Thursday, December 31, 2009

Clue

My parents were able to come for a visit at Christmas, and as always, we had fun and I forgot to take lots of pictures. (Sadly, Stuart remembered to take lots of pics on Christmas morning, which are up on his facebook page. Enjoy.) I did remember to take some on the first day, when they were playing Clue with the kids.If you get the chance to play Clue with kids, you should. At least once. It's a riot - almost impossible to NOT cheat since they are not that savvy with the clue sheets.Oh, and here is our new work space. Sam's Christmas gift from us was his own computer to use. We got Sally hers when she learned to read, and so Sam has been holding us to the same deal for him. We decided that there is no way we would let him have it in his room, though, so this was a great solution. Cabinets from Lowes, countertop from Ikea, and everybody is happy.

Sam's First Lost Tooth

Sam finally lost his first tooth. It's been loose for several weeks, so we are all happy that it finally fell out. Actually, it didn't fall out. He wiggled it and then pulled it himself. He was relieved that it was over. Can you tell?

the green sweater

Here's how I knit a sweater. It starts for me with the pattern. Sometimes it starts with the yarn, but usually it's a pattern. This time, my mom was making a red sweater and I was helping her read the pattern and figure out what to do. The pattern, Sitcom Chic, is interesting because it's knit from the bottom up and it's almost seamless. So I decided to make it myself. That's when the yarn quest begins. Usually I spend a few months obsessing over yarn type and color, but I found this new yarn from Michaels, and it was green and on sale so I went for it. I got bored in the middle and it sat for a few weeks, but still, I finished in three months.

That's not entirely true. I wasn't only bored. Before I start a project like a sweater, I measure myself, then I measure a sweater that fits me, then I do a swatch, then I do another swatch with different needles, then I do some math, then some more math, then I go on Ravelry and look at what other people have knit, then I start. I am fairly confident when I start that I will make a sweater that will fit me. Then in the middle, I get a rush of doubt and am sure I am making a sweater that will either look like a tent or fit my daughter. So I stop for awhile. But, I picked it up again and ignored the doubts.

Anyways, yesterday I knit the button bands over breakfast:
Yep, that's my new netbook next to it. (Thanks again, Stu!) I was listening to a podcast while I worked. It was great. The button is made from recycled plastic, but it looks like wood. I like that.
And guess what? Despite my obsessive doubting, math has prevailed. It fits!

Pattern: Sitcom Chic

Yarn: Loops & Threads Impeccable in Forest (4 skeins)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day After Christmas

Yesterday was Christmas. We had a nice day, celebrating by opening presents with my parents, having a big breakfast, and then playing and lounging around the rest of the day. We went to our church's program, Imagine Christmas. Really an amazing show - if you live in the area, you should come next year. It's very cool. My parents took the kids to the movies on Christmas Eve, then out to look at Christmas lights. Fun stuff.

I have a few knitted things to post, but I can't right now because I'm posting this from my new netbook, and all the pictures are on the home computer. Eventually I'll have access to them from this machine, but I don't know how to hook it up yet. I do have the printer working, which delights me to no end. Thanks, Stu, for such a cool gift :)

Speaking of Stu, he cooked a huge Christmas dinner - prime rib with "the sauce" that Sam loves, sweet potatoes, aspearagus, and green beans. Yummy.

I'm almost finished knitting a green sweater, and trolling around for yarn to knit the next sweater. The cool green & purple gloves are stalled for now. I'm also doing some consignment knitting, which is super fun and makes me feel like my hobby could become my career someday.

That's about all. The dog is being a brat, so I'm signing off. Enjoy the music.

Monday, December 14, 2009

imagine

This is our church's Christmas program. Location and times are here. It's really amazing.

Monday, December 07, 2009

gymnastics meet

This Saturday was Sam's first gymnastics class competition. It was really fun! Sam competed in rings, floor, vault (sort of vault - landing on a big foam mat - it's like intro to vault), parallel bars, and trampoline. He got fourth place! (out of ten - not bad for the first time)

Here's Sam with his medal:
and here's Sam with his coach:

On the gymnastics academy website, there is a video of his coach competing on the parallel bars. He won a gold medal at the 1998 World Cup.

While Sam was doing his thing, I was knitting more coasters:
and Sally learned how to knit i-cord:

We should probably teach Stu how to knit, because when he wasn't watching Sam, he was bugging Sally. They amuse me. We couldn't take flash photography during the competition, so we only have blurry pictures of Sam warming up.

Today it is (finally) raining. We had breakfast in the living room by the fireplace - very cozy and warm. I'm going to put some dinner in the crock pot so when we all come home this afternoon the whole house will smell yummy.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Mashed Sweet Potato Casserole Topped with Caramelized Bananas

This was the new recipe Stuart made for our Thanksgiving meal, and it was yummy. The bananas go really well with the sweet potatoes, and carmalized? Yes please! You can find the recipe here at the food network website. Enjoy!

new gigs

Lots going on over here - I guess that is December for you. Stuart is using my car today - his is getting an estimate on some repairs - so I'm at home. I needed a day like today - home alone, getting the last of the Christmas decorations up, working on some gifts (got a hat going for the boy that's a super secret), and doing some baking. We are going to go to Biola University's Christmas Tree Lighting tonight - both of us went there, and although we have always lived in the area, we have never taken our kids. I'm looking forward to tonight so much.

I've started taking my knitting more seriously. I've designed some patterns before, but in August I wrote and submitted my first pattern for publication. Although I didn't get accepted, I have self-published (the gloves below) and have gotten lots and lots of feedback from the knitters on Ravelry (thanks, Ravelers!) I'm considering designing more gloves, and I'm also considering opening a shop on Etsy and selling them. My sister and I are working together on a line of greeting cards with knitted embellishments. If anything comes of either thing, I'll be posting lots of links here.

I have subbed a handful of days this year, and I'm not really surprised that the phone isn't ringing off the hook. What has surprised me is that a new opportunity has dropped into my lap! My friend recommended me as a teacher for Independent Study (for students out of school due to medical reasons) and I started working with students this week. I already have three kids that I am working with, and I am really enjoying it. The hours are flexible, I am paid hourly and for mileage, and I'm teaching one of them geometry (my favorite). It's really the perfect job for me now, and I'm so thankful that my friend thought of me (thanks, Cindi!).

The kids are well. The flu/cold virus continues to move through our school, hitting whole families for 1-2 weeks at a time. I'm kind of glad we got ours early.

I'm off to bake some cookies and write a letter to put in the Christmas cards. Hope you are enjoying the Christmas music (I take requests!)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

it's december!

Welcome December! I've put up Christmas music to celebrate!

Turn up the volume and enjoy the holiday season.

(ps - tree is up, lights are on, but that's about it. we're easing into the holidays over here.)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Baby Blanket

My cousin Amy and her husband Sal had a baby girl last month. After seeing the pictures of their baby's room on Amy's blog, I set to work on this blanket:I made the center square red since she's a girl. I had decided if the baby was a boy, the middle would have been the blue. I used the numbers of her birthday for the number of stitches and rows. I love geeky math stuff like that. (The colors are a bit off in the pic above - the next two are better - not sure why that happens sometimes.) I keep making these baby blankets and they are fun to knit every time. This is the first one I have done in the concentric square motif, and I'm sold. WAY less ends to weave in, and the mix of thick stripes and the thin cream stripes makes my brain happy.
Log Cabin Baby Blanket, knit in Lion Cotton-Ease Yarn (50% cotton 50% acrylic, machine wash and machine dry) in colors Cherry, Lake, Almond, Lime, and Taupe.
Welcome to the world, baby Mia!

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a great day! The menu: spinach artichoke dip with bread, onion tartletts, carrots and hummus, turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams with carmalized bananas (my favorite of the year), corn green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, and sugar cookies decorated to look like turkeys.

I had to do very little cooking, which makes me completely thankful.

Today I spent the morning decorating, then had a yummy turkey sandwich for lunch, and took a huge nap. A huge huge nap that was hard to wake up from. I love those.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

fingerless gloves pattern

this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
e. e. cummings


After several months of waiting, I can share a project that I have been working on - I have designed a pattern for fingerless gloves. I'm pretty excited about it. Here they are:
Knit with beautiful malabrigo worsted merino yarn (one skein makes two pairs!), they are stretchy and fit almost everyone and have a cute heart detail on the thumb.
The pattern is below. Click here for the updated pdf file with charts . Enjoy!

i carry ur heart (fingerless gloves)

SIZE

One (Adult)

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS

Cuff circumference: 6.5 inches; Length: 7.5 inches

YARN

Malabrigo Worsted [100% pure merino wool, 210 yards (3.5 oz) per skein], color #157 "Amoroso", one skein [One skein will make two pairs of gloves with approximately 5 yards left, not including gauge swatch.]

NOTIONS

1 set US 7/4.5 mm double-point needles

Stitch marker (optional)

10-12 inches waste yarn

Tapestry needle

GAUGE

19 sts/24 rows = 4" in stockinette stitch

PATTERN NOTES

Combo Ribbing (worked in the round over a multiple of 5 sts)

K2, p1, k1, p1

Open Ribbing (worked in the round over a multiple of 5 sts)

Round 1: k2, p1, k1, p1

Round 2: k1, yo, k1, p1, k1, p1

Round 3: k3, p1, k1, p1

Round 4: k3, pass the third stitch on the right needle over two stitches, p1, k1, p1

Round 5: k2, p1, k1, p1

M1R – With left needle, lift the strand between stitches from the back and knit into the front of loop.

M1L - With left needle, lift the strand between stitches from the front and knit into the back of loop.

PATTERN

Cuff

Cast on 35 stitches, dividing stitches onto three needles (10 sts, 10 sts, 15 sts). Join, being careful not to twist. Place marker at the beginning of the round.

Rounds 1-10: Work in combo ribbing.

Rounds 11-15: Work in open ribbing.

Thumb Gusset

(I have included a chart for this section if you prefer that to detailed instructions.)

Round 16: k2, p1, k1, p1, M1R, k2, M1L, p1, k1, p1, [k2, p1, k1, p1]

Round 17: k1, yo, k1, p1, k1, p1, k4, p1, k1, p1, [k1, yo, k1, p1, k1, p1]

Round 18: k3, p1, k1, p1, M1R, k4, M1L, p1, k1, p1, [k3, p1, k1, p1]

Round 19: k3, pass 3rd st over, p1, k1, p1, k6, p1, k1, p1, [k3, pass 3rd st over, p1, k1, p1]

Round 20: k2, p1, k1, p1, M1R, k6, M1L, p1, k1, p1, [k2, p1, k1, p1]

Round 21: k2, p1, k1, p1, k8, p1, k1, p1, [k2, p1, k1, p1]

Round 22: k1, yo, k1, p1, k1, p1, M1R, k8, M1L, p1, k1, p1, [k1, yo, k1, p1, k1, p1]

Round 23: k3, p1, k1, p1, k10, p1, k1, p1, [k3, p1, k1, p1]

Round 24: k3, pass 3rd st over, p1, k1, p1, M1R, k10, M1L, p1, k1, p1, [k3, pass 3rd st over, p1, k1, p1]

Round 25: k2, p1, k1, p1, k12, p1, k1, p1, [k2, p1, k1, p1]

Round 26: k2, p1, k1, p1, k5, p1, k6, p1, k1, p1, [k2, p1, k1, p1]

Round 27: k1, yo, k1, p1, k1, p1, k5, p1, k6, p1, k1, p1, [k1, yo, k1, p1, k1, p1]

Round 28: k3, p1, k1, p1, k5, p2, k5, p1, k1, p1, [k3, p1, k1, p1]

Round 29: k3, pass 3rd st over, p1, k1, p1, k5, p2, k5, p1, k1, p1, [k3, pass 3rd st over, p1, k1, p1]

Round 30: k2, p1, k1, p2, k3, p4, k3, p2, k1, p1, [k2, p1, k1, p1]

Round 31 : k2, p1, k1, p2, k3, p4, k3, p2, k1, p1, [k2, p1, k1, p1]

Round 32: k1, yo, k1, p1, k1, p3, k1, p6, k1, p3, k1, p1, [k1, yo, k1, p1, k1, p1]

Round 33: k3, p1, k1, p 14, k1, p1, [k3, p1, k1, p1]

Round 34: k3, pass 3rd st over, p1, k1, p1, slip next 12 stitches to waste yarn, cast on 2 stitches (using backwards-loop cast on), p1, k1, p1, [k3, pass 3rd st over, p1, k1, p1]

Top

Round 35: k2, p1, k1, p1

Rounds 36-40: Work in open ribbing.

Rounds 41-45: Work in combo ribbing.

Bind off in pattern.

Thumb

Round 1: Put 12 stitches on two needles, attach yarn, and knit every stitch. Pick up and knit 5 stitches in opening at top of thumb. (17 stitches)

Round 2: P 17.

Round 3: k 12, k2tog, k1, ssk (15 stitches)

Round 4: p 15

Round 5: k 15

Bind off purlwise.

Make a second glove following the same instructions.

FINISHING

Weave in all ends.

©2009 HandKnits by Sheila Chew. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Today I am putting up curtain rods and ironing curtains. Normally I hate ironing, but the endless straightness of these curtains is very soothing.

I am a domestic goddess. I have a screwdriver (the tool, not the drink) in one hand and an iron in the other. Fear me.

I am realizing that the best part of new curtains is that they cover up the dirty windows. (Tomorrow, I'll have windex in one hand and a wad of paper towels in the other . . . maybe I can find the kids doing something wrong and punish them with window cleaning . . . . )

Monday, November 16, 2009

monster cookies

My friend asked for this recipe, and I cannot believe that I have not posted this yet. This is my mom's signature cookie - there is a 95% chance she has a dozen of these in the freezer at any given time. This makes a lot of cookies, so make half or plan to freeze some (or give some away - everyone loves cookies).

When I make them, I use extra m&m's to decorate the top. They look pretty that way, and you can do different colors for the holidays too.


Monster Cookies
Recipe by Sheila at musings of a mommy.blogspot.com
2 sticks of butter
1 lb. brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
6 eggs
2 Tbsp. vanilla
3 cups peanut butter
4 tsp. soda
9 cups quick cooking rolled oats
½ lb. M&M’s
½ lb. chocolate chips
Mix all ingredients. I use a cookie scoop to measure them out on the cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 on greased cookie sheets for 10-15 minutes, or until the edge of one cookie starts to brown just a teeny bit.  These taste better on the under-done side, as they set up as they cool. Makes 6 dozen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veterans Day

It's Veterans Day, so you know what that means.

Sleeping in. (yeah right)

Watching cartoons. (well, Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix)


Sam's a good helper . . . . (here he's in charge of the cinnamon and sugar topping)

but he's a goofball too.

(Sally was still in her jammies and refused to be photographed. She sends her regards.)

Dad, Happy Veterans Day. We will call you later and tell you we love you and are proud of your service to our country. (PS - I think you'll be pleased to know that yesterday Sally said to me, "Well, I suppose we'll need to call Grandpa tomorrow", and then this morning Stuart reminded me, "Don't forget to call your Dad today.")

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

shopping links

Hi Everyone!

Well, it's November. Time to start a countdown to Christmas. This year, I'm determined to get my cards in the mail early. (I say this every year.)

If you are like me and you are looking for an easy way to get your shopping done, I have some ideas for you. These are businesses that are owned and run by people I know. Check them out:

Ace Quality - my sister's on-line store - camping gear (tents, outdoor showers, food - everything you need), all kinds of camelbak hydration backpacks, and more. She's got all kinds of personal trainer computer things and heart rate monitor watches for the athelete on your list.

So Many Colors, So Little Time - my cousin Amber's Etsy shop - Amber makes super-cute cards, hair ribbons, and earrings. She takes custom orders, too.

Pressed Ink - my friend's line of note cards - I've used these cards and they are beautiful and thick. Stripes and polka dots. Personalized initial. Love it.

Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Sam and a laundry basket

Stu took these pictures of Sam. I don't know why he fell asleep with that thing on his head, but I had to share.

coping skills

We're almost all better over here. The kids will be going to school tomorrow. Sam finished his last dose of prescribed medication, and I have stopped getting water for people. (No, I did not tell them to get their own damn water. I did think it, but I didn't say it.)

Honestly, the worst part for me (other than the constant hand washing) was the worrying. I'm a great worrier. I learned from my mom, who is a champion worrier and an excellent teacher. So, to stop myself from obsessively worrying over the sickies, I decided to sew something. I totally blame the boys, who wanted me to make them Jedi robes for Halloween. (I did - they are fantastic - and they will wear them next year since we missed all the Halloween fun this year.) Anywho, all that sewing sparked a little crafting fire in my brain and I cranked this out for me:
a needle case for my double pointed needles and crochet hooks. (Notice the vitamin c, hand sanitizer, and mug of tea!) I've been wanting one for awhile, and saw one for $60 (!!!) and thought, Hmm, I could totally make that.I used fabric and thread that I already had (I love that) and made up the pattern from a few photos of retail needle holders.

I made one for Sally too.

(Hers is a bit wonky because something was up with my sewing maching - it did not like that green checked fabric and kept bunching up funny. I'm still not sure what happened, but her edges are finished better than mine.) She has become quite the crocheter - she's into the animaguri toys and has even designed a tree that is knit and crochet. She's very talented.
(And yes, I am wearing black nail polish. For Halloween. Even though we didn't leave the house all day.)

This is how I cope. I find a project that requires me to think and use my hands. It calms me and makes me not freak out. Which I think we would all agree is something to avoid. The only healthy person in the house freaking out. That would be really bad.

Friday, October 30, 2009

still sick

Nothing interesting to say except Sam and Sally are sick, Stu and I are tired, and I cannot wait for the end of the flu season. Oh, and I hate it when Sam gets hives. And all the people working at the pharmacy in Albertsons know my name.

I think that is it. Too tired to write more and my hands hurt from washing them so many times. I'm going to put on lotion and watch Tom and Jerry with Sam.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

reporting in

Well, Sam is still running a fever - for the fourth day in a row - so since he started coughing on Wednesday I made him a doctor appointment for this morning. He woke up at 4:30 am and was feverish again, so I got him some water, some ibuprofen, and a cold cloth for his head. We camped out in the family room and went back to sleep. I had to wake him up at 7:15 so we could take Sally to school and then head to the doctor. I was very worried about waking him up and having him be miserable and having to drag him around to the doctor and then to the pharmacy (and what if they want to do blood work or give him a shot and then I'm holding down a crying screaming miserable kid who has been sick for four days and . . . . and . . . see, sometimes I'm really just a crazy person pretending to be normal . . . ) I can't tell you how nice it was to hear him chatting with Sally and making jokes with her on the way to school. The doctor says his lungs are clear and that a secondary infection probably set in after he had a regular flu last week. Thankfully, he didn't think a blood test would reveal anything at this point, and they are all out of flu shots for the year. Got the medicine, got the grocery shopping done for the weekend, and got back home. Sam is resting quietly watching a movie. He's watching Over the Hedge, which is why I'm over here on the computer. (I was pushing for Harry Potter, being that it's so close to Halloween, but I lost. Next up is National Treasure.)

I'm a little bit of a wreck today. It's not the cabin fever - I could hole up at home all week and not go crazy with it. I've got plenty of projects and things to do around here, and I don't mind the quiet. It's the worrying that makes me crazy, and it's the being the one in charge that makes me exhausted. I'm the one that has to decide: ibuprofen or tylenol; make him eat or leave him alone, take him to the doctor or stay home and rest . . . . and on and on until I can't even decide what to eat for lunch and I can't remember what day it is. So I'm going to sit and be quiet and think positive thoughts. I'm going to take my vitamin and drink extra water. I'm going to, sadly, watch Over the Hedge with Sam.

Hug your kids today. Be well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

home again

Sam got sick again early Monday morning. (Like 2:30 am early. Why does it always start in the middle of the night?) After a really rough day yesterday, he seems to be doing better today. He's eating, he's resting. He even started talking again. Sam is an easy patient when he's sick, but he worries me so much because he doesn't talk. I swear, the kid could lose a toe and he wouldn't tell me until I ask why there is blood all over the floor. He just lays there on the couch, miserable, and then I feel him and he's burning up and I say, "Hey buddy, do you feel sick?" and he tells me he's really hot and then he throws up everywhere. Sally, on the other hand, is my drama queen. Any twinge of a stomach ache and she's doubled over and heading for the tums.

Anyways, he's doing better today. He ate toast for breakfast and drank some juice (I gave him some clear juice in a juice pouch - yesterday he had a grape popsicle and threw up purple and Sally almost lost her lunch at the same time) and his fever is below 100. Last night, in an effort to quarantine the sickness, I decided that Sam and I would sleep on the couches in the family room, and Stu and Sally could have our bedroom. I woke up in the middle of the night alone in the family room. Everyone else was in my bed. I guess it was just fine because Sally and Stuart are at school and work, and Sam slept all night and hasn't thrown up today.

I played with the colors on the blog - let me know what you think. I'm not sure about the green color on the left side. I like the brown, though.

Shouts out to my cousin and her husband, who had their first child on Sunday. Welcome to the world, baby Mia! Can't wait to meet you! Sally is grateful that you are a girl, and she really wants to hold you.

Also sending love out to my mom friends at school who covered for me at the jog-a-thon and who always tell me that family comes first and not to worry about staying home with a sick kid. I love it when people make a point of telling you the right thing to do. It makes me feel proud to be in a community that values family and friendship like that.

OK, enough fun. I'm going to change all the linens and disinfect the bathrooms again. Note to self: buy more lysol.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

This & That & Lotsa Stuff

First off, Sam is much much better. He was fever-free for most of the day Wednesday, so he went to school on Thursday. Perfect timing, as it was the day that a teacher needed a sub at lunchtime and I was able to cover her classes. Second grade is not easy to teach, that's for sure. The kids are super great, though, and I had fun reading to them. They are total angels when you read to them - it's like magic quiet dust.

We've had a pretty quiet weekend, for us. Soccer game on Saturday morning, then home for some family time and lunch. Sam was tired and took a nap. I think it was a combo of the last of being sick, and growing. He's going to sleep and sleep and wake up taller, I just know it. I don't know what's gotten into me, but after subbing on Friday, I came home and made homemade croutons (yummy) for our dinner salads (with lasagna that I made last week - froze half - instant dinner). Saturday I made a Halloween costume for Sam and started one for Stuart. Today I got up and made some pumpkin muffins. (I'm tweaking the recipe again, so check back for a new version soon!) I made some with cream cheese and some without, because guess what? Stuart doesn't like cream cheese in muffins. This was quite a shock to me.

Today, Stu took the kids to the movies, and I'm having some quiet time. I'm going to go finish sewing his costume, then either knit or nap. Probably nap. All this productivity makes me tired.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Home

Sam has had the flu for the past three days. If you follow me on facebook, you know that it's not a particularly nasty strain of the virus - he's been running a fever on and off, and sleeping up a storm. Like 12 hours a night, plus daytime naps. I figure that sleep and fluids are the best thing for him, so he's on the couch with a little dish of crackers, a cup of water with a straw, and watching cartoons. Later, we are going to watch Underdog. I hate Underdog. I think I'll use the time to knit something complicated, like those gloves.

I've been stuck home, except for last night when I spent almost forty minutes in the line at the Walmart pharmacy. I don't know what went wrong there - maybe somebody called in sick - I just know I was fourth in line, and by the time I got to the front, there were at least ten people behind me. At 8:30 pm! I really don't like Walmart, but their prices are so low that it's worth it. I tell myself that it's character building, standing in line, cultivating my patience. It doesn't really work, but I'll keep at it anyway.

It doesn't really bother me, being stuck at home. I've become such a homebody lately. There is always plenty to do, and I like the quiet.

Monday, October 19, 2009

RCE - another piece of the puzzle

Back in July, I wrote about how I figured out that I sometimes sleep with my eyes open. I have since taken to sleeping with a sleep mask (the satin fabric kind that you get in a drugstore). I put a thin smear of vaseline on the mask where it will be on my eyelids, and gently press it onto my closed eyes. This has worked very well in keeping my eyes closed and I have had little discomfort since I started doing this.

Today, though, another piece of the puzzle clicked into place. When I found out that my corneas were peeling off, I knew there must be some reason for it. All the doctors told me that it had to do with my eyes being dry and that sometimes people have damaged corneas. I was convinced that there was more to my condition, though. At first, I thought it may have to do with a drug that I took during high school to control acne. Then I thought that I might have cancer. (OK, that was a parnoid thought, but the eyes are the windows to the rest of your body.) I don't think either of these things had anything to do with my RCE. I think it goes back to my gall bladder.

In 2003, Sam was born in June, and I had my gall bladder removed in October. Before my surgery, I was eating very little and I lost quite a bit of weight. Basically, I stopeed eating dinner for two months. I knew if I went to bed hungry, I wouldn't wake up with the awful gall bladder attack pain. It took me several months after the surgery to get back to a normal diet. But my body was not the same, and I couldn't eat some kinds of food anymore. Sadly, I didn't make the connection between certain foods and how my body felt after eating them for over two years. (I blame the Mom Thing - I was so consumed with taking care of two young kids that I wasn't overly concerned with my occasional digestive issues.)

However, over this past year I have been making changes to my diet. I have stopped eating almost all pork. I never eat hot dogs or bacon. If we have ribs (previously one of my favorite things), I only eat one and make sure I have extra vegetables. This summer, I tried going without red meat. I didn't miss it too much, and I even considered becoming a vegetarian exclusively. Except for one big thing. I love hamburgers. I know me. I don't know if I could go through the rest of my life without a hamburger. But, feeling good is better than a hamburger, so for the past few months I've been having gardenburgers.

This weekend, though, I fell off the wagon. I ate a western bacon cheeseburger. The aftermath has been, um, significant. I can't ignore the fact that this kind of food makes my body sick. And this morning, when I woke up with a really dry eye and I still was having diarrhea (OK, more info than you wanted, but if this helps even one person with RCE, then the honesty was worth it), it hit me: I was dehydrated. I have probably been dehydrated since 2004. I was so dehydrated that my corneas became dry and damaged.

It wasn't random. There was a reason. I was dehydrated and I was sleeping with my eyes open.

I feel like a weight has been lifted. I can't tell you how much RCE messes with your head. The randomness of the episodes and feeling so out of control of yourself is horrible. I was having small panic attacks at various times of the day. Even now, almost two years later, I have a small panic if the store is out of the ointment that I use, and when I find the ointment I almost weep with relief. It's sad - I know that it's totally irrational, but I can't help it, so I let myself feel it. I tell myself that it will be ok, but I still know that it might not. Anyway, now I have another thing that I can do to protect my eyes. I can make sure that I am hydrated. I can avoid foods that my body can't process. It's a small thing, but inside my head it's like turning a corner; it's like the day after a week of cold rain. It's sunshine.

(PS - If you are reading this because you or someone you know is dealing with RCE, please leave me a comment or email me. I'd love to talk to you.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

off the deep end

Some knitting to share. I got it in my head to try some colorwork mittens. I haven't done this stuff before mostly because I'm afraid of steeks. See, this kind of colorwork is done in the round, and if you are making a sweater, you knit the body, then cut holes in it for the arms. You cut big holes in your knitting. There are no words. I cannot picture a day in my life where I will knit a project that requires steeking. It makes my hands shaky just thinking about it. Anyway, mittens need no steeking, so I thought this would be a good fit for me.

Then I came across The Endpaper Mitts. They are fingerless gloves. They are like my knitting soulmate. Then I tried to follow the pattern, and that's where it all fell apart. I tried to do the Italian tubular cast-on, and failed. I tried again, and started knitting. Then I realized I must have done it wrong, because it didn't look right to me. Then I read through the Ravelry forums and found a link for the cable rib cast-on. Now that looks like me. So, yesterday, I ripped out the few rounds I had, and started over. I knit the cuff - with size 1 needles. I changed to bigger needles - size 2. (For the non-knitters, US1 and US2 are very small needles.) I added the contrast color and began the pattern. I bored my friends with my cleverness. See why?

Aren't they pretty?
Yarn is Cascade 220 in Celtic Green and Lavender Heather.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chocolate Chocolate Banana Muffins

I found this recipe on a blog a few months ago when I was hopping around the internet, and I can't remember where I got it. I just searched for it and I can't find the source, so I'm so sorry to not be able to credit the appropriate person, but I must share because these are YUMMY. My kids don't like coffee flavor, so I left that out and added some whole wheat flour and ground flax meal. Please do not tell my kids! The cocoa powder and banana texture hides the good stuff so well that you don't even know it's there. My batch made a dozen regular size muffins and 16 mini-size muffins.

If this is your recipe or your friend's recipe, please leave me a link to your blog so I can give you credit. And thank you for sharing this with me!


Mocha Double Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Yield 12 muffins and 8 texas sized muffins
Preheat oven to 350 and grease and flour muffin tins

Ingredients:
1/4 cup oil and 1 cup plain applesauce
1 cup sugar
1 egg
3-4 ripe bananas
4 Tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 Tbsp hot water (it's like a syrup)
2-3 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 and 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (for the batter)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (for the tops of the muffins)

Mix everything together. Fill tins 3/4 full and top with chocolate chips. Bake 20-25 minutes (12-15 for mini muffins). Cool. Enjoy.

Friday, October 09, 2009

fun link friday

So I've been thinking about fractals this week (yes, my mind is sometimes a scary place) and I came across this beautiful website and I realized that I love Julia Sets. That's a Julia Set Fractal to the left. I like the swirly parts. If you have free time, go wander around the website. Beautiful artwork.

What else? How about a sheepy wedding dress? I love these photos! Such a cute couple.

And speaking of cute couples, The Office was great last night - Jim and Pam's wedding - loved it. Best opening of any Office episode that I've ever seen. Stu and I watched that scene twice!

That's all - I'm off to run some errands, including going to the yarn store because, you guessed it, I ran out of yarn in the middle of the hat that I am making to use up the leftover yarn. BUT - I found contrasting yarn in the stash to use for the two-color mittens, so I only have to buy one skein to finish the hat and make the gloves. (I better not run out while making the gloves. That would be a travesty.)

BYE!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

bi-monthly blog?

Everyone around here seems to be adjusted to the school schedule, but our lives are very full these days. The kids are keeping busy with school and homework and playdates, and Sally has soccer and flute and Sam has gymnastics. (And phone calls. For both of them. Sam got his first friend phone call yesterday - Sally answered the phone and yells out "Sam! It's for you!" and I was totally caught off guard. Then, I heard Sam say, "OK! I'll put you on speakerphone and go get on-line!" WHAT??? Yes, my six year old knows how to put someone on speaker phone and how to log on to Club Penguin to network with his friends from school Seriously. I don't know whether to be scared or proud.)

I've had a few sub jobs and a few sub-Lunch-Lady jobs, and I've been keeping busy with the cooking, cleaning, laundry, homework, and being Personal Assistant and Driver for both kids. I've been knitting lots of things, but some are gifts and some are other things I can't talk about yet (mysterious, yes, but the waiting is killing me too). Yesterday I got the crazy idea to knit some traditional colorwork mittens, like these:
I know, I know. Latvian two-color mittens! I live in Southern California, and these have no practical purpose in my life, but I might go somewhere cold some day, and they would make a lovely gift for someone, so I think I might just go ahead and make some. Also, this solves another little problem that I have - I made a green scarf for myself last year, thinking that I would try out this yarn and see if I want to use it for a sweater. I don't. It's too itchy. So, I have about half of a skein left. Of course, I decide to make some gloves. So I start off and get almost done with the first one when I realize that I will not have nearly enough for a second glove. So I put it away for a few weeks, avoiding the fact that I'll need to buy more yarn (to use up extra yarn! crazy) or rip out the glove. After making about five other pairs of gloves with different yarn, I ripped out the almost-finished green glove and decide to make a hat. Slouchy knit hats are all the rage this year, so I find a pattern and cast on. It's charming, I love it, and guess what? I think I may run out of yarn. (@%&*) But now I really like this hat, and I don't want to rip out another project, so if I go out and get more of this color to finish the hat, then I can get a contrasting color for the gloves! Problem solved!

See why I have no time to blog? Just thinking about all this takes most of the morning.

Yesterday I was most productive. I washed my car, went to the post office, visited a friend, volunteered at school, had lunch with a new friend, went grocery shopping, picked up the kids, took Sam to get a haircut, helped the kids with homework, made homemade soup, cleaned the kitchen, folded laundry, and took Sally to soccer practice. Today I woke up an hour early for some reason. I'm going to fall into a coma around 7:30 tonight. I better get all my stuff done. Maybe I should start with another cup of coffee . . . .

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Favorite Picture

This is a work in progress - some gloves that I am making for a friend's daughter. I love the colors and the stitch marker :) Malabrigo worsted yarn in "Little Lovely"; stitch marker is made by me.

Knit Coasters

I haven't had much knitting content because I'm working on some gifts and I'm also designing a pattern (hopefully lots more on that later - now I'm in the waiting stage . . .) This is a pattern I adapted from a project in the book Pints and Purls : Portable Projects for the Social Knitter by Karida Collins and Libby Bruce. It's a really cute little book with some fun projects - I found it at the library. I really like the sweaters and the messenger bags.

Anyway, I found a pattern for coasters that look like japanese slippers, but I made mine just plain little squares.
I've been keeping this project in my bag as they are small and quick and perfect for knitting on the go. I put the beads on so I don't have to weave in the ends :) (In this picture, the top coaster is upside down, but I like the angle and the colors, so I am dealing with the fact that it isn't perfect. Embrace the imperfection.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Q: How does Sam like being in first grade?

A: Here he is at 7:45 pm on a Friday night:He was really really tired.
(How old is he going to be before I get tired of taking pictures of him sleeping??? Seriously, he's so cute!)

Soccer


Thanks, Charlie, for the great pics from Saturday's game. We played in San Clemente, and as you can see from the pictures, the field was just beautiful. And we won!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

first day of school

Here I sit, all alone for the first time in a long time, with both kids at school. They got off to a good start today: Sally is starting fifth grade, and Sam is in first (that explains the fingers - I don't know what the deal is with Sam's leg - he was pretty happy to be starting school, so maybe that's why he's standing like that).
I took a few pictures on the walk to school, but then stopped because I was obviously an embarrassment to them.
Just one more:
I put my application in for a teaching job, but this is not a good year to be looking for a teaching job. So, with mixed feelings, I applied to be a substitute teacher for the kid's school district. I think I'll get enough work to not be bored, and I can stay home with sick kids if I need to. I'm starting to think that subbing may be the best thing for me right now. I have a few jobs lined up, and hopefully I'll be able to get a few days a week. I'm also doing a few projects that may generate income (more on that later) so subbing gives me a flexible schedule for that. All in all, I'm thankful to be where I am at. (And isn't that the goal anyway?)
Today, though, I'll be doing some cleaning, playing some computer games, and sitting in the quiet house by myself. Can you see my smile over the internet?

Friday, August 14, 2009

time is running out . . .

It's the middle of August, and we have a few short weeks left of summer. The kids and I are trying to make the most of it - going swimming and to the beach and crafting it up. Sally learned how to crochet yesterday - she's already half-way through a project! We were going to go to the beach to try out Sally's new boogie board, but the kids felt like staying home, so we did. We stayed in our pj's and made cookies and watched movies. I won't have too many more of these days with them, where we all like hanging out together. I'm trying to make them last.

Not much else going on around here.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Museum

We were able to go hang out with Uncle Jon while I was visiting my sister, and he took us to a children's museum in Berkeley. Super fun. Enjoy!