Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

All right, all you witches and goblins, have a great holiday evening! Say thank you when you get candy, and check it over before you eat it, just like mom used to do. Put on your makeup and fake moles, draw some runes on your forehead, and party it up. This is the only year I can wear my cloak into the grocery store and have people think I'm cool =) May you have many treats, and not so many tricks!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wherein I deliver...

Here you go, folks! Costume pics, bunny pics, birthday party pics, and an alpaca! The last was an unexpected bonus, obviously karma at work for me, for once. =) I took brownies into the school for my daughter's birthday, and look who got to come into the school! It was another little girl's birthday, and her mom scored an alpaca to come for show and tell. I told them, they win. Is there a cooler class treat than that? This little alpaca was very sweet, and patient with all of the kids running up from behind to pat her, even though they didn't have to sneak a pat. That's what she was there for! Very, very soft roving on her, just waiting for a brush. But maybe that's just me...

And some costumes! I was going to do this big blog entry, showing the step-by-step creation, but instead, here's some finished products. The 60's poodle skirt girl and the mermaid were the ones that I made. The other costumes were purchased in previous years, and worn because the mermaid costume wasn't quite done when the first Halloween party happened. The littlest child kept changing her mind, and therefore is a princess, because I couldn't make a MagentaThePuppy/Pumpkin/SuperHero costume on such short notice.

And bunny pictures! We finally brought the fellows up into the living room, and it wasn't as catastrophic as I imagined it would be. They didn't go racing around or freak out. In fact, they acted quite a bit more loving than when I reach into their cage, invading their space. The girls were glad for a chance to really get to handle them, and for a good long time, too. I see many bunny outings in the future.

Aren't they beautiful?

And pictures of a little girl sleepover. My goodness, a sleepover has never gone so well. Everyone had a great time, and what with the pumpkin carving, leaf raking, movie watching and Barbie playing, not a child asked for their momma before dropping off to sleep. Excellent!

Scary pumpkins!

Friday, October 26, 2007

An Eighth Birthday! (Murphy's Law included)

My second daughter is eight years old today, and I don't even know how that could be possible. She sure is excited, though!

It's been an exciting day already. After her dad left for work, but before school, she started crying that it hurt when she went to the bathroom, and she had stomach-flu-like symptoms. (That's all the further I'll go into that!) So we had to go to the doctor. I'm crossing my fingers the whole way in, because she wanted a sleepover for her birthday, and I've got four little kids coming over after school. It took a LOT of coordinating with all of the parents, so I could pick their kids up, and I do NOT want to have to do it all again in reverse. I get the birthday girl to town, and realize I don't have my wallet. No money for the co-pay. Could the doctor's office give a girl a break? Well, no, sorry. Can't get any help there. So I swung by the bank, where they actually know and trust me, and grab 20 bucks outta my kids' savings. Nice, eh? =/

Then to the doctor's, where there really wasn't anything wrong with her, other than a bit of stomach-flu-like symptoms. No UTI or anything, so a little Tylenol in her, and back to school. I'm crossing my fingers here that she raises her hand in time to make it to the bathroom. Something's gotta look up, right? And back home, to a house that needs vacuuming and a cake that needs decorating. In a rare moment of empathy, my three-year-old took an early two-hour-nap. In fact, she's still sleeping, and if she wakes up sick, I won't be surprised. Still, I know how to make an opportunity stick, and I swung around the house with the vacuum like I was selling Hoovers. Then I attacked the cake and half an hour later had this:

Not too shabby, eh? It was indeed fast and furious piping around that Barbie insert. Then I cut up some brownies to pass out at class later, and sat down to blog. lol! Sometimes you just gotta do something for yourself. I have 45 minutes before I have to swing into a gift store and try to find appropriate give-out gifts for 18 seven-year-olds. And all morning this rhyme has been in my head:

A dillar, a dollar,
a six-o'clock scholar,
why did you come so soon?

You used to come at ten o'clock,
and now you come at noon.

I heard this rhyme probably six years ago, when my oldest was watching Sesame Street, and I've puzzled on it off and on ever since. I know it was politically a slam at someone at the time it was created. I'll research it a bit when I get a chance. But as to how it applies to today, I keep coming back to it, and I think I understand now. It runs along the lines of my personal credo, "Fake it 'til you make it." A perpetually late person sails in even later with a, "Whew, I'm here early!" kind of attitude. I feel like I've been living this I've-got-it-together lie since the three-year-old was born. I run around and try to pull together parties and sleepovers and dishes and bill paying, and whenever I'm around anyone, I slow down, smile, and act like it's a breeze. I'm just faking it, people. I'm going to slow things down soon, honest. I really have to. This is crazy.

In the meantime, though, this was the fastest blog entry in history, and tomorrow I'll have pictures of seven-year-olds carving pumpkins and decorating cookies. Rock on, you moms! What would happen without us?

Monday, October 22, 2007

A whole lotta pumpkins, and a FO

My husband and I organized a Pumpkin Carving Extravaganza this weekend. We announced it for weeks at church and with our friends, and I was still afraid no one would show up! But it ended up going great, with 31 people attending, which ain't bad for our first year. We're already looking forward to next year! We have a local master of pumpkin carving, who came and helped with technique. He tried really hard to get us all past the "triangle eyes" point, but mostly, that's what everyone did. We do love the classics here at the Cobbler household!

Some happy kid pics with pumpkins:

And, hey, I haven't shown any FO's in awhile. Remember that sweater that I didn't want to finish, because I was scared to block it? Well, finally, I put it together and decided to brave it. Before I could throw it in the tub, the husband tried the sweater on, and it looked great! No blocking required. I'll undergo another anxiety attack when it needs its first wash, so stay tuned! hehe

It's made of Fisherman's Wool, by Lion Brand, and it is so warm! Really, it's meant to be worn outside, when working or fishing on the lake. But to show his love for handmade sweaters, my husband is wearing and sweating in it at the office. Whatta guy. The sweater for this winter is going to be a Kauni-like design, but I'm doing a top down, pullover, no steeking kind of method. But he loved the colors and pattern, so I've got to get to yarn ordering. This looks like fun, doesn't it? Yeah, perhaps in different colors...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bunny Love

Poor little Angoras, whenever I bring them near their cage after petting them, they scrabble to get back inside. Their little claws are sharp.

At what point do you think I'll get clever enough to put on long sleeves when I handle the bunnies? Yeah, I'm not sure, either. Ouch. Actually, it only hurts for a second, but people look at you funny, like I'm a self-cutter or something, when I am wearing short sleeves in public. So it's long sleeves in public or at home, whichever I remember. =)

On the other hand, the bunny love also shows itself as this:

It's so soft, it's satisfying all by itself. But I really don't know what to do with it.

I was brainstorming earlier, and don't you wish that, when you got stressed, you didn't want to eat? I do. But when I get stressed out, I can't sleep, which leaves me awake and hungry. I got two hours' last night, then I woke up - wide awake - thinking of everything there was to do. Silly home business/church council/drama club/soccer mom life. Anyway, the point is, insomnia strikes me in such a way that I can't actually get up and do anything. I'm too tired. I can sit there on the couch, reading Patricia Cornwell and listening to every noise in the house. But I can't balance the checkbook or work on a shawl - see? Very frustrating. So it's daytime now, and my body says, "Sure! Go work!" Alas, with no sleep, everything's a bit harder. However, in exciting news, the Halloween costumes are ready to be sewn! This will be fun. We've got some good ideas this year. I thought the youngest would be easy - super hero. Cool, ay? Well, apparently the super hero is Super Why, and he's brand new from pbs. I'm thinking of taking last year's Superman costume, or Wonder Woman, whichever fit, and putting a felt decal over the chest. Will it work? It depends on how I sell it to her. =)

Fabrics awaiting transformation:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Charmed, I'm sure

I don't know what your opinion is, but I'm starting to really love on my spinning. I think my yarn is coming out pretty uniform, and I hardly ever drop the spindle on my foot anymore, though that did happen yesterday. For the most part, I use spindles with blunt ends now. This yarn is 100% superwash wool, and I thought it spun up just fine, no clumps or anything. Could be the awesomeness of Boogie's prep work, but I've heard people complain about superwash, and I'm not finding it difficult. And I like the idea that I can give it as a gift. I don't usually give things as gifts that have to be handwashed, unless to another knitter, of course.

I should mention that all of the good wishes you all sent for the other day worked out great. At the last minute, the mom decided it might be a bit difficult leaving a 1 1/2 yr old kid with someone they don't know, and let me off the hook. The older daughter came over, we had a great time, and best of all, everyone got sleep! So thanks for helping with that karma, folks. I appreciate it!

As promised, here's a pair of mittens knit for a normal, reasonably sized nine year old. The yarn was dyed for me for my birthday by the ever spinning Arleta. Isn't it pretty? I have another skein so I can make a matching hat. The colors are blue, green and a bit of purple, and my daughter loves it. =)

Said tweeny mitten pattern is:

Gauge: 6 sts per inch, 8 1/2 rows per inch

One skein of worsted weight wool, size 4 needles.

Cast on 40 sts. Work K2,P2 ribbing for three inches, increase four stitches in last round (44 sts). Knit around for eight rows. Then knit 21 sts, place marker, increase one st in each of the next two stitches, place marker, continue knitting. Knit next round. In the next round, knit to marker, slip marker, increase in first stitch, knit 2, increase in stitch before next marker, slip marker, knit around. Continue alternating increase rows and plain knit rows until the thumb gusset has 14 stitches. Put these stitches on stitch holders. On the next round, when you get to the gusset, cast on two stitches and continue knitting around. 25 rows later (2 3/4 inches), you're ready for the decreasing, which I did as follows:

Even rows, knit around
Row 1: *K 8, K 2 together* repeat around, ending with K 4.

Row 3: *K 7, K2 together* repeat around, ending with K 4.

Row 5: *K 6, K2 together* repeat around, ending with K 4.

Row 7: *K 5, K2 together* repeat around, ending with K 4.

Row 9: *K 4, K2 together* repeat around, ending with K 4.

Row 11: *K 3, K2 together* repeat around, ending with K 4.

Row 15: K 2 together all around. Leaving about 12 inches of yarn, cut from skein and pull through the stitches left. Weave in end of yarn.


Pick up 2 stitches from mitten, gather stitches from holders (16 stitches). Knit around for 16 rows (approx 1 3/4 inches), K 2 together around. Again leaving a tail of yarn, cut from skein, pull through the stitches and weave in end.

Repeat for second mitten!

These mittens obviously don't have a leftie and a rightie, and my kids like 'em just fine. This is a very basic pattern, of course, but adding designs and stripes can liven it up, if you wish.

Here's a picture of our drama club class. That's a lot of kids! I'm being all official in the background, and marking points for how they read, as we were at tryouts. Don't worry. They all made it. With this many kids, I'm thinking we can perform Wizard of Oz. Wouldn't that be fun?

Friday, October 12, 2007

You know it's bad when...

I have been working hard all week, trying to catch up on the laundry. I finally made it to the bottom of the hamper, and I found two onesies and a lacy little sock. Could it really have been three years since I was last down to the bottom of the hamper with the laundry??? Holy cow! Suffice it to say, the third baby kicked my butt, and let's all go home. Where all the babies are. Yikes.

I need batteries for the camera! Batteries that don't come from the gas station, at five bucks a pop, and will wear out after six pictures. Grrr. I've been knitting mittens, cuz it's gettin cold. Every time I'm done with one of these little fellas, I smile and pat it and just look at it for awhile. They're so neat, with their little sticking out thumb, and I always think of the kids making snowmen when I look at them. They're as fun as socks, easier, what with no heel, and a quicker pay-off, even if I make adult ones. Could be the size 4 needles, but fun nonetheless. I used to really hate making the thumbs, but then I started saving that sort of knitting for when I was on the phone. It's very brainless, and I don't even notice that I don't like doing it. Now that I've been making mittens for a few years, the thumbs don't even bother me. Phone therapy. It's for more than best friends.

So I'll pick up batteries today, and more pictures of thumbs coming soon! I'll also post my super simple mitten pattern, which is an amalgam of patterns I've been using for years. Mitten patterns, plain knitted ones like I usually do, are not difficult. I've memorized mine, and if I need to add more stitches, it's not like I spent a week knitting something that doesn't work. My mom goes ahead and finishes the mittens in the wrong size and donates them to our elementary school. Mittens are that painless to knit, that she'll knit the wrong size, even if she knows it before the first mitten is done. Gotta love that kind of dedication to not ripping back.

Someone send a little luck my way. I'm watching a two-year-old for the whole night tonight and day tomorrow, and she's never been here before. Any little prayer will do, but if you send one for me to get any sleep, that would be most appreciated. Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Having a moment

My friend Angela was blogging about having God moments, and she invited comments from people that have them, and what they are. I commented that if I feel things aren't going the way I want, repeatedly, perhaps I am not supposed to be taking that path. I listen to that little voice that says, "Don't do that. I'm going to make things difficult if you do." The reverse of that actually happened yesterday morning. I had been trying, calling on many contacts, to get someone to watch my 3-year-old, so I could go on a field trip with my oldest daughter. I met with obstacle after obstacle (people saying "no") and decided I must not be meant to go. Then, on Friday, my husband said that he had Columbus Day off of work. Hey, thinks I, I'm not signed up to go on that field trip, but maybe I could pop in for a bit anyway. I didn't know if that was allowed, though, so I nipped in yesterday morning to ask the teacher. As it happened, a parent had just cancelled due to car trouble, and the teacher was very grateful that I'd be able to chaperone. For once, instead of being led away from something, I was led to it. It was neat, and a little unnerving.

The field trip was to the art museum, and it went great. I was in charge of 16 kids (!!!), and I am a head counter, so I let my natural inclinations take over, and counted repeatedly. And yay me, I discovered I only had 15 students (counted three times before I mentioned it to a teacher) within a minute or so of one wandering off. CSI Miami Monday night was about children being abducted from school, so I had all of my mom radar on. It was great seeing the kids learning about art being crumpled metal, or design drawings, or collages, or carved stone. They're a great group of kids and didn't cut up, even when the explanations went on for a long time.

In bunny news, our little Angoras have acknowledged me as both a friend and an accomplished ear rubber. They've also deigned to let me begin brushing them (I think they like to look pretty), and I'm getting the softest roving ever. I've also been hearing murmurs about a spinning group who might be able to help me figure out what to do with it now...

I'm off to enjoy the last of the beautiful weather for awhile. Happy Knitting!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I Yam what I Yam

You know, people always say to me that I shouldn't let others' opinions matter. I should be myself. I can't make everyone happy, and I have to stop trying, or I'll never be happy. Well, I'm 38 years old, and today I finally accepted that I am who I am. I am a people pleaser. To put me in a position where I have to confront someone is like – well, like agreeing that I'm about to give the house away. It's not a good idea, but I'm likely to do it, if I make someone feel badly enough.

That said, I try really hard to stick to the rules, follow the law, stand up for myself. And this morning, when a parent was getting – well, let's say a little vehement - about whether their child was too young for the drama club or not, I just handed the phone to my husband. As I said, I know my limitations. I could tell the conversation immediately got calmer, more reasonable, in a “Let's find a solution” kind of way. I am convinced that one of the great injustices of our world is that men can say things women can't. They command more respect, and when they say something, people are more inclined to believe them. I can't question the automechanic or request a parent/teacher conference without ticking someone off. My husband can come in with exactly the same wording, and people would nod sagely. I'm not irritated with him. It's not his fault. Still, without him, I'm pretty sure I'd be marked as that b*tchy person who can't just keep quiet. But 'nuff about that.

Drama club starts today! Woohoo! We're having tryouts this afternoon, and I'm really looking forward to it. (Kids don't care if you get goofy or are too loud, at least elementary age kids, the little darlins) We'll start out with the rules, don't talk when a director is speaking, be on time, et cetera. Then we'll move into inflection exercises, which are so much fun. You take a perfectly normal sentence, like, “I have to feed the dog,” and put emphasis on different words to change the emotion of the sentence. I have to feed the dog? I have to feed the dog! I have to feed the dog? It's fun, and it gets their little creative brains moving in a nonthreatening way. Then we'll go on to showing emotions with our bodies (kids love this one), elation, anger, sadness. All of these exercises are fun, and the kids hardly realize that they're being slowly drawn out to perform. By the time they do realize it, Hey Presto! Performing in front of your classmates isn't as bad as you thought.

Oh, and here's another exciting thing. I visited a rabbitry yesterday! Why, you ask? (Oh, I knew you were going to) Well, these little English Angora darlings now reside at our house. If they were any softer and cushier, you'd try to use them for a pillow. The kids think we got them for their 4-H group (heh heh). But you know who's going to get them when they go off to college, so this was an investment I was totally into. By the by, anyone want any angora bunny roving? I have a feeling we're going to have some...