Tuesday, June 30, 2009

FOs :: BSJ and Patchwork Duvet

Finally, it is complete. The BSJ III.
In this, my third knitting of the BSJ, I got a little cocky. I loved knitting the first two but I was not quite sure that I liked the way the back increases made the body of the sweater balloon out a bit. Per EZ’s instructions, it was to accommodate those sweetly swollen little tummies babies so often sport, but I wanted a more svelte look. I decided to eliminate the back increases that she calls for in the pattern and go from there. I really should have known better than to mess with brilliance. That EZ knows what she is doing and I am not sure that I do.

Somewhere along the way the stitch count was skewed and I ended up at the last stage folding up a slightly skewed BSJ. Those of you that have done this pattern know that the magic of it comes when you fold the awkward looking handkerchief a certain clever way and TA DA! You discover a lovely little baby sweater in the folds. When I folded mine, I found a sweater with a little too much overlap and quite lacking in proper alignment. So much for the svelte look I thought a child should sport. Again, do not mess with brilliance.
Coconut Buttons
It does look okay now after some finagling and the addition of a few coconut buttons.

I started this way back in January and the knitting of it came along so quickly but then the awkward hanky sat around for a long time. When it finally came time to finish it, I sat down with yarn darner and instructions from the Yarn Harlot for joining the seams at the shoulders. She only posted two photos, but those were enough to help me figure out a nice clean seam, better than my previous two. To redeem myself and my knitted alterations, I knit up another pair of the Ysolda booties.

The yarn gods are not feeling terrible benevolent towards me right now, so of course, the booties did not come together easily. I must have miscounted a few rows in one of them, when I finished the second I found two different sized booties, one noticeably smaller and unable to be gifted. And the baby shower was only an hour or so away.

I wrapped up the gift with a note and a promise to send the second bootie in the mail ASAP.

'Wrapping' Paper
This is a shot of the wrapping paper. I love to use the big pieces of paper the boys and I paint and draw on. Reduce, reuse, recycle, right?

I highly recommend both of these patterns. Please do not be intimidated by the BSJ. The instructions look cryptic, but are easily followed and you can do it is you know how to do a knit stitch, increase and decrease and, um, count. And follow directions as written. This is not a pattern to mess with. And the booties.
Those are precious and simple and easy. My biggest challenge was counting the rows. I sense a theme developing here. I might have to invest in a row counter if I do not show immediate improvement.

Both projects used less than a skein of the Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn. BSJ was on 5 or 6s and looks like it will fit better toward the 6-12 month range. And the booties were on 2s.

Next up in the queue is this little cutie. This doll has been calling my name since I opened her pattern booklet. I also happen to have the called for yarn weight in the stash. And it looks like Friday night is going to be a sit and knit night with my ladies. Cannot wait for that. Let’s hope the dolly goes a bit smoother than the booties. And I might have to cast on for her little mouse friend next. I highly recommend the pattern booklet by Ysolda. Every pattern is knitable and she is selling it for a reasonable price and you get a instant download copy and a printed booklet with adorable pictures that inspire you to knit every project.

One thing did go right, but it is in the sewing category. I posted about the patchwork duvets for the boys here. They continued to come together in the background, piece by piece, as patchwork does.

He loves it
I had some grand plan to quilt the fronts or something then realized I would never ever finish them if I did that. Instead, I added some sashing and a strip of color to the backing and sewed the front and back together and had something to put on the duvet that night.

They absolutely love it. The minute it hit the bed, Owen was on it and under it and wrapped up in it. He was found reading his book on it, and later asked for it at bedtime.

There is nothing better than knowing that they know that this was made for them. And I got it done just in time to welcome the triple temps, a perfect time to be using a duvet. For now they will likely sleep on it, or more than likely we will find them on the floor or kicked to the end of the bed. But the reception they gave was more than enough to make up for my pretty pronounced dislike of patchwork. Maybe I just need to do it more often.

We will see. I have to finish the second backing and sew it up stat before Mace notices. But until then, here are a few more photos of my boy loving his covers. Heart melting.
He loves it

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Re-set Button

There are days when I get so caught up in the week, in all the chores and lists and ideas I have in my head. They can almost lead to inactivity. There seems to be endless options, not enough time and not enough energy to do it. But I have found the best way to approach it is to get up and go. Grab something, ignore the piles and thoughts and dreams and obligations and choose one thing and go with it.

Friday was one of those days. I had my day off and there were so many things I wanted to do and needed to do. We started off well enough, lots of hustle to get to the early yoga, navigating a gym kid care double meltdown, running through Target ripping open snack bags for the boys who absolutely detest shopping, especially with me. I was that Mama, the one sheepishly handing over the open package of snacks while wrangling a protesting twin who wanted more ‘nienie’s’ (their code name for treats).

Once back within the confines (or maybe the comforts) of our home and backyard walls the boys chilled out and so did I.

Took some time to do a few things for myself, pulled out some long neglected sewing projects, had a long cool drink of iced coffee. And re-evaluated.

Finished half of a sewing project, worked to get a knitting project done for a baby shower, bypassed the laundry in the hall, caught my husband working out. Sometimes it takes picking up the camera to help me pause a bit, reflect and breathe and see. The camera can be a guide and a comfort, sometimes a challenge. And I like looking back at a mundane day captured in a different light. In a special light.

Today started as one of those days. We had plans to take the boys on their first camping trip, spent all day yesterday packing camp gear, telling camping stories, replacing missing camp items and cleaning an ungodly filthy car in preparation. Tim prepped his bike for the planned 16 mile downhill that the area offered up, we had PFDs ready to brave the river, my parents had a hotel room booked less than a mile from our campground. Then I woke to the sound of retching at 3:30 p.m., not me but Tim hit by some bug,. And it dawned on me that things would not go as planned. A bleary early wake up and a few hours later and there is me, stomping through the house, pissed about all that work done with no fruits of the labor, so to speak. But the hotel room was canceled without charge and the morning moved on without too much pain (well, not for Tim).

And I stopped for a minute to re-center and re-calibrate. My expectations are mine to control. I heard myself in conversation with my parents say that we can bend our thoughts to change a difficult situation. And so I did.

And now the day has held a leisurely trip to the Farmer’s Market where I met a real live roller derby girl and found some inspiring produce. And now I have time to take down the ridiculously jumbled fabric and refresh the way I see my sewing corner.
in need of attention
in need of organizing
And maybe slip in a few stitches and seams.

And laundry, damn you, laundry.
(not) laundering
You will get done too. Right after a refreshing dip in Grandpa's pool.

I rarely do this, but I have a question for you. What do you do when you need to re-set yourself and your expectations? And does it work?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Boys :: v2.2


Here we are, venturing deeper into the territory of two, no turning back the clock. It feels as if their birthday was eons ago, that time blurring slightly. It was the ‘golden time’, so easy to hold in memory as a day and age when things ran smoothly and they listened and they did not defy and they were happy. Sure, I know, this sounds a bit dramatic, but so are the changes that have come to us in the time between now and then.

There are days when I wake up and wonder who these little boys are that live in our house.
Sometimes I wonder because they are so difficult, so ornery and mischievous and challenging. There is the immediate thought that someone stole my child and left a changeling, but I thought that only happened with newborns. Then there are the days the thought occurs because they are so charming and loving and lovely.

Owen, you went from a quiet-ish child with inquiring deep looks but little talk to a screaming banshee in the last two months.
I love you, baby boy, but Oh My God, what happened? I thought you would be the one that would breeze through two, instead you dug in your heels, laid down the line and started to tantrum. Tantrum if you wanted something, if you needed something, if you were denied something. Ack. And the whining, child, that is an inhuman sound. I know in part the molars finally coming through had a bit to do with it, you seem to get super annoyed with prolonged pain, as I am sure any of us would. But it is also a personality thing.

And yet, yet, your nurturing side exploded too and you want to take care of babies and doggies and your Mama and your Daddy and your brother. sharing You still observe our actions so carefully and mimic them days later. I watch you gently wrap a baby doll in an old washcloth or diaper your Spaceboy and see the potential for such depth of caring. It makes me feel so loved when I receive a spontaneous morning kiss, or when you touch my dry cracked hands and say “Mama, wash booboo?”. You have the memory of an elephant…one day we put an old paper bracelet on your wrist and told you you would need it later to ride the train at the train park. You did not like it on and promptly removed it, but much later that day you walked up to the ticket booth at the park and told us “Train, star, on?” and held your wrist out for your bracelet (um, which, had nothing to do with the train park. You will come to find your parents are weird in some ways, like telling spontaneous white lies. Sorry). You were very concerned about the lack of it and kept asking for quite some time. A good reminder that we need to be careful of what we say and what we do as you watch with a keen eye and apparently can hear with your keen ears. Could have fooled me with the hearing thing as there are definite times when they seem not to work at all.

Mason, oh, my Mace. I was terrified when I thought about you turning two. I mean, you are the wild child, always were. Sp punk rock. Born kicking and screaming and looking in all directions.
And then those first years were doozies, a lot of coaxing to sleep, so hard for you to find a way to go down at night. It seemed like sleep would be forever elusive in your case. And then, wham, two comes and you are content to sleep in a bed, as long as it is with your brother. You willingly go to bed at nap and at night, you tell Owie to ‘shhhh’ and you pull the covers over your head and wrap yourself up and snooze away, well past Owie’s waking and sometimes through his tantrums. Guess keeping you in close proximity of each other all this time is really paying off.
You are fearless, but then you always have been. Whether it is you jumping off a 10” box or trying to do a flying 360 degree turn off the couch, you charge, head first (literally) most times. The big change is in your behavior and your ability to consider others. I love to watch you curiously study other kids. There was that one time at Kidspace when a much older boy was totally freaking out over your desire to share a puzzle. No coaxing by his nanny would help and his behavior started to escalate. You watched him wail and carefully set down the puzzle piece and backed away. What I loved was the mixed look of bewilderment and pity on your face. And I loved that a few minutes later you walked over to gather the now abandoned puzzle, free to explore as you pleased. You remind me of me. I think that is a good thing.

Together we are growing and I can feel the tension and stretching that is growing up. I can sense the ways you both have changed but cannot put a finger on it. It is less tangible than the early years, full of growth spurts and milestones. Now it is underneath the surface, synapses in your brains firing, connecting, recalling. You can form memories now, though some would argue that even baby infants can do that. But these are the ones that stick, that will flit on the edges of your acute memory when you are my age. I watch as you lightly touch your fingers to the whirlpool created as the tub drains and sharply recall doing that when young. And though this challenge set before us, this moving into to has been hard, I want it also to be memorable. To be beautiful.
But I may ask for a few conditions to achieve that…

Can we ditch the whining please? No. Hmmmm, then….

Can you concede that you might be too young to attempt to fix your own breakfast, lunch and dinner? No. Hmmmm, how about…

Will you surrender your very effective weapon of running in opposite directions and when caught becoming either limp or too squirrely to manage (consequently reactivating an old shoulder injury in your Mama and throwing out Daddy’s back). Was that a no? Thought so…

I will then settle for you halting at once the new practice of doffing your pants and diaper in any public space when the urge to pee hit you (ahem, Owen especially). Agreed. Thanks, kids.

As a concession I promise to stop threatening to bring you to the gypsies when things get to be too much for me...and I will stop showing you YouTube videos of said gypsy families in order to scare your pants off. (They only seem to delight you anyway....the strategy could likely backfire on me and then I will find you grow up to go and join the circus).

And you are kids now, right? It just seemed to happen. And took my breath away when you stood proud and tall declaring all our names and telling me all about your days with your Daddy. There is nothing like the two of you.

And your Mama loves so so very very much.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summering in the Solstice

Summers and Weekends.

Nothing goes better together. It seems like we have decided to pack this summer with weekends full of events and plans and sound and trips. Pre-children summer weekends were special as it was time to get out of town, hit up a favorite camping place or try a new trail on the bikes and search out the best local Mexcian food. Then the boys came and weekends were the precious days that Tim had with them, and precious days when I had him. And now we have shifted again, to something right in the middle.

This Solstice weekend really kicked it off with something to do everyday.

We started our weekend with a very special wedding of a best friend.
Jess and Adam :: June 19, 2009
I spent the afternoon with her in the cool hotel room as she had her time to prepare and breathe (as best one can before a big event).
Jess and Adam :: June 19, 2009
I loved re-discovering the local hotel redone and classy, having a sip of champagne and then coming home to feed the boys and gussy up a bit with Tim before heading back out for the special event. Gotta' love a local wedding. It was beautiful but I found I left my camera in the bag most of the night, too caught up in having fun rather than being behind the lens to capture it. I highly recommend a traveling photo booth at your next event.
Jess and Adam :: June 19, 2009
Jess and Adam :: June 19, 2009
It was a blast and I plan on doing something with the silly tipsy photos Tim and I ended up taking. Congrats, Jess and we love you much Adam.
Jess and Adam :: June 19, 2009

Saturday was another night out for us. I found a link to a not so local Mason Jennings concert and impulsively bought the tickets, figuring we would figure it out when the day came.
libbey bowl
It was a concert for a really good cause in support of the Ojai collective of parents promoting healthy eating and educating their kids in the garden.
food for thought booth

We decided to make a night of it and packed up the car for an overnight car camping experience. I am so very glad we decided to go...it was perfect watching my most favorite musician while sitting in the town park. We had blankets (and local Mexican food) and comfy chairs. What better way to welcome the Solstice?

Then we had the gift of getting close, much closer than usual
mason in ojai at libbey bowl
...and watching Mason perform with a very special guest. I figured we might see Jack Johnson as he was the original performer for the Food for Thought concert.
mason and jack
He showed up on stage all woolly bearded and they did a few numbers together that made my night including their version of this song. I loved the crowd, very easy and casual, ignoring the kids and crashers tumbling down to be closer to the stage. And they paid a pretty penny for those front seats, while we lawn crashers got in on a 20 dollar bill.
mason and jack
I wanted the encore to go on forever, but it did come to a close. One of the best concerts I have seen in years, well, one of the only. And then a semi-comfy night snugged down in the back of the Subaru and an early morning drive home.

Because, you know, it is Father's Day and the best place to be for that is Home.
the dads
We came home to find Mace snuggling on our bed with my Mama, Owen hanging out on the periphery watching Sesame Street. And then a family brekky prepared by my brother and Auntie Net.
daddy brekky
Round 1
daddy brekky
Round 2

And some rest and some fun and a quick project I tried to pull together for Tim's Daddy Day.
daddy day shirt
I wanted to do a freezer paper stencil using the boys' hands in combination with their Daddy's much larger hand. This came out a little sloppy, my layering of the paint was not well planned. I was aiming for showing how little their hands are, trying to avoid a overly 80s feel.daddy day
Tim said he liked it. I put the date there so some day, down the line, Tim can look at it and now how very much they have grown. And if he does like it, I guarantee he will have it for ten years or so. We just recently retired his Tsitsikamma shirt from our Africa trip. Ah, to think how the guy who once camped his way through other countries and shaved a mohawk into his hair on a 50C day has become such a wonderful father, everything to his boys, every step he takes into it assured and enjoyed. Thanks, baby, you are the best-est of Dads to the boys we brought here.

Freezer paper is easy and fun, but I think I need a better fabric paint. Does anyone out there have a brand they can recommend? I picked mine up at the local Joann's and I am not sure if there is better quality paints or if it was my hasty application of the ones I have. Any suggestions appreciated. Or I might just have to jump into silk screening like my little sister has.

And how else would you end a perfect weekend except with two little boys showing us how they use the big potty?
potty training
Ta da. Hope your Solstice weekend was a celebration for you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mr. Sun

I got my wish and we have been visited by some bright and warm afternoons the last few days. Ahhhh, sigh of relief. I think it had a positive effect on more than just me. The boys have dived deep into the land of Two Territory and there are some days that feel unbearable. But the Sun seemed to warm something inside of them and today they played contentedly as I researched some new soup recipes and finished up work 'paperwork' (quotes due to the fact that it is all computerized now....why can I love blogging so very much and despise work software with the same fervor?).
Mace 2.17
Mace 2.17
Owen v2.17
Owen v2.17

It seems we are all coming down with the much Tweeted about virus sweeping my peers, runny noses and headaches and sore throats are abounding. Not the best way to greet the Sun, but then neither is soup. I just knew I needed it today. Have you ever heard of Avgolemono?
Lemon Chicken Soup

I had not until I googled 'chicken lemon soup'. It is a Greek dish and sounded just right. I used the recipe here with plenty of modifications. I am sure it would work fine as written, but here is what I did ::

:: I used a whole chicken and lots of water to make the stock, added some peppercorns into the stock and let it simmer two hours.

:: I chopped onions and carrots and sauteed in olive oil for a few minutes, added the rice and sauteed that a few minutes then covered it with a few inches of stock and simmered 20 minuted until the rice was tender. Then I added the shredded chicken and a whole bunch of shredded chard.

:: I upped the measures for the egg mix-in to 3 eggs and almost a full cup of lemon juice (fresh squeezed from our finally producing lemon tree). I was nervous to try the method of tempering the eggs then adding it to the soup.
Prepping the egg mix

It was not hard at all. I used plenty of stock and whisked it slowly into the egg mixture, making sure the stock was warm, not boiling from the pot (you can see the reserved stock I left on the side for this purpose).

Here is the soup pre-egg...
Pre Egg

And now post-egg. Yum.
Post Egg

It was so so good. A little labor intensive, but so good. I highly recommend you try this if you have some runny noses in house. It has the chicken, the lemon and the good warmth any sick person needs. I made a mess of the stuff and see myself eating it for lunch tomorrow. I am not sure how it will reheat, but there is adventure in that, right?

Since there is no new crafting I will leave you with a few brilliant pictures Tim captured of the latest version of the boys, what we are calling Owen v2.18 and Mason v2.18 after one of my favorite Mama's monikers of her twins...

Man, that husband of mine can catch a shot.

Owen v2.17
Owen v2.17
Owen v2.17

Mace 2.17

We call this Mace 'crazy Eye' Malone.