Thursday, July 31, 2008

M*A*S*H and Music

The middle child has been trying to appease me by learning to play the M*A*S*H theme on the guitar. It is truly a wonderful thing to be able to hear the music from my very favorite TV show. Currently he's in my bedroom watching the DVD (over and over) to copy the theme song. Since he's able to play by ear, it shouldn't be long before he gets it beautifully.

Next, I'm sure he'll be trying to get his brothers to play harmony. This is so much nicer than the days of nothing but Ironman and Smoke on the Water - almost makes the guitar lessons worth it. And, as an added bonus - I might just have another M*A*S*H fan in the house!!!

In other news: I almost had a mommy cry today. I thought that the princess had finished her kindergarten math book. Noooooo! I'm not ready for that! Luckily, I discovered that she has two chapters left. How long can I make those chapters last?

The smiling child is happily doing his schoolwork with a pony tail in his hair. His golden curls have gotten so long that we pull his hair back when he needs to get serious. The princess says that it makes him look like a real guitar player. I never thought of myself as a mother of rockers, but it looks like it's up to me to parent the future rockers of America.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ed Eats Bread

The man I married came in very early this morning and told me not to eat the bread. I was still asleep and agreed that I wouldn't if that was what he wanted.

After a few minutes, I wondered why he cared about the bread. I still had half a loaf, didn't I? If I was running low on bread, I would have time before he got home from work to run to the store and buy more bread. Why couldn't I eat the bread?

All this wondering woke me up, so I straggled into the kitchen to give him what for about being so darned possessive of the bread.

Well, it turns out that he was just concerned that my "yuck" factor would come into play when I found out that our dear dog had decided to have himself a little midnight snack.
Now, you remember that Ed was supposed to be a Maltipoo - a little 10 pound thing. Let me tell you, Ed ain't no Maltipoo! He's cute and white like a Maltipoo, but he's twice the size of a Maltipoo. He's a Maltipoo on steroids.

It seems that Ed has finally grown enough to reach far enough onto the counter so that he can get food - namely my quite expensive, specialty shop, delicious and still more than 3/4 left of a loaf butterscotch walnut bread!

I'd been making the kids take teeny slices so that it would last longer; but it looks like Ed couldn't reach the knives, so he just dug right in. If the man I married hadn't told me, I would have thought that the kids had gone bread crazy. The bag wasn't even ripped, just torn open a little. Considerate Ed doesn't like to leave a mess. Maybe he thought I wouldn't notice?

Anyway, now we don't have any fancy cakey bread to snack on, and Ed isn't hungry for dog food. When the doggie boarding place asked if we were having any problems with our dog, I didn't mention the bread thing. As long as they don't have any expensive butterscotch walnut bread out, we should be fine.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summer, Baseball and Little Boys

Part of my waxing nostalgic somehow comes back to what I think should be the "real" meaning of summer. I grew up in Southern California where summer days rarely got much into the 90's and kids ran around in bare feet, enjoying popsicles, climbing trees and riding bicycles.

The reality of Texas summers is that it's been at or over 100° nearly every day for the last three months. If you run around barefoot outside you're likely to get serious burns on your feet. If you ride your bike outside the perimeter of our immediate neighborhood you're taking your life in your hands. Popsicles have too much sugar and artificial ingredients for kids these days. The lone tree in our yard wouldn't support the weight of more than the princess.

So, we're left with the last real joy of childhood and summer - baseball.
We're lucky enough to have a minor league team in our city. And it's a minor league team in the best sense - they have fun giveaways, crazy theme nights, snow cones and foot long corn dogs.

The smiling child and the man I married have been going to the games for a few months. They go early so that the smiling child can collect autographs (on baseballs) of all of the players. One of the great things about a minor league team is that they really appreciate the fans. The smiling child knows the names and stats of his favorite players. He watches and cheers for them when they finally get their chance to move up to the big leagues; and he welcomes them back when they return to the minors.

The giveaways this year have been hats, shirts; the usual stuff. Finally there was a giveaway that we (the entire family) couldn't resist - Mr. Potato Head dressed like a baseball player!

We love Mr. Potato Head!! We've got your usual - the mustache, earrings, red nose. We've also got the Disney versions - Tinkerbell, Mickey Mouse ear hats, Mickey Mouse ice cream cones, glass slippers. We've got Darth Tater; we're saving our pennies for Indiana Jones Tater. But to get a free minor league tater! Now, that was something worth getting our shoes on for.

So, we bought "berm" seating (sitting on the grass out past the outfield - as Ellen DeGeneres would say - the "riff raff" area). Normal tickets are $12, berm tickets are $6; so the smiling child and the man I married got their usual seats, the rest of us got berm seats (cause Tater Heads are certainly worth $6, but not really worth $12).

We waited, and the day finally arrived. The princess woke up with "today's baseball day" on her mind. We went in two cars because we knew the smiling child would want to stay for the game, but were pretty sure that the rest of the crew would not.
Parking is $5. The man I married paid his fee and drove in. I asked the money taking guy if there was a discount for "wives who are here involuntarily" and he told me that he'd been there, and let me in for free!!! The man I married was amazed and said that it made the tater heads even cheaper. Gotta love that man.

Now, let me say, we were at the ballpark more than 2 hours before the game started. Didn't want to miss out on the tater heads! Luckily they open the gates about two hours before the game, so we only stood outside the gate for about 15 minutes. The smiling child was thrilled! It was the first time he'd been first in line. Also, it was our ticket taker's first day on the job, so the smiling child got to have his ticket scanned early so that the man could learn what to do.

We finally got in, got our tater heads and headed off to the seats. All the princess knew was that she was to learn all the ropes from her older brother. She happily followed along after him as he pointed out all of the rules and interesting sights. All we heard were snippets:

- Don't stand there, you'll get hit by foul balls
- That's where we get popcorn
- Those aren't good seats
- That's where I got my mug

Being a boy, he didn't point out what I wanted to know - where's the bathroom?

After about five minutes sitting in the seats we were glad we'd brought two cars. The princess wanted cotton candy, popcorn and to jump/run up and down the stairs. She was easily placated with a corn dog and some cotton candy to eat at home. The middle child got a corn dog, coke and a snow cone (too sweet - gave it to the princess -- now she's got cotton candy and a snow cone?).

The man I married was happy that we left. The smiling child got a bat from one of the players (which will take up a position of honor in his room), and they caught a shirt from the air cannon shirt throwing machine.

The princess spent a good two hours bouncing off the walls once we got home. The middle child said he'd like to actually stay long enough next time to see some baseball game. I thought it might be okay to stay for the game if I could sit in those rocking chairs in the outfield and knit. The man I married wondered why in the world you'd knit at a baseball game.

Aaaah, the pure joys of summer are alive and well.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cable Socks

I finished the Celtic Cable Socks from Sockamania. We had a choice this month of doing a "whole" sock or a shortie sock. Since it's been 100° nearly everyday for two months, I chose a shortie sock.

When I pulled out the plastic tub of sock yarn, the man I married walked into the room and asked what I was doing. I told him I was selecting yarn for my July socks. He carefully studied the picture of the sock to be made and looked through all of my yarn (picture soon). Then he picked out some purple and black Tofutsies yarn. I actually had two skeins of the same color - I'd purchased one and I'd received the same color in a yarn swap.

Being the yarn conservationist (i.e. kook) that I am, I decided to make one shortie sock from each skein so I'd still have enough yarn to make a full pair from each skein. Apparently I didn't think ahead - I could have returned one skein and gotten another color; but it's too late now.

The pattern was pretty straight forward. Plain sock, very fancy cabled heel. I got to the cables on the first heel. I read the instructions several times. They seemed odd to me, but since Anni's patterns have always been wonderful, I decided to trust them.

All was well. The pattern is 16 rows long. I made it through the first 16 rows of cables; very proud of myself. Then, and I swear I read the pattern at least seven times, I thought the pattern said to do row 11 and then continue on to the sock. (For non knitters, you read patterns by the row, and for some socks you work on the heel and then reconnect to the front of the sock).

So, thinking that the directions were odd, but trusting Anni; I did row 11 and continued on.

Well, that was wrong. What the pattern ACTUALLY said was to do row 1-11! I'd missed 10 rows of pattern. Not only did I have to un-knit three wrong rows, but two of the rows were cable rows. That meant that I had to un-knit stitches that were in the back or in the front. Eeek! I almost threw in the towel.

But - I'd sworn that I would always at least give it my best try to get each months patterns finished for this group. So, I carefully pulled out the stitches that were wrong and knit them again.

Sometimes it's the strangest things that motivate us. For these socks it was learning that even if I made a huge mistake (not life altering, but still big), I could fix it and move on. Not exactly a "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" type thing, but still a learning experience. It's good for my kids to see me mess up and keep going. It's good for me to mess up and keep going.

Also, it's hot here and these are the only socks that I've knit that aren't wool.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Knitting Fun

I am lucky to be a test knitter for Marilyn. At her site she designs knit cloth patterns so that you can have a dishcloth (or an afghan square) with your name on it.

Usually I'm knitting names I don't need, and I make them into swiffer sweeper cloths. Since the princess loves to swiffer sweep the floor, and since I love for her to swiffer sweep the floor, and since swiffer sweeper disposable covers cost so much, I started knitting covers.

We use our knitted cloths for napkins, and after listening to my kids say things like "Who's Brooke?" I figured out that I could easily turn my test knitting cloths into swiffer sweeper cloths. This continued happily along: I test knit cloths for Marilyn, and had an expanding stash of swiffer sweeper cloths.

Then, one wondrous day Marilyn sent a cloth that said "I [heart] Nascar." Well, the smiling child is almost obsessed with Nascar. He was tickled to have a Nascar cloth and waited patiently while I knitted "his" cloth. When it was finally finished he couldn't wait to take possession. I take pretty pictures of the finished cloths to send to Marilyn, and the Nascar cloth has his little hand in the picture because he saw me with the camera, saw the flash (I take a few pictures to see which one is best), and figured I was ready to give him the cloth.

Cute, but not the end of the story.

The very next cloth that Marilyn sent for me to knit was a cloth that said "We [heart] LittleBit." Well, the man I married named his photography business LittleBit Studios! We began to wonder if Marilyn knew us! What are the odds that I'd be sent two slightly wacky cloths that both related to our lives?
What will she send next? A cloth that says "I [heart] fencing" for the middle child? A cloth that says "I [heart] to read" for the teen? Surely someone has requested a cloth that says "I [heart] the princess" for the princess.

We'll just have to wait and see. In the mean time, if you heart Nascar or you heart LittleBit, Marilyn has a pattern for you.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


We've got too many books. Folks we know (homeschoolers) always say there is no such thing as too many books; but we've got too many books.
The man I married and I have an agreement that if a child wants a book, they can have a book. Our children love to read; love books. But enough is enough.

The princess is almost completely independent in her reading and has outgrown most picture books. There is the obvious exception of books like Magic School Bus and Berenstain Bears, but for the most part, she ignores picture books.

We've also got a lot of books that are not being read. My children don't like to "like" a book that an older sibling has enjoyed, so we are the proud owners of book series that no one will read.

So, we've got too many books.

The middle child and I are in the process of making "sell it - keep it - trade it" boxes right now. This entails bringing three HUGE apple boxes and the laptop into the living room. The middle child types the ISBN number into to see if anyone wants the book. If so, it gets listed; if not it goes on a gigantic list with a minimal price to post to our homeschooling group. Then, if no one wants it in the homeschooling group, the list will go to craig's list. If the book is still unwanted, it'll go to half price books (or Goodwill if I'm too sick of it).

I'm hoping that this whole process takes less than two weeks. I'm also hoping that I can keep the princess out of the boxes. She tends to decide she really loves anything I'm getting rid of.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Visiting Mount Gonnaspewa

Or: Why I'd Rather Be in Hawaii

The toy mess in my house is like an active volcano. It's gonna blow, it's gotta blow - it's just a matter of when.
I send the kids in to "clean up that *&$!!# mess" and end up with a worse problem than I started with. The middle child ends up bringing one item at a time to the princess and announcing in his best stage whisper that he's brought another one of her things to her to put away. The smiling child ceases to smile and gets quite teary eyed at the thought of perhaps having to get rid of any of his treasures. The princess hides and creates a mess in another room. In the end, the teen sends them all out of the room and makes a valiant attempt at blocking the inevitable volcanic flow of toys.

Unfortunately, it's up to mom to deal with the problem. The man I married is sympathetic, but isn't home to deal with the flow.

So here we sit, in a small oasis in the middle of flowing lava; the volcano grumbling and shaking, occasionally sending ash into the atmosphere. We know that the blast is coming, but don't know when. Should we grab our most precious treasures and flee? Should we stay and make what will be an inevitably futile attempt to protect our homestead?

Luckily for me, my life does come with a soundtrack. Currently it's Malaguena. I've always maintained that people would lead happier lives if we all had a laugh track, but I guess I'll have to settle for a soundtrack.

Here's hoping out guitar teacher finds new sheet music for the boys next week. Right now they're trying to find the theme to M*A*S*H, knowing that it's my favorite show. Unfortunately, the song is "Suicide is Painless."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Toad Lickin' in Texas

Well, it's an urban legend that's actually true. Don't lick toads - you'll get sick. Unfortunately Ed didn't read the warnings and has apparently been licking toads. Let me tell you, it sure makes a dog sick.

He's always had fun chasing the toads when they're around, but I guess he's never gotten a juicy one before. Without going into details, he got sick Saturday night. I woke up to a lovely mess on Sunday morning. The rest of the day he seemed relatively normal. A bit sleepy, but we decided it was because he must have been up all night.

Late Sunday, he was very pathetic. Didn't even ask us to rub his belly when we came near. Since it was late, we decided to wait and see how he felt in the morning.

This morning he seemed better. Still a bit schmoopy, but at least he wanted his belly rubbed. So, being the techno savvy people that we are, we Googled dogs licking toads and found that it's true! Licking toads can make a dog sick.

Ed seems to be surviving the Terrible Toad Lick of '08. Now we have to go outside with him to keep the goofy mutt from lickin' toads. The boys seem kinda excited to catch the toads. We may have a new home based business brewing here.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Who Says Math Isn't Fun?

The teen had a problem. He's on the last chapter of the Algebra II book and finally decided that he really needed a new calculator. Up until that point he'd been making due with a $30 calculator that he'd had for the past few years; but after spending a few months pressing 13 keys to get to the answer that a nicer calculator would reach with just one key, he asked for a new calculator.

Seemed like a simple enough request. He's about to start a pre-calculus book and needed a stronger calculator. How hard could it be? Super mom would just check with her trusty online buddies and see which calculator was best and then go to the local Target and buy one.

Whoa, slow down. Not as simple a task as one would assume. Finding out which calculator was needed was easy (TI 84 Plus), but life is not so cooperative. Super mom loaded up the two youngest kids and headed off to Target.

First, any calculator over $40 was locked up, and on the bottom racks. Old ladies can't just bend over, adjust their bifocals, and read the specifics on a calculator when it's only 2 feet from the ground. Especially when the princess takes any bending over of mom to mean that it's time for a piggy back ride.

After finding a very nice employee to unlock the calculators, Super mom realized that not only was there a TI 84 Plus; there was also a TI 84 Plus Silver and a TI 84 Plus Platinum! The nice employee unlocked all three security racks and let me look at all of them at one time. Unfortunately, she also insisted on standing right beside me to make sure I didn't loose my mind and create some kind of havoc in the store.

So there I stood, three calculators in hand; the princess and the smiling child alternately standing next to me and bounding off down the isle; trying to decide which one of the TI 84 Plus calculators I wanted. I couldn't see any difference on the key pad, so I bought the cheapest one, figuring that if it wouldn't work for calculus it would work for the middle child to use in Algebra next year.

I paid my $100 for the calculator and brought it home - quite proud of my achievement. The teen looked at the calculator through that lovely, only a nuclear blast will open it plastic packaging, and said that it didn't have the key he was looking for. We looked through the 200 some page instruction manual and decided that the key was apparently no longer needed in the math world and he should just skip that problem in the book.

Another catastrophe averted.

Just to show that he was actually using and loving his calculator, the teen came in this morning and showed me what he could do with his fancy new calculator - here's a picture.

Oy vey.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

All Tucked In

I went into the bedroom to picture. The dolls were all tucked in and asleep (although their eyes don't close). The princess had changed their diapers and fed them and put them down for a nap. These days she loves pretending that I've had a new baby and since I'm not as accommodating as she'd like, she has to pretend.

Sadly, one of the baby's lost a leg and needed repair. As I was putting the leg back into place (requiring me to hold the doll upside down, naked), she turned her back and told me to tell her when I was finished. As I pronounced the doll "cured" she informed me that we were just going to say that I had merely changed a diaper. I guess the memory of Alice loosing her head was still a painful thing.

The story of Alice:

We were driving 70 mph down the highway on our way to visit relatives and the princess was happily in her car seat playing with her doll Alice. Alice has beautiful red hair and is an 18" doll that was the favorite playmate of the princess at that time. Well, she was combing Alice's hair when the head flew off. I mean, it really flew! Good thing the windows were closed. Anyway, the princess screamed out in horror and her loving brothers burst out laughing.

As the princess screamed that Alice was dead, trusty mom pulled out a paperclip and cut off some yarn (yeah, I was knitting), and put Alice's head back on. That trip is forever known as the time Alice's head came off.

Well, apparently the princess is still having nightmares about Alice and her head. So we just went along with the story that the doll needed a diaper change.

FYI, if you're ever traveling, always keep yarn and a paperclip in the car in case someone looses their head.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Memory Lane Monday

Lately I've been reminiscing about the world of my youth. It's interesting what people remember. When I was in college (the first time I was around a lot of people of different ages) one of the things we always talked about was "Where were you when JFK was killed?" Tragic events tend to cement themselves in our memories, and that was certainly one of them.

That day in 1963 symbolized the loss of innocence for America. It was also a day so powerful that it seems that everyone knows exactly what they were doing when they heard the news. So, in college, the questions you asked were "what is your major?" and "where were you when JFK died?"

I've realized lately that close to half of the country wasn't even alive then.

Then we watched a show about the first man on the moon. The man I married and I were talking to the children about our memories of that day. As they watched the show they commented on the poor quality of the pictures and the low tech look of the space capsules. We remembered how amazing the whole thing was - how entire families were glued to their little black and white tv sets - and all the kids could say was that the IMAX space station film was so much better.

My kids have joked about how dinosaurs were probably around when we were kids, but they really do have a hard time believing that tv wasn't always in color. Or that we only had a few stations. When we tried to get the kids to get excited about the Tournament of Roses parade, they said that it was boring!

But there's hope! For generations little boys have bonded over baseball stats, and that continues. The smiling child has taken a liking to baseball (we have a local AAA team) and often rattles off the stats for players. He also has the wonderful luck to be able to watch players move up to the "show" after he's seen them play and gotten their autographs.

This somehow gives me hope for America. We'll keep boring our children with memories of the past and rewarding them for their feigned interest with homemade ice cream. Nothing is as bad as it seems when you're eating fresh from the bucket ice cream on a warm summer evening.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

How To Make Your Mother Crazy

The princess was the last one to get hand knit socks. She'd wanted some pale pink socks, but one of my KAL's had a cute pattern that I thought would look good with pink so I talked her into it. From the start these were cute socks. They looked like cotton candy, or maybe peppermints. Anyway, they were easy to knit and turned out really cute.
Here's where the problem lies. I finished one sock and the princess wanted to wear it while I was finishing the other sock. Mind you, all I had to do was finish the heel and then weave in the ends - just a fraction of time in the sock knitting universe. So she was happily running around in one sock while I worked on the second sock.

I drank coffee and worked on her sock. Dreamily planning to make myself a matching pair - is there anything cuter (but not terribly annoying) as matching mother daughter socks? I don't think so.

The last little piece of yarn was carefully woven in, the needles were put away, the camera was ready (gotta take a picture to post completed socks 'ya know). I called for the princess to bring in her naked foot so that the socks could be a pair for the first time.

In runs my precious youngest and informs me that the sock is lost! It's been less than an hour since the sock was completed and now it was LOST!!! I told her to get her bum into the bedroom and find that sock. No use, I was informed, the sock was gone for good.

At this point, I marched in to tell the man I married that he needed to get in there and tell his daughter that she'd better find that sock. I mean, it wasn't even photographed yet, and I needed to provide pictorial evidence that the pair of socks had been completed. I'm not entirely certain if I was more upset that she'd lost the sock or that I hadn't taken a picture yet; but I digress.

The man I married told me to calm down, surely the sock was somewhere in the house. He'd never heard of aliens coming down to our world to steal single socks - wasn't that the domain of washing machines?

Anyway, after a half hour of everyone in the house looking for a small pink sock it was found. Right under the bed where it was supposed to be. As I muttered something about no one caring about anything I did for them the socks were put on the princess's feet and photographed before they became lost again; and I swore never to make another pair of socks for another living being again.

That is until I cast on the next pair.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

So I'm Avoiding Work

Old people always need to keep learning new things or they'll become stagnant (and they'll develop "old people" brains). The thing I decided to learn today is how to put a banner across the blog.

The first thing I discovered is that the picture needs to be long and narrow or it will just look like a little picture - not what I was hoping for. Then, as I was clicking from one thing to another, I ended up gravitating to a Firefly site on Ravelry. Let me tell you, those knitting Firefly fans are fun! Here are a few pictures of the wacky things they've created in homage to the Jayne hat. A Jayne golf club cover, a Jayne hangy for the rear view mirror and a Jayne tree ornament. Does this inspire or repulse? You be the judge, just don't judge me! I'm thinking very seriously of getting some solid color yarn and making Jayne socks.

But I digress. I found a site with lots of graphic stuff, and found some stuff labeled for banners. So, I clicked and fiddled, and came up with a Serenity graphic. Not sure it's exactly what I want as a banner, but it's there and it sorta fits. Now I just have to figure out how to make the edges a bit rounder, and the fit more exact.

Now that there's a banner of sorts (won't last long - I'm looking for something more "me"), it's on to more pressing issues. Gotta finish the pink scarf for the princess, gotta get the beans a'cooking, gotta get ready to make ice cream this afternoon, gotta fix the vacuum cleaner, gotta get the laundry going, and gotta convince the princess that her new music thing MUST be used with headphones so that the rest of us don't go loopy.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

And Now We Weave

I took a class last weekend at the local weaving store and got to bring the loom home to finish the project. The nice loom lady said that she didn't need the looms back for a week, so we could take our time to finish up. Well, it only took me about an hour and I was finished. We were supposed to bring the loom back with our scarf on it and she would show us how to complete our looming work.

I ended up taking it back on Tuesday and lamented that I had thought of buying some additional yarn and making another scarf. Well, sweetie that she is, the loom lady checked and said I could take the loom home for an additional week! Now I had 13 more days to weave. The smiling child and I bought some more yarn and came home to weave til we dropped.

I finished a burnt orange scarf for the smiling child and have started a fluffy pink scarf for the princess. In this process I've learned that some yarns are just not meant to be woven. EEEWWWW! Too late to back out now, but never use stretchy, fluffy yarn to weave. I almost pulled the whole thing out with the intention of just knitting the scarf.

The middle child finished his big weaving project on our tapestry loom. I really didn't give him much instruction - the loom didn't come with instructions. Actually, I just gave him some general weaving information and let him work it out. I'm currently trying to convince him that he should make us all place mats. Grandma would love a table runner, don't you think?

Our cupboards have been bare lately, and the grocery bill really showed it today. I've taken to filling the car up before it gets empty to avoid the sticker shock; now I know I need to go to the grocery store before we run out of everything. Not only is it too much money, but my car could barely hold all of the food. On the plus side, we're having homemade ice cream after dinner tonight. Yum! Not sure if it's a money saver, but it will remind the hubby and me of our childhoods.