Monday, December 31, 2012

So long, year

If you remember, last January I set some goals--both crafty and otherwise--that I wanted to accomplish this year. I didn't finish all of them, but I'm satisfied nonetheless.


-baby sweaters (plus a vest.)
-a baby blanket (here)
-a sweater for myself (I just realized I never posted pictures of the finished product. Will have to do so.)
-a shawl for Nicole (here)
-lots of hexipuffs (well, it depends on your definition of "lots," but I'd say this is probably a no.)
-an afghan (see previous post)
-learn to crochet (yay!)
-learn to sew (two people used my sewing machine this year, but sadly neither of them was me.)


-have a baby
-sign up for an hour of adoration (I don't think this is a realistic goal for me at this time ... but it is one I am continually reevaluating, and I hope I can commit to a regular holy hour sometime in the near future.)
-read 50 books (final count is 57!)

It's still Christmastide ...

... but things are winding down here. Keith's mom left very early yesterday morning, and we are likely just hanging out at home for a quiet New Year's.

Christmas morning, complete with snowman pjs

Amidst the happy busyness of visiting friends and family during the past week, I've really treasured the moments when I've slipped away to nurse Michael. (He needs a quiet room or he gets very distracted.) Especially since during that time Mama often had to be the bad guy (at least in baby's eyes) who enforced naps and so forth, that space of calm one-on-one time felt so necessary and peaceful, and Michael's smiles very special.

This Christmas I've been thinking a lot about humility and what it really means. I think it's one of those virtues that gets stereotyped quite a bit. I had wanted to cook my mother-in-law a meal while she is here. She always cooks amazing meals for us when she visits, but I have never cooked for her. For various reasons it didn't happen, and I was lamenting it as I did the dishes one night, because cooking someone a meal is, to me, one of the best ways to show hospitality and service. And then I realized--anyone can do the dishes. You might get thanked for it, but you probably won't get complimented on what a great dishwasher you are or how spotless you left the glasses. It is a very necessary task, but not very visible.

And that is an act (or rather an attitude) of humility: recognizing and generously responding to whatever needs must be met, whether it's cooking a delicious meal you will be recognized for or doing some small task that anyone else could do.

Right now chicken soup is simmering on the stove, and Keith is picking up bread from Giant Eagle on his way home, and the baby is napping. I will probably spend most of my evening knitting; I've decided I am DONE with this blanket by 2013, no matter what. I have one more ball of this fuzzy green yarn left, but we'll see if I manage to break into it before midnight. :-P

not my favorite shade of green ... 
I mean, the yarn is very soft and VERY warm, but I've been working on this blanket for ages. There are pictures of me knitting it from Thanksgiving of last year. 

Knitting and chicken soup on New Year's Eve ... we're an exciting bunch around here. ;)

Friday, December 21, 2012

From one knitter to another

I consider myself very blessed to have a large number of friends who knit. Knitting is what brought some of us together; others have learned along the way. (It's pretty contagious, apparently.) One of the things I love about knitting is that it's both a solitary and a social activity, and it really does bring people together in awesome ways. (One could say it knits them together ... hahaha. Er, sorry.) 

My lovely friend Evangeline is one of those who didn't knit initially but soon got sucked in. (After she moved back to Pittsburgh, she walked into a circle of friends who can gabble on about Tosh and Malabrigo for hours and walk up to each other and exclaim in joyful recognition, "Oh, I love your Fetchings! Oh, you're wearing Echo Flowers!" So she didn't stand much of a chance.)

Now Evangeline lives in LA, but she stopped by Pittsburgh for a few days on her way home for Christmas. The day before she left she and another friend surprised me with a generous and incredibly sweet Christmas gift. 

They drew the design on the cup and saucer themselves with ceramic pens. Yes--those rows of stockinette are all hand drawn

And as if that wasn't enough, to top it off they also gave me a skein of Tosh Sock in the colorway Oxblood.
(The only downside of having such a wonderful skein of yarn? Deciding what pattern to knit with it! So hard!)

I was so touched. What wonderful and generous friends. :) 

Christmas Decorations

Yesterday as we packed up to visit my parents, I snapped some pictures of the Christmas decorations in our apartment. Unfortunately, it was pretty grey out, and I couldn't tell from the camera screen how blurry these were.

My Fontanini nativity set:

It was getting a little crowded on the table, so the shepherds are on the mantle above. Maybe they'll come down and see Baby Jesus on Christmas Day? 

(I like to think that they're keeping their sheep on a cliff overlooking Bethlehem ... ;) )

Here is the garland I crocheted! :) I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. 

And ... drumroll please ... our Christmas tree. My mother-in-law gave us the tree skirt last year. 

Like last year, I feel a little sad that we decorate our apartment and then leave it all behind. But we will be home after Christmas, and it will be nice to have them up while Keith's mother is here.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Preparing, II

Yesterday, Gaudete Sunday, we bought our tree and Keith bedecked it with lights. We will probably decorate it tonight. And light the rose candle on our Advent wreath, which I just noticed we forgot to do.

This morning I set up the rest of the nativity to await Baby Jesus' arrival, as well as setting up a few other decorations.

Saturday we went to Ikea to get a few things, and had an argument in the entrance of the store, which was kind of embarrassing.

I am feeling a little stressed. In my head I had an entire week (this one) to accomplish the rest of what needs to be done--cleaning, Christmas shopping, the rest of the cards, etc--but then Keith started talking about going up to visit our parents on Thursday, and I realized/remembered how short Advent is this year since Christmas is on a Wednesday ... which cuts my time short by several very important days.

My reaction was ... not peaceful. Ahem.

So I sat down, made yet another list, organized it according to day, prioritized (ie I may not get the corners of my kitchen floor scrubbed with a toothbrush before my mother-in-law comes), made significant progress knitting a gift last night, etc.

But today my hand hurts. It had been doing so for the past week or two whenever I put pressure on it getting up from the bed or the floor or put my body weight on it for whatever reason--a pain sort of at the base of my thumb. This happens to both me and my mother sometimes, and I figured it was from crocheting stars to send along with Christmas cards. So I stopped doing that. (Some of you are getting stars, some of you aren't. Sorry. :( ) And it did, in fact, get better. I guess maybe the knitting last night brought it back ... except it's worse now. It hurts when I do almost anything, including cleaning the dishes or picking up Michael.

So we'll see what gets done before we leave on Thursday. As long as I can straighten up a bit and finish Christmas shopping/wrapping ... everything else will be okay. I am peaceful now, turning any stress I feel (mostly over Christmas shopping) to Our Lady, and trying to learn from her what it means to wait for Christ with patience and eagerness and hope.

And I'm really grateful that I already scrubbed the bathroom floor.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Our Lady of Guadalupe has a special place in my heart. My relationship with the Blessed Mother waxes and wanes, but any devotion I have is always a gift from her, and I feel from Our Lady of Guadalupe in particular. There was a missionary image of Our Lady of Guadalupe at a Catholic women's conference my mom and I went to when I was a teenager. People lined up to see it in between presentations because it was a miraculous image. When I found this out, I dragged my mother away from dinner early so that we could get in line before the last talk of the evening.

There was a woman standing by the image with a stethoscope. She placed the stethoscope over Mary's heart, and some people heard her heartbeat--and then she'd place it over her womb, and some people also heard Jesus' heart. As I came up in line she was wiping the ears of the stethoscope with her last alcohol swab, so I was one of the last people she let listen. She looked at me and told me cheerfully, "Children always hear the Baby Jesus' heartbeat."

I remember feeling kind of insulted, because it was literally the day before my sixteenth (or fifteenth?) birthday. Ha. She helped me put the stethoscope in my ears, held it over Our Lady's heart ...

... and there it was. Clear and slow and deep, the slowest and most even heartbeat I have ever heard. Like when I was little and curled up in my mother's lap listening to her heart.

And before I had a chance to take it in, she moved the stethoscope down to Our Lady's belly--I could point out to you the exact flower on her dress--and I heard Him. A much smaller, faster heartbeat, but just as clear. And as I listened to it, it moved. And as it moved, I heard splashing--the liquid inside Our Lady's womb moving as her Son swam inside her.

I couldn't fathom it. I had hoped to hear His heartbeat, but this? And as I tried to wrap my mind around that, then ... I heard His voice. A cooing, happy sound. The kind I am blessed to hear every day when Michael is occupied in examining a piece of string or a toy and suddenly looks up at me and says something, just because he is content and I am there.

I heard Jesus' voice.

It was a gift from my Mother, to whom I'd had little devotion up until that point, even though I knew I was "supposed" to--a generous and completely unmerited gift.

Before I had a baby, and even while I was pregnant, I could pretend to "get" the Incarnation. As in, God becoming man--big and mind-boggling and mysterious as it was--was something I could picture and imagine. But since having a baby? That poops and laughs and looks at me and screams in the middle of the night for reasons I don't always understand?

God did all that?

I can't even pretend to "get" it anymore. It's almost ridiculous. I can imagine God as Man, but God as a baby?

And yet, I've heard that Baby's voice.

It was really important to me to get to Mass on her feast today. So yesterday I asked St. Juan Diego to please help me get there (the guy walked a good fifteen miles to get to Mass on Sunday!), and he came through. Somehow I made dinner early in the day, packed up the baby, and went. I don't think I've been to daily Mass since Michael was born (although I really can't remember). I've only been to adoration once. In addition to things like preparing dinner and making sure that Michael gets his naps, it's hard for me psychologically to get out and do these things. I know that I need to place myself more often in the presence of God; I need to learn what this looks like in my life as it is now, as a wife and mother, rather than a single person whose time is her own to do with as she pleases.

I read this in The Way yesterday: "If  you accustom yourself, at least once a week, to seek union with Mary in order to go to Jesus, you will have more presence of God." So simple, and yet such an important reminder.

Other good things today: going to Wendy's with my dear friend Stephanie after Bible study; visiting with my mom; inviting two young women to our apartment after Mass for homemade chicken noodle soup, salad, and olive oil bread; pureeing some soup for Michael (he is becoming quite the carnivore! and he gets mad now if we take too long giving him his own food at dinnertime, hehe); singing O Come Emmanuel after lighting the Advent wreath with two extra voices.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


That was this morning's breakfast. It was leftover berry cobbler. I am not ashamed.

That is a little pile of stars. Four, so far. For those who don't know, that is not knitting but crochet. Yes, dear friends, I present you with my first ever crochet project! (As opposed to random granny squares.) The gold thread was given to me by my mother, and while it makes pretty stars the metallic running through it is kind of scratchy to work with. But that's okay. I plan on making a garland (not sure how long yet), and possibly ornaments to slip inside Christmas cards ...? We'll see how ambitious I feel.

I admire my friends who have gotten all their Christmas preparations done early so that they can have a peaceful Advent; stress is the worst when it comes to distracting us from the things we should be focused on. For me, though, shopping for gifts and writing Christmas cards and so on has always been a tangible way to enter into the spirit of preparation that looks forward to Christmas, to Christ. Which is why I'm enjoying crocheting these stars. :)

Last night we lit the advent wreath for the first time (we forgot it on Sunday) and sang the first verse of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," which is a tradition from my family. We don't have any greenery yet, so it's just a metal ring with the candles, hehe. That's okay for now.

I have no idea where we're going to fit the tree this year, as we now have a computer desk in the living room, not to mention baby things. (Babies are so little; why does their stuff take up so much room?) But I've set up the creche with Mary and Joseph and the as-yet-empty manger. I will start adding the animals today.

I know that this year Michael isn't going to "get" anything, but it's still so exciting to enter his first Advent! And for myself as a wife and mother, this season holds so much promise. I want to learn what it means to wait upon Christ, to watch for Him; I want that watching to suffuse every moment.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sad Thoughts

I came home on Sunday to find an old-now-awkwardly-distant-but-still--very-dear-to-me friend had removed me from her Facebook. I was angry (I can't help it) and hurt and sad. We used to have the same values, but we don't anymore. We don't really talk anymore either, so our personal connection sort of evaporated. And if I put myself in her shoes, I can imagine her taking certain things I posted personally, perhaps even feeling attacked by them--which can happen so easily when you stop talking and only stalk one another's Facebook profile now and then. So I understand. But I wish ... I wish.

It's funny, because a month or so ago I felt that disconnection acutely, and I sent her a message saying hi, and she answered. And you know, I remembered writing in that message, "I love you." But in fact, when I went back to check, I didn't.

But I do. That is where the message came from. She had no way of knowing that I jolted out of bed at 1am thinking of her, praying for her, rushing to the computer to initiate some sort of connection.

Oh Facebook. The fact of the matter is she would have been long gone without this silly social networking site. But it would have been a drifting, rather than a conscious choice.


Someone from my MFA program just posted about some amazing news relating to their novel, and I am pretty excited for them. And it made me think about my own writing, which I haven't been doing much of. Which is the problem. The not-thinking, and the not-writing.

And it left a sinking feeling in my stomach. Not a diminishment of happiness for my fellow-writer, because I am so happy for her and she is incredibly talented, and I knew and hoped she would be published soon. But I found myself thinking, that will never be me. It won't be me because I've barely written in eight months and even if I felt motivated enough to try I know the words are all stopped up and awkward because they have been for two years or more.

But typing that is like a wrench to my insides, so I know I am not resigned to "that will never be me." Not yet. It's a weird sort of hope, knowing that you won't ever be able to completely let go of something. Because if you don't turn it into hope then it's pretty depressing in its own right.


And now the ol' navel is cleared of lint, so I shall stop examining it in public.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Seven Quick Takes (4)

1. This morning I wiped down the outsides of the cupboards in the kitchen. I had noticed they needed it a little while ago, but I admit I put it off deliberately, not because I didn't want to do it per se, but because I knew they'd get dirty again so quickly. I kept thinking about my mother-in-law coming to visit over Christmas, and how I'll be deep cleaning the apartment right before she arrives anyway, so why not just wait til then? (I've been putting off cleaning the spots on the carpet because of this. Knowing me, I will drip more coffee on the floor before then. But maybe I'll do that next week.)

2. Yesterday I babysat for a friend while she went to an appointment. Her 2 1/2 year old, Bobby, is my godson, and he loves Michael. It's very sweet. :) As I mashed up an avocado in the kitchen for Michael to eat, I heard Bobby call from the living room: "Hey! My hat fits his head!"

Well I guess it does, technically. 

Bobby also informed me that I was the babysitter, and I was supposed to "sit and watch," not tickle him. 

3. Is anyone else reading the Catechism for the Year of Faith? I usually fall behind and the daily readings pile up in my email for a few days, then I sit and read them all at once, but overall I've been keeping up. I've also been rereading certain sections for a reading group that Keith and I are a part of. I think this is the first time in my life that I've read the Catechism prayerfully, and it's awesome. Also very challenging, on a personal level, because if you read it prayerfully and reflectively then you realize it really needs to make a difference in your life.

4. For example. The section I just (re)read--185-231--ends with "The Implications of Faith in One God." Believing in and loving God "means coming to know God's greatness and majesty ... It means living in thanksgiving ... It means knowing the unity and true dignity of all men ... It means making good use of created things ... It means trusting God in every circumstance." (223-227) This really resonated with me, that growing in faith means growing in these things. I know that I need a stronger faith, but have been struggling with knowing how to grow there, how to measure it; and here is a concrete answer I can wrap my mind around.

5. Yesterday I finished my 52nd book of the year. (If you recall, my goal was to read 50.) It was not The Brothers Karamazov. That may end up being the 53rd. Or 54th, if I need (yet another) break. ;)

6. Last night Keith and I ate pumpkin curry for dinner, and I had the leftovers for lunch. It was amazing. Someday I'll have to try making it. I made a korma for dinner a few weeks ago and it was pretty good, if I say so myself. Curry is such a great cold weather food.

7. Well, I should probably fold the laundry before Michael wakes up ... and maybe watch another episode of Call the Midwife, which I am now addicted to and thoroughly love. I highly recommend it. Although the last episode involved someone stealing a mother's baby and let me tell you, I cannot deal with that sort of thing anymore. I couldn't put Michael down for an hour afterwards.

Linking up over at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What I wore to Thanksgiving dinner

I never do these kinds of posts. I don't take pictures, and I don't often wear makeup or coordinated outfits five days out of seven. But I decided to participate in Grace's "What I Wore to Thanksgiving Dinner" linkup. So, here goes. :)

At my father-in-law's place.
I am pretty excited to wear this dress. It's not exactly nursing friendly, hehe. But now that my little man is eating some solids, I can at least wear dresses for a couple of hours. ;) 

 And of course Michael is dressed up for his first Thanksgiving, also. He's almost too chubby for that shirt now.

 Happy Thanksgiving!

(Dress and purple tights were both hand-me-downs from friends. The boots are from DSW. All of Michael's clothes are from Carter's--with the exception of his mama-made vest.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Karamazov and a (finally!) finished shawl!

I have been knitting some secret projects that I'm not going to show you, just yet. But I can show you the Fallberry mitts I've been making for myself. 

The yarn is Road to China Light, in Carnelian, and it is soooo soft. Yum. These knit up very quickly, and I think there's just enough yarn in the skein for the pair of them (and maybe a hexipuff or two). 

We just ordered a Catechism, and while I haven't really cracked it open, I have been reading a bit of it in my email inbox every day for the Year of Faith. And I have finally picked The Brothers Karamazov back up and am making progress once more. (I am sorry, Father Zossima, but your final words were a big roadblock to me.) Funny how Ginny just started reading this too--it seems that it's been popping up all over the places, quotes and references and so on, since I've started reading. Or maybe people are always referring to Dostoyevsky and I'm just now noticing it? 

I also finished a Tilden for Michael, which he doesn't like to wear. I guess it's a bit scratchy on his bald head. He tries to yank it off and pulls it over his eyes instead. And then his mother laughs at him. Poor kid. 

And, after letting it sit around in a crumpled heap for months, I finally blocked my friend's shawl. Yay!

And now, back to Christmas knitting! Go see what other people are making and reading at Ginny's yarn along.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


It's been 20 days since I last posted. Whoops. Things have been busy, but it's just the ordinary sort of busy that comes from having a baby and so forth. We are still working on Michael's naps (sigh), but overall, life has a rhythm and I am happy with it. I have been making dinner most weeknights, which makes me feel in control of things and accomplished.

Although Keith still does the cooking on weekends, and that's fine by me. ;)

This Saturday I went to an indie fiber event, and of course I couldn't leave empty handed. I bought some beautiful buttons, a collection of patterns for little boys for when Michael gets older, and a skein of yarn. (I admit that, while I really like the yarn, I mostly bought it out of awkwardness. It was a small event, and I felt weird not getting anything, because I couldn't just fade back from the tables and disappear. Does anyone else have this sort of problem, or am I just weird?)

Then I came home to my guys, and after Michael's second nap, we decided to go to the library and out to dinner for a nice treat. We took Michael into the children's section and picked out a few board books (which he is NOT allowed to nom). 

Ready to go to the library. He doesn't like his new hat.
Keith wandered through the new fiction section in search of something to read, while I headed to the back with a specific author in mind; then we parted ways a second time while he looked at movies (they didn't have Little Women, which I really wanted, but we got The Happening out--we'll see how that is) and I went to check out the knitting section. (The main Carnegie library has an awesome selection! I checked out this (for my new yarn) and this (because some friends and I are knitting mittens together after Christmas).) 

It was a great visit, because I had some things in mind I wanted to get, but I also walked out with some spontaneous selections. Keith likes to wander and get lost among the books, picking them up off the shelf and waiting for something to catch his eye. I like the idea of that sort of meandering, but the reality is that if I have no purpose to my search I often get frustrated and leave with nothing. But the Carnegie library is a great place to meander, with its glass floors and windows into the museum. I would love to make a family tradition of these visits, to leave every two weeks with a new armful of books. They also have special events for homeschoolers, which is neat. 

(Last year when my cousin was visiting, we came to this library to listen to a Klezmer band. It was great music, but what I remember most about it was a sweet old lady who sat on a stool next to me and kept falling asleep and, with her mouth hanging open, leaning so far backwards I was sure she was going to fall and I, the pregnant woman, would have to catch her. Thankfully she woke up in the nick of time!)

At the restaurant across the plaza, Michael sat in his highchair the whole time and let us eat with both hands free--a first for him, probably helped by the fact that his highchair had wheels. At first I thought it was rather silly, but by the end of the night I decided it was pure genius. When he started getting bored we could just turn him around so he could see the other people, and he was thrilled. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

taking refuge in the internet

I actually have "blogging" on my to-do list today, and I was going to write a post about my weekend and how wonderful it was. Because it was pretty great.

But then Michael didn't take his morning nap. He didn't take it at 10am, but he woke up late this morning, so I wasn't too worried. He didn't take it at 11am, either. Or noon. Which was when I knew today was officially going to be a mess. That morning nap only ever lasts half an hour, but it seems to be what the entire day is built upon.

And of course I finished my secret stash of chocolate off yesterday, so I had to resort to chips and salsa, which is yummy and crunchy and salty but not exactly consoling.

Sometime around 1pm he was wailing in his swing and I was curled up and wailing in bed with a pillow over my ears.

Sometime after that I managed to convince him I wasn't an awful person for putting him in his crib and he slept for twenty whole minutes.

There was a lot of desperate prayer going up during all that, but I can't say I was very open to grace, because my prayers in that sort of situation tend to follow this pattern:

"Lord, please help my baby sleep. Please give me patience and strength to deal with this situation." "Lord, this baby is still not asleep. Please, please, please, thanks ....? Please?"  "Lord, why aren't you giving me patience????? And why won't my baby sleep?!?!?! I know you can hear me. What the heck is taking so long?! Argh!"

I am laughing as I type this, but I'm afraid to say I am not exaggerating the ridiculousness of the situation.

Now he's sleeping again on my bed and I am not trying to move him to his crib or touching him in any way, not until he wakes up.

This is bad for my sanity, yes. But what really upsets me is his exhausted face.

I will blog about the weekend later.

And now I am going to drink tea.

Thank you.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Seven Quick Takes (3?)

1. I really need to fix the way this blog looks. The background, the layout, the links in the sidebar ... pretty much everything. Not sure when I'll have time to do it, but I'm hoping at some point to make my own header, as well. (Or maybe have Keith make it. :-P ) Perhaps I can get it done sometime before the year is out?

2. A friend is having her baby shower in a few weeks, so I knit a Milo for her little man in utero. It was a quickie--less than 24 hours, I think, and that while taking care of a baby. I've just cast on a pair of booties, and I'm thinking there will be enough yarn left to make a matching hat.

3. Michael seemed to enjoy his bananas today, which makes me happy! Homemade baby food has been hit and miss so far--he likes the applesauce, but he HATES the peas I made him, despite liking the ones in a jar. When he sees them he purses his lips shut. (They are a very bright green, much brighter than the jarred peas.) Right now I have a sweet potato in the oven that I will puree and freeze. Making a batch of baby food makes me feel quite the accomplished and thrifty mother. ^_^

4. Yesterday I took Michael to CMU to take part in a study about infant language learning. It consisted of him sitting in my lap and watching a video, while his reactions were recorded. Afterwards he got a free book. Clearly he is already following in his father's footsteps on the path to scientific greatness. ;)

5. Today I am going to block my cardigan. I'm hoping I can wear it on Sunday. Say a prayer that it works out and doesn't somehow morph into a huge shapeless mess. ;) Either way, I will post pictures.

6. Oh man, Halloween is almost here, and I don't have a costume for Michael. Maybe Keith and I can get out and find one tomorrow ...

7. I don't like to post about politics, not because I don't have opinions, but because I am generally too lazy to write about those opinions in a clear way, and because I don't really like conflict. But I'm going to go ahead and risk getting political in a general sense and say it drives me crazy when people brag about their political apathy. I don't enjoy politics by a long shot. I admit I didn't really pay attention to the last debate (I was knitting something complicated :-P ), and if you didn't watch it I won't judge you. (That much. ;-P ) But to brag about not watching it on Facebook, about not caring because both candidates are the same (they're not, but that's another issue)? Like it or not, you were born in a country where you have a say and therefore a responsibility in the government. You may say that whatever you do makes no difference--your vote is a drop in the ocean--and maybe you're right.

I can totally understand not liking either candidate, but if you're not voting, and ALSO not doing anything else like writing letters to your representatives, getting involved on the local level, whatever ... then you don't really have a right to complain about the situation. Saying that both candidates are losers doesn't abnegate your responsibility ... because seriously, who's to blame that only losers seem to run for president in our country? Who ELECTS them? Us. And if you're going to do nothing at all about it ... it empties your complaint of any weight.

In the end, responsibility isn't just about how our actions affect others (the "drop in the ocean"), but also how they shape ourselves. And apathy about big issues is never a positive character trait! I say this as someone who does little except vote, which is not very admirable. And if I've probably offended someone, so just know that I include myself in the category of people whose complaints are sorely disproportionate to the actions I take.

(Another reason I never post about politics--after spending a ton of time and words on that point I am still not satisfied how I've said things. Oh well.)

Babies, politics and knitting ... yep, you've come to the right place!

Joining up with Jen over at Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Isadora Cardigan

Guess what?

I am knitting myself a sweater! Yay! (You will remember that this was one of my goals for this year. It shall be accomplished!)

The pattern is Featherweight, and the yarn is Tosh Merino Light in the Isadora colorway, which I got on sale from one of my favorite yarn stores before their annual inventory.

I had to go down two needle sizes to get gauge, which means I am using my painfully short size 4 circs (because I am too cheap/lazy to go get a longer pair). Also, last night I sliced a chunk of my left index finger off while chopping veggies, which makes the going a lot slower. (I'm a contintental knitter and hold the yarn in my left hand.) But I'm knitting the edging, and injuries aside, I'm hoping to be finished by the end of the week.

I reached a point last week when I had a dearth of reading material, but then all on the same day I received the newest issue of Dappled Things, a package with a poetry collection on loan from a friend, and a Humble Bundle of six edgy scifi novels courtesy of my husband. So I think I'm good for at least a month. ;) (One of the books was Pump Six by Paolo Bacigalupi, who is a recent favorite of mine. Yay! I finished that one in three or four days.)

Joining up with Ginny's yarn along.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Drilling, drilling, drilling ....

There are upsides to having your landlady live downstairs. When I couldn't find my keys anywhere (they were in a random drawer), she loaned me the key to the front door so I could walk to Giant Eagle with Michael. She's always been very attentive to things that need fixing or improving in the apartment, and now that she's just one floor down she is even more prompt about taking care of things.

I know this is a good thing, and so I'm trying not to be grumpy about the really loud hammering and sawing that's going on just outside, especially since Michael seems to be sleeping through it. But it seems like ever since our landlords have moved in, they've had some sort of worker over here every week or two. Jackhammers redo the concrete steps (twice, since the first time they were all crooked); plumbers turning off the water; electricians making more noise than one would expect electricians to need to make (although they fixed our bathroom switch, yay!); workers installing central AC in the downstairs apartment.

I wouldn't even mind, in general, except for Michael. When they were installing the AC and doing other work prior to the landlords moving in, he was pretty scared of all the noise. And it's not as if he's a great napper anyway.

Speaking of naps. Nighttime sleep is a lot better around here. Not perfect, but I'm okay with that. Michael now goes down around 8pm, sleeps until 1 or 2 before waking up to eat, then sleeps until 4ish, at which point I take him into bed with us, otherwise he'd be waking up every hour until it was time to get up. Often he'll wake up anywhere between 5-30 minutes after going down for the night and protest being in his crib, but he either goes to sleep right away if I go in and pat his back or, if that doesn't work, will cry/fuss for 10-15 minutes until going to sleep.

Ferber worked for us. The hardest night was #2, when he woke up every hour literally all. night. long. Uggggggh. But after that he settled into the pattern we have now, more or less. We had a setback when he caught a cold and had to start over, and he cried for 45 minutes the first night after that. But I no longer have to lay down with him for half an hour (or longer) and then sneeeeeak away only to have him wake up again ten minutes later.

Praise God.

Naps, on the other hand. Oh, naps. They are still like that. He will not stay asleep for more than half an hour. Will not. Naps reenergize him for about twenty minutes and then he gets super grumpy because he hasn't slept enough. By the end of the day neither of us is pleasant to be around.

This week I resolved to have him nap in his crib (rather than in our bed), even if it was only for 10 minutes at a time, just so he'd learn that crib=sleep=crib, even in the daytime. This resolution sort of fell apart yesterday, when he took one nap in his swing, one in the cars eat, and one in our bed. And we will be visiting parents for the next couple nights, so obviously naps and sleep in general are going to be different.

Maybe next week.

Monday, October 1, 2012


I feel a little silly writing a post about St. Michael's feast on St. Therese's feast day, especially since Therese is a very special friend to me. We really didn't even celebrate St. Michael's day on the day, but rather yesterday.

Sorry for the fuzzy picture. But it was yummy. :)

I made a Michaelmas pie, which I am eating a piece of now. We roasted a chicken and had my parents down to eat it with us. (Sadly, my brother wasn't able to come--he is keeping afloat in an ocean of school work.)

My mom just got put on a gluten free diet, so I made a rice flour crust, which was an experiment. Because non-gluten flours don't have any "glue" to hold the dough together, I had to add an egg. All the recipes I found only specified a bottom crust, but I wanted one on top, so I made a second batch, rolled it out, and tried to make the transfer.

I'm not sure how well you can tell from this photo, but by the time it made it from counter to pie plate it was in about twenty pieces. At least. Gluten exists for a reason, in my humble opinion. :-P

Other than that, the pie turned out well. Apples and blackberries. Apparently you aren't supposed to pick blackberries after September 29 because when St. Michael cast Satan out of heaven, he landed in a blackberry bush, and was so angry he spit on them. (Or ... worse.) Just fyi. ;)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Birthday Socks and Brothers

Much of that sock was knit on a trip to Colorado for a wedding while Michael napped in the backseat of our rented car. (Which isn't to say that Michael napped a lot, because he didn't. But it was a long drive and I suppose I'm a fast-ish knitter.) The pattern is Hermione's Everday Socks, and the yarn is Koigu, and I had little hope of capturing the colors with my camera on this cloudy day (although they came through better than I thought). But the variegation and speckles are very pretty, and suits the texture well, and it reminds me something of opals. (It's the color all the way over to the right in this picture.)

Which is fitting, because opal is my birthstone, and I am determined to finish these to wear on my birthday. That wasn't the plan when I cast on, but once the idea occurred to me, it seemed meant to be. :) Hopefully Michael and sleep training will cooperate! (Ugh. More on that later.)

The book is The Brothers Karamazov by you-know-who, which I am enjoying so far. I'm also reading--surprise--some sleep-training books, but they don't count as "real" reading for me. But here's an excerpt from the introduction of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child:

If your child does not learn to sleep well, he may become an incurable adult insomniac, chronically disabled from sleepiness and dependent on sleeping pills. 

Um. Thanks, Weissbluth. You made this concerned Mama's life THAT MUCH LESS stressful. (And yes, it is centered on the page in bold print!)

Speaking of sleep, Michael just woke up, so off I go.

Joining Ginny's wonderful Yarn Along.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Keeping sane

Instead of doing the dishes, I am sitting here knitting. I have two more rows to go on this shawl (but since it's the end they are looooong rows) and then the bind-off. I am sorry to say that I am tired of this project. Especially of the yarn. (No pictures, sorry.) I am excited to start on other things--a cardigan for Michael, a bit of geekery for myself, some Koigu socks (or maybe the second half of my Jaywalker pair).

I've found that knitting, though I have little time for it, really, really helps me keep my sanity. (Not that I'm continually on the verge of going crazy, but let's just say that patience is a virtue I really need to work on.)

So does reading blogs. Blogs of mothers who keep it real, like Jenny's and Grace's. Many times I avoid posting about the crazy because I am worried about complaining and not exuding a saintly glow of living my vocation joyfully, but these women post with a humor and honesty that I admire to no end. And also knitting blogs that give me a daily dose of awesome. Speaking of which, I realized this morning that I really should be following Anne Hanson's blog because I really love it.

Maybe I can finish this row in time to do some dishes before Michael's doctor appointment.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sleep. Or no sleep.

(This post will probably bore people who aren't parents. Tough bananas. You don't have to read it.) 

(I have no idea where "tough bananas" came from. I need more coffee.)

Today, Michael is five months old.

Yesterday, we started sleep-training. 

Wrapped in his Grandma-made blankie while his Mama blogs.
Daytime sleep has been pretty scarce round here these days, and nighttime sleep isn't much better. (This is why I haven't posted much lately ... no naps, no blogging. Or knitting. And often no laundry or vaccuuming.) Over the past few weeks we've slipped into cosleeping, which wasn't the plan. In some ways it works out fine--it is really easy to meet Michael's needs at night--but ultimately, it still isn't what I want to do, because I don't want 1) Michael to depend on me being next to him to go to sleep (meaning a late bedtime for him or early bedtime for me, and no baby-free time for me and Keith), or 2) our bedroom to be offlimits to us after Michael's bedtime. Maybe there is some way around these difficulties, but the real big problem around here these days is #1. 

When he was three months old, Michael slept through the night in his crib in the other room. I would put him down between nine and ten pm, and he would wake up between four and five am, and I would simply take him into bed with me, nurse him, and fall back asleep until he woke up for the morning. That was awesome. 

Then around four months, it started getting more and more difficult to put him down for the night. He'd sleep for anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes, then wake up and need to be coddled and soothed until he fell back asleep ... for another 10 to 30 minutes. And he started waking up at 2am instead of 4 or 5am. Because it was hard to get him back to sleep, and because I was so tired that I usually fell asleep nursing him anyway, I would take him into bed at 2am, which meant he was spending most of the night with us. 

Now the only way to get him to sleep, day or night, is to lay down and hold him on the bed, my arm wrapped around him and supporting his head. Rocking him, standing by the crib with him, etc are no longer enough. He knows what he wants and will settle for nothing less.  Sometimes he'll nap in the swing for ten or fifteen minutes; getting him to sleep longer than that during the day is almost impossible. This week he's had days where he's only napped for about an hour altogether, and by the end of the day both Michael and Mama are having meltdowns. (Poor Papa.) 

So something has to change. I'm a little anxious because we're traveling to Colorado next weekend for a wedding, and I worry that any training we do now will be undone ... but we really can't wait to do this any longer. 

After reading about different methods and thinking about how they might interact with Michael's personality, we've decided to go with a modified version of the Ferber method: letting him cry for a certain amount of time and then going in and soothing him. (Modified because I am not comfortable with an indefinitely increasing amount of time leaving him by himself.) It took about 45 minutes for him to fall asleep last night. I think if Keith hadn't been here, I would probably have given up on it about half an hour in, which in my opinion would have been really bad, because then his crying would have been for nothing. But now that I know he can do it, maybe it will be a little easier tonight.

I know some people believe that cry-it-out methods are cruel. I don't--or at least, not the Ferber method specifically, where the parents are continually going in to soothe the baby. I know he doesn't understand, but I also know I'm not doing irrevocable damage to our bond of trust, because this little guy receives a lot of love and has all his needs met. 

But it's still hard. For me, and for him. I know there will be many, many times in his life where I have to do something hard as a parent to achieve something good for him. Disciplining him, telling him he can't have something he wants, etc--I guess this is a window into those difficulties. 

We'll see how tonight goes.

(ETA: The nap pictured above has lasted more than two hours! It shows signs of ending very soon, but praise God. :) )

Friday, September 7, 2012

Seven Quick Takes (2)

1. Here is what I've been learning to do the past two days. 

I am quite pleased with them, except for the fact that they don't lie flat. Do granny squares need blocking? Anyway, I am learning from this book, although I learned to crochet the basic stitches from this blog, and I think videos are always more useful than pictures when learning stitches.

2. Speaking of learning new things, look at what happened yesterday!

He stayed like this for almost five minutes while Mama freaked out, ran and got her cell phone, took pictures, and sent them to Papa and the grandparents. I had been holding him up so he could look at his bird-friends at eye-level, and I noticed his hands were on the ground, and thought--what if I let him go? And he supported himself. 

I have been so excited for a milestone like sitting on his own, but as I lay in bed the other day, I realized that in another month or two, we will enter an entirely different world of babyhood. Sitting, regular solid foods, and mobility an ever-nearing landmark ... I can't wrap my mind around it. 

3. I don't know if this is something indicative of Michael's personality or something universal to babies at a certain age, but he really, really loves music. His two favorite toys are a music box that plays "Toyland" and a giraffe that sings the ABCs. He smiles when he sees them, and smiles even bigger when they start playing. One of the ways I get him to calm down while I do other things is to play La Valse d'Amelie, which is one of his favorite songs. He grins whenever he hears the opening notes. 

4. Today I finished The Long Winter. I've been rereading the Little House books, and am amazed by how much people used to know and do, and how much work living took. Doing the dishes this morning, I had to wash the cheese grater (I don't generally mind dishes but I hate washing the cheese grater), and I thought, THIS is one of the things that make me wish for a dishwasher. But really? It's crazy to think of how many machines we have to do our daily work for us. (I mean, we're not churning our own butter here, and most of us aren't baking our own bread and hunting down meat for our tables.) We have so much free time, comparatively speaking. And yet we--or at least I--so seldom think about how we use it. What a resource, and how little we do with it!

5. This morning I spilled half a cup of coffee all over the keyboard, laser mouse, and myself. Luckily the computer parts still seem to be functioning, and I was wearing old pajamas that probably need to get thrown out anyway. To make up for it, I've brewed myself another cup. Decaf. It doesn't taste the same, but oh well. :( 

6. Check out this blog post. It is amazing and smart and wonderfully indignant. 

7. A few days ago I had a phone conversation with my two-and-a-half year old godson which was really simple yet thrilled me to pieces. It went something like this: 

"Hi, Bobby." 
"Where's Mi-kul?" 
"Michael's in his swing." 
"Where's Uncle Leaf?" (Last time it was "Aunt Keith;" Keith prefers Uncle Leaf.) 
"Uncle Keith is at work. He works on science." 
Michael starts crying.
"Why's Mi-kul crying?" 
"Because he wants me to hold him. Do you want to say hi to him?" 
"Hi, Mi-kul!" 

And I swear that Michael grinned at the phone. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

On second babies, and being different

My friend Christine had her second baby recently. My cousin, too, is expecting her second. Hers will be 13 months apart, and I keep finding myself wondering--when will our next be?

And I only mean exactly what I say--I am wondering. Not planning, not trying, not anything like that. Just wondering. ;) (If I have any illusions about being ready for the next one, days like today shatter them.) I keep finding myself thinking ... if our next one is born when Michael is [insert age here], that means I'll be pregnant [insert time here].

Standing at the tender age of four months ... ;) 

I guess I shouldn't be, but I'm always a little surprised by how often people ask if I plan on having another one. I know that it's common for people to try and plan their families down to the last detail, much the same way they sketch out career goals and when they will buy a car, a house, etc. I think this approach carries the danger of relegating children to the role of making you feel complete and accomplished, rather than a good in and of themselves, individual people to be valued for who they are rather than what they give us. (And then there's the fact that people assume everything will go according to their plan--that they 'll be able to conceive when and where they want to--especially when most people seem to wait until their most fertile years are over to start trying. Twenty-five is a great age for your body to bear children!)

But I spend so much time with friends who hold the same values as I do, I am still taken aback when people ask. If I'm going to have more, if I'm going to have one--and when I plan on looking for a job. (Do people really leave their four-month-olds in daycare? That makes me so sad.)  (Also, I need to figure out an answer to that question that isn't defensive. Maybe just a gleeful "Never, God willing"?)

The fact is, I don't know when, and I don't know how many. When the people who ask find out that we want more than, say, three ... they are shocked. (For some reason three is considered by many to be a large family, which I find baffling!) But I don't know whether we'll have a large family, either--growing up I always wanted five or six kids (which I consider medium sized ;) ), but again, planning numbers in advance seems so silly when you don't know what your life (or your children) will be like in the future.

I know that as I have more children, this gap between me and others--my bafflement at them, and their bafflement at me--will only grow. Today I carried Michael into a Carter's store to buy a button-down shirt for a wedding we're going to next month. Everyone smiled at how cute he was, asked his age, and so on. But what if I'd walked in there with four kids? I know from experience--from my friends who have come from larger families, from watching how those families are treated and looked at in public, from listening to mothers older than me talk and tell their stories--that often people with as few as three kids under five get weird looks and, even worse, rude comments in places like the grocery store.

Sometimes it's enough to make you want to live in a Catholic village in the middle of the country somewhere, where you are understood, where you are not so radically different from the world around you. And I say that as someone who has a pretty awesome Catholic circle of friends to run in.

But of course, that is not the point. If I am isolated and making no impact on the world around me, I am not living my vocation properly.

So I will continue to be baffling to a large portion of society, and to speculate on when Michael will have a sibling to keep him company. :)

Big Little Things

Tomorrow I am bringing dinner to a friend who just had her second baby. Yesterday, while Michael and I chilled on the bed (one of his favorite places), I told him we were making beef stew. And he laughed out loud. Each and every time I said it. Beef stew, beef stew! I made sure it wasn't just the way I was saying it, by repeating it in an absolutely flat tone; I buried it in full sentences ("Tomorrow we are going to make beef stew for Tom and Christine"). Each and every time, a laugh. He even did it again for me later that evening after Keith came home, which I wasn't expecting. Apparently beef stew is hilarious.

I think he might also be starting to respond to his name. This could be over-eager Mama imagination, but it seems that within the past day or two he's been turning to me when I say it, opening his eyes a little wider or smiling.

Little things like this are consolation for these stretches of days when he refuses to nap, despite the deepening bags under his little eyes. This little man needs a lot of mama-love lately. (I feel like half of my Facebook statuses are about Michael's sleeping patterns, or lack thereof...)

And Monday was his first feast day--Saint Augustine! We didn't really do anything for it, unless you count the cardamom lime sweet rolls I made, which have already all disappeared. (And let's be honest ... I would have made those even if it wasn't anybody's feast day.)

My afternoon tea. The cup and Fiestaware sugar bowl make me happy.
Right now he's half-frustrated and half-happy on his playmat. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the frustration takes over, so I will finish this up. No yarn along today!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hey look, I'm blogging!

I put Michael down for a nap about twenty minutes ago, and he is still sleeping. Oh, blessed baby! So, after getting dressed and brushing my teeth and whatnot, I decided to treat myself to a second cup of coffee (since I am super sleepy today) and a zucchini cupcake. Yum. When he wakes up, we'll go visit my dear friend Stephanie; meanwhile, I'm enjoying a nice quiet moment to myself with my caffeine and my blog.

I am glad the weather seems to be getting cooler. Two days ago Keith and I went shopping in Shadyside with his dad, and Michael's little legs seemed chilly, so last evening I cast on a pair of legwarmers for him. They're easier than pants when it comes to changing diapers, can be taken off and stowed away if it gets too warm later in the day, and perhaps most importanty: stripes!

It's a quick and easy pattern; my only problem is the jogs running up the back. I know there's a technique for avoiding this, but I was too lazy to look it up yesterday. (Plus as I recall I was sitting on the floor knitting next to Michael and if I tried to get up and walk away he protested quite a bit.)

While we were out, we stopped in Banana Republic so I could try things on while Keith held the baby. It was my first time really shopping there (as opposed to just window shopping), and I was happy to discover they had a petite section. Unfortunately, none of their pants fit me. :( I blame part of it on the post-partum belly that is still slooooowly shrinking (we won't talk about the post-partum butt ...), but I've always had trouble finding pants that fit. Right now I'm down to one pair of jeans and one pair of black denim tousers in the pants department, so I think I'm due for some new ones!

I did get two new shirts, one of which I'm wearing right now, and it's wonderful how new clothes can make you feel classy and polished--two things which I have not felt much of late. I'm also due for a haircut, and I'm rediscovering how amazing concealer can be. I am way too lazy to wear makeup on a daily basis, and when I do it's usually just mascara and maybe some powder; but I've worn concealer to Mass the past two Sundays and gotten compliments on looking good, so, yay!

(Granted, one of them was sort of a backhanded compliment. "You're looking so much better Rosemary ... after the baby, you looked kind of unhealthy!" Personally, I find it kind of hilarious. And I know it was well-intentioned.)

This post is getting kind of rambly. My cupcake's gone, but I have half a cup of coffee still left, so I will go read some yarn along posts to accompany it until the baby wakes up. :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Yarn Along--where to pick up?

No more socks on the needles. Yay! (Although I have a lone Jaywalker that's still awaiting its mate ... not happening this month.) This week I've knit a few hexipuffs from the leftovers of my Wind and Willow socks, and now I'm ready to pick up one of my abandoned shawls and get back to work.

When I say "ready," I mean I spend a lot of time looking at them and thinking about it. Because I have no idea what row I've left off on, for either of them. And the one on the left was even abandoned mid-row. Not sure if that will make it easier or harder to discover where I stopped knitting. The one on the right is a Swallowtail for my friend Nicole; the one on the left is a Cloud Illusions, probably for myself.

Meanwhile, after having consumed Children of God (sequel to The Sparrow) in five days, I have picked up the second Laura Ingalls Wilder book and am enjoying it immensely. It's a huge switch from from Children of God, which was an intense book and is still very much on my mind. I shall miss those characters very much. I would like to write a post about those books--but there are so many posts I intend to write and don't get around to. We'll see.

Joining up with Ginny's yarn along.

Friday, August 17, 2012

All words, no pictures

I was going to write about this in a "Quick Takes" post, but then I realized it's something that's really bothering me--has been bothering me quite a bit lately, in fact--so I decided to give it its own post. 

When do you decide to unfriend people on Facebook? It's funny how much of a blessing and a curse Facebook is all at once--it keeps us in touch with people you would otherwise lose contact with, but it certainly has a way of unnaturally prolonging certain relationships past their actual lifespan. (Zombie friendships?) And sometimes "keep in touch" basically means "Facebook stalking," which isn't actually the same thing, is it? Some of these friends are people I used to be quite close to, and still care about very much; but our values have become radically different. 

Which is okay. Life happens like that, even though fading friendships are sad. Facebook makes it harder, I think, by keeping those people in our lives, no matter how superficially, reminding us tangibly of what's been lost.

And yet, "unfriending" someone on Facebook means something. It has an air of finality to it. It is a decision to walk away, rather than a natural fading. 

So I don't do it. I unsubscribe from newsfeeds so that I can't see posts, sometimes. Instead I occasionally visit their actual pages, which is less passive anyway--taking more of an active interest in that person and how they're doing.

Here's the part that bothers me. I get married. I have a baby. Big and happy life changes that go by without commentary from old friends. For all I can tell, they never notice my Facebook page. 

Except that I post something pro-life or conservative ... and they are all over it, explaining how wrong I am. 

I have friends I disagree with, even argue with, but who actually care about me and what's going on in my life. Instead, these people that I used to be close to seem to not care at all, and yet take the time and energy to tell me they think my values suck. 

It hits close to home. And it is really hard for me to respond with love (which often means not responding), rather than going all passive aggressive and pulling out the "used to be friends" card. 

I guess I have to learn to let go of things that other people do ... because you can't just go around "deleting" people in real life anyway, can you? 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Yarn Along--almost done.

Yes, that is still a pink, lacy knee-high sock on the needles. But it is almost finished! Honestly, I am on the ribbing now, so I might even be done by tonight. Tomorrow at the latest. 

Last night I started rereading Little House in the Big Woods for the first time in years. I read half of it before bed, and will probably finish today. I just read the chapter about the dance at Grandpa's, complete with maple syrup candy and Grandma jigging. :) It is SO GOOD. I know Keith is skeptical about this being a book little boys would enjoy, but honestly, I can't wait until Michael is old enough for me to read it to him. 

Last week I finished Milo vest for him, to wear in the fall months. I knit the six month size, so he should fit it by then. 

Forgot to rotate this one--you'll just have to turn your head sideways. :-P
And from the leftovers, I knit two leaves. And because I was on a roll, I knit a leaf from the remains of his baby blanket. The pattern is from the Family Tree Afghan, and I think it would be neat to make him this blanket out of the leftovers of other things I make for him. At the same time, I'd like to make this pattern with colors that complement each other, rather than having that looks super scrappy. So we'll see! Either way, it's definitely a long-term project.

Linking up with Ginny's yarn along.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


In the past three weeks we've made two trips to eastern Pennsylvania (or "back east," as my family calls it). The first was to celebrate my Grandad's 85th birthday and introduce Michael to the McMillen side of the family. 

Michael with Great Granddad
We carpooled with my family. Michael was none too happy about spending so much time in a car seat, especially on the ride back. But he loved being able to sit at a table with more than just me and Keith and look around at all the faces, and he understood that he was the center of attention!

We also got to visit my Aunt Kim and Uncle Andy while we were there. Aunt Kim is my mom's dearest friend, and not really an "aunt," but that's what I've always called her. I was excited for Keith to spend time with them, because Uncle Andy does all sorts of urban gardening and has built additions on their house with his own hands (including an amazing four-seasons room with walls of windows and a floor of flagstones). Keith came inside from a tour of the gardens munching on fresh kale, and I knew he was almost in heaven. :) 

The second trip was to visit Keith's side of the family, and since we were traveling by ourselves, we took the train. It was my first train ride as well as Michael's, and I was surprised by how fast it went. It was easier to keep Michael happy, because we could hold him and walk the aisles with him, but again the return trip was harder (more on that further on).

It was nice spending some time with Keith's relatives, since the only other time I'd met them was at the wedding. His cousins (11 and 12 years old) loved Michael. There was a heated swimming pool and Michael went for his first "swim," which went surprisingly well considering how tired and grumpy he was at the time. He was pretty zoned out for most of it. 

First swim!

The train ride back was ... interesting. Not bad, but Michael was fussy, we didn't have the best seats, and about halfway through a very interesting character sat down immediately behind us. He was definitely under some sort of influence. He was harmless and relatively happy, but he kept "preaching" the whole time he was on the train about how he hoped Mick Jagger would be in heaven, among other things. He also sang quite a bit and quite loudly, so we were treated to a lot of music. :) 

Next month we'll fly to Colorado for a wedding, so Michael will be one well-traveled baby by the time he's six months old. But I'm glad we get a month to just chill at home until then. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

One sock down, one to go ...

The first sock is finished! I bound off in the car on the way back from a trip to Philadelphia to celebrate my grandfather's 85th birthday (and to introduce Michael to my side of the family), and promptly tried it on--only to find it was too tight to slide up my calf! My bind off was too tight, which I had suspected while doing it. But as usual, I was too impatient and excited to get to the end to listen to my instincts. And of course, I had broken the yarn off too, so in addition to undoing the bind off I also had to frog a row of the final ribbing in order to have enough to work a looser bind off.

But now it fits.

I meant to have my husband take some pictures for me before he left this morning, but I forgot, so instead you get extremely awkward pictures that I took of my own lower leg.

For whatever reason, the leaf pattern on the front isn't as clear as the "wind" pattern on the sides ... maybe because the yarn isn't a high contrast color against my skin? But I'm pretty pleased. I don't think I'll suffer from "second sock syndrome" with these, because they work up so quickly.

Still reading Theology of the Body for Beginners, and I have started The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell on my Kindle. I am not very far in yet, but I have to say that so far it is amazing. The writing is excellent, the characters are compelling. and it is about Jesuits in space. It's one of those books that makes me itch to write. That is always a good sign.

Linking up with Ginny's yarn along.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tendon Socks

Still working on my first Wind and Willow sock and Wish You Were Here. Still enjoying both--although I'd hoped to have finished the sock by now. Almost there, but not quite.

Usually I prefer to knit socks cuff-down, but with a pattern like this it's very useful to be able to try on the sock as you go along. I demonstrated it to Keith the other day and he approved of my progress. "It looks like tendons," he said.

Hmm. Not what the designer had in mind, I imagine; I think he was referring to the color, also.

I need to have the charts close at hand to knit this (which is part of why it's not finished--I have to spend time going back and finding my place whenever I put it down to pick up the baby or answer to some other interruption), but it's not a difficult pattern, I had my doubts as to whether one skein of sock yarn would be enough since it's a pair of knee socks, but they are knit on size 6 needles (!), which means the yarn goes a long way.

If I could change one thing about the pattern, I think I wouldn't have any lace on the sole of the foot. Not something I can change now that I've knit the first sock, which is just as well--I try to modify socks all the time, but it never ends up going quite as I envision. :-P

Joining up with Ginny's Yarn Along.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Seven Quick Takes (1)

1. As of yesterday, Keith is an official PhD Candidate! Before, he was simply a PhD student. But now he has proposed his thesis, withstood intense grilling from his committee, and passed their deliberations about whether or not he's ready to advance to the next stage of his degree. I am so proud of him! Since it was a big deal, and since we never got around to celebrating my graduation (what with having a newborn around and all), we went out to dinner last night to celebrate.

2. I also thought I'd bake something to celebrate. I've had a recipe on Pinterest for some time that I thought Keith might like--honey chamomile muffins. The recipe calls for almond flour, which the little grocery store on the block didn't have. I was tired and had a tired baby on my hands, so instead of going out in search of almond flour I decided to substitute wheat flour and hope for the best.

They are ... interesting. Edible, but interesting. In a way I don't think the original recipe intended to be interesting. They're pretty dense, for one thing ... I'd really like to try the recipe as written, because I think it would be pretty delicious. (Keith has eaten three muffins so far, so I think they taste alright, but the texture's just odd, and they look a little bit like dog food. :-/)

3. Keith has adoration at 9am on Thursdays, and since his proposal presentation started at 9:30, Michael and I took his hour. It was the first time I'd gone to adoration since before Michael was born. What a blessing! I know that Christ has been inviting me back to adoration for a long time, and for various reasons I haven't responded. But he keeps calling, gently. (Often through Father David, who I swear always looks RIGHT AT me when he promotes adoration from the altar, and who, a week or two after Michael was born, said that each parent should make sure the other is able to make it to private adoration.)

4. Our first anniversary is on Monday. We are going to enlist grandparents to babysit and go on a date ... we're still deciding whether we should go someplace with special meaning from our dating relationship (mostly up North where my parents live), or to a nice restaurant down here in the city.

5. And Michael's three month birthday is the day before that. (His due date was the day after our nine month anniversary. My cousin got married three months before us and was also due the day after her nine month anniversary ... we found it pretty funny.) He is so much more aware of the world than he used to be! He gets frustrated easily because he knows what he wants to do with his hands (which he finds fascinating), but isn't able to grab things or reach them very well yet. He's been smiling and "talking" for a long time, but last weekend I actually got these big belly laughs out of him, not once but twice. No laughing since then, though.

6. Like I said, Michael gets easily frustrated ... and easily bored. He also resists napping. Right now he's dozing in the swing (prime blogging time). This morning Keith discovered another way to keep him entertained. (Sorry, you'll have to tilt your head sideways!)

(Please note that I am fully aware of the dangers of leaving children alone to play with plastic bags. I was sitting there the whole time. :) )

7.  The other day someone came to the door trying to get us to join a group for local activism. (I feel like this happens a lot in our neighborhood? Maybe it's just living in the city.) Keith answered the door, but I thought her voice sounded familiar, and concluded from his description that it was someone I knew from school. 

Keith didn't sign anything, but asked for some literature about the organization, which she gave him before returning to talking to our downstairs neighbor. Which is normally the end of that kind of thing, right? Except that five minutes later she rang the doorbell again to ask what he thought of what he'd read. I joined him at the door this time to say hi and, I admit it, to show off Michael. 

We chatted a bit--Keith doing most of the talking. In the end we joined the mailing list but not the organization. We agreed with most of the issues that the group addressed, but we weren't sure we'd always support the ways they chose to address them, and so weren't comfortable with giving our money. I'm not sure how well the woman understood our point, so she might have left with the feeling that we don't care about local issues. But it was friendly conversation, at least. 

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