Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'm the Girl Your Mother Warned You About

It's the end of the year so that means it's time to update the kitchen wall calendar. Peter is always trying to get me onto a high-tech, on-line, Google-driven organization Master Center, but his method hasn't really ever taken with me. I like my calendar. I like that it's inexpensive, non-electric and easily accessible. The simplicity can't be beat. But mostly, I like the Ritual of The Half Price Calender that happens every year after Christmas.

After Christmas when all of the early birds have selected their calenders for the year and all of the gift givers have purchased their gift calenders I walk into Borders to riffle through the shelves of Fairy, Harry Potter, and Labrador calenders at 50% off. I don't like a lot of choice. I get bogged down as I try to decide if I'm the sort of person who wants tulips on her wall all year or if I'm the sort that likes Arts and Crafts architecture photography. So I wait until the cusp of the new year and I go to see what's left. Last year the only reasonable calendar they had was one of Scenic Minnesota photos. They had a Sierra Club one, too, but I'd done that a couple of years before and I was looking to branch out.

This year there were slim pickings and I walked away with a calendar of Scenic New England. New England beat out Lighthouses of the Great Lakes and another with paintings of leaves each month. I liked the paper, though, so it was a contender.

Peter and I were joking about how dull we are and it occurred to me that I'm the sort of person who has a tremendously good time playing Scrabble with people on my husband's iPhone and that I look forward to buying calenders with seasonal nature scenery. "Really--you're a ton of fun", Peter joked. "I bring the fun--no, I MAKE the fun", I responded. I am a fun girl.

Then Peter told me that a couple we know is planning on visiting 9 bars and pubs tonight. You know, to celebrate. I asked Peter how dull a person has to be before actual "fun" activities sound like they aren't any fun at all. Party? I'd rather polish my coin collection and pick fuzz balls off my knitting.

I was telling Peter how one could make an evening of parties and bars more fun. Before the Big Night, visit all of the bars you are interested in attending. Pick the top four. Then, on the big night, go to the first one. Try to have as much fun as you can in a group of loud, drunken revelers and if it's not a good time try the next one. If that one's a bust, try a third. If you're still not having fun, it might be best to give up and go have some hot chocolate at home. With any luck you'll be able to shower the smell of beer out of your hair and be well rested by morning.

I hope they have a good time, but really I think I have this couple beat. I've already transcribed my appointments for January and February into my new Scenic New England calendar and I'm ready to begin an organized new year. Because I am all about having a good time.

I've never been to New England, but some day I might. And now I know all of the places I'd like to visit.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Before I forget, I wanted to post our Christmas card picture for you all, in case you missed it this year.

Merry Christmas to you and your family. I hope you are enjoying all of the trappings of the season as we celebrate the birth of our mighty savior.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Knit Like Lightening

I think I may have developed superpowers.

In just over 24 hours I have knit Anna a pair of those Felted Clogs that everyone's been knitting lately. I have hands like the wind and needles of fire.

Anna had outgrown Thomas's old slippers and I'd been meaning to buy replacements since Thomas is still wearing the next biggest slippers. Week after week there were other things to buy and her slippers kept getting deferred. There was finally snow on the ground and sub-zero temperatures and I realized that these slippers were just not going to happen.

Happily I still had some purple yarn in The Stash that had originally been aquired for a baby sweater that never got knit. Wool is never wasted so I pulled it out, happy that Anna would get to wear these skeins after all.

I had a little fun with Anna last night as I showed her the first finished clog. "Who do you think I knit this for?", I asked. Anna smiled and said, "Me!" but when she put it on she looked at me and told me that it might be a little big. I laughed and told her that it should fit fine and that in the morning I would show her a magic trick.

The slippers are in the wash now. I can't WAIT until they come out!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Another Stocking for St Nick to Fill

Here is another specimen of woolly triumph. Anna's Christmas Stocking.

Bartlettyarn, Fisherman 2-ply, I think. Colors are Light Sheep's Grey, Cranberry, and I forget what the green is. The pattern is from Annie's Woolens. After I finished she told me she wanted one like Thomas's. Again, I will say I deserved it for all the grief I gave my mom over the handmade clothing I (had to wear) wore as a child. I accepted her remarks graciously, told her I picked the pattern out just for her and that she and the stocking would learn to love each other. I have every confidence that this will be true. Quite frankly, when Christmas comes and it's full of nuts and oranges and candy I'm sure she won't care if I'd knit the face of the Loch Ness Monster into the side.

I have one more stocking to knit for Henry, but it can wait until after Christmas. For now I'm going to put the finishing touches on a sweater for a friend's upcoming arrival and then I'm going to knit off a whack of hats and a pair of mittens (or two). Oh, but to knit something that isn't red and green!

I want to knit this hat for Henry. Mostly because he's a baby and that means I can put him into whatever fool thing that strikes my fancy.

I want to knit these mittens for me, me, me. It has been about Freezing Degrees Fahrenheit these days and I have been fantasizing about them as I head off to the gym in the evenings. I have also been having longing thoughts about these mittens, too. Have you ever put your hands inside thrummed mittens before? It's like rubbing dark, warm fudge all over your fingers on a cold day. But less messy and way more satisfying.

I haven't been buying much yarn these days as I've been very focused on getting the baby sweater and the stockings done by Christmas. However, I've snapped twice and bought copious amounts of sock yarn that we totally didn't budget for. It's better than going on a bender, I suppose, but I can foresee some Man Sock knitting in my future as well, mostly to convince certain menfolk that sock yarn is a sound choice for the wise investor. After all, we will never have cold feet again! Which is especially nice since who knows if we'll be able to afford heat. Good thing I have all this wool!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The New Century

My husband has this thing called an "iPhone". It's really his brain, seamlessly integrated with an hand-held device. He uses it all the time, but I'm hopelessly backward when it comes to this new fangled technology. I'm the one in this relationship who thinks the Internet is a passing fad. Like the horseless carriage.

Anyway, Peter has shown me that there are some benefits to this Great Wonder of the Modern World. Online Scrabble. Apparently, you can play Scrabble with strangers from God Know Where any time of the night or day. Amazing. This appeals to my desire to play more Scrabble as well as my deep need to gloat shamelessly. Ordinarily I have to rein in my urges to openly display my triumph, but online, in the anonymous world of the internet I can crow freely over my opponent. After all, he or she can't even hear me! I may be winning against 10 year olds, but hey--winning is winning.

I just trumped some one pretty good. Me: 241, Opponent: 175.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Purple Kitty

Really, I have no idea where my head has been.

This is the result of having the third birthday in a string of birthdays. You get missed a little. About a week ago, someone turned 4.

Here she is, in her handknit hat that Aunt Rachel made for her. She calls it her Purple Kitty Hat.

Here she is, doing some first rate Meowing for me.

Anna is so imaginative, so full of fun and story that I can't imagine my home without her. I am so excited to see her grow and become the person she is going to be. Happy Birthday, my big four year old.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Burden of Parental Obligation

For a year, nay, two years, my kids have been begging to make a gingerbread house.

I'm not exactly sure who first put the idea into their wee little heads, but it was exasperated by the presence of a full-page picture of a glorious house of sweets in Betty Crocker's Cooky Book . For years the kids would page through this cookbook, ogling the treats, and upon coming to the Page of Revelation would plead to make the gingerbread house.

There are easy excuses to put it off. It is a seasonal project, and an involved one, so it's not something that can be launched upon a moment's notice. It is easy to say that maybe we can make it for Christmas, next Christmas, next Christmas, Christmas, NOT NOW. And besides, the project in the Cooky Book isn't an actual gingerbread house. It's a house of cardboard that is pasted with candy, frosting and cookies. Not exactly the edible confection that the kids are imagining.

But this year, Christmas is approaching and I find that I am out of excuses. Really, I am. They deserve to have at least one gingerbread house in their childhood and this is the year. Which leads me to my next point.

How do you make a gingerbread house? Eek. Everyone I've asked says BUY A KIT, but one quick perusal of Amazon (aka Mall of The New Century) tells me that this is not truly helpful advice. What, pray tell, is "a kit" supposed to contain? A mold? Cookie cutters? Actual gingerbread? A cardboard house to paste cookies or gingerbread onto? And where do I find a recipe for sheet-like gingerbread from which to make molded or cookie-cut house pieces? I am lost in the woods here. A woods with a gingerbread house in the deepest, darkest part. Help me find it? I'll bring the bread crumbs.

Monday, November 9, 2009

At The End Of Day

I've come to the end of another day.

It's been one of those days that are far too common when parenting small children. It's one of those days when the kids are finally in bed and while sitting on the couch my only remaining thought is, "Thank God urine is sterile."

Friday, November 6, 2009

You Should Have Seen The Other Guy

I can't believe it's taken me nearly five days to blog about this. Perhaps I needed a moment to relax before relating the details or maybe I've been busy at the gym, but we had some excitement Monday night. Lord, I am so tired of excitement!

I was getting ready to dish dinner Monday night. The kids were playing in the kitchen and Peter was helping to get things set up. I was turning with a plate in my hand as Thomas was walking by and Boom: Edge of Plate Meets Face. Right near the eye.

My plate was undamaged, but check out my baby.

Three stitches, right in a row. I'm starting to think Children's Hospital should pay ME for all the time I've spent there. It's like my job or something.

A friend of mine has a son who is the true Adventure Boy and has had stitches a number of times. She had told me how well Children's did on one set of his stitches, so we just drove right there. It was a long night, but they did a great job.

Thomas had a bit of a breakdown when the time came to actually DO the stitches, but once he resigned himself to it, he did wonderfully. I've been in an operating room or two myself and I know how overwhelming and out of control it feels to be surrounded by all those strange people. I didn't blame him a bit. It nearly broke my heart to have to do it, but once they started to stitch and he was obviously not in any discomfort (he would have certainly let us know), we both relaxed and it was quickly done.

I managed to go out and snap a picture before the stitches are taken out tomorrow. I'll be glad when that's over, too.

Monday, November 2, 2009


My parents had given us pumpkins to make into Jack o' Lanterns. I kept meaning to do it, but somehow it never happened. All week the kids were wound up with excitement and counting the days until Halloween. Is it tomorrow, Mommy? Finally on The Day we were counting the hours, nay, the minutes til Trick or Treat time and we needed something to do. Something for the hands. And so there was the pumpkin. The pumpkin which became. . .

I'll spare you the stripped-to-the-waist pumpkin scraping, face drawing, carving pictures. Even the ones where Henry is gamely eating raw pumpkin chunks. Though his is sooo cute!

Finally it was time. They were dressed in their costumes, the same costumes as last year, and we were ready to go.

Well, almost ready. After visiting two neighbors we had to go home for more outdoor gear. They added fleece jackets under their down vests and wooly hats. I'm not sure how many places in the world children need to have a costume that's compatible with snowsuits and scarves, but Minnesota is one of them.

We went around our block, knocking on doors, dodging dogs (Anna is quite afraid of dogs. Thomas was, too, at her age, so I imagine she'll get past it.), and collecting candy. Lots of candy. They filled their trick or treat bags just circling the block. I remembered last year when Anna exclaimed, "Mommy! Can you believe all these kind people?" It must seem like a magic night to a small child. You walk around your own neighborhood and people open their doors, declare you adorable, and give you candy. AMAZING. And it's not even your BIRTHDAY.

Today I gave up any pretense at rationing the candy. I caught Anna sitting down with her Halloween bag eating three suckers. At once. Ah, the joyful gluttony.

Ah, the stickiness. If you come to my house, be prepared to stay since it won't be easy to get unstuck from the chair.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Question for The Blog

I've been trying to ignore the fact that Halloween is rapidly approaching, but I think I may have hit my limit with the church's Harvestween party scheduled for tomorrow.

I remember when I was growing up there were a lot of rules surrounding the Culture of the Costume. Rubber masks were the coolest, most everyone's costume was cheaply made, only boys could be something gross or scary, no one's costume was ever very scary. But I remember the chief, #1 cardinal rule of Halloween was that you absolutely, positively couldn't be what you were last year. So this year, when I asked Thomas what he wanted to be for Halloween and he answered "The Cat in The Hat", I balked. Sure you don't want to be a doctor? A fireman? Uncle Pete? No? The Cat in The Hat.

Really, it couldn't matter less to me--we still have the hat and necktie from last year and no one from church saw his costume last year. But I'm worried that when we go trick or treating someone will recognize the costume and say something. I'm not sure what I'm worried that they will say, and I doubt anyone will remember him from last year, but isn't this breaking some rule? Shouldn't he be something new? What would you do?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Birthday Boy

Look who had a birthday!

My biggest baby is six years old now. He's really turning into a big kid. It seems like he was just a toddler, running around, hanging out in his sling, keeping me up all night. He has been loosing teeth and I swear he just got those teeth a year ago. It is going so fast. It makes me glad that he is homeschooling. It means that I get to enjoy him a little longer.

He is by far my most spirited child. He is determined, persistent and lively. He never stops talking from the moment he gets up in the morning until he falls asleep at night. He loves to have grown ups involved in all of his adventures. He loves to make science experiments and read and write 'messages' for me all day. He loves to learn new things. This year has been all about the food we eat, the weather, growing things in the garden, and gaining proficiency with his knitting.

I'm so excited to see where this next year will take him!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

So Crafty and Then Some

For years now I've been wanting to make Christmas stockings for the kids. I waited until I knew we were done having babies. I wanted to make them a coordinating set and I didn't want baby #4 or 5 to get the Odd-Man Out stocking because I lost the pattern or I couldn't get the same yarn. This is the year for stockings, though. I cast on October 1 in order to give myself plenty of time, but it got done a lot faster than I had anticipated.

Lo! A Stocking!

That's Bartlettyarn in the 2-ply. Colors are Cranberry and something else. The neutral color is Light Sheep Grey. The red is much deeper in person. More like a, uh, cranberry. I suppose I could take a better picture, but it's pretty cold outside. The pattern is Holly from Annie's Woolens. The website says it is a traditional Scandinavian pattern. We do like to get the Swede on around the holidays. Pickled herring. . . yummm.

I've also been pretty busy with the jelly making. Rachel and I got together over the weekend and made a bunch of grape jelly from some of my dad's grapes. The grapes are pretty hit-or-miss, but this was a very good year for the juice.

Last night I did a little experiment. Rosehip Jelly. From my parents' rose hips. I think I'll plant some roses next spring that will give good rose hips. There seems to be some wild controversy on the internet as to the best time to pick the rose hips. I think my dad picked them after a light frost. I got just under three pints from two quarts of rose hips. I can't wait to try it. However, I have a quart of grape jelly in the fridge that didn't get canned, so I think we should eat that before opening anything new. Does anyone have a good recipe that calls for a cup or two of grape jelly?

Yummmm. Sugar.

Monday, October 19, 2009

One Of The Good Days

This is the first normal day we've had in over a week.

Anna came home mid-week last week. Her fever was relatively short-lived and she seemed to bounce back in about four days. Thomas's fever persisted so I brought him into the clinic. He had developed a sinus infection and some lung problems (Don't ask me the specifics, though. Inflammation? Irritation? Whatever. The drugs will make it better.) so he scored an antibiotic and some lung-medicine. The physician's assistant said he thought Thomas had had the swine flu, but that Anna had had a reaction to the Flu Mist. I don't know. They were both pretty sick, but it's true that Anna didn't match Thomas's 104.05 degree fever.

In any case, they are mostly better now. Thomas just has a cough and a snotty nose. I'm so glad to have them back with us.

We had our first day of school in a week. We did a little math, we read the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, and Thomas read Frog and Toad Together aloud to Anna and me. Then we went for a walk around the neighborhood collecting leaves for an art project.

I would like to remember Henry in our orange stroller, Anna running along the curb ankle deep in dry leaves, and Thomas pedaling away on his bike with the ice cream pail dangling from his handle bar. It is one of those rare autumn days that is bright and comfortably warm with leaves changing color everywhere. We were very happy with our collection. We came home and I put Henry down to nap and the kids did leaf rubbings. Even now I'm trying to get them to wrap it up so we (or I) can have a rest.

Some days I really like my job.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Another Update

I'm just stopping in to let you know that Thomas and Anna are (still) at my parents' house, convalescing. They both still have fevers and Thomas has a persistent cough. When I last saw them they seemed to be in good spirits--Grandma and Grandpa's house hasn't lost it's charm yet. They are watching oodles of TV and being waited on.

Needless to say, I miss my kids. I want them to come home! And every news story I see or read sends me into fits of hand wringing as I wait for their recovery.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sick Little Bunnies

It seems like it's going to be a slow, lingering sort of autumn in the Casa De Sarah.

Henry's been under the weather all week. There's been a subtle, sort-of cold with a fever on Tuesday that has culminated into a croupy cough with a little wheezing today. Croup. Ack. Remember that? We kept him outside, bundled in the cold, and now he seems improved, even if he's hacking a bit now and then.

The big news is that last night we sent Thomas and Anna for a visit with Grandma and Grandpa. Overnight they developed high fevers and coughs. I called an on-call nurse at our clinic and she said they most likely had H1N1. And that if it's possible at all we should keep them away from Henry.

They are going to stay with my parents another night and then tomorrow Peter and I are going to try to decide what steps we should take next. He hasn't given up hope that this is just a side effect of the FluMist vaccine they received Friday morning. I had thought so, too, but the nurse sounded absolutely confident over the phone that there was no way this was from the vaccine.

I just want them to get better. And I REALLY don't want Henry to get the flu.

Thomas had asked for a break from his math yesterday. I guess he's going to be getting a whole week off, with additional TV time as well. I guess the old adage holds true: "Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Something I Made

Here's a picture of some socks I finished for Peter. It's the Tesserae Sock pattern from Anne Hanson. I used Cascade Heritage Paints sock yarn. I don't remember the colorway, but it's terrific for a man's sock. It's subtle enough that a sober individual like Peter will wear it, but interesting enough that I don't fall asleep while knitting it.

Peter seems to like them, which is always a bonus. One day the guy may score a handknit sweater from me. But for now, I will revel in the glory of a finished pair of socks.

Happy Day.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It Was Something You Said

I've always wanted to spin my own yarn. Some of my favorite things in Ravelry are knit from handspun yarn. I often see amazing projects made out of yarn that just can't be bought. I want to make yarn like that! I want my projects to be that cool. It's like I'm in eighth grade again, amazed at the girls who manage to look good in braces. How to they do that?

The process seemed riddled with daunting technical detail, but I was game to try. We have a smallish house, however, with five people vying for space and I was reluctant to bring more stuff under our roof. Later, I would tell myself, when the kids are bigger and I don't have to worry about Henry stuffing fiber into his mouth. Later, when the kids have flown the coop, I'll have more room, more time.

A couple of weeks ago, one of Peter's aunts said something that totally changed my mind. She is in her mid 60s (I think) and is an energetic, intelligent person. But she said something that really shook up how I was ordering my life. We were talking about her trouble remembering how to do new things on her computer. She said that for younger people, you learn things and then you just know it, but when you get older you have to work harder to remember what you learned. It made me realize that I shouldn't put off learning to spin until later but that I should be working now to build a store of information that I can use easily as I grow old. It's important to always be learning new things, of course, but it made me consider the things I want to work at and the things I want to come easily by that time.

I would rather be struggling to learn intricate lace knitting in my 60s and 70s that struggling to remember how to cast on. So, I'm going to set aside time this winter to become acquainted with drop spindles and roving. As I go on, I hope to learn about spinning wheels and that in a year or two I hope to be well versed enough to think about buying a whole wheel. Who knows for sure what will happen? But I'm planning to begin. And I'm glad to be planning a start. I just hope I don't have to move one of the kids out to make room for the fiber stash. There is no room for a fiber stash.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thinking Ahead

One thing I like about eating from my garden and storing food for the winter season is how it compels me to plan ahead. If I want tomatoes for winter, I must pick and can what is in my garden today. If I want green peppers for my chili or stews, I'd better get the peppers off the plant today and squirrel them away into the freezer. I know apple season is gearing up so I'd better call the orchard to see if they have bushels of our favorite varieties available. I am thinking about the windfall apples that are available for little money that make very good applesauce. There is a lot to keep in mind when you are gathering your resources together.

I admit that I have myself beat this year, though. I caught myself making a list that I usually don't make until January or February. My pad of paper is sitting next to my bed with "Things to Grow" written at the top and a nice list of vegetables lined up underneath. Here are some things on my list. So far.

Swiss Chard. I've never grown this before, but Rachel assures me it grows all summer and we eat a lot of greens.

Potatoes. I have room for a couple, or four, bushes along the side of the house.

Rasberries. We just pulled up the scabby shrubs in front of the house and we'll plant yummy berries.

Leeks. Again with the yummy.



Basil. Gotta do it. Maybe 12 plants. I love freezing pesto for the winter.

Green peppers. We love green peppers and they are expensive at the store and often loaded with pesticides.

Onions. My parents had a huge crop this year and it looked really appealing.

Garlic. This is a fall-plant crop. It seems so effortless in spring when the shoots come up like magic.

Dill. I'm not sure this really counts because all of my plants come up as volunteers, but since I freeze the dill weed and dry some dill seed, I think I will count it.

Carrots. Next time I'm going to lay a board over the seeds until they germinate. This will prevent them from getting choked with weeds before they even get started.

Lettuce. We don't often buy lettuce at the store and after a long winter without much for fresh vegetables this first spring crop comes like manna from heaven.

Tomatoes. Usually I have about 12 tomato plants, but the blight was so bad this year that I am giving up for now. I'm going to give it a summer or two before I try more than a plant or two again. Blight overwinters in the soil so it can be difficult to get rid of. So, I'm going to give it a rest next year. I hope to get my tomatoes from my dad (right, Dad? Wink, wink!).

So, this is a start, of course. I may do some kale, too, and green beans (I strongly dislike picking green beans because the leaves make my hands itch). Green beans are so simple to can and everyone likes eating them so how can I help but plant a couple of varieties?

We just have a tiny suburban lot and only a smallish garden, at that. But there's so much that I can grow right at home. What things do you grow for yourself each year?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Back, In Pieces

Oh, my Lord, but my back is aching.

It's that time of year again when the most routine of chores get ignored. Laundry piles us, bathrooms go unwashed (to some extent), meals are neglected and floors uncleaned. Canning season.

So far I've put up, let me see, 28 + 14 + 7= about 49 million quarts of tomatoes. There has been a batch of beets and green beans and a batch of sauerkraut Rachel made. She's making more because there is little else in this world Peter loves more than a pile of sauerkraut. We have plans, big plans, for another session of applesauce, too. Yes, the cellar's getting full and ready for winter. If only I had some squash. The long summer days are dwindling and we're making the most of them.

Next week school is starting and we're all ready to begin homeschooling Thomas. We're homeschooling for a number of reasons and it has been a new experience for me to actually make this information general knowledge to family and friends. It's unlike me to step out of line, to do something outside of expectations, and I've been surprised at how little the surprise of other people has affected me.

When I tell most people, I can tell they are taken aback and that there is a lot going on in their minds, but, this being the Midwest, they actually say very little. Universally, what they DO say is, "Well, what about socialization?" The peer interactions in school must have improved since I went through because I don't remember them being all that positive. Sure, I had friends, but the friends I have today are not the friends I knew growing up.

I don't know what the path will be like. I don't know how long we will do this, whether it will just be for Kindergarten or through college. I know Thomas has friends now and he'll have friends in the homeschool co-ops I hope to join and the scouting troops we'll hopefully be part of later. Really, I'm not worried. If nothing else, he'll learn to swear really well from me or my dad (who will handle any advanced cursing lessons).

In any case, no child of Peter's or mine has even a slim chance of being 'normal', regardless of where he or she is taught to read or write. Wish us luck!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

It's Fuzzy, Not Scratchy

Anna outgrew her white sweater this summer. I thought about running out and buying her a replacement since a white sweater can be a versatile item for a little girl. But then I remembered--Hey! I knit! Perhaps I could make her a white sweater.

So I did.

For those of you who are interested, I used good old Cascade 220. In white. It's a nice shade of white. It's a soft white, neither too harsh nor too yellow.

I used the Kid's Lace Cardigan pattern by Veronik Avery. It was very simple, especially since I'd made an Elizabeth Zimmermann Percentage Sweater once before. It's the same principle. The trickiest part involved the raglan decreases in the lace panels. I just winged it. There may be more polished ways to accomplish it, but I think it turned out fine.

I bought the glass buttons on Etsy from All Bohemian Glass. This is special because Anna's Grams's family came from Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). They were big with the glass cutting, if I remember correctly.

Anyway, Anna has declared the new sweater acceptable. I hope I can get her to wear it. She has a tendency to be a little flippant about the handknits. It's payback for all the homemade clothing my mom made me that I didn't care two straws about as a child. I deserve it. There's likely a proverb in the Bible about 'Do unto your mother and your daughter will do unto you."

In any case, I'll win this one. She who sets the thermostat sets the dress code.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Big Picture Birthday

It wasn't the beginning we were hoping for, but it was a better beginning than we had expected. Six and a half weeks prior to his birth, I walked into the hospital with a ruptured membrane, gushing fluid and certain that this pregnancy was over. Obviously, I was wrong. We hung in there and at 29 weeks, 6 days Henry was born. He weighed 3 lbs 9 oz, which is rather big for one born so early.

He cried a bit at first, but it quickly became clear that his breathing was labored. He spent the first few days on the CPAP machine, then many days after on a cannula for breathing assistance. It was days after his birth before I was able to see his face.

I spent most of my time at the hospital in the early days. I watched him receive fluids through an IV because he wasn't ready to receive his nourishment through his stomach. He had IVs in his arm, then in his head. It was a big day when the IVs came out and he got his gavage tube. He was ready to start on what milk I could pump and supplemental formula.

I pumped every two hours during the day and many times at night because, let's face it, even a double-electric hospital-grade breast pump is not as efficient as a baby. I was never able to pump enough to meet the demand of a growing preemie. I still get a nervous twitch whenever I see a breast pump. At home I was either pumping, washing pump parts, or transporting dozens of containers of expressed milk to the hospital in my little cooler.

I went to the hospital as often as I could. I had to divide my time between the children I had been apart from for so long while on bedrest, and the baby I had to leave in the NICU. I would bring Thomas and Anna to the hospital with me, leaving them in the Sibling Care play area while I went up to spend time with Henry.

Experience is a hard teacher, but my time in the NICU with Thomas made this so much easier. I understood better what to expect, which questions to ask, and how to work with the process. I had great nurses who were supportive and encouraging. They had a lot of respect for me as a NICU vet and their confidence buoyed me up.

But then, suddenly, Henry came home. That week we had been expecting that he might come home on Sunday, maybe Saturday. Friday I dropped Thomas and Anna off at the Sibling Play Area and I walked up to the NICU. As I walked into the room, Henry's nurse asked excitedly, "How'd you like to bring Henry home today?"

Incredible. Really? He's ready? I was stunned that they would think that he was ready--that I was ready--to come home. It was a homecoming for me as much as him.

The process took hours, but he was finally discharged. He was home.

And now he's a year old. Technically. We'll celebrate now, of course, but I think that another party in November might be appropriate. Ten weeks makes a big difference in the first year and I think I'd like to mark both milestones. I'd like to celebrate the day he was born, but there is a part of me that would like to celebrate the point when he will have grown into an actual One Year Old.

All things considered, I'd just like to celebrate this little boy and his great big smile.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Utterly Mobile

No longer content so sit and play, someone has ventured forth into new territory.

Henry is crawling. Not fast, and still often backwards, but now in a New! Forward! Direction!

This is very exciting.

What a sweet, innocent face.

It should be noted, however, that only a few brief minutes after this picture was taken and uploaded here, this sweet little baby got into my cookbooks and ate stale, dirty Cheerios. And so it begins.

I'm loving this.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Edge of the Wilderness

We are back.

We went on vacation last week with my parents. They rent two little lake cabins every year so that we can all spend a week having a real vacation. I don't know how restful it is for my parents, but it gives the kids a lot of excitement and Peter and I get a chance to actually rest as Grandma and Grandpa cook and keep the kids busy.

The resort is in the middle of nowhere. It's along the edge of the Chippewa National Forest, 40 minutes away from Grand Rapids, Home of Judy Garland. We ran out of diapers towards the end of our vacation. We drove 10 miles to pay $14 for a package of Luvs. As I was checking out, the woman remarked that this was the last pack of diapers on the shelf in a size 4. I told her that she had a remarkable memory. She said that, no, she had been watching the supply of diapers and was waiting for the last package to sell before she ordered more. I wondered what would happen if you lived in the area wanted to buy diapers when she was waiting for a shipment. You'd have to drive miles to find any. Of course, so few people live in the area that I imagine there wasn't too much chance of anyone rushing in with a desperate need for diapers. But still. If Target were to run out of Luvs, well, I could buy the Target brand diapers, Pampers, Huggies (two different kinds), and that crunchy brand they're carrying now. And, failing that, I could buy diapers at one of the two grocery stores. It's almost a shame I use cloth diapers.

It was a five hour drive to the cabins and it put us in the middle of the quietest bit of forest that you can imagine. The Northwoods are dense and dark, filled with birch trees and pine and we spent the week enjoying the quiet. In the Twin Cities, we have airplanes flying overhead all the time. At our house, you can hear the blaring horn of passing trains half a mile away and the highway provides a steady stream of white noise. In the woods, all you can hear is the forest and the lake. I never heard an airplane all week. And at night I would look up and see the stars. In the country one can see the stars most people have forgotten even exist. I would look into the sky and be amazed that these bright points of light had been there all along. Even on the clearest, coldest day of the year, these are never seen in the city. And you forget. It made me wonder what else is out there, obscured by the business of everyday life. And I wonder how one goes about finding it.

Whatever else there is and however one finds it, it almost certainly has to be easier than finding diapers in the middle of the wilderness.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Does This Zucchini Make Me Look Fat?

One day the garden zucchini is just a wee fingerling on the vine, the next you discover a zucchini so large that you beg it to be merciful to your children when it becomes your Benevolent Overlord.
The measuring spoons are provided for scale. I should have used Henry, but he was out with Peter when this photo was taken.

I'm not sure that this has any useful purpose anymore or if it should head straight for a position in politics, but I'm going to try shredding it and freezing it for winter, per Rachel's suggestion.

Also, I'm still interested in toe-up sock patterns, so if you have one, please feel free to give me your suggestion. I've been on Ravelry and I've found one potential pattern, but I have to wait to read through it before I'll know if it's going to work.

I'm back to my garden now. It's been sadly neglected this past week, so who knows what other surprises await!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Knitting Request

I have a request for the Knitters.

I have some leftover sock yarn--about 40 grams--and I would like to use it to knit my Anna a pair of socks. I think that the best way to ensure that I leave enough yarn after the first sock would be to knit the socks toe-up. That way I just knit the foot and make the leg bit as long as I can before the ball of leftover yarn weighs 20 grams.

I'm wondering if any of you have recommendations as to which toe-up sock patterns you've had the best luck with, specifically for children. I've never done toe-up before and I'm eager to try!

Thanks for the help.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

23 Weeks and A Year

Last year at this time I was 23 weeks and 3 days pregnant with my third pregnancy. My pregnancies are labeled 'high risk' because Thomas was born prematurely, but nothing could have prepared me for what happened with this baby. Even though I had experienced PPROM before, I was entirely caught off guard when my water broke so early.

I thought I was going to loose my baby. I should have lost the baby. Statistically, most women do. At 23 weeks, no one was terribly optimistic.

But, I didn't loose the baby. What happened next wasn't fast and it wasn't easy, but he stuck it out and the next six weeks gave us our little Henry. He may be small, but he is mighty. And I am so glad.

Knitting Stuff

Zucchini bread is proof that no matter how questionable things look in the beginning, things can always be improved if you add enough sugar and fat.

My dear Rachel came over yesterday and brought us some zucchini bread that she had baked in her tiny little kitchen. We ate it today for snack and I marveled again that something so tasty could come from something like the humble zucchini.

Rachel is an art specialist in the public schools and so she also did an art lesson with the kids. They drew things like lions and rabbits, houses and people. During their lesson I kept thinking, "Look! You're being enriched! We're having Enrichment Activities!" And after that I took the kids to their swimming lesson. I can't tell you how suburban this makes me feel. When I was growing up in the country our 'activities' basically consisted of weeding the garden, avoiding work, and learning how to shoot a gun. My kids are so soft. Thomas doesn't even know how to pluck a chicken.

In any case, there was some interest expressed in what I've been knitting this summer. Here's a brief synopsis:

Socks. Socks for ME! For a change.

I used Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Basic Sock Recipe from her book Knitting Rules. Bless that woman's heart. With that book I can knit anything, without a pattern. I used Ty-Dy sock yarn from the Knit One Crochet Too company. I don't know how it will wear, but it is the softest yarn ever. I'm not usually a sucker for The Soft, but this was like knitting with water. And I really love the colors.

I am also knitting a Baby Albert for little Henry (who by the way is not so little any more--little giant, more like). This photo doesn't do the yarn any favors. It's a very rich, jewel-tone blue and green. The green is more of a yellow-green than a blue-green and is much richer. It's the best picture I could get, sadly enough. It's a schooshy merino wool that I bought at Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool festival. I wonder how it will wear, but only time will tell. It was dyed by a local woman who had an amazing palette. I'd give you her contact info, but her etsy shop has been empty since the festival.

I've also finished a February Baby sweater (another) for a friend who is epecting her sixth intallment in September. I've started working on a matching hat, but who knows when that will be finished?

I've ALSO started a Christmas surprise for my father-in-law. I think he lurks here so that knitting project will have to be under wraps for the time being. I was lamenting to my mom that whenever you knit a gift it doesn't LOOK like anything. The yarn itself could cost $20 or more, plus all of your free time for weeks and weeks, but in the end all you have is a pair of mittens or socks or a hat to show for it. Oh, well. It's the thought that counts, right?

I've ALSO started a project for my mother-in-law. This one is a little more difficult since it involves lace and therefore requires more attention and concentration. I'm not sure it will be done in time. Can you believe it? Six months in advance and I'm still not sure. But now that the lace baby sweater is done, perhaps there will be more attention for this?

And, lastly, I have just begun a little white sweater for Anna. There was a fair bit of confusion surrounding this project since I didn't think I'd be able to get the pattern I wanted, so I got another pattern, then I ordered yarn for the second pattern, found the pattern I had preferred at first, recieved the yarn I'd ordered for the second pattern which turned out to be more off-white than I wanted, so I took my First Pattern and just bought some white Cascade 220. For Lord's sake, I've had enough. And she probably won't wear ANY of the sweaters I knit her anyway. I'll have some pictures of this eventually, when there's enough to photograph. At this point you'd only have a nice picture of some white Cascade yarn with my Addi circular needles. I've finished about two inches.

I've also, at Rachel's insistance, begun reading Depletion and Abundance. I was aprehensive at first, because I have enough stress in my life already, for Lord's sake, but it turns out to be a better read than I had anticipated. However, it may yet leave me wanting to stick my head in the oven, but reluctant to do so because the energy usage would be so bad for the environment. I'll keep you posted on that, too.

Looking at this list of knitting projects it occurs to me that I have way too much free time. I am properly ashamed of myself, I assure you. Maybe I'll only knit a few rounds on Dad Edstrom's Christmas present before hanging out the laundry and only a couple of rows on Anna's sweater before making lunch.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer Revisited

Last year this time I was pregnant and picking strawberries to freeze for the winter. The pregnancy didn't go so well, but the strawberries were delicious and we ate them through the dark winter as we took care of our new baby.

This year I am not pregnant and therefore less with The Crazy. I will not be picking 60 lbs of berries because this year there are Limits. There is also a baby which helps to curtail any overachieving on my part. So yesterday afternoon my family and Rachel went to the fields and picked berries. In 97 degree temps.

This is crazy enough but I saw a woman who was nine months pregnant out picking berries with HER family in hopes of getting labor started. I realized then that I was not the craziest pregnant woman that ever lived and that everything is a matter of perspective. She was the kind of enormously pregnant that says picking berries in Death Valley is preferable to being pregnant one more minute. I hope it worked for her. After our brief conversation I nearly bit my tongue trying to keep my advice to myself. My advice would have been to go home, have a glass of water and PUT YOUR FEET UP because you won't be able to rest after the baby comes, for Lord's sake. But she had two boys already so I figured there wasn't anything I could really say that she didn't already know. And you may speak truth to power, but there's no reasoning with The Crazy.

I've had a few little posts percolating for a while now and they haven't really congealed into anything substantial yet. I'm working on it, though and will write something out when I get a chance. Today I'm climbing Mt. Saint Laundry and canning strawberry jam. Of course, as all mothers know, these seem like simple, mild-mannered goals for the day, but in truth it will be more difficult to meet these ends that it might first appear. I'm considering where I could draw help from, but sadly I am a Staff of One. Delegating will only be a waste of time since I'd have to assign all my tasks to my beleaguered assistants--Me, Myself, and I.

Hopefully tomorrow you can look forward to photos of the beautiful jars of red jam that I'll be canning today.

Monday, May 25, 2009


My brother's in the army. Have I ever told you that?

Technically, he's a full-time supply sargent in the National Guard, but I guess that's army enough, so I'll just say he's in the army. I'm not very familiar with the world of the military so you'll have to forgive me any slip-ups in jargon or understanding for a little while. I know enough to know that BDUs are not underpants and that they are tan now instead of green.

In a week he'll be leaving for a chunk of training so he'll be ready to go to Iraq. We've known about it for a while, but I haven't wanted to say anthing for two reasons: 1) I hoped the government would changed its mind about sending him and 2) my brother tends to be rather reserved and I often say too much of the wrong thing where he's concerned.

But he's going now, so he'll have to wait a year to lecture me if he doesn't like what I say.

I don't hate that he's going and I understand why he'd want to go. I wish he'd picked a job as a dentist or an insurance adjuster instead, but I've long ago realized that he is a different person from me.

He is reserved to a fault (I'm really glad he told me he was leaving ahead of time instead of just sending me a postcard from Dubai) so he doesn't always tell me the stories of things that he's done or seen. One of the hardest things about this deployment (ha! I do know some military words.) is that he will be adding another layer to his life that he won't talk about.

I wish I could go with him and see the things he sees, but the chances are very good that I would only get him in trouble by saying or doing something stupid. I hope he tells me about his time there, though.

He's going with his best friend and this makes me feel so much better. I am so glad that he won't be there alone. I felt this way when he got married--I was so glad that he had someone who would know when he was sick and who would make sure he took care of himself.

So, we're doing the countdown now. I'd like to see him before he leaves, but my dad said that we shouldn't make a big deal out of it because it would just make it harder on him. I'm sure he's right, but I think it will be hard for him either way and I'd like to shake his hand before he goes. I know he's just doing his job, but it's a brave thing and I'd like him to know that I respect what he does. At the very least I'd like to offer him some advice. Like never go with a strange man on a camel, even if he does offer you lentils.

Well, I'm sure that this will all be over soon and that in thirty years or so it will all be a distant memory. I'm sure that I can be a big girl for a year. I know that at least a couple of you have had loved ones deployed for long periods of time. Is there any advice you would give him as he prepares to leave?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Fine Kettle of Fish

The lilacs are blooming and my allergies are going crazy. I'm waiting for my medicine to kick in but until then my face is going to feel like it's in a meat grinder. Ah, glorious spring.

On Friday morning I was going to tell you about my cat, Sabrina, and how after having her all of my adult life I had to put her down. Peter brought her in for me, since I really didn't have the strength to do it myself. I feel like such a coward but I'm so glad he took the burden from me. I wish we had gone together, but I took the kids out to the garage sales (with a very distracting Grandpa) so they wouldn't have an overly dramatic "Good-Bye Ceremony" to make it more difficult than it had to be. We decided to lie to the children about what was happening to her. Judge me if you will, but I just wasn't up to dealing with the whole 'the cat is dead' issue. And at 3 and 5 years old, I felt there was limited merit in going through the ordeal of losing a pet. I know that having a pet die can be very instructive (I lived on a farm growing up--I know whereof I speak), but I also felt like they were too young to gain much benefit.

Before we realized she was so ill we were going to give her to my mom's old co-worker who had lost his cat in an apartment fire. We had told the kids that this was going to happen and how good it would be to give him Sabrina for company. So we just stuck with this story. I was hoping that doing something good for someone else would help cushion the blow. I'm not used to telling fibs so this was perhaps harder on me in that respect, but it was better to deal with my own sadness and not have to manage theirs as well.

On Saturday I was going to tell you about how we went to Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival. It's the first year that I've remembered to go and we got to go with my sister in law Rachel and her husband Chris. It was so. much. fun. We saw a merino sheep (ugly beyond recognition as a sheep), goats, alpacas and llamas, and angora rabbits the size of pillows. The kids had a good time and Rachel and I had a great time. I saw yarn that was more amazing than any I'd ever seen before. I spent too much money. Best Mother's Day ever. It was a Mother's Day extravaganza.

On Sunday I was going to tell you about Henry's baptism. He just fit into the baptismal gown worn by his great-grandfather in 1915, his grandfather, his father and his brother. In another month he would have been too big. He laughed when the water was poured over his head and he drooled all over his gown. By the end of the service he looked like he'd had an immersion baptism. We had a nice dinner at my parents' house after and it was a good day.

But Monday came and now most of the weekend doesn't seem as important as it might have been. There aren't too many details that I'm willing to share because I don't want to tell too much of someone else's story. We have a close family member who is very sick. It will mean a long hospital stay and an unpleasant treatment. We are all very worried, of course, but most of all we're just so sad that this person whom we love most of all will have to go through this trial. One can always help and try to be useful. One can try to ease the burden. But sadly, no one can go through it for him. We can only go with. So, we'll be praying for strength and health and leaving it to God to do the rest.

You know, I'd give a whole lot to have a dull year. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed for 2010.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Photo Tuesday

You can tell when Spring has really come when Rhubarb Muffins start coming out of the oven. The kids and I made a double batch this morning, no thanks to Henry McGrumpypants. I'm not really sure what his problem is, but he has been the grumpiest, most unpleasant person in town. Nothing seems to make him happy. But anyway, here is a gratuitous muffin shot:

I made a double batch since Friday kicks off Garage Sale Weekend in Woodbury. People come from all over (by the busload, no kidding) to live off the fat of the land. Woodbury is a pretty posh suburb, so there's a lot of fat to be had. I wonder what the sales will look like this year, what with the Tough Economic Times and all. My dad comes along as part nanny, part treasure hunter and it always makes the trip more fun.

Mostly, though, I'm just waiting for this baby to cheer up. He's so fussy and I wish I knew what his problem is. I'm really getting worn out. If gypsies were to come through town and offer me money, I might be tempted to take it. . . just for a minute. Do any of you know what could be making this kid such a crying grump? I'm open to ideas. We've been guessing 'teething' for about a month now.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


We've been having a LOT of rain this week. I didn't realize quite how much until I saw what Thomas made with his lunch.

For the less abstract in our audience, that's a carrot umbrella with carrot rain.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I was leaving the library today when a man stopped me in the parking lot.

"Do you live in the area?"

Why, yes, I do.

"Did you loose power today?"

Why, no, I did not.

"The power was out for about four hours just a block from here. It was terrible."

Terrible? Terrible, really? I'm wondering how bad it could be. Perhaps he was in the middle of some do-it-yourself brain surgery when the power failed and he was left with exposed brain matter for the afternoon. I have a hard time imagining the circumstances that could have left someone describing a brief power failure on a day with mild weather as 'terrible'.

To him I would say, Rise up, Man. You are shaped in the very image of God, descended from explorers and adventurers who sailed oceans, crossed prairies and hewed out a living in a wild land. You are the son of men and women who came to a wilderness and created a new nation, climbed mountains and journeyed across deserts and survived long, unforgiving winters. You are the child of a people who risked it all, lit a fire under themselves and went to the moon and back.

Some days I think that we are not as fully human as we were meant to be. No TV or internet for a whole afternoon? That would crush the spirit of most men, I suppose.


I can tell that the NICU reunion made a big impression on Anna. She came down the stairs this afternoon carrying every doll she owns. She said, "Mommy! I'm your friend with many babies."

I just laughed because I know who she was remembering. Is there anything a little girl enjoys more than a passel of babies?

Monday, April 27, 2009


It's been a month of transitions. We've moved from Psuedo-Spring, which is only spring because it is Less Wintery outside, to Real Spring. We've moved from Preemie Baby to Real Baby. We've moved from Hermits Entrenched to Errand Runners. We're actually getting out and seeing people. Henry has discovered that there is a world outside of our house and he seems to find it rather shocking.

We went to the NICU reunion last Sunday. I think it's the hospital's way of letting parents know that it is really, truly OK to bring your babies out among people now since RSV season is over. I think that for many parents it was the first time they were able to show their babies off. I met two of the moms I was on the ante-partum unit with at the hospital. Their babies looked amazing. I hadn't seen one of the babies since he was next door to Henry at the NICU. You can imagine how he's changed! There's a big difference between a four pound baby and a 14 pound baby.

Now that spring has come and our worries about RSV have passed (for this season, anyway--and you can just shut up about swine flu because I'm not listening)I'm starting to feel like Henry is a normal baby. I am still washing my hands like a crazed raccoon, but perhaps with less OCD frenzy. We can go out, have people come over, and let the older two kids mingle freely with other children. Normal. Sigh. Now I can start obsessing over how little sleep we're getting.

Now for the pictures.

Thomas has this crazy, over-the-top affectionate personality. When he loves you, he loves you more than anyone has ever loved you and when he hugs you, he hugs you more than you have ever been hugged before. He hugs Henry like this every day. Every time he does it we have to remind him that we hug and then we release. Don't lay on him, Thomas. I don't know that he'll ever figure out how to give a normal hug. He reminds me of that character in the movie Tommy Boy. "Brothers don't shake hands; Brothers gotta HUG!"

Here's a handsome kid. He looks like me. Only cute. And unbeatably five years old. Don't play this kid in checkers unless you're ready to get schooled. He plays with the big boys.

Here's Henry with his auntie. He finds her both fascinating and alarming. Most of us do, too.

Before Thomas was born, Rachel was adamant about NOT being called 'Auntie'. So, of course, we called her 'Auntie Rachel'. But after seeing her beautiful nephew, she quit caring. Spoiled all our fun. Here she is with her newest nephew, Henry.

Henry is now practicing sitting on his own. He does pretty well. I cannot wait until this kid can amuse himself. I'll be really excited about it until I find out exactly what he finds amusing. Then I'll wish he would just sit still again.

And now, Anna. I realized as I was going through my copious digital pile of photos that I need to take more pictures of Anna. She's finally figured out how to pedal a bike. I took a few photos of her demonstrating her new skill. In every one of the pictures she looks like her grandmothers. How odd to see them looking so young!

Henry's baptism is scheduled for Mother's Day. I am overwhelmed that we have made it this far. When I think of where we started last year in July, to Henry's birth at the end of August, I have to hold my breath when I realize how far we have come. We've come to this Spring by the seat of our pants, but we've made it and I'm glad.

We took a few pictures of Henry when he was in the NICU. I didn't share many of them here because they are so complicated to look at. On one hand they are so sad. There is this small, frail baby hanging on to life surrounded by breathing equipment, IV tubes, monitors, buttons and plastic. But at the same time, he is so fragile and so lovely and so tough. His ability to come through these challenges is so amazing. I'm thinking of posting them some time so that you can see how far he has come. I look at them and I am sad, but I'm also amazed at what people can come through when they are loved and cared for.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Baby Toys

It's been a busy week here at The Little House and I've certainly had my hands full. Too full. Henry has had a cold and I strongly suspect that he's working on an ear infection. He has been cranky and awake and I haven't gotten a single thing done all week. I'm looking forward to next week being much nicer since a virus simply can't last forever. So, I'll sip my whiskey and soda and dream sweet dreams of Next Week.

There's been something that's come up in my world that has really put a burr in my underpants. Needless to say, I've been unsettled in my mind and I've had a hard time putting it aside and moving past it. I'm not someone who spends time being upset in any meaningful way and so this has been something of a shock to my system. Of course, I can't talk about it, not to anyone, and I REALLY can't post about it on the INTERNET so it has been my burden to carry. I've been praying for peace and for my mind to be at rest, but it has been hard.

But I'll move on now to something I can write about. I want to hear what you have to say about Baby Toys. I was playing with Henry the other day and it occurred to me that he would be out-growing his baby toys soon ('soon' being a relative term) and that I would have to figure out what to do with them.

Most of them I don't care a whit about, but I was surprised to discover that I have a pretty strong attachment to some of them. My memories of the children playing with one toy or another are so strong that I cannot imagine parting with that toy. To get rid of it seems to be getting rid of a tangible part of my memories of The Babies that I don't know how I'm going to do it. I know that most moms have boxes (and boxes?) of impedimenta of their children's babyhood. I am just not sure that I want to keep lots of old things in boxes. I doubt very much that any of my kids are going to grow up and want any of it so I'll be keeping it mostly out of sentiment.

In the past I have taken pictures of things like my old stuffed animals so I could keep the memory and still let go of the item, but I'm not sure that technique is going to work for this situation. I'm wondering what you do? What do you keep? What do you give away? What do you throw away?

In the meantime, I made sure to take a picture of Henry playing with one of my favorite baby toys of all time.

I think it's called a Whoozit. I bought it for Thomas when he was a baby because he HATED being in the carseat with a red hot fury. I found that the only way I could keep him happy was with toys--lots of toys--or he would scream, scream, scream for however long it would take to drive some place. I would pile baby toys in the passenger seat next to me and whenever he would fuss I would toss another toy into the back to keep him happy. This toy was great. It has lots of loops for little fingers to grab onto so it was easy to hold and would keep him happy for quite a while. All of the kids have enjoyed it. I look at it and it brings back those early months of parenting like nothing else. For better or worse, I suppose!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March Hare

I woke up this morning to see the thermometer reading -4 degrees.

C'mon, Weather--can't you cut me even a little slack? I'm pretty sure this winter was written by Kafka.

Ok. I'll stop whining for now.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hospital: Redux

Ok, so I'm getting really sick of the hospital. If our Children's Hospital gave frequent flier miles for every visit, I'm pretty sure I could take my whole family some place warm for the rest of the winter.

We've been a bit under the weather these days. Anna had a slight fever one day; Thomas had a fever a day later. I thought we might get lucky and that Henry would escape with just a passing cold or fever, but sadly that was not the case. Saturday we started to see a little congestion with Henry. Nothing serious, just a dry cough now and then. Sunday he was doing a little more dry coughing, but it was still nothing that even hit my radar. By Monday, however, I was hauling him into the clinic to see if that weird wheezing noise was anything I should be concerned about or whether is was a result of a harmless cold--you know the type--a snotty nose draining in the back of the throat or something like that. He'd thrown up a fair bit of phlegm the night before, so I didn't think it was outside the realm of possibility. The doctor listened to his lungs and declared them clear.

To make a long, long story short, by that evening Henry had stopped breathing properly and was restless and wheezing hard. He would try to cry and end with a dry, barking cough which only made him cry harder. I tried all the usual things and then spent a couple of hours dithering about on the advisability of bringing him to the ER. I was reluctant to spend several middle-of-the-night hours in an ER, subjecting Henry to all manner of unpleasantness, only to be told that he was 'fine' and to 'keep an eye on him'. Finally, I decided that I wasn't going to sleep anyway and Henry certainly wasn't getting any rest, so I might as well bring him in and be told that it was 'nothing'.

Nothing, indeed.

I've found that there is something worse than sitting for hours in an ER waiting to be seen by the doctor on call. What's worse is going up to register your baby and getting a whole lot of attention all at once by everyone who's available.

It turns out that croup causes a lot of excitement when small babies have it.

The doctor told me her diagnosis and all I could think was, "Croup? Seriously? Didn't Anne Shirley fix it with some humidity and ipecac?" I thought it was sort of like whooping cough--one of those antique illnesses that no one got anymore. Apparently they do.

We were finally able to come home after 13 hours and a LOT of medical intervention. He was given two doses of a steroid, among other more dramatic things, which is making him a little restless. He still has a wheezy cough, but he is able to breath without too much effort. They predicted that he will be right as rain in about five days, give or take. Despite my own bone-crushing cold and fever, I am still awake, listening to him breath and fuss a bit in his sleep. I am tense, though relieved, that the worst of this illness has passed.

I'm sure there are those of you who know all about this sort of thing and would have handled the whole incident with poise and aplomb. I envy you. This was likely the second most frightening thing that has ever happened in my life and I hope to never, ever have to repeat it. I'm an optimistic person, in general, but this time I am seriously out of sunshine. O.U.T. If Pollyanna were here, I'd push her to the ground and maybe take her lunch money.

Sometimes it seems like I have a long, long life left to live. Sometimes I wish I were already 90 years old. I think that by the time I'm 90 I'll finally be able to catch my breath and relax.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Looking For Spring: Random Thursday

We've been quiet here at Chez Sarah these days. Mostly we're hanging on, waiting for winter to finally end. We've had some days that looked promising, but I have a feeling we're going to get whipped back into winter in another week.

It was 40 degrees today and I was in my garage, spray painting a headboard for Anna's Big Girl Bed. Anna was dressed in her hat, coat, mittens, and rain pants. I was chilly in a long sleeve shirt and some bib overalls that I swear used to fit me when I was in college. She was running up and down our driveway, describing to me in detail everything she was doing and everything she saw. She came up the driveway and went around the corner of the garage where the rain gutters leak onto the walkway to the house. I heard a muffled cry and I put the spray can down to see what had happened. Anna was sitting on the wet ice with her legs bent every which way. I asked her if she was hurt and she sighed and said no. As I was helping her up and over the thick ice she said, "I'm tired of the Slippery Season, Mommy."

I know, Honey. I know.

The headboard isn't going to work out, by the way. I had it all painted and put up in Anna's room when I came upstairs to make up the bed. I guess it had been too wet or too cold when I painted it because the paint was coming off in big flakes. The paint can says that it should be warmer than 50 degrees with lower-than-raining humidity for the paint to work best. I guess that means I have to wait until JUNE before I'm allowed to spray paint anything. I love living in Minnesota, but LORD the weather is discouraging.

Another random Bit of Nothing: A week ago or so we were having another one of these strange half-thaw sorts of days and I sent the kids out to play. A day later the Twin Cities was hit with a heavy snowstorm that landed inches and inches of snow within a few hours. I was so glad I had kicked their butts outside when the weather was nice until I heard Peter getting them dressed up to go play in the fresh snow.

"Where are your yarn mittens?"


"Outside? Where did you leave them outside?"

"I don't know. By the tree?"

We look helplessly out the window at the SEVEN INCHES of fresh snow that lay on the ground where only mud and ice had been the day before.

Some days I'm not sure God really meant for people to live here, but that doesn't stop us from trying.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Not As Addle-Brained As I Thought

After I located the top of my head and finished scraping my brain off of the ceiling yesterday, I pulled myself back together and took another look at The Sock of Doominess.

It turns out that I was only half-addled when I knit it. This is somewhat comforting since this means that I was cotton-headed for only a week, instead of two, and that I only messed up HALF of the sock. And, mercifully, the bottom half. The half that hides in your shoe (or slipper, in my case, since I don't go out much). I'm feeling a lot less dramatic about it now so I'll refrain from throwing myself on the floor in a fit of gratitude and sighing, "Thank Gawd!" I will be able to now sit and peaceably knit my second sock correctly because that is how I began the first sock. And I've decided that if the mistake on the first sock is really bothering me after I've finished the second one, I totally have the moral fortitude to go back and reknit half a sock. I just didn't have it in me to reknit a whole one.

In other news, Henry is up to a grand 13 lbs, 13 oz. He is gestationally 3.5 months old, so he's clicking right along. He's smiling every day. He definitely recognizes his older brother. I guess that all of that attention Thomas lavishes on him is paying off!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Days Like These

The sound you hear is the sound of my head thwacking away on my kitchen table. Again, and again, and again.

We found a mini-van last week and I've been waiting to post until I get a picture of the dang thing, but that's really not the point of my post today. Because I still do not have a proper picture. Not that it matters. If you go online and find a picture of a 2008 Grand Caravan and imagine it in white, you will know what my van looks like. I'm shocked, really, because we've never had a car that was made in the same decade in which we were driving it. It's so new I almost forget that it's not. I'm just really, really hoping that it doesn't break down for a year or two because that would be really discouraging.

In any case. This is what I'm posting about today: Knitting. Knitting and how the Knitted Fates are conspiring to drive me insane in all the least pleasant ways. For Christmas my dear mother was so thoughtful as to give me a skein of beautiful (hand wash) alpaca sock yarn. Beautiful. I sat down and for two weeks (or more) I knit myself a sock. A lovely, soft Jaywalker sock. I finished it the other night and cast on to knit the second sock. I finished the inch of cuff ribbing and commenced on the leg pattern. Here is where I realize that I'm so slow-witted that I should never be allowed to touch wool to needles again. The pattern stitch is simple: Knit a row plain, knit a row pattern, knit a row plain, repeat. But I am so backward that I didn't understand the directions the first time and the Knitted Fates, in all their contemptible humor, have decided to open the Eyes of Revelation upon me just as I am about to begin the Second Sock. When I read the instructions the first time, I understood it (bizaarly) to mean that I should only be repeating the patterned row of the pattern again and again and not alternate the two patterns.

I had a stone cold moment when I realized that my Doom Was Upon Me and that I'd entirely eff'ed up the whole first sock. Utterly. Gaaaaah! Noooo! It can't BE! But I did. I am defeated. Now I don't know what to do! I can do the second sock in my NEW! And INVENTIVE! pattern (which looks suspiciously like a Jaywaller sock, despite its, uh, eccentricites). I can do the second sock correctly and just admire how handknitted things can be so, er, unique. Or I can rip the damned first sock out and reknit it the RIGHT way (cursing myself the whole time for being such a moron) and then move on to the second sock.

I don't know what to do. What would YOU do?

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Great Mini-Van Hunt of 2009

Despite the perilous economy we are looking for a new used car. We have one small car for Peter's in-town commute. It's a bare-bones Saturn which worked fine as our family car as well until we needed to add a third car seat to our traveling routine. We also used to have an old, lumbering 10, no, 11 year old Buick Le Sabre. It was a comfortable car to drive and looked right at home in the parking lot at the Senior Citizen's center. I felt like I was driving my bed down the road and it had the added benefit of accommodating all three children.

We had the Buick for about six years before it met it's untimely end. Peter was driving it home when he suddenly realized that the car had lost some of its usual vigor. In fact, it wouldn't drive any faster than 15 miles an hour. He got it to the mechanic safely and found out that the transmission was utterly destroyed. Cool. There's nothing like a $3,000 repair for a car that's worth about $2,000 to clarify one's priorities. As much as we enjoy being free of car payments, this is perhaps the time to consider taking some on. If we could fit everyone into our wee little Saturn the decision might have been more complicated, but as it is the path was clear.

We went that night to the Toyota dealership where our budget wasn't exciting enough to get the sales guy to be much help. We told him what we wanted to spend and that we needed to fit three carseats into it. He recommended a Chevy Cobalt and a Honda Accord. Really. We left discouraged and feeling like it was a huge mistake to even be out car shopping. Since we were up in Dealership Alley anyway, we swung by the Saturn dealership to see what they had on the lot. The contrast in service was blinding. Our sales woman had a working knowledge of every car in her inventory. She asked a lot of pertinent questions to help us get a better idea of what we were looking for. And then, and THEN she had the cars we wanted to look at driven into the showroom so we could look comfortably instead of in the cold, windy weather. We didn't buy a car that night, but it was certainly time well spent.

To tell the truth, we haven't bought a car yet, but we have a better idea of what we want. Though we have resisited it, it seems to be time to move to a mini-van, at least for the time being. Having three car seats isn't the motivating factor for me, oddly enough. What is really selling me on the idea of a mini-van are the sliding side doors! Getting the two older children in and out of the car is tricky enough, but getting enough room to open our car doors wide and get the infant car seat out is near impossible in our garage or in parking lots.

We are going back to the dealership on Saturday to do another test drive. I don't know what we'll end up with, but I can tell you one thing--I hope I'm done with car repairs for a good, long while!