Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Life Is Never Easy

We've had a, shall I say, interesting week so far.

On Monday, we went to the Children's Museum. Despite the fact that I asked Lily repeatedly whether she had to go to the bathroom, she ended up holding it for too long and she accidentally peed on the floor in one of the exhibits. Sigh. We ended up leaving about an hour after we drove in.

On Tuesday, I was all set for my "day off." Things could not have worked out better. Jim had done the week's grocery shopping the night before, and I had gotten a lot of the weekly cleaning done on Monday when Jack was napping and Lily was playing at the neighbor's house. I cast on a seamless Icelandic sweater this weekend, and I needed a larger circular and a smaller circular. I dropped the kids at school around 8:30 am and came home to do some work. Then I took a leisurely drive to two different yarn stores to pick up the new needles. When I got home, the phone was ringing. It was Jim. It turns out that Jack and Lily's school lost power, and then a terrible smell was coming from the heater, leading them to believe there may have been an electrical fire! They were asking all parents to pick up their kids. By 11:00 am, I was back at home with two kids who were bouncing off the wall because their schedules were interrupted. A very long day ensued.

Today, Jack inexplicably awoke just before 5:00 am and demanded milk. I took himn downstairs so he wouldn't wake up Lily and Jim. As a result of his early day, he was falling asleep by 10:00. That would normally be fine, but today is Lily's ballet day, and he always naps after we get back from class so his nap won't be interrupted. It was too painful to watch him drowsing, so I took him upstairs where he proceeded to laugh and play for 45 minutes.

When we got to ballet, he was so overtired that he was running and throwing himself on me repeatedly. Then he started crawling under everyone's chair. Periodically, he would get in my lap and almost drowse off. Then he would jerk himself awake and start rampaging again.

At home after class, Lily had a very messy accident in the bathroom. I will not horrify you with the details. Suffice it to say that she was too embarassed to tell me at first and she tried to clean up the mess herself. I ended up hosing down all of her clothes in the shower along with a bath towel, and mopping the floor. Ick.

Just now, I brought Jack down from nap, only to see Lily trying to hide one of the down throws in the office. She then advised me that the throw "accidentally got cut." I asked why and she admitted "I wanted some feathers." It looks like I will have some darning to do this evening. Fortunately, she doesn't seem to have gotten many feathers out.

Jim just called to say he's on his way home. Hallelujah.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Here are the Easter photos!

Above, Jack and Lily dying Easter eggs.

Photos from Easter morning. I love Lily's excitement when she found out the Easter Bunny left her a Littlest Pet Shop toy. Jack was less excited until he found the candy. I couldn't get him to pose for any shots except the one shown here.

Lily was so funny the night before Easter. She told us that she had to leave the Easter Bunny a note and a picture. With Jim's help, she wrote out the note herself. It said "Dear Rabbit I love your eggs." She drew a picture of herself and the East Bunny with hearts around it. She told us she had to leave the note in our bay window so that the Easter Bunny could see it from outside. She left the picture by the refrigerator so that the Easter Bunny would know where to look for the eggs she made. She then placed an Easter Basket )that Jack made as a school project out of a paper plate) in the other window and told us she needed to put carrots on the window sill "because the Easter Bunny will probably be hungry." She made sure the empty Easter baskets were placed in the window as well. Then she said very seriously, "Do you think I'm forgetting anything?"

She told us she hoped the Easter Bunny would leave her a note (he did) and maybe even a picture of himself (he didn't because his identity is a secret). She was so surprised when she saw her toys -- a small plush puppy, some Disney Princess lip gloss and the small pet shop toy. "How did the Easter Bunny know I would like these things?" I wonder....

Jack got a Fisher Price fishing boat complete with life preserver, fishing rod and fish and a Captain. It plays a song when you put the Captain in the driver seat, which Jack loves. We know this because he played the song repeatedly and danced to it.

I gave the kids much less candy than last year. This year, there were a just a few jelly beans, a couple of marshmallow chicks and some chocolate. Still, the kids had enough to jack them up for the entire day before we cut them off. Jack was literally shoving multiple chocolates into his mouth at once, and we had to take away all of his candy to prevent him from making himself sick.

We did have a couple of candy SNAFUs, all my fault, I'm afraid. I put the chocolate bunnies in the guest room closet with all of the other Easter stuff, forgetting that the main steam pipe for the entire house runs through that closet. When I pulled out the bunnies, they were melted flat into the bottom of the box! Jim ran out that night to replace them and ended up going to 5-6 different stores. He was only able to find one, which we gave to Lily because she specifically asked the Easter Bunny to bring her one. As it turns out, Jack would have had his confiscated early on any way, so it was better that he didn't have one. You can see her holding up her replacement bunny in the photos above -- she was very excited to get it.

My second mistake was buying something called Snickers Cream Eggs. For some reason, even though the word "Snickers" was emblazoned across the package, I thought they were chocolate filled with cream. As soon as Jack began to wolf one down, we saw that, amazingly, they were filled with peanuts and nougat. You know, like a Snicker's bar. Who knew? I'm not sure why they call them "cream" eggs, but I should have known better. We had to confiscate those before Jack ate any more because he's too young for peanuts. He ended up eating a Twix-like candy that Jim bought in Switzerland (he was there on business a couple of weeks ago). That was the candy we had to confiscate to prevent him from making himself sick. He consoled himself by eating jelly beans until we took his whole basket away from him and put it out of reach.

It turns out that when Jack is on a sugar high he runs around, screams and throws things. When Lily is on sugar high, she talks nonstop and demands that you play Littlest Pet Shop with her all day long. For those not in the know, if you play pet shop with Lily, it means you must sit next to her and make periodic comments about her play, but you CANNOT touch anything or try to take part in any way. Jim and I put in about 3 hours each of this today. We are very tired.

In other news, when I told Lily she needed to let her "old Dad" have a break, she informed me that "Papa is not old. Grammy and Granddaddy MAY be old, but Papa is not." I told my mom and she was relieved to know that Lily only thinks she "may" be old.

I'm a Felting Fanatic

Originally uploaded by lilybug1
As Jack would say: "WOOK it! WOOK it!"

Look at my pretty knitting basket. After completing Jill's purse kit, I was itching to try another felting project. Thank goodness that I'd done Jill's project first!

I got this pattern for free on Ravelry. The knitting portion of the project was very easy to follow. I worked the project on 32" circulars and the only alterations I made were to make it a few inches taller than described and instead of purling in rounds after completing the bottom, I knit in rounds to practice my continental style. I doubt that knitting rather than purling made any appreciable difference, though.

Once it was complete, the directions said "Felt." If I hadn't done Jill's project, I wouldn't have known what to do! Felting knitting is completely different than felting wool fabric, which I do for my rug hooking projects. For one thing, felting wool fabric takes a lot longer and requires a cycle in the dryer. Felting knitting only takes 1 or 2 five minute wash cycles and there is no dryer involved. I formed the shape by pulling the project over a bucket. It stands open on its own.

Love it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Funny Things My Kids Said Recently

I don't really have anything of much interest to blog about right now, so please enjoy a few funny things that the kids said recently:

"Everyone's invited to my relaxing Disco party!" (Lily, while playing Littlest Pet Shop last night)

"Played with friends, played outside, they wiped my boogies." (Jack, when asked what he did on his first day of school)

"I have to freak out when you leave because I love you, but don't worry, I stop crying as soon as you drive away" (Lily, on why she cries when I drop her off at school)

"Make some cookies?" (Jack's first words upon waking up at 3:30 am a few nights ago)

"Can you take Jack back where you got him?" and, when told no, "Can't we just take him and leave him somewhere?" (Lily, feeling angry towards Jack)

"My ear poking!" (Jack, trying to tell us he has an earache)

"There be stickies?" (Jack's comment when told he needs to go to the doctor for his earache. He did get a sticker at the end of the appointment)

"Cats, Dogs, Bunnies, Sea Animals, the Panda, Quiet Animals and Noisy Animals" (Lily listing the categories of pets in her Littlest Pet Shop)

"You don't need any new friends, you have me!" (Lily's comment when I told her I was going to a knitting group to make some new friends)

Monday, March 17, 2008

This is How I Felt


I finished my first felting project, and I've decided I need to do more, more, more!

Here it is as it looked after my vacation.

My crafty sister-in-law Jill gave me a felted handbag kit of her own creation for Christmas. It came with the yarn, the needles and a lingerie bag for felting the project. I knit about half of the bag during my vacation, but then sickness and life in general intervened, and I didn't really pick it up again until March. Since it was knitting in the round, and it was on giant size 15 needles, it served as the perfect project for me to practice my newly learned Continental style knitting. I think I finally picked up the knack, since my left hand doesn't get tired out any more.

Here it is in its knitted-but-unfelted state.

This project could easily be done in a weekend and is just perfect for beginning knitters and/or beginning felters (like me). I couldn't believe how fast the bag shrunk in my washer! I only ran it for 10 minutes total and it shrunk to about 2/3 of its size. The variegated colors of the yarn sort of ran together and look like an impressionist painting. As soon as it is dry, I'll update this post with a picture of the finished object.

I opted to knit a longer I-cord for the handles, since I wanted a small shoulder bag rather than a handbag. With two kids, I don't really have a free hand that often. Now I'm wishing that I felted some crocheted flowers to decorate the front of the bag -- I may try to add them later. I'm definitely going to add a closure of some kind across the top.

A+ on the kit, Jill!

Oskar thinks the bag is his, of course!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mitten Murderer

My Rabbit mitten is dead, and I killed it.

I've been blathering on and on lately to everyone about Ravelry and how great it is (you should check it out). When I'm not busy doing that, I'm working on several knitting projects, solely for the purpose of posting them on Ravelry where I can share them with everyone. When I'm not busy blathering or knitting, I'm either (1) out buying knitting paraphernalia, (2) making my own knitting paraphernalia, or (3) thinking about knitting and buying or making my own knitting paraphernalia.

You might say I'm somewhat obsessed. I often knit instead of doing things like eating meals or sleeping. But that's not my only problem. You see, I'm also a bit of a perfectionist and that means that I spend a lot of time ripping back my work in order to correct one wrong stitch.

Which leads me to today and the Heinous Murder of my Rabbit mitten. It started when I decided my next project would be a pair of mittens. Mittens are, in my past experience, a fun, quick project that will be done in a couple of days. I was going to use the Squirrel and Oak pattern from Hello Yarn because it's so darn cute. Then I started thinking how much more fun it would be to make my own design. I was looking around for a way to make my own chart and realized that Hello Yarn helpfully provides blank charts for the same style mitten. Since it is close to Easter, I thought of doing a rabbit and designed mittens with a bunny on one and a carrot on the other. I splurged a little bit on the yarn and bought a cashmere/merino blend wool that feels like butter on your skin. Today, I knit furiously and finished one of the mittens. It was so pretty (if you ignore the poor photographs):

Too Tight! Too Short! Aaaaagggghhhhh!

Why did this happen? It could possibly be because I Didn't. Bother. To. Swatch. WHY do I keep starting projects without swatching? Why? I know that my gauge is wonky. It's been wonky for the past 30+ years. Why would it change now? Depending on the yarn, the type of pattern and the alignment of the moons, I either knit too loose or too tight. I know this about myself, and yet once I have the yarn in my hands, I get impatient and want to start knitting. Despite the fact that I am usually quite pessimistic, a little optimistic voice pipes up and says "It will be fine! Just do it!"

Which leads me to the Murder. After I finished the main part of the Rabbit mitten, I tried it on. It fit, but it was a little tight and WAY too short. I started picking up the stitches for the thumb, but the little optimistic voice had turned nasty on me and was now saying "You spent a lot of money for that yarn and now you'll never wear these malformed mittens. Rip them!" So I took a couple of pictures for posterity and frogged the entire thing. I'm going to go up one needle size and DO A SWATCH to see if I can get the correct gauge before starting them again.

I did learn some valuable lessons. First, I had a really hard time picking up the live stitches for the thumb, mostly due to the fact that I used a fuzzy piece of scrap yarn to hold them. Next time, I'm definitely using mercerized cotton. Also, I'm going to make a few small changes in my design that I think will improve it quite a bit. And I promise I'm going to swatch everything from now on. Really.

Those Crazy Rabbits!

For your enjoyment, some pictures of the kids being crazy tonight:

The kids got into my work clothes closet (in Lily's room) and came out wearing my high heeled shoes. Lily demanded that I take a picture. I know my feet are big, but these picture makes it look like I wear small sloops on my feet!

Next, the kids came out wearing "costumes." Jack is wearing cat ears and Lily claims to be dressed as a fairy.

Here is Lily posing with the cat she made. She painted it at her friend Bella's birthday party, which was held at Plaster Funtime. I dont know if you can tell, but there is a glittery top coat sprayed on it, so it's very sparkly.

Lily arranged her dolls and demanded I take this photo. I love how her pose mimics the pose of the dolls.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Decluttering Entry No. 1

Well, I haven't done much, but this is what I've gotten rid of so far this month:

4 garbage bags of shoes and clothing donated to Planet Earth
1 garbage bag of toys ready to go to Salvation Army

I also received a postcard from the Boys and Girls Club of America advising that they will be in our area next week. I'm going to call tomorrow and find out what they are looking for because I'm certain we have it and want to donate. I have a lot of kitchen items, including dishes and glasses, that could use a new home. It would be awesome if they wanted furniture, but they usually just want clothing and household goods.

My other plan for March decluttering is selling some of my massive Pyrex collection on eBay. I'm going to take some photos tomorrow while the kids are at school. I've already ordered 20 flat rate boxes from the USPS to be delivered within the next 7-10 days. If you don't already know this, you can get a lot of shipping and packaging materials from the USPS delivered right to your home for FREE! All you have to do is register an account at One of the mothers from Lily's ballet class told me about it and I decided to try it out.

So that's the game plan for now. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

We Call Them Pirates

Originally uploaded by lilybug1
My latest knitting project, let me show you it.

This is a hat I'm working on for Jim. I am enjoying it so much. It's a quick knit and the two color pattern keeps it interesting. Jim likes the skull and crossbones pattern, but he expressed a minor fear that people might think he was a role-playing game geek if he wears it. Duh...people would think he was a pirate geek, which is so much cooler!

This hat required something called a provisional cast on. I've never heard of it, but Ravelry had a helpful tutorial in its wiki, so I used that as a guide. Basically, I did a cast on that incorporated live stitches on a piece of waste yarn directly under the cast-on stitches. I've knit the outside of the hat, and the next step is to turn the hat upside down, put the live stitches on a circular needle, and knit the lining of the cap in the other direction! I have to pick up a US 1 circular needle before I can start the lining.

The only thing I would change about this project is the needle size. I used worsted weight wool instead of sport weight, and I think the hat would be a bit more roomy if I'd used US 4 needles instead of US 3. I tend to knit a little more tightly when I use two colors than I do when I'm working with one. Also, Jim's head is a bit larger than normal (this probably explains my two giant-headed babies). I'm going to wait and see how the fit is once the lining is stitched in. I may have to knit a second hat in a larger size for Jim and keep this one for myself!

If you are interested in this pattern, it is available for free here. If you visit Hello Yarn, check out the rest of the free patterns. I'm thinking of doing the Squirrel and Acorn Mittens next. And get thee to Ravelry, knitters. It is so worth it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Jack's First Day at Preschool

Jim and decided several months ago that we would enroll Jack at Kindercare two days a week once he turned two (the price goes down after age 2). Today was his first day.

It was harder for me than him, I think. I've been taking him there almost every time we dropped off Lily so he could get familiar with the room and the teachers. He immediately took off his coat and began to play with all of the toys. I should have left while he was having fun, but I stayed for a while, and he started asking "When we go ridey?"

I told him only mama was going ridey and he freaked out. He tried to get out of the room, and he was crying "No mama, I go ridey. No, mama, no!" The teacher picked him up and he calmed down as I was leaving.

When I picked him up this evening, he was so happy to see us. They told me he had a terrific day and only cried once in the evening when other parents started picking up their kids. He started to cry while I was talking to the teacher because he wanted to go home! On the way home, he told me that he played with "friends" and went outside. He also mentioned that they wiped his "boogies." According to his sheet, he took a two hour nap and ate very well. He sure looked tired tonight.

Lily seemed to have the best day of her school career. Ever since I began to stay at home, Lily has been resistant to going to school in the morning. She told me that "you and Jack do all the fun stuff while I'm gone." She told me that she has to "freak out" when I leave her because she loves me, but reassured me that she stops as soon as I'm gone.

We told her last night that Jack would be starting school today. She was very excited. This morning, when I asked her to get dressed for school, she said "Sure!" and ran to get her clothes. She was chatting and laughing for the entire drive to school and ran right into her class with no "freak out." At pick up time, she threw a mini-fit when I told her we had to leave, but then perked right up when I said we had to pick up Jack. On the way home in the car, she smugly told him "You'll be going to school with me every time now, Jack!"

Schadenfreude: the German word for taking delight in other people's misfortunes (or, in this case, perceived misfortunes).

What's Under My Couch This Week -- EEK!

Due to our late bouts of sickness, I have not been regularly cleaning under the couch. I was horrified when I pulled out the couch today and found all of the following:

box of Kleenex
2 Birthday Cards to Jack
empty software box (so glad we were hanging onto this)
1 pink sock
Word Bus game board (with our names written on it in grease pencil)
2 plastic cocktail glass hangers shaped like monkeys
2 Little Petshop animals
2 Little People
4 children's books
numerous drawings on printer paper
toy car
knitting pattern with first page ripped off
2 pens
cat toy
2 rubber balls (one of which has shown up under the couch repeatedly)
outlet safety cover (glad it's doing its job)
2 barrettes
clear plastic container of unknown origin
Jack's hard hat
3 big lego pieces
toy digger
2 toy screws
Lily's knitty tool
Mr. Potato Head's ear, eye patch and hat
2 markers
broken tiara
2 unsharpened pencils
2 wooden blocks
pen cap
magnetic fish
magnetic building toys (several pieces)
seeing stone from McDonald's Happy Meal
3 small lego pieces
child's plastics fork
toy fire truck
yellow plastic ball
plastic bread roll (also making a repeat appearance)
cleaning tool for the carpet sweeper
paper plane shooter Jim made out of legos
knit alphabet block
1 pink Croc
3 Valentines to Lily
plastic dolphin bath toy
my brush
scotch tape
wind up monkey toy
2 magnets to the toy calendar
bag of Hall's cough drops
1 black plastic tube of unknown origin
small ring with pink flower on it

I'm curious how some things keep coming back despite the fact that I put them away each time. Today I threw out a small garbage bag of toys and put together a bag of toys to donate. If any of those show up under the couch next week, I will be very, very afraid.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Today Was a Good Day

I love it when we have a good family day!

Jack woke up at 6:30 and his first word was "Bawberries" (strawberries). Of course he also woke up Lily, so the three of us went downstairs and let Jim sleep in for a bit. When Jim got up 2 hours later, he let me go up and sleep for a bit. Two well rested parents is a Very. Good. Thing!

Once everyone was up and showered, we decided to go to Cambridge and get dim sum at Mary Chungs. Jim eats there once a week and they have the best Suan La Chow Show (this is my best effort at spelling it). It's like crack -- once you taste it, you must have more. Since we tend to go into Chinatown for dim sum most of the time, it was a nice change. Also, the staff knows Jim pretty well, so they always give us and the kids a little extra attention, which is nice. Lily must have eaten about 10 steamer buns, including all the little squares of steamed cabbage they come on. We ended up asking for a second order of the buns because she had eaten most of the first order and wanted more. Even Jack (aka He Who Never Eats) ate crab rangoon, shu mai and some steamer buns. His big favorite was the Dun Dun Noodles that Jim ordered. They are VERY spicy, but since they put the noodles into the dish and put the spicy stuff on top, you can usually eat from the bottom of the noodles and get only some spiciness. Jack was shoving those noodles in like there was no tomorrow until he hit on one that was a little too spicy. Poor kid. He turned bright red and made some gagging noises. We got him to drink some water and he felt better, but he didn't eat anything else after that!

After lunch, we went to the local art store and picked up some art supplies for the kids. By the time we got hom, Jack was passed out in his car seat, so he went down for a nap. Lily and Jim worked on her art project and and I did some reading and a lot of work on the scarf pattern I'm trying to come up with. I actually managed to work out some of the bugs and now the scarf is about 1/3 finished. I've never made up a crochet pattern before, so I feel pretty proud of myself!

After Jack woke up, we all hung out in the living room and watched some Harry Potter while the kids played. Since we'd had such a late lunch, we opted for a soup and sandwich dinner. Everyone, even King Picky himself, ate some dinner. We had a little more family time, and then the kids went to bed without a fuss. Jim's off to his weekly cartoon night at a friend's house, so I had a few hours of peace and quiet to work on my scarf project.

With the exception of one little hissy fit this morning, Lily behaved like a model child. She shared with Jack, told him she loved him and even played with him. Jack was only fussy for a short time after he woke up from his nap soaked in drool. A change into dry clothing and a cup of milk fixed that problem. It really felt like I was doing something right as a parent and wife today. Why can't it be like this all the time?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Like Father, Like Daughter

Before I tell you this story, I want you to know I did struggle with my conscience about writing it. For about three seconds!

We like to eat breakfast out every six weeks or so, and we've lately been eating at the International House of Pancakes, better known as "IHOP." In fact, Jack learned how to imitate a frog today after we talked about the acronym IHOP, but I digress. A few months ago, we were getting ready to go out to breakfast and Lily was being obstinate. I can't remember if it was lack of sleep, feeling sick or just general cussedness, but she didn't want to get dressed or go to the "stupid IHOP." After some discussion and threats, she unwillingly got dressed, but informed us that, if we made her go, she was going to wear her shoes on the wrong feet. We decided we could live with that if she could, so off we went.

We arrived a little later than usual, due to the battle of wills at home. Unfortunately, we just missed that window of time where we would be seated immediately (before 10 am, if anyone decides to eat at the Saugus IHOP), and we had to wait about 10 minutes. As we were sitting there, I noticed that a couple on the bench across from us were watching Lily and smiling. I smiled back, and the woman said "She has her shoes on the wrong feet." Lily said "I did that on purpose!" and the couple laughed, and told us their daughter sometimes did the same thing. As we were taken to our table, I saw other patrons looking at her feet and smiling.

Fast forward to this morning. We had promised last night that we would take the kids to IHOP in the morning, and they both woke up raring to go. Despite the heavy snow/ran mix that was falling, we made it to the restaurant before 10 and were seated immediately. The kids ordered their usual "Make a Face" pancakes, I ordered my usual corned beef hash and scrambled eggs, and Jim, as usual, ordered the special that offered the most sickly sweet pancake creation and too much other food. I think he does that just so he can tell me he ate too much on the way home, because that's what happens every time. This week's special pancake was Shortbread Pancakes with strawberry syrup. Ugh.

After a nice breakfast together, we got back in the car to go home. As I started the engine, Jim lifted his feet a bit so I could see them and said "Are my boots on the wrong feet?" I said, "I'm not sure" and he said "Yep, they are" and pointed. Sure enough, the side zippers were on the inside and you could see the toes curved to the outside. After laughing until tears came into my eyes, I asked "Didn't they feel uncomfortable?" and Jim said "Well, they're so big I didn't notice."