Monthly Archives: February 2010

Hello Friday!

Thank heavens this week is almost over.  Last night I read questions for the junior high Knowledge Bowl tournament hosted at my oldest daughter’s school.  Our team practices for two hours each day after school and it shows.  The scores were so mismatched that I felt sorry for the other two teams.   By the time we got home most of the evening was over, but my DH had some delicious home-made chicken soup waiting for us.

A2 is well enough to return to school today, but A3 is finishing her week at home with my DH to make sure she doesn’t over do recess or p.e.  A2 is glad to be heading back.  They both said “Thank you” for the well-wishes and recovery thoughts.

Tomorrow is the regional National History Day competition. Thankfully it’s taking place close to home. The guidelines are very strict and we’ve no idea what the other schools will present, so we’re treating this like the grand finale and not even considering State as an option for A-1.  Besides, she’s going to be grounded until the cows come home for unrelated issues.  Even doing homework is going to seem like fun.

I done et almost all of them Girl Scout cookies by myself.  Mmmm, burp. 

No new knitting to share because just a few random stitches to older projects were sneaked in during the week. 

Hope everyone has a great weekend. Cheers!

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WTF Wednesday

WTF Restaurant Names:  Most people from the Portland area have seen this restaurant before.  I’ve never eaten here, but my guess is that the owner knew perfectly well what he/she was doing while choosing a name for this establishment.  It always makes me giggle.

Up in Bellingham there was a restaurant named, “A Touch of Greece.”  Are there any clever or silly restaurant names near you?

WTF Anachronism: While in Portland last weekend I spotted this piece of hardware mounted in the curb of a residential sidewalk.

At first glance it looks like something to tether a horse.  However, I don’t know if paved streets with formed concrete curbs co-existed with the horse and buggy crowd. Of course cars and horses overlapped as forms of transportation for several decades, perhaps this was installed during this time.  That’s assuming, of course, that it was indeed, used for horses. The ring would be impractical for securing a bicycle because the bike would have to be laid down in order to chain it up.  Hopefully it won’t be removed in the name of progress. Whatever the use, it’s cool looking.

WTF Lack of Common Sense:  Politicians and lawyers love creating laws to “keep us safe” and then pat themselves publicly on the back for making society a better place. The intent behind these laws may be good, but because they often leave no “gray area” for interpretation the good intentions are often lost amid sheer stupidity and blind/ forced adherence.  Examples of these “good for you” laws gone bad can be seen in their basic, condensed forms in our public schools.   For example: Suzie brings non-prescription pain killers to school then shares them with a friend who has a headache. The friend has an allergic reaction and dies as a result.  After much hoopla, the tragedy results in a zero drug tolerance for students. Not only does it include illegal and prescription medications, but over-the-counter varieties are also banned.  Do I think children should take medicine to school and share it? Certainly not, but 7 years ago, my then 6 year old daughter, was sent to the office, I was called and HUGE deal was made because she had a tube of Blistex at school. I knew she had it. I sent it with her because her lips were cracked and bleeding.  The school administration acted as though I were selling crack out of my mini-van.  There was/is a zero-tolerance policy.  *All weapons, even toys,  have been banned from schools for many years, and quite frankly, they should be. But the zero-tolerance policy of an Oregon School district went a bit far in this case.  There should be room in these laws for some discretion. http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/02/toy_gun_for_gi_joe_action_figu.html. The darned thing was only five inches long.  I’ve seen more dangerous sharpened pencils!   And if that isn’t ludicrous enough, there is this story http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/education/2010/02/05/2010-02-05_cuffed_for_doodling_on_a_desk.html out of a New York public school. The twelve-year-old doodled on a desk for Pete’s sake! A more appropriate consequence would have been keeping her after school to clean desks. As it is, she now has a permanent mark on her legal record.

 * I grew up in Hickville, USA, where during hunting season there was a spike in absences.  But even in a school with many (okay, so there were only about 50 kids in each grade) shotgun/rifle savvy students with access to their own arsenals none of them ever brought their guns into the building and threatened teachers or other students.  This type of incident  http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_colo_school_shooting is a reflection on society and moral shifts, rather than a case against weapons.

WTF Again?: Poor little A3 has pneumonia again.  The pediatrician said that it’s common to be susceptible to it after having it once.  Both A2 and A3 are home sick today.  Today is a half-day for the elementary schools in our district so I’m staying home with them.  My DH is taking the Thursday and Friday (if needed, but hopefully they’ll be better) shifts with them. 

  WTF Shopping: Cool!

Who would use these, and more importantly,  how would he/she’d keep them from getting mixed up with other coins? If I ever wanted to be a spy they’d be on my “Must Have” list.  Another covert operative Must Have… the not-so-discrete, “Really, I’m not recording you, pay no attention to the microphone and wires” sunglasses.

Today I’ll dress in black, hum the Mission Impossible theme song and imagine that I’m agent 042, pretending to be an ordinary mom, while  secretly keeping the world safe for democracy by eliminating tyranny and crappy yarn everywhere.  Cheers!

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Friends & Fever

Friday evening Karen, her DH and two of her children came down for a visit! Her eldest daughter stayed home to go to a slumber party.   Not only did Karen visit, but she also brought me some gorgeous green yarn.  I think it shall be a hat when it grows up. Thank you, Karen!

While they were here we caught up on news and drove down to Portland to check out a few yarn stores.  A1 was at a friend’s house, but A2 and A3 tagged along for the browsing, as well as a brief stop by Karen’s brother’s home.  The only purchases made (by me) included this Meri-Cash blend that A2 picked out for a shawlette,

and some brightly dyed merino roving that A3 chose so she could spin.

On Saturday Karen and her DH went out for dinner with her brother and his wife.  The kids stayed here, where we enjoyed hot dogs, pop-corn, games and movies.  Sunday morning A3 complained about her throat hurting.  I made her a cup of tea, gave her some Tylenol and did my best to keep her and the other kids apart for the morning.  That was pretty much impossible because they all kept wandering to and fro.  Karen and her family left about mid-day to head back up north and then the girls and I loaded up to run errands. We spent hours searching for wrestling shoes and some kind of appropriate outfit for A3’s upcoming tournament.  Eventually, we ended up with this ensemble.

The shoes are a little big, but given how expensive these are, that’s okay. Maybe they’ll last her for a couple of seasons.  Unfortunately, her sore throat morphed into a headache and fever by Sunday evening.  She missed school on Monday and couldn’t attend practice.  Her fever keeps creeping back up every couple of hours and she has a wracking cough. She’ll be staying home tomorrow too. The poor little kidlet just can’t catch a break this year.  Hopefully she’ll be better soon.

I made very little knitting progress, but Karen was rocking her Olympic sock. She wanted to complete one before the end of the Vancouver games, but if she manages to track down more of this yarn she may be able to knock out a second sock.  They have a lovely little cuff and the eyelets formed by the increases add an elegant design element (click to biggefy)

After a little stash diving the perfect yarn to make Frozen Leaves  popped up.  Although it’s not visible in the picture, there is silver spun in this yarn.  The modest sparkles should portray a hint of frost when finished. 

Of course, this can’t be and probably, maybe won’t be started until some other projects are cleared off of the needles.  Must. Stay. Strong.

This evening, while taking A1 out to get new clothes for a Knowledge Bowl tournament, I bought this bag.

Normally I’m not much of a shopper, but this baby is HUGE! There are dividers and compartments everywhere too. It holds all of my sundry items, plus several knitting projects while still having room to carry my lunch bag to work. 

There’s an occasional cough coming from A2’s room this evening… not a good sign.  Hopefully she’ll be spared this latest attack.

Elsewhere, an old friend (by “old” I mean that we’ve known each other since we were both eight, not to imply that she is “old”) has a team participating in an upcoming M.S. walk.  Once details have been worked out I’ll post links to her site. Anybody donating to her team will be entered to win a really neato prize that is yet to be determined, but it will probably be fiber-related. This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart. I’m always amazed at what people are willing to do to help others.  Time to call it a night. Cheers!

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Friday Fails

For a four-day work week it sure took Friday a long time to get here!  My girls are driving me crazy, with the youngest being the most concentrated cause of the insanity.  She has been talking back to  adults and she’s being anti-social on just about every level imaginable.  She even pushed another student in her classroom! She’ll now have lots of time in her bedroom for reflection. My middle daughter is merely sabotaging each and every attempt to get her organized by refusing to bring homework and school notes, etc. home. The results being, several ambushes with omigodit’sduetomorrow or surprisetheconcertistonight! moments.  My eldest is over-extended with activities and  each night has been an emotional struggle to keep up with homework, etc.   Stress + teenaged hormones = lots of tears and panic. (for the record, all of the girls have way more homework to do than I ever did… I’d never make it as a kid now days)  Anyway, no matter what the issue, I end up being the scape-goat.  This was so NOT in my job description. Baa!

My sister called last night. Our niece had called and left a message saying that she’s getting married on Monday.  I can’t get off work to drive up, so hopefully my mom and dad can go and take pictures.  My sister and I also discussed genetics as well as some common issues regarding aging, etc.  What a relief to hear that some issues I’ve been having are most likely benign. She has the same problems and offered up some tips that have helped her. I still need to confirm this as the cause of discomfort (by discomfort I mean that I want to yell at small children or kick a puppy because my bra, or anything else near the vicinity of my left breast, hurts like heck). In March I have a mammogram appointment.

Each day I’ve been bringing in boxes of Girl Scout cookies to the staff room to re-sell.  It’s a proven fact that if there are 50 boxes of cookies at our home that we will eat all 50 boxes.  At first I wasn’t sure if people would buy them, but apparently it’s been a rough week and the staff needs a chocolate fix. The Samoas and Thin Mints are flying out the door.

My DH has National Guard  drill this weekend, with an awards banquet on Saturday night.  We don’t have a babysitter for the girls so I’m staying home and he’s taking our oldest daughter as his “date” for the evening.  We’d try taking the whole family, but the tickets are $35.00 each and I doubt the two younger girls would sit well through speeches, etc.  Why is it that a little alcohol makes people think that they’re interesting and witty?  Besides, A3 is still grounded. 

The weather has been gorgeous here in the Pacific northwest.  Hopefully it will last the weekend. Fresh air, yard work and a long walk are sure ways for everyone to unwind and start Monday out fresh. Cheers and Friday smiles to everyone!

 

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WTF Wednesday… again!

After a long hiatus from pointing out daily encounters with the strange and stupid it was time to post about them again or snap from  stress of snark build-up.

Several weeks ago there was a televised event here known as the Super Bowel.  No, that’s not a typo, and here’s the Cake Wreck to prove it!

The graphic and “Go Go Go” really add to the picture.  For the record, I don’t think this was a mistake on the baker’s part.

Working with first graders provides enough fodder for daily posts.  Yesterday was no exception.  One of my students had a meeting with one of my bosses. In the course of the meeting the youngster accidentally knocked over some blocks then proceeded to exclaim, “God fv@ker!”  My boss very calmly asked him “What?” thinking that she hadn’t heard him correctly.  The student looked at her and repeated the phrase, but a little more slowly, so that she’d understand what he was saying.  Still maintaining her demeanor, my boss then told him that he shouldn’t say that at school (we can’t control what he does at home and he had to learn it somewhere).  His response to her was, “It’s okay, you can say ‘God’ at school.”  He then continued picking up the blocks.  There should be a Prozac lick in the staff lounge.

Last night the girls and I turned on the Olympics (we still have basic channels) while we did homework.  NBC’s “coverage” leaves much to be desired.  Of course it’s impossible to televise all events, or to even show all performances in a single event.  But to limit the actual sports footage to a few chosen snippets wedged between gruelingly long sessions of sportscasters talking and the dramatic athletes’ stories was annoying and disappointing.  The emphasis given on the unsportsman-like behavior of the Russian Skater undermines the reason behind these games.

Once athletes start spewing insults the cameras should find someone else to talk to.  Watching Johnny Weir skate was much more enjoyable. 

Yes, he’s flamboyant and dramatic, but he wasn’t making rude comments about other competitors and he genuinely seemed to enjoy performing.

There is so much more that I want to rant and vent about, but the work day approaches and time is short.  Happy Wednesday everyone!

 

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Four Days Off!

Hope all of you who had President’s Day off from work enjoyed your long weekend.  The girls and I had four days at home, but they still flew by.

A3’s pre-sale Girl Scout cookies came in. 

 

They aren’t all for us though, 6 of the 54 boxes were ordered by others.  Actually, I hope that a lot more than six boxes go out the door… especially since we bought something new for the home, which appears near the end of this posting.

Bonny helped us organize the cookies.

Because she worked so hard she gets to keep the box.  This is the kitty equivalent to getting a pink Cadillac for selling lots of Mary Kay products.

Most of the long weekend was devoted to school projects.  A3 needed to build a musical instrument from household items. The instrument had to be able to change both tone and pitch.  We didn’t have much in the way of raw materials here so we took a trip to the Goodwill Store and bought someone else’s household items.  Her invention is called a “Hammer Piano.”

Many hours were spent figuring out the technical details.  She even decided to paint the old wine box.  Which in hindsight is a good thing because I don’t want her teacher thinking that we buy alcohol in bulk.

A2 had a science project and her topic was the Crab Nebula.

It’s still not quite done yet, but our colored printer ran out of black ink.  I had no idea that the filaments stemming from the Crab Nebula contain mostly Helium and that the Crab Proton at its center spins 30 times per second.  The explosion from the star that created the Crab Nebula  was visible in China. It happened on July 4, 1054.  Somehow, I doubt I’ll forget these, and other fascinating facts, about the Crab Nebula. I may go to work with mismatched socks or without pants, but I’ll be able to quote nebulae trivia until the cows come home.

A1’s History project is a continuation of her National History Day project.  Her entry was selected for regionals.  This year’s theme was “Innovation” and A1 is discussing innovations in the Marine Corps.  Rather than turn in the old exhibit, a mere 6 foot tall tri-fold display made of cardboard, the entire project is  being revamped.  My DH bought plywood for this one.  And of course nobody wants cheesy old computer copies of pictures on a nice wooden display, so now everything must be re-printed.  The new display will even feature a digital picture frame the plays the Marine Corps anthem while showing a repeating slide show of Marine images. 

The newly painted, naked board is barely visible behind the old display.  The new one will probably be very heavy and A1 may need to enlist the help of a real Marine to help her carry it.  That’s not a bad idea, I’d volunteer to pick him up.  Sven used to be a Marine. Sven took inspections seriously.  Everything was pressed, starched, smooth and tight. So tight in fact that you could bounce a quarter off of his… bunk.

In addition to playing gopher for the girls while they worked, my DH and I also ate.  We ate a lot.  During the course of the weekend our family wiped out three pies, a pan of gingerbread, several boxes of Girl Scout cookies and a variety of high-fat, home-made meals.  My favorite was the baked potato soup.

 

On Saturday I noticed that my favorite pillow was missing.  A2 had requisitioned it to make Roxie more comfortable.   Sigh. I’m such a pushover that Roxie still has the pillow. One of A2’s other sisters removed the sign though.

   

Even though I’m not participating in the Knitting Olympics I did manage enough  rows that I passed the half-way point on the sweater I’m working on.

  

Another bonus from having the long weekend… I finally found the “Smelly Stickers” that my first grade students have been asking for.  Now they’ll have incentive to be good workers!

 

Last, and certainly least, we now have a scale.  It’s been years since we owned one.  I used to obsess over the silly thing so I threw it away. I’d step on it every time I walked into the bathroom and then worry about the numbers.   The thought of any of my girls fretting about silly little numbers makes me want to hide this away.

The only reason for buying it was for A3’s wrestling.  I will never let her diet, etc. for a sport, but before tournaments we need to know which class to put her in.  I’m thinking that my yarn wardrobe would be the perfect place to stash this wicked, vile, destructor of self-esteem.  Nobody every looks in there. 

This is why having cases of cookies around is a BAD thing. 

  

  

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Olympics and Madrona

The Madrona Fiber Arts Festival began yesterday. Even though it’s taking place a mere two-hour drive away, I’m not going. I am not even driving up for a quick walk through the vendors’ market… okay, so I’m especially not driving up for a tempting stroll through heavenly yarns and fibers, sold by friendly hawkers only too willing to take any major credit cards should someone run out of cash.  Hopefully, those folks who are going will post extensive, detailed reports with lots of pictures telling about their adventures there.  No pressure, Marta!

The 2010 Winter Olympics kick off in Whistler today too. For knitters that means another round of the Knitting Olympics.  I participated in the 2006 challenge, and even earned my gold medal.  My goal was to complete two pairs of socks during the two-week time frame.  This was no small feat (or should that be feet?) given the ages of my children at the time and the fact that we were doing an extensive remodel of our house. Anyway, here are some pictures from way back then.

 

 

Tasha looked so healthy and Bonny (background of last picture) was itty bitty.

Here are pictures of the girls taken during the first Knitting Olympics.

A2 and A3 had just watched Bambi and they were taking turns pretending to be deer.

A1 having a riding lesson with our neighbor.

I can’t believe how much everything has changed for us in the last four years!

Okay, back to the present. For the 2010 Knitting Olympics I shall be an official cheerleader! I applaud each and every knitter who picks up his or her needles and casts on. Nationality is irrelevant, I root for you all.  Godspeed and everyone be safe and knit fair. Caffeine, or in some cases, alcohol shall be the only drugs tolerated during these events.  Anyone thought to be using steroids or dragging out mostly-finished WIPs and passing them off as “new” cast-ons will lose my support and I hope they’re infested with moths.

We have a four-day weekend due to a teacher in-service day on Friday and President’s Day on Monday.  Plans here include churning out the laundry, catching up on sleep (needed to fend off the germ d’jour) and finishing up three major school projects, one for each of my daughters.  Other than giving the girls candy, we do NOT celebrate Valentine’s Day. My husband doesn’t go to Jarod and every kiss does not begin with Kay. Corner vendors selling singing teddy bears and balloons hold no sway over us.  And as lovely as a meal out sounds, the crowds and expense are just not worth it.  My DH and I may try to guilt the girls into helping with housework for the occasion though.  Happy Friday everyone. Cheers!

  

  

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The Dangers of Being Fickle

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching it seems appropriate to talk about love and a fickle heart. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. 

Viewing everyone else’s February Lady sweater left me enamoured. The versatility of the sweater and the gorgeous green shown in the original haunted me dreams.  Green is my favorite color! Besides, I reasoned with myself, having something I could wear at work, home or even on an imaginary kid-free date with my husband, was the ultimate in practical knitting.  I really wanted to make this, but alas, Christmas knitting prevented me from casting on for several months.  By the time the holidays ended I was determined to cast on, but I decided that because most of my wardrobe is tans, browns and blacks that a green sweater would be much more sensible. 

Hence, the brown blob was born, frogged, re-born, partially frogged and knitted once again.  Not loving my sloppy eyelet holes, my complete inability to make my row gauge match my stitch gauge, were responsible for the previous froggings. After making it to the underarm section where the gull-pattern lace begins I decided that the yoke was too wide through the shoulders. 

Making it work with the written pattern wasn’t possible in my knitting world.  Heck, and since the yoke needs to be started from scratch perhaps ditching the garter stitch for a stockingnet stitch would be in order.  Also, changing the gull-lace pattern to a different lace with several rows of purl ribbing between the lace would allow me to increase and add more “swing” to the bottom of the sweater. Heck, with this many changes, it is no longer a February Lady sweater.  Besides, I really like green.

Luckily, I just happened to find this lovely, Hand Maiden Casbah, in my wardrobe. 

The subtle color changes are lovely and the hint of cashmere renders it touchably soft. There may just be enough of this to make Frozen Leaves.

Last night was the usual circus of activities, homework, etc.  While I was running hither and fro my two youngest daughters disappeared.  A quick search of the house and one loud beller into the back yard uncovered their whereabouts. Both girls came trotting around the end of the house covered with grins and dirt.  They ‘d decided to surprise me by clearing out the brush from the garden area and pulling weeds.  Those girls managed to gather a huge stack of debris and uncover some  plants!  There was only time for  a quick hand-washing then we needed to load up and take A1 to a school board meeting.  A1 and two other classmates were called upon during their last hour of school today to explain Rachel’s Challenge to the school board.  A fundraiser for Haiti, sponsored by their group, was covered in a local paper and the school board wanted to see what this organization was.  The kids were nervous because they didn’t have much time to prepare and they were concerned that the school board would not condone this group.  The three students spoke mostly eloquently (not any “like”s, but a few “um”s) and the school board  approved their actions.  Even as an adult I would not want to get up and speak there.  During the meeting A2 and A3 drew quietly in the corner.  They were both so tired from their gardening exploits that they didn’t utter a sound or even argue.  As appreciation for all of their hard work I took the girls to Panda Express for dinner.  I’ll try to get a picture of the garden today.

Cheers!

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What WIPs?

Just saw the Frozen Leaves  shawl pattern on Ravelry.  I want to ditch everything else and cast one on immediately!  An intervention may be in order.

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Wednesday

Today I’m going on a field trip with  my first grade students.  We’re off to see a play in Portland, followed by a picnic lunch at a local park.  The play promises to be fun and I’m sure that my  own students will enjoy the trip and behave perfectly (crossing finger, toes, eyes, etc. that this is true).  The bus ride down and back will be loud and wild though because the kids will all be excited… all 90 of them!   There’s no way that many people, even little ones, can be quiet inside a rumbling tin can that echoes little voices.  I do wonder what the planners were thinking though when they decided on a picnic lunch in the middle of winter in Washington. It’s pouring buckets outside and there is no shelter at the park.  The poor little dears will be muddy, cold and miserable before the day is through.  I’m relying heavily on the aid of my assistants, a.k.a., ear plugs and Advil to enhance (or in this case, subdue) the outing by making the bus ride tolerable.  The theater does not allow photography so the camera is staying home. 

Elsewhere, my DH is going to see Bowling for Soup with a co-worker on Saturday. He asked if I wanted to go too, but the answer was, “No.”  The poor fellow lives with 4 females and I’m sure he’d enjoy an estrogen-free evening.  Heck, even our pets are female. Sometimes I’m surprised that he can still pee standing up. 

Speaking of the girls, they are all really busy. A3’s activities were cut way back because Chess Club is over and she decided that Math Is Cool (another after-school club) wasn’t her “thing”.  That leaves Girl Scouts and Wrestling on her agenda. A2 has a big science project on the crab nebula coming up and a band concert so she’s pretty much occupied. A1 still has daily Knowledge Bowl practices and she’s getting extra help for math during that time as well.  Thank heavens the team is coached by an amazing teacher who is willing and able to help her, because lord knows that I’m lost and of no use in the numbers department.  Hmm, after reading this, someone might think my girls are a right bunch of nerds… I wish.  A3 manages to wreak havoc and cause trouble on a daily basis. Her poor teacher is a saint who deserves a raise. A2 is a complete and utter smart-arse, with a barbed tongue. And A1 spends most of her day obsessing over make-up, hair, clothes and boys, which might explain the need for extra help in Algebra.

Now off to seek that perfect balance of coffee for the morning. That means enough caffeine has been ingested to be alert and functional, but no so much that I have to use the bathroom constantly, especially while stuck on the bumpy bus ride.

Cheers!

  

  

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