's valuable resources?"
Friday, February 17, 2006
CHILD'S PLACKET-NECK PULLOVER (pg 72)
Please click on the link below the photograph of Last Minute Knitted Gifts (above, right margin of this page) to download the fully rewritten and revised pattern that will be available in the upcoming 4th edition of Last-Minute Knitted Gifts.
I checked my book. I have a first edition. I hope this doesn't dash my olympic hopes! Off to download.
UPDATE: Phew. No changes to what I have done so far :)
I'm inclined to believe it has something to do with the bipolar weather we're having. Yesterday I took the kids and the big dog to the playground because it was 64 degrees and it seemed morally wrong to do anything else. Tomorrow the high will be 20 and they expect snow.
Today it was wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiindyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy all day long.
It was very noisy.
I kept writing.
I started to feel a little better about the writing, but not my headache.
I took Max to piano and stopped off on the way to pick up 20 lbs of ground venison that a woman from church says she had to get rid of to make room in her freezer for girl scout cookies.
I just laughed so hard.
Needless to say we're having something with ground venison for dinner tonight though I'm not clear on what. I took my headache to bed for a nap two hours ago and I've only been up again for 15 minutes. I just reread last night's post and shook my head over its typos. Y'all must wonder at times how I stay employed at all in the writing industry.
Anyway, I'm mighty grateful to the girl scout that sold someone Sister X so many darn boxes of cookies. And to Sister X for coming up with such a great excuse to give it to me.
I made great progress on the first sleeve for the twins' sweaters but am starting to feel concerned that there isn't enough shoulder built into this pattern. I'm off to do a quick search for corrections.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
But here I am, writing student edition text.
In this case, the person who might otherwise say, "Alrighty then! Here, do this instead," does not have the time at all, so she keeps very, very patiently trying to teach me the correct way to talk to a six year old. I am working at it. But even though I'm done with nearly an entire unit, I am loathe to send her the pages. I do not want her to read them. I want to write the accompanying teacher's edition text. It would make her happy. She *says* I'm being very helpful and she appreciates the help and all I can think is that she must be very. very. very. busy.
Well, thank goodness.
So that is what I did today. I bought some new children's poem books, hunted about for some children's literature books I need and wrote a lot of short little questions over and over and over.
On the upside, I brought into the world today my very first cable-knit sweater. I love this yarn, I love this pattern--Oliver is definitely getting one, but not this one. This one is pink. I don't recall ever having knit ANYTHING pink before. It's pretty darn adorable. I'll take a picture later. Right now I'm waiting for Chris to bring caffeine. I need to write some more short little questions before I can go to bed tonight.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
They offered me a skein of yarn over which I had some sincere doubts inspite of its genuinely nice yellow color. I grabbed another skein that was next to it of a nice merino which isn't remotely machine washable, but it feels wonderful.
I swatched last night. I cast on. I was unimpressed. It *looks* pretty enough and I'm sure it can take whatever Tide can dish out. I'll go ahead and finish the sweater because the pattern is the same as the two I'm making for my Olympics Project and I've already got it mostly memorized. But there's nothing wonderful about it at all.
So I wrote The Yarn Harlot requesting her opinion about the ethics of giving a baby prone to puking (and all babies are prone to puking) an outfit that must be either hand washed or dry cleaned--just how morally obligated am I to knit with a synthetic blend?
"Trash the crap. Knit an heirloom. Tell them that's what it is, and that it needs to be treated that way. I find that wrapping it carefully in tissue paper before I give it to someone helps convey that. Offer to wash it.
Very nice plastic sweaters are available at stores. You are an artist.
(How's that for a rationalization?)"
And I told her that was perfect thankyouverymuch. Even if I'm not entirely certain I'm capable of knitting a sweater worth this particular yarn, I intend to try. You only get one first nephew.
My Olypic project? It's coming along. I'm up to the arm pits on sweater number one and well past the belly button on sweater number two. But we're still four sleeves and two chest/shoulder/necklines away from success and I have a LOT of work to do. I side-tracked myself on various rabbit trails most of today. Some work related, some not.
Charlotte is past her initial crisis(es) and has promised photos as soon as she fixes some technical issues with her computer.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
EPGY really is an extraordinary program. With the scholarship we had last time, it was worth its cost. Yet done consistently and with at least some small attention to detail, Saxon and the like are enough. There is no real *reason* to go beyond Saxon and its contemporaries (Singapore, Math-U-See--yes, each different in its own way, but each effective for most of the kids who would use it as it is written).
In the same way there is simply no real reason to go beyond knitting a nice stockinette pair of socks. Stockinette is wonderful! It's warm, it's fast, it's sturdy. But where Saxon is a sturdy stockinette and Singapore is seed stitch and Math-U-See is ribbing--EPGY is lace. Oh, yes. It is.
But I've done very little lace in 15+ years of knitting and don't feel I've suffered for it.
I adore math and like the voracious reader who secretly fears her children won't take passionately to reading, I have a huge emotional attachment to having my sons discover what is wonderful about math. EPGY weaves certain mathematical strands and more abstract concepts into the program years earlier than standard programs do. You don't need to get these early to fall in love with them later. I was a mediocre elementary math student. Again, there's nothing wrong with holding off and doing these things later. Except that there's nothing wrong with introducing them NOW if the child is fluent in math and open to learning them.
With a scholarship, the cost would be comparable to adding a second musical instrument. Max had talked of adding drums to his repetoire next year. IF I decide we can do one of those options, (there are so many other budget items that *must* come before a 2nd instrument/EPGY--like his speech therapy, the existing piano lessons, and his mother's commitment to getting us out of debt for good) THEN I may ask him to choose with the understanding that whichever option he chooses he must see out the year.
I could live with either. I'm not opposed to a second instrument if he loves it. And yet I don't really want more practice sessions to supervise. EPGY satisfies my desire to provide Max with math he could potentially fall passionately in love with. And, I'm still really okay with Saxon.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Not for all the money in the world would I go back to that. At the time we had adrenaline, we had hope, we had the flat-lining checkbook motivating us to Get Out of California. This morning as I was watching the kids play in the snow over on the public school grounds I was musing over all that we did between February 7 and the middle of May. We bought and sold a house, lived in Indiana for five weeks, did swim lessons for Max and the twins in the middle of all that, packed and unpacked, WORKED like a madwoman, got sicker than I can remember being in a decade while we were in Indiana, got Chris back into glasses for the first time in two decades, lost Jax the lizard to heat exposure, painted most of this house, did Max's standardized testing, etc. etc.
No wonder my mantra since has been "We are never, ever, ever, ever moving again." (That hasn't changed.)
Things have eased up since then. We'll do a more complete assessment in April, but for now, take my word for it--things are a LOT better.
Now, I think I mentioned back in early January that basketball is another new sport for Max. He wound up on a team that has a LOT of experience. Most, though not all, of the other players have been in the game since they were 5. For the first two games he was blissfully ignorant and pretty involved in the game, albeit not with any precision. But around game 3, he began to hold back. The more he understood the game, the more he held back in the game, afraid to make any mistakes. By the last game I attended, game 5, it was clear to me that extreme measures were called for. Chris was playing with him, but after watching Max in practice--and even before the games during warm-ups, it was clear to me that the problem was all in his head. Even before the game today during warm-ups, Max was making baskets. Nice, clean baskets. But how to get him over that lump of fear that had him playing the game as well as he could while simultaneously keeping the greatest amount of distance between him and the ball?
Well. He's the son of two self-employed parents. We're not greedy. No. But we're highly motivated when paid well. So after watching him in practice on Friday I came up with the bright idea of offering NHL-style incentives. (I don't know if the NBA offers scoring bonuses, but the NHL does.) Mine were a little more reachable. Since it had been, to my knowledge, three games since Max had touched the ball even once in play, I offered one dollar each time he touched the ball --without fouling anyone.
I offered $2 if he knocked the ball, without fouling, out of the hands of another player. Finesse wasn't important. It could go skittering across the court and into the hands of another player on the other team. I just wanted him to achieve what he set out to do. Getting the ball away from that guy was the purpose of the swooshes he made vaguely at the ball without ever touching it. I wanted commitment.
I offered $5 if he got a rebound. It counted at either end of the court. In the second game he'd played someone else had gotten the rebound and passed it to him. Max had dribbled it down towards his basket and passed it off to someone else. If he got the rebound at the other end--after a basket was made, the other kids would automatically start running to the other end of the court. That would leave him to dribble the ball down. Besides, he'd never caught a rebound--it stood to reason that after a few times catching the rebound at the other team's basket--he'd go to the next level at some point and get the rebound at his own basket--and shoot it.
I offered $10 if he took a shot. It didn't have to go in. It just had to hit the backboard or the rim--it couldn't go sailing into outer space. I wanted him to aim before he threw.
It could have gone horribly. The other team scored first and this mega-talented team that Max is in faltered. They've always made the first few baskets. They've never won by less than 12 pts. But Max didn't notice. He was out to touch the ball. In the first five minutes he played he touched the ball twice--and knocked it out of the hands of the player trying to score (legally) once. Both coaches jumped a little in their seats and screamed his name happily. Max grew an inch. He looked at me with a "did you get that?" look and then jumped back into the game.
Between the genuine run for their money (ha! get it?) that the other team was giving our Blue team, and Max's complete commitment to the game, I could barely breathe. He never missed an opportunity to try for the rebound. He wanted that ball. He ran after it. I tried to knit when Max was on the bench, but there was so much going on! I'm pretty sure those few rows are a bit snugger than the ones before them.
By halftime our team was starting to recover confidence and they'd moved ahead by a few points. Max had five touches of the ball and one "get" (getting it out of the hands of the other guy). More importantly, he knew he could play the game. He understood, finally, that he didn't need to shoot a basket to make a difference in the score of the game. He never took his eyes off the ball. He wanted it.
And then, in the fourth quarter--he got it. He got the rebound and the other kids broke away and he dribbled it, a bit unsteadily, but gaining in confidence, towards the other end. He had the ball too far out in front of him and another kid came in and took the ball away, but that kid hadn't gone more than a few feet when one of the other kids on our team stole the ball back, passed it, passed again--until there was a score for the Blue team.
Max had been positioning himself correctly for the rebound through most of the game, but some light went on and he got the rebound two more times. The second time he passed the ball to someone else who took it down and made a basket. The third time Max dribbled it down himself and keeping the ball in closer, went most of the way before being swarmed by yellows and having to pass it off.
It was a wonderful, wonderful, game. The coaches were falling over themselves happy to see their reluctant player in the game. They coached--Max wasn't deaf with fear--and he responded.
Maybe I wasn't supposed to bribe him. Maybe I was supposed to let him have his own breakthrough. But it still looked like his breakthrough from where I was sitting. That looked like my kid grinning. He told me with a swagger that they'd won again for the umpteenth time. (I corrected this unsportsman-like behavior--and a teammate said, "well, specifically 6th time.") In the past he's always enjoyed the fact that they won--but there was little sense of ownership of the win. "Our team won," he'd say. This time it was, "We won."
As he gets older I'll have to warn him that it's always good to know when money is a big motivator. That the Advisary is good at using that against you to convince you to do something you shouldn't. But sometimes in order to be motivated by pride, by a sense of satisfaction, by the feeling of a job well done--you have to have a moment of pride, a moment of satisfaction, and the belief that you CAN do the job well.
"If I actually get the ball in the basket, do I get more than $10?"
"Yeah, you get $10 and the knowledge that you scored two points for your team in an actual game."
"Yeah . . . That'll feel amazing."
That's what I'm bettin' on.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
And I've done little more than knit, read, and blog today. So I've been thinking, of course, about what to do to celebrate these things. My sister is already getting something knitted from my aunt who is a much better knitter than I, so I'll have to be satisfied with a set of guest towels for her.
Now baby Oliver is his parents' first child, so they'll need a load of practical things like disposable diapers and a stroller and car seat and waterproof mattress covers. But since I'm knitting, I'm thinking of course that I should knit a little something, too.
So when I went blog hopping this evening checking out knitting blogs I'd never seen before, I ran across Two Pointy Sticks and saw this photo:
And my thought was (because they're tiny little sweaters and a simple design), "Gee, I could make one of those for each day of the week in a different color."
And that made me think of a pack of underwear I had back in the 70's with the days of the week on them. And I wondered how hard it would be to embroider a little day of the week, say, along the hem of each sweater.
And that made me think of this rhyme:
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go.
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath Day,
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.
It could use some updating, which saves baby Oliver from having it embroidered on 7 little sweaters.
Boom Goes the Dynamite
It's true that his sports coverage screams Olympic Level Geek, but it also screams something else.
It screams "I can't read." As I watched this young man, I "got" that I was supposed to find this funny, but I found it tragic. We might not have noticed the stupidity of "Boom Goes the Dynamite" (do I have to name names when it comes to stupid off-the-cuff remarks made by famous, sucessful newscasters?) if he'd only been able to pin together a few coherent sentences in a row. But his reading is marked by an inability to group words appropriately. He can't "chunk" more than three words at a time, and when he hits unfamiliar multi-syllabic words (three or more), he has to slow. way. down. to process them.
Mortified by his inability to keep up with the video on the screen, he fell completely silent at points. When the reading continued again, you can hear that he is having to "toss" all punctuation in order to keep up. The words make less and less sense--like when someone unfamiliar with e.e. cummings tries to read it aloud.
Now, it's possible that the kid can read fine, but his eyesight is awful, he normally wears glasses, and he thought that he should do the show without glasses. He could barely see the text which appeared to be behind or to the left of the camera.
Otherwise, it was a painfully long demonstration in the importance of having your children read aloud. Reading fluency isn't cosmetic. Expressive readers who know what to do when they come to punctuation, who know how to modulate their voice to effectively read the piece, demonstrate much, much higher rates of reading comprehension than children who don't. It was once believed that fluency follows comprehension but recent research in reading has demonstrated that at the very least fluency and comprehension work hand-in-hand. And for some readers--fluency begets comprehension.
At Oregon Live
And I can see a link at MSNBC when I google it, but can't find the actual reference on the page.
I'm embarrased to keep posting today--what can I say? I've thrown myself into the idea of a REAL Saturday with gusto. So no, I'm not working. I only get up to feed the kids, answer the phone (maybe), and pee. I'm listening to podcasts. So far one Dave Ramsey and one Cast-On. I also finally went over to iTunes and downloaded song after delicious song using the gift card that my brother gave me for Christmas. I have to burn them all to CD and then upload them again to my computer in order to strip the stupid ipod-iness from them so that my ordinary old mp3 player can play them, but whatever. I got music good enough to make it worth the trouble. I've noticed recently that I'm WAY more focused on work while listening to music over headphones.
Otherwise, while checking the pattern at one point from this book
I noticed that the pattern I'm working from is in the 4 to 6 hr chapter. At first I felt some guilt. How had I inadvertantly picked the fastest knit sweater on the planet? I kept knitting, taking an hour to knit two inches, and realized that it was either an editorial error or that time ONLY applies to the first size mentioned in the size chart. I checked the size chart. Sure enough. This sweater comes in the following sizes:
My boys are barrel chested and they keep all their length in their abdomen. So they're size 5/6 in shirts right now and size 5T in pants. When I thought to MEASURE Ben before just picking a size and casting on, it was clear that our best fit is the 6-8 year size, although I expect it to be a smidge on the big size. Good, I'd like them to be able to wear them next year.
So. If I go by stitches knit, then the four inches of sweater I have done would probably be the entire front and back of that 0-6 month sweater. Note to self: next time I knit this pattern, make it for nephew-to-be.
Well, back to knitting and wandering the internet.
I'd twisted the stitches when I joined.
Served me right.
But I was NOT going to go to bed with nothing but a bunch of wrinkled cotton yarn to show for 8-ish total hours of knitting. So I cast on AGAIN and very, very, very carefully joined AGAIN and knit 459 stitches and went to bed.
Then I slept till 10am. I only woke up because I had a poodle snoring in my ear.
It's 12:30. I spent some time updating the other site, checking my email, and then did two more rounds. Now I'm off to feed the kids and then settle back into my green chair. I do have to do some work today, but not immediately.
The promised snow? No sign of it yet :(
Friday, February 10, 2006
**They actually have a really generous scholarship program. Please don't let me scare you off if you have a child who is extraordinarily fluent with mathematics. It's just that even at full scholarship, it can't compete with the cost of a good used Saxon program bought off eBay.
I briefly considered switching to the prettier deep blue cotton/acrylic blend that my grandmother bought for me fourish years ago, but I couldn't make gauge on that one at all. So I'm back to the Nantucket recycled cotton. This is really good news as the 2nd Time Cotton wasn't really impressing me. It isn't evenly spun--very tight in some places, too loose in others. But I have so flippin' much of it. If I don't turn it into two adorable sweaters in the next two weeks I might as well eBay it as I'll never want to touch it again.
The blue cotton my grandmother bought for me however, I'm just looking for any good excuse to use it. I'll gladly pick it up again.
It's 11:55, December 10th. I'm off to cast on 143 stitches and complete two rounds before bed.
Pine Grove Mills, PA--Apparently the Powers that Be (PTB) have determined that Alaska can not use the portion of the child's sweater she already knit prior to the start of the Knitting Olympics (KO). When Alaska went to check the sleeve length on the child that volunteered himself for measurement she discovered much to her dismay that the sweater was going to be too small.
Yes, too small.
It's a setback for Alaska, but when interviewed, Alaska had this to say, "Well, I'd meant to enter the single child's sweater under pressure of a 50-to-60 hr workweek event, we really thought that would be enough seeing as how we're also out of bread so there's baking to do this weekend. But, I've had a serious equipment failure, so my coach has decided to enter me in the twin sweaters under pressure of a 50-to-60 hr workweek short one set of guidelines event instead." (Meaning I don't have the guidelines yet and when they show up work will go into hyper drive.) When this reporter pointed out that the new event sounded more challenging than the one she'd trained for, Alaska pointed out, "my coach says I can totally do it, I just need more chocolate. Besides, my roommate in the olympic village spent 4 hours just casting on, so really, it's possible that I just wasn't challenging myself enough."
I'm not pulling out the sweater. I'm setting it aside and knitting it sleeves later and then finding a second-cousin (or first cousin once-removed--what's the difference again?) to gift it to. I think Dana's girl might be big enough for it soon. I really do have WAY too much of this yarn. What crack was I smoking when I bought 15 miles of it?
UPDATE: The idea of doing two more of those sweaters in a single color made me want to poke my eyes out with my knitting needles, so I pulled all my pattern books off the shelf and found something still relatively simple, but definitely more visually interesting. Plus, I really love that the main trunk is done in the round. SO much better than
which is what I was faced with. Now I'll be knitting myself to death, but at least I won't have to sew up the seams when I'm done.
The Knitting Olympics Athletes Pledge
I, a knitter of able hands and quick wits, to hereby swear that over the course of these Olympics I will uphold the highest standard of knitterly excellence.
I will be deft of hand and sure of pattern, I will overcome troubles of yarn overs and misplaced decreases. I will use the gifts of intelligence and persistence (as well as caffeine and chocolate) and I will execute my art to the highest form, carrying with me the hope for excellence known to every knitter.
I strive to win. To do my best, and to approach the needles with my own best effort in mind, without comparing myself to my fellow knitters, for they have challenges unique to them.
While I engage in this pursuit of excellence and my own personal, individual best, I also swear that I will continue to engage with my family in conversation, care for my pets, speak kindly with those who would ask me to do something other than knit, and above all, above every stitch thrown or picked, above every cable, every heel stitch, every change of colour, I swear this:
That I will remember that this is not the real Olympics, that I'm supposed to be having fun and that my happiness and self-worth ride not on my success....
but on my trying.
Let the games begin!
I'm making two sweaters for the twins. I'm only counting one sweater and the assembly of both as part of the Olympics. The sweater is incredibly simple, but it's unusual for me to be able to knit for more than an hour a day, so I had to keep it simple.
She is knitting a mobius lace piece.Charlotte doesn't have a blog, so I'm posting her updates for her. After all, we share the same relatives so they can get their update here. I'll pester her to send me pictures when she has them.
I admit, I really want to watch the actual olympics. We're considering the purchase of a set of rabbit ears today so we can.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Me: Milo, whatever you did right before the CD exploded into a gajillion pieces?
Milo: Yeah . . .
Me: Don't do that again.
Milo: Can I play the game now?
Me: Nope. Putt-Putt is gone for good.
Milo: Oh. Can I play another game now?
:::I plug in reconstructed CD/DVD drive. It opens. It shuts. It opens. It shuts. It opens. I unplug it:::
Me: Nope. Gonna be awhile before we can play anything on that computer, hon.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
The Write Direction, Grade 5
[Tk] (literature studies, Max is old enough to participate in picking these, we haven't gotten to that yet)
Saxon 7/6 (I don't know what those numbers mean. They don't have much to do with grade level.)
AVKO spelling (no new purchase needed)
Cambridge Latin Course (no new purchase needed)
Health, Science, and History:
and at his request--French:
UN BON DEPART BEGINNER (beats me, but it looks fun)
It was another fun day of work as I'm back to working on the children's stories and poems that I'm supposed to be researching, so today I got to read, pausing only to look up a gajillion vocabulary words (to see if we'd used them yet, not because I'm confused about the meaning of "harken"). I also got to read a lot of Ogden Nash today and that's fun for any reason.
Max has hit his stride. Other than stubbornly continuing to grow at an alarming pace (which we used to call "shooting up" but apparently that's a no-no anymore. It's a shoot like a PLANT shoot people.) he's going through a delightfully cooperative and responsible period. (I've said it before, I'll say it again--fourth/fifth graders are magnificent people. More on that later.) He has opinions about his life, his friends, his activities, and he's not afraid to voice them. We talked about school options for next year. He made it clear that he wanted to keep homeschooling. Why? He thinks the public school down the road will be too big--too many kids in one class. That's valid, given the class sizes in which he's been successful.
That said, his drama class has a good dozen kids in it--maybe 14. It's pretty evenly half boys, half girls. I parked myself in the hall tonight and worked on a twin's sweater, but it was an uncomfortable bench so I stood and watched the last twenty minutes through the two-way mirror. I couldn't hear anything except John Denver over my earphones, but I could see that my son was attentive, involved, polite, and helpful. He jumped in and started handing out scripts to everyone at an appropriate time. It's been two and a half years since Max left first grade as an absymal failure at his private school. His academics were top but he'd been brainwashed to believe that not only was he a horrible excuse for a first grader but that he was INCAPABLE of behaving properly in a group-learning situation.
Shame on you, Mrs. Weinleader. Shame on me for making him finish out that year and not pulling him back at Christmas break when we first made the decision.
I could also see, through that two-way mirror, a pretty typical bunch of nine and ten year olds and I was reminded of how very much I adore this age. They are still awfully innocent. They have opinions and new muscles and height and thinking skills. They're making connections they never made before and they're thirsty for anything you have to teach them. But for just a tiny bit longer, you only need to give them the simplest of excuses to trust you. For a little bit longer you're still smart and funny and important. You're not the enemy yet. You're still part of the solution. It won't be long before you have to really work for that. You don't get it by default anymore. You have to show up and keep the lines of communication open by being the first to start talking--not by propping it open with good intentions. But not this year. For a little bit longer you're still golden. When I taught fourth grade I always felt so humbled by the astonishing amount of trust these people put in me. They were--all of them--hitting an age of opportunity. Kids who read only haltingly before coming in my class left it reading fluently. Not all, but more than you'd think. Kids who came in barely writing legible sentences left with a good solid three-paragraph essay and kids who came in writing three-paragraph essays sometimes left writing pages and pages and pages of fiction just for themselves. It's a year of astonishing growth and every year I'd have kids and parents willing to give me the credit. But it wasn't me. It was the age. It's a first bloom. The first few weeks of spring when most everythings is still bare but the trees and bushes are waking up and the buds are swelling and a few brave tulips poke through the last of the snow. That's fourth grade to me. It's just a hint of what's to come for each kid. Everything is possible.
I understand that some are called home sooner than others. But oh how my heart aches for this mother who had to see her daughter go so suddenly and so far ahead of her.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
(2 yrs old who sed write a poem for me in Portlant, Oregon)
if i cud ever write a
poem as beautiful as u
i wud laugh, jump, leap
up and touch the stars
cuz u be the poem i try for
each time i pick up a pen and paper.
u and Morani and Mungu
be our blue/blk/stars that
will shine on our lives and
makes us finally BE.
if i cud ever write a poem as beautiful
as u, little 2/yr/old/brotha,
poetry wud go out of bizness.
Oh, I read that and burst out crying. Nice job, Sonia. (I get to read poems, folk tales, and other children's books for work this week.)
The knitting world seems to be chock FULL of people that make me want to load up the truck with kids and dogs and go on a winter-long knitting road trip. I'd head to Canada and meet Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I'd have my picture taken with her and make her sign all my copies of her books. I'd post it on the blog like the celebrity hound I am. While I'm up there I'd swing over to Manitoba and go spend the week messing up Sarah's house. We'd have to bake and can and knit all week. I'd go meet Barbara at Effervence because she just sounds so sweet and she's a homeschooler AND a knitter. (I make that sound uncommon, but you know . . . bedmates more often than not.) I'd visit Donna because I think if maybe I rubbed her palm or borrowed a shirt or something, some of that incredible patience she has might rub off on me. And her taste in good art. There are so many others out there that make me LAUGH SO HARD and then want to go jump into my truck--yes, me, the introvert--to meet them.
My latest secret love affair is with this guy. He's funny, he draws like a New Yorker Cartoonist, (Maybe he is a New Yorker Cartoonist?), he can design lace, not just knit it, and he has a knack for writing about the elephant noone else will mention. His post the other day about the earnestness of knitting articles about men wanting to reassure everyone that there are lots of STRAIGHT MEN KNITTING was just precious. I high-fived him mentally. The other day he mentioned he was going to be at a Stitch-and-B*tch in New York and my immediate inclination was to start dressing the boys in traveling clothes.
Lucky for them [wonderful employer who must not be named, for I will not be dooced] expects me to produce and I will refrain from becoming a blogger-hounding gypsy. Although it would certainly give me more time to teach the twins to read (I'm assuming that Chris is driving in this fantasy--I wouldn't leave him at home, no matter how much he might beg).
So instead I will satisfy myself by sharing him with you.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Yep. Made gauge on size 1 needles. I didn't see Barabara's comment until this morning, but indeed,that's what it took--loosening up the WHOLE hold on the project. I *do* give a tiny up take with my index finger after each loop, and I'm learning to watch for that. Is it perfect? No--it's a smidge less regular than usual. But you have to look to see it and with this particular yarn--you'll never see it. Besides, for once--I'm knitting for myself. And I'm not that picky about what I wear.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
This was hard for me to grasp at the time since I'd always been such a horrific geek that I DID always read every intro, every page of front matter. But then Max turned two and that was the end of whatever remaining free time I had (I had the world's easiest baby/toddler in Max). Now I don't read the front matter either. I skim the Table of Contents or index, find the five pages that made the book worth the purchase, copy them, put the book back on the shelf and forget about it.
I haven't read the front matter in a knitting book since before I had kids.
But here I was this afternoon at Max's basketball game. In the periods where he wasn't playing, I was knitting. I could do this because Max had brought along his buddy Brian. Brian, a boy's boy, was educting the twins in the correct methods of game watching. When to chant defense, when to yell, "Go, [Boy!]" Brian, in the manner of all wildly extroverted children who have never moved further than across town, knew every child on Max's basketball team. So he gamely supplied the twins with names and the twins gamely yelled them. This left me with little to no puppy-herding to do. So, I . . . started reading the front matter of my knitting book. The author quotes some antiquated volume of knitting knowledge:
"Try and knit with regularity, neither too loose nor too tight; if too loose the work will draw out of shape in the washing, and if too tight the wool gets impoverished."
Tell me you paused there and wondered what the heck impoverished wool is . . .
"The happy medium is when the stitches will slip just easily along the needle."
This. was. news. to. me. I've spent 15 years knitting with needles that were two sizes up from the suggested size, and yes, I have to push the stitches along the needles. They're snug on that needle. The rational part of my brain wanted to argue. IF the stitches are to remain regular and the needle is what is providing the size of the stitches, then it stands to reason that the stitches should be snuggish around the needle . . . right?
Well, apparently not!
"Knitting should be neither too tight nor too loose; the stitches should slip just easily along the needles, and yet not be so loose as to permit any falling off unawares;"
Dude, that would be REALLY loose. no?
"if too loose the stitches will set unevenly and the work will be untidy, and on the other hand tight knitting will cause the wool to thin and spoil for the want of needful "spring.""
Well . . . dang. I knit two rounds trying consciouly to knit more loosely, but I'd done that with the first swatch I'd made (I'm still swatching here--I switched to a different ball of sock yarn. I don't know what type. I have two balls of it but they both lost their labels a long time ago.)
So then I thought, maybe if I did that thing where you wrap the yarn with your left hand. Maybe if I tried a whole new method . . . I did that. I don't really know the method, so I was making it up. It *did* create a MUCH looser loop--but a monkey on crack couldn't call it regular or even.
So when I got home I started doing some online research. Here's what I learned. I hold my yarn in a pinky crook wrap. It doesn't look like I'm doing anything obviously wrong. Except maybe being wound tighter than a girl ought to be.
I found a site that showed me how to do the Continental wrap and I made it about one and a half rounds before determining that while I *could* figure that out, it wasn't any fun at all and I'd never finish the second sock if I had to think that much about it.
Instead I should just learn to knit more loosely. It's just that, it doesn't FEEL like I'm knitting too tightly when I'm doing it. I'm not yanking on the yarn. I knit relatively quickly. So where am I going wrong? It's confusing. I certainly don't want to impoverish my yarn. That sounds terribly unfair to it.
1. Bicycle courier, Washington D.C.
2. 4th grade teacher
3. fryer, Taco Bell
4. Administrative Assistant to the Legal Dept. of People for the American Way (I just googled them to see if they still exist. They do, but I only recognize one name on the site. That was a long time ago. Before the bicycle courier job.)
Four Movies you would watch over and over:
it's just not my media
Four Places You’ve Lived:
1. Washington D.C.
2. Belmont, MA
3. Petaluma, CA
4. Portland, OR
Four TV Shows you love to watch:
1. Drama in the ER (assuming that's still on TV)
2. Pet Cops (or something like that--it was on animal planet)
I'm handicapped here--no subscription TV
Four websites I visit daily:
2. Chris' website--in spite of the fact that his computer has been in the shop for over a week so I should KNOW that of course he didn't blog . . .
3. encyclopedia brittanica
4. Yarn harlot's blog
Four of my favorite foods:
1. ice cream
2. plain pasta in butter and salt
3. scallops in butter
Four places I’d rather be right now:
1. in bed asleep
2. in bed, asleep
3. asleep in bed
4. asleep under warm blankets in bed
(okay, I'm tired today, what of it?)
Friday, February 03, 2006
Now that I've cleared that up . . .
Chris is turning into an old man. Today I've listened to a rant about the decline of customer service, personal accountability, and the quality of DVD players. That's alright, at the rate my memory is going, pretty soon it will all sound new again. I always wondered how little old ladies tolerated the repeated tellings of their little old man's same 32 stories. Now I know--they either can't hear well enough to be bothered or they can't remember the other 4,392 times they heard the story. No wonder so many teenagers think their parents are dumb. Max is growing up watching his mother search for her car keys in a panic 7 to 10 times a WEEK.
Please direct your attention to the sidebar. We've updated our needle projects. I'll update the Lyra list later this weekend after I've downloaded some more music. I'm still looking for an mp3 recording of Baby Kangaroo.
But back to knitting. For the knitting olympics I'm making this sweater:
with this yarn: 2nd Time Cotton (Nantucket) from Knit One, Crochet Two
Technically the rules say I can't cast on until the night of the opening ceremonies, but I ignored that (i.e., cheated) and cast on anyway, since I figured with all the work I have to do, that I'd never have a snowball's chance of having anything to photograph by closing ceremonies if I didn't. (Which is probably what inspires actual athletes to cheat, too.) I'm glad I did because it soon became apparent that (a) I have enough yarn for two full sweaters and (b) if I can stay focused, I might finish them both by closing ceremonies. So now my goal is to finish the first sweater by opening ceremonies and to finish the 2nd by closing ceremonies. Since we don't have subscription TV, at least I won't be distracted by the actual olympics. (Although I am tempted to go out and buy some rabbit ears to see if I can get a signal.) So as far as the Knitting Olympics goes, only the second sweater counts. But if you're four and you live in my house, they're both crucial to sucess. Nobody wants to be the twin who "didn't get one."
Since it seemed I'd set myself a potentially reasonable goal, and what's life without some self-sabotage, I immediately went on to cast on a pair of socks from the book pictured in the sidebar. My only "complaint" with this book (because otherwise it's frightfully well thought out. The book has an interior spiral binding, a sturdy hard cover, big colorful pictures, clear directions, and a glossary.) is that the titles of the socks refer to the vintage pattern that the modern pattern was based on. So the French Children's sock is really a woman's lace-patterned sock for size 8-9 feet. There are a few like that. The bootkin sock really is for an infant though.
I've spent the last two days knitting gauge swatches for the socks. Maddening. I think I've mentioned before that I must be the most subconciously anxious knitter on the planet. I never, ever, ever make gauge with their suggested materials and needles. In fact, sometimes I can't make gauge at all because by the time I take their yarn and go up to the needle size I need in order to make their gauge--it just looks awful. I bought the size one dpn's they specified and still didn't quite make gauge on the size two's I just tried. I'm loathe to go up to a size three. It'll look rediculous, this little sock yarn on size three needles. I didn't return the size one needles. Quite a few patterns in this book call for size 000 needles and my 1's should come in handy then.
Say what you will about the way I raise my boys--they'll all know how to cook and they'll all know to sing the praises OF the cook on the occasions when it is not them.
But Chris woke shortly there after, then heard Emily complaining, woke me and the rest is history. After I walked the dogs I put THEM back to bed in their kennels. It was FIVE-THIRTY in the morning. Milo thought he should maybe get up since I was up. I talked him into taking my warm spot in the big bed. He took me up on it. I headed downstairs to knock out a few pages wondering what on Earth had gotten into us all. We normally consider 7am outrageously early. I don't know when we turned into this late to bed, late to rise family--sometime during the move--but all attempts to turn back the clocks have failed. Max woke and I sent HIM back to bed. He tried but it didn't take.
So here it is 7:01 and I've worked some, knit a few rows on a sock, read a story out of the new Yarn Harlot book (I'll send it to you next, Charlotte), had a big fat bagel . . . Max is awake and playing something on his gamecube. There's a fire in the wood pellet stove and I'm starting to warm up a smidge although I'm feeling pretty desperate for caffeine.
After Max's afternoon piano lesson I am SO taking a nap. Think my last 1099 will show up in the mail today? Think my tax software will? I hope so. Tomorrow would be a good day to work on that.