Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I know three things about

Today my oldest was doing the ever dreaded homework, and we got to this week's "journal" page. "I know a lot about _____", it read. Then, down below, were three large squares so each child could share three things they knew about whatever the subject was.

He struggled mightily on what to write about. "Hmmm....you know a lot about cooking", I offered. "Yeah, but that's not very cool." Ah, the priorities of a seven year old. Long gone are the days when he wanted to be a chef when he grew up. Finally, he settled on something really cool that he knew a lot about: Oregon. His face lit up as he talked about how it snows there sometimes (as a lifelong resident of Southern California, the idea that it actually snows somewhere at all is magical to him). Then he wrote that his cousins live there. Actually, my cousin lives there with his wife and two girls, but Ryan refers to all of the smaller children in the family as cousins. Can't remember if that makes them first cousins or what exactly, but I guess he's right.

And thing-he-knows-about-Oregon number three?

"I'm going to live there."


Saturday, February 25, 2006

New floor and being one with the couch

It's been an interesting week here. Dan's sister Katie came out to visit last weekend, much to the great joy of both the boys who adore her. She brought with her a late birthday gift: a portable foozball table made from dark wood that folds up and looks quite attractive when not in use. Needless to say, the boys love it....and the adults are having a blast with it as well. Who says you have to grow up?

We also started in on the forlorn kitchen floor. The linoleum was in sad shape when we bought the house six years ago and those six years have been less than kind. I gleefully ripped up the old flooring, only to find several odd things like this cryptic message (it reads: "loose shot", though I mistook that "o" for an "i" for a moment full of hysterical laughter). You can also see the old flooring that never ever looked clean, no matter how much I scrubbed and cleaned it. Whoever put it in did a lousy job as well - the edge that met up against the carpet was completely uneven with open gaps down to the cement below. Yes, I know we should have gotten rid of it years ago. Funny how hard you work to fix up a house that you won't be living in soon, isn't it? We also found a rather large and scary looking repair in the cement - no wonder the flooring was uneven in that spot! I don't even want to know why they had to fill things in there. Some things are just better unknown, especially when it comes to home repair.

Ripping the floor out was pretty quick job, at least until we got to the stove. The floor went all the way underneath, but we have a gas stove and couldn't safely pull it all the way out to get to the back by the wall. Dan puzzled and figured as only an Engineer can do, and then it hit us both at the same time: we could pull it out as far as the gas line would allow, then I could get in back and cut the floor and tear out what I could from the back. Here's where being short, relatively small, and limber come in handy. Thank you, yoga classes! I had to do some truly amazing contortions to get myself back there and back out again, but we were finally free of the old floor. Here's how it looked in all it's...erm...glory:

After we got the boys to bed, Dan and I got down to putting in the new vinyl tile. I never in my entire life imagined I'd voluntarily put plastic tiles in my kitchen, but they look fantastic. More importantly, they feel wonderful to my bare feet as I walk around, a testament to the fact that they are a lot thicker than the original linoleum sheeting. The kitchen looks so much better, and all for less than $150 and a day's worth of work. Not bad at all.

Unfortunately, soon after the lovely floor was in place I got hit by a truck...or at least that's what it felt like. I have been one with my couch, using up cloth diaper after cloth diaper in lieu of tissue (the soft cotton is so much kinder on a raw nose, and they're easy to toss in the wash and use again) and drinking gallons of tea while popping echinacea, vitamin C, zinc, astragalus, oregon grape root, and raw garlic. I'm finally at the tail end of it all and can breathe almost normally again. Just in time to do more home repairs!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

....and the winner is...

Jeanne from A Bluestocking Knits! I'll be sending off a copy of Mindful Knitting later on today. Thanks to everone for voting and sharing opinions - it all really helped. Last night I finally decided on which button to use after trying on the almost completed sweater and holding up buttons against the front. I was thinking of using the last metallic buttons, but on the actual sweater they get lost and are a little too small. The leaf buttons are perfect, and those are what I'll use. Now to figure out buttonhole spacing!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sockapaloooza update

I finally got started on socks for my pal. Had to ponder a bit to figure out what would be just right for her, but I think these will be perfect. She's young, seems to have a lot of energy, likes bright colors, and is a fan of cabling. I've been eyeing the "Aran Sandal Socks" from Socks, Socks, Socks for a long time now, and what better color than bright red? The color in the picture is almost right - it's 4018 (Red) in Baby Ull. The yarn is a bit splitty and difficult to frog, but it knits up well, is superwash, and pretty soft to boot. Had to add in some extra patterning since I needed more stitches around than used in the pattern, but it all blends in well. I'm loving how the cables are coming out! The pattern goes all the way down the heel so there's a flash of pattern if you wear them with open backed shoes. Much fun.

Oh, and the needles are a custom job, which is why they look so uneven. A few years ago, my grandparents moved out of their house to assisted living and had to get rid of a lot of their things. My Grandma was an incredible knitter. She's the one who taught me when I was little, who stood by while I made clumsy row after row, who helped design a special bonnet for my baby doll (who had gotten a rather odd punk haircut when I was three). Unfortunately, she had a series of strokes that made her unable to really use her hands at all, so no more knitting. She gave all of her knitting supplies to me, a gesture that made me cry just a little. I took all of the yarn she had kept, sorted it out into light, medium and dark colors, and made an afghan out of three strands held together, plain garter stitch. I wanted something that she could touch and hold against her cheek, something to remind her of all the things she had so lovingly made and most of all something that would keep her warm and let her know how much I cared. She cried when I gave it to her, too. The needles were made by my Grandpa years ago out of plastic straight needles. He snipped off the ends, sharpened them into points, and filed until everything was smooth. These needles aren't the best: they bend, one is a bit too short, and they aren't very strong. But I feel like I'm sharing something special with my Grandma, and that's enough for me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Buttons, buttons

Blogger is finally back up! I've been trying for days to get on and update on my foray into the Perfect Sweater, but I haven't been able to post. I've finished everything except the second front of the cardigan, which I'll admit I'm a bit worried about. I'm doing a self facing that will get stitched down like this:

Now, the end result should be really nice. I finished the "button" side of the cardigan and it's going to look very polished once I sew the edges down. The trick is I have to figure out where all the buttonholes are going to go now, before I start the second side, since the buttonholes will be worked as I knit. Finally got to the fabric store and picked out some buttons so I can arrange them on the finished side and see what seems to work. But I can't quite decide on which will look best. The sweater is quite plain, all stockingette, shaped a bit like a fitted jacket. It's a deep, slightly heathered forest green. I'll probably wear this all the time, so nothing too fancy. Which button should I use? Please leave your answer in the comments (couldn't get a poll to work correctly to save my life this morning). I'll send a copy of Mindful Knitting to a randomly selected commenter, so there's something in it for you as well :-)

PS - the metallic buttons are all an antique-y gold tone. The third button down is plastic and has various darker greens in it all swirled together. Hard to get the colors to come out well. Oh, and Dan's vote is for the leaf button. Still not sure where I stand yet.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Move update

Sorry to have been AWOL for such a long time. Dan and I have been working feverishly to clean up and prepare the house for sale. It started out in decent condition, but there are a lot of things that we've both ignored for years or just never got around to fixing. We had our Realtor walk through and point out things that should be changed, and I made up a master list that's now hanging on the refrigerator of all the things we need to finish. So much work! Thankfully, a lot of it is painting which I really enjoy.

That is, aside from the evil popcorn ceiling seen on the right. We have a huge vaulted ceiling covered in the stuff that we planned on taking down, but just don't have the time or energy now. So we're painting it all white to match the walls. This is turning out to be much more difficult than either of us would have imagined. The accoustical coating soaks up paint like a sponge and comes off when you try to paint it, dropping down in a rain of tiny white dots everywhere. So far we've used four gallons of paint for that one ceiling alone! It takes a lot of muscle to coat the uneven surface, which is especially hard from a distance. Dan is doing the bulk of the higher up stuff while I do edging and the lower areas. Evil, evil stuff. I can't wait to be finished.

So far, we've re-painted our downstairs bathroom from a glorious apple green (see the dab of paint here) to a much more house shopper friendly cream (look left for the finished bathroom, tiny as it is). We've replaced the leaky kitchen faucet with a snazzy new one with a spray attachment that the boys love. We've washed down the kitchen cabinets and treated them with Old English scratch cover to fill in nicks and uneven spots. We've picked out vinyl tiles to cover the kitchen floor, since the old linoleum is in lousy shape. We've filled in holes in the walls and primered doors that need attention. We've cleared out whole car loads of stuff from the garage, enough that I'm driving to Goodwill every Sunday morning with another load (I now bring the workers something nice for breakfast once a week). We still need to install the floor in the kitchen and tear up the carpet in the upstairs bathroom and install tile there. Then touch up paint wherever it's needed and general clearing out of everything that isn't essential.

The original goal was to put the house on the market by the end of this month. I think it'll be a week or two into March, but that's still pretty close to what we'd planned. Then we wait and see how long it takes for the house to sell and start planning the move. Dan doesn't have a job in Oregon yet, despite a concerted effort to find one. At present our plan is to have him talk to his boss and see if his company will consider keeping him on as a consultant for a while, telecommuting once we move. He just started a very large project that will bring in a lot of money for the company, so they may well decide to keep him on to oversee things at the start. If he doesn't have a job in place we'll use the money from the sale of the house to live on while he searches in the Portland area. We will have enough to live on for a good year or so, and he plans on doing at least temp work while looking for something permanent there.

I go from being terrified of making such a big move to elated that we're finally moving to a place that feels right, that feels like home. Such a big step for all of us, but I think it's the right one all around. I can't wait!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

How did my tiny little guy become SEVEN years old already?

Ryan is growing up so very quickly. It really does seem like just yesterday he was a baby so small he didn't fit in any of the clothes we brought to the hospital. Since then he's grown like a weed, soaking up the world around him along the way at lightning speed (which is the speed he does everything, hence my dad's nickname for him, Rocket Boy). He is a builder of all things Lego, especially rocketships and machines of all shapes and sizes. He loves reading Dr. Seuss, especially Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now! He loves broccoli. His favorite color is red. Just last night he used chopsticks for the first time, grinning proudly all the way. He has taught me patience and acceptance and centered my life in ways I never knew existed.

I love you more than life itself, little guy.

Happy Birthday!