Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Introducing...Jasper THE DOG!

How excited are we to finally have our very own dog? I don't think there are words. The kids and I came home with him after weeks of searching and years of talking about including a canine in our family circle. I grew up with dogs, my grandparents and great-grandmother had dogs, and I think one of the loveliest sounds early in the morning or late at night is the scratch of tiny paws on the floor as your friend makes the rounds of his home. The children? Over the moon!

I know his first photo depicts him as a little less than enthusiastic, but you might look that way too if someone tried to take your picture at 5am when you were just barely awake. He's a fun, calm, great with kids, sweet cock-a-poo straight off the city streets, out of the shelter and into loving arms, or mostly.

Did I mention I am married to a non dog-lover? I know, love is blind, but he has so many other redeeming qualities and I was pretty sure I could bring him around to reason after a few years of marriage. Nineteen years later...So, after what seemed like fair warning, ("six of us want a dog,honey," "it is really good for children to grow up with a family dog," " I will be ready for a dog when my last baby is out of diapers," "a poodle mix would be perfect," "did you see our friends finally got a dog?") I brought home our dog and let them sniff each other out. It will be alright. Dominance has been established; Jasper sits when Pierre looks at him though the rest of us have a hard time getting him to listen to much at all, unless he feels like it. Some friendly feelings pass between them, but I will not say any more, lest I jinx the situation by over-enthusiasm. Isn't he cute?

Not my Best Portrait Ever: Jasper with Collar Cozy by Lily

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Every Knitter Should Knit Socks

Socks are the best, everyone should knit socks...why?

1) It's economical. You can splurge on really cool yarn and you only need a little bit of it. (Prices start at $3.50 a skein.) My two favorite sock yarns: Knitpicks Felici self-striping and Wisdom Yarns Marathon socks, a self-patterning yarn, named for cities all over the US.

2) It's not hard. They have GREAT tiny circulars nowadays that make it a breeze to knit socks, mittens, legwarmers, etc. (Favorite tiny circulars; Hiya-Hiyas, a little hard to find, but available at many yarn shops.)

3) Socks are completely transportable; small knitting that lasts for thousands of stitches, you can take it anywhere and know you'll have an ongoing project. (And for a school project, your child can stitch you a little drawstring bag to stash your stuff in.)

4) Everyone wears socks. Even should your recipient perchance NOT like the colors or pattern, they will wear them because they're so dang comfy and anyway socks are partially hidden under shoes and the other part under pants, makes for an easy-to-please project. (Alright, for almost everyone; I have still not knit socks for my father. I am not quite convinced he would wear them, cause I'm not knitting solid dark brown, Dad.)

5) Choice of patterns. I think there are more books being published about knitting socks than anything else these days and more cool, self-striping and self-patterning yarns than ever there were in the history of wool.

6) Speaking of history; socks were first knitted long, long ago. Queen Elizabeth I loved her knitted stockings so much she may have learned how to knit them herself.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kung Fu and the Munchkins

This is one of those things that has been brewing...the children's interest in martial arts combined with our desire to know they can defend themselves, should the need arise. My hesitations thus far had to do with adding one more thing to our schedule, taken care of by subtracting one, and wondering to what use they might be able put their new-found skills (scary when you think of how much they um, joust, already). Once we decided that the benefits outweighed the risks, we thought about it another year or so until we met a Kung Fu teacher at an art festival. That was what it took, Aragorn thought he was great, Daddy agreed, we gave him a ring.

So, they've been learning Kung Fu for the past few months with the most wonderful master (John Morrow of Morrow's Academy) we could have hoped to find. He is accomplished, kind, takes an interest in life in the community and the world, and keeps the little boogers under tight discipline. (Not my strong point.)

Only the four oldest are able to go to class, which leaves Puck out of the picture. But Arthur has been training him in the wazas (steps of the Kung Fu dance, to my way of thinking), and that's why he requested a cake to celebrate his progress in his "homeschooled Kung Fu" class.

Kung-Fu Novice Artists

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Goofball Party for Puck's Imaginary Kung-fu Belt Accomplishments. "Mama, can you make a cake for Puck's new kung-fu belt? Sure, honey!"

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Quality Help CAN Be Found Today: Dying Silks

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How does this angelic face...

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Become this, in three seconds flat? With the help of big brother, I suspect.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Knitting, Finishing Up UFOs

For the uninitiated, UFO stands for Unfinished Objects in the world of knitting and probably other crafts. I have decided to get to work on the two or three or four of these lying around waiting for me. Here is the latest; fingerless gloves for my biker dude. I began these in France as a way to test this extra soft merino from Phildar to see if it would work for a sweater. Too soft, too light-weight, but great for gloves. I edged them with the yarn I found that will be wonderful for the sweater; Blue Sky Alpaca's Suri Merino, to give them more strength where there will be the most wear and tear. I love this yarn, can't wait to start the sweater!

Here he is geared up for his daily bike ride to work in the dark, even with the helmet, I think he's handsome.

Merino Fingerless Gloves

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Fingerless Gloves

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Knitting: Fingerless Gloves for my Biker Dude

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Camping Out, or Why We Missed the Picnic

It began at twilight, with a strange request from three-year-old Puck, normally as big a fire bug as his other siblings, huge lover of roasting marshmallows over the fire and tossing in whatever he was allowed to toss.

"I want to go inside and sleep."


We had rented a rustic cabin in the woods for the night, to enjoy nature's splendor without too much hassle. The kids had taken off exploring in the woods around us, discovered a fabulous frog pond, led us to it on a beautiful path full of trees beginning to turn fall colors and birds singing. We had just finished roasting our dinner over the flames and the night had hardly begun, so we coaxed and entertained and convinced the little guy to stay outside with us awhile longer. It was a lovely night, as it grew darker, the stars became brighter and brighter in the sky.

"splut" went Puck right beside the picnic table.

'Looked like all of his dinner had returned to haunt us. (The implications of a huge pile of regurgitated hot dog, chips and apples on the ground in the dark with five children and two adults I will leave to your imagination.)

Pierre thought it might have been a reaction to something he ate, so when he wanted chocolate, he gave it to him. I, however, took him into the cabin when he repeated over and over his desire to go to bed. He was in my arms and we were barely in the door when the rest of his dinner and dessert made their appearance. I scuttled to the bathroom and stuck his head in the sink. He recoiled and the first wall was struck. We swerved over to the toilet, but as he arched back from that option as well, the second wall got it. My clothes, his clothes, floors in two get the idea. Poor baby was crying and crying, I wanted to cry too, but someone had to remain an adult here. Don't ask me how I got it cleaned up while carrying him around, I don't remember. The rest of the night was a hoot...or rather a hurl-fest.

At some point deep in the night, when both Puck and Pierre were deep asleep for a minute, I heard a bear. Nothing else could explain the heavy noises coming from the other side of the wall, noises of furniture being moved around; squeaking, rumbling, scratching. Never mind that we have no bears this far south, or that there was no furniture outside to move around, nothing else could explain this repetitive, loud noise. A human would have been more quiet, a raccoon is not as heavy, a possum is too small. What to do? I was not going to wake the guys, they'd wake the whole cabin. Would the ranger come if I called him? Did my cell phone even have reception out in the middle of nowhere? Maybe owning a gun did have its benefits, crud. I crept out of bed and went to confront whatever was threatening the safety of my family.

I did not get far. The light was showing under the bathroom door. I entered to find a sick-looking Alienor repeatedly scratching at and unrolling the bath tissue roll attached to the wall; scritch, scratch, bat, hit, squeak, creak, you know the sound. She looked at me miserably and announced that she was going to throw up. She went back to bed, with a pan for company. Ten minutes later she leaned over the edge of the bed and...It was non-stop from then on. It was so bad it was funny. We made bad jokes and laughed in between searching for more recipients, emptying pans and cleaning up kids, what else are you going to do? Aragorn and Arthur, unaffected by upset tummies, would roll over and groan in the other room, or yell out something in their semi-sleep, usually "turn off the light." Lily was very sympathetic to her younger siblings, usually hollering something akin to; "This is so gross. I am going to throw up too, I am not kidding!" The low point was when it seemed that the night had already gone on forever and the clock only read 2:30am. Daylight was never so welcome.

The next morning I scrubbed and scoured and cleaned that little cabin to within an inch of its rustic life. It smelled nice like Pine Sol, if you're into that perfume, and was sparkling. I wanted to make extra sure that the next night's occupants were disturbed by neither germs nor dirt, mission accomplished, I hope.

Needless to state our plans for the rest of the weekend were off. No picnic on friends' beautiful land (sorry friends), no astronomy classes late at night, just back home by 11am the next day and lots of sleep and cuddles. Happy Monday to you, may next weekend be a more peaceful one for all involved!