Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ramblings

I just got off of facebook. Boy do I love flair! (for those of you non-facebook types, you can collect little buttons - called flair - that represent almost anything that represents you - books, tv shows, movies, political party, fun quotes, funny quotes, etc and etc) It's a very strange thing to have this collection of people that my life has crossed over the years assembled in one place. I've been thinking alot about high school recently and it seems like a whole other lifetime ago. I read my yearbook and a few of the people that wrote in there I have no recollection of them at all. I find that sad and shocking at the same time. (People, write the first and last names of your friends in your yearbook. Don't think you'll remember - you may not. Trust me.) I found one of my teachers from high school and send him a note. I don't know if he will remember me.

After reading the first two Twilight books in record time (two days each - pretty good considering I cooked and cleaned too), I did not permit myself to buy the third book. Unfortunately, my library had it on the shelf. I have it now - started it last night. Lucky for me (and for the fam) it doesn't hold my interest as much as the first two did, so I think I'll be able to finish it at a saner pace than the first two. We shall see.

I'm off to bed. To read.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Rain

It's raining right now. I love the rain. (I know this is partly because rain is more a novelty than the norm around here, but still. Love it.) I can see the sun behind the clouds, so I know it won't last, but I wish that it would. I always sleep great when it's raining. (7:53 am)

10:43 am - Now it's still raining and there is thunder and lightening. I'm loving this day! (the dog is freaking out, though. he's such a baby.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

An Open Letter

Dear Mom,

I thought of you this morning when Sally spilled her glass of milk. It got on the homework she was finishing, it ran across the table, it dripped through the seam in the middle of the table down to three chairs. It pooled under the table, then ran across the floor. It took me over an hour to clean it all up.

As I was gritting my teeth against the frustration and anger, I realized that I never properly thanked you for never yelling at us when we spilled our milk (or our juice or water or any of the other dozens of things we spilled over the years). So, Mom, thank you for never yelling at us. Because of your fine example, I didn't yell at your granddaughter today.

I even held her hand on the walk to school and told her it was no big deal and that I wasn't mad at all. Once I said it, I knew I meant it, too.

Love,
Sheila

Conversations with Samuel and Sally

(over dinner)
Sam: "Sometimes aliens are real and sometimes they are mass-kes."
Me: "What?"
Sam: "When it's Halloween, they probably aren't real, and then you just pull off the mask, and there is a person. Not an alien."
Me: "So you think that aliens are real?"
Sam: "Yeah, they can be."
Sally: "I don't believe in aliens."
Me: "Me either."
Sam: "Well, I believe in dinosaurs, too."
Sally: "I believe in dinosaurs, but in the past. They're dead now."
Me: "All of them?"
Sally: "Yeah. Oh, well, maybe the Loch Ness monster."
Me: "You think the Loch Ness monster is a dinosaur?"
Sally: "Yes."
Sam: "No. Those are just machines or sticks with people holding them."
Sally: "Sam, not everything is the way it is on Scooby Doo."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Soapbox

I have never discussed politics on the blog until now. And I do realize that by writing this post, I am going to stir up some controversy. So before I start, let me begin by saying that it's my blog and you don't have to read it, and it's a free country and you don't have to agree with me. (Also, I'll delete your comments if they are rude, so play nice.)

However, I know lots of you readers are living in California, and I don't know if you have heard of AB 2567. This is a bill in California that would make May 22 a holiday - Harvy Milk Day. He was "one of the nation’s first openly gay leaders" and he "inspired his community to stand strong and proud in the face of adversity.” (Read more here and here and here.)

My issue is not with this man - I don't know of his work so I can't speak to it's value - or even with the fact that the California Legislature wants to honor him. My issue is this: "The bill would encourage public schools and educational institutions to conduct activities teaching students about this important LGBT leader." Please tell me how this day would go in my son's kindergarten class - my five year old son, who has not even asked the sex questions yet. Or what activities my fourth grader would participate in, who knows some of the facts of sex, but who does not know what the words lesbian or bisexual mean (and probably she doesn't understand gay either.) Can you imagine the scene when the kids ask what LGBT means? (Do you know what it means?)

My issue is not with choice - regardless of what I think is right and wrong or what my choice is, people in this country are free to choose who they want to be intimate with. My issue is this: why does it need to be the defining characteristic about a person? What you do in your bedroom is not my business - and it is not my children's business either. I know that sex education in public schools is important because not all parents are involved with teaching their kids about sex (and morality) (and they should be, but that's another soapbox), but can we keep it age appropriate? Bottom line: I'm not anti-LGBT; I'm pro-privacy.

Now that the state budget was passed yesterday, our govenor will be looking at this piece of legislation. Make your voice heard. You can call Govenor Schwarzenegger's office at (916)445-2841 and let him know what you think of AB 2567. I just called and voted NO.

For ease of the phone menus, when you call:
(916)445-2841
press 1 (to continue in English )
then press 2 (to voice your opinion on legislation)
then press 1 (to select AB 2567)
then press 1 (for YES) or 2 (for NO)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cracking Myself Up

I've been watching way too much House, since they keep running House marathons. I think there are 9 or 10 episodes on the TiVo today. I may have to randomly delete some of them.

It's funny the way that Dr. House's character is so abrasive and at the same time so appealing. And it amazes me that almost everyone I talk to who watches the show has the same reaction.

So my friend, Beth, and I were watching Sense and Sensibility (the Emma Thompson version) and in walks Charlotte Palmer, and I laugh because she plays Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter #5, and then Mr. Palmer comes on the screen and I scream out "IT'S HOUSE!" because he's played by Hugh Laurie and then I laugh and laugh. Beth had to pause the movie because I wouldn't stop. I'm a mess sometimes. (And for you, Joelle, because my ignorance about famous people amuses you so much, I had no idea he was born in England. So he is talking with the accent and I laugh again and Beth says, "Well yeah, he IS English" and I an a goner. English actors who have to learn to speak with an American accent - that's too much for me.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Conversations with Samuel

(in the parking lot right before church)

Samuel: "Why did that car park right next to you?"
Me: "They can park where they want. It's a free country. People can do what they want."
Samuel: "No they can't."
Me: "Yes, they can. That is one of the great things about America - freedom."
Samuel: "People can't do what they want to."
Me: "Yes, actually they can."
Samuel: "No, they can't, because if they could, then when you tell me to do stuff, then I could say 'Naa naa I can't hear you I'm just going to play this game anyway' and you know I can't do that."
Me: "Well, yes, you can, but there are consequences for that choice. You'd get in trouble. But you are still free to make that choice."
Samuel: (mumbling now) "No I can't."
Stuart: (laughing at me) "Your son just called you a dictator!"
Me: "I prefer benevolent monarch."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Helper

What I had in mind when I had the idea to set up a yoga area in the living room:
What Samuel changed it into:

RIP

As I type this, the kids are performing a funeral for a baby lizard that drowned in the pool today. He joins Krabby (the hermit crab) on the south side of the yard. Sally read Psalms 23, and both kids said a prayer.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Job

So, after nine years of staying home with young children, I am back at work. (Sort of.) I am working at my kids' school as a playground supervisor (kindergarten) and a noon duty supervisor (three days a week). It's not well paid, and there are no benefits, but I love it. The kindergarten kids are the best. I've been able to comfort a few sad kids, brush off a few injured kids (nothing serious, thankfully), and open dozens of juice pouches. It's really a privilege to be able to help make these kids first experience with school a positive one. (And now that Samuel is going by Sam, I'm known as "Sam's Mom".)

Both kids are doing great so far this year and both of them love their teachers. What a blessing to have such qualitiy people teaching at a public school!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Knit Bit: More Cute Baby Stuff

Just finished this today - the Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono:
made just for a brand new baby girl, who has three older brothers and needs some cute pink handknits (with sparkly lavender bows, no less)

Hang on, baby - this will be on it's way soon!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Knit Bit: Evil Genius

Sometimes, several things come together at once. This is what happened: I love to knit, and I love all things Harry Potter. So I was thinking about the things that I have knit, and the things that are considered "traditional knitted items", and I got this idea that I wanted to knit a tea cozy. Tea cozies are, to me, kind of a classic and sometimes tacky knitted object. (It's akin to those plastic canvas kleenex covers or crocheted toilet paper covers. It's classic and tacky at the same time.) So as I was thinking about this, and looking at some tea cozy patterns (all of them uninspiring to me), Stuart suggested that I make a Harry Potter inspired tea cozy. YES! This really inspired me. (He inspires me all the time, actually.)

The fifth movie, Order of the Phoenix, features a great character - Dolores Umbridge. (pictured below) She's pure evil in the books, but the movie really brought out the evil genius of Professor Umbridge. She wears pink all of the time. She talks in a high, sweet, kind voice. She's short. She looks like a favorite aunt. And she's still pretty vile. And in the movie, she drinks tea.

Enter the final element: a Harry Potter themed contest on Ravelry (yes, of course I'm doing it!) and put all these elements together and out comes this:


The Evil Genius Tea Cozy


Here's the back:


It says "Naughty children deserve to be punished" - one of Professor Umbridge's tradmark sayings. It's embroidered in a french script with yarn that is actually purple (it looks a little black in this picture).

It makes me laugh every time I look at it. Special thanks to Stuart for the idea, and to my mom for the tea pot.

Knitters: I'll be posting the pattern here soon. You can have it free and make one yourself!

Evil Genius Tea Cozy

Free Knitting Pattern!

Designed by Sheila Chew

I designed this tea cozy with Professor Dolores Umbridge in mind – picture her having tea in her (scary) office with all the kitty plates on the walls. One side is knit in her favorite pink and mauve houndstooth pattern, and the other knit in pink with her trademark motto embroidered in dark plum – “Naughty children deserve to be punished.” Top it all off with a pretty bow. Now you can enjoy your tea HOT with lots and lots of sugar!

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft, #9719 – “Soft Pink”, #9722 – “Plum Wine”, #9506 – “Deep Plum Heather”

Needles: US 7 (or size needed to achieve gauge)
Crochet Hook size G (7)
Sewing needle

Gauge: stockenette: 1”= 4.5 stitches

Finished Size: approx. 9” wide and 8” high

Directions for Quote Side:

Using US7 needles and Soft Pink yarn, cast on 40 stitches. Work 6 rows of garter stitch. Switch to stockenette and work until piece measures 6”.

Decrease row 1: ssk, knit to last 2 stitches, k2tog.
Decrease row 2: purl

Repeat decrease rows until 28 stitches remain.

Eyelet row: K3, [yo, k2tog, K2], K1

Work three more rows of stockenette and bind off.

Directions for Houndstooth Side:

Using US7 needles and Plum Wine, cast on 40 stitches. Work 6 rows of garter stitch. Switch to stockenette and follow houndstooth pattern using Plum Wine and Soft Pink until piece measures 6”.

Houndstooth Pattern:

row 1: knit plum, pink, plum, plum
row 2: purl pink, plum, pink, pink
row 3: knit pink, pink, pink, plum
row 4: purl plum, plum, plum, pink
Repeat the color pattern across the row, carrying the yarns as you go.



Work decrease rows in pattern.

Decrease row 1: ssk, knit to last 2 stitches, k2tog.
Decrease row 2: purl

Repeat decrease rows until 30 stitches remain.
Work decreases one more time with darker yarn only. Now there are 28 stitches left.

Eyelet row: (darker yarn only) K3, [yo, k2tog, K2], K1

Work three more rows of stockenette (with darker yarn) and bind off.

Weave in all ends and wet block. (Note: the plain side will stretch more than the pattern side, so be careful and block them close to the same size. I recommend blocking the pattern side first, then block the plain side to match.)

Crochet Edging
Using Deep Plum Heather and a crochet hook, make a sc border along both sides of front and back. (Leave long tails for seaming.)

Quote

“Naughty children deserve to be punished.”

Work quote using ½ strand of Deep Plum and backstitch (or any embroidery stitch you prefer). I printed out the quote using several fonts of several sizes to get the look I was going for – experiment to see what works for you. (I used French Script MT, size 90) For easy placement, use a piece of tissue paper to trace the letters, then pin the tissue in place. Sew through the knitted fabric and the tissue, and then tear the tissue off when you are finished. (Tweezers work well to get all the little bits of tissue out.)

Seam

Using Deep Plum, sew sides together at the top 3” and the bottom 2” (adjust as needed). Be sure to check the “fit” with your teapot before weaving in all ends.

Bow

Using the Deep Plum yarn and a crochet hook, make a chain approximately 20 inches long. Thread through eyelets and tie a bow.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Too Busy

I was sitting on the couch a few days ago, getting ready to watch a TV show. (House had a marathon this weekend, and I had eleven episodes on my TiVo. That's a lot of House.) I had just put the kids to bed and it had been a long day. A day full of "Mom I need this" and "Mom can you do this" and I was very tired. I needed some space. I wanted to watch House. I really wanted to be by myself for an hour.

In walks Samuel. I think that Sally can sense when I am on the edge of reason, and she sends Samuel in to ask me for things. So here he was. I sighed. Loudly. "What?"

"Mom, can you play with me?"

Seriously? Seriously. "Samuel, you are supposed to be in bed. What do you want to me to play with you?"

"You know, like talk to God."

It felt like a punch right in my stomach. I think I even winced. Mom, can you pray with me? And I almost missed the chance. House could wait. I had better things to do.

Sometimes God uses my children to teach me very valuable lessons.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yes, about the rodents . . . .

So my parents and I are sitting out on the back patio the first night they were here, drinking iced water and talking, when something runs along the top of the wall in our back yard. It was a rat. Well, at the time I thought it was a mouse, but it seemed rather large for a mouse. My parents told me I should really put out some traps and put a stop to this, but I explained that traps need to then be emptied, or at the least disposed of, and I wasn't interesed in that since the mice (rats) weren't in my backyard anymore. But the thrill of the chase was already growing, so I went to the garage and found the last two mouse traps that I had purchased last fall. (Remember that saga?)

My parents baited and set the traps, but got nothing the first night. We released the traps before we went to bed because I didn't want the dog to be involved in this in any way. The next night, Stuart and I went out and my parents stayed here with the kids. When we came home, my mom and dad were smiling and mysteriously said, "We have something for you . . . ." At that, the kids yelled "WE GOT ONE!" and we all went to check it out. It was dark by now, so my mom had a flashlight, and she shined it on the ground . . . . at nothing. "It was right there . . . . " she said, and then we heard a scuffle, and the distinct sound of something slapping a small piece of wood against the ground. I, of course, screamed and ran into the house. I may have knocked over the children on the way - I can't be sure about that. The only thing I knew was that (a) there was something in the trap, and (b) it was not dead. Let me tell you, I was freaked right out.

I'll spare you the gory details, but I will tell you how it ended - my dad cornered the rodent in front of my neighbor's house (!!!) and finished him off. The next night, my dad rigged up a tricky contraption - he tied the two traps together, and then attached the string to a branch of the tree by the wall, so that once we got another one, it would not run away. (Also, it would stay out of the dog's reach. I was quite concerned about the dog's involvement in the whole situation.) We got two more, then the traps stayed empty for the next three nights.

The PS to this story came about four days after my parents left. You know that I will not be using those traps again (I refuse to unload a trap, so I just throw the whole thing away) but my parents thought that they might want to have another go at it on the next visit, so my dad cleaned off all the rodent cooties (and then washed his hands with soap) and I put the empty trap in the garage. Four days later, Samuel was out there looking for something (I didn't ask what) and found the trap and brought it in the house to show me. "Mom! Mom! I found this IN THE GARAGE." He got to Stuart first, and Stuart told him to go wash his hands. With soap. About ten minutes later, Sally tells me that there is a mouse trap in the bathroom. (Seriously.) I found Samuel, and told him to (1) put the mouse trap back where he found it in the garage, then (2) wash his hands with soap and then wash them second time. With soap. Then I followed him and opened all the doors because I didn't want any mouse trap cooties on the door knobs.

I think I'll just go spray off those door knobs with lysol again. Just to be sure those cooties are all gone.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Conversations with Samuel's Teacher

So I'm working on the kindergarten playground, helping open juice boxes and ziplock bags (seriously) and Sam's teacher comes over to me and asks me, "So, was there an incident at home involving scissors?"

Me: "Aaah, yes."

Her: "I thought so."

Me: "Why do you ask?"

Her: "When we were doing our crafts yesterday, Sam raised his hand and told me that his mom doesn't allow him to use scissors."

Me: stunned silence

Her: "I told him it was ok, because in kindergarten we learn the right way to use scissors, but he was sure you would be mad at him."

Me: nervous laughter

I then explained the whole scissors incident (omiting the part where I laugh so hard that I can't continue with the consequences) and told her about the week of no games. She told me our discipline was quite effective. After, I casually brought up the topic with Sam and explained that he was allowed to use scissors at school - as long as he was cutting paper only. His response:

"I KNOW DAT, MOM!"

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Blog To Do List

It's been quite a week. School started, I started working at the kid's school, my parents were here . . . . I feel like I need a few days to sit and process it all. But I can't, because now I need to go for a swim with my kiddos, then I need to get ready for Sally's first soccer game. It's an away game, so we have to leave extra early to find the field.

But, when I get time, I need to:

tell you about the rats (seriously disturbed story)
show you some finished knitted items
write up three reviews of books for the book blog
tell you about Samuel's scissors story (there's more)
brag a little about how great my parents are

But before that I need to clean the kitchen and check on the monthly bills. Boy, I need another three day weekend!!!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

First Day Pics!

Samuel, thrilled to have his picture taken before kindergarten. (He did have a great day, though.)

Sally, all ready for fourth grade. (She had a blast.)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

First Day Of School!!!

Yippee! Today was the first day of school. Everyone had a great day - myself included. I'm one of the noon duty supervisors (yeah, I'm a lunch lady) and I'm also helping out on the kindergarten playground. My parents are here, so we are busy busy busy - just came home from dinner at Islands and we are going to play some cards. But first, had to do a quick post to share this little gem with the internet:

My parents have declared war against our neighborhood rats.

They are winning, three to zero.

Many stories to come. First day of school photos, too. See you later!