Thursday, January 29, 2009

So my sister says,

"you know, with 2 snow days, I would have thought you would have blogged. It makes me laugh every time I go to your blog and see how you were going to blog 'every other day or so.'"

Ha ha.

Now, we're at 3 snow days and counting. And well, I just don't have anything great to blog about.
The snow and new schedules have kept the boys at their homes, so no pictures.
I've been knitting, but that's not that exciting -- 5 purple scarves for the wrestling managers.
I am working on a quilt, but no pictures to show yet.
Wrestling is winding down -- sectionals this weekend, but Will won't have a match as he isn't varsity.
School is fine. This is Catholic Schools Week, but they're missing out on all the fun because of the snow and ice. Poo.

I will try to get a better bloggy attitude soon, promise.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Our very own Miss America

When I was little, the Miss America pageant was a highlight of the year. Those Saturday nights in September we got to stay up late and have popcorn and Cokes in little glass bottles.
Alas, Miss Indiana never, ever did well, and we were forced to cheer for the girl from Kentucky, Ohio or another neighboring state. When it came to talent, my dad always liked the girls who chose to sing or play a religious or patriotic song -- he said you could never go wrong that way. I know it would have thrilled him to see Katie Stam, Earl Hackman's granddaughter, sing "Via Delarosa" and be crowned Miss America.

It was the most exciting thing I have ever seen (the second most exciting was the Colts Super Bowl win in 2007 -- wish my dad could have seen that, too.) There is to be a big parade and party when she gets to return home after a round of appearances.

On behalf of 4-Her's and farm girls everywhere, way to go, Katie.


Monday, January 5, 2009

A Year in Review

A. I would like to blog every day or so.
B. I would like to write about 2008.
I am reading blogs again, and saw this little meme on a couple of the knitting blogs (Jo's and Beverly's) -- so,
C. This should do nicely, I think.

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
Turned 49. Wow, that is a lame answer, but all I can come up with at the moment.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I still don't play a stringed instrument, there are no chapters of my novel to read and my pants are the same size. Poo.
I think I will just keep the same ones (resolutions and pants), and try not to forget about them by February.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Heavens, yes.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Unfortunately, yes.

5. What countries did you visit? None. But I do have my passport ready.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? Peace on earth and a puppy

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? The babies' birthdays.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Taking a seat on National Council.

9. What was your biggest failure? I'm a mom -- don't get me started.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing major, but bronchitis is the pits.

11. What was the best thing you bought? New carpet for the family room. Whee!

12. Where did most of your money go? My money? Fun stuff. Charity. Our money? The house, the cars, the kids, the usual.

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about? New babies, vacation with friends

14. What song will always remind you of 2008? Alphabet Rock

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? A little sadder -- it's been a hard few weeks.
b) thinner or fatter? About the same
c) richer or poorer? Richer, I think. I have more part time jobs than this time last year!

16. What do you wish you'd done more of? Exercising and loving

17. What do you wish you'd done less of? Nagging and worrying

18. How will you be spending Christmas? Well, I answered all that in the previous posts -- you really don't want to hear that again, do you?

19. What was your favorite TV program? Barefoot Contessa, Top Chef, Amazing Race and Bonnie Hunt. I like TV and am not ashamed of it. So there.

20. What was the best book you read? The Last Chinese Chef

21. What was your greatest musical discovery? She and Him

22. What did you want and get? Happiness
22a. I didn't know I wanted another cat, but we got Toulouse. And in a lot of ways, he's like the puppy from question 6.

23. What did you want and not get? Deluxe Scrabble and someone to play it with.

24. What was your favorite film of this year? Mama Mia

25. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? We had a nice supper at home, and Clay made an angel food cake with a chocolate ganache, a la Ina Garten. Super. Oh, and I turned 49.

26. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Immeasurably? Holy cow, that's asking a lot. To be honest, I am really satisfied with my life, and can't think of anything that could make it measurably more so.

27. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Traditional. Meaning, I wore the same things I wore the year before. And the one before that.

28. What kept you sane? Mornings in the kitchen with Linda and Joannie; Clay, who reminds me to keep my chin up and my head out of my ass.

29. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Fancy? Sheesh. You mean besides Alan Rickman and Colin Firth? Let me think on that one.

30. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Just let it go and go on. That's all you can do.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

So Glad Santa is My Friend

because he will stop in for one last visit before taking his suit to the cleaners.

Thanks, Santa, for letting us get Paul's first Christmas pictures with you. Here's another nice one:

But that was enough:

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Stuff I Made

Despite everything else going on this holiday season, I did manage to get a few things made. Here's the gallery of my handy crafting:

This is my version of the Starbucks yarn wreath. I saw lots of beautiful variations of this on the Internet. It's built on a styrofoam wreath with yarn-covered styrofoam balls and the ornaments were from Big Lots. Lots of hot glue, lots of fun.

The kindergarten girls' gifts were easy -- I had been collecting cheap fluffy yarns (some from my Halloween pal!) to knit them scarves, all in garter stitch. 12 scarves for the girls, and 4 extra for the mitten tree at school.
The boys were not so easy -- I didn't think they would want scarves or something else knitted. After lots of thought and searching, I decided to make them duct tape wallets. There are lots of good patterns on the internet, and I ended up taking ideas from several. One time-saving tip I would add to the duct tape world is to use a quilter's ruler and cutting mat -- very helpful in cranking out 12 wallets -- the brown one was for my friend Boone. Duct tape is a little expensive, but a got 11 blue wallets out of one roll with enough left over for a couple more, I would guess. I personalized them with the boys' initials, and slipped a dollar into each one. I think they were more thrilled with the dollar than the wallet!

Will and Clay had helped Grandma clean out Grandpa Dale's closet this summer, and we ended up with lots of his things that Will didn't want to part with -- hats, jackets, socks, sweaters and a rack full of wide ties from '70's that mom had made for him. With Will's permission, I cut the ties up and made them into pillows (with velvet backing) for mom, Corinne and Leslie. I think I have enough tie material to make one for each of my kids, as well. Dad must have been one hip professor dude in his stripes, florals and paisleys.
This little bookbag was actually planned for Claire's birthday last year --I think she will appreciate it more now that she is 2! (Guess what? Not only has WMart stopped carrying embroidery floss, they don't stock fabric paint any longer. There are rumors that the whole craft/material department will be gone soon.) Can you tell that's Caillou? He's Claire's favorite.

I worked on the Yarn Harlot's One Row Scarf (pattern here) on the way to Ohio while listening to podcasts of Wait Wait and This American Life. I picked up this fluffy acrylic at Hobby Lobby for $1.99. I think I might keep one of these scarves going all the time -- great TV knitting.

Finally, my friend Michelle came to Knit Night with a beautiful crocheted scarf a friend had given her. The company (Garnet Hill) also offered an afghan and pillow covers in the same pattern (picture over there on the left), and she asked if I could make the pillows. She offered to get the yarn, and I suggested Knit Picks Palette; she went on line and ordered 24 beautiful colors and I went to the library and figured out how to crochet a hexagon. Because of all the excitement, I only had one completed before Christmas, but Michelle was lovely and understanding.
From the company, each of the pillow covers would have been $90, and that's not including the pillow inserts, which were another $9 apiece. Michelle only paid $50 for all that yarn, and there is enough for many more pillows. In fact, I think I am going to start a couple for our couches, as she let me keep the leftovers!
Here is the second pillow top, almost completed; it's not a perfect match to the original, but a reasonable facsimile:
In the cookie arena, I made Espresso Chocolate Drops, Soft Molasses, Coconut Drops, Sugar Cookies, Noodle Nests and dipped pretzels. I tried Lemon Squares and Buckeyes, but they were both failures -- I used to be really good at both of those. Too much stress in the kitchen, I guess. No one missed them, and I bought buckeyes for Leslie at Cracker Barrel.

I have something to finish for Clay, but luckily, his birthday is in a few days so he will get it then; I also need to finish something for Will, which he will get on his birthday in February.
Before I start something new, I want to finish up a few projects that have been smoldering in the basement. I also want to keep clearing out my craft/sewing area -- I've given lots of stuff away lately, but there is still a lot I don't need. Why in the world did I think I needed all that stuff? I'd take a picture, but it would be far too embarrassing.

Friday, January 2, 2009

One more upsetting thing

There are lots of things for wrestling moms to worry about.

Bloody noses, broken bones, MERSA.

Feeding your wrestler properly so he makes weight but stays strong.

Buying the right equipment.

Showing up on time.

And perhaps most importantly, not embarrassing your wrestler by yelling too loudly, screaming at the ref or crying. But I cried when something happened that I had never thought to worry about -- my baby broke an ankle.

Not his own.

That of some other wrestling mama's boy. And she wasn't even there.

Will was having a good meet at Columbus the Saturday before Christmas. His next opponent was from Shelbyville, and it was a pretty even match until there was a slam to the floor and the other boy started screeching, "Oh my God, it hurts so bad! Somebody help me!" His foot had gotten caught under him, and bent back to the point of breaking. Although we were just a few feet from the mat up in the wrestling room, we didn't hear a snap (thank the Lord) but the writhing and shrieks of pain were horrid. Everything stopped and the ambulance was called. Will didn't much know what to do -- the ref raised his hand as the winner, and then directed Will to go over and shake the boy's hand -- of course, the boy didn't want much to do with that.

Clay talked to their coach later, who told him that that was the 5th season-ending injury that team had incurred already this season.

As the boy's dad left for the hospital, I told him we were sorry, but he just shrugged -- I guess everyone involved in wrestling knows the risks involved. Will's had more bloody noses than I can count, a separated shoulder and various welts and bruises. But seeing another boy hurt by my kid was a strange and surreal experience, and one I hope never to repeat.

Holiday Wrap-up

I know I had promised to post more often, but it's been a stressful few weeks, and I'm not even counting the normal holiday brouhaha that goes on around here.

Nate's mother, Sue, died; her funeral was on Christmas Eve. She had been so sick for so long, but I believe she willed herself to stay alive until the baby was born, and then to be able to enjoy him for a few months. Baby Paul was a blessing to her. May she rest in peace, and may her family have peace after this traumatic time, as well.

Paul spent a night in the hospital the day after Sue died. Maggie and Nate had been concerned about his breathing, and he had a blue circle around his mouth, which in one of Maggie's books warned could be a sign of RSV. They took him to the ER where a super-conscientious doctor scared them to bits (RSV, Riley, heart defect and surgery were some of the frightening words he threw around.) Although Paul's breathing is still a little iffy, all his tests came back good; they're just keeping a close eye on him.
(This picture is from Friday evening -- Maggie was working, Nate was with his mom and we kept Paul, who was perfect until 9:00, when he became inconsolable. After an hour of tootling and deep knee bends, he finally went to sleep on Clay's chest.)

Sue's wasn't the only funeral Christmas week; a dear woman at the Methodist church died of some sort of blood infection (which she thought was a bad case of the flu) --I played her funeral on Monday. Tuesday was the funeral for a dear friend of our parents (and our Pet and Hobby Club leader when we were small. She was the Queen of Crafts, and always had the coolest things for us to do, like dipping wire forms into some sort of goop to make flower petals. I couldn't even guess how many hundreds of nursing home tray favors she helped us make over the years.) So, it was a sad week.
Christmas Eve I had three services -- the world famous St. Ambrose Children's Mass at 5 (which as usual, was a sweet welcome for baby Jesus, complete with little girls lifting their skirts and little boys using their battery powered candles as light sabers), the Methodist service at 7 (lovely) and Mass at Providence at 8, which featured Ann the trumpet player, who filled that little church with joy.
I'm not even going to elaborate on our Christmas Eve dinner -- let's just file that under "The Most Disappointing Fancy Meal We Ever Tried to Cook" and leave it at that.
Christmas morning was lovely, and Will was happy with his gifts (as would anyone who had e-mailed me his list with the appropriate web sites for ordering). Sarah called and said that she and Tommy had been sick, but they thought it was from the meatballs they had had for supper; we told them to come down if they felt like it. They did, but both spent most of the day on the couch and they went home early. Nate went home to be with his dad, but Maggie and Paul stayed, and Will, Maggie and Clay got in some quality Mario Cart time together.
We were to leave for Akron early the next morning, but Clay came to wake me and said that Will was very sick. Later in the day, I was sick as well, so we postponed our trip until Saturday. We felt better, and headed to Ohio, but since no one there wanted our cooties, we stayed in a hotel Saturday evening. Unfortunately, Clay began to feel bad on the way, and was walloped full force by the virus right after we checked in. Sunday morning, after exhaustive calls to mom's, we decided to pack up and head back to Indiana, sad, disappointed and without even one Swenson's burger. And that's all I'm going to say about that.
Nate and Maggie were both sick, but luckily, my sisters and their families, who left for vacation to South Carolina on Saturday, didn't get the bug.
The rest of the week has been spent in quiet recovery. Will went to a friend's house and Clay and I spent New Year's Eve watching movies. I fell asleep but woke up in time to watch the ball drop, get a kiss and have a swig of champipple. (What's that from? I know we didn't make it up.) Thursday we had corned beef and cabbage and black eyed peas with Sarah and Adam, so we should all have a prosperous 2009 despite economic forecasts, right?
Clay and Will go skiing on Sunday, and then this holiday season is officially over. School, piano lessons and a wrestling meet on Tuesday -- 2009, here we come!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year

Much to say about the year past and the one to come. But let's look at some nice pictures instead.
This is what you get when you say, "Nate, look here!"

First crackers for Allie

Paul, being a "N-E-E-D"*

Silent Night


*Charlie's term. When asked if he wanted to wear a white shirt (like his dad wears) to his Christmas program, he told Karen he didn't want to look like a "n-e-e-d." You know --nerd.