Friday, March 5, 2010

Moving On

I have moved my blog. You can use this link, or drive yourself over to It's still a work in progress, but that's where I'll be posting from now on. Thanks for joining me!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

On the Family Front

These last few weeks have been interesting ones here around the house. Bobby is going through another amazing and surprising explosion of learning. He has learned to very clearly and decisively say, "no." He doesn't yell it, or say it really snottily, he just says it with a straight, matter-of-fact: no. He (usually) doesn't pitch a fit about whatever it is either, and I suspect he is often meaning something more along the lines of, "I don't want to" rather than "I refuse to." If I ask him to pick up something he's dropped or retrieve something he's tucked under a couch he may say, "no," sit for a bit and then do what I asked. Or I may get him started and then he does it. That's usually how it works out. (The other times are when we're out eating, it's time to leave, he doesn't want to put on his snow suit and we're reduced to manhandling an arching, screaming, furious little boy.) At least he knows his mind, and is starting to be able to communicate it in a way more easily recognized by the adult world, right?

He has completely weaned himself now. It's a little sad, but also nice to have a little time to have my body (almost) completely to myself again for a little while before Ginny is born.

He's getting better at dressing (and undressing) himself. But I'm a bit concerned about the fashions he's imitating.

In the last few days he rediscovered a bear that he received for Christmas. He calls it "bear," though it sometimes oddly sounds like "beer." He pushes it around on his bike, reads to it, gives it hugs and kisses, and has us give it hugs and kisses. One afternoon we put the bear night-night, he shares his burp-rags with it, gave it drinks of his Saturday morning hot chocolate, showed it the bubbles daddy made while washing dishes, helps it wave, and talked to the bear's "baby." I think something was lost in the communication here, because he's now treating everyone's belly (that he can find) as though it has a baby. Pretty funny, though to see him talking into his bear's fluffy fur.

We've been having good little lunch dates on days when my sister has to leave right away for school. It's funny to ask him what he did with "NeNe" and see his rendition of the games they played. He's rebelling against the high chair, but we've been able to reach a god compromise with his Bumbo seat.

It's only a temporary fix because it's not safe. We'll be getting some sort of booster seat in the near future if he keeps wanting to sit at the table in a chair. He's been really unpredictable about it though.

And, he always wants the last of my chocolate milk. Always. Always. We need to work on that one...

But, he's earning his keep most days. Helping with chores, learning how to do new ones and being generally cute and adorable.

I mentioned I was bad during the holidays. I ate pretty much whatever I wanted to, or was at hand, or that anyone put in my hand. I knew it was a problem. I knew I was gaining too much weight and why. I also knew that I really shouldn't have been doing it. Now, I'm on the long uphill slog of turning that around. I was already trying when I went to my appointment a week ago. But, at that appointment I took the glucose screening test. Basically it's to see if you need the "real" test for gestational diabetes. I did it with Bobby, and had no problem. You drink liquid sugar and then sit around for an hour, they draw your blood, you go home with indigestion. If you're me you take advantage of the free knitting time.

On Thursday I got a call saying, I'm so sorry, you didn't pass and we're a little worried. Come in for the real deal test. That was Saturday. The actual test involves fasting. So I didn't eat anything after dinner Friday night. Luckily they are kind enough to do these in the morning, and they worked with my schedule so I didn't have to miss what for me would have been a full day of work. In the morning I got up and was at the hospital by 7:30. They took blood to get my glucose levels while fasting and then gave me a drink that was more potent than the first, and I was taking it on an empty stomach: blech.

Then I waited an hour. I walked for a bit and then worked on a pair of woe-is-me pity socks: TheseKnotty or Knice Socks It is a lovely little pattern, I think, and it was nice to have some uninterrupted time to get the cable under my fingers. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to knit them without the chart anymore. (That's good because the 12X15 chart is about the size of a postage stamp in the magazine). Then more blood was drawn, from the other arm this time.

Then another hour during which I discovered that as long as I'm not on a cable row I can knit and walk at the same time. I can't knit while climbing or descending stairs, but through an empty hallway with no surprise obstacles and I'm okay! During this third blood draw the nurse discovered that I was reacting rather poorly to the adhesive in the tape used to hold the 2X2 to my arms after each blood draw. (It made me feel like less of a whiner, because I have always hated that tape and thought that it was harsh and abrasive, but didn't want to come off as some sort of... whiner.) So, then another hour during which I decided I really didn't need to walk, but needed to maximize my child-free knitting time.

She checked on Ginny (who during that first hour or so was seriously rockin' out to all the sugar in my system) and she had a good steady heart beat. Then she drew blood one last time and said I needed to make sure to eat when I got home and that she'd have the results around 5 if I wanted to call back (as though I wouldn't be obsessing about it all afternoon). So, I went home and was feeling surprisingly okay. I had heard and read horror stories about this test and how bad you feel afterwards. I was doing alright so I started a more time intensive lunch than really was necessary. 30 minutes later, by the time I was actually eating, I was dizzy, shaky, really loopy, and couldn't stand up. I drained two glasses of chocolate milk (only sharing the last bit of the second glass with Bobby, much to his dismay) and had 1.5 chicken quesadillas (I usually only have one and that one is shared with Bobby).

After lunch is nap time and it was so good that Bob was home because Bobby didn't want to go to sleep and I was utterly useless. I felt terrible, because Bob, the supportive and loving husband that he is, had fasted with me and was, I'm certain, just as tired as I was.

An hour later I woke up feeling much better.

We went to get haircuts, where Bobby enjoyed a dum-dum (something he only gets during his haircuts) and sat in the chair all by himself for the first time. He usually hangs out on Bob's lap, but this time he sat there, smiling at his big boy self in the mirror and sucking away. Then we watched Bob get his haircut while Bobby got both of hands, chin, and some of me sticky with his cotton-candy flavored drool.

Afterwards we ran down to Tangled Skein before they closed. There I discovered a sale on needles and they had a somewhat elusive set of US 1.5 dpn! So I bought those and a replacements long pair of 2s. (I mean, it's practically criminal to not buy something at yarn store that it having any sort of sale.) As we pulled out of the parking lot I called the hospital and heard the absolutely great news that I do not have gestational diabetes. I had no idea how worried I had been until found out that I was okay.

I'm relieved. I already knew I needed to clean up my act, and was pretty bummed if three weeks of indiscretion were going to set me up for a whole slew of difficulties for myself and Ginny. But hopefully this experience will serve as strong deterrent. I've been drinking 3 liters of water a day (and running the bathroom every 15-20 minutes during some stretches), remembering my prenatal, and am trying to get on our bike for at least 30 minutes each day.

And, on the topic of Ginny, Bob and I had an interesting conversation on Sunday. It went something like this:

Bob: "How certain are you that Ginny is going to come early?" (Her due date is May 15th, Bobby was 12 days early, I'm thinking early May, but no guarantees.)
Me: "I don't know, why? And I will be blogging this conversation, just so you know."
Bob: "Well, it's just that the last week of school is graduation, meetings, and things that are hard to miss."
Me: "Oh, well, I'll send her a memo that he don't want to make things hard for daddy, so she has a certain window of non-opportunity."
Bob: "No, it's not that, I just-"
Me: "Oh, oh, so we don't want to inconvenience daddy. That's better."
Bob: "Well, it's just that intensives are easier to miss, you know?"

It was hilarious. Bobby followed his social cues and laughed with us from the back seat and we figured out that the only way she'll makes things hard for Bob is if she shows up the week after her due date. (And if that's what happens, that will probably be the least of his worries.)

Overall things are going well. Everyone seems pretty settled and happy. Who knows when something upsetting will come along, but for now we're thankfully enjoying the smooth sailing!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Amazing Little Man, Really

Bobby never ceases to amaze me. He is learning new words quickly and unpredictably (I didn't realize "drool" was something he'd latch onto so quickly). He is also very observant and I think if he were taller would probably be able to get up enough strength to open the baby-proofed refrigerator door. He knows who sits where, which side of the bed is mine and which is dada's. He knows his name and that the track team at school is way cool. He knows how to say please oh so sweetly, even if he was being ridiculous a split-second before, and he knows that if his words aren't working he can use lots of gestures and body language to sometimes communicate to the apparently not-so-bright adults charged with his safe-keeping.

He's not potty-training. I don't think he's ready for it, but I think he's getting there. We have a potty, he likes to sit on it. He likes to point to it and name it, and Bob and I figure the more we can make it a normal part of the bathroom now the less intrusive it will seem later when he is potty training (I can also think of a million ways that could backfire, but we're being positive here). He is, however, like I said extremely observant. He knows how to take off pretty much every article of clothing he owns except those with fiddly buttons. He also knows that if he plucks at different parts long enough he can probably get his diaper undone. He has been known to, after a prolonged time of silence, run from his room in a moment of naked triumph.

(Warning: What follows is a potty story.)
Tonight after dinner he walked down the hall and Bob and I both assumed it was his room and his toys he was visiting. Instead he had headed into the bathroom, and when Bob found him he had his pajamas undone (lucky duck got to stay in them all day, but unluckily it was because he was sick) and his diaper off and was trying to work out how to get his diaper out from between his legs so he could dump out the, uhm, deposit he had just made. He has heard us flush the contents of his diaper and even watched a few times so he knew what to do. But, the lock on the toilet worked and he was instead going for what he considered his next best option: his training toilet. After we got him completely out of everything he sat for a while, but insisted that we close the door. After all that's how it works for mom and dad, right? Smart kid.

And fast now that I come to think of it.

And stealthily quiet.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Close Enough

It's not the weekend anymore, but I have pictures. They were taken this weekend (mostly) and I just didn't get downstairs to download and post them. To start with, I think I have "startitis." I have plenty that needs finishing:
Buttons on two baby sweaters
neckband on Bobby's sweater
Ribbing, armholes, and neckband on Bobby's vest

And, I have plenty to work on that I enjoy and am really looking forward to having as finished objects:
Cardigan for Bobby
Socks for Bob
Scarf for me
Hat for me

But, I just can't seem to resist starting new things:
Such as this February Sweater for Ginny
Or the most recent sock club shipment from Knit Purl. (The colorway is called Sunflower IPA, and while I've never been much of a drinker, this really does it for me. The pattern sent me searching for the designer on Ravelry and I now have a huge knitter-crush on Stephanie van der Linden and have decided I need to learn knitting German.)

It's bad. My kniting basket (the embassy in the living room) is too full. The yarn runneth over (and the needles, and the notions, and the patterns, and the project bags).

But, on the upside, when I do finally sit myself down and finish all of these I am going to look like one prolific knitter!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Obviously It's Not Working Out

Thing Not Working #1:
I think it has something to do with weekend exhaustion, usually eating out on Friday night, and falling asleep for 3 hours while getting Bobby to sleep, but Photo Friday, just doesn't really seem to, I don't know, happen. So, I've decided for the sake of my guilty conscience to just try every weekend to get pictures up from the week.

It won't always happen, I'm sure. Things come up. Some weeks there are no new pictures. Sometimes the camera battery is dead at that perfect little moment. Other times the things going on just aren't that picturesque (Bobby is in my biased mind pretty darned cute, but when he's stubbornly saying "no" or pitching a fit about sitting in his high chair -where he asked to be- to eat food - which he specifically picked out and opened and can't be repackaged for later- not that it happens often, of course- but I don't have enough hands to take the picture and get handle the situation. Plus it's not something I want to remember too vividly when he's older). Or, we're too busy enjoying the moment to grab the camera which is usually downstairs from the last time I tried to download pictures to put on the blog.

But, at least this way I don't have to feel bad about not getting it done on Friday night, worry about how to make up for it on Saturday, stress over adding it to my end of the weekend to-do list on Sunday, berate myself on Monday, start to get calloused towards my mean self on Tuesday, remind I should actually find the camera on Wednesday, decide Thursday is really too late to get last Friday's pictures up, and then restart he cycle again the next day.

Thing Not Working #2:
My pregnancy diet (not meaning to lose weight, but the way I eat) is not what it should be. I was really, really good with Bobby. I had no (and I mean a truly, painful at times, absence of) refined sugar for the entire first half of his pregnancy. I laugh at that with this one. I walked during his pregnancy. Not aerobically, and I started his heavier than I did Ginny's, but I made a point to walk across the rather expansive school I teach at at least twice a day everyday. I don't have that kind of "free" time at school this time around. I drank water like I should have with him, and did a bunch of other things that you should do when you're pregnant. I also took no chances at all. No deli meats, soft cheese, nothing that was on anybody's danger list. This time, she's made it so far (kicking me right now actually), but I've indulged too often in things that I don't need (but sure do enjoy). Nothing bad, no alcohol or illegal drugs, but I don't always remember my prenatal, eat my veggies, get exercise, yet do have ice cream, take naps, sit and knit, and eat kind of whatever I want (the listeria thing still freaks me out and so I've managed to mostly stay away from the deli stuff).

During my most recent prenatal visit, it showed. I've been feeling bigger (and not just baby-bigger) but the numbers were ... ... shocking. I know we had the holidays and I'm chalking some of it up to that, but I am really going to try to get this healthy pregnancy thing into gear. If this was Bobby I'd only have 15 weeks until Ginny was born. I need to be getting ready for that fun little yes-you're-exhausted-but-now's-the-time-to-go-through-one-of-the-hardest-ohysical-feats-of-your-lifetime event!

Thing Not Working #3:
Coming up with a third item. The Aristotelean in me wants there to be three... ... Our culture likes three. It feels balanced. But I can't really think of anything that's not working out.

Buttons. I'm not really into sewing on buttons...

Nope. Got nothing.

Except two finished sweaters with buttons to sew on them. (Then there will certainly be pictures!)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Validated (Or Something Like That)

Working with teenagers makes me so happy I'm no longer one. It's a great feeling to walk into a high school and really not give a rip that I don't have the latest clothes, haircut, boyfriend, highest grades, or whatever form of comparison and ranking they are choosing to use. It's good, because for some reason (I like to think it's that I'm very approachable) many of my students apparently feel pretty free to tell me exactly what they think of me. (There was a conversation before they knew I was pregnant about why I should go clothes shopping, get a new haircut, and spend more time with girls. Forever 21 was suggested. I didn't want to break their little fantasy bubbles quite yet, but I have no desire whatsoever to be stuck at 21 forever. None at all. I sealed the deal on my total "nerdiness" in that talk with how I met my husband in a grammar class in college. You should see their faces when I tell that one to those romantic 17-year-old girls.)

When the new semester started some of my classes changed a bit. Mostly I was down students and one of those students was what I like to call an "excessive participator." Seriously, a word in edge-wise was hard sometimes and that can steer the class in a way that is hard to get a handle on if you're not on top of your game all the time because you're, I don't know pregnant, nursing, and exhausted... Excuses aside, I really liked the student, but it is a bit of a relief to not be constantly trying to out-energy the same person all the time.

But, the lack had not gone unnoticed. For the first two class days all I heard from a couple of the remaining students was that the class was "boring" now.

I usually don't listen too much if it's on just one day that is admittedly not exactly action-packed or if it's only one person saying it. And that's what it was in this case. One (and then two, because it's high school and peer pressure is crazy to watch) student said it was boring, but then with some prodding I found out that the real issue was that it was pretty quiet. We were working on a short essay and while people worked through their prewriting and drafting it was really, really quiet in the room. (It's an odd sensation, but with writing, kind of the way it should be.) Quiet apparently equals boring.

This revelation added to the fact that we've already established that while I think writing can be a rip-roaring good time, they think it's like plucking leg hairs means that I'm okay if they're not weeping with laughter all the time, as long as they're learning and engaged in it. (The "silence" was full of pencil scritching and I had a 100% turn in rate on that assignment.) I put it out of my mind, especially after the same student said, "cool" to me showing them how to take 2-column character notes.

Then, we had a day off from school and on Tuesday I was talking before class with students about what they had done with that whole day of freedom. The number one answer was a variation on the theme, "Nothing. It was boring."

"Well, I guess I should have given you more homework if you had nothing to do!" I said that, but I thought this: free time is totally wasted on the young. And, I started to feel better. If a day to do whatever they want is also "boring" then I'm not doing too bad. Add to that one girl being asked what she thought of "Avatar." Her reply? You guessed it: "Boring." So, if my class is at least as exciting as a blockbuster movie, I'm feeling pretty okay with being boring sometimes.

Today, I had a slightly different experience, but it reminded me of all that had transpired in the previous two weeks. Before first hour started two girls came in to drop off their stuff. One of them had a bag with yarn and a garter stitch scarf going. The conversation went something like this:

"Oh, are you knitting that?" I asked as casually as possible.

"Yes, it's a scarf. Do you know how to knit?"

At this point I was trying to not gush and talk too fast (English isn't their first language after all). "Yes, I can knit! It's great!"

"Oh! Do you know how to make the gloves? I tried a hat and this scarf, but I don't know how to do gloves."

"Yes, I can do gloves. You just follow the pattern. Do you have a pattern?"


"Oh well, they're easy. And you just read it, oh, do you know how to read a pattern?"

"No, I don't have a book." And that's when I of course took her to Ravelry. (While navigating there she asked if I know how to knit socks and I just about choked up saying yes and trying to communicate the awesomeness of Sock Summit. It may have weirded them out a bit, that one, you have to ease them in slowly, I think...) By the time I was done showing her how to set up an account and use the pattern browser other folks had shown up and they were pretty excited about this whole knitting thing too. They asked what I knew to knit and I was able to conveniently take them to my projects page and scroll down a bit to where there are actual pictures of projects. There was much ooh-ing and ah-ing. Then one of them asked if I would teach them. (I wonder if I could teach them to read patterns and call it literacy learning...) And as I said we could try to figure out a time she walked away saying, "You are so cool Ms. V."

That's right. I have it, officially, from a teenager: I am so cool. And, best part is, it's because I knit.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Viper Pilot Socks and the What Knitting Them Taught Me

I am pretty crazy happy with these socks. I was intimidated by the pattern. I was even more intimidated when I read about other people's experiences with them. I had trouble with the chart in the beginning. I thought I was going to run out of yarn. But, this is one project that totally went right.

(Well, except that they weren't done on time, which led to giving Joe a Christmas present of a single unfinished sock. Socks for Christmas are the stereotypical bad present. (I like to think that hand-knit socks blow that out of the water, but they are still socks.) An unfinished sock with working yarn still hanging on it and all the stitches on a variegated purple waste yarn so it can be measured: that's pretty bad. Also, I have a hard time believing the human foot is as long as all of the charts and my previous experiences knitting for them say they are. So back with a further along, yet still unfinished sock to put it on Joe's foot. Then, I apparently have trouble with estimating how much yarn is left and I was convinced that I wouldn't have enough to finish the socks. So I searched for a complimentary yarn that would help me carry off the story that I had totally meant for the toes to be a different color the whole time. It was a strategically planned design choice. But, God watches out for fools and children, is that how the saying goes? Because I even had a little yarn to spare. Not enough for another full repeat of the viper motif, but enough to use the leftovers in a crazy striped pair of leftover-sock-yarn socks I have planned for Bobby. But other than that, totally right.)

So, what these socks taught me:

  • I can knit. I know, sort of silly, but I've been having a crisis of confidence lately.

  • The human foot is longer than you'd think. I always think that socks are too long. That somehow my ruler which I measure with was shorter that day, and those numbers can't mean the same thing they did then. Or, that chart that tells average foot length based on shoe size, actually means 3/4 of an inch when it says 1". It's a ratio thing, like "foot inches," right? I am constantly stopping and remeasuring. It didn't help that the heel flap was ribbed so it's stretchy, so do you measure from the back of the sock, or from the back of the heel when you fold the bottom flap, where it's turned? See, not that easy? (Plus, it's really easy to convince yourself you should be doing the toe when you think you're running out of yarn.)

  • Which leads me to learning that I have no sense of how much yarn is left in a skein or how much it takes to complete a round. I'm hoping this will get better with time and experience, but a day after I tried it on Joe's foot I was certain that I had about one yard of yarn with which to complete the entire toe, and there was no way it was going to work. In actuality I had about 5 yards left after I'd grafted the toe and woven in the end. And that was on the smaller half of the yarn.

  • Clover needles are nice in a pinch, but not the smaller gauges. Brittany birch needles are great. Really like those. And most sock needles (the short ones, about 4" long) aren't quite long enough for me to be comfortable on an adult sock. I think I was developing a twitch over worrying the stitches would slip off into the ether.

  • I can pick up the stitches that are lost when Bobby triumphantly reaches over my shoulder and grabs a (decently long) needle out of my project bag that is in my purse while heading out the door. He was seriously proud of procuring that sharp pokey stick. I was seriously proud of not hyperventilating, yelling, crying (or even tearing up), and not losing any of the stitches.

  • Cabling without a needle is fun, exciting, extreme-death-defying-knitting, and a huge time-saver. However, I would caution against it if you're on a bumpy road. Or at least be really, really careful. Those stitches are just hanging out there waiting for a moose to jump in front of your car and you to pull and let them run up the length of the sock.

  • Sometimes knitting is about catching your mistakes and being able to efficiently fix them. I miscrossed one cable and was able to fix it a few rows back without taking out everything around it. That was exciting.

  • Fancy-pants socks are fun to knit. These were really, really fun to knit. I used to think that colorwork or a simple pattern with pretty yarn was the way to go, but these socks probably took a good two hours longer than they needed to because I kept admiring them. The cables and traveling stitches are just so pretty! (I mean, manly. They're masculine and rugged, Joe.) And the chart made things go fast! Or at least feel like it did.

  • One of the most important things: It's possible to enjoy an "obligation" knit. These were never an obligation in the sense that they were requested, but I felt an obligation to finish them (especially after he opened an unfinished sock for his Christmas present) and sometimes that stresses me out. But, with no firm deadline (wool socks are not a necessity on the beach in Hawaii, no matter how you spin it, so they didn't have to be done to prevent frostbite before they left) and, because it was fun to knit them, I was challenging myself and learning I never felt that sense of duty and obligation that drags a project down. I didn't even get second-sock-syndrome on this one!

  • And, perhaps most importantly: If you don't use the wool/bamboo/silk blend that was for the toes because you did actually have enough yarn, you get something pretty out of the whole deal for yourself! Just think of the possibilities here!

  • Strike that. This is the most important thing I learned while knitting these socks: if you need about 15 minutes of time and happen to have a child who happens to need fattening up anyway you can totally graft the toes and weave in ends for the small price of a handful of M&Ms. (A larger handful makes it and even sweeter deal. Oh, I'm so funny to me...)

So the socks are done. They taught me much and I am grateful to have been able to knit them. It was a good time, to always be remembered fondly.

Now, I am working on sweaters. I've almost finished this pullover for Bobby and have a cardigan cast-on. I'm mentally working out some logistics on the one for Bob. I've decided that if I'm really, really good until Ginny is born, then I'll treat myself to some yarn and knit for my "post-baby deux" body. (Anybody else notice how the whole pregnancy thing really throws off your pertinent sweater measurements?)

Do you remember that peaches song from the late 90s? "Millions of peaches, peaches for me. Millions of peaches, peaches for free." Well, substitute "sweaters" for peaches and that's where we're going. Though millions may be a bit of a stretch. And, despite what I tell myself or our budget, they're not free. And, now that I think about it, I'm not knitting for me yet. So, I suppose the song technically doesn't apply, but the idea of the abundance of sweaters, that's there, and I'm moving to that metaphorical country. (I'm resisting the urge to pack along the M&Ms.)