Saturday, December 31, 2005

Last day of the year.

Sigh. I've had the children for so long, that even though I know they are with their dad, I keep looking around for them and wondering why it's so quiet. Alone time is a real benefit of joint custody, there's no denying it. When you are with children constantly (my own and other people's) time to just sit and read, knit, or clean the house uninterrupted is a blessed thing.

I did not see Elf last year when it came out. I really like everyone in the cast, I was just suspicious after the previews. Sometimes all the funny parts in a movie are in the trailer and the rest sucks. A friend let us borrow her DVD (I had it in my queue at Netflix and it said "very long wait" next to it) and I laughed so hard! Bowen sat quietly staring with a giant smile on his face, Chicky laughed, and Morgan was literally on the floor, rolling and laughing. Zooey Deshanel has an amazing voice and I had to order the soundtrack after hearing her (she's only on one song with Leon Redbone, but it's good).

When we started watching Elf, everyone had some piece of knitting in hand. Morgan decided he wanted a wristband, so he learned to purl (after me showing him two stitches, he had it) and he's almost finished. We decided after the first five minutes of the movie we needed to put the knitting down so we could concentrate on laughing.


Bowen wanted to make gauntlets. I was concerned with his low frustration level that working with five double pointed needles would put him quickly over the edge, but he is moving along in a knit two, purl two rib confidently! Boys knit and it rocks!


We are, unfortunately, getting a development built behind the houses across the street from our house. Their "back entrance/exit" funnels them to the bottom of our road. I'm hoping it won't be convenient enough to be used much. The up side, for right now, is that there is a nice paved, empty, still-blocked road where the kids can ride bike. Yes, this is a picture of my daughter without a bike helmet on.


The boys have mohawks again. Morgan spent ages five through seven with a mohawk and loved it. Then he had a "regular" head-shaving for a while and now, the mohawk has returned. Bowen has had them on and off, but doesn't seem as into them as Morgan. I was surprised that he's been putting gel in his and spiking it some days. It's easier to pick 'em out in a crowd.


We met friends of the kids yesterday at the skating rink and they had a very good time. Their first time on the ice, and they didn't fall as much as I thought they would. Chicky didn't want to go, until 30 minutes before the rink was closing (that is so her). The rink was packed, whole families on the ice, and some groups of adults. I was surprised.


I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions. I think you can change whatever you want to about yourself, whenever you want. Reflection and change aren't limited to a certain time of year. Plus, having a "pile" is rather overwhelming. To that end, I wish you all a Happy New Year, full of the good stuff (that's different for everyone, so choose your own).


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Yarn and small stuff.

One of my holiday gifts was yarn stash replenishment from Mel and Angela. After all that holiday knitting I was pretty much empty. In Fiberland, one must always have fiber options. Perhaps a very soft alpaca yarn spoke to you at the yarn shop and you bought the three skeins they had in your preferred color with a specific project in mind. Maybe when you got home you added it to the stash and either forgot what project you had in mind or changed your mind and used a different yarn. Will the alpaca be wasted? Of course not, another project will come along and it will be used. My point here is that stashes are quite natural and necessary, almost required, even. Here is the beginning of the "new" stash:


I was appalled at the amount of trash/recycling we had accumulated over the last four days. Now that I haul the garbage and recycling myself to the dump and sort it all out, I am truly horrified. To that end I have another rant:

Oh, Toy-Companies-of-the-World-that-import-goods-from-China, hear my plea! Please, oh for the love of Whomever You Hold Dear, please stop packaging everything in fifty-four small bags, carefully encased in five super-taped cardboard boxes. This may be some Holy Toy Company number, but I beseech you....STOP! Spend some of your million in profits to mold yet another plastic item - one in which all the small, itty-bitty bits will be kept safe, neat,and unable to be consumed by the all-powerful Electrolux (speak thou not against the sacred dirt sucker), or eaten by a dog.

You may not realize this, O Great Beings, but your karma is damaged by the negative energy of parents everywhere cursing the names of the Great Toy Companies. Ye of little faith, we would pay two dollars more a box to have less annoying packaging! Considering that people are obviously sorting small treasures into piles to send down a conveyor belt to be shrink wrapped, why not just put them into a little reusable box? Surely, O Wise Ones, this has crossed your minds. Why must parents be inflicted with the great anguish of children when a pirate's two centimeter gun, or three millimeter treasure gets lost? You may not know this, O Great Molders of Plastic, but I will not buy another set to stop the sorrow of small children. If the small pieces can jangle against each other in a small plastic bag, will they not be fine to so cohabitate in a plastic box on their long over sea adventure?

Thank you for considering my humble request. May all the plastic you create be returned to you sevenfold.

Here is a really small sample. I didn't include the treasure boxes filled with tiny jewels (we have two of those) the small rats, spiders, skull heads (for ship decoration), etc. It's all really cool stuff (I like pirates, myself. Hell, I even have a pirate name.) it's just that there is a lot of it...And it's all over the house.


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas, finally.

Today was a lovely Christmas. I fully expected to be woken by children saying, "Mama, mama, will you get up now?" But, I was awake at 6am and waiting for them until 7am - and I actually had to wake my daughter. I have no idea what was up with that.

The boys got pirate ships and were very excited about it. It took them an hour to put them together, and there was only one moment of real frustration and tears. Morgan thinks it was really lame for the toy company to put a "live" pirate in with his "dead" (skeleton) pirates. I told him maybe it was a starter prisoner, you put him in the hold until you got another, better one. He didn't like that. "Why would you just have a prisoner, you have to go attack the other ship and get them." Good point. In the end Bowen gave over his dead pirate and Moran happily turned over the live dude.



I didn't get Chicky any regular toys this year. Her room is so full of dramatic play stuff, Barbies (I didn't buy any of them, for the record), and little wee plastic accessories that get sucked up the vacuum, I just didn't think she needed or really wanted any of it. What she did want, and I didn't get her was an American Girl doll. They cost so much, and she would have gotten nothing else. I could tell she was sad, but I explained why I didn't get it and she said she understood. Instead she got crafty stuff which, once she opened, have kept her quite busy. She has started her scrapbook, used her fancy hole-punches to work on some stationary, and she got a rockin' cowgirl hat complete with a tiara.


Eowyn was pissed. She was all bouncy about the presents around the family room (she wanted to chew on boxes) and the kids kept brushing her off to keep unwrapping, or to get her off whatever it was they had just unwrapped. She kept huffing and trying to get in the way. Finally, she curled up on the sofa and pouted. I'm not kidding, she really did. I came over to her and apologized for not getting her a present. Tonight, I heard paper tearing on the floor. I looked over and she was destroying one of the kid's Christmas cards. Apparently, she holds a grudge.


Mel and Angela got their gifts: a knit rug out of blue t-shirts from thrift stores, and a Booga Bag.



One of their cats, Beastly, decided the rug may turn into a cozy cat spot.


There was also a lovely vegan feast (and non-vegan for those so inclined) and I vote that Tofurky turkey is better than Unturkey. The Tofurky has a very nice wild rice stuffing. Now, to go sleep off the food coma...

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa

It's a veritable Winter Holiday Extravaganza! Yes, Winter Solstice was on the 21, I just didn't add it in the title because it already happened. The gifts are all found from their various hiding places, wrapped, and waiting where they need to be under the tree or in a stocking. I already warned the boys that their most wanted items (football helmets, pads, and jerseys of their first or second favorite NFL teams) would be arriving after Christmas. They are fine with far.

Tonight we went to Mel and Angela's house and made some cookies. I'd like to apologize in advance for the jaundiced appearance of the children. I'm still playing with the camera settings and the other two pictures were better in that regard, but Bowen is an absolute blur in one, and Chicky is almost invisible in the other. Oh, the joy of taking pictures of jumping beans.


The beginning of Morgan's orange (out of Cascade superwash) tube socks. The pattern is from the Melanie Falick book Kids Knitting. I'm hoping Bowen will be inspired to make his own. He knows how to purl now and he's looking for something a little more interesting than straight knitting in the round.


Here is the quote of the day in Cosmo Doogood's Urban Almanac:

We are here on earth to do good to others. What others are here for, I don't know.
-W.H. Auden

Enjoy your holiday of choice to its fullest potential. And remember, the unifying theme to all of them is the return of the light; the shortest day of the year is past and longer days are coming. Time to start looking through the seed catalogs!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Mama (a.k.a., Mythbuster)

We're almost there. Unfortunately, at our house, no presents are under the tree yet. If I put presents out early, my children go bananas and there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth. It gets very tiresome day after day. I also told them that there was no Santa this year. The boys are eight and their sister is six, and yes, I could have waited longer so she could enjoy it more, but I couldn't take it. My children are sooooo materialistic it hurts my very being at times. Bowen was at picking out $272 Pittsburgh Steelers jerseys! I told him there was no way he was getting a jersey that cost that much and he said, "It's ok mama, the elves make it." That gave me pause. If you're old enough to get around your mama's lack of money you are old enough to know that Santa is a really nice ritual for small children, but your parents are really "Santa" and not all children get gifts.

I called their dad and told him I wanted to tell them the truth about the Big Man and he said it was fine with him and they would still get a present from Santa anyway (What the %$^@? This was news to me - but is what some people apparently do - I don't know why). I told the kids I wanted to talk to them and told them that Santa wasn't real. OHMIGOD! Morgan burst into tears and wailed, "I can't believe you lied to us! All those letters we wrote! YOU?! YOU read them?" I tried to be reassuring and told them that the letters were very sweet and that I saved them. Their reeling minds put two and two together and all of a sudden they looked at me with newly realized horror in their eyes, "What about the Easter Bunny?" I told them that was also a parent deal. "The Tooth Fairy?" Ok, this one got me, Chicky hasn't lost a single tooth yet. I paused and said, "The Tooth Fairy is real." I know, I know, but they only get fifty cents a tooth and I couldn't ruin it all for Chicky. I also told them that the deal with being a kid in the know was that you couldn't stomp out the myth for the other children that still believed. That seemed somewhat helpful. They also totally got that some kids didn't get "Santa" at their house and wanted to gather gently used toys to give to other kids. In the end, we got to a good place. Now, I'm having Tooth Fairy guilt.

Finally a picture of Chicky's socks. I adore them, even though they are pink.


And a picture of a bag with my first flowers. I didn't follow the directions carefully enough and the flowers are a little odd.


I'm going to brag about Bowen's most recent project. His class was studying handmade items and they each chose something to make, they drew pictures of their chosen item, made the thing, and wrote instructions for others to make it, too. It was very cool. Bowen made a spear. Now, I am not really a fan of weapons, but the fact that he was making it himself and he ran it by his teacher made me feel ok about it. He made a spear (although the picture he had in his mind, and the one he actually made were different and caused him great creative angst), he drew many pictures, and wrote the directions out carefully. My favorite art is his "zoom" art. All the kids did with their handmade creation in the picture. They started out with the full scene and got closer and closer like a zoom lens. I was also impressed that Bowen left out the whole person holding the spear - he totally trusted people to get it. I like that about him.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Catching up and feeling tired

I do not often have lasting colds. I think maybe seven days is a long time for me. I am on week number three of a mucus-and-cough-filled nights cold. I have been patient...up til now. I've been telling myself that maybe if I stay at this low level sick for the rest of the winter I won't get some big hideous illness. I know, who am I kidding?

The holiday knitting is almost all finished. The holiday shopping is as good as it's going to get, I'm afraid. I really hate shopping, but I did it. A friend and I circled the same four or five isles at Target numeous times (there were stoppers of people and carts at the ends we couldn't get through). When I got home I kept making left turns for the next couple hours and it took me a while to figure out why.

Now it's off to spend time with my cleaning appliances (mainly the washing machine). Here's a Booga Bag that is gift bound (which is kind of hard for me because it's my favorite colors, but as my daughter pointed out, "You can make another one for yourself").


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Woman with new camera...beware!

Yipee! New camera (first digital camera...ever) for Christmas and I am having fun. Tomorrow, after I get my children you will see knitted delights you never knew existed (I am exaggerating here - it's the joy talking).

Just to show you how lovely my camera is, here is a picture of an angel on my tree.

And here is a small wire star.

Fun, fun, fun.