Thursday, January 01, 2015

2014: Year in Review

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  We did, even though we missed Eldest terribly (he spent the fall studying in the Czech Republic, and stayed in Europe after his semester ended to do a little traveling).  I didn't get everything done that I'd hoped to ... our Christmas cards, ordered right after Thanksgiving, printed with "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy New Year" for the first time in several years, since I was sure I'd be able to send them before the 25th, are still sitting on my kitchen table. (A hard drive failure earlier in 2014 erased my contact list.  I thought I'd send them out as they came in, but it seems lots of people didn't mail cards this year.  Maybe social media has made holiday cards obsolete, but I will admit to missing them.  I like seeing my friends' kids -- and now grandchildren! -- and hearing about what's been going on in their lives.)

B left on the 26th to join Eldest in Europe ... they spent several days in Florence, are currently in Munich, and will see Vienna, Brno and Prague before they come home ... so the other three kids and I have been holding down the fort.  Her Ladyship started a new job this week, after one of the most drawn-out hiring processes I have ever seen.  She's come home from her shifts exhausted, but happy to be doing something after a year of illness.  Young'un and I had an evening out on Saturday; he had some Christmas cash burning a hole in his pocket, so he and I went to the mall for a little shopping and dinner, then went to see Into the Woods.  It was wonderful ... both the movie, and the time with my boy.

So, as is my habit, I have put together a review of the year just past.  It's been a busy one for our family.

Created with flickr slideshow.

The first line of the first post for each month in 2014 (no posts in April):

JanuaryI am typing on my laptop, eating my lunch, which consists of cottage cheese with a little freshly ground black pepper on top, and a handful of Wheat Thins on the side.
FebruaryCarole gave us an intriguing prompt for this week's 10 on Tuesday.  Just two words:
MarchDespite 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.
MayA few weeks ago my mother and I were visiting at the kitchen table when yet another squabble erupted between my two youngest children.
JuneIt is fair to say that Her Ladyship has not enjoyed her senior year one little bit. 
JulyIt began when I decided that since Her Ladyship's illness meant that she spent a large part of every day in bed, we should upgrade her to a new, bigger, mattress, and give her twin bed to WB.
AugustSummer is winding down.
SeptemberAt 8:00 this morning WB twirled into the room to show off her birthday ensemble. 
OctoberI am ashamed to admit that I fell behind on my baby knitting a few years back.
NovemberIt has been a cold and rainy Saturday, after a very successful Halloween. 
DecemberYou may consider yourself warned.

From a knitting perspective, it wasn't a great year.  Frankly, I lost my mojo for months there ... despite realizing that I needed a sock or two on the needles to help me through some of the worst of it ... it wasn't until this fall that I felt the desire to create something more than a hat and some socks return.

My creation
As the FO mosaic shows, 2014 ended with a flurry of sweaters, the most recent being a yellow Welcome to the Flock, knit as a gift for the new sister of the little girl for whom I made this sweater several years back. 


It was a most satisfying project ... I made only one little change to the pattern, by reversing the direction of the sheep in the second row.  Some knitters have used garter stitch for the "wool", which is brilliant, I will likely do the same if I knit the pattern again.  I may also try leaving a straight row or two above the first stranded section, instead of decreasing immediately, to see if it reduces the slight puckering I saw -- it resolved with blocking, but I worry it will come back when the sweater is washed.  I like to make things as easy-care as possible for the families of the babies I knit for -- only machine washable yarn (DROPS Baby Merino, in this case, YUM), and ideally they shouldn't have to steam the sweater to keep it looking nice.


I am taking the advice I was given by the (slightly terrifying) German woman who managed the restaurant I where I worked during the summer of 1982 and beginning as I hope to go on.  I have spent the last few days happily knitting away at another baby sweater ... for a baby who isn't even a month old, what a refreshing change THAT is!


I had to rip out an entire day's knitting after misreading the instructions (CO means "cast on", not "cast off"), but after a little bit of pouting, I am back in the chase.  The stripe changes are keeping me going, and while the pattern is written for two colors I am planning to use one or two more, which I am finding pretty exciting.  I tried to convey this to my children and all I got back was some side eye, a few polite smiles, and a "that'll be nice, Mom", said in a tone I recognize from all the times I feigned enthusiasm for Pokemon and too many dinosaur facts, MY how the worm has turned.

And with that, 2014 is done.  Happy New Year, everyone!  Thank you for reading and sharing the ride.

Sending you all my best wishes for 2015 ....

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

This is going to be TMI for some people

You may consider yourself warned.

Late last summer, one of Her Ladyship's doctors decided that she needed to start seeing a specialist at one of the Boston hospitals.  Of course, being "medically complicated" (but not dying) doesn't make appointments with specialists any easier to come by, so we had to wait a few months before she could be seen.

I had never been to the hospital where this doctor's practice is based, so when the day finally arrived I made sure to leave plenty of time to get there.  Which was a very good thing, because -- despite my inputting the zip code as part of the address -- my GPS took us to the same street address in Brighton instead of Boston.  Her Ladyship was the first to raise the alarm ("Where are we going? This looks awfully residential."), but I have not lived in Boston since 2003, I have lived in the SUBURBS, so I reassured her that we could trust the good people at Google Maps, which is what we did ... right up to the moment we found ourselves staring up at a sad little office building while the nice lady on my phone announced that we had arrived.


By the time I figured out how to trick the GPS into taking us to the correct address, we were running quite late.  No time to look for street parking ... we were going to have to use the garage attached to the hospital and, I decided, it would be fastest to go straight to the top floor and take the elevator down.

Once there, I realized that we had another choice to make.  The elevator (could take a while to get to the top floor, and might have to stop on every floor on the way back down) exited on the side of the parking garage farthest from the doctor's office.  The stairs were closer, but they were STAIRS.  Oh, for heaven's sake, I told myself, we're (relatively) young and (relatively) healthy.

"Come on, we have to hurry," I said to Her Ladyship, as I led the way to the stairwell.  We were now officially 5 minutes late, and we weren't even in the office building yet.

I threw the door open, ready to sprint, and ... it hit something soft and stopped half way.  Confused, I tried again, giving it a good shove this time.

"Wha?" the man said, looking back at me over his right shoulder.

"Ahhh!" the woman squealed.  They both started hurriedly pulling their clothes back into place.  I froze for a few seconds, then started backing out as quickly as I could.

"What is it?" asked her Ladyship, who by this time had run into my back,  She craned her neck around and over my head as I grabbed her arms and tried to redirect her back into the garage.  "Why can't we use the stairs?"

"GO, honey!  "Gogogogogogogogogogogogogo!""  I hustled her back toward the elevator,  looking over my shoulder as we went.

"What WAS it?!?" she wanted to know.

"When I opened the door, it hit a couple who were ... engaged with each other," I said.

"Ewwwwwwww," she said.  Then, "How do you know that's what they were doing?"

"Positioning," I said.  "And the smell."

She looked at me, surprised.  "There's a smell?" she asked.

(For the record:  all of the conversations I dreamed about having with my children one day?  THIS WAS NOT ONE OF THEM.)

(As soon as we got to the ground floor, I reported what I'd seen to security.)

(We were late to the doctor's appointment, but they saw us anyway, and it was a GREAT appointment.  Well worth the eight week wait.)

(But I do think that the next time we go in, we'll avoid that parking garage stairwell.)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

NaBloPoMo14.30: In conclusion

This Sunday was much like any other.

We didn't go to church for services because I taught the last three Sundays and wanted a morning off.

We hung out, did some chores.  The younger two kids and I went to see Penguins of Madagascar at a local movie theater that had been closed for a few years and just reopened (now with hot water in the bathrooms and food prep area!).  I dozed off about half way through--so it's not just the super-comfy reclining seats at the AMC that are responsible for my failure to stay awake in movies lately--but what I saw was entertaining enough..

Late this afternoon WB and I went to church for an Advent wreath-making event.  We sat with some very nice people, had dinner at the soup buffet, sang some carols (all set in keys that were unreasonably high for group singing, if you ask me ... although I did appreciate their unobtrusive gender neutrality), and made our family's Advent wreath.

I love Advent.

So here we are ... the end of November, the end of NaBloPoMo14.  I am happily surprised that I managed to post every day. When the month started I wasn't sure I'd make it, but I did, and I'm kind of proud of that. I like telling stories here, and hope to do so more regularly in the weeks to come. Even if, on occasion, it's just a picture of Penelope.

Rumor has it she's gotten used to the spotlight.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

NaBloPoMo14.29: Getting his point across

WB wanted to play a board game, so late this afternoon we got Monopoly, Jr. set up.

No sooner had WB rolled the dice than Jasper walked across the game board.

"Jasper, no!" I said, and pushed him on.

He circled around and walked on the board again.

"JASPER, NO!" I said.  This time my push was definitely more of a shove.

The third time he approached the board I made him stop and lie down.  He watched the game mournfully for a few minutes, then ...


and that was the end of that.

Thank you for your input on the previous post.  No knitting today, so no attempt to fix the mistake has been made.  The plan is to try duplicate stitch, with drop down and rip back as plans B and C.

Friday, November 28, 2014

NaBloPoMo14.28: WWOKD?

  • Went to Target with a friend this morning.  Found a few Christmas presents and stocking stuffers.  Had the cashier put the presents into a separate, opaque bag which I left in my friend's car to be collected later, do I have this Christmas thing well in hand or WHAT?
  • Not five minutes after I got home, WB started rifling through the bags I did bring in (Christmas may be coming, but we still need mouthwash and batteries) and found ... the gifts I failed to sort out.
  • I'm not as ahead of the game as I thought I was.
  • Went to the grocery store because we are in danger of running out of milk for the morning. Picked up a few other things while I was there.
  • Unpacked the groceries when I got home.  Put away the cereal, bananas and strawberries. No milk.  I left it in the cart.
  • Rationed milk at dinner so that I did not have to go out again.  Pizza and movie night with the kids!
  • Ate dinner, then knit while watching "The Incredibles".  Made serious headway on mittens for a swap with a drop-dead mail date of 12/15.
  • Put the thumb stitches on a holder and noticed:

  • Kept knitting for a few more rows while I pondered my options.
  • I'm pretty sure I know how I'm going to handle this, but am curious: What Would Other Knitters Do?
  • Poll!

    What method should I use to fix this mistake?
    Drop down. It's only a few rows and you know it's going to bug you.
    Rip back and reknit. It's only a few rows and you know it's going to bug you.
    Duplicate stitch. You're on a deadline here!
    Poll Maker
I wonder if we're thinking along the same lines.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

NaBloPoMo14.27: Happy Thanksgiving!

From our house to yours!


(this is not my dining room ... we were fortunate to be invited to celebrate the holiday at the home of good friends.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NaBloPoMo14.26: Mail call

The other day I saw a friend's name pop up in the comments on a Facebook post. Seeing her name made me realize that I hadn't seen an update from her in a while, so I went over to her page to see what I'd missed. A little way down, I saw this:

and if you don't think I immediately followed every link I could to find out where those kits are sold, you don't know me very well.

In a matter of seconds, I arrived at the seller's Etsy shop: KinCraftsLV (the shop is taking a short break, so that link will take you to the "Sold Items" page). After I saw the kits, the only questions remaining were "what color/pattern will I choose?" and "how long will it take to get here?"

(Orange and Black, and 12 days.)

My package arrived day before yesterday, but since I wasn't home when it arrived and had to sign for it, scheduling mishegoss meant I wasn't able to pick it up until today. That's ok.

It was worth the wait.

  kit box
beautifully packaged

latvian mitten kit
the inside is even better

Each kit includes 100% wool yarn (no gauge given, but it appears to be fingering weight), a charted pattern with instructions, metal needles, a darning needle, and a linen project bag.  I just glanced at the pattern, and it looks good, but I will let you all know what I think once I start knitting.

I don't know if she'll be open in time for the holidays, but these kits would make great gifts (she also sells pillow patterns), so if you are so inclined, it might be worth adding the shop to your bookmarks. (For the record, I am not being compensated for this review in any way, I'm just really excited about my mitten kit.)

p.s. I found the vendor's website! It hasn't been updated in a long time, but contains some Fun Facts about Latvian mittens. For example: in the days before irons were readily available, knitters used freshly baked bread to block their finished objects. A piece of linen was placed between the object and the bread, and heat did the rest.

(sorry.  I had to do that.)