Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Now there are 4

grandsons in this family! Here is Paul Robert, who was born on Sunday around 1:30 PM, and weighed 7# 13 oz., but didn't have a name until Monday afternoon.
Maggie and Nate had finally agreed on Noah, but when he was born, Maggie didn't think he looked like a Noah -- he looked just like Nate. But since we already have a little Nate in this family, they chose Nate's grandpa's name. Maggie had a bit of a rough time, but was in great spirits last evening. (At least I think she was -- I was still in a Halicon-induced haze, but more on that later.)

Here he is with his two grandpas:
(It was a great day for Clay -- new grandson and a Browns victory over the Bengals)
Denny had just gotten a speeding ticket driving down to see the baby Monday -- Paul's other grandma, Susan, is in a battle with cancer, and had surgery at IU Med on Sunday. Keep Susan in your prayers, as her prognosis is not so good -- right now, all she wants is to see this sweet boy. Maggie and Nate spoke with the doctor yesterday about taking him up to see Susan; he was hesitant to give them an ok, and said Paul must stay in his car seat and be covered with a blanket. It's such a difficult spot -- so much joy over this baby, but overshadowed by what Susan is going through. One day we'll all understand.

More pictures and updates soon -- once again, I have failed to get a picture of my daughter with her baby -- I promise one today.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's a difficult week

so I'll just give you a thought from Dan Fogelberg to see you through until I have something to share:

Love when you can
Cry when you have to
Be who you must,
That's a part of the plan;
Await your arrival
With simple survival,
And one day we'll all understand.
And if your air conditioner in your car is broken, and you have to drive with the windows down, and this song comes up on your I-pod and you feel the need to sing it really loud, do it.
Who cares that that guy next to you at the stoplight eating the hamburger gives you a weird look? He had some secret sauce on his face. So there.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

T Week - Turtles and Towels

Mom was a great cookie baker, snickerdoodles being her absolute best. She really loved trying new cookie recipes that she would find in the newspaper or one of her magazines; I remember seafoam chews, hickory nut drops and Viennese raspberry squares. One of her more unusual attempts were the turtle cookies baked in the waffle maker. I thought they would be the perfect little cookie for "T" week in kindergarten, so I searched out the recipe and found several variations on allrecipes.com. I picked the one that sounded most like mom's; it is an easy recipe, and the cookies bake up quickly in the waffle iron -- 1:30 minutes! They were good just by themselves, but I thought they would look more like turtles with a little green icing; I think mom's had chocolate icing and chopped nuts sprinkled on the top.

(I love this picture because you can see my cow cookie jar -- mom had one just like it, and I was so happy when I saw one at an antique store many years ago. Isn't she just the cutest little Jersey cow ever?)
Some of the kids loved them, but most of the turtles made their way to the trash can. I think the lesson I learned this week is not to be too unique with the snacks -- this is a Froot Loops sort of crowd. Next week is "P" week; I better skip the pate choux and pralines and go right for the popcorn and pretzels.

I've been working on the Irish Hiking Scarf, the Yarn Harlot's one stitch scarf and the wedding shawl. But I've had the itch to embroider after seeing some beautiful towels and aprons at Mary Jane's Farm. I started this towel yesterday after school with some things I had down in the basement, but bought a few more patterns and floss today when Will and I went to Indy. In other news, Clay is on his Boy's Weekend Out -- they golfed at Purdue, went to Harry's last night and then the game today. Golf in Indy tomorrow, then he leaves from there for the big mining show in Las Vegas. He'll be home on Wednesday. Maggie's very ready for the baby to be born -- part of me wishes he would be born soon for Maggie's sake, the other part wants babe to wait until Wednesday so Grandma can be here (I wonder if this baby will call Clay "grandma" too?) Sarah's decided to study accounting and Will's developing quite a set of guns from weight training.
It's just totally terrific to tell you the truth. (Watch out -- next week I could be perfectly pissy when pondering payment to my periodontist.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Birthday Week

Tommy turned 4 on Monday, Maggie turned 21 on Tuesday -- two birthdays, two family dinners -- it's been a great week.

Tommy's cake turned out to be an ordeal -- despite the fact that the Super Why character's heads were filled with styrofoam and plastic wrap, they were still top heavy, and there were many nosedives right into the cake. And, for some reason, the icing slid right off the big cake in the back. Yikes. I melted down a little with each catastrophe, and it wasn't exactly as I had planned, but Tommy was thrilled, and that's all that matters. So, here it is, my slipshod masterpiece:
(Each of those little books was supposed to have a character standing on it. Oh well. I titled the books Tom Thumb, Little Tommy Tinker and Tom Sawyer.)

Carly reminded me that they sometimes have catastrophes on my very favorite tv show, Ace of Cakes, too. The question now is, what to do with Super Why, Red, Princess and Pig? It seems like a lot of work to just pitch out, but keeping them seems a little silly, too -- too sweet to eat, too fragile to play with, and the only cakes I have to make soon are Blue's Clues and a giant golf ball, neither of which needs a super reading hero on top.

We had brats and hot dogs, pasta salad with lots of white cheese (Tommy's favorite) and Buffalo Chicken Dip; I had heard many people talk about how delicious it is, but had never tried it -- they were right.

And here's the big present: his "tractor." They rode it until we made them come in and have cake, but Clay took them out again after, even though it was dark. Definitely a hit.

They drove it into the dark again last night when we had Maggie's party. She loves vegetable soup, so that's what I made. But I cook like my dad -- as if the threshers were coming to supper. We ended up with two big pots of soup, enough for supper for many nights, and enough to share with the neighborhood! We also had her favorite birthday cake, from Dairy Queen.

Clay's co-workers from all over the world are in this week for meetings, so he is going to dinner with them this evening. Will and I are going to go out, even though we should probably stay home and eat soup!


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Super Why Birthday Preview

(Princess Presto is a little hippy -- I had wanted her skirt to stand out, and added wads of fondant under before I put the skirt on.)
What's the cake going to look like? Not sure yet, but I do have these nifty figures to put on it. Or beside it. I'm going to work on Wonder Red and Super Why today after church. Stay tuned.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Big Al

At his last checkup, Alex had doubled his weight. He's growing up fast, but this hair growth is ridiculous! And no, I don't want to fight!

It's been a big week. Knitting at the Senior Citizens' Center and PIX meeting Monday, catering job on Tuesday for the Tri Kappas.

Will got his class ring on Tuesday, and had his physical for wrestling. He got his tetanus booster, which unfortunately made him sick on Wednesday -- we had the day off for parent-teacher conferences, and planned a trip to the antique mall and lunch. But not even halfway through the mall, and without even asking me to purchase a sword, Zippo lighter or Indy memorabilia, he was ready to go home, and fell into the car in a sick little heap. After some Advil and a 3-hour nap when we got home, he went to youth group -- it was care package night, when they pack and send packages to parishioners in the service and college.

He was still a little draggy yesterday, but seems to be just fine today. I had Knit Night last night, and as usual, we had a great time. I had a lesson on scarves; I posted links to the patterns on the KN blog.

Today, we took the five 7th graders on Meals on Wheels routes -- I hope they view it as service and not as just a way to get out of class for a bit.

Tonight there is a home football game, but if it's raining, I think I'll stay home and work on Tommy's birthday cake. His party is here on Monday, and we're getting him a John Deer Gator Power Wheels. Stay tuned for pictures!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Some Books

So, I had been reading Say You're One of Them, which was an NPR-suggested summer read. It was a heart-breaking, gut-wrenching, soul-crushing read. I would put it up there with Night and the Haiti stories of Edwidge Danticat, on my shelf labeled "Why Do We Do This To Each Other?"

I had to read that book slowly, and de-compress after each story. For a change, I started Jodi Picoult's Vanishing Acts; I usually plow through her books quickly, but it wasn't much of a relief -- her books always stress me out a little, as I wait for the awful surprise near the end. (I've seen that a lot of her books have been made into Lifetime movies.) She always teaches you a little something -- this time, it was Southwestern American Indian traditions.

So I have several directions to go with my next read; I had bought a new copy of Peace Like a River for Clay to take along to Japan. He really liked it and wanted to talk about it, but it's been so long since I read it that I need to re-read so we can discuss it. We have the next book by Leif Enger on the shelf, so after he finishes this huge book he is reading about India, maybe we can read that together.

That huge India book, a novel, was shared by Clay's boss, Chris. They often share books; he had given her his copy of Geography of Bliss, and she loved it so much that she has purchased several copies to give away. He came home yesterday with one of those new copies -- she said our copy had been "thumb worn" and she thought we needed a new one. So, I could read that. I still have the new David Sedaris, Karen Armstong's The Battle for God and 1/2 the Mother Teresa bio to get to.

Or, I could clean the house, do some laundry, sew or knit.

As I decide, I thought I would share this; Pam recently had a list of books on her blog. I was sad to say there were a bunch that I didn't even recognize! But I love those lists, and I've always wanted to make my way through the Time 100 Best Books list, or one of the others you see so often from publishers, newspapers or bloggers.

So, to make myself feel better, I copied the list from the NEA of the 100 best books for children and young people (I know, after 5 years on the bookmobile, a college class in children's lit, 3 children and 3 grandchildren, this is cheating. But I do feel better, and I could finish up this list pretty quickly -- maybe I should.)

I sort of followed Pam's directions, with a few changes: Bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you’ve started but haven’t finished, cross out the ones you hated, and underline the ones on your book shelf! Combine indicators as appropriate. (I haven't hated a single one of these, and I'm not sure how to underline in blogger. So, I made my very most favorite books BIG and made the ones I've read a million times red).

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Where the Sidewalk Ends: the Poems and Drawing of Shel Silverstein
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin, Jr.
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Corduroy by Don Freeman
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss
Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by John Archambault
The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
Math Curse by Jon Scieszka
Are You My Mother? by Philip D. Eastman
The Napping House by Audrey Wood
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss
Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
Curious George by Hans Augusto Rey
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
Arthur series by Marc Tolon Brown

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
The Art Lesson by Tomie De Paola
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
Clifford, the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch
Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
The BFG by Roald Dahl
The Giver by Lois Lowry
James and the Giant Peach: A Children's Story by Roald Dahl
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Engalls Wilder
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O'Brien
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater
My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Stuart Little by E. B. White
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Cay by Theodore Taylor
The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
And, I would add The Magie Treehouse books by Mary Pope Osborne, Olivia by Ian Falconer and Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobbie. And finally, Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson, which Sharon read to the kindergartners yesterday. I love any book that ends in a hug.


Friday, September 5, 2008

No more politics here

I'm leaving these people alone to duke it out amongst themselves. I've been reading comments on political blogs, Catholic blogs, mom blogs and even knitting blogs all week, and the only conclusion that I have come to is that politics really brings out the schaudenfreude in some folks.

The end.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

School Days

This is my third go-round teaching at our little school. Many years ago, the school needed a music teacher. Sister Josita pointed at me one day and said, "You can do that." Even though I protested to her that I don't have a music degree, I did it. Because she said so.

So, for three years, I tried to teach music, put on the Christmas and spring concerts and prayed for someone else to take my place. That prayer was answered in the form of a lovely young woman, Kim, who had a music degree and a husband who had just been hired as the band director in a nearby town. She was terrific, and even started a band at St. A. (But then, her sister and brother-in-law were killed in an accident, and she and her husband moved back to Michigan to help raise their children. See, I told you she was terrific.)

A few years ago, they needed a volunteer to teach art to the upper grades -- 6, 7, and 8. As I love all things artsy, I said I would do it. But do you know what you call teaching art at the end of the school day to adolescents who would rather be doing anything else? A nightmare. I loved those kids, and stuck it out for the whole year, but begged off for the next.

So now, I am the kindergarten aide. It may be the most difficult of all. Not a nightmare, just draining. So many little people. So many little voices and opinions. So many little hands that just can't seem not to touch the other little people.

Some are already fluent in the kindergarten basics -- ABC's colors, numbers.
Others are not quite fluent in English.
Some cry when they are disciplined (which in this class means you have to change the color of card in your name pocket -- from green to red to yellow and so on -- and may not get a sticker at the end of the day, therefore not earning a treat at the end of the week. Rough.)
Some could care less if they end up with a black card at the end of the day.

But I love them all, from the sweet beribboned little girls who hug me every morning, to the angry little one who yells at us (but who took a moment to look down my dress this morning).
From the boys jockeying to be king of the playground to our sweet chubby friend who lights up the room when he smiles but is lazy as the day is long --as Sharon says, if he wasn't so lovable, she'd have to bean him! (Sister AR took him to the mattresses today at lunch and made him cry, which almost made me cry, especially when he said, "Mrs. Racoons, please don't go home this afternoon -- stay with me." But I watched, and he seemed to be having a heck of a good time at recess; I hope, hope, hope he has a good and productive afternoon, but I'm not holding my breath.)

Every day is getting a little better -- they are learning how to "do school," becoming friends and having fun. Sharon is figuring out how to deal with so many, and all the diversities therein -- she's had to change up how she does things, and it seems to be working. It's going to be a long year, (16 days down, 164 to go) but I feel very blessed to be a little part of the days of these little people.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Things off and on the needles

First off, my semi-complete Olympic knitting --the Mason-Dixon log cabin square with the Debbie Mumm yarn. (Thanks to Ravelry, I now know that the yarn phenomenon is called "worming".)
One square really isn't enough for anything -- it measures about 18" square -- too small for a blanket yet. So, I ordered 6 more skeins from Jo-Ann's and plan to make it a lap afghan. But after that, I won't use this yarn again -- it's just no fun to have to keep coaxing a fiber to do what it should.

I like the log cabin so much I made up a washcloth pattern for Knit Night:

It starts with 8 cast on stitches, knit for 10 rows, then do the log cabin thingie for 3 sets of garter ridges on each side. This cloth has 16 rounds, and measures 8" square. I'm going to write up what I did exactly, and post it on the other blog, if you are interested.

Except, I think I will continue with several more row sets, make another the same size and put it together into another market bag. I'm making this with a lot of leftover kitchen cotton on size 7's.
Also on the needles is a wedding shawl:
The yarn is Fiesta La Boehm, a 2-strand yarn I bought at Mass Ave. in Midnight Blue. I'm using the lace pattern from Pam Allen's Little Lace Shrug, found in Lace Style, with #10's. Here it is, close-up:When I knit with two strands, I like to have two separate balls of yarn. This fiber came stranded together, and I am having some troubles with it -- the lighter weight strand, which is mostly mohair, is stretching, I think, and I get a big wad of it every once in awhile. Just no fun.

One of the benefits of teaching at the library is that Becky the Librarian automatically puts all new knitting books on hold for me. I really like Lace Style and may buy it the next time I have a Border's coupon.

I failed to post our first day of school picture, so here it is, only 3 weeks late.

Hey, big bad sophomore, tie those shoes.
We took one in front of the front door, but I am too embarrassed to show you that one, as we still don't have the window fixed. I need to get on that . . .