Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Knitting update!

Knitting has been a wonderful pastime for me over the last couple of years. It is one of the few things that I can do when I have a headache. It is also wonderful for making gifts! I try to take pictures of all of my projects to put in a knitting journal that my mother-in-law gave me.

This is a sweater that I knitted for my mom. It was fun to learn to do the stitches that it involved. I learned basket-weave and bobbles. I also had to learn to rip out a section that was done poorly and redo it. The yarn is a basic acrylic that is a little heavier than worsted.

For Christmas presents for a number of young ladies this year, I made watches. I ordered the watch faces online (very reasonable - less than $5 each!) and made watchbands for them. This is a thin band with a small watch face. I also used some really big watch faces with thick watch bands. The yarn was different types of sock yarn. This picture shows a glittery blue yarn. I also made one of pink cotton sock yarn and several of self-striping wool sock yarn. I tried using some thicker yarns, but didn't like the results.

This is one of my favorite projects! A friend gave me a knitting calendar with zillions of patterns. There are several patterns for wrist warmers (gauntlets as my daughter calls them). These have a shell-type pattern knitted into them, which was the first time that I knitted a pattern like this. The yarn is a fun, shimmery blue sock yarn which works great for this.
I'm currently working on a sweater for a friend and a sweater for myself. This summer and fall I need to make sweaters for the kids because the ones I did a few years ago are too small. I also have a guitar strap for my husband on the needles as well as a tie for him. I need to get back to work on the tie now that he is in the classroom regularly learning to teach. I am using 100% cotton sock yarn (self-striping) for the tie. The guitar strap is being done with some heavy duty yarn that is a little thinner than worsted. I'll put up pictures of those when they're done!
I really enjoy that knitting is portable. I am going to be taking kids to dance twice a week this semester, so it will be nice to have something to do with my hands while I watch them dance or chat with other parents. I want to make socks or slippers for the kids with some of my leftover worsted weight wool, and they are very easy projects to take with me.
P and the kids gave me some fat needles and a book with patterns. I am planning to cut some worn-out jeans and t-shirts into strips and try my hand at rag knitting. But, that may be in a few months. I still have to keep the house clean and school the kids!
If you like knitting, check out the Knitty website. I love their patterns! I also like to catch Knitty Gritty on DIY network when I get the chance.
More later. C has been on the Nintendo way too long. Time to get him to something vaguely constructive.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Warm and Snug

When I got up this am, it was -3 degrees F outside. But, inside our house it was 68 degrees F. Thanks you, Lord, for a good furnace!! When we bought this house, I was a little concerned about what winter would be like. This is a cute house, but it is probably 60 years old and has mostly original windows. But, the original windows all have storm windows on the outside, so we can keep the cold air at bay. Our upstairs is pretty chilly, though. One bedroom (mine and P's) has a heater vent, another has a grate in the floor to let heat up from the main floor, and the other bedroom (L's) has no source of heat. L refuses to keep her door open at night, though, because the cats come in and jump on her at night! Despite that, her room is not really freezing - she sleeps under a comforter and a sleeping bag.

We have a fuel oil furnace now, which took a little getting used to. The fuel oil company will come around and fill our tank every month or so. Our other house had natural gas so we didn't have to worry about a tank and all that.

We also have a sidewalk in front of out house now which has to be kept free of snow. There are a couple of inconveniences, though. Since we don't have an attached garage, we have to keep a path from the door to the garage clear. It is also a small garage and P hasn't gotten it clean enough to put the car in yet. The van will have to stay outside. Our trash cans are right outside the back door, but I still got pretty cold putting trash and recycling out into the cans.

Having a small house has required some significant changes for us. We have taken loads of stuff to Goodwill, but still have some storage issues. Our basement is finally pretty clear, but still needs to be organized.

I have been thinking lately about the whole issue of having so much "stuff". P and I read the book Margin by Dr. Richard Swenson a few years ago and were very convicted about having such overloaded lives. We got rid of a bunch of stuff then, but still had way too much for our lives right now. We have also had to learn to be careful about using our time. Not having so much stuff and having a smaller house will mean that we have to spend less time taking care of our stuff. I have realized that there are many shows on TV about organizing and cleaning out our houses. It seems that our society has gotten so stuff-overloaded that we can't even take care of it all!

I caught a little bit of Nanny 911 on TV last night when I was walking on the treadmill and was pretty appalled by what I saw - the family, not the nanny. One parent was looking for the kids to meet her needs for friendship while the other parent was not really paying attention to the kids. No wonder they were out of control! I think, though, that the underlying issue of overload may be at play here. The family was too overloaded (i.e. too tired and busy) to really relate to each other. I may hate my headaches, but they have forced us to deal with the excess stuff (material, time, emotional) in our lives.

Well, that's enough for being philosophic. I'm off to do some more knitting!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Science Experiment

My daughter has been really into owls lately because she is reading "The Guardians of Ga'hoole" series of books. We actually did a short unit on owls a month or so ago. But, we never got around to doing the owl pellets experiment. So, yesterday we took out the pellets (there were 3 in the pack I ordered) and all the supplies and went to work. C didn't want to do it at first, but once he got into it he liked it. He didn't make it through the whole dissection - he got through half of it and got bored. I finished his pellet. He did really well for an 8 year old. L got through the dissection, but put the bones in a bag that she will sort out later.

A little background: Owls eat their food whole and digest it in their stomachs and the rest of the GI tract. What can't be broken down in the stomach (hair, fur, bones, etc.) is stored in the gizzard and later regurgitated as a pellet. I got pellets from a scientific supply store so that they had been disinfected. We dissected them with forceps.

Both kids really enjoyed doing this. L did it as part of her science fair project, so she still needs to organize the bones and try to figure out what the owl had eaten. It was really a pretty fun project.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A New Year!

So, we are in to a new year. P and I both turn 40 this year. I never thought it would be that much of a milestone, but it really does feel different to be coming up to a new decade in life. P's birthday is before mine, so he will be 40 six months earlier than I will be!!

We spent Christmas with my parents and my brother and his wife and son. On the last night we were there, my brother's best friend from high school and his wife and daughter came over for dinner. It was really strange realizing that my brother, his friend, and I have known each other for almost 30 years. I still remember that I liked N more than any of my brother's other friends. He was the one who was nice to me!

But, now, we were all there with our spouses and kids. It was kind of strange to remember being in that same room 22 years ago when I was about to graduate from high school. And then, all the visits and get-togethers over the years. My parents have remodeled the house, though, so some things have changed. But the changes have all been superficial. We all look different, but we are, in many ways, the same people we were in high school despite our college degrees, extra weight, and receding hairlines!!

The kids are having a little bit of trouble getting back into the swing of things this year. We haven't started full schoolwork yet because P and I want to get some work done cleaning out the basement, etc. I'm not sure we're really ready to get going on Monday or if we're going to wait for a couple more days. It's pretty nice having P around the house this last week.

I had a wicked migraine on Thursday and ended up in my doctor's office for some shots. What a mess. I came home and slept, but then was so tired on Friday that I took an afternoon nap. It's hard to get anything done when you're sleeping all the time!!

Well, C has a friend here today. Two rambunctious boys in this house - EEK! Better go keep an eye on them!