Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Balloons and pretty plates from the party store ...

Presents carefully chosen with the birthday girl in mind (WB--who continues to be VERY SPECIFIC when gift shopping--announced that she was going to get her sister a "ball gown, with sparkles".  No ballgowns in our local TJ Maxx, so after a thorough examination of the available options, she chose a floor-length, striped sundress) ...

A dinner of lasagna and Caesar salad ...

Cake, candles, and "Happy Birthday" sung in her honor for the 18th time ...

And this laughing cherub is officially an adult.

It's true, what they say: the days go slow, but the years go fast.

Happy birthday, sweetheart!


Friday, March 14, 2014

Be Prepared

I let my guard down, you see.

There was a time, not so long ago, when I never left the house without a sock-in-progress in my purse. With the kids getting older I've been spending less time hanging out while they're in their activities, and more importantly, we've been enjoying a run of relative good health, which means less time spent in doctor's offices and waiting rooms. Not long ago, I was finishing a pair or more every month, but these socks, cast on in September 2013, weren't finished until last month.

I thought about starting a new pair right away, but never quite got around to it. These days, if I find myself with time on my hands, it is just as easy to pass the time by hopping on my phone to check email or Facebook.  I planned to start a new pair, I just felt there was no hurry to do so.

Which is why, when Her Ladyship got sick at The Lego Movie two weeks ago—after they stopped the movie, after the ambulance took her to the hospital, after my phone died, after things calmed down and B took the younger two home, leaving Her Ladyship and me to wait for her to be discharged, after I was able to exhale—I stood next to her gurney in the emergency department hallway, my fingers itching, and thought, "Man, I need a sock." 

I cast on as soon as we got home, and had things well underway before her first follow-up appointment. Within a week, I was about to round the heel of sock #2.

These socks did not go smoothly—first I got all the way to the heel before realizing that I had an extra stitch on the needle (yes, I could have just knit two together and continued on, but I would have known that there was an extra stitch in there, and this was not a week in which that was an acceptable way forward), then, not five rows after I finished the heel on sock #2, I found a knot in the yarn. Determined that these socks would not be the boss of me, and that they WOULD be done in time for Eldest (the recipient)  to take them back with him when his break ended, I cut the knot and kept going. The finished socks don't match, which is vexing (I like for SOME things to be within my control), but Eldest doesn't mind, and I am trying to think of it as an exercise in letting go.

The last few weeks have been chock full of tests, appointments and meetings, so Eldest's socks were off my needles before Her Ladyship's final test, an MRI scheduled for this past Sunday. I was pretty ticked off when I found the knot that kept me from making my boy a pair of socks that match (he doesn't CARE, Ruth, let.it.go), so when I found it, I vented my spleen a bit on Facebook, complaining that "if I'd wanted the socks to be all devil-may-care fraternal, I would have used Trekking." 

I try to learn from my mistakes.  When it was time to cast on Waiting Room Socks 2014 v.2, I decided to hedge my bets and use the first skein of Trekking I came upon in the stash.

Naturally, this particular colorway (which I'm not really liking, as it's too peachy/brown/orange for my taste) (I knew this when I saw it and bought it anyway, I have no right to take this as personally as I am) turns out to have a very clear repeat.

Life is nothing if not predictable in its unpredictability. 


Her Ladyship is doing much better.  She is going to be followed closely for the foreseeable future, but the tests ordered by doctors have all come back normal. To say that this is a relief would be a massive understatement.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Cleaning crew

Despite multiple requests to pick up her toys, WB's "laboratory" (the area behind the sofa where she plays/her toys are stored) has become a horrible mess.  This morning our acquisitive little girl was told that we would not be buying her anything new until the laboratory was clean, and she had a bag of toys she no longer wants to play with ready for donation.

She spent the next several hours trying to whine and weasel her way out of this, only to fun full tilt into a united and unmovable parental front .... which is when she came up with what she thought was the perfect solution.

"Hey, I have an idea," she said.  "Maybe Young'un could SURPRISE me, and clean up my laboratory for me, and then we could all go shopping!"

This did not go over quite as well as she'd hoped it would.

What I DID do, though, was--after warning him not to do all of the work himself--pay Young'un $10 to help her sort and organize her toys ("She made the mess, she can certainly pick it up," I said.  "I've heard something like that from you before," he replied), which is what they're doing as I type.

Young'un takes a "pull it all out and then put it back" approach to cleaning.
I'm staying in the front of the house until they're done.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


WB's Slouchy Scallops hat fits, is pink, and has a pom pom. I thought it was perfect, so naturally she has eschewed it since the day I took the photo, in favor of this:

(Several of the girls in her class have this hat, you see. Apparently NO ONE is wearing scallops this season.)

So I saw her store bought, mass-produced flippy hat and raised her a pair of matching mittens.

I even gave them a soft, stripey pink lining.

She's worn them once.

That's it.  I fold.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Litt frost gjør meg ingenting uansett

One of the things impacted by my vocal problems last month was WB's nightly bedtime story. She and I both love that quiet, snuggly time together, but I just could not read aloud.

YouTube to the rescue!

The first channel we found was Storyline Online, an effort by the Screen Actor's Guild's charitable foundation which features well-known performers reading picture books. We spent the first few weeks listening to Sean Astin read David Shannon's A Bad Case of Stripes as WB and I followed along in our copy of the book. (I will confess that I was THRILLED to let Sean do the reading for a while, since familiarity has bred contempt where that book and I are concerned. JUST EAT THE &^#$ LIMA BEANS, CAMILLA!!


After a few weeks of this, WB asked me if we could listen to a bedtime song, too. I had a pretty good idea what to look for. Like many little girls her age, she has been obsessed with Disney's Frozen. We have seen the movie twice, and the soundtrack has become the background music of her days. A quick search showed that Disney has made an end run around copyright pirates by setting up their own official channel on YouTube. We started choosing four songs a night to listen to before I tucked her in and turned off the light.

It didn't take us long to discover that it wasn't only the English versions of the songs that were available. WB was excited to share this discovery with her siblings, and they joined us as we listened to Frozen in Norwegian, Swedish, French, Spanish and Japanese. Those of us who can read followed along with the subtitles, and noticed that the literal translations of the lyrics don't always make perfect sense in English, which led to a discussion of "scansion" with Young'un, and how difficult it would be to write lyrics that had to match the meaning and rhythms in the original. 

My favorite of these videos is the one that splices together 25 international versions of "Let it Go". It's remarkably seamless.


Last night NPR's All Things Considered did a story on exactly how Disney goes about pulling this off. I thought it was a fascinating glimpse into how much thought and planning goes into producing movies that are easily dismissed as "just something for kids". If this interests you, you can listen to it here.

 (I do have to take exception to one thing they claim in the piece. Rangy as "Let it Go" is, I don't think it covers three full octaves.)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Look I made a hat

Finishing a hat, starting on a hat

Finishing a hat, look I made a hat
Where there never was a hat

hats: Faux Isle and a slouchy, pom-pommed version of little scallops
lyrics: "Finishing the Hat" from Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

In which I overthink the construction of hats

We have snow coming tomorrow.  Quite a bit, from the sound of it, but that's o.k.  It's been a pretty mild winter here compared to years past (and certainly compared to what the Midwest and South have been dealing with).  I won't be quite so sanguine if we're staring at a potential snow day in March, but right now it's mid-February in New England.  It's SUPPOSED to be cold.  We're SUPPOSED to have snow on the ground.  As long as the power stays on, we'll be fine.

So if you're looking for me over the next few days, I'll be in the living room, working on either the sweater for Her Ladyship that I am afraid will be too small, but it's my Olympic project, so I don't have time to rip and re-knit the thing, or yet another hat that doesn't fit anyone—preferably using a pattern this time, because my attempt to wing it was an unmitigated disaster that involved multiple starts and three different needle sizes and MATH, and that mess is being RIPPED OUT and I am STARTING OVER.

I apologize for shouting.  It has been a trying time.

It turns out I can't do math with a six-year-old hanging over my shoulder and checking my progress every few minutes.

I am also making a second run at a hat for Eldest.  When he was home he found the Fake Isle hat I made a long, long time ago (2006? Really?  Well, if Ravelry says so, it must be true) and said he's like an identical hat, only he'd like it better if it fit.


Long story short, I don't have that colorway of Kureyon any more, so I went stash diving and found a similar skein and some black Lamb's Pride Worsted and didn't have a good feeling about the combination but started any way and oh, GOD it was too purple and too turquoise and went very dark right where I started knitting with the black and why go to the trouble of knitting with two colors if you can't see one of them? so I went back to the stash and found a light tan Lamb's Pride instead and started over and switched the solid to the main color, which I think is working better, but maybe I should have rewound the ball so the color work didn't start with that purple and ...

It is just possible I am putting too much thought into this.