28 July 2007

Bulky Butttock Muscles

A couple of weeks ago, we got three books about the body from the library and it turns out that Bug is fascinated by the whole thing (as evidenced by his nude kidney lectures of a couple of weeks back). We are on our second book now and read about muscles a couple of nights ago. Unfortunately, it was at the end of a long day and the phrase "bulky buttock muscles" pushed all the giggle buttons. Poor little dude almost fell out of bed, he was giggling so hard. Of course, since Kitty Daddy was reading his own book nearby, I'm afraid the phrase was repeated by both of us quite a few times, as watching him collapse in giggles was as amusing to us as "bulky buttock muscles" was to him.

When we were at the library on Friday, they had some watercolor paints out and Bug and Bean made some masterpieces. Bug painted a picture of bodies, inspired by our reading. The cute part was that he was telling me about it and was identifying the "body parts" using nonsense words. It made sense to me, since "coccyx," "mandible," "maxilla," and "phlanges" probably sound like complete nonsense to him. Incidentally, I know where all those bones are (at least for the moment)! To appreciated the impressiveness of that, I need to point out that, even though I am married to a nurse, I have long been pretty icked out by much of biology and the parts that don't ick me out (like plants or classification) slide off my brain like eggs on teflon...I would take chemistry or physics over bio any day. So I'm enjoying my biology "expertise" while I can...just don't ask me to identify bones a month from now. Unless Bug is still on his body kick.

26 July 2007

No tan lines for you!

The heat and humidity have been gradually creeping up, which means my general will to live have been gradually sagging down, so I haven't blogged even though we have been doing some fun things. We'll go backwards...

Yesterday was pretty quiet except for a quick dip in the apartment swimming pool to try and cool off. We were mostly recovering from our Tuesday play date. Okay, actually, it was just me recovering...

On Tuesday, we went to a play date with a friend of mine who was taking care of her three-year-old niece for the day (aka "Mommy's bren with the little knees"...it took me the longest time to figure out why Bug was fixating on her knees...duh, niece!) We walked to their "close park" and played for a while and then played in the little plastic kiddy pool in her yard. For my little water sprites, it was heaven. When we got back from the park, Bug jumped in fully dressed, so I managed to rescue his clothes so they could lie in the sun to dry and let him play in his already soaked underpants. I managed to get Bean down to her diaper, but as I turned to grab the diaper bag and get out a swim diaper, she was already out of her diaper and in the pool. As long as my friend and her neighbors weren't offended by the nudist, I just shrugged and gave it up as a lost cause. Bean had a ball. Since then, when we get dressed in the morning, as soon as I get her jammies and diaper off, she announces "I bwee! (I'm free)." She is a little lady who loves her nakies! The good news is that we didn't wind up with a sun-burned butt. I obviously didn't think to put any sunscreen there before we went!

On Sunday, we went to Greek Fest at the local Greek Orthodox Church. Lots of very yummy food...both Kitty Daddy and I are big Greek food fans! And very decadent pastries (including baklava) for dessert! They also had live music and dance demonstrations. We fully expected Bean to be letting her inner Zorba out, but she must have been tired, because she mostly zoned out rather than shaking her groove thing.

On Saturday, we drove to Milwaukee to visit Kitty Daddy's dad. It was a pretty low key road trip...we just drove over, grabbed some lunch together and then spent some time at a neighborhood park. We had toyed with going to either the Milwaukee zoo or the Waukesha county fair, but between admission and parking, we decided it wasn't worth it with two littles with short attention spans and one waddling mama who doesn't like to be on her feet very long. We ended up having a very nice time at the park. The kids played with Grandpa and thought it was a great tragedy when we had to leave!

Mama and Little Brother have been having some differences in opinion over real estate. After some negotiations, we came to an agreement that my stomach is his, as well as my bladder. I get uninterrupted access to my fingers and toes. After getting that settled, apparently he has invited an invisible friend to live with him as he has been spending all of his time completely to the right of my belly button. If I don't concentrate, I tend to walk in circles from being lopsided. Less than two months to go...seven and a half weeks based on due date, but I'm trying not to get too hung up on that as Bug was early and Bean was late...

20 July 2007

FO: Baby Kimono

Specifications
Yarn: Blue Sky Organic Cotton, Bernat CottonTots for Trim
Needles:Denise Interchangeables, size 7
Pattern: Baby Kimono from Mason-Dixon Knitting. Used stockinette instead of the ubiquitous M-D garter stitch, also added a crochet edging and made crocheted ties instead of using ribbons.
Verdict: Other than the fact that I suck at seaming, this is a great baby knit! It was very easy and turned out very cute! As usual, when looking at tiny baby clothes, it blows my mind that they make people that small. Of course, I am used to looking at my big hulking four-year-old and two-year-old and still thinking "baby."

Since we were out running a couple of errands on the west side this morning before going to the library, we stopped in to Best Buy and got a card reader, so I am back in the picture business. It's a little mini one, so I'm going to have to figure out how to keep from losing it, but it was only $15, so if I get a new camera someday that uses a different kind of card, I won't be too heartbroken!

And, because I can, gratuitous kid pics:

Bug's new favorite hobby. Being fascinated by pulling a t-shirt up over the top of one's head must be a four-year-old thing. I don't get it, but he's happy.

And Bean, because if I take a picture of Bug, she wants to see herself on the camera screen too.

Fellow Bloglines users...

I'm just curious..last night Bloglines belched and updated a bunch of feeds that I hadn't been getting updates on and reposted a whole bunch of stuff for blogs that have been updating. I occasionally get a bunch of back posts on one or two, but between the new ones and the reposts I had around 200 unread threads this morning (I usually have less than 30 if I am keeping up-to-date). Anyone else get this too, or am I just lucky?

19 July 2007

Tragidal!

That's Bug's pronunciation of the word "tragical," which, for a drama-prone four-year-old, is essential vocabulary. We are always in the midst of some tragedy or another, but now Mama is the one with the tragedies!

Tragedy, the first: Near misses with the Yarn Harlot. In late May/early June, we were in the Portland, OR area. We left early Wednesday morning to return home and while we were driving, the Harlot was appearing at Powell's Books in downtown Portland. In my finest display of stoicism, I sucked it up and accepted the fact that sometimes that's the way the cookie crumbles (or the vacation schedules work out). So, a couple of days ago, I was blog reading at Chez Harlot and there were new tour dates listed. My eyes immediately picked out the word "Madison" from the list. I clicked the link to see the tour schedule and skimmed through the list until I found the word "Madison" and, lo and behold, it was positioned squarely next to my birthday! At this point, I was wavering between complete hysterics and wanting to maintain a little grown-up dignity (and not frighten the children), when I get smacked between the eyes with two little letters following "Madison": Dude, they looked way more like "CT" than "WI." Fer cryin' out loud, our Madison is over ten times bigger than their Madison. No stinkin' fair!

Tragedy, the second: Related to the recent laptop tragedy, I have discovered that I haven't the slightest clue where the USB cable for my digital camera is. My laptop had the right size memory card slot built in (well, still has, but only in the sense that a rock with the right size slit would have a memory card slot built in), so I would pop the card from camera to laptop and copy pics and off we go. Well, the desktop has no such slot. I even have a new FO picture in my camera. *sigh* I need to either find the stinkin' cable or invest in a card reader. Until then, a pictureless blog, I'm afraid.

Tragedy, the third: My lace shawl has continued to grow and is rapidly reaching the point where a single round has 1000 stitches! It is a little demoralizing to knit and knit and knit and discover than I can't mark off any rows finished! Fortunately, the chart I am working on is worked four times per round and has a central 34-stitch repeat and edges that only grow to about 50 stitches before another central repeat is added, so there are LOTS of stitch markers, so it remains pretty easy to pick up and put down frequently. Besides, now that I am on the fourth time through the chart, I am familiar enough with it that I only have to look at it at a few key points rather than slogging along one stitch at a time like I did at first.

Okay, so maybe these tragedies don't compete with stuff like human rights violations or world hunger, but dang, I'm 31-1/2 weeks pregnant, it's hot and humid, and I'm tired. Cranky is about the best I can manage on a good day! I feel entitled to a little drama. Hah! I'll do my best to get back to cute kids and knitting stuff again, though. Meanwhile, I promised said kidlings that we would go to Farmer's Market this afternoon, so I had better go round up shoes (and shorts for Bean) and deliver...

And I shouldn't forget to add that Kitty Daddy appreciated the well-wishes and sympathy! The stone is out and, as is inevitable when general nurseness and Y-chromosomes are combined, he took it to work to show it off to his co-workers the next morning. As a non-medical-professional and a female, I just roll my eyes. We happen to have a book about the human body out of the library, so we found the page with kidneys and talked about Daddy's owie. Since then, both kids like to pull out the library book and explain the whole situation. Bean's two-year-old interpretation is absolutely hilarious, if a bit difficult to understand. Bug's explanation is clearer, but last night after his bath he didn't want to get dressed, so he got the book out and explained it all to Daddy. Between the four-year-old earnestness of delivery and the nudity, Daddy had to work pretty hard not to crack up!

16 July 2007

No good deed goes unpunished

We had an unusually productive weekend (read boring if you are a small person). Since it was cooler than it has been, we got motivated and cleaned out our rental storage unit. When we move last September, a lot of boxes that had been in our garage at the old apartment (and unopened since we left Iowa) we just shoved willy-nilly into the storage unit. If we needed something, it was almost impossible to find anything and pretty much every time we tried, something fell over. So on Saturday, we took everything out and organized like crazy. Some stuff, like my journals and work files were put way in back, since I'm not likely to need them soon. Other stuff, like the Christmas decorations that never actually surfaced last December were put together and left more accessible toward the front. We found all the crib parts, so we can get them out before too long and sidecar it to our bed. The kids got bored, even though we brought the trike and wagon for them to play with, but we got done anyway.

On Sunday, we did our usual house cleaning and then cut Kitty Daddy's and Bug's hair out on the back patio, since we desperately needed to clean up the patio. Our unit got new windows on Friday, but the replacement process left a heck of a mess, especially on the back patio. The windows are a grand improvement and will hopefully make a difference in heating costs next winter! As an aside, the widows each had a label that said, "This fenestration unit complies [with some gobble-de-gook]." Seriously? "Fenestration Unit"???? I still snort and roll my eyes when I walk by one of the said fenestration units. Can you see it? "Dear, it's getting warm in here...could you go open the fenestration unit?" Anyhoo...it did give me the opportunity to recall one of my favorite words: defenestration, which is the act of throwing someone or something out a window.

In spite of the fact that it was cooler than average, it appears that Kitty Daddy overdid things and didn't stay hydrated, as he wound up in the ER this morning with a kidney stone. Not fun, but last I heard, he was getting good drugs. That did put the kibosh on my day's plan, which was to get both cranky, overtired kids down for a nap, come hell or high water, because you know the minute one or both FINALLY falls asleep, we will need to go pick Daddy up! Just for the record, I'm not trying to compare the magnitude of my personal nap tragedy with the unpleasantness of a kidney stone. I wouldn't trade with him for the world. Of course, if I had been the one to overexert this weekend, it would have probably involved a NICU instead of a kidney stone, so I am extra appreciative!

12 July 2007

The Curse of the Crappy Concrete Patio

Apparently it's genetic! When I was growing up in South Dakota, we live in two different houses with lovely, big decks. Plenty of room to picnic, to lounge, or whatever kind of outdoor enjoyment. The problem: it was always too hot, too cold, too windy, or too buggy to really enjoy the deck more than a couple of times a year. Then, in 1987, my parents moved to Oregon and bought a house with no deck, just a concrete slab patio in back. Lo and behold, gorgeous weather, lovely evenings, lots of opportunities to sit outside and read, or picnic, enjoy a cup of coffee or a refreshing adult beverage. Since then, much work has been done around the slab and my parents actually have a beautiful outdoor living space that gets used frequently.

So, when Kitty Daddy and I lived in Iowa, we lived in two different houses that had lovely decks (fwiw, my dad was responsible in full or part for all four decks...and they were nice!!), but (guess what), it was always too hot, too cold, too windy, or too buggy to really enjoy the deck more than a couple of times a year (sound familiar). So we move to Wisconsin and have an apartment with a slab concrete patio in back that we are out on almost daily, except for the hottest weather. The kids run around in the back yard and I can sit and knit. It would be glorious to have dinner out there, but there really isn't room for a table. *sigh* Maybe someday...

This gripe was motivated by the break we have gotten after last weekend's hot weather. Those of you in the toasty Pacific NW might want to skip the rest of the paragraph...just sayin'. Today is the second day in the mid-70's and the kids and I were out back from after supper until pajama time. My toes were *almost* chilly by the time we came in! We spent a couple of hours at the zoo yesterday morning. Except for the fact that we were clearly not the only ones who thought it would be a good zoo day, we had a wonderful time. We saw youngish prairie dogs (not babies, but clearly not full grown either) and we spent a lot of time at the herpetarium/discovery center looking at the exhibits. We also caught the bats actually moving! Usually they just hang there the whole time, but yesterday several were flying around! There was even one that would hang on a lower point so that Bug could get a closer look. We also discovered a bat skeleton that has always been there, but we hadn't been to the discovery center since starting the bat craze. This morning, we took the sand toys to the volleyball court at "Keys Park" and played for a while.

Apparently, my freak magnet is still in good working order. While we were playing in the sand this morning, two girls came over and, naturally, Bug invited them to play. A couple of minutes late, their mom came over, picked up their shoes and snack (or something in a ziploc) where they had left them and walked away. She finally came back about 20 minutes later and still really didn't say anything except to ask if some nearby buildings were condos (I didn't know). Then she told the girls they could play a few more minutes and walked away again. What the heck?? There have been a few times when we have been playing with our sand toys that a mom and a couple of kids have wandered over, but the mom always asks if it is okay for her kids to join and then keeps an eye on them. This was just weird.

While at the park, I started on a new sock. I am trying the toe-up recipe from the Summer Interweave issue. Since these are destined to be gifted, there won't be any pictures until all is said and done. Just in case the recipient is reading or one of my readers blabs to him/her...kwim?? The Black Gloss yarn is going back in the stash to think about its misbehavior. We'll try the Rosa socks again after this pair is done.

11 July 2007

Hello from the land of fried hard-drives

Dude, I just get caught up on blogging and reading blogs after our vacation and what do you suppose happens? Well, my nearly four-year-old laptop has developed a few, shall we say, "personality quirks" over the last several months, but if you could put up with a few minor annoyances, it was still doing fine. That is, until one evening last week when it informed me of an "unbootable system drive." I am not a computer expert by any means, but I was pretty sure this was a bad thing, so we took it in to the Geek Squad for a look-see. They say it is a "fixable" problem, but the price to fix it is almost as much as a new low-end laptop, so the laptop will be going to the big computer lab in the sky. We will probably take it in to see if they can retrieve the data first though, we just haven't gotten back to doing it yet. So for now, we move the big desktop (firmly pre-flat-screen-monitor vintage) down into the living room as an interim solution. It isn't even close to as nice as the laptop, but it works. We will probably be shopping cheap laptops in the not-too-distant future...

While the laptop was gradually dying, I discovered that I had been named a "Rockin' Girl Blogger" by KnottyKitty!

And then, when I started trying to catch up with blog reading, I found out that I had also been selected by KnittyMama. Wow, for a chick that does most of her rockin' either in a LazyBoy or to toddler tunes and who gave up on ever being one of the "cool kids" decades ago, I am extremely touched and honored! So now I am supposed nominate five more rockin' girl bloggers. There are certainly a lot of rockin' girl bloggers out there (and I read the blogs of a bunch of them), but since I am a fairly wimpy commenter, I will pick my top five that I read and comment on...which means that two of my top five are the two lovely gals that nominated me! So without further ado, my nominations for Rockin' Girl Bloggers are:

  1. KnottyKitty Knits - Knitter, crazy cat lady, gainfully re-employed, what's not to love??
  2. KnittyMama - A knitter, a Midwesterner, and a mama who's crunchy in all the right places
  3. The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale - a very funny lady who knits and occasionally provides gratuitous kitty beefcake and cheesecake
  4. Marianne's Knotminding - Lovely knitting, gorgeous flowers (my black thumb would be green with envy if it could manage it!), and an all-around nice gal!
  5. The Toddler Whisperer - another former Hawkeye, Bug's first (and only regular) baby-sitter, and children's librarian. I don't think she knits, but we'll cut her some slack anyway ;o)
The littles still (and constantly) keep me entertained. Bug's new thing is telling jokes. In general, they usually include several nonsense words and the punch line is invariably either "A Cadillac and a beaver" or "A poodle in a dog house." The jokes never make any sense at all, but Bug amuses himself so much that you can't help laughing. Even though they don't make sense, the punch lines aren't as mystical as they sound. The first is misquoted from the movie "Cars," where McQueen says he "floats like a Cadillac, stings like a Beemer" and the second comes from the book "The Twelve Dogs of Christmas" where a poodle in a doghouse plays the role of a partridge in a pear tree.

Bean's vocabulary is blossoming and she is becoming quite the little conversationalist. I'm still about the only one who can understand most of what she is saying, but she is suddenly putting pretty complex ideas and concepts together in her discussions. She also our fearless, swimmy little fishy at the swimming pool. Our apartment complex has a pool and we spent time there both Saturday and Sunday when it was in the 90's. She loves to jump off the side of the pool and we basically just fish her out after she goes under. She could do this non-stop forever! Who says two-year-olds have short attention spans?? Bug loves going swimming too, but he is a little more tentative than his little sister.

In knitting news, the lace shawl continues on, though I haven't been keeping track since my ├╝ber-geeky spreadsheet is residing on the dead hard-drive. I am on the fourth repeat of chart two (of eight, I think...to lazy to go look right now!) so things are cruising along and the rows are getting longer and longer! My Roza sock has been frogged. After knitting six inches of leg, turning the heel, shaping the gusset, and doing an inch or two of the foot, I got the bright idea earlier in the week to try it on. Ummmm...wouldn't go over my heel. Drat (what I actually said was a bit more colorful, but you get the idea). I am trying to decide whether to start over now or let the yarn sit in the stash and think about its sins for a while and start a different sock in the meantime. I need to decide, because I need to have a purse project! I also got my entrelac purse felted. Apparently, Cascade 220 and entrelac just love felting! As if entrelac weren't magical enough...add some felting! Whoa!

04 July 2007

Confessions of a Spreadsheet Junkie

Okay, confession time...I admit that I am a total and complete spreadsheet junkie. I think if everything in life were tidy enough to fit in an Excel spreadsheet, I would be in total bliss. I have been working away on my great big shawl and didn't get very far before I started wondering how much I had done and how much I had to go. Enter my spreadsheet addiction. Since the shawl is designed as a big square made up of four identical triangle, the number of stitches total and stitches knit so far can be estimated. So I wound up with a loverly little spreadsheet that estimates how many stitches I have knit so far (almost 39,000) and what fraction of the total I have knit (nearly 29% of a total of about 134,000 stitches). I update the spreadsheet daily as I knit and it delights me way more that it should.

Anyway, if any of you are math-phobic and the thought of lace-knitting spreadsheets makes you woozy, here are some pictures:

This is the shawl, which turns out to be particularly well-suited for sitting in the grass while the kids play in the sand at the park, sitting on a chair on the patio while the kids run around the back yard, and so forth, so I have been getting a lot done on it! I have finished the first chart and am on the third repeat (of seven) of the second chart. Needless to say, the rows keep taking longer as the thing gets better. Fortunately, I have stitch markers at the ends of each quarter, as well as setting off each of the repeated sections of chart two (one repeat on the first time through, two repeats on the second time, etc.), so I have very frequent milestones!

I have finished the knitting on my entrelac purse, but will now need to felt it a bit, block it, line it, and put a handle on. This is the backside (flap up):

and the front (flap down):

I have all the ends woven in, but I am waiting to trim the ends off until it has gone through one wash cycle. I am happy with how it turned out, but in retrospect, I kind of wish I had swapped the colors of the first two rows of full squares. That would have made the edge triangle navy blue, the first row of block magenta, the second row of blocks light blue, and the third row pink. I love the way the colors look like woven strips on the rest and doing the first edge the other way would have had the navy be a continuation of the light blue stripes and the magenta be a continuation of the pink stripes. It clearly doesn't bother me enough to undo or redo, but...

My current TV knitting is the M-D baby kimono:

We finished all the Battlestar Galactica episodes that are out on DVD and season 3 won't be out until August or September, so we are currently waiting to do a nostalgia fest and watch Star Trek: The Next Generation, starting with season one and going in order. Kitty Daddy and I have both seen every episode multiple times, but it will be kind of fun, unwind-in-the-evening entertainment when we are between other things. Yeah, yeah, I know, "must get a life" and so on, but what else is new???

The only other thing that is making slow progress is the current sock. I was too lazy to dig it out of my purse for a picture, but I have turned the heel, shaped the gusset and am working on the foot now.

Once I get the baby kimono done, I am going to try and go back and pick up and finish the things that have kind of gone into a permanent holding pattern to get my progress bars jungle cleared up! Most of them qualify nicely for TV knitting and would finish up very quickly if I would (in the famous words of Nike) just do it!

03 July 2007

Going Batty

Since Bug had such a fabulous time watching the bats at the Oregon zoo during our vacation, we got a bunch of bat books from the library after we got home. I am so impressed with how many cute bat books we found, so I am sharing some of our favorites today.

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon is a cute fiction book about a baby bat that gets separated from her mama and gets raised by a mama bird. The illustrations are just adorable!



Bats at the Beach by Brian Lies is definitely our favorite. It is about all the bats meeting at the beach on a perfect moonlit night and what they do (bug-mallow roast is one thing). We have read this one just about every night since we checked it out!



Little Lost Bat by Sandra Markle and Alan Marks is about a little Mexican free-tailed bat that loses its mother and a mama bat that loses her baby. The mama bat adopts the little orphan. Although this book is fiction, the notes at the end of the book suggest that it may be an explanation of a significant number of Mexican free-tailed bat mama-baby pairs found by researchers that don't share common DNA.



Bats by Tony Hutson is a longer, non-fiction book all about bats. We have started a habit of having a non-fiction "chapter book" that we read a chapter before bed. The more memorable ones include a biography of Jackie Robinson, a book about weather, a book about animal classification. Since we finished Bats, we have been working on Built to Last, a book about big, cool engineering projects in the U.S.



Shadows of Night: The Hidden World of the Little Brown Bat by Barbara Bash. This book is also non-fiction, but reads more like a story, going through a year in the life of the Little Brown Bat.



Other than going crazy at the library, we have been making regular trips to close park, "Keys" park, the coffee shop, the grocery store, and all our other favorite haunts.

I haven't been blogging very regularly and have gotten behind in my blog reading again...my laptop has been acting flaky at times, which with the time we spend outside, can really cut down on computer time! I'll work on getting caught up again...