Friday, June 23, 2006


"Eee-yah!" Is the Navajo equivalent of "Oy vey!" It sounds best in a Navajo accent, although it has no real meaning--much like "sheesh!" or "shyah!"

This week is an eee-yah week.

How's work going, Alaska?
Eee-yah! I'm worried I won't meet my Monday deadline!

Ready for the wedding?
Eee-yah. I would be--but I can't find the time to go get my nails done (which I need to do here since I refuse to pay California prices for the same ten pieces of plastic glued to my nails) and I can't find the time to get over and pick up the two outfits I left to get altered. Plus, there's the whole knitting thing that Charlotte so kindly nagged me about in the comments two posts ago.

Think you're going everything done that needs doing before you leave next week?
I honestly don't know.


After taking Max to swimming this morning (it's always a "free play" day the morning after a meet)--

OH, wait. I totally forgot to blog that last night. Well, I have no pictures but suffice to say that Max was great. His head was "in the game", he gave it his all, he proved he could survive his first IM, and he was ready to dive back in for his final race (breast stroke) when the thunder rolled in.

And roooollllll in it did. The short version is that only about 12 minutes passed between the first rumble of distant thunder and the moment when the massive dark gray clouds covered the sky and unleashed torrents like you read about. The first few flashes of lightening were impressive, but nothing like the incredible show God put on only 15 minutes later. After the first roll of thunder, the announcer declared a 20 minute break to see if the sky would clear. Within two minutes he was urging people to take cover and then five minutes later he was telling people to go home--at a run--and stay OFF the DECK, PEEP-POL! I had given Max money for dinner at the first sound of thunder, so we actually succeeded in the 12 minutes we had in getting him 2 slices of pizza, packing up everything, and getting to the truck before the heavens cut loose. I didn't get the truck unlocked before this happened, and I didn't get anything IN the truck before this happened, but Max (need I point out that the kid was already wet?) got in the truck as soon as I got it unlocked and I only got meso-drenched tossing everything into the back of the truck. About this time the fancy lightning set in and Max was sure I was going to die. We headed for home, all the while both fearing and admiring nature around us--until we got about a mile down the road and we saw a father pulling a wagon with all his might, across the street. He was past drenched and drowning. There is lightning EVERYWHERE at this point, and he'd just come down the only totally open stretch in the area. He veered into the grass, scooped a two-ish year old out of the back of the wagon, and ran across the street in inch-deep stream running down the road, the wagon bumping and careening behind him. I intended to turn down that road and pick them up, but saw at the corner that they lived right there and the father--no doubt with his heart in his throat--was safely home.

So we got safetly home, too. The lights went out so we lit candles for the kids and then Chris and I sat on the front porch under the safety of the metal porch roof (what?) and watched the storm for a few minutes and talked. Then I got back to work (laptop has a smidge of battery life left. A smidge.) and Chris left to go on errands.

SO. Back to this morning. So I took Max to swimming and cast on for this thing for Alycia, all the while not really satisfied with the yarn I had. I decided it was time for a field trip out to Knitter's Underground. {warning: really cute kitten there}. Chris had been because he got me a swift there for Christmas, but I've never been I've been very, very loyal to Stitch Your Art Out. In this case, no matter how much I will it to be so, my dear SYAO really doesn't not have a cobweb and lace-weight selection of yarns. They just don't. And although I *can* buy yarn online, I hate that I can't poke the yarn and rub it between my fingers before I decide.

So I went.

:::Cue Fiona Apple song, "Criminal":::
I've been a bad, bad girl . . .
That's JaggerSpun Zephyr at a fair price. It wasn't on sale, but the prices at this store are surprisingly low for a Local Yarn Store. The place has been there a good long while, and I suspect that they *own* the property, which lowers overhead.

I picked up the latest issue of Knitter's which has a surprising assortment of Things I'd Actually Like to Knit. I want to make:

Only I would do that in the same yarn and colors you see below in the Orenburg sampler.

Although they're always sticking shoulder pads on that model which make the shoulders look lumpy. So she's a little sloop shouldered, so? Leave off the lumps.

Although I wouldn't be allowed to do that one until I finish my Waves of Grain sweater from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2004. (I'd post a picture, but . . . I can't find one anywhere online!)

That's an awful lot more than the number of items in this month's Vogue Knitting magazine where I liked . . . only the skirt on the cover.

Anyway, I also bought a Jaeger Handknits book from 2002 with designs for babies and children because it has FOUR boys sweaters I would actually knit and put on my kids. The sizes only go up to 4-5, but I didn't let that stop me. The two designs I love the best look like they can be reasonably translated into a larger size.

And as I was waiting for some faceless person in the back to finish putting my JaggerSpun into balls (I gather they were taking it off the 1lb cones it comes in--normally I don't let a store wind my yarn anymore) I saw this incredible shawl on display. I stopped to admire it and it was in the SOFTEST yarn. "That's YaggerSpun, too." Oh! It was in the yarn I just bought for another project! "It's really beautiful," I said, speaking only the obvious truth. "Thanks!" she said. "I knit that for one of our lace classes." "Put it on!"

I put it on.

"So you want the pattern for that?"

I nodded.

Why do men thinking shopping is hard?

Here's a bad scan of it from the internet. It's sampled in black, but the nice lady at Knitter's Underground had rendered it in burgundy, which was stunning. I chose the greenish yarn in the photo above.

I also got a skein of Baby Ulle from Knitter's Underground and some mystery yarn (photo below). It was in their sale bin, labeled "fingering weight, 100% wool" for $2. I just thought it looked pretty and it is perfect for the little knitting project for Alycia.

By and large they carry brands that SYAO doesn't. There is only a little overlap in brands. Although SYAO can oder Prairie Silk for me--they don't carry it in stock. Knitter's Underground does. They didn't have the color I wanted in stock, but they have all of my other favorite colors. Feeling like a cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater, I ordered the red Prairie Silk I wanted for Max's sweater from them. They retail it for $1.50 less per skein than SYAO. Dude--he's a big kid and Prairie Silk comes in small skeins.

I still LOVE SYAO, but it's clear to me now that we weren't meant to have an entirely monogamous relationship. Especially not when the place was overflowing with spinning stuff. "Do you offer classes?" "Yes, in the fall. Come. They're a lot of fun. Are you on our mailing list?" "Nooooo . . . ."

So I am now, and I will go.


So I finished the Orenburg sampler shawl, made inappropriately out of mohair and size 8 needles.

It was fun making the sampler. I used the snowflake design in the center and the finished product is more than three times as large as the sampler was designed to be because of the changes in yarn and needle size. But that makes it exactly the right size for Milo's doggy, Buttercup.

Today is every bit the soggy day the weather people predicted. Max and Chris are watching another Something Something movie--the Japanese animated film-maker guy. The twins may have been sucked-in to that by now, too. I'm off to do some more paying work and then I think this evening I'd better do some knitting.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

The tomatoes can't believe their luck, but the cucumbers aren't talking to me since I staked them and ruined their plans for world dominion. I didn't mention that based on their growth so far, I don't have a lot of confidence in the stakes, either--but what's a girl to do? The peppers are having a hard enough time as it is. The zuchinni is oblivious to everyone else and is just happily growing over the side of the bed and into the weeds below--which is exactly what I want it to do.

In spite of the drama of the weather report--it's really like one thunderstorm a day, and so far mostly at 2am. We went swimming as a family last night and followed it up with a dipped cone at Dairy Queen. Ben and Milo went up the steps of the water slide at the pool with Max. Ben came back down the steps. After many false starts, Milo got going. And although his face said, "Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!" as he came down the chute--as he splashed happily into the waiting arms of the lifeguard below (the sign says clearly they have to be able to swim, but this rule is waived whenever there is a reasonable number of people at the pool.) he declared, "I wanna go again!" And he did. Many times. "A MILLION times!" he told Chris. But he'll have to make that cumulative.

Work is kicking my tushka. So, I'd better get back to it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I ran right out and told the tomatoes. They said they weren't thrilled with the temps on Sunday and Monday, but they thought Thursday sounded dreamy. The watermelon, which never seems to get enough water, was thrilled with the news. The sugar snap peas said they were all for it and the cucumbers snickered and said if I didn't get them something to climb on soon, they were going after the peppers. And the first row of lettuce? It offered the opinion that it was ready to be picked. I stalled while I tried to figure out why lettuce matures so early in the season--long before there are any other vegetables to put on the rest of the salad. Plus--in hind sight--I'm not sure it's worth growing so much of it. I'll give you this: the lettuce is amazing and makes me never want to touch grocery store lettuce again. But my garden space is limited and the lettuce is the only vegetable I'm growing that can't--through any method--be stored.


Thor was much worse this morning so I called the vet and they said to bring him in. I have more than made the vet's car payment this month. The spaying, the grooming (that's where I get them groomed), and now this . . . obviously I wouldn't be kvetching about the bill if Thor wasn't well repaired. They cleaned all his wounds (they found many more than I had) and loaded me up with three different meds. I was instructed to keep him drugged up for the next three days! Sheesh! But they don't want him running around on his bad leg and I can see why they're concerned about this. He also gets to take some SERIOUS anti-biotics for the next TWO WEEKS.
They offered to give me multiple copies of the receipt to go "discuss" the cost with the neighbor. I sighed and declined, offering my opinion that as much as the whole neighborhood knows that dog is vicious, the ultimate responsibility was mine since it was my four-year-old who let him out.

When I dropped Thor off at the vet, there was a strange dog there three times Thor's size. Thor wagged his weary tail and strained against the leash to go meet him with the small bit of strength he still possessed. The owner assured me that he was a friendly dog. I let the dogs chat. It didn't benefit Thor yesterday that he loves other dogs so much--and especially big dogs--(as long as they're not coming in his own house) but in general I want that part of his personality preserved. There are rumors of building a dog park in the area. I want him to be able to go unafraid.


I'm feeling like I really need to get a start on the Orenburg shawl, so I've been working on the sampler the last two days. I hope to finish it tonight and block it.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Random Monday Thoughts

1. Max got his report card. I was nervous about this, but didn't need to worry. He got a wonderful report (with room to grow in writing--which we knew going into it). More than one teacher commented on his ability to work well in groups, his insight in reading-related tasks, and his "just fun to be around-ness" -- which is a marketable skill. I'll take it. Missing from the report cards were comments about his lack of attention span, his tendency to get out of his seat, and his poor behavior. Further proof that he's not in first grade anymore and maybe I should let go of that bit of post-traumatic stress disorder. Apparently his attention span is just fine, his behavior is average to above-average, and he stays in his seat. My primary goal in bringing the boy "home" was to "remind him who he was, to reclaim him from 'the world'--which was doing a shoddy job of helping me raise him--and to help him be happy while learning again."

Goals met.

2. Colored my hair. Now I look "about to turn 38" instead of "way older than I really am." Tomorrow I'm buying some hot-rollers to start experimenting with styling my hair so I know what to do with it on Vlad and Alycia's wedding day.

3. Made eye appointments with a developmental optometrist for all three boys. I did BIG research into this and found "the best" in Central PA (which means that she is, of course, in State College). Emailed back and forth with the woman asking questions and although she is head of this and chief of that--she does still accept some children as new clients. I love any doctor who will answer questions in email--so I'm willing to accept that her first open appointment was September 1st. Chris and I are both far-sighted. We both have "focus" issues (my eyes don't like to look at the same place up close. Chris' eyes don't like to look at the same place, either). So we're having more thorough diagnostic testing done on all three boys to make sure that nothing is missed and that anyone who might benefit from glasses--gets them. We already knew from Ben's testing a few years back that Ben is most definitely far-sighted. But there was no reason for glasses at that age. We were told then to have Ben retested prior to entering school. Because I'm teaching him to read now and because his preschool this year is mildly academic in nature--we're taking care of that this September instead of next.

4. There is a mouse in the space between the first floor and the basement. He's incredibly noisy and active at night. I can't figure out how to get a poodle into that space. He's probably counting on that.

5. Thor got out today and the next door neighbor's dog pulled out his stake and bit Thor in the leg (leaving a 1/4 inch open wound) and in the ribs--leaving one scratch and one definite puncture mark. It's enough to make me want to play the lottery. We really need a fence. I really need to not spend $3500 to make that happen. What do you do? We're looking into a way to put a net or something across the opening to Chris' garage. Having dramatically reduced the ways they get out--that's the last area of vulnerability.

6. Max started swim practice today. He's not the same kid he was last year. He's paying attention when the coach talks and staying on task. This evening there was a practice meet. While his times weren't great, it was the first time I have ever, EVER, seen him register that the kid next to him was gaining on him--and see him pile on the speed to pass the other kid. In short, Max *competed.* He has never, I repeat, NEVER displayed this behavior before.

7. Let me be clear here because it could sound like I'm complaining a lot about my son's behavior. My point is simply that my son who used to do miserable in certain group learning situations because of a failure to listen to the adult in charge has developed into a kid who understands now that no amount of effort or innate brilliance can compensate for a failure to hear (or read) the directions sometimes. He has always been and still is a kind, funny, generous child. He's just developed into a kind, funny, generous child--who is swimming the actual stroke the coach told him to. Some of us don't take that for granted.

8. It didn't keep him from forgetting his goggles for the practice breastroke race--but losing that race may keep him from doing that again. We'll see.

9. Emily is feeling much better. She's willing to forget I drove her to the vet last Friday if I'll JUST throw the flippin' BALL!! I keep telling her that I'm not allowed to do that yet--she keeps dropping the ball on my bare foot while looking peeved.

10. I learned today that Ben and Milo will be old enough to join the swim team next year. They just have to be able to swim from one end of the pool to the other. So. I have a new goal for them! Just as soon as they can swim 5 feet on their own--we'll work on 10, then 15, then 20, then 25 and TA-DA!!! My problem of "what to do with the twins on swim meet nights" is SOLVED. I have 12 months. No problem.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


I went to Baltimore on Saturday with my mom and Max to meet baby Oliver. The baby is just incredibly adorable and my brother and sister-in-law were like a couple of pros with him. They looked tired--but on top of everything.

Max and his newest cousin

I shaved Chris' head again. Here's a picture of the results:

And this week will be a flurry of work and swimming and piano lessons and more swimming and more work and getting ready for my sister's wedding which is less than two weeks away. L'Chaim!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


It's Summer and that means we're back to homeschooling all three boys. I've been doing my best to get us off on the right foot. Max only gets math and writing. The twins get reading and math. That's really enough seeing as how I can barely find time to pee with work the way it is right now.

At any rate, I wanted to share our experiences with 100 Easy Lessons in detail, without necessarily leading everyone who ever googles the title of the book to this blog, so I made that a separate blog. Today I posted a conversation Ben and I had involving the word trat.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Happy Birthday Oliver John!

And heart-full congratulations to Jason and Karen who are new members of the Mom and Dad club as of a quarter past 5 this morning. I couldn't be more proud of you both!

Pictures pending my getting down to Baltimore :)

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Today was supposed to be Max's "friends" birthday party. We were going to take the boys to a local Water Park. But Mother Nature threw a "high of 65" party, so we moved that back a week.

Instead, Max had a friend over. Then Chris took all four boys to see Cars, while I went to find a new pair of jeans and some "summer" shoes. We were all successful in our own way.

While I was waiting for them to finish up the movie, I finished one of the three sweater vests--only to find later (after casting off) that the neck was just too small for the twins' impossibly large head. So I frogged it and searched about on the internet for an alternative. I found it. I'm hoping to finish the neckline again tonight and then cast on for the second sweater. We'll see. I'm pooped and there is soooo much paying work to do tomorrow.

I logged on with high hopes of going back over the day--but it was kind of a quiet day and it seems to be avoiding being put into words. It was a nice day. I guess we'll leave it at that and hope that by the time I have to write anything tomorrow I will have recovered my voice.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

In Which I Attempt to Blog

I've taken a couple of shots at blogging over the last few days, but I keep passing out with my head against the keyboard before I can finish.

Today's dirty little word is Lexile. We'll just leave it at that since either the word means something to you and you just groaned and nodded sympathetically, or it doesn't and I'd be whining just to hear myself whine.

I know I'm prone lately to blogging the laundry list that is my day, and I'm grateful to those of you who still somehow manage to find that interesting. Today is another laundry list, and yet . . . it's not.

I think the *reason* I blog my What-I-Did-Today lists--besides being inherently self-centered and sure that it's more interesting than it really is--is that I am deeply sure that in each way, each day is important somehow. Sometimes the list is there to help me find the redeeming value in the day--the reassurance that there was SOMETHING meaningful in the day. I didn't just give my kids one more reason to seek therapy as adults. Sometimes that's the purpose of the list.

And sometimes the purpose of the list is to celebrate a day. "Well done, Pig." I tell myself, having no farmer to do so for me.

And sometimes the purpose of the list is to go back and enjoy it again, before it slips into my memory--which is spotty, having been permanently damaged by so many consecutive months of sleep deprivation.

Let's go back through today and enjoy the highlights again. I don't have any pictures, since it didn't look like a special day to begin with. So I will make a concerted effort to spell things correctly for once. I want you to picture the day in your mind's eye and not be wondering for the nth time how I keep myself employed in publishing.

The alarm went off at 7:06, which is where it has meandered to after having been dropped a few times. I originally set it for 6:55, and it has wandered since then. I got up, turned off the alarm, and walked back to bed. I tugged the blankets out from under Himself and tucked "my" half around Milo, who had been asleep next to me. I had a moment of gratitude for both Himself and Milo. They both look angelic asleep.

I let Max sleep in and spent some time at the computer. Then I woke Max and we had a hurried half hour getting people fed (by now both twins were up) and then I took Max to school. He's really enjoying school. I am relieved.

Back home I took the dogs on a walk and then went to find Chris. We spent an hour or so visiting with each other. We try to do this each Wednesday morning--just take an hour from the week and be with each other. Some mornings it's easier than others to let go of the enormous to-do lists and just focus on each other. This morning--maybe it was the sun, maybe it was getting enough sleep the night before--we had a really nice "date" here in our own home. We talked about--oh, everything. Finally, it was back to reality.

About this time last year I got RightStart Level B to try with the twins, but it didn't take me long to decide that they just needed more time with plain old object-number correspondence. They couldn't look at a small group of objects and name the number without touching each and counting. RightStart doesn't work well with that strategy, so I waited.

So I pulled out RightStart last night and looked over the first few lessons and then came up with my own "intro" lesson to assess whether or not they were ready. This morning I pulled out the abacuses--still in shrink wrap--and had them ceremoniously unwrap them. They did so with much ooohing and aaahhhing. We talked a bit about the five and five grouping on the abacus and then we counted the tens. Instinctively, they counted 1-ten, 2-ten, 3-ten, 4-ten.

Thing is--RightStart LOVES this. RightStart USES this to teach little people about place value in a way that seems to develop an understanding of base-ten place value like no other method of instruction I've ever found (okay, go back and read that in your Wallace voice--"RightStart, it's like no other method of math instruction I've ever found. Math, Grommit!")

Anyway, so we gleefully counted with "the math way of counting" on the abacus and played with numbers 6 through 10 as "5 plus X" which Ben would do by showing on his fingers first, then on the abacus. This slowed us down a little as it requires some concentration to show any number other than 1 or 5 on your fingers when you're four.

Then we played a quick game where I'd set a certain number of objects five or less out and they had to holler out how many were there--without counting. They did beautifully, although struggled with four.

Since my pupils were still full of enthusiasm--we quit. 15 minutes of math is enough for a four-year-old and I wanted them wanting more. They knew they'd done well. They glowed.

I made an early lunch of good deli meat with fresh veggies on good bread . . . it was an unusually good (if low key) collection of sandwiches.

I worked for a few hours on the Lexile business and then faced the fact that I needed to go to the library to get more books. It was well after lunch now and getting on towards the time when someone needed to get Max, so I offered to take the twins with me to the library. Chris thought about it and tossed Max's bike in the back of his white truck. He'd go get Max and then they'd go to the bike store to get some seasonal work done on Max's bike. They'd check on the unicycle while they were there.

Meanwhile, the twins and I had a wonderful time at the library. Four-and-a-half is old enough to entertain oneself for hours in a good children's section of the library, and the new library has a wonderful children's section. Ben was in a Mom-and-me mood, so he sat with me the entire time and--since I needed to skim through each of the books I was getting anyway--we would read the more promising ones aloud. If Ben said, "My turn" when I was done--which is what they do when they like the book you just read to them and now they want to quickly read it again, memorizing the words you just read--then we kept the book for my work project.

After a couple of hours we had 28 books, so we headed for the self-checkout and then to the Children's librarian desk to sign up for the Summer Reading Program. Milo very carefully wrote his own name in his book, but was upset since he knew the "s" in his last name was wrong in some way. We managed to beg a treasured eraser from one of the librarians, and Milo and I wrote the s together.

Back home we had an early Taco dinner on the deck and then Max went off to play with the neighbors while Chris and I hung out on the deck and talked about a variety of subjects including but not limited to--the marketing of Britney Spears, the role of the corporation as "human being" and the effect of shifts of polarity on the planet.

Finally, it was time to get back to work. We pulled the two youngest back indoors and Chris went off to paint bodies and I went back to the Lexile stuff. My step-mom called and we discussed my sister's wedding plans. I got a great idea for a Father's Day gift. I kept working.

At bedtime the twins and I did a bit of work in MCP Phonics kindergarten and then read some of the books they'd picked out. They then passed out and I went back to Lexile.

It was an ordinary day. Nothing momentus happened. But absolutely nothing went wrong. Every ordinary thing was somehow less ordinary. In spite of taking more family time than usual--somehow the day grew. I still got in a full work day. It was just an especially nice ordinary day.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

10 Blessings on a Thursday Night

1. Knowing that he's so excited to go to school that if I sleep through the alarm, he'll get me up anyway.
2. Clients that pay on time.
3. An email that says your last play was funny--and you had meant it to be. (and implies that the author thinks made that spelling error on purpose--haha Alaska, you joker) (and that the play will still be funny after you fix the spelling error)
4. Really Big Fans on really hot days.
5. Fresh lettuce from the neighbor's garden.
6. Being given the time and opportunity to do the job right.
7. $6 shorts at Target, two each of three pairs--so cool, the twins agree to not be naked for one whole day.
8. Aluminum foil (I don't like to put fish directly on the grill--falls apart when I go to flip the fish)
9. Marrying a man honest enough to leave his name and number under the windshield wiper.
10. It was just a little parking accident. Noone got hurt.