Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas, part 2

It took me a bit longer than intended to get to part 2 (so what else is new?), but here we are, finally!And since Christmas is now long gone, almost everything has been delivered. There's one left that I can't show until next week, but here's the rest. I think...

This is the shawl for my grandmother. It is pink, but maybe not quite as pink as it looks in this photo. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. 

These are the two mugs for my sister. She has a Pinterest board full of things she wants people to make for her, and these were listed, so...
 I loved this little piggy button, but I could only get my hands on one of the darn little things... (And it took ages to get here...)

So, the second mug doesn't actually match, but I love this little heart button, too. I think the cable shows up a bit better in this photo, too.

This is the first of the herd (warren? flock? whatever group name applies...) of little bunnies I made this year. And it also is the only boy bunny of them all. He hasn't been delivered yet, either, but there's almost no chance of my nephew looking here, so it'll be fine. :)
 Here's a group shot of the rest of the little bunnies:

Five little girl bunnies in cute little dresses, for five little girls who are also quite cute. (My little ones each snagged a bunny for Christmas, and my three adorable little nieces got the others.)

Looking at these pictures, I see that I still don't have that bunny hat uploaded yet. So that's two more Christmas presents left to post. I'll get that up in the next couple of days. I'm going to get back to my dishcloths for now. (I have no idea, really. I just suddenly needed to make some dishcloths. Maybe I'm not quite as recovered from that cold as I thought I finally was...)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas, part 1

So, as promised, here is the first of several posts to show you my Christmas knitting. I have one, maybe two, more I can post before Christmas, and then the rest will have to wait until after.
This first one is the hat and scarf I did for Baby Girl. She got a hat last year, but it doesn't fit her anymore. I don't know that she'll actually agree to wear either of these, but at least she has them. (It won't surprise me if she never touches them after Christmas morning, really. Her sister pretty much ignores the ones she got last year, so...)

Little Miss is getting a hat this year, as well. I took pictures the other day, but I guess they haven't made it from the camera to the computer yet. I'll work on that...

And here's a shot of both pairs of the socks I did, one pair each. I showed the bigger pair a while back, right after they were finished. ( you can find that post here, if you're interested ) Since then, I've added the smaller pair. I really like this weird, mismatched stripe thing that this yarn does. I'm definitely planning to do some more socks next year, although I think they'll be for me this time.

So, that's all for now. I'll be back in a day or so with a few more pictures. :)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Busy, Busy

Wow. I had no idea it had been this long since I posted last. Time really gets away from me at the end of the year. I've been busily working away at all of the Christmas gifts I want to give this year. And I'm happy to report that I only have one left to finish. I really want to have it finished by Sunday night, if possible. Hopefully I can do it. Next week is super full of baking chores.

I'm hoping to get some pictures of the finished gifts during naptime today. If I can manage it, I'll slowly start posting a few of the ones that aren't spoilers. (Which means, you'll mostly just get to see the things I made for the few people I know for sure never look at my blog. Which means, my girls and my nieces and nephew. Pretty sure he never looks here, although I think his mom occasionally does.)

I'm thinking next year, I need to start on the Christmas gifts in January, because July was apparently not early enough. If it was, I'd have been finished by now. :/  This is particularly true since this year's projects were all fairly small-ish. Next year, I have several much bigger and more involved projects I would like to make for certain of my relatives. Yipes! So, basically, the day after Christmas, I'm thinking I should probably start some serious planning...

There's also the matter of several extremely neglected UFO's lingering downstairs. I'm getting sort of sick of having them nag at me every time I walk by them. I think I need to make an effort to get at least one or two of them finished next year. :(

Wow. My year is already full (and more than a bit hopeless looking) and it isn't even January yet. :)

Hopefully, I'll get some pictures up here soon. I know posts without pictures are incredibly boring. :) And between the sweeties I'll be whipping up in the kitchen this next week, and the snaps of a few Christmas gifts, I should have plenty to show for the next week or so.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a couple of shots from our doomed Christmas card photo shoot. The little one just did not want to cooperate. At all.

Sadly, the ones we had to use for the card weren't that much better than these. But at least she wasn't actually screaming in those...

And... that reminds me- I need to get those cards addressed and in the mail!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Here we go...

Tomorrow is it. Day one of October Unprocessed.

I needed the jump start, I think, to get me back on track with the real food rules from our 10 Day Pledge. It's been a struggle to once again get organized (still haven't managed it) and arguing with the kid over why we're doing it. (She still doesn't want to, even though she admits that she felt better that week and a half. Tough. She's stuck.)

Once again, we're plunging in rather unprepared. And once again, there will be a panicked flight to the grocery store tomorrow morning. If I can scrape up a workable grocery list. Also, I need to find something appropriate to feed people in the morning...

I'd better get to work. I'll try to keep you posted on all the trials and tribulations. (Also, if I ever get some decent pictures taken, I have an actual finished project to show you! I know! I was surprised too.)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

As Much As I Really, Really HATE This...

...I sort of feel like I'm not being given any real choices, here. And if I'm being railroaded into this, everyone else is going down with me. Since at least one of my girls is going to be extremely unhappy about these changes (possibly even more unhappy than me), I'm going to leave them this little letter here (and, I guess I should leave some sort of explanation below it for the rest of you, huh?):

My dearest girls,

        Let me start by reminding you, because you probably don't remember this right now: I love you. Completely and truly. So does your father. We are totally in love with both of you, and we are only trying to do what's best for all of us. I know you're upset by these changes we're asking of you, and you probably don't believe that right now, but we truly do love you both.
        We wouldn't be doing this if we didn't love you and want you both to be happy and healthy, to live long and prosper. Believe me, I'm sure I don't like these changes any more than you do...
        I was pretty sure they were going to be necessary, eventually. These last several weeks have more than proved that to me. But, I wanted to do this a lot more gradually and gently. I knew that it would be much easier for you both. And for me. Unfortunately, circumstances don't seem to be allowing for gradual or gentle.
        I know that your daddy and I are asking a lot of you. We want and need your cooperation for this, if it's going to be as painless a change as possible. But I know it won't be easy. Not for any of us. Well... Okay, your daddy thinks it's going to be great, and he's very overly enthusiastic about it, in my opinion. We'll all do our best to try to forgive him for that as we all suffer through these next weeks- or years.
        Yes, my dears, I said years. I know. I didn't say it would be easy. It's not. Especially for me. You are both going to have a lot of bad habits to unlearn, and a lot of adjustments to make here, but me? I have a lot more years of bad habits to break, and a lot of learning to do- as quickly as possible, in the hopes of us all getting over the roughest parts of this as soon as we can. That's a very steep learning curve for all of us, but forgive me if I think that I actually have the worst of it. I understand that you will both be rather unhappy, and that you will have to do a lot of learning, and that we are asking you to give us a lot of cooperation. And that's hard, I know, especially as young (and stubborn) as you both are. But, please keep in mind that I have to do all of that with the extra handicap of having (one or more) screaming-until-you-puke-munchkins hanging off of my legs, being constantly in danger of having you pull my clothes right off me every time I try to move...
        Yeah, I think I have the worst end of it.
        Once upon a time, way back in the dark ages (you know, before dirt was actually invented and I was still in school...), I had a science class where we had a little discussion about life. I don't remember what the actual topic was, possibly it was just that the teacher had a new shirt and needed to make sure we all noticed it. But, however it came up, it was brought to our attention that, in life, there are basically three options: you can adapt, you can migrate, or you can die.
        At your tender ages, I do not think that you will manage to find anyone with the authority who is willing to let you migrate, especially when they hear what your actual complaint is. This limits your choices somewhat. (If it makes you feel any better, there isn't really anywhere we could migrate to, anyway. I've done a little checking around.)
        Your father and I would also like to point out that no one is going to let you choose the other option there, either. (Trying that would involve all sorts of unpleasantness for all of us. Don't go there.)
         Basically, what I'm trying to say, my loves, is this: None of us really have any choice in this matter anymore. Do what I have to do and just suck it up and deal. Please? It's time to adapt a little, whether we like it or not. Let's just get through this as quickly and painlessly as possible, okay?
         Thank you for your cooperation in this matter, voluntary or otherwise. (And remember, this sucks a lot worse for me than it does for you. You should find that somewhat comforting. Eventually.)

                                                                    Love, always

Not sure they'll be any happier after having all of that explained to them, but then, I'm not very happy either. I'm sure they'll live through this. Actually, I'm sort of counting on it. That is, basically, the entire reason for it.

So, what am I talking about? Well... Remember, back at the end of August and the beginning of September, my family did that whole 10 Day Pledge? Yeah, that was challenging. But, we made it through and we saw a few beneficial changes happening for some of us. In the end, we decided we would be making some permanent, much-needed changes to our family's eating habits, but my husband was adamant that we had to finish off all of the junk, processed stuff we already had in the house before we could replace it with real foods.

What this has meant for us is that we've been back on pretty much the exact same foods that we were eating before we did the challenge. And I've been noticing the difference. And, for a change, so has my husband now that he's back to being stuck in a motel room with no way of cooking or buying/storing real foods... (That's a big deal, because for the entire 10 days, he kept insisting that he wasn't seeing any changes at all in the way he was feeling. He claimed it was because his eating habits were so much better than ours were to begin with... Turns out, he was just suffering from the same thing we were, I guess.)

See, here's the thing. When we started the challenge, the only thing I really noticed for the first few days was my severe craving for sweets. After a few days, I started to notice other things, though. The most obvious was the dry skin on my hands. It wasn't actually dry anymore. Then I noticed that I was sleeping better. And that the girls were sleeping better, not so many nightmares or whatever it is that wakes one of them up so much.

And only a day or so after the challenge ended, I was already noticing that my skin was drying out again. Things have only gone downhill since then... Which stinks.

Here's the thing, though. Before the challenge, we figured these things are just life, you know? Nothing you can do about them but deal with it. Buy lots of lotion, make sure the baby gets plenty of juice to help her move things along smoothly, deal with losing sleep to get up and check on people 1-3 times a night, several times a week... What are you gonna do, right? Well, during the challenge, all of those things went away totally, or at least improved dramatically. (I think the nightmare thing happened maybe three times during those 10 days, all during the first half of the challenge...)

Now, having been back on our normal diets for a couple of weeks, all of those things are back. But worse. Or, at least, I'm noticing them more. And so is my husband, for a change. I think it took those things going away, not being the norm, before we truly realized how awful they were... My dry skin is terrible. He says his is dry, too, now. (That never happens.) The girls are complaining about dry skin again. (Doctor's been telling me for years that they both have a touch of eczema. Not one complaint from them during the last half of the challenge, if not sooner...) Both my husband and I are having an awful time sleeping. Usually he claims that he sleeps "fine" and that it's only me that has such a time with it. He blames the girls' every little noise for waking me up... Both of the girls are starting to wake at night again, for whatever their various reasons. The list is just getting longer and longer. It's terrible.

So, the short version of this story is: I don't think my plan to make these changes gradual and gentle for the girls is going to work out for me. Or them. And I hate that. For all of us, but especially for me. I feel like I'm sort of being railroaded into this by the entire universe. But, I also know that if I don't manage to get all of us a decent night's sleep in the very near future, bad things will happen to my sanity...  I think I'm going to be forced to jump headfirst off of an incredibly steep learning curve here and just hope that I can learn quickly enough to keep us all afloat. And, boy, do I wish my husband was here to help with that right now. Because this is going to be a very rough ride, and I could sure use the backup...

I think I do finally have him convinced that it would be a good idea to just go ahead and clear out all the rest of the processed junk in the house- donate it or give it away or whatever- instead of forcing us to use it all up. Him noticing all the changes in himself has really helped me there, I think. I'm really hoping he'll be back home in a few days so we can start the purge. And the all important re-stocking and cooking. In the meantime, I'm trying to find a few simple, and most importantly, real foods that are a quick and easy fix to get me through the next couple of days, until I can get a proper menu plan together...

Wish me luck. I think I'm gonna need it...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

10 Day Challenge Report

So, I know that a couple of people (mostly my sister) have been waiting impatiently for me to get around to this, so I'm going to try and give the full report now.

We decided (on a whim) to take the 100 Days of Real Food blog's 10 Day Pledge. Our first day was the 27th, and we were super unorganized. But after a bit of a scramble, we got straightened out (sort of), and we were off.

I've been asked what we ate exactly for this real food challenge, and so I figured I would just throw up a quick summary of our dinner menus for the 10 days. (Whenever possible, all produce was organic. Actually, now that I take another look, I think the only ones that maybe weren't were the black-eyed peas. I'm not sure about those...)

1- green beans and potatoes and whole grain cornbread (which was super great! My husband has threatened to never make any other kind of cornbread ever again.)

2- whole wheat biscuits, locally grown sausage and gravy

3- stuffed poblano peppers, rice, and quesadillas (with homemade tortillas)

4- pizza night, whole wheat crusts, organic everything else

5- leftovers- clean out the fridge night

As you can see, the first several nights were heavily weighted towards things we knew the girls (well, the older one, anyway. The little one eats almost anything) would eat without too much argument. Or, at least, that's what we thought. We still had tantrums nearly every night over something being wrong. The first night, the tantrum was because the cornbread was the wrong color. (The whole wheat flour was from red wheat. The next bag we bought was white wheat, to try to avoid some of that. It sort of worked. Almost.) Another night, she threw a fit over the quesadillas. That lasted about 30 minutes before she finally told us there wasn't supposed to be anything but cheese on hers. (There wasn't. We know better.) She finally ate it.

After that, we had to work a bit harder. And we had a meal plan that kept changing all week long. This is what we finally ended up with:

6- my husband's big cook-out: local pork barbeque, rye rolls, coleslaw, and watermelon, baked beans, and grilled chicken

7-whole wheat pasta with homemade tomato sauce

8-broccoli quiche

9- hoppin' john (a recipe from my daughter's princess cookbook- mostly rice and black-eyed peas)

10- black bean and beef burritos, homemade tortillas, of course.

Our breakfasts were pretty hectic, what with school every day (something I still am not adjusted to). We went back and forth between eggs and pancakes for most of the week, with the girls occasionally requesting toast or leftover biscuits for a few mornings.

School lunches and snacks really didn't change too much. She usually takes pretty healthy foods as a rule. The only changes I really made were to not add any little tastes of candy once in a while (which really only happens maybe once every couple of weeks anyway), and to switch out the usual crackers for a version that met our new rules. (Which turns out to be Triscuits. Only 3 ingredients. And very nearly the only packaged food in the whole grocery store that does meet those rules, seemingly. Man, grocery shopping was difficult and time-consuming!) Lunch for the rest of us was leftovers of whatever we had in the fridge.

Food was nearly all we did this past several days, it seemed like. I suppose, if we did this every single day, I would eventually get a bit more efficient. Especially with navigating the grocery stores. I hope. Having to read every single label for everything you picked up took so much time! And you couldn't not read the labels, either. That just leads to trouble. Turns out, there are gross additives to almost everything in the store. Stupid things that shouldn't need any preservatives. Like salt. All this time, I thought the only thing in my salt was, well, salt. And iodine. Nope. They added preservatives and some sort of anti-caking powder to it. And grated cheese is not just grated cheese. It also has anti-caking stuff thrown into it. Which sort of just makes me go EWWW. (I think I was a lot happier before I started reading all these labels. Just saying.)

And, another thing Lisa wasn't kidding about: the amount of dishwashing involved in all this real food! I think we were running the dishwasher three times a day. Maybe four. And then the stupid thing died! (It had been limping along for a while. My husband had been doctoring it for two weeks before it finally just quit.) Luckily, a new one has come to live with us. And today is another leftovers day, so we might finally get caught up on our dishes. Maybe. ;)

So, I guess the question to ask is: What did we learn?  And then, maybe: Was it all worth it?

Well, let's see...

The biggest thing we learned was how much effort it takes to eat this way. Some of the effort is in the cooking, but most of it seems to be in the shopping. Grocery stores are filled with junk foods and things that in no way fit the rules of this challenge. Even the farmer's market wasn't a sure bet, because we don't have a grower's only market in the area. A lot of the produce there is still trucked in from surrounding states and not necessarily chemical free. We had to spend a lot of time just reading labels, and so shopping ate up a lot of our time.

On the plus side, we finally found a new local source for meat. The farm/shop we had been buying it from apparently went out of business earlier this year. We've been looking for a new one ever since. It's farther away than the other one was, but after seeing the farm and some of the animals there, I think it's a good choice for us. We'll be riding over every couple of months, I suppose, for re-stocking.

Is all the trouble worth it? Maybe. We all agree that real food, home cooked tastes better. We've been making our own bread for a while now, and everyone likes it better than the fluff they call bread down at the grocery store. We don't seem to have any problems with the idea of it. The only problem will be in getting organized and learning how to get things done in a reasonable amount of time. I guess my work is cut out for me, huh? Especially since my husband is going back to work in a few days and I'll be on my own for a while.

Another thing we've learned is that the kids aren't going to let us just make a drastic (permanent) cold-turkey type change like this. We're going to have to go slowly and make one change at a time. Which is okay, because even though he's been reading the labels and saying "yuck!", my husband is still refusing to throw out (or donate) any foods that we already have in the house that don't fit the rules. So, we will be continuing the same routine we've been concentrating on all year- use up those foods we already have in the house, and not buying any more of them again. (I've been trying to wean the kids off of several of them for months now, but I haven't quite got to the point where I can get out of the store without another box every single time. Yet. I hope that time is not far in the future.)

As for what we all thought of this:

My husband claims that he didn't change his eating habits much at all.

He is extremely proud of the fact that he found a way to keep on eating his accustomed amounts of meat during this challenge. ("I'm a carnivore. I need meat.")

And he claims that he didn't notice feeling any different at all for the entire challenge.

Neither of the girls has mentioned feeling any differently or learning anything, naturally. I think they're too young to be able to put such things into words yet. Maybe they didn't even notice. (Only one nightmare for the entire 10 days, though. That's a huge improvement over normal.)

I did learn that the baby seems to have food stashed everywhere. Seriously, she's part squirrel or something. Every time I turned around she had yet another cracker of some sort (that she wasn't supposed to be eating during the challenge). I'm still not sure I've found her entire stash. But, at least I haven't seen her with anything new in the last couple of days. Maybe she's used it all up by now.

I noticed that there were unreasonable amounts of milk consumed during this challenge. Which is the girls' normal response to being offered foods they think are "icky". Obviously, to make these changes a permanent thing, we will be required to go more slowly. It took me 8 days to figure out how to make yogurt palatable under these rules, and yogurt is one of their favorite foods. The baby never did agree to eat it.

As for me, I had a hard time with some of these rules. My sweet tooth is unreasonable anyway, and taking all my junk food away at once was awful!  The second day was especially killer! By the third day, my husband was trying to concoct some sort of mess that involved oats, cocoa, and a bit of honey. It sort of resembled a no-bake cookie, but it never did set up properly. I rationed things out and behaved, really I did. I only had just a couple of bites. And only for the next couple of days or so. But it helped me get over the worst of the cravings. (Not all of them, just the worst ones. I still craved sugar the entire time.)

My husband stole my scale months ago, so I didn't weigh in the beginning or anything. I can't tell you if we had any weight loss (although, I would doubt it, since it was only 10 days). What I did notice was that I slept better than usual after a few days. I usually have trouble sleeping soundly, and I won't pretend that I got more sleep than normal, but I did feel more rested most days.

Also, I have extremely dry skin on my hands. I thought it was something related to thyroid issues, but after a few days of this challenge, they weren't nearly as bad as usual. I don't think I drank any more water than normal, so the only change I can see is in the foods we ate. Now, after only a day and a half of not sticking to these strict rules, I can see my hands starting to dry out a little again. Which sort of sucks.

So, is it worth it? Probably. I don't think I can really tell with just the few days of effort that we've put into it. I do think it's worth it to take the time to make good, home cooked food. I don't think I want to spend all day every day doing it, though. I still haven't adjusted to all this school and extracurricular stuff that we have going on. I'm obviously going to need a better system if I'm going to be able to pull this off when my husband isn't here to help. I expect that to be a pretty steep learning curve headed my way. (I'm not really a very good cook, so it's gonna take a lot of work.)

It's definitely worth doing if I can manage to teach my kids better eating habits than I have, myself. I readily admit that, of all of us in the house, my food choices are the worst 90% of the time. (Don't try to blame my mom for that, either. I can clearly remember her putting in a lot of effort trying to teach us, and making pretty decent meals for us when we were little. I obviously just didn't pay as much attention to it as I should have. She tried. Sorry, Mom. You were right all along. But, you knew that.) So, there's that. Maybe these guidelines would help me learn to model better eating for them. Like I said, totally worth it. I've been trying all year, and I think I might have made more headway in the last 10 days than in all the eight months before it.

Will we keep it up? Not this strictly, immediately. Like I mentioned before, my husband says we have to eat what we already have, no matter how gross. And the kids need a much more gradual slide into it. Right now, I'm thinking we might start with the mini-pledges from the 100 Days blog. If we start there and add a new one every week or two (or three), we should make some decent progress. And it should give us plenty of time to get rid of whatever is still floating around the house. (I have a feeling it's mostly junk foods and snack type things. I think most of the rest of it is already gone. I've been working on that for months.)

This 10 Day Pledge wasn't exactly easy, but it wasn't too hard, all things considered. It took a lot of time, though. Especially in the grocery stores. I think I would encourage everyone to try it. It's only for 10 days, and you might learn something useful from it. If nothing else, it will force you to think a little more about the food you eat. (I do recommend going into it a little more organized and prepared than I was, though. Make your plan and your tentative menu first, and then jump in with both feet!)

Here's your link to sign up for the 10 Day Pledge.  (Okay, Sister mine- it's your turn! Don't let me down! I want a full report.)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Book Review and an Update

As mentioned earlier, my family has been participating in the 10 Day Pledge from the blog 100 Days of Real Food for several days now. Actually, if my counting is correct, we are halfway through. Even though I had considered it months ago, we didn't jump in headfirst until her cookbook was released last week. After reading it (both versions, actually), and making several of the recipes, I've come to a decision: I like it.

I originally pre-ordered the ebook version of 100 Days of Real Food and after reading it, I bought the real actual dead tree version of it. I did this for a couple of reasons. First, because all of the sidebars and charts are much more legible in the larger printed format, with the tables presented in a manner that is much easier to read. There's no back and forth through columns on a too small digital screen, which I love. (That's my least favorite thing about my ereader. Sometimes it's really hard to read charts, tables, and maps.) Also, with the print version, we find it much more convenient for actual cooking. I prefer my cookbooks to be real and not virtual, apparently. (My husband already has our copy well stained and dusted with flour.)

A lot of the recipes and information in the book can probably be found on her blog, if you were motivated to do so. Some people would complain about that, I'm sure, feeling like they shouldn't have to buy a book full of things that are free online. (I've heard complaints of that nature in other book reviews.) Personally, I don't mind that. Searching her blog (which is full of great information and recipes, and which I love and will continue to visit) is a bit more complicated than just opening this book and flipping to the correct page. I find it much more convenient to just grab a book and start cooking (or reading) than to have to search through years of posts or pages, no matter how interesting or informative. Maybe that's just me, but I feel this book is worth the price, simply to have the basics of the information right at my fingertips, right when I want it.

As for the recipes, so far so good. We haven't by any stretch of the imagination tried them all -yet- or even most, but we have been steadily trying new recipes every day or so. (We've also snatched a couple off of her blog's recipe index.) I've been worried about my extremely picky eater, with some justification, but even she scarfed down the Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes without complaint. She did request strawberry slices added (sure!), but she gobbled them up and went for seconds. We've also tried, so far: Super Easy Whole Wheat Biscuits, Whole Wheat Pizza, Whole Wheat Tortillas, and Everyday Whole Wheat Bread. (Mostly staples and things that appear high up on my super picky Little Miss' list of favorite foods. She's been the least cooperative in this endeavor.)Today I think my husband is using the recipe for the Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce (book), and the Asian Coleslaw (blog). No promises that he follows the recipe exactly, but the outcome should be similar. I'm looking forward to it.

Over all, I'm excited to keep using this book in future. The recipes we have tried this week have been delicious. And I have no reason to suspect that all of the recipes won't be every bit as yummy. I have several more planned to try over the next few days. And I'll be back (probably Friday night) with a summary of our completed 10 Day Pledge.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Camp Loopy Challenge Results

It's finally finished! The Loopy Ewe's Camp Loopy Challenge 3 project is done.

 I didn't think I was going to make it, honestly. I thought I was so far behind that there was no hope.

I was making pretty good progress in the beginning. You might remember this picture:

This was taken when there were approximately 55ish rows finished. I was very happy with progress and with the look of it. And then...

Well, a couple of days later, I realized that it was nowhere near big enough. I was at row 78 or so, and hadn't even made it much more than a quarter of the way through the required amount of yarn... Not good.

That's when I had to frog it.

I spent the next week or so just getting back to the same place I was before. No progress whatsoever. Bummer, right?

The good news is that the larger needles worked much better. And once I finally got back to my previous starting point, I was pretty sure there would be plenty of time to finish up. Even though what I had only looked like this:

I think this was about 75 rows or so.

Then things slowed down quite a bit. I got distracted by that spindle, and I got busy with all the other non-crafty things going on. As a result, this project slowed down a lot. Like, to a complete standstill for a few days. (I did manage to get Baby Girl's Christmas socks done during all of the running around, so that's a plus. But still.)

Then, last week, I looked at the calendar and panicked. And then I locked myself in my bedroom and ignored everybody for a few hours. Several times.

This morning, I finally finished weaving in the ends. All ten million of them. This afternoon, it blocked on my bed. It filled the entire top of the (king sized) bed. This surprised me. I suppose it's because I couldn't tell what this whole mess would look like when it was all scrunched up on the circular needles. (Which is the main reason I am not fond of circulars.)

My sweetie helped me take pictures of it this evening. I guess you want to see some of them? Here you go. (Please forgive a couple of these. I tried to take them myself, but I am super bad at that sort of thing. His are much better.):

So, there it is. I kinda love it a little bit. Not sure when or where I will ever have occasion to wear it. But I love it.

For my first attempt at a real lace pattern, I'm happy with it. I can see a lot of little tiny goofs, and one pretty major one. (I won't point them out to anyone else, though. Just in case nobody else notices...) But I think it turned out pretty awesome. I might even make another one. Someday. And only without a deadline.

Now, I just have to keep myself away from that spindle often enough to get the rest of my Christmas projects finished and I'm home free...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Day 1- In Which I Am an Idiot

An impulsive idiot, apparently. Which seems really unlike me. (The impulsive part. Not necessarily the idiot part.) I don't usually just do things like this with abandon... Except this time, I guess.

Yesterday morning, I woke up to find an unexpected email receipt for a book I apparently pre-ordered and then forgot about wanting. So, I opened it up and started reading it. And it reminded me that I had cruised this blog a while back and considered this 10 day challenge.

My sister pointed me to this blog. I think. Or, maybe I found it on pinterest and then found out that she reads it? I can't remember. But, since the subject ties in so well with my other reading this year, I spent several days reading the challenge and related posts. Often with the certainty that she would never survive it without breaking the rules they had agreed on. (Especially during the budget version of her blogging.) I briefly flirted with the idea of doing the challenge, but chickened out when I started trying to come up with suitable foods that the kids would actually eat. It seemed so impossible. (Still sorta does, really.)

 I guess that must have been when I ordered the book.

Then I went away and forgot all about it.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I started reading the book, of course, since it was already on my reader (as mentioned above). And I remembered that I had briefly considered this challenge. And given it up as a bad idea. But for some reason, it stuck in my brain.

All day long, the idea of doing the challenge kept popping up, and every time it did, I fussed at myself for being ridiculous. Then I made the mistake of mentioning it to my husband. For some crazy reason, he didn't seem to think it was completely insane and impossible. He was actually willing to give it a try- on the condition that we don't actually give away or throw away any of the food we already have that is not allowed by the rules. I think he plans on eating it in about 9 days...

I fought down the urge to sign up once more and went on about my business...

Then the subject came up briefly over dinner with friends, and I told my husband that if he really wanted to try it, I would have to go to the grocery store before morning to have appropriate breakfast and school lunch selections for Little Miss. (She's even pickier than me, if anyone can bring themselves to believe that. And, oh, how I hope she outgrows that ASAP.) He still had no opinion.

We got back home and did the bedtime for babies thing, and settled in for a few minutes before we collapsed ourselves. And suddenly, there was that crazy stinkin' idea again! And I guess I had a moment of temporary insanity or something, because there I was- sitting at the computer, officially signing us up for the challenge.

And that's how I ended up at the grocery store last night trying to buy a few veggies at 10 pm... (A very few, and thank goodness it wasn't a full on shopping spree. It took 15 minutes for them to figure out how to ring up my stuff. And I still sent some of it back because she couldn't figure it out...)

So, our first day is nearly over. We got off to a very shaky start. My husband and I had eggs for breakfast (which is fine. I have no idea how to get fresher, more local eggs than that). But he flat out refused to abandon his toast. It was homemade bread, but it still doesn't fit the rules. (You can see an explanation of the rules here.) It is plain old yummy white bread with no nutritional value or whole grains whatsoever. Bummer. I'm hoping he'll do better tomorrow. Little Miss had fruit, no problem and no complaints. Yay!

Then, it was off to school for her and off on errands for us (including the farmer's market and grocery store for some whole grains to get us through the next few days). Lunch was snacky, with lots of various fruits and veggies. And his farmer's market salsa (which he pretty much filled the fridge with when he heard it fits the criteria of the challenge). Of course, one of the things we had to buy was something appropriate for him to dip into it. So, even though it technically follows the rules to the best of my ability to determine, he still bought a pile of junk food on our first day out. :(

I'm hoping that tomorrow will be better.

I'm also hoping to get Little Miss to eat a couple bites of egg. (She recently announced that she only likes them deviled or boiled in pretty shapes. Not scrambled. Or in "bacon pie.") We'll see how it goes over. She wasn't thrilled with our cornbread recipe this evening. Everyone else loved it. To the point that my husband has announced that this recipe will be the only one he ever uses anymore. Luckily, she ate her green beans and potatoes.

This evening has so far seen meltdowns over everything from the food not being exactly what she wanted to being asked to put her milk away on her way past the fridge. I know kindergarten is exhausting. I'm tired, and I don't even have to sit in class all day. And I know that my Little Miss Picky is going to hate the new rules and foods for the next week and a half. But, most of the food we plan so far is high up on her favorites list. There are only a couple of modifications necessary. So, hopefully she'll come around soon.

As for me, I'm okay. For now. I can do anything for one day. The soda withdrawal will kick in tomorrow, though. Most likely closely followed by the sugar/chocolate withdrawal... I think it is a severe understatement to say that I am not looking forward to any of that. At all. I'm totally okay with most of the other changes. They seem to mostly be changes I've been trying to make and stick to all year. (I haven't had much success, sadly.)

I predict that the next 9 days are only going to get harder for everyone...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Random Stuff

A quick summary of our week. (So far.)

School stuff:
  • Little Miss went back to school on Monday. She seems to be over whatever that was. Thank goodness!
  • Her little boyfriend was very worried about her while she was out sick.
  • Her teacher had to tell me about the boyfriend. Little Miss briefly mentioned a boy that had told her she was the best girl he ever knew, but the teacher had to tell me that he stole a kiss in the hallway last week. Apparently, he had to mention it to the teacher. She didn't know until then either. :)
  • She has another little boyfriend that she sat with during a video the other day. She actually knows this one's name, at least.
  • The teacher and I are debating whether or not Little Miss can read already. Neither of us are completely certain, but we sort of suspect it. Little Miss has not yet slipped up and given us any sure proof. But her teacher says that she should be ready to take some sort of little reading test soon.
  • So far, Little Miss is not putting up any fights or complaints about doing her homework. This is awesome. I hope it lasts. It might only be because homework has only consisted of one worksheet which requires favorite artistic techniques such as coloring and cutting/pasting, along with a tiny bit of writing practice. We'll see how it goes in a few months.
  • Mornings come way too soon around here. Especially when a certain Baby Girl insists on waking up at 5am. :(
  • I really, really hate mornings.
  • That afternoon pickup routine is a mess. Or, at least, it was on Monday. Yesterday was better. Slightly. We'll see if that continues. I hope so.
  • Either way, it still takes sitting there for a full 40 minutes to get the kid in the car and get back out on the road...
  • I have a feeling Baby Girl is going to hate doing that every day.
  • I get to find out exactly how she feels about it this afternoon. Yay.(Updated: Baby Girl did reasonably okay with the waiting. Thank goodness. Let's hope that keeps up.)
  • They're already sending home things for the kids to sell door-to-door. :( I hate that. (Also, if you'd like to buy candy bars or cookie dough, let me know.)
Crafty stuff:

  • The Camp Loopy challenge shawl is still not finished. But some small progress is being made.
  • I'm hoping to get a post done soon to go into a bit more detail, but it hasn't happened just yet.
  • I have ten days to get it finished, washed & blocked, photographed and uploaded.
  • I'm not sure I'm gonna make it.
  • My niddy-noddy came. I rewound my tiny little skein into something a little neater.
  • It's still very, very tiny.
  • I don't know exactly how tiny. My best guess is about 20 yards. Maybe.
  • I should have gotten the larger niddy-noddy.
  • My Box of Fun came on Monday. It had lots of pretty fluff in it:
                                                                  Cayenne and Spruce
                                                                    by Sweet Georgia
                                                                 Wood Elves Gradient
                                                           by  Fibernymph Dye Works

                                                           Leprechaun Socks Gradient
                                                           by  Fibernymph Dye Works

Fruit Loops Gradient
                                                            by Fibernymph Dye Works

                                                                  Shawn Spencer
                                                           by Woolen Mill St. Yarns
  • All of those are BFL, except the last one. (The last one is Corriedale roving.)
  • BFL apparently stands for Blue-Faced  Leicester . (That's a type of sheep.)
  • I have no idea what most of those will look like when they're all spun up. It will be a complete surprise.
  • I really hope they're pretty when I get them spun and that I don't manage to completely ruin them...
  • I can't actually use any of my pretty new fluff yet. I only have one spindle and it's full.
  • I'm trying to correct that. (It's my waiting-in-the-car-for-Little-Miss-after-school project.) (Updated: I fibbed. I finished up that yarn during naptime, because I couldn't stand it. But my problem still isn't fixed because I only had a blue roving with me during the car wait. I couldn't hold out. I needed something to pass the time. I started it. The pretties will have to wait another day or so...)
  • I think I need a couple more spindles, so as to avoid the problem mentioned above...
  • My second ever attempt at making yarn is currently hanging up to dry. I like it. I think it's a bit better than the last.
  • My third attempt is currently on the spindle. (It's an almost navy blue.)
  • I finished the first of Baby Girl's socks the other day.
  • I turned the heel of the second sock yesterday afternoon. (While waiting in the school line.)
  • I'm gonna need lots of waiting-in-the-parking-lot projects to get me through this year.
  • On the plus side, hopefully, I'll get quite a bit of stuff finished this school year? I hope...

Friday, August 15, 2014

It's a Kind of Magic

And I am completely enchanted by it. (Also, I now have that song by Queen stuck in my head. But I guess that's my own fault, huh?)

Here's what's been going on:

First I took something resembling this (except it was a weird dark purple color that Little Miss loves)

And then, I grabbed this (which has been sitting around here in a box for years and I'm really glad I grabbed it- finally- because, wow)

And finally, I threw in a little of this

which you got a glimpse of a while back (buried underneath the other book). Then I added a dash of youtube. The lady who wrote that book has a couple of very helpful videos that demonstrate what she was trying to explain in her book.

And now, several days later- Presto change-o! Like magic!

I MADE YARN!! (Sorry for yelling. I couldn't help it. I'll try to get a grip. Might take a few days, though. I nearly drove my sweetie crazy last night, what with all the dancing around and giggling to myself...) I'm so unreasonably thrilled about that. It's just the neatest thing.

First, I spun the roving into a single ply yarn. (This is the purple, shown very close to actual color, thanks to my sweetie, who is much, much better with the camera than I am.) It basically sucks, as far as yarn goes. It's very overspun (because she said it was better to have too much than too little, and I took her at her word). It has thick and thin spots hidden in all the kinks. It is very far from perfect. But I love it anyway.

The book says that plying helps to even out yarns, so, of course, I plied. Here's my two-ply yarn on the spindle.

Plying was awesome. It's even more fun than the spinning, and so very much faster. It took hours and hours to spin the singles. Plying it all took less than an hour total. It's still a very thick-and-thin yarn, but the plying does seem to have helped it.

Then I had to get it off the spindle. I used my crappy, cheap, in-need-of-an-upgrade swift, which worked fine. I guess. I've never wound yarn up on it before, only used it to hold yarn while I wind it up into balls. It seemed a little bit awkward. I have a niddy-noddy somewhere in the mail. It should be here in a few days, and then I hope to make this skein look a little better. I think it will at least be easier than using the swift.

 And finally, a quick bath. This is supposed to set the twist and make it real yarn forever and always.

And now, the hard part. Patiently waiting for it to dry. That patience thing isn't working out so well for me. (As usual.) Luckily, I have things to distract me. And I'm cheating.

The yarn has to hang to dry. I left it un-weighted this first time, just to see what it turned out like. But, when I woke up this morning and found out that it was still wet, well...

I had to move it. Now it is hanging right under my ceiling fan (in the only room of the house where I can be reasonably sure no one will mess with it too much), which is going full speed. Hopefully, it will be dry pretty soon and I can pet it and maybe get a guess as to how much of it there is... I'm not sure if I plan to do anything with it for now. It might just sit around for a few months (or years) so I can occasionally measure my new yarns against it to see if I'm getting any better.

My brand new, very-first-ever, made-it-myself yarn is still kinky and overspun (which I'll probably try to improve on the next go), but it is bouncy and springy and I think it isn't a completely terrible first effort. (I've seen professional yarns for sale that are very similar.) I'm pretty happy with it, and I can't wait to try it again. This is most likely going to make me want a spinning wheel even more than ever, but for now, I just want a few more spindles and some more roving. (My box of fun should be here in just a few days with the roving. Yay!)

I wonder if I can talk my husband into getting me a couple of those sweet little miniature sheep now?  Hmm...  ;)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Worst First Week of School EVER!

So far, at least. I'll admit that we still have a great many years in front of us yet. But I truly hope that this is the worst we will ever have...

My sweet little girl was excited to start her new school. She bounced out of bed and jumped into her new clothes and off we went. Everything was going well. There was the expected amount of nervous- from both of us. It's a big, scary thing for a little one to have to walk through an entire huge school, past all of the big kids. (It will be even worse when she has to do it alone. Which they want asap.) And a new teacher and all new classmates is a little scary, too. That's understandable, and I was a little nervous that there would be tears. But, as far as I could tell (and no one has mentioned differently), there were none. She wilted a bit when I left her, but she was brave and she made it through her half day of school. (Remember that. It was a half day. They were only there for four hours. This will be important to our story in a minute.)

She hasn't been very talkative about her first day. We've slowly managed to piece together a very few details about it:
1- Her new teacher passed out some pencils and glue sticks for the pencil boxes. And the table has a neat "tiny" cubby underneath just the right size to hold the aforementioned pencil boxes. (She seems to think this was the neatest part of the day- that the tables have a place to keep a pencil box.)
2- They didn't get to play outside because of "the mean old rain".
3- They read a story about the first day of school jitters and made something called "jitter juice"(which seems to be very similar to the punch my family makes. She said it had rainbow ice cream and two different kinds of Sierra Mist. She also said she didn't like it). *As an aside, I would very much like them to stop sending me little notes and lectures about proper nutrition now. They gave them soda and ice cream on the first day of class and the "nutritious" snacks that they prefer I buy her (from them) instead of packing from home apparently consist of cookies and popsicles. They have zero room to be lecturing me on what I should be feeding my kids if this is their definition of nutritious... Just sayin'.*
4- When I picked her up from school, I asked her if she had a good day. Her reaction was not overly positive. I believe her exact words were "not very good." But by the time we got home and her daddy asked her the same thing, she told him "yes." Make of that what you will.

This is the sum total we have managed to pry out of her.

This was a strange week, with only 3 half days (four hours each, remember), and she was only supposed to attend on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

So, on Wednesday, Little Miss was quite a bit harder to drag up and get moving. I chalked it up to nerves and off we went...

(Here's where the four hours/day becomes relevant.)
The school nurse called around 11 and told us to come get her. She had puked. (And has continued to do so.) The nurse says it's a stomach bug and that several other kindergarteners have it as well. Little Miss can return to school 24 hours after she stops puking.

I would just like to restate, for the record: FOUR HOURS! That's how long it took for that cesspit known as public school to make people sick. We're doomed. Doomed, I tell you! I hate schools. They're full of germs. I didn't realize it would only take four hours to doom us all, but apparently, that's all it took.

And, so, her first week of school comes abruptly to a close. Surely, she'll be fit to return on Monday. Please? (I love her dearly, but there's only so much puking I can handle. Pretty sure I've reached my limits here. And I hate seeing her so miserable.)

Worst first week of school ever.

PS. Camp Loopy 3 isn't making me super happy right now, either. But, I'll complain about that in a few days. (Probably in detail. Sorry about that in advance.)

PPS. On a positive note, they called my husband about work. Unless some sort of (very expensive for them) emergency arises, he gets to stay home until after my birthday! I'm super happy about that. The one really good thing that's happened so far this week. :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Climbing Back Up On That Wagon...

... is a whole lot harder than falling off of it is.

I suppose, if you want to be exceptionally accurate about it (and, please, let us not confuse the issue with facts), I didn't so much fall off the wagon as jump enthusiastically at the first available opportunity.

You see, I have what I consider to be a legitimate addiction. My husband insists that it's just all in my head (isn't that what an addiction is? -basically just your brain screaming at you that you need this??) He claims that I could stop if I truly wanted to. If I wanted it badly enough, I could just walk away and never think of such things again. Theoretically, that may be true. Unfortunately, even though I keep stating very, very clearly that I am not going to go near that stuff ever again... I always end up with it.

And, no, this time we aren't talking about something wonderful and amazing that "normal" people just don't get. (Such as fabrics or yarns, for example.) This time we are, in fact, talking about something very bad for me. It isn't illegal or anything. In fact, most of the time, people seem to be shoving it at you. I get strange looks from people when they find out that I don't let my kids have it, because everybody (and their kids) uses the stuff constantly. (It isn't that I actively deprive my kids of it. It's that they will not touch the stuff. At all. Their choice. I swear it. I really can't be bothered to mind that they don't want it. I wish I didn't want it.)

I'm talking about soda. Or pop, depending on which part of the world you come from. (I seem to remember calling it pop, or possibly soda-pop, when I was smaller.) Specifically, colas (Dr. Pepper, by preference)- the more caffeine, the better. I've finally gotten away from the diet sodas- thank goodness!- but I still cannot quit longing for them.

I go cold turkey every time I try to quit permanently. There is no possible way for me to "just have one once in a while." Tried it. It fails miserably. Every. Single. Time. One turns into two, which turns into three, and before I know it that's all I seem to drink. Meanwhile, my virtuous, non-addicted kid is fussing at me like she was the mom, telling me how bad it is for me (which I know) and how it isn't nutritious (which is one of her favorite words)...

I was doing really well this last time. I was. I hadn't had a single soda in weeks, and I was nearly to the point where I could almost fool myself into thinking I didn't want them (LIAR!!) And then...

I don't actually know what went wrong. I just found myself drinking one. Maybe I was sleep deprived. That happens a lot- you would not believe how often that happens! (Okay. If you have very young children, you probably believe. If your kids are older, you might already be blessed with that lovely self imposed amnesia that our brains are programmed to provide us with as a self-defense, species survival mechanism.) Or, maybe, I forgot to pack a water with me/drank all my water and just needed a drink. That might have been the only decent option available.

Or maybe, just maybe, my husband is wrong. Maybe that headline I saw (somewhere or other) that claims that sugar is more addictive than most drugs is actually on to something. That would explain a lot.

And so, here we go again. I'm climbing back up on the wagon. And I will try once again to stay there.

And, if they would like to help me stay there, I would offer this advice to my children- especially the little one:

If I am not able to drink soda, my dears, then the only possible source of caffeine left to me is the one you must allow me to have. It is hot. You cannot climb on me/steal it out of my hands/ hang off of my legs while I'm trying to lift it. You must get over whatever unreasonable objections you seem to have to this beverage that will (hopefully) be able to get us all through our days with my sanity as intact as it is possible to still be. In short, you must let me drink my tea!!!

Seriously, what do you have against tea??!?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Are We Having an Alien Invasion?

Because all day, I keep thinking that the body-snatchers have invaded Alberta and that my husband is now actually a pod person...

I should explain, huh?

Where to start?... Remember a while back, when I went to the yarn shop and fell hard for that awesome buffalo? And I decided not to try and give my husband heart failure over the price of it?...

Well, it turns out that even without being willing to actually give him a total (although I did break down and tell him the price of each individual skein), I couldn't help but mention (possibly repeatedly) how much I loved this stuff, and how it was a totally reasonable price, considering...

Well, this morning I woke up to find my husband telling me to buy the buffalo.

I know.

 Shocked doesn't really begin to describe my reaction. After a few minutes to absorb this news, I naturally inquired as to the whereabouts of my real husband. It took several text messages and a facetime session to convince me that it was really him saying it. And, even then, I still thought insanity or pod people were most likely involved. Still...

What? I was supposed to turn him down? You know better than that, right? Happy birthday to me!! (That's the explanation he chose to use to explain his sudden generosity/insanity, by the way. Even though my birthday is a month away. I tell you what, if this is what surprise double-time days do to him, those people need to work on all the Canadian holidays...)

Here it is again... (Pardon the crappy pictures. It's a much more gorgeous chocolate brown than it appears here.)
The label doesn't show, so let me read it off to you. The important parts, anyway. This stuff is called
"Heaven". That's the name of it. "Heaven." No arguments from me. 100% bison down, 2-ply lace weight. It's from The Buffalo Wool Co. and supposedly there are 400 yards here. (On each skein. There are three skeins. I bought out the store. I would say I'm sorry, but I'm not.) Doesn't look like it to me, but then, it never does.

This is the closest pattern they had to the one the sample scarf was done up in. (I briefly considered trying to buy that scarf, too. But I resisted. It was hard.)
 I tried to get a closer view of the actual pattern here:
 It is close to what I saw in the shop, but not exact. And I'm not certain that this is what I will use when I get around to knitting it up. But it is definitely in the running.

As for the Camp Loopy challenge, I'm still plugging along. It's going very slowly. I may have made several small miscalculations.

For a start, lace is probably not something I'm going to do much of for a few more years. I've found out that I have very little time to spend on it. Because there is counting to be done. And I cannot count when someone is jabbering at me. I know this now, because I tried. Didn't work. What this means is that I now have no time to work on my shawl, because the nap times I thought I would have have completely vanished. The only time I'm getting any work done is after I stick the girls into bed (but before I pass out myself- a very small window of time, especially when one or both of the girls makes sure to drag me out of a sound sleep at least once or twice a night) or first thing in the morning. If I happen to be dragged awake before the girls. This has cut down on my knitting time considerably.

Secondly, I've chosen to knit a shawl. This means that every single row (okay, okay- every other row) gets bigger than the last... The problems with that should be obvious. The longer it takes to do a row, the fewer rows I get done per day.

I'm starting to think that I might not get this thing finished in time. And that's a sad thing to be thinking already, because it's only the 5th day of the month. Maybe my husband's kidnappers will finally let him come home and I can get an extra row or two in every day. Maybe? I hope.

Here's what I have so far:
This is exactly 58 finished rows. (The shortest ones.) I have twice that many to go. And then I have the tips of the leaf points to go back and add. Plus the blocking at the end...
I better get back to work!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

There's Your Problem...

We had a really rough day, the other day. Everybody was super grumpy/whiny/out of sorts, and nobody had a single shred of patience to be found.

Yesterday started off really badly again, albeit not as irritatingly early. I woke up too soon, the baby woke up earlier than I wanted her to, etc. I was allowed (most of) a cup of tea before the crying began, which was so very much better than the day before, but for a couple of hours there, that was the only improvement I could find.

It wasn't my Little Miss's fault. She spent most of yesterday morning playing nicely in her room. Most likely simply trying to avoid us. I don't blame her. Baby Girl was a super grump. Right up until I started rubbing her back. (Which was a couple of minutes after she placed it within my reach.) Suddenly, there was peace. Suddenly, there was calm. Suddenly, I looked down and saw my sweet, precious baby peacefully snuggled up against me with a look of perfect contentment. It was the exact sort of look that I suspect can be found on my face in the (now rare, since he's always away working) moments that I can snuggle up and let my husband rub my back.

That's when it hit me. That is most likely the entire source of strife that we experienced the day before. (And quite a lot of the other times.) Baby Girl is far, far too much like me.

Little Miss has some things in common with me. For instance, she would really rather just be left completely alone for an hour or so after she wakes up. Also, she has a temper. Also, she has a fair bit of stubborn in her. (Although, while some of it may have come from me, I still maintain that quite a lot of the stubborn came from her daddy. He is so very stubborn as to be unable to admit that he is stubborn.) But, in addition to all of that, my sweet Little Miss is, as my mother first pointed out to me, quite the little drama queen. (This might be my ultimate downfall. I have very little use for or patience with drama. Already the incessant tantrums threaten to put me over the edge several times a day, and she isn't even in kindergarten yet. I can only imagine- with a great deal of trepidation- the hell that awaits me during the teenage years.)

But my precious Baby Girl...

I have a lot of faults. I would be the very first to admit that. I'm stubborn, impatient, short-tempered, and have next to zero tolerance for willful stupidity. (Which, unfortunately, seems to be rampant in the world today.) I tend to feel the urge to curse far, far too often. (I've been working hard on this since the kids came along. Mostly, I do okay when they're around. The rest of the time, I resort to curses that are only obscene in whatever science fiction universe they came from. Real people would probably just stare in confusion if my kid repeated them. I'm kind of okay with that, since it's really probably the best I can hope to achieve at this point. You can probably blame my daddy for that. I doubt he would argue the point. Much.) The list goes on and on and on. I know all of this, and I try to fight it. I try to rise above it. Mostly, I fail. But I try. I have always considered science fiction stories about clones to be a horrific idea, and I have never, not once, seriously entertained the idea that cloning myself would truly be beneficial. Because if I had to live with me, I would probably be plotting murder within seconds. (This is one of the reasons that my sweet husband is so very special and impressive. He presumably knew all of this, and he married me anyway...)

And I suddenly realized yesterday, while snuggling with Baby Girl, that she has quite a lot of these traits, too. Poor thing. Not only has she got an even bigger dose of stubborn than her sister did, she has the super short temper, the frustration that comes with having no patience to speak of while simultaneously being forced to wait on everyone else, the look that says all too clearly "good grief, I can't believe my survival depends on you people! Get it together already!" All of it. Also, unlike her sister and father, she has trouble sleeping soundly and therefore wakes up much more easily (like me) than she probably wants to. And to top it all off, she isn't really much of a morning person either.

So, now, one of my worst (so far. I'm trying not to borrow trouble from too far in the future) fears has come true. Not only do I have to live with myself, I get to live with myself and a drama queen- through the teenage years. (This seems like an appropriate time to raise my eyes towards the heavens and pray for the patience, wisdom, and strength to survive it all with my sanity- what's left of it, anyway- still intact...)

We had a much better afternoon yesterday. I don't know why, exactly. It could be that this little epiphany has caused me to put even more effort into things. Or, possibly, it's because my wonderful father-in-law came over to play with the girls for a while. (They were, as always, super rough on him.) Maybe Baby Girl overheard me begging my husband for a short vacation to anywhere, in order to preserve what little of my sanity remains. (That conversation lasted for a while, night before last. And yesterday morning during the repeat performance of grumps...) She could've decided to show me a little mercy. Or, possibly, everyone just spontaneously recovered from the severe case of the grumps that we've all suffered from for the last few days.

Maybe it's some combination of all of these reasons. I may never know. But, I'm very grateful. This morning has been a bit better. Right up until a few minutes ago, when I attempted to make myself a cup of tea. That's when the fighting and whining started up again. What in the world do these girls have against tea??

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a couple of kids to separate, some hair pulling to put a stop to, and maybe- just maybe- a cup of tea to drink before it gets completely cold...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Off to the Races...

Today is the first of August, which means that the Camp Loopy challenge 3 hosted by The Loopy Ewe has officially begun.

And I have officially started to wonder what in the world I was thinking, planning to have time to actually finish an entire project in just a few short days...

Here's what I have so far:

                                        (Sorry for the not-so-great shot. It really is all there is to see, though.)

What you see in that photo is 16 rows of the first attempt at actual lace that I have ever done. And, yes, it really does look just like that at the moment. I would be super discouraged if I hadn't been told that lace just looks crappy until it's blocked. I'm already discouraged enough without adding that in...

Now that the time has arrived to actually knit the shawl, I've finally realized that there really are not likely to be very many hours this month with which to knit. I had a vague feeling that this might be the case, but today has finally proven it for certain.

I was counting on nap times to help give me a few extra minutes for knitting. But Baby Girl has been resisting naps furiously these last few days. This morning, she actually passed out for an hour or so. Yay! But, when I tried to capitalize on the time, I suddenly had a five-year-old attached to my hip. (The same five-year-old who had spent the previous two hours playing in her bedroom and completely ignoring my existence. Yeah, that one.) And that's when I discovered that the only time I'm likely to have for most of the month is whatever amount of time I can keep my eyes open after bedtime. Because I don't think I can knit this pattern without counting to myself. And I cannot count with anyone sitting next to me and talking to me incessantly.

My project might not get finished by the deadline.

But, so far, I love the yarn. And the color. And so far, I'm able to follow the pattern and not get too confused. And, boy, I hope I didn't just jinx myself with that sentence...

And, now, I'd better shut up and get to knitting. :)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Today's Accomplishments:

They're few and far between. But I thought I might list them here to prove to myself that they do actually exist.

1) Both kids are still alive. This is mildly surprising, all things considered. It's been a rough one, starting way too early, and full of grumpy, grumpy people. (Myself not excepted.)

2) We made it to the last day of summer ballet camp, and we were even on time. In spite of an en route stop at the post office. (One that I truly did not want to mess with today, but it's over now.)

3) I made supper. Nothing fancy. But, at least there was actual food. For a while there, I didn't think it was going to be allowed. I seem to be unable to move from my chair without Baby Girl screaming and crying her head off about it.

4) I got the dishwasher loaded and run. Thank goodness. Sort of hoping to do that again before I fall asleep. Children allowing, of course.

5) I made it out to check the chickens in the middle of the day. This one really surprised me, and only happened because I ran out to check for eggs while Baby Girl was in her bed- screaming her head off because she doesn't plan to nap today. No matter how very much I really need her to, to preserve the last little strand of my sanity. (Maybe she truly believes it's too late?)  We had six more eggs today, by the way. Seem to be averaging approximately half a dozen a day. Not sure how long this will keep up- I think they're supposed to slow down/stop laying for the winter? In the meantime, anybody want some eggs? There are over two dozen sitting in my fridge right now, with no reason to assume that I won't get another five or six tomorrow... (With my husband still kidnapped in a foreign country, we really cannot eat that many eggs.)

6) I have not (yet) completely lost it and run away, screaming, into the night in the hopes of finding somewhere quiet. Maybe someplace where I can sit and knit, maybe drink an entire cup of tea before it goes stone cold... I consider this to be the biggest accomplishment of my day, so far. Sort of proud of myself for not running away from home, actually... Although, I find myself daydreaming about it every two minutes today, on average. Maybe Australia? Belize? Edmonton? (Although, it's probably chillier there than I would prefer... My sweetie is there, though, so that's a point in its favor, even if it is too chilly.)

7) And, I was actually allowed to type this up without too much interference/screaming about it. Mostly because I still have her tied up in her high chair finishing her dinner...

On the list of things I have not managed to accomplish today:
(This is a much abbreviated version, obviously.)

1) I did not manage to drink my cup of tea in peace and quiet this morning, in spite of being awakened at 5:30am.  In fact, at this point in time, I still have not had a cup of tea. This is disappointing because it is my only allowed source of caffeine. And I need my caffeine. (This means that, in my desperation, I have had to resort to not allowed sources of caffeine. Sad, but necessary. Hopefully tomorrow is a much, much better day.)

2) I did not manage to convince Baby Girl that she: a) woke up way too early, b) needed to actually take a freaking nap instead of dozing for 5 minutes on the way home from ballet camp and calling it quits, or c) keep your clothes on so the air conditioning doesn't give you chill bumps. (It isn't even very warm here this week.)

3) I did not manage, again, to get all of the laundry folded and put away. I still have about two loads worth to deal with. If I ever get an actual naptime ever again, I can take care of that. There's always tomorrow, I suppose. I don't plan to go anywhere tomorrow. I'm tired of running all over the place and missing naptime. (I love naptime, I really do. The only way it could be better is if I was actually allowed to have a nap, too.)

4) Even though I spent an hour on it last night, and have continued to try and swatch it today, I still have not managed to get gauge for my shawl project, which I am supposed to start knitting tomorrow. Even though I have changed needle sizes three times and have willfully stretched the swatch into an approximation of "aggressively blocked", it still refuses to come close. I'm about to give up and just knit it anyway, gauge or no gauge. (Yes, this is probably just begging for trouble, but I'm about to decide I don't care that much. I think I like the fabric I'm getting with the smaller needles and the larger the needles get, the less I like it. If it goes up anymore, I'm not sure I can stand it...) If I can ever manage to get this last swatch large enough to work with, I might manage to wash and block it before I pass out tonight. Maybe it will look better tomorrow. :/

Here's hoping bedtime comes soon...