Friday, February 27, 2009

Zoe's Acting Weird Again and I'm Freaking Out

It's been a month since Zoe's surgery. She's starting to act weird again. She goes outside and lies down and refuses to come inside when I call her. It's how she acted right before she had her surgery (she had two baseball sized splenic masses--both cancerous tumors). I know the mean life span after surgery for this kind of cancer is only two months, but I'm not ready. She's been doing so great up until this. She doesn't seem to be in pain, but she's not acting like herself. I'm trying to not freak out, but I'm not doing very well. She's my first baby and I'm not ready. I'm NOT ready.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hurray for You!

If you need to smile, please watch this movie because N and I think you are great!

I really appreciate everyone who takes the time to read this blog. And even more, I REALLY appreciate all of you who take the time to leave a comment. Thanks!

I also want to thank Carol who was kind enough to give me this:

I would like to pass this award onto the blogs that I read most these days:

My original blogger friends--




And two bloggers I go to for knitting inspiration (they are both great designers)--



And one blogger that fits into both categories--


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My children keep disappearing...

And then I find them in here...

And I take pictures. Does that make me a bad mom? I just can't resist a good photo op.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Itsy Bitsy Spider is Done

Well, in that picture, it is almost done. And here:

It is done.

It's actually my Socktopus, but J keeps calling it a spider. He loves it. I love it too. It's got to be one of the cutest things I have ever knit. I had lots of fun planning out each sock. I have to say I'm a bit anal. I know that comes as a shock to some of you, but it is true. If I wasn't so anal, then this project would have been a LOT faster, but I had to make sure each sock was just the right sock style and length and that I arranged them in the right order. I ended up making two multi-colored kneesocks (one self-striping, one striped by me), two calf-length athletic socks, one thigh high rainbow sock, one midlength dress sock, one slipper sock and one santa sock. I enjoyed learning a few new techniques (backward loop cast on, a new way to do and hide wrap and turns, a short row heel). Although I forgot to hide a few wraps, I generally feel this one turned out pretty close to perfect. I'm sure the Socktopus, or spider, will be well loved. J is already having lots of fun playing with it.

Pattern: Socktopus by Laura Edwards (FREE pattern here)
Yarn: Main color--Plymouth Encore Worsted in Pale Yellow; Socks--various odds and ends.
Needles: Size 5 doublepoint (except for ribbing on dress sock--Size 3 doublepoint)
Modifications: None
On Ravelry here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thanks, my sweet baby boy!

I just got N up from his nap. He was sitting in his crib, grinning from ear to ear, clapping. If only I could be greeted like that every time I entered a room--wouldn't life be grand!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I was going to complain...but I think I'll count my blessings instead

I got on my blog today all ready to complain. I was going to groan and moan about being tired, about having this stupid cold, about both boys having colds. I was going to complain about how J is extra grumpy and I even took him to the doctor today, but it's just a cold. I was going to complain about how he missed school because of this and I missed having my little bit of time to relax this morning. I was going to complain that neither boys napped much yesterday and right now as I write this J is upstairs not napping, but making a mess of his room instead. I was going to complain about Zoe's cancer and the fact that the average post-operation life expectancy for dogs with that kind of cancer is 2 months. I was going to complain that life is too busy and I've barely had time to knit this week. I was going to complain about the fact that N went in for his 9 month check up and is down to the 8%ile for weight and now I have to try to fatten him up by feeding him formula after he breastfeeds and trying to force him to eat more fattening food--and to think I thought he was being such a good eater! I was going to complain that the kitchen is a mess and I don't feel like cleaning it. I was going to complain that B and I got invited to a party this weekend, but we can't go because we can't find a sitter. This all seemed SO important. Until I read this about Ike:

Ike’s road has not been easy. Mama was on bedrest and in the hospital on and off, and then totally on, for months, until Ike was born 13 weeks early.

He was a tiny miracle, beating all of the odds to be healthier than anyone imagined possible. But it was still a long, hard, scary road in the NICU.

And expensive. Oh, so expensive. But the family was so joyful that he made it to the other side of the hard road behind him, that the money troubles they faced just seemed inconsequential.

Finally, Ike got to come home! Hurray! Of course, he could not leave the house, visitors had to be limited, and his health was fragile. Every day felt like an accomplishment. There were many many doctors visits and trips to the ER, adding to the insurmountable medical bills.

And THEN, as if this wonderful family had not been through enough, his Dad’s company decided to lay papa off (along with the rest of his department). No severence. Insurance cut off at midnight the same day.

Now, sweet baby Ike is back in the hospital. After weeks of doctor and ER visits because of a horrible sound he made while breathing, Ike became very very ill. The family has to focus all of their efforts towards getting him better.

And then I read even more about Ike on his mom's blog. This post gave me goosebumps and made me want to cry. And I realized that I am SO very, very lucky, SO very, very blessed. I know Ike's mom is probably wishing that her son only had a cold. I know she is wishing that she was simply tired from a life as blessed and humdrum as mine. I know she is wishing that she had time to worry about dirty kitchens and babysitters. But instead, she is in the hospital with a very ill baby with two more small children at home that need her too. She has much much bigger concerns than babysitters and mornings without a little peace and quiet.

I realize that instead of complaining, I should be counting my blessings. I have two wonderful children who have their issues, but are generally very healthy little boys. Although we have experienced unemployment, currently B is in a great position that allows me to stay home with my boys. Even when B was unemployed, we still managed to hold onto our health insurance. N is 9 months old and loves to play with Pepper's toys and is crawling and pulling up and saying Mama and playing patty-cake and eating all kinds of baby food and even real food like banana, pear, peas, cheese, hamburger and ravioli. J is almost 3 years old and loves to be silly and is doing cool things like coloring really well (staying in the lines and coloring little details like noses and shoes), painting pictures, saying nursery rhymes, pointing out letters he knows, counting, putting on his own pajamas (although usually mismatched and sometimes inside out) and using the potty. I have two boys whose whole faces light up when they smile. I have two wonderful children who make me smile with their sweetness and silliness. I have a wonderful husband who loves me and an incredible family who are always there for me. I have Zoe, who is with us on bonus time that is in and of itself a blessing, and Pepper, one of the sweetest puppies I've ever met, who bring so much love to our lives every day. I live a very blessed life and every day I am reminded that not everyone is so lucky.

I pray for baby Ike and his family. I am visiting his website and his mom's blog daily and hope to help them in their time of need. I hope you will do the same. May we all count our blessings each day and do our best to help those who are not as lucky. Ike is a lucky little baby in that he is VERY, VERY loved, but he is fighting for his health right now and his family is praying for him and for their sanity. May all their prayers be answered.

Here are a few of my blessings:

How are you blessed today?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Movie Monday: Don't Stop! Edition

As you can see, N didn't want Mooma to stop.

Hope this makes you laugh because I was cracking up every time he moved her hand! Happy Monday, everyone!

Moms Are the BEST!

My mom left today. I miss her already. She arrived here on Wednesday night and the last 4 days have been so much fun. Unfortunately, N and I got a cold before she arrived. J and my mom got it soon after. Then B finally gave in and got sick this weekend--so we didn't get quite as much hanging out time as planned since we were all sick, tired and needed to head to bed earlier or rest during the boys naptime.

Mooma and N

We still managed to have lots of fun being together. My mom is SO wonderful. J and N both love her so much and had a blast with their Mooma. She taught N how to patty-cake (funny video to come). At bedtime, B got kicked out of J's bed so that Mooma could read a story with him. J wanted to do EVERYTHING with Mooma.

N and J at our neighborhood playground trying to get to...

The girls were thrilled to have my mom here too. Zoe is her first grandbaby so she and my mom have always been extra close. In fact, Zoe usually sleeps in the bed with my mom whenever she visits. Pepper instantly fell in love with my mom and she rarely left her side the whole visit. Both girls are sad today because Mooma is gone.


And, of course, it was WONDERFUL for me to have my mom here. She's just so good to me. We have fun just hanging out, knitting and talking. My mom also does lots of helpful little things like cleaning up after meals or helping with the boys that make it like a little mini vacation for me when she is here.

B doing double duty on the swings

And, on Valentine's, my mom watched the boys while B and I went out to dinner. It was our first "date" since we moved to Texas and it was such a delightful treat. We went to an area with lots of restaraunts and just walked around. We didn't really care what or where we ate as long as we could have a drink while we ate. Needless to say, since it was a Saturday night and Valentine's Day, a lot of the restaraunts were booked solid, but we eventually found a little bakery place where we could sit down and eat right away. We didn't have very high expectations, but ended up being pleasantly surprised by a decent menu, a full bar, a yummy meal and delicious desserts. The best part was just being out together and having some great adult conversation. It was a much needed time together and we definitely need to find a sitter so we can do it again soon.

So that's been our fun for the last few days. Hope everyone had a happy Valentine's and a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead...

I finished leg/sock #2 of my Socktopus. This is actually taking a lot longer to knit than I thought it would. I am enjoying this project as a whole, but so far it was more fun to plan than to knit. Knitting the legs/socks (8 stitches on 3 doublepoint needles) isn't a lot of fun--kind of tangly and awkward. But I think it is turning out really cute so far. The body of my socktopus is smaller (thinner yarn, smaller needles), but my legs are the same length as the pattern--so my socktopus is going to be a little extra leggy. Hopefully, it will still look okay. Anyway, that's my update. Isn't this latest sock really cute?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Socktopus: A Work in Progress

I found this adorable softie pattern on (click here for the free pattern). I just thought is was SO adorable and a fun way to use up lots of little bits of yarn leftover from other projects. Anyway, my friend Carol decided to make one too so we are having a little knitalong. Here is a picture of my progress so far:

Mine is a little smaller than the one in the pattern pictures because I am using worsted weight yarn instead of chuny yarn. Each leg will have a different sock knitted on. My first one is a knee sock made out of self-striping yarn. My next sock will be a calf-height white and green athletic sock. It's been fun trying to make plan out each sock so it is unique yet goes with the rest of the socktopus. Wish me luck!

In other news, I met with my knitters last night but only two of them ended up coming as we were having severe thunderstorm warnings. The two that came were just learning how to purl when the tornado sirens went off in the distance because the thunderstorms were leading to tornados. So they rushed home and we kept an eye on the tv and internet for weather updates. I hated that our night was cut short as both of my friends were doing a great job and were really excited about learning how to purl.

Anyway, about 20 minutes later the tornado siren at the end of our street went off, we grabbed the boys and the dogs and spent about 25 minutes hanging out in the closet. Good times! Luckily, no tornados touched down in our area. I am NOT looking forward to tornado season. I was wishing I was back safe in Cleveland with the snow and ice and freezing weather. However, today was sunny and beautiful and I began to forgive Texas for its stupid tornados. We'll see how I feel next time I hear that siren.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Knitting, knitting, and MORE knitting

I am in a knitting frenzy these days. I'm totally obsessed. Can barely think about anything else. Crazy, but true! If you could care less about knitting, please feel free to look at the pictures and ignore the rest of this post.

So far I've held two "Learn to Knit" meetups for my neighborhood moms group and have taught 6 people how to knit! I am so impressed with how quickly they learned to cast on and knit. This week I have a follow-up session that at least 7 people have signed up to attend (2 newbies and 5 returning to practice and ready to purl). It's SO much fun! I can't wait until people start diving into their first real projects. So exciting!

I've also managed to finish a number of projects. Last night I knit up a replacement heart finger puppet (for the one Pepper chewed up) and put faces on all 6 puppets so they are ready for J and his classmates on Thursday. (Click here for the FREE fingerpuppet pattern.)

I also finally got around to finishing the Fuzzy Mitten Farm Animals that I knit sometime before Christmas. I was originally going to give them to one of the boys for Christmas, but we had too many gifts for J and my in-laws told me that they had gotten N a little barn with farm animals so I decided to hold off until after the holidays. Anyway, all that embroidering of heart faces inspired me to finally add faces to the farm animals. The sheep face is my favorite. I bought the pattern for these farm animals on etsy, but there is also a Fuzzy Mitten blog. I've made other Fuzzy Mitten softies and all the patterns are very well written. These were really quick to knit, but took a little time to assemble and finish. There were many little clever shaping devices used in the patterns and I was very impressed. It is amazing to me how some people can visualize and design things like that. Maybe someday I will have more talent in that department. I gave the farm animals to J since he is such a huge farm animal fan--and, as you can see, they were a huge hit!
Fuzzy Farm Animals by Barbara Prime of Fuzzy Mitten
Yarn: Small amounts of worsted--15g according to the pattern (I used Lion Wool-Ease)
Needles: Size 6 doublepoint
Modifications: None that I remember

I also finished redoing the neck of J's hoodless Wallaby. I ended up ripping out the collar and then doing four more rounds before starting the seed stitch collar. More details below on my modifications. I don't think the neckline/collar is perfect, but J seems to really like it and has already worn it multiple times.

Wonderful Wallaby by Cottage Creations
Yarn: 6 skeins of Phildar Falaise (48% Cotton/39% Acrylic/13% Viscose; 50g/82 yds per skein)
Needles: Size 8 for body, Size 6 for cuffs
Size: My gauge was off so I was able to follow the pattern numbers for Size 2 to make a Size 4 sweater.
Modifications: Seed stitch for all borders. Seed stitch collar instead of a hood.
Seed stitch collar details: I followed the pattern until I got to the part for the neck shaping. At this point, I knit four more rows in stockinette stitch (1 more full decrease, an even row, 1 with decreases only on the sleeve stitches, and then another even row). I then did two rows of seed stitch (I had to increase one stitch in the first row of seed stitch to keep the pattern correct with the original seed stitch border). For the third row of seed stitch, I kept the five stitch border at the beginning and end of the row, but Kfb of every 3rd stitch for the rest of the row. I then knit even in seed stitch until the collar measured 1 1/2 inches. Then in the next row, I did seed stitch until I got to the back section , then I did seed stitch for 4 stitches, then m1, and repeated this pattern for the whole back section. Then I did even seed stitch for the rest of the row. Then I bound off all stitches in seed stitch.

Next up, I have started a Socktopus. I'm doing a little mini-knitalong with my friend Carol.

After that, I'm not sure which project will win. I want to do a cardigan for my nephew Oscar--by the way, his hat fit perfectly AND he likes it!!! I also want to do a lace scarf for myself, a pinwheel blanket for a friend, a cardigan for me, maybe some socks for N, some mittens for J...

The possibilities are endless--my knitting brain is just running in overdrive. Now if only I had more time...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Things They Learn When You're Not Looking

The boys and I went to JoAnn's this week to get some crafty supplies. As we parked the car, J noticed the big JOANNs sign outside the store. He excitedly said, "Look, a J for J___ [his name] and two N's for N___ [his brother's name]." I then asked him if he knew any of the other letters and he said, "Yes, A for Avery and O for Owen [two friends from school]." Since I've never tried to teach him his letters (we just talk about them in books) I was really excited! I'm so proud of my little learner.

Now if we can only get counting to 10 down. He still likes to say "3, 4, 9, 10!"

J is his new Wallaby. I decided this version of the collar/neck was a bit too wide, so I'm redoing that part. Will post more details and pics when the revision is done.

The title of this post, just reminded me of something another mom shared with me. I'm not a cheesy poem kind of gal, but I thought this one was nice. Here it is:

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you hang my
First painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately
Wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you feed a
Stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind
To animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my
Favorite cake for me, and I learned that the little
Things can be the special things in life.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I heard you say a
Prayer, and I knew that there is a God I could always
Talk to, and I learned to trust in Him.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make a
Meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I
Learned that we all have to help take care of each

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you give of
Your time and money to help people who had nothing,
And I learned that those who have something should
Give to those who don't.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you take care
Of our house and everyone in it, and I learned we have
To take care of what we are given.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw how you
Handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't
Feel good, and I learned that I would have to be
Responsible when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw tears come
From your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things
Hurt, but it's all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw that you
Cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I learned most of
life's lessons that I need to know to be a good and
Productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I looked at you and
Wanted to say,'Thanks for all the things I saw when
You thought I wasn't looking.'

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Top Ten Tuesday: Why Pepper Will Never Know Her Name Edition

I'm a nickname kind of person. I call everyone by multiple names (although I'm not nearly as bad as my brother who never calls anyone by their real name). Well, Pepper has become victim to my ways. At this rate, she may never know her name. Anyway, this week's Top Ten Tuesday Topic is...

Top Ten Reasons Pepper Will Never Know Her Name (or the Many Names of Pepper)

10. Bella (Her original name--I liked it, but B did not.)

9. Pepper Jo (B's nickname for Pepper.)

8. Pepperoni (My original nickname for her.)

7. Pepperita (Which was soon joined by this one.)

6. Roni (Then they morphed into this...)

5. Rita (and this.)

4. Peanut (Also one of N's nicknames.)

3. Pinochle (Which has morphed into this one.)

2. Baby Girl (Self explanatory.)

1. Boog (A term of endearment in our family--also use this one for both children. I think it was originally Sugar Booger. Kind of gross, but true.)

Monday, February 2, 2009

A few more finger puppet photos

For the FREE Knitted Heart Finger Puppet pattern, click here.

I Hope Harvard Will Be the Right Fit

Months ago my sister-in-law mentioned that she would love for me to knit a hat for her son Oscar (my 19 month old nephew). As she had no specific requests in terms of style and color, I have thinking about the hat off and on with no actual work on it--until I finally slowed down long enough to look at the Winter 2008 Interweave Knits and saw the Harvard Square Cap.

I thought it looked like a fun pattern and decided to adapt it to (hopefully) fit my nephew. I was told his head measures 19". I looked through my stash and found some fun worsted weight yarn, decided it looked comparable to the yarn used for the "Aran" version of the hat, realized that if I cast on 96 stitches instead of 108 I should get a 19" hat and went for it. I wasn't sure when to start the crown shaping and ended up starting them around 5".

I really enjoyed making this hat although it was somewhat slow going at first as I figured out the right rhythm for the stitch pattern. The pattern says to "strand very loosely--so loosely that it seems excessive." So this is what I tried to do. At first, I think I was being excessive because the contrast color stitches looked a little wonky, but I then found a good tension that turned out perfectly.

This is a picture of the inside of the hat. You can see how the blue is loose at the bottom, but lies nice and flat for most of the hat.

As I got into the hat, it actually knit up quite quickly. I enjoyed this pattern and hope that the hat will fit Oscar. It's too tall for Norm and too tight for John so I don't have any great modeled photos. I love the way the two yarns look together. The green is more woolly and the blue is more shiny so they contrast nicely. I think this yarn/stitch combination would look great on a child's pullover sweater--maybe one of these days I will make one.

Pattern: Harvard Square Caps by Sean Riley (Interweave Knits Winter 2008)
Yarn: Plymouth Encore Worsted (75% acrylic/25%wool, green--less than one skein) and Caron Simply Soft (100% acrylic, blueberry--less than one skein)
Needles: Size 4 16" circular, Size 6 16" circular and douplepoint
Modifications: I cast on 96 inches to get a 19" hat. I started the crown shaping when I reached 5" from the cast on edge.

Even though the hat looks ridiculously tall on N, I couldn't resist sharing this picture. He just looks so happy. (And, yes, he is chewing on a dog toy!)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Free Pattern Friday: Heart Finger Puppet

I started this post on Friday, but got distracted by the call from the vet so it's a little late--but I'm keeping it as a "Free Pattern Friday" all the same.

Inspired by the success of the Halloween ghost finger puppets, I decided I wanted to do heart finger puppets for J and his classmates for Valentine's Day. I couldn't find a pattern so I decided to design one myself. I used this pattern for some inspiration, but made adjustments so mine was knitted in the round, from the top down, and was open at the bottom for a finger.

Knitted Heart Finger Puppet
(Finished size approximately 2 1/4 inches wide by 2 1/2 inches tall)
Yarn: Worsted Weight (I used Plymouth Encore)
Needles: Set of five SIZE 6 doublepoint needles

Abbreviation Key:
St = stitch
K = Knit
K tbl = Knit through back of loop
Kfb = Knit into the front and back of stitch
SSK = slip 2 stitches as if to knit, then knit those 2 stitches together
K2tog = Knit two together
P = Purl

The heart is knit on two doublepoint needles (the front of the heart on one needle and the back of the heart on another) with a third needle used for working the stitches. The heart is knit upside down from the top to the bottom. You will first knit the two tops of the hearts (right side and left side) and then join them for the body of the heart.

Right Top
Use the Figure 8 Cast On to cast on 8 stitches. (see Figure 8 Cast on Tutorial here--Thanks, Hello Yarn!). You will have four stitches on each of two needles.
K the 4 st on the top needle. Turn and tighten the stitches on the second needle.
K tbl the 4 st on the second needle. Place round marker.
K 4; K 4 (4 st per needle).
Kfb, K2, Kfb; Kfb, K2, Kfb (6 st per needle).
K5, Kfb; Kfb, K5 (7 st per needle).
Cut yarn and set aside.

Left Top
On a second set of two doublepoint needles, use the Figure 8 Cast On to cast 8 stitches. You will have four stitches on each of two needles.
K the 4 st on the top needle. Turn and tighten the stitches on the second needle.
K tbl the 4 st on the second needle. Place round marker.
K 4; K 4 (4 st per needle).
Kfb, K2, Kfb; Kfb, K2, Kfb (6 st per needle).
Kfb, K5; K5, Kfb (7 st per needle).

Take Right Top and slide it onto the Left Top needles.

This picture shows the Right Top (on the left) and the Left Top (on the right).
The working yarn is on the right side of the back needle.

K 14; K 14 (14 st per needle).
SSK, K10, K2tog; SSK, K10, K2tog (12 st per needle).
K 12; K 12.
SSK, K8, K2tog; SSK, K8, K2tog (10 st per needle).
K10; K10.
SSK, K6, K2tog; SSK, K6, K2tog (8 st per needle).
K8; K8.
SSK, K4, K2tog; SSK, K4, K2tog (6 st per needle).
K6; K6.
SSK, K2, K2tog; SSK, K2, K2tog (4 st per needle).
K4; K4.

The Finger Opening
SSK, K2tog (2 st)--Turn work and continue working only on the stitches on this front needle.
P2 (2 st)--Turn work and continue working only on the stitches on this front needle.
SSK (1 st). Bind off.

Now finish the bottom of the other side of the heart. With the heart still upside down:
SSK, K2tog (2 st)--Turn work and continue working only on the stitches on this needle.
P2 (2 st)--Turn work and continue working only on the stitches on this needle.
SSK (1 st). Bind off.

Seam the small hole at the top of the heart (between the two sides). Weave in all ends.
Make a face with scrap yarn or use buttons or googly eyes. Enjoy!

Happy Valentine's!
I'm still a newbie to pattern writing, so please let me know if you have any questions or if you find any problems with this pattern. Thanks!

For more photos of the finished finger puppet, click here.