Saturday, June 30, 2007

I am NOT avoiding work!

Who is Your Jane Austen Boyfriend/Husband?
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Your husband/boyfriend is Captain Wentworth of Persuasion, who some believe to be the most romantic of Austen's heroes. He is entertaining, yet he will always come to your aid before you even need to ask. Prone to jealousy, you can be certain he will protect you. The two of you have an active, endearing relationship that stands the test of time.

Well, now I want to read Persuasion again. You know, in all of my free time. Or maybe it's a BBC movie and Chris can just netflix it for us.

What's On My Desk Right Now?

My desk is a jumble of little piles. I only cleaned it off two days ago, but so much grows right back.

1. A small pile of items to be filed, or things I need to do something with later. There's a copy of an email to the architecture department at Penn State proposing that they work with our school on designing a new, different playground. There's a flyer on the Fourth of July apple pie contest with a $100 first-place prize.

2. A larger pile of ancient civilization and medieval topics. I'm working on a high-school math project for 9th graders and I needed some inspiration for word problems. On top of this are the July and August budgets, now covered in scribbled notes.

3. A skein of 2nd time cotton wound into a ball, being knit up into a dishcloth when I need to do a row or two to think or the phone rings or something.

4. A craft box with the Gothic Leaf Stole bits in it. Three skeins of JaggerSpun Zephyr in Juniper and a lot of little gold beads. It's just there for motivation to work faster in case I can actually find some time to knit on it. I haven't had time in days, so I'm feeling kind of desperate at this point.

5. A cup with a spoon in it--breakfast from two days ago.

6. A hair brush.

7. A small clock that was a thank-you gift from YSCP for being the PAC Secretary this year.

8. My car keys

9. My "Flop-a-dex"

10. My laptop, the phone, a small desk lamp, a set of walkie-talkies in the charger, an Epson Stylus C88+ printer, an HP DVD burner, a ball winder.

11. Another skein of dishcloth yarn, just waiting

12. a rattle my nephew left behind. Waiting for me to find a box and mail it with his birthday present which I finished two weeks before his birthday--which was three weeks ago. I'm awful at the mailing thing. I'd really wanted to finish it the day he was here so this wouldn't happen . . . but it didn't happen.

13. Three smaller piles of papers related to the high-school math project and a reference book on algebra.

14. A small pile of papers related to the middle-school math project I'm also working on, but not today. I peek under that and find Story of the World 1.

15. A bottle of Gold Bond Body Lotion for my hands which get dry.

16. An email from a Penn State professor with instructions on how to take samples of my sick tomatoes and get them to him for testing.

17. A tiny stapler, a small jump drive, two highlighters, two black Vis-a-Vis markers (for the wipe-off calender over my desk), a purple ball-point pen that really writes in black, an orange peeler, a pile of letters waiting to be mailed, my check book, and a small pile of "Computer Chips"--little 1-hr coupons that the kids use to "buy" time on the old laptop.

18. A clipboard with the blueberry orders on it.

19. A Centre Daily Times paper from Thursday that I haven't read yet, but still intend to.

20. A Children's Dictionary

21. A diet coke

My mother-in-law's home is under contract. The closing date is less than three weeks away. Chris is flying out there in less than two weeks and will be gone for a little over two weeks. We're thrilled that her house has sold and are looking forward to getting her settled in soon.

And now I'm off to print out a blank meal plan, come up with a grocery list and take the twinks with me to go get some FOOD.

Monday, June 25, 2007

"You Should Blog"

"I don't know what to blog about."
"You could blog about your husband."

I thought, "I don't need to blog about my husband. My husband has his own blog." But then I thought, okay, wait, sure.

Two of the best things about today: 1) I emptied the dishwasher intending to fill it back up again but then got side tracked and the next thing I knew he was in there filling it. Yay! 2) I was having a crummy evening trying to get the budgets to work and he took his change jar and went and bought me a Meyer's Dairy milkshake. It helped.

We had a very interesting Sunday morning. It was to be a joint meeting of the University Ward and State College Ward--no Sunday school or anything--and a potluck afterwards. I thought that was pretty interesting but never suspected a thing. Apparently 19 years of membership (9 active) have taught me nothing, but in my defense, I've seemed always to arrive shortly after or left shortly before a reorganization. I've never actually been through one.

But now I have. >Poof< We've gone from State College Ward and University Ward to State College First Ward and State College Second Ward and a new University Branch that is for singles and young marrieds with no children.


They're going to build a new Chapel downtown. THAT is exciting. But not right away. Three years or so, they were saying.

So, there are all sorts of ripples related to this. The first is that boy scouts is now on Wednesday night instead of Tuesday night, which is GREAT news as far as I'm concerned because everything in this town seems to happen on a Tuesday afternoon or evening and then Max doesn't get to bed until like 10:30 and he acts up in school on Wednesday. So maybe this will help that.

The second is that virtually everyone is released from their callings and then will get recalled to do something new and I'm thinking that maybe my nice cushy calling as Food Storage person might be toast soon. Justpleasedon'tputmeinthenursery. I promise I'll answer my phone this week as long as Idon'tendupinthenursery! The babies cry. It makes ME cry. They cry MORE! It would be a bad idea.

They're doing their best to try to keep the teens from both wards together though. I think it's one of our more lightly populated age groups. So for example, the boy scouts will continue to be a joint-ward thing. I think.

We are in State College First Ward, and we get to keep the 9am slot for 6 more months. (Little aside for all the readers who aren't LDS--when more than one ward shares a building, one gets the AM slot and one gets the PM slot, and sometimes there are even three wards and it's AM, noon, and 3:30 slot. That's the worst because then even the AM slot is toooo early. Anyway, come January first, the two wards flip, so noone is stuck with the bad time for more than a year. Which time is bad depends on the age of your kids. If you have teens, it's way easier to get them to church for the noon slot. If you have littles they're cranky little critters in the afternoon and you want the morning slot. I prefer the morning slot myself.) Chris was with us this past Sunday, thank GOODNESS, because the meeting was nearly two hours in length. You had the normal Sacrament--only with people spilling far into the basketball courts. And then the Stake President's speech about the reorganization. Then releasing and calling three different Bishoprics (or two and a Branch Presidency) and then all of their testimonies. The twinks were awesome during the whole thing, managing somehow to stay far more quiet than half the kids around us (we were in the basketball court with the big families who couldn't get themselves there a half hour early to get a pew seat) but they were WIGGLY. And as long as they could hop on to our laps, hop off, and hop onto to the other parent's lap--rinse, repeat--they could be quiet. So how Chris managed to not die of boredom (or confusion) during this whole meeting, I don't know, but he didn't and because he was there, I got to hear most of it instead of herding my twin cats through the whole thing.

I love him.

So, now I'm off to bed. I need to get up early to go water the plants and then get to workwork. I'm grateful for all the workwork, but it does let the weedsweeds get ahead. Maybe tomorrow I'll remember the camera so you can all see how well the weeds tomatoes are doing. Well, honestly, both of them. The weeds and tomatoes. Both doing well.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Meant to Blog, I Did!

But oh my heavens with Life cereal on top, I have been working. I have been working and working and working and working!


We're still horribly broke, but the first invoice has been turned in and two more will be turned in later this week and in another, oh, 8 weeks or so, things will be much better.

Let me see, what has happened since 8 days ago?

Swim Practice began. The twins were not ready. Ben especially was not ready. They were very, very close to being ready--but when it comes to this swimming business--well, it's a growth thing. And growth happens unevenly. And they have hit a sort of plateau, being very good at swimming about ten to fifteen feet--and that's it. So swimming from one side of the pool to the other (which is what it takes to stay on the swim team) wasn't happening. The team was giving them the chance to figure it out, but after yesterday's practice, I pulled the plug on that. They'll be ready next summer. That will have to be soon enough.

Wednesday evening was my monthly knitting class. I went and showed off the Shetland Garden Shawl. That was fun :) Then I went home and worked some more. On Thursday I pulled off all sorts of miracles including, but not limited to, some work deadlines and compiling a 5 page list of local agricultural sources. This has been a big hit. Which reminds me, I need to go through my old email and send the finished list to all the freecyclers who helped me with it (that was a total accident actually, me spamming the freecycling board for info--it got me on moderated status and I felt like a total dweeb because I thought for SURE I'd sent it to a different local swap board where sales and info requests are allowed. I apologized profusely to the moderator and told him I didn't blame him at all for moderating me and I was soooo sorry--which I really was--and he responded with a list of like 20 local agricultural places just because I was taking the moderated status thing so well. IS THAT NOT TOTALLY SWEET?)

There are so many good people in the world.

But I digress. Back to me. On Friday we did swim practice and then I worked and then in the evening we drove out to meet this woman who raises and sells goats for meat. I was picking up some freecycled plastic bucket-type things from her to give to the Community Gardens (because it's been so hot and dry and most folks stop by to schlep water to their gardens before work, so they're mostly all there at the same time--except me. I never make it out there that early now that school is out.) And that was very exciting because one of the mama goats had had twins two days before, so we got to MEET the two-day old baby goats and they were SO cute you just couldn't stand it.

Ben got to name them--Sally and Amy. They were both girls. And they did exactly what you expected a baby goat to do--they climbed up on top of things and then jumped down. Over and over and over again. If I'd known, I'd have brought my film camera and then you could all see it and ooooh and aaaaah over Sally and Amy.

Then I went home and spent two hours trying to get those buckets clean because the last thing they had carried was MILK and that was a few weeks ago and they hadn't been rinsed out. This was quite the job (because they are like gigantic milk jugs with those hollow handles).

On Saturday I worked from 7am to 11:30am straight in the community garden. The CG has a "board" that does "weed checks" every three weeks. They're kind of like the garden's HOA. It had been two weeks or so since I had last put in more than a half-hour of weeding and we got a little rain and lots of heat and the weeds--the weeds were consuming my garden at an alarming rate. So I spent four hours weeding and pruning (33 indeterminate tomato plants = a LOT of suckers. This could have been worse though. I'd been staying on top of the suckers so there was just the normal amount.) and watering and then I went home and . . . worked some more. I worked until midnight or so and then went to bed.

And then it was Sunday and Father's Day, so we went to church and came home and knit and read books and just generally hung out. We went to bed at some reasonable hour so I could . . .

get up at 4am on Monday to finish the work that was due Monday morning. I did this, then napped for an hour and a half and got up again to finish the work that was due Tuesday morning. Because I'd already worked one 7-hour shift, it felt like a whole second day was shoved into yesterday's Monday. Very odd, but it worked.

Today was supposed to be another productive work day, but it wasn't. There was swim practice and then I took the twins to get flip flops at Wal-mart, (primarily because something or someone has eaten all of their socks. I can't find any of them. So I had a choice, buy lots of socks or flipflops and the flipflops are cheaper. $1.68 or something) and then we went to the garden to water the stressed-out plants--which just always takes longer than you think it will.

We ran home and I got about an hour of work done, but I had PROMISED the kids I would stop working long enough to take them to Whipple Dam since it was a second day of 90 degree temps and so . . . I had to do that. We went and the kids were mad when I wanted to go home after two hours--but I honestly couldn't take any more sun. (I can't find my hat.) From there we went home, I worked for another hour, and then it was off to the practice swim meet. We made it through warm-ups (the twins played with some of the other young siblings) and then it started thundering. Well, Max was going to miss the second half of the meet anyway for boyscouts, and the thunder meant an automatic 20 minute delay and I looked at the sky . . . and packed up. There was a mom with her 19-month-old twins there (she has two other littles, too. Her big kid is maybe 6 or 7.) and I told her frankly that I though it would downpour soon. I felt kind of bad as I was leaving, because they were leaving too, and I worried "What if I was wrong?" but then 20 minutes later when the rain was so heavy you couldn't see a quarter mile up the road, I felt just fine about it.

I took Max to scouts a little early. We sat in the parking lot until everyone else (including Chris, the Weblos leader, and my hubby. That is, he is my hubby and the Weblos leader) showed up.

Now here we all are, back at home and I have to (you guessed it) go work now, but before I did that I thought, "I'd better blog before someone sends out the police to check on me." And so, I did.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl

Editing to add the specs:

This is the Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl by Sivia Harding. You can get her designs from local yarn stores or directly from her site. It took me over a year to finish it, but that's really only about 7 weeks of true knitting time. Most of it goes really fast until you get to that final chart. Also, you'll think you're going to have all this leftover yarn and then chart G just gobbles it up.

The yarn is from Skaska designs ( It's a hand-painted 45/55 cashmere/silk. This is what it looked like when it arrived from Galina.

The beads are from Michael's--Blue Moon beads size 6/0. I think I used two full tubes. The beads aren't in the design. I just decided where I wanted them and added them myself. I used the crochet hook method.

I like it, but if I had it to do over again, I'd drop down to size 3 needles to make the solid parts read more solid. Or maybe I'd use heavier yarn. I don't know. This was only the second piece of lace I've attempted and I started it well before finishing the first piece--so I didn't know to swatch and block lace. I thought gauge "wasn't important" for lace :) Well, I'm not sure it IS
important, but it is important to know how the yarn will behave and it it's going to look the way you want it to. So! Lesson learned.

I don't know . . . all that said, I'm pretty pleased with it. It's fabulously light. The beads add very little weight--but they do prevent me from trying to pass the shawl through my wedding ring :)

Here it is, completed, unblocked.


Modeled by me

On the cherry tree

Close up of some of the beadwork

Emily, reenacting the scene from Sound of Music: "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" New title upon reading the comments: "Madonna Poodle"

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday Evening Post

This morning we all took ourselves to church and had a very nice morning of it. For once we weren't in a huge hurry and didn't arrive a few minutes late. It means so much to me that we were all there. And I had to admit this morning, as I looked around at my fellow church-goers--we have reached that point where we have it fairly easy. We have no babes in arms--just the occasional kindergardener-in-lap. No one cried, or threw a fit, or tried to take a fistful of bread from the Sacrament tray. There was noone to take to nursery, and noone to take with us because they were too young for nursery. Max took himself off to Sunday school and the twins only put up a token fuss about going to Primary (although Milo managed to escape from his classroom for about ten minutes around 11:30).

After we got back home we had sandwiches and I settled in with the Shetland shawl to do the last few rows--but it was 437 stitches (or so) per row and 6 rows of garter stitch. As much as I was eager to finish, I was soooo sleepy . . . . zzzzz. I took a nap. Woke up and kept knitting. Casting off took forever. Around 7:30 or so, I was done. We took a picture of it unblocked (nothing much to look at) and then I washed it WELL as it had traveled in many a knitting bag and frankly, the neck portion of it already looked dingy to me. I spent another hour blocking it (I soon grasped how blocking wires would have helped this effort--but I don't have any. So instead I used a couple million blocking pins.) and tomorrow I'll have some photos of it done.

And now, I'm going to settle down to unwind for a few minutes with the garter-stitch afghan. I didn't like how it was turning out and I hadn't knit on it in forever, so the other day I took scissors to it (the yarn is mohair-like in its fluffiness and didn't want to rip back easily, besides, I'd been weaving in the ends as I went AND we're really only talking about 6 to 8 inches of work on size 19 60" needles. It was maybe half a skein of yarn I tossed.) picked up the stitches again, rewound the rest of the ball of yarn that had fallen apart in the knitting bag over the past few months, and started again. The yarn is kind of pumpkin colored and the idea I had to have random stripes of green shot here and there through the blanket wasn't working. So I cut back far enough to cut out all of the green. I'll continue on again with just the pumpkin until it's big enough or I'm out of pumpkin--then do a bottom border of green and call it done.

Still, it's GOBS of garter stitch and I don't really expect to finish the blanket for a very, very long time.

After a couple of weeks of that shawl though, an hour of garter stitch sounds perfect.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Word from my Publicist

Before the rumors get too outrageous, I would like to clarify what did and did not happen to my client last night. First of all, the rumors of drugs and alcohol involved are absolutely not true. Besides the obvious issue that Alaska doesn't indulge in those items, and the fact that those items would not be allowed on school grounds, there's also the obvious truth that had those items been involved, Alaska would have been out cold (having no tolerance) and it wouldn't have been possible for what transpired to occur anyway.

At any rate, we reluctantly confirm that it is true that in the absence of anyone else at all stepping up to the plate, my client did accept the nomination and unanimous vote of the 6 other parents at the meeting, making her the PAC (like PTO) president of the charter school for 2007-2008.

She acknowledges that her intention to go EXPRESSLY to make sure that DIDN'T happen, backfired, and she has entered a rehabilitation facility designed to help her get back on the "Just say NO" wagon as soon as possible. She thanks her fans for their sincere prayers for the recovery of her sanity and vows that her new responsibilities will NOT require her to double or triple up her anti-anxiety medication at this time. Please respect her privacy while she works with her therapist to answer the only question still unanswered from last night's chaos, "Good Heavens, WHAT kind of a dweeb AM I?!?"

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

"Dad, this is a very sensitive subject." --Trey Smith

Max is going through a spiritual growth spurt. This is totally new to me. Up until this point my kids have been young enough that everything they got from church or me or Saturday morning cartoons was assimilated in the way of a child. They try to remember the stories or the songs and they argue back and forth over who was responsible for the rain (because they both prayed for rain and they're both sure that God made it rain because THEY asked for it), but they're young.

What Max is saying and doing--it's not like that. His own Faith, germinating all this time, has sprouted. It is young, it is tender, it is humbling. I hesitate to write much further about this because it feels like . . . it belongs to him. Where every aspect of Ben and Milo's life is still mine as well--and therefore fodder for the blog, my not-so-little preteen has things he thinks and feels and does that seem to belong entirely to him and are therefore not blog fodder.

But I can blog my reaction. I can say that seeing his Faith sprout lends new energy to mine. And I feel responsible for providing his Faith the best possible soil in which to grow. I feel it's even more important to model what I would hope for him--prayer, scripture study, and that level of entanglement with the activities of the church that is both a burden and a gift.

I think the emotions in parenting are somewhat similar to the emotions in a marriage. You go through periods when it's very difficult and you persevere out of a blind stubbornness or gritty determination and then there are periods where things are calm and you get into a sweet, contented rut, and then there are periods where you are falling in love all over again. You miss them when they're gone from the house on a Tuesday afternoon. You think everything they say is clever and funny. You feel slightly sorry for the other wives and moms who don't have your husband/child. When you're married with three kids, you can feel all of these feelings at once depending on which family member you're talking about. Right now I'm pretty happy with the whole gang.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Countdown to Summer Vacation

There are four days of school left. I don't know if I'm going to get my shawl done in time or not for the Thursday evening shindig. Ben and Milo are on summer vacation and Max desperately wants to be. I told him today that if he offered to bring in a movie for the class to watch that I was pretty sure his teacher would say yes. He did. The teacher did. What can I say? I know my peeps. They have fifteen tons of paperwork to complete and a lot of books to pack up. Max could probably run a Pixar Studios retrospective festival for the rest of the week with his teacher's blessing.

After I dropped off Max I ran over to the big garden to put up some tomato stakes after finding my stash from last year. I tied up the half dozen or so that were really in need of staking and then picked another few that looked like they were on the verge of tipping over. I had to admit that all the plants were looking gorgeous from all the rain we've been getting. More corn is coming up. The Big garden is planted and there's nothing left to do but weed, water as needed, prune suckers, and wait. While I was at the garden I decided to put an end to my tomato-addiction denial and count the plants.

Thirty-six. I have thirty-six tomato plants, including two varieties of cherry tomatoes. Charlotte and Connie--I hope we're still planning on a canning weekend somewhere. It's possible I might have a few extra (bushels of) tomatoes this year.

I didn't count the peppers yet. Too many of them are still too short for me to think they're actually going to produce anything. We'll see.

Where was I? Oh yes, the rest of the day was work and email mostly and a little bit of dishes and cleaning the kitchen. In the middle of it all were the twins who seemed intent on making sure that I got a kiss or a hug or a "I love you, Mom" frequently throughout the day. I'm such a lucky mom.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sunday Evening

Today the plant lady delivered plant orders to the community garden, so after church the kids and I changed into our gardening clothes and hurried over to the garden. We arrived just as she was unloading trays of plants from the back of her SUV. She had for us 2 each of Amish Paste, San Marzano, and Polish Linguisa tomatoes. She had 3 Mr. Stripeys one 4-pack of muskmelons and one 4-pack of watermelons for us.

Watermelons and muskmelons take up a lot of space, so I'd been saving them an entire section of the garden, even knowing that the melons will probably end up wandering into the other sections before the end of the summer if we let them. We planted two of each in the community garden and then two more of the muskmelons back at home and one more of the watermelons back at home. That gives us two varieties of watermelons. Hopefully this year we'll get ripe watermelons out of that. Last year we never did. My remaining watermelon plant is going to Jill to put in her backyard. It will be her first attempt at growing something edible in her backyard here.

The remaining tomato plants are all doing very well now--thriving now that the heat is here to stay. My bean plants at the community garden are doing beautifully--which is a relief since bean beetles have turned the ones I have in the front yard into lace. I haven't given up on the front-yard beans but it's good to have the ones at the community garden as backup.

We brought one of the Mr. Stripey's home to the front-yard garden and the rest filled in the remaining spaces in the community garden. Now to find, oh, 20 or so tomato cages. I did get 8 today from freecycle, but I think they're all far too small and they are so covered in rust that I'm reluctant to press them into service until I can get some steel wool. I picked them up anyway because they might be useful for some of the smaller tomato plants. I don't have any way of knowing how big they'll all get since so many of the varieties are new to me. I figure anything that desperately needs support today will eventually outgrow a small cage. But there are quite a few that are still pretty small.

We also replaced the dead peppers with new hot peppers and one new bell pepper. The remaining peppers are gradually regaining all the growth they lost during the cold snaps and I couldn't bring myself to pull up but one of those. The rest are fighting back valiently and anyway, hot peppers don't cost much in August. So it's a gamble worth taking. (I really hope the sweet peppers do well though. They're nearly $4 a lb right now at the grocery store.)

Yesterday we celebrated Max's 11th birthday. He had some friends over to play, then we ate home-made pizza and store-bought ice cream cake and then I took them to the pool where it was "free swim" day. Everyone had a great time, including Milo who ate too much cake and threw up a bit in the pool. This should have created a lot of drama--but somehow didn't. It had all disappeared into the filter or something by the time the clean-up crew arrived and everyone carried on as if it hadn't happened. I made Milo sit out for ten minutes, but then let him go back swimming. He wasn't sick--just had too much ice cream and went swimming right away.

Max got to pick dinner today, so we had pork chops with green beans and mashed potatoes and gravy. Yum. We had an early dinner and then a very relaxing afternoon/evening. The phone--and therefore the internet--had cut out after a few rumbles of thunder (I swear they do it out of habit) and so I knit and Chris read his books and the kids played. Now everyone is in bed and Chris and I are just trying to stay up long enough to prove we still can and then will crash into bed ourselves.

Tomorrow it's back to work for all of us except the twins--Ben and Milo are on summer vacation until September now. Max has one last week of school. I have ordinary amounts of work to do (doesn't look like the legal position will come to fruition--apparently they've decided to keep the office the way it is for now--no new position) and want to finish this shawl by Wednesday evening so I can wear it to Max's school's end-of-year celebration Thursday evening. So maybe there will be some good knitting photos later in the week.

So my baby is eleven. I'm so proud of him :) He's just a good kid.