August 31, 2011

quiet on the homefront

At 5:30 this morning, I watched Will and the kids climb into a cab and head to the airport without me. They are off to spend five days with Will's mom and grandparents in Kentucky, leaving me behind to catch up on the pile of work that I've been not doing while Will was busy at school and totally avoiding while he was free on break. Ahem. Procrastination maybe?
The apartment is eerily quiet. And not, everybody is sleeping quiet. Then, at least, there are those soft, muffled sounds of dreaming and tossing and snoozing. Right now it is just plain silent. The dog and cat are sitting on either side of my chair staring at me.

I think this is the first time that both kids have been gone, ever, when I'm not. When we scheduled this trip it seemed like a good idea, they get some alone time with daddy (and assorted grandparents) and I get some solid work time. But oh, it's so quiet. And there is no one to crawl into bed with me in the morning with tousled hair and that lovely sweaty, sleepy child smell. Although Evelyn did kindly leave her pink monkey for me, to keep me company.

After spending five days in a tent, car or hotel room together, it feels very lonely to be here all by myself. I've got more work than I can possibly get done before they get back to do and a whole city that I can, like, explore without children (holy cow, the thought of it! I can go to a museum and actually look at things!) but I'm already ready for them to be back.

What a wimp I've turned out to be.

August 30, 2011

it only looks like the apocalypse out there

Let's start with a public service announcement. Shall we?

When fleeing from a hurricane, it would be wise not to flee to the place where the hurricane ends up doing the most damage.
With the storm of the century apparently heading our way, Will and I rented a car, threw in the kids, the dog and some make shift (and I do mean make shift) camping gear in the car on Friday and headed north. We had actually planned a vacation during those days and had initially intended on heading to Maine, but with Irene beating her way up the coast line, that didn't seem wise. So instead we went for Vermont. Because how could Vermont get hit? It's inland, right? And six hours north of New York City where Irene would make landfall as well. So we would be safe and having fun instead of being trapped in a small room with no power and rising waters.

Ahem. What's that phrase about the best laid plans?

My Northwest girl roots are almost embarrassed to explain our camping paraphernalia. Since we were on a tight budget and all of our camping gear is locked up in a storage unit in Virginia, we made do with a two man tent we picked up at Target (yes two man tent + two adults + two kids + a dog = slightly cramped sleeping conditions) a portable grill, the top half of my double boiler, the mattress pad, comforter and pillows off of our bed and two pillar candles for light. Let me tell you, when you are set up between folks who seem to have bought out Campers World and have somehow managed to construct a deck on the side of their ginormous camper, a two man tent and a few candles looks a little, um, lacking. But whatever. The pioneers did not have portable heaters, ten by ten foot awnings and a CD player on their picnic table, we didn't need them either.
We spent our first night under blissfully cool (but not cold) weather conditions in Southern Vermont in the Green Mountain Forest and the next day puttering through the woods, canoeing on the lake - with the dog in the boat - and then heading north. You know, away from the hurricane. On our second night, the state campground was full so we stayed at a camp resort which was...interesting. Lots of permanent campers, lots of lights and music and people, and a very loud barn dance going on. And lots of raised eyebrows at our tiny tent and two candles set up. But it was only for one night.

Or maybe just part of a night. Early in the morning the rain started and after lying awake for a while wondering how long the el cheapo tent would hold up, we packed up and snoozed in the car for a few hours. And here begins the hurricane saga.

After trying to wait it out for a few hours in Carol's Cafe in Middlebury - which, by the way, I am so in love with that town I was ready to just buy a house right then and there - and listening to the news only to hear that New York escaped the worst of it but that it was heading our way, we decided to try to drive out of the storm toward the coast and head home. But by the time we were thirty miles down the road, looking at a washed out bridge in Rutland and trying to remember if we had passed any hotels in the past few minutes, it became pretty apparent that we were going nowhere.

We ended up in a little roadside moterlodge, the kind that usually turns out to be dirty and scary but which ended up being very sweet and clean and is owned by the nicest family in Vermont, where we watched a little news, a few cartoons and then saw a tree fall into the transformer cutting off power and momentarily catching on fire (heavy rainfall can be a good thing now and then!) By evening, the hotel was totally full, mostly of long term campers and locals who were flooded out of their places when the town on the other side of us had the road washed out as well.

It should have been awful. Rain, floods, hurricanes, high winds, falling trees, fire. But it really...wasn't. In a flashlight lit room we ate the junk food and played cards on the bed and then built Lego's on the floor. There were tickle fights and reading and knitting and a movie on my laptop before bedtime. And in the morning, the sun was shining and the hotel owner knew the roads well enough to help us avoid the flooding and make our way up to Burlington so that we could take the highway south and home.

I won't pretend it was perfect. There were one or two scary moments, what with the rapidly rising water and the minor fire. There were plenty of "dont manke me come back there!" incidents in the car and one tub of Ben and Jerry's ice cream (appropriately called ClusterFluff) that Will and I ate without sharing with the kids because, well, they were being little snots, and little snots do not get ice cream purchased fifteen feet from the factory (which was closed due to flooding, but they really truly have black and white cows grazing out front and mountains behind, just like on the label!)
In retrospect, Vermont was probably not the best choice for hurricane avoidance. But at the same time, I wouldn't have changed our little evacu-cation at all. Well, maybe there were one or two moments that I could have done without, but all family vacations are like that, aren't they?

August 26, 2011

snippets from the week

Having daddy free to play has made for an exciting week around here. I mean, the earth shook with excitement it was so fun. Ok, so that was an earthquake. I've gotten lots of texts and emails about Tuesdays earthquake and while I guess lots of New Yorkers felt it, we missed it entirely. In fact it was a good hour before we figured out why, upon emerging from the subway a little after two in the afternoon, neither of our cell phones worked and the entire East Village was out in the streets looking nervous. On the upside, Briton now understands exactly what a Drag Queen is.
I did not buy this shopping bag, but I think I'm going to have to go back for it. It cracks me up. Although, I'm a little confused why the White House is parachuting down in the background. Are we planning for a flying presidential residence and I just hadn't heard? I fully admit that I have been ignoring the news for about the last two months, but I would have thought something like that would have come through the grapevine, right?

Briton took his first homeschooling class (I know that is a bit of an oxymoron, it's more like a camp than a class I guess) down in the East Village (hence our earthquake/drag queen experience) and after we wandered down to Little Italy for dinner where we had an, um, interesting view while we ate.
The Bronx Zoo was a pain to get to but fun while we were there. Curiously, the kids favorite things were the Lego animals that were dotted around the zoo for the summer. But whatever. I liked the butterflies and the baby sea lion learning to do tricks.
While I took Briton to his second day of "class" Will took Evie to the Natural History Museum where he found a spray park that I didn't know about. That place is so freaking huge (and cool). I feel a little like we practically live there we visit so often but have yet to go without finding something new. Which, I guess, is why we keep going.

We were supposed to go fishing at the Meer, but then we were too late to pick up rods, so then we decided to go rowing on the lake, but the boathouse workers were on strike. So what's a family to do? Ahhh, thank goodness they had little sailboats on the pond right down the path, disappointment averted.
That day in particular was pretty fun. We also climbed to the top of Belevdere Castle where I was too busy standing (panicking) in the very center so that I could in no way see how far up we were to really take photos, had a tres chic luncheon of hot dogs and chips from a cart in the park and spent an hour in the Egyptian playground next to the Met. I think Will understands why we are always so wiped after our adventure days now.

This weekend we were supposed to go camping on the coast of Maine but that, thanks to Hurricane Irene, is out. The eye of the storm is supposed to come right over Manhattan and they are predicting 100 mph winds which will not be pretty. We are up on a hill and so out of the way of floods but since they are going to shut down all transit and the city will probably loose power, Will and I are planning a little Evaucation (Evacuation+vacation) and are packing up today to head in and up in a general Vermontwards direction. The plan is to camp until the rain hits on Sunday and then find a hotel. Should be fun! Is it terrible that when we decided to get the heck out of Dodge, I put "Knitting Needles and Yarn" at the top of my packing list.

Stay safe all you East Coasters! I saw on the local news this morning that designer rain boots are flying off the shelves today. Not water, not food or flashlights. Designer rain boots. Yep, this is New York.

August 24, 2011

a wobbly learning curve

Every time I embark on a new knitting project, I learn something about knitting that I never knew before (and inevitably, something that had I known it, my previous projects would have gone much more smoothly, sigh). In some ways this is frustrating, because I dislike looking back on a project that I spent hours and hours on only to realize that I did something wrong simply because I didn't know better. But at the same time, it's why I knit. I like to learn. I'm the kind of girl who would, but for the fear of amassing giant student loans, happily spend the rest of my life as a perpetual student, collecting degrees as my interests swing this way and that. But, as that's not a very practical approach to life, I knit and sew and make things, because there is always some new stitch or fabric or technique out there to try. Also, I think I knit for the same reasons that this person knits. I need that bag.
While I still enjoy me some crafts and, now that I have some fabric on hand, I'm sewing more again, knitting is my drug of choice these days. I love it. I might be a little obsessed with it. Which is why it was slightly upsetting to realize that there is something fundamentally wrong about the way I knit.

Now, I'm not talking about the fact that I can no longer comfortably leave the house without some kind of knitting in my bag, although I admit that does point to something scary in my psyche. I'm talking about the actual way that I knit, the stitches, as in knit, purl, knit, purl. I do it ALL WRONG. Shit.

I'm going to be snarky here and blame the Internet. Because, back during my college days I decided to learn to knit, except I didn't know anything about knitting, so I got online, which was a new and exciting idea in and of itself back then. And somewhere out in the ether I found a website that taught me how to knit. Except, it was wrong.

Ok, so it's not actually wrong, it's just not the more common way. After doing some reading recently, I've found that I knit in the Continental Style (it's also often called the German Style, but Continental sounds so much fancier, oui?) Which is a perfectly legitimate way to knit except for the fact that all of the YouTube videos that I've watched to learn additional stitches use the American/English style of knitting and that, my friends, can screw a girl up. Somehow this has led to the fact that, when I knit back and forth, I twist my stitches. I don't do it when I knit in the round however. And I have NO IDEA why. I mean, I've figured that when I knit back and forth I have to knit into the back of my stitches in order for them not to twist, but when I knit in the round I still have to knit into the front of my stitches (or they twist). It's very strange. And I only realized it because my Mother mentioned that she twists her stitches and I sat down to try to figure out how she could be doing that only to realize that I do it as well. So, maybe it's not the internet's fault. Maybe it's genetic.
Briton's sweater has been the most learningest project I've done so far. Apart from figuring out the whole twisted stitches thing (because I'm knitting both back and forth and in the round so I could actually see the difference - and fix it) I've also become a convert to the teachings of the great Elizabeth Zimmerman who, though some miracle has made it possible for me to create a sweater that should perfectly fit my boy without any real pattern, which is kind of miraculous.

Humm, what else have I learned. Well...

After knitting for eons on wooden needles because I thought they were supposed to be the best, I've figured out that I'm a metal needle girl, as evidenced by the fact that, after a week and two days, I'm almost done with an entire sweater. The sweater I knit for myself took three freaking months. Metal needles rock. I have these and I LOVE them.

Yarn over. I finally get it. And it's not my increase of choice. But I finally get it. And it's simple. In a "you didn't get it before now? Humm, there's something wrong with you" kind of way.

Mattress stitch, like kitchener stitch, is freaking crazy amazing. How did they figure that out? Their brains must be bigger than mine.

I should not knit after midnight. Even if I'm up because I'm watching a particularly thrilling movie. Knitting after midnight will lead to forgetting the pattern THREE TIMES and having to rip out many rows which leads to swearing.b Good thing the kids were asleep by then, Evie can already perfectly mimic the way I say "Dammit!", we probably don't need anymore underage swearing.

I'm still not quite done so I'm sure that there will be a few more lessons before the end. Like, how to do a double crew neck. I know I want it, not sure I know how to get it, but am hoping to figure it out. Also have to figure out how to weave in all those loose strings from the stripes without loosing my mind. I only just figured out how to weave in the ends properly on my last knitting project, and now I have lots and lots of little ends to invisibly blend into the inside of the sweater. Fun.
On a related note (and then I'll zip it about knitting for a while) did you know that you can buy recycled yarn on Etsy? Not recycled as in recycled content, recycled as in yarn harvested from cast off sweaters. Well, you can. And I am now the proud owner of some recycled cashmere yarn. This has prompted me to try knitting socks. Stay tuned. It will either equal disaster or really soft socks.

missing the bus

This morning, had we still been living in Virginia, Evelyn would have stepped on the bus with her big brother for the first day of school, after watching and waiting and wanting to go for four years.
I'm not sorry that we came to New York. I realize that Evie will love Kindergarten here just as much as she would have there, because it's kindergarten, and it's fun. But even still, my heart hurts a little over the thought of missing that bus.
Life is often not what you planned, is it? A year ago I was promising my girl that next time, next first day of school, she would get to hop on the bus too. Six months ago I still thought the same, and yet, here I am today, sitting in an entirely different city with a little girl who will still start kindergarten soon, only now, without her brother in a classroom upstairs to guide her, without the teachers already knowing who she is, because she's been at all those PTO functions, class meetings ad teacher conferences with us.
A year in New York is worth missing that, it is. And tomorrow I probably won't think about the fact that she is not getting on the bus with him, because tomorrow we have other adventures planned. Because the reality is that it is the image of the situation, the idea of it, my two kids, heading off to school together, that I'm so enamoured with. But instead, my kids get to hold hands walking through the Met together, or they get to walk through a crowd of Drag Queens in the East Village post earthquake (we were on the subway and didn't feel it but enjoyed the crowds of evacuated Village People when we climbed up the stairs a few minutes later). They get the zoo and the parks and the buildings and Grey's Papaya Hot Dogs and a load of other things, which are better than riding the bus together to school. I'm sure if I asked they would agree, but, somehow, I can't bring myself to ask them. Just in case asking reminds them of that small thing they are missing out on.

August 22, 2011

in need of armor

Shortly after we moved here, I read a book called The Weird Sisters which was entertaining and unusual, and not just because the patriarch in the store communicates almost entirely in Shakespearean quotes. The book really has nothing to do what-so-ever with New York except for the fact that, at the very beginning, one of the characters is escaping from the city. She's running away for reasons that I'm pretty sure I'll never have to deal with - embezzlement and fraud not being amongst my talents (or vices) but there was a moment, early on in the story, where the narrator talks about the armour that the girl must put on each day in order to exist in the city. Armor, here, is not really armor, of course. It's fancy heels and designer clothes and a severe and uncompromising attitudes. I remember thinking That's not the New York I live in when I read the line.

And it's not. That New York, I think, really does exist. In fact I'm positive that it does. I've walked through it, seen the stick thin women wearing black sheath dresses and shoes that cost more than a months rent for our apartment. But it's really not the New York we live in. We live in a much softer city, up here on the hill. Never the less, armor is required for our New York as well.

I think that when we first move here, I went through a sort of a honeymoon phase with this city. The mostly cool and pleasant weather, the quiet summer streets around the university. It seemed clean and pretty and exciting. And it is all of those things.

But for every exciting thing, there is a sucky thing. Sure, you can buy thirty different kinds of lettuce leaves as the farmers market, but you also have to haul all your groceries home with you, unless you remember to order before the cutoff time, which you usually don't. And handy dandy as your grocery cart is (remember Fifi? Well, she's getting lots of use) it's still a pain to try to pull it up the stairs of the subway station or up the hill to your house or even just through the narrow grocery store aisles with two kids in tow. For every amazing thing that New York offers, and there are many, many amazing things, there is something that is so difficult you want to pull your hair out.

I teeter between just tolerating this city and adoring it. My feelings swing on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. Every single thing you could ever want to do in life can, most probably, be found here. And, more often than not, at some point during the year, it's free to do it, because that's just how this city rolls. You have to find it, but it's there.

There are places that are breathtakingly beautiful and horrifyingly nasty, you can go from feeling perfectly safe to terrified in the space of minutes. It's thrilling and awe inspiring and unlike anywhere I've ever been and I can totally understand why people never leave. But it's also hard, and it can be lonely. And it's totally exhausting.

I've come to the conclusion that the reason New Yorkers have a reputation for eating out all the time isn't the amazing array of take out options or the small kitchens or the trendy restaurants or even the rushed lifestyle. It's exhaustion. When, at the end of your day, you leave whatever it is you've been doing, be it in an office or a classroom or a playground, you schlep yourself down the subway stairs, onto a crowded and hot train, up the subway stairs, down the street to your building, up the stairs to your apartment and in through the door, the last thing you want to do is start chopping and prepping and stirring. Because you are so bone tired that you almost don't want to eat. Or at least that's how I often feel at the end of the day. Nothing particularly hard has happened, no temper tantrums or missed buses or lost bags. In fact, the day has generally been fun, it's just that, by the time we fall through the door, I am done for, wiped and it's often all I can do to crank the heat up on a pot of water for some mac and cheese.

Maybe I'm in a new phase in my relationship with New York. I've passed the honeymoon phase, the shine has worn off. I still enjoy it, but now I'm getting down to the more serious business of getting to know this place. Figuring out how it squeezes its toothpaste and which way it likes the toilet paper to roll. things like that. And then, after a while, it wont be so mind numbingly tiring and thrilling all at once, it will just be comfortable and good and safe, like a happy marriage eleven years in.

two and a half weeks of summer

Yes, I realize that summer is, in fact, just about over. But finally, finally, Will is done with this term and we can all spend some time enjoying the last bits of summer together. Two and a half weeks to be precise. Two and a half weeks before Evie starts Kindergarten and Will starts fall term and Briton and I dive into homeschooling (Ack! I'm not ready! I'm not ready!)

This weekend, after a hot and windy trip to the kite festival, we sprawled out on the couch and made a list together. Two lists, actually. One with all of the things we have to do before school starts (fill out paperwork, dentist, finish uniforms, etc.) and another of the things we want to do during out little break. Surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly, it's the wants that we are all focused on, even though we know we should be taking care of those have-to's.
So as of today, we are on a mission. To squeeze every last bit of summer that we can into these next two and a bit weeks. To spend some much needed time as a foursome again. First up... The zoo.

How are you spending your last weeks of summer?

August 19, 2011

snippets from the week

We had a stay at home kind of week until yesterday. Lots of reading and lego-ing and knitting and more reading with a few little trips to the park to keep things fresh.
It was cool enough a few of the days to wear a sweater, as you can see. Which made me ridiculously happy. I'm still thinking of over dying my sweater but I need to do test run on some of the leftover wool and I haven't figured out what color I really want yet, so weirdly striped brown it is for the time being. Also, our hall is very narrow.
Speaking of the hall and cooler days, in an attempt to think ahead to the months when we will be coming in with coats, I asked my dad to make a wall mounted coat rack with a slot at the top for mail. Duel purpose action! And it arrived this week! Perfect! Now I'm on the hunt for a narrow bench to replace that table (which wobbles every time someone passes and will collapse any day now I'm sure) so that we can sit on something when we are pulling boots and shoes on and off. For now we are mostly wearing flip flops, so we can just toss them off, but soon a bench will be necessary. Ahh, small space living...
We also managed a trip on a particularly rainy day to the Natural History Museum to retrieve a lost hat and hang in the prehistoric mammal hall.
On the way, I found the perfect house. I want to move in immediately!
The big excitement of the week was, of course, Briton's birthday and our trip to the beach.
Briton happily dug holes (for hours!)
Evie made sand castles and hung with the girls on the beach.

I got a sunburn. But it was worth it to sit in the ocean breeze and dig my toes into the sand. Bliss

And when we got home, there were new Legos, and an ice cream cake. And a daddy who is thiiiiiissssss close to being done for the term! Yay!

How was your week?

August 17, 2011


Tomorrow, Briton turns nine. Which seams very old indeed. I remember when I was first pregnant with him, I used to imagine introducing him to people, in my head he was four or five in that scenario, which seemed huge, and now it seems pretty small. Because nine is almost ten and ten, well, ten is double digits. Ten is tween. Ten is almost teen!
I've noticed a change in him over the past few months, a subtle shift. Where once, Evie was almost always the innocent party when it came to their scuffs, now, it's almost always Briton who was just doing his thing when the sister swooped in and broke/trampled/jumped on/changed/whined about the game. He opens doors for people and listens maybe just a fraction of a bit better than he did even three months ago. Because he is getting older.
Last November I started two journals, one for each of my kids. The idea is that, every now and then, I would write a letter to them, about them, about life with them right at that moment. I'm not a scrapbooker, I've tried, but it's just not my thing, and while I have billions of photographs of my children, I needed a place, other than this blog of course, to record the funny little triumphs and frustrations of their lives. I haven't written in it for a while, but I'm working on a letter for each of them today. It's interesting to see how much things have already changed, just in what I wrote then and what I will write now. And a few months down the road, I'll write another, and things will have changed yet again.
Lately I've been feeling like life is speeding up. When my kids wee babies life seemed to move so slow. Inching through the day. Feed, change, nap, feed, change, nap. Now the days mostly fly by. I often look up in surprise to find that it is already dinnertime, that my kids have been playing by themselves in their room for three or four hours without a peep. Once upon a time I would have suspected that they were either a) asleep on the floor or b) up to something. Now I know they are just doing their thing. For the most part I love this, because it means I can spend a little time doing my thing. But at the same time it hurts a little to know that they no longer need me, that he no longer needs me, every second of every day.
Tomorrow Briton will be nine, and we are going to the Jersey Shore to meet up with some Charlottesville friends who are there visiting. He has requested that we have rootbeer floats and play on the beach all day, which sounds pretty perfect to me as well. Tomorrow he will get a little bit bigger, and the next day he'll be bigger still. I'm am ridiculously proud of the boy, the young man that he is becoming. Although, you know, it would be nice if he would stay little for just a wee bit longer. I guess that's every mama's plea though, isn't it?

August 16, 2011

the trouble with aging

I have mad a sad discovery over the past few weeks. It seems, for me at least, that 34 is the age at which I can no longer handle caffeine in the evenings. It's pathetic really. I remember laughing at my parents when they said they couldn't have spicy things too late, thinking "I'll never be like that!" and here I am. Sad.
Last night I was wired. WIRED. Will was working late at studio, the kids were in bed and I was pacing the floor. So I decided to sew. Might as well use my time wisely. Since my awakeness had a sort of crazy-exhausted-but-can't-close-my-eyes kind of vibe, I decided it probably wasn't the time to start on Evelyn's uniform, I actually need that to hold up for a long period of time so I needed to be able to focus. Instead I made my tunic. I'm pretty pleased with it, although somehow the neck edging would not work out (might have been my brain not really functioning correctly) so I had to wing that a little. I may still go back and add it in, but I kind of like the wider neck. I do really like the pattern. It's comfy and fits well and I like the style. The next time I get to a fabric store with a sale, I'll probably get some corduroy for a fall version. It would also look killer a few inches longer in some kind of crazy raw silk as a dress. But I really don't have the occasion to wear something like that, so that will have to wait until I have a more glamorous life (ha!)
See the thing is, I'm a tea girl. I know that I have many a times professed my undying love and addiction to coffee, and I am totally dependant on it to get my day started, but at heart, I'm a tea drinker. If I had to be stranded on a deserted island with only one hot drink, I'd have to choose tea. I'm guessing that on this deserted island I could wake up at my leisure since there would be, you know, nothing else on the island to occupy my time, so I could deal without coffee, but not tea.

I think it truly is genetic. My grandmother was English and so my dad was raised in a home where tea was the answer, or at least the first line of defense, to all things. Bad day, nasty weather, exhaustion, surprise, good news...all met with tea. That, in turn, was passed on to me and I seem to be passing it along as well since Briton loves him a good cuppa tea. Also, the older I get, the more comfort I find in a cup of tea, it's like my security blanket.

So imagine my surprise in realizing, after having had a cup of tea almost every evening for the past 25 years or so, that tea, or caffeine at least, seems to be at the root of the recent foray into insomnia I've been dealing with . I know, I know, Duh. But remember, I've been drinking an evening cup of tea for most of my life with no problems. It's only been over the past few months that I've been stricken with an inability to fall asleep before 2 am.

A few weeks ago I had a little encounter with heat exhaustion, skipped dinner,dessert and tea, drank a gallon of water and promptly fell asleep at ten in the evening. Best night of sleep I've had in months. The next night I returned to my normal routine and I was back to my old insomnia tricks. No tea the next night - sleep again. Problem solved. Except I really like tea. I really like a specific tea. And no where. No where in all of New York (ok, I only looked in the grocery stores near me) could I find my tea (Barry's, in case you were wondering) in decaf. Eventually I discovered that Amazon carried it, what did we do before Amazon?-and a box arrived a few days ago with my lovely tea.
Which does not help my occasional it's-humid-out-I-must-have-a-coke habit, this was last night's culprit. Hopefully the no caffeine after lunch rule will eventually sink in and I'll get back to going to bed at a decent hour on a regular basis. At least Eliza and I got some new duds out of it.

Aging, man, it sucks.

August 15, 2011

in the workbasket

Between both of my kids waking up with 102+ temps on Saturday (no apparent cause or symptoms other than fever and lethargy), Will being in the midst of crunch time (one more week till the end of term! Yay!) and the fact that it rained all day long on Sunday, the kids and I did nothing and went nowhere for the whole weekend. In fact, the kids didn't ever get out of their pajamas. They changed into different pajamas, under duress, on Saturday night, but they never got further than that. Actually, the only reason I got out of my pajamas was that I had to take the dog out and the cold rainy weather gave me an excuse to take my new sweater for a test drive (loooovvvvveeee it!).
Surprisingly, it was a fairly productive weekend for my work basket. I realized on Friday that the first day of school for Evie is just a few short weeks away, which means I've got to get her uniform sorted. While I was in Missouri I bought enough of a beautiful lightweight wool material to make two dresses and one or possibly two skirts, depending on the style, and I'm hoping that that will pretty much set her up for at least fall and winter. We picked up the required light blue polo shirts last week and I'm still looking for a few peter pan collar type blouses in the right blue - oh how I wish their uniform shirts were white, so much easier to find - and, other than some new tights to fit her new grew-two-inches-this-summer-height, that should be it.

So with kids lounging on the couch feeling sleepy and quiet on Saturday, I cut out the first dress. I've decided to use the same pattern I used for her back to school dress last year with a few modifications. I'll stitch down the pleats further on the front and will do buttons all the way down the back since, you know, we can't have out underware showing in kindergarten, can we. I haven't decided on the second dress. I have this pattern, which I loved the first time around,
but I've been wanting to make this dress for ages, and it seems very uniform-y and warm for winter.

Also, I love this dress, so I'm kind of thinking of altering one of the other two, or finding something similar to it pattern-wise.
After I'd cut out the dress, the monkeys were still crazy quiet (gotta love Netflix for sick days) so I also cut out a tunic for myself, I picked this up a few months ago and it will be my first try with her adult patterns. Lisette is from the same designer as the Oliver + S patterns and I've become so addicted to those that I figure her grownup patterns should be good too. I used the scraps from that to cut out a third pattern (See! I told you! Productive!) for a doll dress for Eliza. I'm planning on making a uniform dress for her too but I want to make sure I have all of the actual uniform pieces cut out before I use up any of my precious navy fabric.

Evelyn is still not quite sure about the whole uniform thing. She keeps saying things like "I'll wear my blue dress, but not every day?" And when I explain that yes, every school day she does have to wear it, but that she can change when she gets home she looks at me quizzically and says "but some days I can wear other things to school. Like pink." So this should be interesting. I'm hoping that if Eliza has a uniform, it will be a little bit better. I'm secretly excited about the uniform thing, partly because I think they are sweet looking but also because I hate the long, drawn out 'what should I wear today' drama that was starting to occur on preschool mornings.
I also - I'm telling you, quiet weekends are great for project starting! - made a good start on Briton's Christmas/solstice sweater. Briton picked out the colors and the pattern a few weeks ago and I spent a few hours on Friday starting the sweater only to find a few inches in that I just couldn't make sense of the pattern we'd chosen. I'm sure it would work, but since I'm trying out the whole knitting stripes thing, I felt like I needed a more concrete idea of where the sweater was going. So I ripped it all out and went to the library for Knitting Without Tears. I have checked that book out no less than 10 times and have yet to make anything from it. I read about Elizabeth Zimmerman all the time in knitting books and on Raverly but a) the pictures in the book always looked a little dated and b) I always seemed to get overwhelmed by the text. But everyone else seems to find her instructions god-like so I gave it one more try and for some reason, I got it this time.
So, fingers crossed, the blue and blue striped raglan sleeved sweater is well on its way. I have realized, however, that I did not order enough wool. I'm trying to hold off on ordering it until I figure out what I'm making for Evie so that it can all come in one package. Right now it's between this and this (but with shortened sleeves). What do you think? I can't decide.

It's rainy again today and, much as I'd like to stay inside and knit another few stripes, I think the natives are finally getting restless, so we'll probably head out to the Natural History Museum. We lost a hat there a few weeks ago that they are holding for us in lost and found, so we need to go anyway and a rainy day is always a good excuse.

What's in your workbasket? What are you working on these days? And which sweater should I choose for Evie? I really can not decide! Ack!

August 12, 2011

snippets from the week

On top of the Irish Football game last weekend, the kids and I also took ourselves off to Governor's Island for the day on Saturday while Will worked. Once upon a time it was a military base and it reminded me very much of parts of San Antonio with it's rows of identical grand duplex homes. Now a days it's a place to run and play and ride bikes. A free ferry takes you over and other than service vehicles, there are no cars on the island. The day we were there there was also a yoga retreat and a grungy folk band playing which was a strange combination with all that military precision. I love, though, that my kids didn't bat an eye at coming upon a hundred people in various states of undress standing on their heads. Good Oregon kids my children!

On top of the yoga and the military buildings there is also a trapeze school (Evelyn was very upset that I didn't let her try) a bug themed mini golf course and this very odd, and slightly obscene balloon play thingy.
Later in the week, while on a walk, we found this guy.
It's hard to tell from the picture but he is massive. And just standing there, looking out at Riverside Park. The kids think he is the Ninjago Lego Master. Always the Lego's. I tell ya. They can think of nothing else these days.
We wandered through a flea market looking for a hallway bench. No bench, lots of interesting vintage jewelry and this very fun looking spice and tea stand. I had to resist rubbing my hands through all of those lovely colors. I think the stern looking stand owner would not have approved.
Fort building has been the name of the game hereabouts this week. I'm not sure why. It's not really even hot out. But this is what they do every day. And every day it gets bigger. By last night you couldn't even walk into the living room at all. it's a good thing there are two ways into our bedroom or I would have been sleeping in the hallway.
I did coax them out to a new playground. The Hippo Playground. Bet you can't guess why it's call that! The morning we were there they were hosting an art in the park day so Evie got to paint and color her little heart out with a bunch of other little girls before heading out to the playground to explore the hippos with her brother.

The Hippo playground turns out to be right next to that spot where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks meet at the end of You've Got Mail. It took me a few minutes of standing there staring at the flowers trying to figure out why it looked familiar before I figured it out. It also brought my You've Got Mail moments of the week up to two (ok, my You've Got Mail moments of ever to two, they just both happened to occur this week.) I also got yelled at for trying to use a debit card in the Cash Only Line Lady! Sadly, Tom Hanks did no appear in either instance to save the day. Oh well.
Ummm, new yarn. I let Briton pick out the colors for his Christmas/Solstice sweater.Navy and light blue stripes are the request. I've never knit anything in stripes. So this should be interesting. And I only have, what, four months to go. Eek! I better get cracking on it!

What were you up to this week?