Thursday, December 28, 2006

Catching Up

I haven't been purposefully avoiding the computer or blogging, it's just that with all the sleep I've been getting since I haven't been working (oh SING with me about that!!!) I feel able to leap multiple-story buildings in a single bound and I just keep using that energy to do things like clean or go shopping or knit or really just about ANYTHING except turn on the computer.

Today I packed up and put away all of the Christmas decorations after one final shopping trip before I turn back into the big budget scrooge. While getting out all of the decorations from their cardboard boxes and having to pitch a number of broken decorations, I resolved this year to get some of those decoration-storage thingies that always go on sale after Christmas. So I did that. And today I put everything away in them. On Christmas Eve, I got out the paint and glue and with the help of our two final holiday-season guests, finished the 2006 section of the Christmas Tree skirt. Here is a picture of how it turned out. I'm really stinkin' pleased. Next year will be even better, I'm sure. I am especially grateful for that little HMBH. My grandmother, who will be 95 in February, insisted she didn't have the fine motor control to do her whole name, but she was willing to put her initials on it. I am pleased and grateful for the little extras that people added without any prompting from me. I love that my sister-in-law included her cat, that my Aunt added the holly above her name, that Grandma Gaye added a heart and a little swoosh below her name and that my mother put little Christmas lights around her name. I only realized later that they match the shape of the lights that go along my front walk. I glued a line of crystal beads along the border. I can't wait to see what next year's section looks like.

We rented a couch and love seat combo as we did back in April when we were having guests. Because the only thing I look for when going to the rent-a-furniture place is that the cost be as little as possible and that the furniture be not-too-hideous, I'm pretty much stuck with whatever they have on the floor. I was lucky this time and there was a choice of two couch sets (They won't let me rent just the couch. They're always sets. This is okay as it turns out that the one couch is never enough anyway.) so I went with the red set. This set is much more in line with our tastes than the sectional we rented from this place back in April, and at one time or another in the last week, all the adults have fallen asleep on them. I thought it was funny when Chris did on Christmas afternoon and took a picture. (The couch is normal sized. Chris is not.)

It was even funnier when I went to upload the photo though and found that he'd done the same thing of me (and Emily) earlier in the week (on the love seat). This was last week when I was still working on one of my lessons. Emily doesn't need an excuse for a nap. She's a dog. (And she has buried her nose in the UAB.)

For Christmas I finished three pairs of socks. One for Milo (Claudia's Handpainted yarn--100% merino superwash).

1 pair for Max (Barefoot Mountain Colors 75% superwash, 25% something else).
and 1 pair for Ben (Jagger sock yarn of some sort).

But I did not finish Chris' socks. Or even a sock. This was the sock Christmas morning. Now it's about two and half inches longer. That's it. I need to finish those socks though because I learned on Tuesday that the yarn has been discontinued, and since I'm not convinced there's enough in one skein to finish the pair, I need to hurry so that my LYS can find me another skein if need be to finish the pair.

I get one more true day of vacation and then this weekend I need to get back to work. I actually have quite a bit due on the 2nd and my sister is coming to visit for a few days starting Sunday (evening) so I'm hoping to get enough done to work half a day Monday and half a day Tuesday and otherwise be free to hang out with her.

It was a smaller and more modest Christmas than some in the past, but it was a good and a joyous Christmas and we all received more than enough and more than we asked for. I always reflect on the year during this week between Christmas and New Years and this year is no exception. There is no way, even on my most mentally ill day, that I can call this past year anything but a success. Though I have a long way to go on all fronts, we are on better ground on any "life" topic you might care to examine. We have less debt, less stress, more friends, more blessings, etc. etc.

I am grateful for the love and support that has been shown to us this year. We have been lifted up and encouraged on every dark day--and for that the whole year has been lighter. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Happy Wednesday

Gramma Gaye arrived late last night. I finished up my work project and Max's Christmas socks. They've been washed and are laid flat to dry. I cast on for the shagged slipper socks I'm making Chris (don't click, honey) but it wasn't long before I could see that they were turning out on the huge side of massive. Chris has big feet, but this was looking like the start to a cover for my kitchaid mixer.

Now, I went the shagged slipper socks route because it's like 43 stitches around instead of 80 something around and they're on size 9 needles instead of size 0. It just seemed much more possible to finish the things for Himself who has size 12 or 14 feet or something. But with Max's socks finished, I'm now on Milo's socks. So we'll see how much I get done on his socks before bed time. If I finish his socks anytime today or tomorrow, I could, hypothetically, maybe, possibly, finish Chris' socks by Christmas. So exactly what I knit for Chris for Christmas is still up in the air. I have in my back pocket a plan C which involves finishing the snow-shoveling mittens I started for him a few weeks ago. This is an excellent plan C as the second mitten would take maybe 5 hours to complete. So if I get to noon on Christmas Eve and still have nothing for Chris, I can finish the snow-shoveling mittens.

It's just that there's no snow at all in the forecast, so it's hard to get excited about that.

Anyway, this morning the alarm went off at the usual time and I got Max in the shower and fed people and at some point decided that since Milo still sounds like a candidate for an Iron Lung and Ben's nose is starting to gush sympathetically, that neither kid would go to preschool today. Chris took Max to school and then we all went to the Waffle House for breakfast. (I have a problem exposing other preschoolers to my kids' snot and coughs--I don't have a problem taking them to the Waffle House when they are not running a fever or feeling miserable.)

After waffles, Gaye and I took the small truck and went Christmas shopping and Chris took the twins and the big truck and went home. Gaye and I hit the toy store, the kitchen store, Target, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and Barnes and Noble. I finished the last of my Christmas shopping. I think I need some nuts and candies for the stockings, that's all.

We headed home, ate some noodles with butter and salt, and now we're having quiet time. Chris went to get Max from school and take Emily to the dog park. I get to knit the rest of the afternoon and evening. Tomorrow Chris will go do the last of his shopping and I will work on my last reading lesson before break, and much productivity will ensue. But right now? Right now I'm off to take a nap.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday Night

I went to another school board meeting tonight. No decision was made. Lordy it was a LONG meeting. Like riding an emotional roller coaster, really, since we have no Plan B at this point if the school does not receive approval to add on another three grades. The item is back on the agenda for January as an action item. It had been changed to another discussion item this time. It's clear that the board has an interest in supporting us, but it's not clear yet which way they will vote.

The one thing I know for sure: I made a lot of progress on Big Foot Jr's second sock. I should get the toe finished tomorrow and move on to Milo's sock.

Let the record show I am formally griping about the size of the feet of the man I married and the children we have produced. The boy is ten years old and has feet 10 inches from heel to toe. That's just wrong.

Mr. B, the fifth-grade teacher, let it be known that he wouldn't mind it if I knit HIM a sock. I said I'd consider it if the school board approves the charter amendment.

Then I came home and counted lines in my most recent reading lesson until my eyes felt like they might bleed. Chris is looking for spelling errors. I'm going to bed. I have an insane amount of work to do tomorrow and I want so badly to be on the other side of that day because after tomorrow work gets a smidge easier with each passing day until Saturday when I am really and truly OFF for 6 days.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Things For Which I Am Grateful

In no particular order.


2. Children's motrin and Children's mucinex for Milo who came down sick last night with a fever and a bad cough. And for abuterol and pro... that other stuff if his breathing gets worse tonight/tomorrow (which, with Milo, it usually does).

3. Grown up versions of all of the above plus some powerful antibiotics for my mother-in-law who has the same problem Milo does, only she came down with it first, and because of all those nice miracle drugs, still gets to come for Christmas.

4. Church.

5. wool, needles, and some free time coming up between Christmas and New Year's

6. This year we'll have my mother AND my mother-in-law coming for Christmas. I'm grateful for that. I'm also grateful I can rent a couch for a week so we'll all have a place to sit.

7. Abundant work and the means and will to do it.

8. Good health in the other boys.

9. A clean house (for once).

10. Leftover cake in the fridge :)

and more . . .

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas Knitting Update

Okay, there is a great deal left to do, but progress has been made.

1. Ben's socks are done. Maybe I already said that. That was a few days ago, but I'm still proud of myself for ripping back half of a finished sock that had been suffering from second sock syndrome and making it bigger to match the second sock. So, one really soft, sweet pair of socks done.

2. Then I finished the first of Max's socks. It occurred to me yesterday that I started that sock not long after the Olympics were over last year. I think late March. He's grown, too--but not his heel, I had left off shortly after reaching the instep, so all I had to do on that sock was go a little longer than originally measured. My ten-year-old's foot is 10 inches from heel to toe. I am now through the cuff and into the endless stockinette before the heel. This is Barefoot Mountain Colors and it's a joy to knit with. Even at 8 stitches to the inch or so.

3. I dropped most Christmas knitting yesterday though because a good friend is turning 40 and we were throwing her a surprise party last night. I wanted to give her something knit, but she has a nice collection of hats and mittens, so I went with a felted basket, loosely based on the Mason/Dixon felted baskets. I used their method, but made a longer, taller, more narrow basket in colors I thought she would like. I didn't have it done and dry by the party, but it was in the washer in its second felting and I got the third felting done before I went to bed this morning. It's drying at her house. I didn't think to take a picture. The small amount of mohair in Lamb's Pride bulky gives it a soft halo around the whole thing. Pretty. It will be perfect for holding soaps or papers and pencils or something. Not so much for jewlery. Or velcro.

4. Next up will be Milo's sock.

5. Then a pair of I can't really say for Chris, and, if the Christmas Knitting winds are with me, a second pair for Gaye.

I have, um, 8 days and one yarn store knit-a-thon on my side. Against me are two reading lessons and a set of six math pages. I spend the rest of today cleaning and organizing. At this point it all still seems possible.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

House Tour

Here's my contribution to the house tour. First, let me begin by saying, hey, that clean living room IS part of my Christmas decorating. So, anyway, yeah, mine are kind of simple, but they're just the start. I'm not a big collector or a big hoarder, but I do plan on gradually increasing my Christmas decorations until they're just short of unbearable :)

You know, for the grandkids ;)

The front walk/yard/porch:
That's a light-up buck shaking it's head no in the background near to the porch. The long exposure makes the lights on the porch really pop, but there's garland there, too, which doesn't show up as much. There is a wreath on the front door that I don't think you can see either.

So you can't see much from the front hallway, but take a few steps in and I have this display. Here are close-ups of the bottom snowmen. And then a broader view from the other direction.

OK, from here we're in the living room and you can see the tree and the wooden advent calendar on the wall.

This is the tree skirt that we're working on. There is room for four "years" worth of artwork. You can see what we've got on there so far and I show a close up of the closing. It's really very nice.

These are the three needlepoint stockings.

Ben, Milo, and I also have needlepoint stockings, but they're all still on the stretchers waiting for me to put down the knitting needles and finish them. I swear I will do this before the twins graduate from high school. Promise. A friend actually did Max's stocking. I knit her son a mohair baby blanket--I wasn't experienced enough to know to block it, so it was lopsided and Max got the better deal. If I knew where that blanket was now, I'd properly block it and it would probably be a very nice lacey bit (it was a lace pattern--I'd made it up based on a scarf I'd knit the year before--but not working from a pattern, and this being before the days of knitting email lists and stuff--and me being on bedrest at the time--it had potential, but I didn't know how to properly finish it.) Anyway, I liked the stocking so much that I did the ones for Chris and Gaye.

To view more homes go to: BooMama

That's it for me! The laptop battery is dying and I have knitting to do. Hope you enjoyed!

Along the lines of the Ride a Bike Thing . . .

Teaching experience. Survive the first year and when you really need to know how to control a crowd of kids--you can. You can still pull out the hairy eyeball, dredge up unfeigned interest in the 2000th variation of an assignment you've were on the giving end of over after over . . .

But I'm getting ahead of myself. What happened today was that it was Thursday, the second week of December, and that meant that the day on which I had volunteered to run the class Holiday "party" by leading the class in making "gingerbread houses" (read: graham cracker houses held together with icing and loaded up with candy) had arrived.

I'd been dreading it. I'd been dreading it because my son's fifth grade teacher, who I genuinely like very much, is still a first year teacher. The classroom management needs work. Some of the kids test my patience. And this activity--it's loud. It involves buckets and buckets of sugar--the kids get a contact high just spreading the icing on the aluminim-foil-covered cardboard base. It involves buckets and buckets of candy. It sometimes involves tears when an overloaded house collapses too close to the end of the hour to do repairs. And in this case, I depended too much on the teacher to manage assigning the ingredients to the kids. It almost didn't happen. Yet, he didn't want to move the party. I was working myself up into a bonafide snit--the only thing keeping me from doing so really was that I had promised Max I would make this happen.

So, having turned in an assignment last night and being pretty much free to ignore work for a day, I got up this morning, took Max to school, came home and vented my frustrations on our yard.

Our yard was still a mess and when the rest of the neighborhood did their very last leaf rake--I was madly trying to meet my November deadlines to get us off to Indiana for thanksgiving. When we got back it was cold . . . then it kind of snowed . . . now it's freakishly warm again. So I finally got out there and raked.

But, the county program where they pick up your leaves--it ended a month ago. So get this--this is so typically Central PA--I called them and said please--and they said they'd come on over and get my leaves anyway. That CRACKS me up (and makes me glad I live here. I really appreciate compassion and mercy in a city works department).

Okay, so it was noon and I'd gotten most of the leaves into the front yard (not all, but the leaves on the other side of the swingset don't count as much) where the city works people can come get them, so I showered, whipped up 8 pounds of royal icing, covered it all with plastic wrap and wet towels, and drove over to the school.

Max's teacher was absent. He was home sick. The class was being managed by the aide and a substitute. I think the substitute has a regular job doing something else entirely in the school--like maybe she runs the extended-day program or something? (Our charter school technically runs 8:35 am to 5:30 pm, but you can pick up your kid at 3:25 if you're attached to them having a childhood or something. The longer I'm involved with the school, the more I soften towards the whole extended-day program thing. I'm getting the idea that it is both useful and fun, just as it intended to be, which is a pretty big deal. So far I haven't let Max stay because I want him to have unstructured time after school, but you know what? He doesn't. He ends up with sports or homework because of having sports later or piano lessons or something. He hardly ever gets to go find friends and play. We lost that when we lost homeschooling.)

Anyway, so the regular teacher wasn't there and somehow, that made it easier for me. The sub and the aide were pretty much waiting for me--the room was clean, a side table set up with supplies, all the desks had been covered in newspapers. I grabbed two kids from the back and they helped me bring everything in.

And then--I put on my big sunny yellow apron and stepped back in time to a million years ago before I had kids and I ran the activity just like I always had. Only with one-third the number of kids I usually had and with a better icing recipe. My old icing recipe wasn't as sticky. The kids were glad I was there, they laughed at all the places they were supposed to laugh (this lesson includes a part where they solomnly swear not to eat the icing -- or their house -- until they get home--this is important. If I let the kids eat the icing and the candy, some of them will build the house in three minutes, eat crap for five minutes--and proceed to make us all miserable for the next 52 minutes. By forbidding any actual consumption, they put a lot of effort into making a really rocking house, loading it with all the candy they want to eat later, filling the interior of the house with more candy to eat later, etc. The delayed gratification element leads to very nice houses, good photo opportunities, and no leftovers for me to deal with.

The biggest difference between then and now was that a) I got to leave as soon as it was over, b) one of those kids was mine and he gave me a big hug right there in front of his friends because the "lesson" went so well, and c) the improved icing meant no houses fell apart and noone cried. That's a bonus.

Okay, so then I went home and knit on BigFoot Junior's sock. I took Max to piano later and did all but the kitchener stitch, ran home and made every burrito's for dinner and did the toe grafting, tried it on the child and . . . perfect. Now I have to knit the second sock for him and then Milo's sock and then Chris's sock and then a sock for Gaye--all before the 25th. Is that possible? Tomorrow is the 15th. I don't know. I have to finish two more big lessons and two more small lessons between now and then, too.

Luckily, no more big kid activities. In addition to getting the Holiday party behind us, this was the last week of piano lessons before Christmas break. Next week will seem easy by comparison.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

OK, I'll Play

It's not much, but it's my home :) Check back on Friday.

Yarn Shop Raves

I love my local yarn stores, I really do. I love Stitch Your Art Out because they're so friendly and they have great taste (i.e., very similar to mine) in yarn--if a somewhat limited selection because they are in a very small space and they are also half a quilt shop. Their prices are a little higher, but not so much that you feel taken advantage of--it's just that they have to pay rent, you know. The customer service is worth it and they'll order you something they don't have in. About the only thing they really can't help you with is cobweb lace yarn. Their needle selection is limited, but they'll usually have at least one of what you need (as long as its not too obscure).

For that reason I also love Knitter's Underground. While I have had one truly unpleasant customer service experience, it was at the hands of the owner, and not her employees. (And their website is circa 1990.) They have a huge selection of yarn and their prices are superior even to most online prices (they clearly own their building). They have cobweb lace yarn in a wide variety of colors and gobs and gobs of needles--even the obscure things. They have everything, really.

But that doesn't keep me from occasionally poking around online. I follow the links other bloggers post and save them and once in a very great while, post an order for something I think Stitch won't have and don't feel like driving out to Centre Hall for (yes, I've become the kind of person who thinks a 20 minute drive is out of the way). I discovered Sarah's Yarns when I wanted to use JaggerSpun Zephyr DK, but didn't want to pay KU's retail price for enough of it to knit Chris a sweater (52 inches around with ease--actually, that was my measurement the night before I delivered the twins!). She sells JaggerSpun by the cone, charges very reasonably for shipping, and I swear if you place an order at 1am, she must get up and go package it and have at the post office when it opens. It arrives 2-3 days after I order it, every time. The price discount is so signficant, and she'll sell you part of a cone at a very reasonable cost, too. (Don't you think a scarf knit from two skeins of this would look smashing on me? I might need that yarn.)

My most recent discovery was through the Yarn Harlot's blog. She posted a link to The Loopy Ewe, and I think Claudia's Handpainted Yarns. So I followed the link to go peek and saw the colorway Carousel, which appealed to me in many ways. I bought two skeins and one is becoming a sock. It is sooooo soft and sooooo easy to knit up, that I went back and ordered two more skeins in colorway Turquoise Jeans. It is springy and soft and . . . I want more of it. Up until this point, the only other sock yarn I've used that makes me feel so smitten is Barefoot Mountain Colors. They even knit up for me at about the same gauge. Sheri at The Loopy Ewe takes care in her packaging and writes charming notes about your purchase on the back of the receipt. Her shipping is also extremely fast. (Colorway Oops makes me laugh--plus, it's pretty. I want 2 of those. Oh, and sunrise? I'll totally take two of those. I'm just throwing out ideas for whomever might not have shopped for me yet ;) )

So there you have it.

Monday, December 11, 2006


The mint fudge is cut and wrapped in plastic wrap. The peanutbutter fudge is cooked and cooling in the fridge. Tomorrow night is butterscotch fudge night.

I would have been done with Ben's Christmas socks tonight, but . . . I ran into a very real problem when knitting for 5-yr-olds. They grow. I finished the first sock in this pair back in the spring and then it fell victim to a classic case of second-sock syndrome. I also wasn't wild about the way the heel turned out. I felt that when I turned the heel. I should have started out with more stitches--that the bottom was too narrow. But the sock was done and I wasn't ripping back.

Well, I hadn't kept any notes about how I'd made the first sock, and I wasn't really following a pattern--they're your basic socks, that's all. So I ran into two problems as I was coming into the homestretch on the second sock. The first was that I realized in measuring Ben's feet that my intended goal was now at least a half-inch longer than it was before. The second was that somehow the second sock was wider in the instep than the first sock. It's unlikely, although possible, that my grip on the yarn has relaxed that much. It's much more likely that the first sock was knit on 0's and the second sock knit on 1's (I know for a fact that the second sock is being knit on 1's :)

So I pulled out my scissors and did the right thing. I chopped the toe off, ripped back to the heel, put the stitches on size 1 needles, (discovered that I'd used reinforcing string for the first sock, too. Ooh, now you tell me. Well, too late. The second sock will just get a hole earlier than the first sock.) and re-turned the heel, picked up stitches again, continued on with the instep again. The good news is that now I don't have to hold back on the length of the second sock either. I can give Ben the full half inch and then a smidge. The socks will fit long enough for him to wear some holes in them, and they will be comfortable enough that he will want a second pair of socks eventually.

I spent the first half of the day cleaning my office. I'd let it fall into its usual state of chaos during November and when I got back from vacation I sort of camped on top of the mess for a week--then retreated to the upstairs to work. Well, this morning was Carpet Cleaner Guy Day so I had to move back downstairs and let him try to salvage my carpet. I have a bunch of work due that I'm not exactly speeding through, so I started by getting a large trashbag and reclaiming my work space. It took a few hours, but at least work is going more smoothly since I can find the right piece of paper as I work.

Now, between the clean desk, the picked-up downstairs, the picked-up upstairs and cleaned carpet, the house isn't looking bad. Let's see if we can keep it this way for a week.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


You know, diet Red Bull is really dangerous/amazing stuff.

This is how today went. First, I slept in until 9:30ish. I walked the dog, fed the dog, counted the boys (all accounted for), took a shower . . . and went back to bed for, oh, another hour. Until Ben came along demanding I really do something about the day. Milo had come along right before him, but I'd succeeded in putting him off for another ten minutes. Not Ben.

So. Up and at 'em. At eleven, or so. I worked on a sock heel for awhile, while verbally coaching the twins through the riggors of dressing themselves. Max was getting himself dressed at two or three. With the twins it was just SO much faster and easier to either a) dress them myself or b) let them wear jammies all day. Ben is morally opposed to dressing himself and Milo didn't have an opinion on the matter until recently when there is, as far as he is concerned, nothing he can't do for himself (including driving, retrieving casseroles from the oven, lighting candles, etc. You can't leave this one alone for long right now). So on the one hand I have Ben who thinks I ought I to dress him myself and Milo who changes his own underwear four times a day. (How fastidious, I know, but the laundry ramifications are staggering.)

Once the twinks were dressed I headed off to Wegmans to do a big grocery shopping trip. This was kinda sorta successful. The "I'll do it myself" phase is tiring and constantly flirts with the edge of rudeness and when they're both in it, well, I get snippy. "You MAY push your own cart, but NOT over my FOOT!"

Then, I had no list (I know!) so mentally I'm trying to think of nutritious, easy-to-cook things for us to eat and then go buy the ingredients. But the reason I hadn't made a list is because I'm just sort of uninspired in the kitchen right now and nothing sounds good anyway. Nothing. So I guess we're going to eat a lot of burritos and sandwiches and chili and macaroni and cheese with hamburger and that kind of thing. At the same time, we're planning on mailing out the first batch of Christmas presents this week so I was mentally going over the ingredient list and I'm sure I bought way too much stuff for fudge, but the fudge should be good this year, anyway.

Eventually the cart was full and I decided to quit while I was ahead. I went to pay.

My cashier's name was Emily and Emily has made up her mind to win today's little competition among the Wegman's cashiers. Apparently the store is equipped for curbside pickup but the program had fallen into disuse. Some manager had noticed that even the little old ladies were pushing their carts out into the 10 degree night the other night and thought, "Wait a minute . . ." so they gathered all the cashiers together, explained what curbside pick up was and how it works, and offered some incentive to the cashier that could get the most of their customers to use it.

At this point Ben and Milo were flirting with the "naughty" list--enough so that I had them sit down on the Wegmans floor just to keep them in sight while I was unloading the cart. So I accepted the curbside pick up offer and made Emily very happy (this put her in first place in the competition). It was at this point that I bought and drank the diet Red Bull.

When I got home I grabbed five bags and let Chris bring the rest in.

I (FINALLY) did the weather proofing of the big window in the kitchen. I'd been procrastinating on this window because a) it is so big b) it needed washing inside and out and there are literally three layers of window panes in the two side panels and c) the sheer curtains that hang over the window needed washing, too. But thanks to the Red Bull, the windows are washed, the curtains are washed and rehung (including me finally uninstalling the old blinds that were above that window--only blinds and small children creep me out, so we never use them--and then I unscrewed all the related hardware and installed new hardware to better place the curtains. You can see why I'd been putting this project off.) I replaced the burned out light bulb above the sink and washed those curtains, too.

We had Wegmans pizza for dinner and I worked on the Christmas packages and did the first batch of fudge. The carpet cleaner is coming in the morning, so now that I have dutifully blogged, I get to take the very last bit of energy from the diet Red Bull and finish cleaning the living room so that the carpet cleaner can get at everything.

Then I'm going to crash. Tomorrow I have LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of workwork to do, and the same with Tuesday, and then for most of the next two weeks I have equal parts work and holiday cooking/cleaning to do. Our first guest arrives on the 19th and our last leaves on January 5th, and it looks like our Christmas packages will get out in time--so I'm happy. Life is good. (And I have three more diet Red Bull's in the fridge.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Belated Yay

Today was Chris' birthday and we celebrated in typical understated style with a breakfast together at the Waffle House and then a dinner tonight of "a few of his favorite things" including honey-baked ham, potatoes au gratin, mashed potatoes, corn, cake, and Moose Tracks ice cream.

I got a long-anticipated check and just in the nick of time as the tires on the Expedition have been wheezing and giving long drawn out threats of dying--but I never believe my vehicle tires when they say they're dying. I give them long speeches about stiff upper lips and holding out a few more months and am forever surprised when that does no good. We spent the last ten days constantly administering CPR to the right rear tire and it was with great relief today that Chris refilled it with air for the last time and drove it across town to Sam's club where I wrote an obscenely large check to get four new tires for the Expedition.

It's like 15 times more expensive to get tires for the Expedition than for the Toyota pickup.

Of course when we were done I was reminded of why I liked the truck to begin with. With proper tires I was at about the seating height of a semi-truck and I like that when I'm driving. (Yes, yes, I know I'm killing the ozone and JUST as soon as I'm out from under this loan I'll trade it in for something more fuel efficient. But right now I'm too upside down thanks to buying it in VERY EXPENSIVE zip code and then moving to very cheap zip code.) I spent the same amount on my tires as the amount I have budgeted for ALL Christmas spending. ouch.

My to-do list for tomorrow:

1. Clean and tidy upstairs AGAIN
2. Finish baby sweater
3. Get all three boys to piano recital in decent clothing
4. Get all three boys through piano recital.
5. Go home, climb back into pjs, make serious progress on reading lesson

It's really freakin' cold here. Tomorrow it starts warming up again to impossible temperatures. Global warming is so wrong.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Run, Run Rudolph

Today, instead of earning a good living, I worked all day on the Rudolph mittens. In part so I could be done with them and move on to the Christmas presents. In part because it's supposed to be so freakin' cold tomorrow and I wanted my kid to have mittens. Since he's ten, I imagine this will be the last year he requests character mittens of any sort. Don't make fun of my stitching--I don't really have a lot of stitching experience and I was winging it. This is 100% my own pattern ;)


What to work on first? One of the five pairs of socks? There is something intimidating about knowing that we are, um, 17 days from Christmas and virtually everything I hope to finish by that day is on size 1 or 2 needles.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Nice, Quiet Week

I have a lot of work.

But not too much.

And I have a lot of knitting. Really, way too much knitting, but that's not a bad thing. I'll get done what I get done. Today I finished the second baby hat and those will go out in the mail tomorrow. No pompoms on either hat. Off to work on Max's second reindeer mitten. I promise I'll take photos of those when they're done.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Will Ya Look At That . . .

I went to a (avoids the obvious searchable terms) meeting of the elected people who make big decisions in a school district tonight for the purpose of supporting our charter school in their application to add sixth through eighth grades to the charter. This is pretty important to me because, frankly, going back to homeschooling is more appealing to me than sending junior to the middle school (even though we live in the part of the district where the kids would go to the pretty new middle school with the good parking instead of the old middle school with the nearly nonexistant parking). Well, going back to homeschooling in general is appealing to me. It's just that people have limits and working full time, caring for the twins, and homeschooling all at the same time was aging me like a super hero getting all their powers sucked out of them in a Saturday morning cartoon. I would have preferred to keep on homeschooling, but sometimes you don't get to do what you want.

So anyway, lots riding on this school getting 6th grade.

Principal submits application to group of elected people. Some of group is new I think. There has been big bru-haha in our district over funding for an extraordinarily large project and the way the board handled criticism related to it or something and in most recent election some members were up for reelection and I'm not sure, but . . . some of the elected members looked like they were still learning the ropes. So they were probably new. Initial reaction was not positive on the part of two elected members. No real input from most of group. Enthusiastic support from one elected member. Closer to neutral but not really opposed to anything on the part of one other elected member.

It looked BAD. But our principal didn't wilt. He commented that it was okay if they turned us down flatout because we'd be right back with a new proposal that addressed the comments of the negative elected members. Not in a snake head kind of way--our principal is not from around here (here, as in, this hemisphere) and they don't snake head where he comes from. They're quietly polite and determined and that was him. He also mentioned that he himself is the parent of a fifth grader (the group with the most to lose if we "go away and come back in five years" like they wanted) and that . . . that changed something. That made him suddenly less a representative of "the school" and more "the first of the parents that you will hear from tonight" and indeed one of the elected members used that to start inviting "some of the parents who are here tonight" to speak.

And we did. We each got five minutes. And even the ESL parents were compelling in their testiomony. The first speaker never mentioned that she is also the PAC president (like PTO), but she did tell the elected group exactly what it's like for a kid who graduates from the school and returns to the regular public middle school--they lose all their language (we have Chinese and Spanish every day at every grade) because the middle school can't accomodate the kids. I spoke, too. I don't really remember what I said, but I was the last or second to last to speak and I made them laugh and then made my point and then I sat down.

And something wonderful happened. One of the elected members who hadn't said anything at all said a rather emphatic word of support. He said he heard us and he heard that we needed something the school district doesn't have right now. And other elected members agreed. And the whole situation changed. A bunch of parents stood up and said what they could to change the elected members minds--and minds were changed. At one point one of the parents who was speaking her five minutes paused in what she was saying and asked that everyone in the audience who was there just to support the charter school stand up, just so that the board could see. And it was a good size audience. And maybe half of the audience stood. I'm not really sure (I was in the front, so most people were behind me). That was maybe one of the turning points. But I think mostly it was just a little bit of everything that each person said.

And it was just a really amazing thing to see. It really looked bad. And then a bunch of people stood up and said, "You have to reconsider this. This is really important. We really care about this." And so they did. They're reconsidering it. I don't know the outcome, and I lean towards the cynical on things like this, but . . . I'm glad I went to the meeting and stood up and spoke. That's all I'm saying.

To Pom Pom or not to Pom Pom

I don't know how to set up a poll, so please respond in comments.

This little hat is for a baby boy who didn't get the "Please wait forty weeks for entry" memo and came at 32-ish weeks. He is now, I think, three or four weeks old. He's exceeded birth weight and is a hefty 6 lbs, 1 oz. I expect to hear he's heading home with mama any day. So, does the hat need a pom pom?

The hat isn't as pointy as it looks in the picture. Chris' hand is wider than the diameter of the baby's head, so . . .