Friday, May 04, 2012

My Big Brave Girl

 We were in a clothing store today, and I was looking at the racks of cheap French-terry shorts, hunting for a 4T because although she will be five in less than one month, the 5's and 5T's I bought at last year's end-of-season-sales are still too big. She gets taller every day, but she's till the smallest in her class.

She had a pink plastic piggy bank in her arms, talking to it like it was an old friend, and she'd dressed it in both a 4th of July star-spangled headband and a clearance St. Patrick's Day giant green bow tie.  She was holding it up and spinning in circles, telling the pig "Oh, Sabrina, now we are going to dance! I will dance you all around the room! We can SPIN!"

I heard a CRACK and looked over to see her at a dead stop, with a horrified look on her face. I thought maybe she'd tripped over something, but she was looking at a pair of rainbow-framed sunglasses on the floor, a child-size pair that seemed to be missing both its arms.

"I'm sorry, Mommy," she said immediately.
I picked up the glasses and found one plastic rainbow-colored arm underneath what was left of the frame. The other arm was nowhere in sight.
"Did you break this?" I asked.
"Yes," she said, and swallowed. "We were dancing and I stepped on it and I broke it. I'm very sorry." She looked from side to side. "I think we should go."
"Not just yet," I said. "Was it missing the other piece before you stepped on it?"
"Yes," she said, but hesitated before she said, "It was missing that piece."
"But then you stepped on it and broke this piece?"
"Yes." She reached for it, took it, and looked nervously at a store employee nearby. "Can we go, mom? I think we should go. I'm very sorry I broke it."
It did, of course, just for a tiny moment, occur to me to just put down the sunglasses and walk away. I did not want to pay $7.95 for non-working sunglasses. But I expected better of my kid (and myself).

"Well," I said, "if you break something, the right thing to do is to tell someone that you broke it."
She looked at me, her big blue eyes full of apprehension. "Will they be mad? Will the store people be mad that I broke it?"
"I don't think so," I said. "But they might make us pay for them. We'll see. You'll have to take them up front and tell someone and see what they say."
She let out a breath and squared her little shoulders. "Okay. Let's go to the front and I will tell them." She put down the piggy bank she had been carrying around for the past 35 minutes and turned to walk to the front of the store. I walked behind her, watching her determined steps and wondering how the hell I lucked out and got such a good kid. I could tell she was scared, and she wanted to put down the glasses and leave, but she knew this was the right thing to do so she was going to do it.

I was proud of her, so fucking proud, because she is like this pretty much all of the time. She is so tiny and loving and so goddamn good, and I don't know how I got so lucky.

She walked up to the counter and looked at me, and I nodded to her.

"Excuse me, but I broke this," she said, handing it to the cashier. "It was a little broken and then I stepped on it and I broke the piece off and I'm very sorry." She stepped back a little, blinking those big gorgeous eyes, waiting for her punishment.

The cashier smiled. "It's okay," she said, setting the pieces aside. "I believe you. Thank you for being honest." 

I apologized to the cashier too, and then I bought Piper the shorts and the damn piggy bank she'd fallen in love with, because how can I not reward the kid for that kind of behavior?  I wanted to buy her the goddamn moon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Actual Finished Object

It was barely in time, and much later than I planned, but I did manage to complete Piper's Valentine's Day sweater. She picked out this yarn at my favorite LYS when she came along on an early-morning Black Friday yarn shopping trip. She heard me say I was going to the sale with my buddy A (whom she adores) and begged to come along, despite my warnings that we'd have to get up early and Mommy would be wandering around looking at every single skein and comparing them for even longer than usual. For the record, she was very good. She looked at the yarn for a bit, played a spelling game and read a book on my phone, and asked for this violently-pink Cascade Sierra Quatro. It's actually two pinks, a pinky-purple, and a lavender twisted together. I had my doubts, but the finished project turned out pretty cute:
I started it in January, expecting it to take less than two weeks. I was chugging along fine, until I over-knit the body by 2.5 inches and had to rip it back because I would've run out of yarn for the sleeves. I ran out anyway, and had to go get another skein just to do one measley sleeve. I finished it February 13th. On the bright side, I have enough to make her a hat (which she will probably not wear).
This pattern was so cute, and it's quite roomy. This is the 4-5 year size and it fits my smallish 4.5-year-old with room to spare. The worst part (and the bit which took me 4 tries) was picking up all those edge stitches. I don't feel very confident about my stitch-picking-up-abilities, but this thing sure gave me plenty of practice.
Pattern: Daisy Chain by Amanda Liley
Yarn: Cascade Sierra Quatro
Ravelry Details Here.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Still Here

So, this blog thing, I am not so great at it. Specifically the posting regularly part. Sorry to just drop off the radar for a while, to those of you who might still have me in your feed readers. Things got a little crazy over here. Let me give you a recap:

September 2011 - after a crazy and emotionally draining spring and summer, fall brought the return of preschool (and my-now-four-days-a-week, 25-minutes-each-way drive). It also thrust me back into the thick of the Minivan Mafia at her school, and this year I've refused pretty much every time they have asked me to volunteer for something. I am just too busy and too tired to knock myself out for people who will throw away whatever I do in spite of the fact that it's exactly what they asked for. I have met a kindred spirit this year, a woman whose daughter is new to the class and who found that the "friendly, welcoming atmosphere" proclaimed by the brochures and other parents is somewhat less than friendly and welcoming. She is also crafty and into animal rescue, and she helped me get a part-time job at the children's clothing store where she works.

October 2011 - I drove all the way to Chicago to see Portishead. It's 13+ hours each way. It actually took 15 hours with stops. It was supposed to be just me, going to see my cousin and go to the concert with him, but at the last minute Ryan decided he did not want to tackle three days of Piper whining "I don't want you to do [thing that happens every day],  I want my mom!" so they came with. We crashed at our friends' place in Evanston. Their neighborhood is awesome, lovely, amazing, cute, and nearly perfect. We fell totally in love with it, but since even a 2-bedroom condo will set you back $200k and houses start at $1.5 million, I don't think we'll be moving there any time soon. We discovered they are expecting a baby in the spring, and we are totally happy for them, even if we did also say "Wait! We were supposed to coordinate this so we could have babies together!"*

How was the concert? AMAZING. Probably the best show I've ever been to. When I told people I was going, they said "You're driving HOW FAR? To see WHO?" and I had to explain that they haven't toured North America in 13 years and only did 2 tours before that, the band members are all in their 40's now and could well decide they want to split up or never tour again, so this could be my last chance, I've never seen them live and they're one of my top 5 bands ever, and I never get to see my cousin anymore, my cousin who was my best concert buddy for years, so I basically have no choice.

I took video and photos with my phone, which I have watched over and over to re-live the experience. It was so fun, and I was proud of myself for taking the L all the way into town and back without messing it up and for feeling like it was a piece of cake. We were only there for 34 hours or so, and we didn't do any sight-seeing, but were happy to spend our time hanging out with our friends and taking Piper to the park in their neighborhood. I introduced my cousin to Indian food, we couldn't have picked a prettier time of  year to travel, and everyone had fun.

November 2011 - *As it turns out, we are having babies together. I have a bun in the oven, due in July. My husband thought it was a fabulous birthday present. Piper is totally psyched about being a big sister. I am one of five pregnant people I know among my close friends. One friend said she is up to 10 pregnant ladies within her immediate circle. There was apparently something in the water.

December 2011 -Deep in the grip of 1st-trimester nausea and migraines, I felt like Christmas got away from me more than usual this year. I managed to get everyone's gifts to them on time, but nothing was hand-made. It was warm - 50's & 60's - so there was not even a hint of snow. Oh, well.

January 2012 - coming out of the 1st trimester but I'm still exhausted much of the time and generally feel like crap. This pregnancy is pretty notable so far for its production of weird dreams. Every single night (since even before I had a positive pregnancy test) has been full of vivid, weird, super-involved dreams. I had to quit watching stuff like The Walking Dead right before bedtime because five nights in a row of dreams about rescuing my family from zombies while also riding a unicorn and completing college exams naked was my limit. Now I watch Downton Abbey all the time and my sleep is full of The Titanic, World War I, and being a member of the 1900's British aristocracy. Oh, and riding unicorns.

Last year I set myself a goal of two completed projects per month and didn't reach it. This year I have doubled down and my goal is four completed projects per month. As much time as I spend in the evenings sitting on the couch watching Downton Abbey because I am too worn-out to do much else, you'd think I would reach this goal with no trouble, but it doesn't seem to be working out that way. It's January 31, and I have one project finished and another one 3/4 done. But I wrote myself out a list, and I have enough planned projects to keep me at four-per-month for the next five years. I'd better step it up. Maybe more regular blogging will keep me on track.

Friday, September 02, 2011

A Bunch of Stuff to Look At

Well, my birthday has come and gone again. The day of was pretty frustrating and disappointing (in the way that long, hot, ordinary days are), but the day after was better. My husband gave me AWESOME maxi dress I've been eyeballing for months and made me a tasty lemon cake. Piper gave me the new Anthony Bourdain book (I think she may have had help picking it out).

I have been:

Knitting like a fiend, but have nothing to share at present. I actually still have some stuff that I finished in the spring which I haven't blogged yet. I'll get to it eventually...this summer hasn't left me much time for sitting in front of a computer. 

Rocking out to these playlists, which I learned about from this lovely lady.

Using my Groupon for Yarnhouse to buy 3 skeins of this merino yarn (in color 319, a lovely brown/yellow/orange/blue) and 4 skeins of this silk-bamboo yarn (in a silvery grey). I refuse to consider using these for any projects not destined for myself. A lot of the yarn I initially pick up for myself I wind up making into stuff for others, but this time I went into the yarn shop with two things on my mind: a 70's-colored hat and a silky, lovely cowl.

Speaking of the 70's, I am so excited to see all the 70's-inspired designs slated for stores this fall. There's a little story to this: about six months ago, I had a forehead-smacking revelation. You see, for a long time, I thought that, given the right conditions, I would rock a 20's/30's vintage look, drop-waisted dresses and cloche hats and doll-baby makeup. But after I got this book (which I think every woman should own), I noticed myself gravitating to the pages profiling the "California Casual" style. In the book's own words,

"This is a look that is grounded in a time and place that may never have existed outside of our collective imagination: the tawny, golden-edged Malibu of the '70's - possibly embodied by Farrah Fawcett in a white halter dress at sunset, glass of wine in hand."

It's Goldie Hawn, Farrah Fawcett, surfer girls and breezy maxi dresses. Broken-in leather caryall bags, wide-legged jeans, skirts with a handkerchief hem. Gladiator sandals, plain cotton tees, stacked heels. 

When I finally stood in my closet with the book in my hands, open to those pages, I thought holy cow, I already own half of this stuff. And what's more, those items were my favorites. And somehow, in the middle of winter, when I was watching Love Story and thinking about Ali MacGraw's fab style, I realized that I am a 70's girl. I may admire a nice vintage frock, I may love the way my little sister can totally rock a 50's circle skirt with petticoat underneath and perfectly-drawn eyebrows, but for me, this will always be the look I aspire to:

I also realized that my love for this style is why I spent months tracking down one of Nancy Botwin's (the character from Weeds) handbags (yes, the Lucky hobo) and why I love everything Karen on Californication wears. This is why I grew my hair out and had it cut in layers and embrace its natural body and tendency to puff up like blowfish when humidity strikes. Why I love regular, lace-up roller skates and why I watch Swingtown (yet another show I loved that was canceled) over and over. And it's nice to know that and to fully embrace it. All the looks I've tried to copy in my life, all the things I've tried to wear that just didn't suit me (giant wide-legged skater/raver jeans whaaaat?), and it turns out that a little part of me knew the truth all along. Every friend I show this book to and point at the "Californa Casual" section and tell them "this is what I'm doing" instantly says "Oh, yeah. That's you all right. That's perfect."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Mouse Family"

She keeps wanting to draw a "mouse family" and then hang it on the fridge, just like in one of those "If You Give A Mouse..." books that I thought were so cute when I was a kid but now, a large number of titles later, do not find quite so charming. Of course, I hadn't realized that these books exactly describe life with a little kid until I read them to my child, so there you go.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Swirly Summer Beret

So, this thing.

I wanted a new summer slouchy beret in cotton, something cute and multi-colored to wear around without roasting in the heat. I found this yarn on clearance and thought I'd struck gold. I am not overly fond of using variegated yarns in lacy patternwork so I went for the simple One-Day Beret, which I had previously used on this hat.

I don't know why this didn't turn out like I wanted. The wool one I made was too big, so I went a bit smaller and it's not too small, but not the fit I had in mind. I used Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off, and I think it just doesn't work for cotton. Despite using a needle two sizes smaller than I used for the rest of the hat, it's just sort of stretched-out and lumpy and weird.

Piper likes it, though. She keeps asking "Is that my hat...or your hat? Can I wear it?" So maybe I'll just give it to her and make myself something else.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Party Favors

With her early-summer birthday, I usually try to do something summer related as a party favor. Last year we only had 3 kids over, so each kid got a sand pail with chalk, a small shovel, and a bottle of water in it. This year we had a dozen invitees, so I bought a couple 6-packs of scented bubbles (they're supposed to smell like different things, but they all smell like sno-cones to me) and some fancy tissue paper. I traced & cut star shapes out of cardstock and wrote on them with a silver Sharpie. Simple, easy, cool.

The kids really liked them, but I handed them out at the party as were waiting for the food (it was a at a big bounce-house place, so we were having the pizza they supplied with our "party package"). The only thing worse than one kid whining "When are we going to EAT?! Where is the PIZZA? I am TOTALLY STARVING TO DEATH RIGHT NOW!" is ten kids, all at top volume, in order to be heard over the noise of the indoor play-place. I grabbed the basket and started thrusting small packages into sticky hands as fast as I could while I whispered to my husband for the love of God, go find our party hostess and figure out where the hell the food is before they start gnawing on our limbs.

Before the pizza and accompanying "party hostess" made their way back to our bright-blue party room, I realized two things, two terrible and tragic mistakes I had made:

1. If you're making party favors to give to little kids, make sure they can untie the ribbon themselves, otherwise you will have a room full of preschoolers squealing in frustration because they cannot get your super-tight double-knots off the thing they want so much to open; and
2. It is not a good idea to give 10 kids sticky colored liquid unless they are outside and possibly surrounded by fire hoses.

I apologized to the parents, who all gave me a wave and a "Please. This is nothing. Two drops of water-soluble pale-blue bubble solution on that shirt will be totally eclipsed by something much worse any second now." But the kids loved the bubbles, and they all ran around blowing bubbles, smelling each other's bubbles, trading colors, and generally having a very good time with the stuff. Most importantly they stopped whining until the food arrived.

The only major problem was some tears from the birthday girl, because she can read her own name now, so she thought all these were hers. "But those are my presents! My name is on them!"

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Class Picnic

Yeah, this happened two months ago, but the photos were on a 2MB memory card and do you know how long it takes to fill one of those things up? A long time. And it takes even longer for me to get around to uploading the photos.

Her school has an end-of-year picnic for each class, and students' families are invited to pack a lunch and come eat with the kids on the next-to-last day of class.

Sushi for a picnic? This is how we roll. Get it? Ha!

I had packed her the usual in her lunch box that day (cream cheese & jam sandwich, carrots, water, grapes) but as a surprise I stopped at the grocery store on my way to the picnic and got some sushi, a crisp apple (out of season I KNOW!) and some strawberry-flavored sparkling water. She was pretty thrilled, and I was secretly gloating because all the other parents were so amazed that an almost-four-year-old ate sushi with such enthusiasm.

She was pretty pleased, too.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Blue Leaves Hat

This thing was so easy. She picked the yarn and asked for a hat, and I figured since she would probably wear it twice and then toss it somewhere, it couldn't hurt if it was something I could wear too, right?  I originally made 95% of one using this pattern. It did not go well. Too big, too floppy, just not right at all. So I pulled it out and started over. She was quite upset. She had been hovering and bugging me about when it would be done ("Is that my hat or your hat? It's my hat? Is it done yet?") and when she saw me frogging it she wailed "Mommy! Why are you pulling out my hat?! It's MY hat and I want to wear it right now!"

I gently explained that keeping the hat in its present form would make her look like some sort of smurfy pastry chef, or like a blue glob of goo was digesting her head.  She was undeterred and continued to whine. I gave up and started knitting the new one with the unused end of my 2nd skein, and let her wear what was left of the first hat until I needed the yarn. She eventually grew tired (and probably hot), and I found it under the dining table.

I picked a totally different pattern the second time around, with a little more attention to yarn weight and texture. This worked very well. It was my first time working off a chart, and I think I didn't screw it up too much. The hat looks okay, at any rate, and she is quite pleased with it. I made the "adult" size, and even though she's 4 and has a smallish head it fits her okay with the brim flipped up. It's a little big, but that means we should get some years out of it and unlike the first version, is not so huge it's falling over her eyes all the time. I can wear it too, which is  nice.

This yarn (Cascade Cotton Rich) is quite nice to work with - all the cool comfort of cotton with a little spring in its step. I really loved this pattern - so simple once I got going, and gets lovely results. I think it would be a great pattern for a yarn splurge, like some luxe wool-silk blend for winter. I love finding patterns like this, that look great and don't take up a lot of yarn, because I can spring for 1 or 2 skeins of something awesome and feel like I'm living the high life without spending $160 to make a sweater.

Pattern:  Lace-leaf hat by Sophy T. O'Donnell
Yarn: Cascade Cotton Rich
My Ravelry details are here.

P.S. The other hat in the above picture will be blogged soon. I have mixed feelings about it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

"I made a smiley guy, mom!"

"I made a baby smiley guy too! He's mean but the baby guy is happy."

My husband has recently expressed a desire for a new tattoo (he has two) and is also encouraging me to get another one. Piper has been drawing these lopsided "guys" all over everything lately and I love them so much I am seriously considering using them for a tattoo design. Is that weird? 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shrinky Dinks!

She got these for her birthday, and during one recent (looong, boring, HOT) day we busted them out. I didn't even know they still made them, did you? And what better way to cool down on a hot summer day than baking some plastic?

Piper thought the first part - the coloring - was pretty cool, but she got really concerned when I put them in the toaster oven. "Mommy! What are you DOING to the mermaids?!" I think the process sort of disturbed her. At least the first batch, anyway. The second batch, she was fascinated by the curling and shrinking and seemed quite sorry when we did the last one. After they cooled and she discovered she now had multiple small creatures she could stuff into an old cocoa tin and carry around (and shake and make a LOT of noise), she was pretty happy.

They came with little cardboard stands, so we set them up and had a little play, which probably should've been titled "Medusa and Zombie Mermaids Beat the Shit Out of Some Small Sea Creatures."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cue Darth-Vader-Style "NOOOO!"

Complete with shaking my raised fist at the ceiling, right there in the freezer section of the grocery store.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Simo Dress

So here's a project I actually did complete:

Bribe her with a sucker? Why, yes I did.

Pattern: Simo by Cirilia Rose
Yarn: Berroco Weekend (75% Acrylic, 25% Cotton; 205 yds, 100g)
Needles: Uhh...8 maybe? I finished this thing like two months ago, I'm a bit fuzzy...
My Ravelry page for it is here. 

This thing is so stinkin' CUTE. And it was pretty easy. I think it only took me 6 or 8 weeks, carrying it around and working on it here and there - at a birthday party, as she ran amok in the children's museum, or while yelling "DO NOT STAND ON TOP OF THE MONKEY BARS OH MY GOD PLEASE GET DOWN BEFORE I HAVE A HEART ATTACK" at the park.

It's not written to be worked in the round, weirdly enough, but I did it that way anyhow, because given the choice between all that purling and turning and then some awkward join-up of yoke and sleeves and THEN two huge seams to sew vs. barreling right through in the round, only one piece to keep track of, a much-less-awkward join up of yoke and sleeves, and only a couple ends to weave in...duh. Of course I took the easy way out. It did, however, take me four freaking days to figure out how to sew up the sleeves. The very last little bit of finishing, and I was so stuck. In the end it was pretty obvious (sew the tube to the armpit), and I smacked myself upside the head for not figuring it out sooner.

There is a scarf included in the pattern, which I made in a violently bright pink color specifically requested by Piper. She wanted the whole dress made in that Barbie-vomit shade, but I persuaded her that a pink scarf would be cooler. Unfortunately, it never seems to be near the dress when I have my camera. Hmm, now that I think about it, I haven't seen it in a couple of weeks, not since she was using it to tie up one of the cats.

This was a nice yarn to work with. It's cotton-acrylic, in that mutlti-strand way, so I had a problem here and there with snaggy loops when the yarn bunched up, but it wasn't too bad. I normally avoid acrylic, but I thought 100% cotton might be too heavy or stretchy, so I gave this a go. I finished this a couple days after Easter, and she's worn it a few times. It got quite a bit of use on our recent visit to Michigan, when I discovered I had packed for 90-degree weather but they had 65-degree weather.

It's really too hot to wear it these days, but that doesn't stop her. She LOVES it, which makes me unspeakably happy.