January 30, 2009

Why Marriage is Like Knitting a Hat and What's For Dinner

I was writing 25 random things about myself yesterday for Facebook when something occured to me. I've been knitting hats and things like a madwoman lately for an upcoming party my friend is having. She's also having a baby and a few of these hats will be hers when it's all said and done. I also need to get something done for a local silent auction and...who ever thought people would actually be willing to PAY for something I made???
Anyhow, for one of the random things, I started rambling on about the hat that I was knitting. (Still am, actually.) I discovered that the middle of a hat (or most projects, for that matter!) is the most challenging for me. Really, the middle is usually the easiest. At least, the way I knit them! The beginning is exciting because there are all these possibilities and it's always exciting to cast-on a new project. Once I get going and figure out what I'm doing (because I usually just make up my own patterns as I go with most of them) I feel like I'm in a rut. Once I begin decreasing (all of my hats are knitted from the bottom-up) I feel like it's all downhill from there and I finish so quickly. I don't even mind finishing up and weaving in all the ends by then. The project flies off the needles. But, in the middle, it's easy to get bored. It's not nearly as exciting as the beginning and I'm nowhere near seeing the end result.
I think that marriage can be the same way. When the honeymoon is really over and it's their morning breath taking your breath away instead of the smile that used to, I can see how people get bored. For a long time, it's the same-old same-old. Since David and I have been married for almost seven years now, we're at a point where each day is much like the last one. Lucky for us, we like it that way, most days. Yeah, we still get in each other's way sometimes or don't pay enough attention to each other when we really need it....but that's okay. You're not supposed to be happy every single day of your life. I think marriage often ends too quickly for people who suddenly feel like their partner is no longer fulfiling their dreams. But, I can't leave it up to David to fulfill my dreams. They are my dreams, afterall. Not his. We share the same dreams when it comes to the big stuff. On the days that David isn't making me happy, I have to look within myself to find happiness. Or, just hope I'll be happy tomorrow.
And I will be. There is so much more to come.
The hat on the left is one I finished yesterday. The hat on the right is the one I'm about halfway through. It takes a lot more effort to pick it up once I've put it down, because it's going to be a bit more of the same-old same-old. But, it's totally worth it to stick it out. I want to be here to see how the entire thing turns out. Not just how it looks up to the middle.
And all of the wrinkles and gray hairs will be sort of neat, too. Because we earned them together. And we will be one of those old couples who yells all the time. Not because we're angry, but because we already have have trouble hearing each other and it's bound to get much worse.
To me, that's totally worth sticking out this middle part to see.

Here's what's for dinner tonight: Barbequed Pulled Pork in the Crock Pot.

This is the recipe that hangs on my fridge. I copy and paste it from HERE (or sometimes other random sources) to my word processing program so I can print out a copy. It's not the most space-efficient way to keep my recipes, but it works for me. I just have to look through my stack of recipes to plan my meals for the week, then in turn make my shopping list. It doesn't take as long as I thought it would to stay organized and we waste a lot less food this way. I just clip the recipes I'll need that week to my fridge and they are totally accessible. I don't have the counterspace for cookbooks and the handy little stands that can hold them. This works for me!

For now, I need to get myself and 3YO some lunch. Dinner already smells FANTASTIC and it won't be ready for HOURS, so lunch will have to do. Mmm...leftovers!

Have a terrific day and try to finish what you start....it should be totally worth it! (But, does that mean that I have to finish EVERYTHING I start? That sounds so overwhelming...)

January 28, 2009

You know that knot in your stomach when something's not right?

Cats have a funny way of keeping to themselves sometimes, don't they?
I'm only saying that because our cat, Soccer, has been missing since Monday. Yet, I only realized it Tuesday evening.
I have this horrible, sick feeling in my gut. This is wrong, so very wrong. Soccer never usually leaves the property. He would love to spend a warm afternoon in the sun, and it was always just outside the back door. Soccer saved his adventurous moments for hunting gophers in the yard and his sneak-attacks on anyone who dared to leave a cup of liquid unattended on the kitchen table. He hunted cups of milk and loaves of bread, mostly. Part of me was thinking (hoping, praying) that he would never find himself in harm's way.
I've checking all the sheds and places he could have been locked in. Stupid cat used to always follow me out to the shop in the back and sneak in while I was getting something. He was locked in there almost a full day one time. Now, as soon as we can't find him, we look in the shop.
He's not in the shop.
We have a shed that is sort of converted into a playhouse. He's been closed in there a couple of times too.
He's not in the shed.
The kids don't know he's gone. So much of his day was spent napping quietly in a chair at my desk or on the top of one of the bunk beds. I think that's why it took me a day and a half to realize that he wasn't around. I know we had him Sunday. Monday was full of distractions and we ended up being gone until after 7 that evening. I was more than halfway through Tuesday before it occured to me that I hadn't once had to chase him off of my chair or sit on the edge and share it with him.
I miss arguing with the cat over who gets my chair.
Lily has even been acting strange this week. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I just assumed that it was because we'd been gone so long on Monday. Now, I think she knew he was missing too. Once I thought about it, I realized that he wasn't with Lily Monday morning when I was making the lunches. Normally, the dog and cat are joined at the hip then, hoping I drop something. I might have noticed had 6YO not woken up with a headache that made me keep her home from school and get her into the doctor.
She has a sinus infection AND an ear infection. 12YO had a dentist appointment and an awards ceremony the same day. After our library trip, of course.
Like I said, we were pretty busy on Monday. Nothing was normal about that day.
Every time I hear the cat door flap open and click closed, I run to see if Soccer is here. No, it's just Lily, coming and going like usual. I almost don't hear the cat door most of the time, now I hear it every time. That dog comes and goes a LOT.
I see a silhouette of a four-legged creature walk past our back door. It's Lily. I hope the poor dog doesn't sense my disappointment in her presence. It's not personal, it's just that I'm used to having BOTH of my critter-friends here with me.
For now, a cup with milk in it sits on the kitchen table and nobody is knocking it over.
And I'm getting increasingly disappointed that there isn't another mess to clean up or a cat to yell at...

January 23, 2009

Partners in Crime

This is right after we got Lily. She was still recovering from being spayed and this is the first time that she let Soccer get this close to her. From the minute he met her, he wanted to cuddle. From the minute she met him, she's wanted to chase him. The girls got some old blankets and made them a bed in the floor to cuddle on...

Does this really look all that comfortable?

"Who ME???" Lily tries this face on me a lot! She's very smart that way.
There goes that noise again; the sound that you hear when a cup of liquid hits the kitchen floor. I'd like to blame 3YO, since kids spill things so often. But, 3YO is in the living room with me. It's her milk, however, but the cat is to blame for the spill.
You see, Soccer's goal in life is to knock things over. It's not just drinks on the kitchen table, it can also be a toy the girls are playing with in the floor or anything really. He just likes to watch things fall. Heck! Maybe he was Sir Isaac Newton in a past life or something! Not that he doesn't reap the rewards when the thing he knocks over spills milk onto the kitchen floor. What cat wouldn't be happy about that? It's just that it doesn't seem to be the real reason that he does it, given all the random things he has knocked over in past year or so that we've had him. And he doesn't knock things in the floor to play with them, either. Once he watches them fall, he simply walks away. (Unless of course, there's milk to clean up!)
And Lily is not innocent in all of this. She is fully aware of what Soccer is capable of and I think she even tells him to do things. I've walked into the kitchen and found Soccer pulling something out of the trash can and throwing it down to Lily. They seem to have a connection that way. Lily still chases Soccer on a regular basis, but that doesn't seem to bother my rather dim kitty. Sometimes he runs, sometimes he stops and rubs his face against hers, as if to remind her that he's not really afraid of her and doesn't feel like playing. Every morning, the two of them are joined at the hip in the kitchen while I make lunches. They are hoping that something falls and are making it clear that they work as a team. Sometimes, I cut the crust off of 6YO's sandwich and give it to them. Yes, that will certainly keep them coming back, now won't it?
Given the warm temps we've had here, I got my first glimpse of spring yesterday. No, it wasn't the fact that it was still not very cold, even though it was raining and yucky. Or that the kids could have worn shorts the day before that.
Yesterday morning, as I was making the lunches for 12YO, 6YO, and David, I heard Lily yelp. It wasn't the kind of yelp that sounded like she was hurt, more like she was surprised. As I looked toward her, I saw what she was yelping at. Soccer had caught a gopher and brought it into the house. It was bleeding, but certainly not dead. It just caught Lily off guard, I guess. Once she realized that it was a moving, squeaking creature, she started bouncing and wagging her tail as if Soccer had just given her the coolest squeaker toy EVER. The gopher stood up and started snapping at the two of them while they playfully circled him. I hurried to find our grabber thing, which is ironically called 'The Gopher' ...which totally cracks me up. Did they know that this thing would actually be used to pick up GOPHERS??? I think we've used it more for that than for anything else. David sometimes uses it to pick up trash that's blown into our yard so he doesn't have to bend over. We bought it when I was pregnant and my heartburn was so bad that bending over make me want to hurl.

Aaaaahhhh....the memories!
It was still easier for me to just step over the sock I dropped or get a kid to pick it up, but I now usually end up using it to pick up critters (mostly actual gophers) that end up being dragged into the house by my stupid cat. Then again, maybe he's not stupid. Maybe he just doesn't care what we think.
Anywhoooooo, I used The Gopher to pick up the gopher and flung it out into the backyard. The dog and cat quickly bounded through the cat door so they wouldn't lose sight of their 'kill.' I closed off the cat door, cleaned the puddles of blood off my kitchen floor, washed my hands and finished spreading mayo on bread.
Just another morning in our house!
Before I get lots of comments telling me to use a spray bottle to chase my cat off the table, let me tell you that he likes water. He might eventually get off the table once he's soaked, but he'll mostly just stand there and stare at you. Water doesn't upset him like it should. In fact, nothing really upsets Soccer. He does eventually jump down from the table when you run toward him waving your arms in big circles and screaming his name like a crazy person. It's not enough to get him to pick up his pace, but it does get him off the table. Eventually. Our entire family participates in this ritual and some people on the phone don't know what to think when, in mid-sentence, we scream, "SOCCER!!!!" I'm sure some must think we have vocal tics of some sort.
If we do, it's all Soccer and Lily's fault....

January 21, 2009

What's cookin', average-lookin?

Mmmm.....what's in the pot?

This WILL be homemade chicken broth, just as soon as I pick all the bones and bay leaves out and blend it! I chopped the veggies up and put them in the crock pot with the bones from last night's Rotisserie-Style Chicken. (In the crock pot, of course!)

I also made more yogurt, in the crock pot of course! I washed out the strawberry yogurt container and filled it with my own homemade yogurt flavored with strawberry glaze, honey, and a bit of sugar. The white yogurt is sweetened with honey and a small splash of vanilla extract. That one's for me!

I bought berries to flavor it, but the girls don't generally like stuff IN their yogurt. (Me either, it must be genetic!) They will happily eat them up, though. It occured to me that fresh berries are something that not everyone can come by this time of year. Strange. I have an aunt in Minnesota that can't buy good lettuce during the winter. (HI AUNT LINDA!!!) I guess I take for granted that I live in one of the most fertile places around, with weather mild enough for just about anything to grow here.
My mom is actually planning to help me plant a garden in my yard this spring. I'm really excited, because I have very little knowledge about gardening myself. In fact, houseplants see me coming and just die. I don't do well with things that can't talk to me and tell me that they need something. (It's a good thing babies can, huh?) A garden will be great. I have the space and David can set a drip system up so that the plants will not die on my watch. I'm not sure what we'll grow, but my mom already has a list of things that are great 'first crops.'
Well, I only have a few more minutes of silence. David has taken today off and he's been running errands since he dropped the girls off at school. He took 3YO with him and I have the whole house to myself. With all the possibilities of being home alone, I type up a quick blog and will probably just sit in silence or knit or something for the rest of my time. I will refill my coffee cup and just savor the moment. The television is off and I can actually hear myself think. I think I even hear birds chirping outside! Yes, I really do!!! David and 3YO had better get back before I start hallucinating that there are cartoon squirrels bringing me my toothbrush or something!
Maybe I shouldn't have much alone time...

January 15, 2009

WHOA!!! That was FAST!!!

Would you believe that THIS...

...came from THIS? A friend of mine bought this so I could knit her baby a hat. I had no idea how cool the design would come out. I honestly didn't think I'd finish it so soon, but it became like a good book that I couldn't put down.

Thursday. It's Thursday, people!

How did we get here? I've been busy this week, even on my days that are usually slower. I'm amazed I haven't been on here much. Just. So. Busy. I knitted a couple of hats and went to the dentist and worked 6YO's class and...
OH! I also need to say that 6YO won't be riding the bus for awhile, if ever again. Remember back in August when we had a bit of trouble with the bus driver? Well, David has had enough. She hasn't missed our stop or anything like that, but she just drives like no other bus driver has ever driven. She stops and starts so quickly that the kids fly around. She drives like a bat out of hell. On Tuesday morning, David was waiting with 6YO at the bus stop when it pulled up. She came from a high rate of speed to such a screeching halt that David actually found himself waving his arms and mouthing for her to slow down before the bus came to a complete stop. When she opened the door, he told her that it seemed like she was driving too fast to be carrying a busload of kids. She told him she could drive 50 mph if she wanted to, that's the speed limit. (Technically, the speed limit is 55, but he wasn't about to correct her!) From the turn she makes at the corner, she has just over a quarter of a mile before she gets to our stop. How, with a bus full of kids, does she think that she should be able to get up to 50 before she has to slow down again? Actually, she just doesn't really slow down, she just slams on the brakes and waits to see where it will stop!
We've made all the right phone calls to all the right people and have decided to keep her off the bus for awhile. Honestly, I really just don't think she's a very good driver. She has pulled up just before the driveway numerous times and gotten out and said, "Man! I was hoping I wouldn't stop here so the kids wouldn't have to step down into this mud!" How can she not see if she's lined up with the driveway? I mean, the door to the bus is right next to her! And how can she not park where she means to park? At first, I thought she didn't care that the kids were stepping out into the mud and that the driveway was just a few feet away. Then, I realized she couldn't help it! I asked 6YO if she'd ever bumped her head on the seat in front of her when the bus stopped. She said that she has bumped her head once. Apparently, she knows to brace herself now.
The bus still passes our house every single day and I sort of keep an eye out for it. I'm sure they've talked to her because she's driving really carefully now. She did that before when we complained back in August about her. It didn't last long and she was back to driving like a lunatic in no time.
David and I are just going to be more proactive about keeping her safe. He will take her to school and I will pick her up. I am surrounded by wonderful neighbors and friends that can help me out in a pinch and 3YO is much more portable than she would have been this time last year. She's beginning to like seeing all the other kids when we go to the school. The bus is handy, I must admit. Knowing that I'd just have to walk outside at the right time and she'd be dropped off at the stop was so convenient. But, it's not worth the risk right now. And David, who used to get his little 'alone time' with her waiting for the bus in the morning, is now quite happy driving her to school instead. He gets to walk her to class and watch her play with her friends on the playground before school starts.
Maybe this is a good thing afterall....
In other news, the weather here has been gorgeous! It's gotten into the 60's all week and I can actually open the house up and enjoy the air. If you go outside and stand in the sun, it's warm. And sunlight is always a much more gratifying heat source than a heater vent. The sun is just starting to dip behind the trees right now and I'm about to close the house up. I have my bathmats hanging out on the swingset that I need to bring in. It was nice enough weather to wash a couple of bathmats and my kitchen rugs and let the SUNSHINE help dry them. (I realize that I could get quite a bit of hate mail from people up North, but I had to gloat anyhow!)
Have a wonderful evening!

January 12, 2009

Knitting with Fun Fur, a Birthday, and What's That Smell?

I hate the way most store-bought frosting is. See how it's already just melting? That was supposed to be a dog bed made of frosting, but it already looks more like a lavender puddle or blob that is sucking the poor puppy down.

She can't take her eyes off the Fun Fur. I sort of wish she would before her eyes stick like that! (Didn't your mother always warn you of that??)

Here's the sideview of the hat I made her. Kitchen cotton and Fun Fur can go great together. Who knew? I should have used smaller needles, but I think it came out fine. Next time, I'll use my size 7's. This hat was done with a US size 10.5.
6YO had a great birthday. She got tons of 'Littlest Pet Shop' stuff, which is all a six-year-old girl really needs in life right? They finally went back to school today. Three weeks seems like an awfully long time. Once New Year's Day has come and gone, it feels better just to finish that week and get back to our regular routine...not wait another week!
3YO and I went to the library this morning, as usual. She told the awesome woman that reads the stories at storytime that she had boobs. She then went on to explain that "all kids have boobs, just little tiny ones."
I was so proud.
The woman just laughed and shook her head and said, "It's never dull, is it?" She says that a lot when she's with 3YO. Hmmm.....
I need to go. There's an unfamiliar smell coming from somewhere around my desk. I have no clue as to what it could be. With these kids, it could be anything.

January 10, 2009

My First Dolma

Lookee what I did!!! I made grape leaves!!!
I found the recipe at my FAVORITE food blog, A Year Of Crockpotting. By the way, she completed the year and I MISS her daily posts!
Anyhow, I have always loved Dolmas. I used to get to eat them all the time when a worked, which seems like a lifetime ago now! A guy I worked with would bring them in all the time and mmmmm....YUMMY!
When I found THIS RECIPE, I knew I had to try them. It actually seemed pretty simple. And it actually WAS pretty simple. The hardest part for me was finding the jar of the actual grape leaves. (Those are NOT just in any supermarket! At least, not where I live...)
I am the ONLY ONE in this house that will eat them. The rest of my family gags at the very idea of taking a bite of one. To me, they are DELICIOUS! Now, I'm not really sure if they taste authentic. It's been YEARS since I've had the real ones! I can safely say that I have single-handedly eaten almost all of them myself. Besides feeling like a total glutton, I am quite pleased.
BIL mentioned that they look like wet dog poop.
You can't please everyone....

THANKS, STEPHANIE!!! Once again, you rock!

January 7, 2009

Deep Thoughts Hidden in my Medicine Cabinet

The other night, I was brushing my teeth before bed. I was getting ready to take off my makeup (which I don't do nearly enough at night) and remembered that I had this one makeup remover that I really liked. I hadn't used that particular product in quite some time, but never remembered actually running out. It must be there somewhere, right?
As I opened my medicine cabinet to look for it, something just sort of hit me. Now, I open my medicine cabinet at least twice a day, if not more. It's a fairly narrow cabinet, in that it would be hard for something to really be hidden behind something else. So, why is it that I would have to actually look to see if the makeup remover was in there? It's pretty easy to do this, actually. I realized, at that moment, that we all do this fairly often.
How often do you see someone in your life every single day and forget to really look at them? I couldn't tell you what was or wasn't in my medicine cabinet the same way I sometimes forget to notice how funny my husband is or how great my kids can be.
Sometimes, I think I take for granted way more than just the contents of my medicine cabinet.

January 3, 2009

Three days into the New Year (it IS 3, right?) and I already won something!

Jolene over at The Little Things in Life has given me a great award....

The purpose of this award is to give it to someone who shows gratitude or a good attitude ("if life hands you lemons, make lemonade") within their life or blog.
The rules of this award for recipients:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude.
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.
Now, I don't really think I'll have ten...but here are the great people that I would like to bestow this honor to:
1. Wildtomato over at Spindles and Spices. Not only will she make lemonade, but she probably grows her own sugar cane in the backyard to sweeten it!
2. Stephanie over at SJSFalter. This woman is moving her whole family from Germany to Vegas and they had to pack like a MONTH ahead of time! She has managed to hold is all together AND give her children an AWESOME CHRISTMAS. You really need to read back to see her tree and chimney....talk about making lemonade!
3. Stephanie over at A Year of Crockpotting. This lady actually carried out a New Year's Resolution and thousands of people have benefitted from her adventures. She said she'd do it...and she DID IT!!! And we all win because of it!
4. WhyMommy over at Toddler Planet. She has survived Inflammatory Breast Cancer and it's impossible to read her blog and not be somehow inspired.
5. Jessie at I Am David's Doll. Her husband is leaving for six months and she has found some productive ways to occupy her time. If that's not making lemonade, then I don't know what is!

Okay...so now I'm running out of time (AND FRIENDS!) and I'm just going to have to stop at 5!
Thanks so much, Jolene! You've made my day! That one little award on my sidebar was getting kind of lonely...

January 2, 2009

I learned a new trick...

...and it was actually pretty easy!

I'm still going to wait to start an actual project until I tie up some other loose ends (literally!) but I found a page that explained it and I thought I'd give it a shot. IT WORKED!!!
You can now return to whatever you were doing. I am done.

January 1, 2009

December 31st is Significant to Me...

...and not just because it was New Year's Eve. One year ago yesterday, my good friend Wildtomato met my mother, oldest daugther and I at a fabric store to buy knitting stuff and then to a coffee shop where she sat and taught us how to knit.
Yesterday was my 'Knittiversary,' if you will.
I remember how little I got done those first few months. Every time I sat down to knit I would get so frustrated. All of my fingers seemed to turn into thumbs and nothing went smoothly. It was stressful, to say the least. But, as promised, things got easier. I now consider knitting to be a relaxing thing, most of the time. My life does not allow for much uninterrupted knitting time, but I take what I can get. I have projects that have been placed on the back burner, and knowing that gives me a bit of pressure. I will get them done, however. I was able to complete and give a few knitted gifts for Christmas, but I also realized that actual knitting time is even more scarce around the holidays. This year, I will plan better. I was thinking of things I should knit for people a week before Christmas, and who has time to crank out four or five hats a week before Christmas? And mail them off? I now know that I don't have that kind of time!
It's been such an adventure! I love learning new skills and making things (upon request, if possible!) that people can actually enjoy. I've also learned that many people will take for granted the time and effort that goes into knitting and not to take it personally. And not to knit for them again. It does feel good to take a couple of sticks, some yarn, and a little time and effort to make something that someone will actually use. It's a little like magic!
I want to thank Wildtomato for teaching me this craft. My mom has also caught on pretty well and we've both become hooked on Knipicks needles. 12YO sort of knows how to knit, as much as her attention span will allow anyhow! She has recently picked it up again and has improved since her last attempt, so that's something.
Here is a little random tour of my knitting over this past year:
This was just knitted in November for our cheer coach. I sort of made up my own pattern along the way and have made several more just like this one since.

These are general baby hats. I honestly cannot tell you whether or not this is a pattern or not. Once you learn how hats work, you get your yarn and needles just start knitting.

This is a dishcloth I worked on. I was really hooked on that color for awhile and dishcloths were a great way to learn new stitches and techniques without feeling like I was in over my head.
See what I said about the yarn? I really did like it, yet I haven't touched the rest of it in months. Go figure! This was such an easy knit and I was so happy that it turned out so well! I had been knitting about three months or so when I knit this one.

Here's how it all started. This was last January. I would knit a few rows, try to take pictures, then knit a few more. Needless to say, it took a lot longer to knit this dishcloth than it should have! This is one of my first, though I'm not actually sure I have any pictures of the actual first dishcloth. Like the pajama pants? I'm actually wearing the exact same ones right now! I have washed them since then...many times, in fact! They are some of my favorites because they are dorky and warm and cozy and....WHY AM I EXPLAINING ALL OF THIS TO YOU???
I've even come up with a couple of my own hat designs along the way. I love figuring out what makes the stitches look a certain way and what a big difference a little trick can make.
If I can make this sort of progress the first year, I can't wait to see what 2009 can bring!
Have a Happy New Year, everyone! Will you pick up any new trades or crafts this year? I hope you find something that sparks creativity and pride the way knitting has for me. I also hope you find the time to make it the best it can be. I wasn't always so successful when I came to time.
I'm trying to come up with a blog contest to celebrate my first year of knitting...stay tuned for more details.