Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Aging Postlette

The holidays are upon us. The tree is up and the lights are strung, and Max hates pine trees. Well, perhaps he hates all trees without bias. All I can tell you for sure is that if you get him within touching distance of our Christmas tree he will cry. Maybe the leaves are too sharp for tender little fingers and after touching it he's learned to fear the big sparkling porcupine. There's no telling.

... Okay, so that post was started on the 8th of December. We've marched past Christmas and it's on towards New Year's now. I'm sure there is lots to blog about, so I'll try to get to that. Meanwhile Max is slightly less upset about the tree in our house. Although we do take care to keep him out of arm's reach so that he can't touch it and start freaking out again. For now I'm going to bed.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Boy and His Bouncer

Max has figured out how to get the bouncy chair really going now. In an effort to preserve videos of him being dorky, for posterity you know, I present the following.

He has no assistance from myself or his dad here. All that movement, even when it scares him, is his alone.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tastes Like Fun

Max has almost a dozen Lamaze toys. Most were gifts from his Grandma Jean, heck she's given him 2 peacocks and 2 monkeys (the extras were sent back to her to do with what she will).

The really funny thing is that he's still a baby. I mean, he's no newborn, but he doesn't have mad play time skills or anything. Most of these toys have squeakers and stuff that he doesn't know how to manipulate yet, and if you do it for him it just scares him. The butterfly and peacock have crinkle wings that he loves to wrinkle up and stuff in his mouth. He also likes grabbing the moose by his big purple horns. Other than that he plays with all of the toys in one of two ways.

The first mode of play is to whack them with his hand, and try to get any dangling legs into his mouth if I hang them from the activity gym. The second mode is ... well, you can see for yourself.

I'm also curious if there are any children's organizations that will take donations of toys that are like new, but not new in boxes. He already has too much and Christmas is still headed toward us. If nothing else I know I can donate them to Goodwill, but if they can go directly to cheering up some kid in need that would make me even happier.

Friday, November 6, 2009

In Knitting News

Socktober Mystery Socks are completed. These were a lot of fun to knit, and the pattern repeat was easily memorized. It's hard to get large chunks of knitting time in nowadays, so having a pattern that I could start and stop really quickly was awesome. I love patterns like this that look so crazy complicated, and in reality it's pretty straight forward. I'm not saying that I'd make it someone's first knitting pattern, but maybe first sock pattern. It's that easy. Did I mention it's also beautiful?

Knit in Lorna's Laces Shephard Sock, Georgetown Colorway (152).

The pattern is by Kirsten Kapur of Through the Loops. I love it even more than the pattern she wrote last Socktober. I only just finished the 2008 pair a month ago. Between holidays, pregnancy, moving, and whatever else happened they sat on the needles a long time. Still they are pretty.

Knit in Knit One Crochet Too Ty-Dy Socks, colorway 1518.The monster stirs, so I've got to run. Happy Friday!

Friday, October 30, 2009

4 Months Old

We took Max in for his four month checkup on Wednesday, and he's doing great. The doctor said he's still considered skinny (looks chubby to us) but that since he continues to gain length well, there is no reason to be concerned. He's pretty much stayed in the same percentiles since he regained his initial weight loss.
Weight: 14 lbs, 2 oz (25th percentile)
Length: 26 in (75th percentile)
Head: 42.3 cm (50th percentile)
The doctor encouraged us to try him on solid foods now. So we picked up the customary rice cereal and gave him his first nibbles yesterday. On the one had Max was quite excited to be able to put new things in his mouth. I mean, putting things in his mouth is his favorite past time at the moment.On the other hand, he wasn't sure why we were trying to poison him. Despite the cereal being mixed with 4 parts breast milk to 1 part cereal and certainly not resembling any solid that Jeff and I had ever seen before, Max knew something was off. Something had contaminated his milk, and he was unimpressed.The look he gave Jeff was awesome. He knew I was mean, I make him take naps all the time and won't let him wear roller blades. But why was Daddy letting this happen?Mostly he's a happy little guy. He continues to smile and laugh and is learning all sorts of new sounds. He's even starting to realize that maybe tummy time isn't as bad as he used to think.
Of course having some friends to keep you company always helps.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Henrietta Hen

Jeff and I really want to see Where the Wild Things Are. After hearing a piece on the movie on NPR we were even more itching to go. Several months ago we started to hatch a plan. Alamo Drafthouse is a nice theater, and they actually have "baby days". On Tuesdays at the South Lamar location or Tuesdays and Fridays at The Village, not only are you allowed to bring in a baby to the movie but they "keep the lights up a bit, and the sound down a bit".

The plan started as thinking we'd take Max to see this as his first movie. He wouldn't watch it or remember it, but it'd be cool for us. The more we thought about it, and the closer it came to the movie's release, the more it seemed like a good gathering thing to do with some of the other people at home with little ones. We could get a group together, take up a whole row with our wee ones. Who knows, maybe with the improved lighting/sound mix the toddlers might have fun and not get too freaked out.

Well, it doesn't look like it's going to happen. It seems like every day I hear something more about the flu here in town. I'm not really easily scared and try not to buy into hype from the news, but of all the places in town to take Max a movie theater just seems like a bad idea. I mean, I know that they don't clean all that well between shows, because I was once covered in ketchup from a big mess that was left behind. So I can't justify the risk that I might be exposing Max to a flu bug just so that we can see this movie together on the big screen.

If it weren't flu season, or even if Max were just older, I know that we'd be there. For now I'll just add it to ye ole Netflix queue, and try to be the first to grab it when the DVD is available. Meanwhile, you can call me chicken.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Fur Babies

The cats already fight over who gets to sleep in the stroller. Both the storage basket underneath and the seat are viable nap spots. Spooky likes to hop up into the high chair sometimes. It seems really uncomfortable. I think he does it because he likes to get up high and so far none of the other cats desire that spot. They all love playing and lounging on the activity mat. Bullet even stole one of the toys and covered it in so much cat hair that I let him keep it.

Today Cabbit discovered the bouncer. He just climbed on in as if deciding that it must be a cat chair after all. Who knows why that strange giggle/drool/scream creature sits in it, you can tell it was meant for a cat, can't you? I mean look how it cradles his fat just so.

I wonder who will be the first to brave the swing, and what will happen when I turn it on?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ashley is Right

The other day @themagicash declared that everyone should eat Greek yogurt. I expressed hesitance and was told not to be scared, that it was tasty. I'd always been a little curious so it didn't take much convincing for me to pick some up at the store. I still wasn't sure if I'd eat it or not, but I'd taken the first step of at least getting some into my home fridge. It didn't last too long in there though, I ended up grabbing it last night when my sweet tooth had me digging around looking for a snack.

I concur with Ashley that it is good stuff. I don't know if all Greek yogurt is created equal, but the stuff I picked up rocked my world. The texture reminded me of mascarpone cheese. It was thick, rich, dense and creamy. The cherry stuff on the side was superbly sweet like the best cherry pie; it paired very well with the tangy yogurt.

I picked it up at HEB and it was not cheap. $2 for a single serving of yogurt is a bit steep in my opinion, but I think it's good enough to warrant buying again. I just can't afford to make this my go to yogurt every day. It was extremely satisfying last night as a dessert. So now I will investigate other options, maybe I'll find something more economical. Even if I stick with this brand it may be less expensive to get it without the added toppings, one of the options was honey and a honey bear is cheap. My comparison to mascarpone also has me thinking that it might be tasty with some brown sugar and nutmeg, which then led me to perhaps adding some cinnamon to the honey...

Thus begins my new infatuation with Greek yogurt. Ashley was right, it is good stuff.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Mothers Room

I am grateful that my job has created a space for mothers to be able to breastfeed, or express breast milk in private. There is no way that I could go an entire work day without pumping, and my office has neither a door, nor even walls that go to the ceiling. Without this area that has been set aside I would be forced to make use of a bathroom stall, or something. I don't even normally have a car that I could go hide in.

It would be nice if it were a bit less scary though. Yesterday I almost jumped out of my skin when a spider skittered across the table. It was a small skittle sized skitterer, but too close for comfort especially with exposed breasts. The obvious wear on the used office furniture and clinical tiles on the floor don't lend themselves to a cozy atmosphere either.
The room is really just a decent sized chunk of an existing bathroom that has been walled off with Herman Miller walls. The walls almost go to the ceiling; it has no windows, and a door that locks. You have to sign out a key from security to be able to get in. One of my coworkers voiced a bit of envy that there is a mini-fridge in there. I had to explain that it's not full of snacks & beer (or even bottled water) it's just for people to store expressed milk in. All of a sudden the fridge was much less exciting.

I don't think anyone keeps their milk in that fridge though. I know I don't. I didn't know if there would be a non-public place for me to put milk while at work, so I brought a cooler with me. Seeing as how I keep almost forgetting my purse in my office I have a small phobia that if I actually did put milk in that mini-fridge I would make it home without it. That would be the suck.

The room at least has a normal sink in it. The main bathroom sinks are strange round jobs. You press a pedal with your foot and the water comes out like a sprinkler. I dreaded having to wash my pump bits with that sort of sink. Having a hot water tap is nice too, the round sinks don't have that since they don't have regular taps.

So I'll give the company a point in it's favor for creating a room for moms to use, but I take a half a point back because it's in a bathroom and is kind of creepy. Any of you other moms out there that have had to deal with expressing breast milk at work or school, what facilities did you have to use?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Those Other Pursuits

I've gone from not playing any video games, to revisiting some old ones, and suddenly I've got all sorts of digital distractions.

First there was Batman. Now, I haven't been playing Batman myself, but I have been helping. I am the Alfred to Jeff's Bruce Wayne. I sit back an watch the story unfold while helping to spot secrets. I highly recommend this game. Jeff had a lot of fun playing it, and is still working on some of the challenges which is a good indication of how much he likes it. The story unfolds fluidly through game play with lots of nice video, but the scenes aren't so long that you're getting antsy waiting for the fighting to start again. If you like Batman and fighting games then you need to play this, if you like Batman and know someone who can play it for you then you should get it for them so that you can watch.

I downloaded Word Ace for my iPhone, and it's been mostly a positive experience. The dictionary and I disagree sometimes on what is or is not a valid word, and I have a feeling that some of the people are "cheating" because there just can't be that many people who can make a 7 letter word with 1 vowel and 4 Ks without help. I could be wrong, maybe I just haven't met this subset of humanity before, these scary spelling superstars. I have enjoyed trying to stretch my brain even if I don't like some of the gambling aspects (like bluffing). With 1000 free chips a day, it's not like you really have to worry about the "money". A big plus here is that I can play it one handed. So I can play a few hands while Max insists on sleeping in my arms, and it doesn't disturb him. I did once end up at a table where the chat involved people asking for pics of each other, and talking about digging insecure *itches, but that was once out of tons of tables. Mostly there is little to no chat going on, and it's a single line at the top of the screen, unless you click to enbiggen, and is pretty easy to ignore. The few times someone has talked to/at me it was to ask about the pic of Cabbit that is my avatar or to say "nice" when I got a good word out of the letters.

It seems like ever since Professor Layton and the Curious Village I've been waiting for the next Layton game to come out. The wait is over with Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box. At first I was not enjoying the game as much as I had the first. I'm not a huge fan of the voices this time around, and I think the puzzles are a little easier than before. Although that means less trial and error for me. I'm still having hell with the jumping balls over other balls to make all but one disappear puzzles, but your mileage may vary. After playing a bit I've come to enjoy at least as much as the first, and the built in mini-games I've liked quite a bit. There is the finding tea ingredients and making tea for people that is okay. The build a camera (super fun) leading to some spot the difference in two pictures puzzles that are pretty good. But my fave was the get your hamster in shape so he can spot hint coins for you game. I named my hamster Jeff.

Little Big Planet has been out for a while now, and really shouldn't be news to anyone. Jeff and I played a demo of it, and even though there was a two-player mode (actually up to four I think, but there's only two of us) I wasn't really sold on it. The controls are a bit wonky and I have a hard time navigating my sack person in the depth of field available. Still, it is a platform game so it is right up my alley. When we were outside a level and I started exploding my sack boy over and over, giggling at his different facial expressions it clinched it for Jeff. When he had to go out for cat food last night, he came back with Little Big Planet. I'm glad he did, we played through a few levels last night and had a really good time. The one and only time we tried to join an online player we couldn't get in. We were watching this other person play and finally managed to escape the level, right about the time it looked like our characters were popping in. Ah well, we'll try again sometime... maybe. Oh, and by the way, platformers where you need to swing from place to place over gaps are difficult to manage with two players. I can't imagine trying to get 4 people in sync on some of these levels. Sounds like a fun thing to try when they group has had a beer or two and something to avoid once people move on to their third. Playing as a vampire frog though, that makes it all worthwhile, a vampire frog that can explode.

The other game that Jeff came home with yesterday was The Beatles Rock Band. Totally digging it. Load times between songs (including having to hit start every time) are kind of annoying, but other than that it is a lot of fun. I enjoyed singing, and really look forward to getting more mics so that we can play some harmony with people. It would also be nice to have a mic stand so I could sing and play at the same time. This is music that I know well enough that I don't have to stare at the lyric line the entire time. It's been really great to play Rock Band and be excited by more songs than not. Usually I feel a bit musically backward for not having heard of the bands and not knowing the music. The game does not disappoint this Beatles fan. Over and over I was thrilled with the songs they chose. The videos so far have been entertaining too. I had no idea what big dorks they were, it's terrific.

Have you played any new games lately, even if they're only new to you? I'd love to hear about them.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Stalled Madness

They are done. What began April 30th has finally been completed. Through moving into a new house, pregnancy, and finally adjusting to life with a newborn (which includes typing one-handed, but not knitting one-handed) I have worked on these socks.

Lucky Diamond in 3 colors of Socks That Rock - Lightweight

The socks were done a week ago, I just haven't made time for the blog lately. What free time I have has been consumed with other pursuits. Still, I worked on these socks off and on for 4 months so I think they deserve their day in the sun.

I enjoyed knitting this pattern much more once there was no deadline, no trying to get through acres of seed stitch in the fastest time possible. It was fun to watch the diamonds emerge as the lines of cabled stitches crept toward and away from each other. The heels are knit last, and ended up being purple out of necessity when I ran out of red. I've come to like the purple heels. I kind of like that they don't really match, and I think I might do funky heels on other pairs in the future just for fun. Since no one sees your heel in a shoe it's almost like a little secret you get to wear. Before that though there are still more pairs to finish. I can't believe how much knitting is half done around here.

Now if you'll excuse me, the socks and I are going to play at little Professor Layton before Max wakes up from his nap.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Winning is Fun

I like to enter contests, and I like it even more when I win. I like to say that I never win anything, but that's very much not true. Earlier this year I won a copy of Tea & Crumpets from Chronicle Books. I haven't made any of the recipes in it yet, but I do like looking it over. I day dream of the crumpets, scones, and tea sandwiches it describes.

Just recently I won a giveaway through The Cradle Crush from MD Moms. My shipment arrived today. They sent an assortment of Baby Silk products: a bottle of their Hair and Body Wash, Daily Skin Protection, and Sunscreen Towelettes (both a 15 pack as well as 3 single wrap towels).
I have fairly sensitive skin, so I'm testing the lotion on myself first. If I don't have a reaction to it after a couple of days of use then we'll see how Max does with it. We haven't needed to use any lotion on him, so this is more for fun than for any dermatological reason.

I like the fact that the soap and lotion come in pump bottles. We have a gazillion bottles of Aveno baby wash and lotion courtesy of baby showers and Jeff's mom, but they are all squeeze bottles. It's easier to get soap one handed if you have a pump. Of course the big question is, what will Max think? He's enjoyed his baths and shampoos with the Aveno product. Will he notice or care that this soap is different? My money is on him not caring, but we will see.

Movie Noms

For a food theme Sean picked Ireland vs Belgium. For my part I made Guinness cupcakes again, but used the icing from the cake recipe. The cake icing has less sugar in it, and a little more cream cheese flavor. Jeff made ice cream with Belgian ales, one a double and the other a triple.

I used mini cupcake pans, and so I ended up bringing a lot of cupcakes. I packed them into a bamboo steamer just to be able to get them all over to the Larson residence.Jeff made 3 quarts of ice cream all told, and it was a big hit. Tasty cold treats tend to go over pretty big in 100 degree weather. The cupcakes also went over pretty well, but I cheated. I put them out on the table in front of everyone as we watched In Bruges. Hard to resist little bite sized cupcakes when they are right in front of you. I should know, I think I may have eaten a dozen all on my own.

Another fun movie night! I think we'd all seen the movie already, but it's so good that we enjoyed seeing again. Max was fairly well behaved for a little guy; Jeff and I were able to stay through the entire movie. We took turns walking off to calm him or feed him as needed, but he hung in there like a champ and I don't think he disrupted the movie too much for everyone else.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Island Cakes

Normally when I make pancakes "from scratch" I use a mix. From scratch means that I didn't pull them out of a freezer box or something. This morning though I really scratched them out. I mentioned that I had a coupon for free yogurt, the catch was that I had to buy a bag of granola. Now the granola was on sale so we went ahead and did it. Perusing the flavors revealed a Hawaiian mix (with ginger toasted macadamia, coconut, and pineapple) that sounded tasty to both of us, so I grabbed a bag. Since I didn't purchase any plain vanilla yogurt I was trying to think what else I could do with the granola. I decided that I wanted to turn it into tasty tasty pancakes, since I am all about pancakes lately. In the end I think these only merit one tasty, there is room for improvement. (see the end of the post for the recipe I used today)

My complaints today are: The batter was too thick and resulted in a very dense cake, not light and fluffy like I get with my store bought mix. The granola was not prominent enough, and the pancake in general lacked flavor. The bit of texture from the nuts and oats was quite good though. The pineapple did not stand out, but might be more noticeable with the increase in granola. Also, I need a topping of some sort with my pancakes, but these didn't taste right with maple syrup.

The next time I think I would reduce the amount of flour, maybe to 3/4 cup, and increase the amount of granola to 3/4 cup. The amount of milk may have to be adjusted to get a better consistency but I couldn't say without mixing it up first. The mix does need to be a hair thinner though, this one did not pour so much as glop onto the pan. I bet a dash of vanilla would help the general cake flavor as well.

As far as toppings my first instinct is to get some coconut syrup. We had this in Hawaii and I love it. It would be a match with the coconut shavings in the granola. Another possibility would be a fruit topping, maybe mango? Mango would compliment them well, but I'm not sure about how to go about a mango topping.

I definitely want to try this again, so I'm including all my notes here. Hopefully next time I'll get all the way to tasty tasty.

My base starting point was The Fanny Farmer Cookbook, griddlecake recipe. I added the granola mix and increased the amount of milk because the batter was way too thick.

3/4 - 1 cups of milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Udi's Hawaiian granola (chop large pieces of macadamia & pineapple before adding to batter)

Beat milk, butter & egg lightly in mixing bowl. Mix flour, baking powder, sugar & salt and add all at once to the first mixture, stir just enough to combine. Add granola mix, stiring in gently, do not over mix.

Using 1/4 cup scoop drop mix onto medium heat non-stick skillet. Cook about 1 1/2 minutes per side, until lightly browned. (My mix was so thick that I did not see much bubbling like I normally would with a pancake. Instead when they were ready to turn the cake would start to get taller.)

I got a yield of 9 (3 1/2 inch) pancakes.

Friday, August 21, 2009

This is Going to Sound Bad

Babies are boring. I've spent almost 2 months now with an infant, and I feel like I can say that with authority. I speculated before Max was born that he wouldn't be all that exciting at first, but until you do it you don't really know. Maybe this makes me sound terrible, but I know I'm not the only one who's thought it.
Peaceful yes, exciting... not so much.

The worst part about how boring babies are, is that for the most part the only times that they aren't boring are really terrible. When they are wailing and thrashing their limbs about it isn't boring at all, but it certainly isn't fun either.

The first few weeks were the worst, because he spent hardly any time awake. I almost felt like I was swaddling him too much and not encouraging him to be awake. Sometimes it seemed like all he wanted to do was eat and sleep. Like all his awake time was miserable for him and my efforts to soothe him by feeding, changing, cuddling, were only to help him get back to sleep. I worried I was a bad mom for not trying to keep him awake longer.
He doesn't know he can't read.

Now that Max is able to spend some time awake I'm much more secure with my decisions to let him sleep as much as he wants. If he's awake and happy then we play. He likes his activity gym, we can cuddle up on the couch, or lay on the bed listening to music, and sometimes we read. When he's not happy we troubleshoot: food, diaper, burping, and if all else fails then a little cuddling usually sends him off to dream land. Okay sometimes it takes a LOT of cuddling, but you know what I mean.

Still, these awake times are definitely getting to be more fun, and we still have so far to go. Just yesterday we were playing on the floor and I finally got proof that Max really does smile. I missed the best ones that happened when Bullet sniffed him on the nose, but I was able to grab this with my iPhone.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Emmi Muesli

With my Central Market coupon I got free yogurt. It was Emmi "Swiss Premium" lowfat yogurt, and because the coupon was 5 days old they only had 2 flavors left*. I tried the Muesli flavor, and it was interesting.

The first thing that struck me was gratitude that the yogurt had muesli in it, and not just a flavor of muesli. The second was that the flavor seemed familiar. After musing on it for a bit I've come to the conclusion that it reminds me of apple Hi-Chew candy. It's not that surprising since the candy is yogurt and this yogurt has apple in it.

Back to the yogurt, it has all sorts of stuff in it. Apple, pear, oats, nuts, including some rather nice pieces of hazelnut, and 1 huge raisin. It was pleasant, but too sweet for me. It's sweet in a fruity way, but still really sweet. If you like to add all sorts of stuff (like muesli) to your yogurt, then this is one stop shopping for you. Everything is already there and in a nice proportion to save you a step.

I would get it again for free for sure, I've definitely done worse. I might even try it again once in a while for kicks depending on how much it costs.

*I got one of each for curiosity's sake. The other flavor is pink grapefruit and I'm a little scared. At least now that I've had this sweet muesli I have hope that the pink grapefruit will also be sweet, and not some scary sour bomb.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Zombie Baby


Jeff finally caught a pic of Max sleeping with his arms sticking out. He also likes to wave them in the air, like perhaps he just don't care.

I Still Knit

Thankfully I knit fairly quickly, because I have very little knitting time allotted to me right now. I fit in a round or two where I can. I'm really surprised at the progress I've managed to make considering this sporadic "schedule".

I'm working on my socks that were Round 4 of Sock Madness this year. The first of the pair only needs a heel (and I might rip out the cuff to make it a little looser) so I'm currently working to get the second to the same place. Obviously I fell out of the competition on these. In a group where pairs of socks are completed in hours you can't spend months on a single one.I picked up the second sock on August 1st and have managed to complete the first diamond and over half of the second in these 2 and a half weeks. I feel my knitting mojo coming back to me. I'm finding patterns that I want to knit, and knit for real not just imagine that if I did knit they would be fun. I'm going to try and contain myself for a while longer though. I have a lot (like 4 or more) of socks in progress right now, and I already have yarn and a pattern for a scarf that I want to do. Then there's all the fiber that I have to work on spinning into yarn, and coming up with something playful to knit out of it.

First things first, these socks are the closest to done, so I'll keep working on them and see if I can finish this month. I'm hoping the red yarn holds out long enough to finish the cuff on the second sock. They're probably going to end up with purple heels but I'd rather not have purple cuffs too.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More Yogurt

I think I need to review some food products that aren't yogurt, but for now what you get is more yogurt. Sorry, but I don't eat much prepared food that I think is worth a mention. I do try some pretty strange yogurt though.

The last flavor adventure I took was Brown Cow's Chocolate yogurt. I would classify this under "special". Basically it was chocolate pudding under a tart vanilla yogurt. When you mix them together the pudding doesn't blend entirely so you're left with little pockets of pudding that burst into chocolate flavor (not unlike Jello brand pudding) in the midst of yogurt bites.

The yogurt part was good, and the pudding part was good, and I ate the entire portion. However I don't think I want to eat it a second time. I think I prefer to keep my pudding and yogurt in separate bowls.

Other Brown Cow flavors that I've tried and really like are vanilla, blueberry, and cherry vanilla. I like the fruit that they put in them (well you know the flavors that have fruit). The only other flavor that I've tried so far is raspberry and I didn't enjoy it. There are too many seeds, and it just gives it a bit too much texture. I don't like gritty yogurt.

Just a heads up here, I have 3 other strange (to me) flavors of yogurt waiting in the fridge. So you'll probably be hearing more from me on the subject, especially since one of them is "seasonal".

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Nursery

The nursery in our home is the room that we've taken the longest to get ready. We didn't put a rush on it at first because Max was going to be the last one to move in. Then we didn't rush it because we knew he'd be sleeping in our room for a few months anyway. Then we couldn't rush it because he'd been born and the only thing that got rushed were meals, getting bottles ready, and where on earth is a clean diaper?!?

For reference here is a photo of the nursery when we first moved in. Like the rest of the house it was painted exclusively in chalky KB White. Also like the rest of the house, it was empty. For a brief while it looked like a storage shed, as I piled various boxes of baby clothes and toys with no rhyme or reason.Then Jeff spent hours painting the room from top to bottom. With 3 shades of blue feathered together it already looked way cooler than it started. Next we added the crib, a green rug, red dresser, some storage tubs and lots of toys.We still have more decorating plans, but it already looks great. I'm very excited to have this room put together. I'm also enjoying using a proper changing table. The height is much better than changing him in the Pack N Play.

Max has taken a couple of naps in his room, and he seems to really like it. He sleeps pretty soundly as long as no one opens the door to take a peek at him. Of course, I say that but he's taking a nap in the living room right now while I write this post and watch NCIS on the tv. So maybe he just sleeps well when he sleeps well, and the nursery is having a streak of good luck.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Swiffer Sweepervac Review

Today as I was Swiffering the floor, I thought I ought to tell the blog about my Swiffer Sweepervac. I can't tell you if I think it's worth the cost, because mine was a gift from my step-mom, but I can tell you that I like it.

If you are unfamiliar with the Swiffer concept, google it, because I keep trying to describe what it looks like and I'm failing utterly. More than likely though you've seen an ad for one or seen them in the grocery store. By and large I think the original Swiffer is junk.* It will grab hair and dust pretty well, but larger particles of dirt end up being pushed around, not picked up. The Swifvac builds on the concept of a dust collector by adding a low powered vacuum to the end of it and a tiny canister to catch what it collects.

Before getting the Swifvac I was using an old broom (that really needs replacing) to clean the downstairs. We have 2 rooms of Pergo, tile by the front door, and linoleum through the kitchen and laundry room. The sweeping was always a horrid chore because all the cat hair just flew around and landed back down once you were done. Trying to get the swept material off the floor into the garbage was yet another challenge, and then the dust barely clinging to the end of the broom bristles that wouldn't come off in the trash can where I wanted them, but instead clung on until over a clean bit of floor...

I'm pretty sure the floor is getting cleaner than when I swept manually, since the fine particles don't just get to fly around and land back down behind me. It's definitely easier to manage, and that means that it gets done more often which is a good thing.

I am frugal, and a bit environmentally concerned, so I don't buy the disposable Swiffer cloths to use with it. We took an old t-shirt and cut it up so that I have several reusable cloths to use. The t-shirt does really well with the fine dirt, dust, and cat hair. I recommend cutting up a t-shirt over all the other reusable cloths I found when I googled for options. Most of them are far more time consuming, and probably don't work much better.

My only real complain is the battery life is not great. By the time I'm nearing the end of the downstairs it is running out and the suction plummets down from "not great" to "ha ha yeah right". My work around is to rotate which room I start with, and make sure I go after the dirty spots first saving the lower traffic areas for last.

When they gave me the Swiffer they also gave me a box of the wet wipes for "mopping". I put that in quotes because it's basically like wiping down your floor with a baby wipe. It does remove some dirt, even after first using the dry cloth, but you're leaving something behind too. It doesn't do anything for removing a drip that has dried from the night before, and I'm only using them because we have them. I wouldn't ever recommend buying them. Once we run out I'll have to investigate reusable wet pads, I'm thinking maybe one of the shammys I found when we moved might work well. So far it seems that if you want a mopped floor then you have to mop the floor. I have to tell you that I like mopping even less than I like sweeping.

All in all if you have a moderate amount of smooth uncarpeted floor that you need to sweep regularly then I highly recommend getting someone else to buy you a Swiffer Sweepervac. If you'd like to test drive one, you are more than welcome to come over and clean my floors sometime. Just let me know in advance so I can make sure the battery is charged.

*Statement based on performace of the Swiffer Sweepervac when it has run out of batteries, and is relying on the Swifferness of itself to finish cleaning the floor.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sleep Is For The Weak

... and boy are we weak lately. As Jeff put it earlier today, there is nothing worse than peacefully sleeping while your baby peacefully sleeps, only to have an alarm go off so that everyone can wake up and get pissed off in the middle of the night for a feeding.

At the doctor's today Max weighed in at 9 lbs 6 oz, well above his birth weight (50th percentile for a 1 month old which he will be in just a few more days). The doctor was very pleased with this gain and gave us the go ahead to stop waking him up. If Max wants to sleep 8 hours at a stretch at night, then we can all get a good night's sleep. Now, I'm under no illusion that this is actually going to happen anytime soon, but there have been times when I'm sure he would have slept a solid 6 hours if we had let him.

Today was a day full of adventure for the little guy. We went back to NAMC, but just for a visit. My friend Beth had her twins yesterday evening, and we went to go say hello. This was her first chance to see Max in person, and for us to meet Alyssa and Ethan. As Julie mentioned that Max makes Etta look huge, so the little twins make Max seem gigantic.

Alyssa 7/21/09 19:03, 5 lbs 13.8 oz, 18 in

Ethan 7/21/09 19:06, 5 lbs 3.2 oz, 18 3/4 in

We also took Max up to Flextronics so my coworkers could visit with him. They were all smitten with his good looks, and he was remarkably well behaved. Then Jeff had to stop by one of his clients on the way home, where Max had a snack and a diaper change. Luckily the office wasn't busy and no one had to listen to his screaming for long. We grabbed a burger for us to split and ran home so I could pump and Max could get back to his busy day of relaxing.

It's time for some pasta and a glass of wine. Max is sleeping in the swing, and things are good.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What I've Been Up To

So it's been a while since my last post, but I have a very good reason. On June 24th I came down with a nasty bout of food poisoning and with major contractions went off to the hospital. Unfortunately the contractions did jack squat, and I was sent home early the next morning still pregnant, and still feeling crappy. Later that morning I spoke with my doctor and it was arranged that Friday I would trek back to the hospital to have labor induced.

I don't have any spectacular labor stories to tell. It was pretty uneventful. Although I was pretty entertained by the way the pulse ox made my finger look like E.T.'s.I tried to get Jeff to Twitter something for me about it, but this was before the epidural and apparently another contraction came and the tweet just went by the wayside. We were only in the hospital for about 8 hours before our son was born, so pretty much all the fun stuff happened later.

Blog meet Maxwell Everett Kievlan, born June 26th 2009 at 2:59 pm. He was 8 lbs 8 oz and 22 inches long.There were all sorts of bumps along the road to where we are now. Jeff got a worse stomach bug than me on Saturday night, the day after Max was born. I'll spare you any details, but it was super bad times. Then Max and I had problems with breastfeeding, and lucky for you I did not take pictures of my scabby nipples so I can't show you the horror that was. It was bad though, bad enough to warrant a $60 prescription cream to heal them. The lactation consultant couldn't find anything wrong with Max's latch, and felt that the problem was with his tongue not sticking out properly. We tried to work through it, but after a week and a half I couldn't handle the pain anymore. Even trying to alternate breastfeeding and pumping for a bottle wasn't letting the nipples heal up. They looked better than they did on day 5, but every time he tried to feed they would get injured all over again.

Max was also losing weight over the course of the first week. If everyone's scales were accurate he dropped from 8 lbs 8 oz, down to 7 lbs 9 oz. To make sure that he was getting enough to eat we started supplementing formula feedings into his schedule. He immediately started sleeping better, and gaining some weight back. We go back tomorrow for another weight check, but at his 2 week check-up he'd made it back to 8 lbs.
Check out the Kung Fu Grip (2 wk appt)

Once I decided to exclusively pump and give him breast milk that way it was obvious that I needed help getting my milk to come in better. The lactation consultant recommended herbal supplements, but I balked at the volume of capsules that she wanted me to consume. I decided to call my OB and talk about the prescription drug option, which is Reglan. The nurse said no problem, and that people rarely have side effects and had an order phoned in for me. Well, I got me some side effects. I ended up with drowsiness, sleeplessness, anxiety, and I couldn't eat more than 4 bites of food every 5 or 6 hours so I was always starving. It took me 3 days to figure out the medication was to blame, and that it wasn't just "new mom crazies". Luckily the anxiety that had built up to the point of low grade panic attacks went away within a day of stopping the medication. Looking back on that first week now I can barely remember it. We were so tired at first, I guess - I don't really remember, and then I started that medication and everything went away. I have no idea how I made it through the weekend, and I can see why everyone kept asking if I was okay and looking at me a little funny.

The morning I stopped taking Reglan I spoke with the lactation consultant again and she said that she considered Reglan a last resort, because many of the women she has worked with have had side effects. So once again she recommended the Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle, only 2 pills of each 3 times a day... *sigh* So that's what I'm taking now. It may or may not be helping. I am producing more milk, but I've also been pumping 6-7 times a day for a couple weeks now and that could be part of the increase as well. Still, other than having strange smelling sweat and urine I'm not having any side effects, so I'm thrilled with the results. We're still having to give him formula, but I'm able to pump about 2/3 a days worth of milk for him now, instead of less than half.

Everything is going a little smoother now. I'm still working out the kinks in trying to keep Max happy by myself during the day, now that Jeff's back at work, but for the most part things are good. Since Max spends most of his day with a furrowed brow looking very serious, I'll leave you with the least serious shot I've taken of him so far. From just this morning.
Thbbbpt !

Monday, June 15, 2009

Parsley, Sage, and Other Stuff

Last night was movie night at our house, and we put that sucker through its paces. We had (including ourselves) 10 adults and 6 children over for dinner, and other than needing to borrow folding chairs it went pretty well. I saw places where improvements could be made in layout and organization of the kitchen area, but all in all it worked out, and everyone got fed. We may not routinely have that many guests at once, but I'm very happy to see that we can manage. Our duplex was just way to small to accommodate that kind of gathering.

The house quickly emptied by the time the movie was about to start. That's the problem with movie "night". Our group doesn't do night as well as it used to, and by 8pm when the movie is ready to start a lot of people are ready to head out so the kids can climb into bed. Still, some folks might have stayed if I had picked a more kid friendly film. Rosemary's Baby is not kid friendly. Only 4 of us were left by the time the movie came on, and none of us remembered how kid unfriendly it got, or how fast. So any of you thinking about watching it at home, take my warning and don't watch it with the kids. Still, I enjoyed the movie and I'm glad that I picked it because it had been a long time since I saw it. I bet the last time I watched it was on tv and that's why I don't remember some bits, they were probably edited for content. The funniest moment came when Rosemary finds out her due date is June 28th, just a day after my due date. That cracked us all up.

Due dates are a funny thing. Everyone knows that you can't count on that date to be accurate, but we can't help but hope anyway. I've hit the end of my rope with this pregnancy thing, and I'm officially ready for this baby to be born. If I thought he would care I'd threaten or bribe him anyway I could think of in order to convince him that it was time to leave my body. I'm tired of being tired all the time. I'm tired of not being able to bend over, or having it cause me pain or exhaustion. I'm tired of being thumped, kicked, stretched, and otherwise abused from the inside out. I'm tired of having a pain I compare to getting a pap smear done repeatedly for sometimes 30 minutes or more at a time. But not all my feelings are of frustration. I'm excited by the prospect of being able to see what this little creature looks like, and play with his little toes. I'm ready for his dad to be able to hold him and cuddle him, and for me to be able to see them together. I'm ready for him to have a name and to hear other people use it, so maybe we need to settle on a middle name... It would be nice if the nursery were actually ready, but at this point I don't care. I'll take the baby now and the nursery later, thank you very much.

I officially have 12 days to go until the promised due date, but it if were less that would be okay by me.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Marching Along

So Jeff and I have been working on getting the house put together, but I think we're both running out of steam. We worked pretty much non-stop (either at our day jobs or on the house) for a month and a half it seems. This last weekend was a much needed rest. We did do some things around the house, and Jeff got the last full coat of paint put up in our bedroom, but it was nothing like previous weekends. I mean we slept in until 9:30am on Saturday. I can't remember the last time we'd stayed in bed that long.

The cats seem to have settled in. They no longer look forward to being locked up in our bedroom, they want to be left out all day and night to see what they can get into. We're nervous about this, since there are still pieces of furniture that need to be secured so they don't tip over, but we're going to have to let them out sooner or later. It's nice to know that they are ready.

It's time to get the china cabinet secure so the cats can roam free, and it's time to get to work in the nursery. We only have 2 1/2 weeks before our due date so there's no time to lose now. I don't care if it's fully decorated yet, because Jeff does have some grand plans, but I'd like to get the painting done so that I can move in the furniture and have a functional room.

Still, we're finding time for all sorts of little baby worries. I had a great dream the other day that I had a baby girl and the next day I was at work when I realized that since she had been born I hadn't fed her. Oops. Not a real fear I have, I mean I've never even forgotten to feed a cat that long and I have less biological drive to keep them alive. Not to mention that I will use my mind to put out the sun before I go back to work 24 hours after having this baby. The real fears that I have center around doctor visits and what they will say.

I was worried that the ultrasound would find that our boy was still sideways, and that we'd need to schedule an ECV. Although I was almost sure over the weekend he had settled into the correct position. Happily the ultrasound showed he was head down, and Dr Darby is pretty sure he'll stay that way, apparently the baby is pretty well down? (very scientific these docs can be) So now I have a regular OB appt tomorrow and I have new fears. Fear number one is that all of a sudden baby won't be head down anymore, and that he was just performing well for the ultrasound because he's mean and he wants to torment me. I don't think this one is likely, but the nagging worry is there. Fear number two is that although I was dilated to 1 cm last week, and had a couple of decent contractions over the weekend, that tomorrow she'll find that I'm not dilated at all, completely sealed shut. Fear number three is that she'll check and find that I'm dilated to like 4 cm or something and declare that I need to cross the street to go have a baby, and I am not ready for that. So on the one hand I feel pretty calm since I'm not freaking out worrying about crazy things that can go wrong, but on the other hand I feel pretty silly because I'm worrying about relatively trivial things that are unlikely to even happen.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Another Early Morning

5 am is either some sort of cat witching hour, or a time when I am absurdly light in my sleeping. Once again I was wakened by cat mischief. Cats seem to have a magical ability to find mischief in places that you never thought it could exist. I assume they are only rivaled in this ability by some species of monkeys and small children.

This morning I learned that our new bathroom drawers are for cats. The following traits have made them irresistible to Cabbit and Spooky.
  • The drawer is eye level with them
  • The drawer is easy to grab from the side and pull open with a paw
  • The drawer is deep enough to fit a hunkered down cat
  • Apparently while inside you can push/pull something to slide your drawer in and out over and over and over and over and over....

So that's how I woke up this morning. The sound of a drawer opening and closing repeatedly. Upon investigation I found a cat inside. While making a pee stop before heading back to bed the sound started again, and when I reopened the drawer there was a different bigger cat inside. To preserve my sanity and keep from chucking any cats out windows at 5 am I used some painters tape to secure all the drawers and climbed back into bed. They've already started to chew through the tape, so this solution won't last for long.

I'm now a little afraid to let them into the rest of the house. I had no idea how much trouble they could find in just our master bath and bedroom. I have ideas on how much trouble they can cause with free roam over the rest of the house, especially since we aren't unpacked yet, but I suppose that's just life right now. I want to let them have a couple days to explore before we have company come over this weekend, and frankly Spooky and Bullet are ready to get out and see what's beyond the bedroom door. Dinah may not wander far, but I'll be happy if I don't find one of those two on a ceiling fan before the day is out. Thank god that cats don't have wings.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

4 Days of Work : I Want My Weekend Back

Well this last weekend was a killer. Not literally, except for some ants and weeds, but still pretty brutal for the rest of us. Since Friday we've been packing boxes and moving them over to The House. New baseboards have been purchased and cut to the proper lengths and then painted, some have even been nailed up despite sabotage attempts by a shitty Home Despot nail gun rental. The master bedroom has been painted 3 times (primer and 2 coats of burgundy) and still needs at least one more. Thankfully the nice manager at Sherwin Williams took pity on us and has gifted us with some free rollers and a gallon more of paint to help us get it into shape without laying out even more cash, cause paint is damn costly.

We've packed and unpacked over and over to move stuff from one place to the other, since we 1. don't have enough boxes for all our stuff, and 2. don't have a car big enough to move it all at once anyway. Monday we had Aloha Moving come drag all our furniture and what appliances we own, plus some heavy book boxes and such to The House. I highly recommend these guys, they were very pleasant (at 8am on Memorial Day) and very easy to work with. They were also FAST without being careless with any of our stuff.

There is still so much to do. Baseboards are still laying around the house, turns out our dining table is wobbly (carpet hid this from us), there's a fridge to be delivered tomorrow, book cases need to be secured to walls so that they can be filled with books, we still have a few trips to and from the old duplex to finish grabbing things like computers and millions of comic books. This would all be a bit easier except for the breastfeeding class tonight and the childbirth prep class Thursday night.

Last night was our first night spent sleeping in our new home and it was interesting. Despite vet prescribed dope Cabbit was still unconsolable the entire trip over. I hear that Bullet wasn't all that great himself, my scardy Dinah was however pretty quiet. This is probably because she was catatonic, but quiet is quiet in my book. She came to sometime around 5 in the morning and started crying, when I called her she would come to the bed crawl under the covers with me and purr while I pet her, then she would go look out the window a bit and get back down on the floor and cry some more. Yeah, that was fun. Screaming cat and 5 am, I should make an audio tape of that and sell it for people that need more spice in their lives. Now she's lost. It appears that there are 3 pieces of bedroom furniture that come all the way to the floor in front, but have large openings in back so we think she's under one of them. Either that or an alien space ship beamed her out of the bedroom between 6:30 and 8 today.

Speaking of 8 that's what time I woke up today. Jeff had the dryer running after the great plug fiasco. If you saw his tweets then you should know that the 4th wire is not mojo, it is nothing, neutral, just a way to sell you a new cord set when you move to a house with 4 holes in the socket instead of 3... bastards.

Anyway, the dryer is done now so we really should get going. This is my first time to drive to work from here. I hope the traffic has died down a little bit. I've had enough stress in the last few days, it would be nice if a day of work could be a little relaxing.

Happy Belated Memorial Day!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spring Knitty

I love Knitty. Not every pattern that gets released there is my cup of tea, but it seems like every quarterly update has at least one or two patterns that I want to knit. I may not get around to it, but the desire is there. This spring's issue has brought with it two patterns that I'm almost positive I will knit at some point. I think my son needs a Steggie, or at least he will sometime after he's born, and given how long we have until a cold day in Austin that gives me plenty of time to complete it. I also need to knit a pair of Target Practice socks. Ever since that pattern came out a few days ago I keep going back to look at it. It looks like a blast to knit, fiddly I'm sure, but totally worth it to watch it come together.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Still In It

I did manage to complete my pair of socks for Sock Madness III Round 3 before my division filled up. On my birthday I snagged spot 11 out of the 12 available, and get to progress on to Round 4. I like my purple socks, even if they don't show off the pattern all that well.

Pardon the whiteness of my legs; I don't tan. To be more exact my skin does not tan easily when exposed to the sun, and my legs have not seen much sun lately.

Round 4 starts Thursday night, and hopefully that will keep me out of trouble. Jeff's parents are coming in town to help fix up the new house this weekend and that means extra people trying to keep me from doing things they don't think I should be doing. If I at least have a pair of socks to distract me, then maybe it won't drive me crazy when they won't let me help with painting and laying flooring. Sometimes being pregnant and having people who care about you can be a real pita.

I'd also like to take a class at Hill Country Weavers this weekend, but it costs money, and we're trying to save money for house stuff, not to mention the whole bit about inlaws coming in town. Although, that's also an excellent reason to sign up for a class that gets me out of the house for a couple of hours each day. I'll hopefully make up my mind one way or another soon, and preferably before the class fills up.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Because I Should be Knitting

I'm still in the Sock Madness competition, so I should be knitting. There are only 3 spaces left in my division and I've only got 1.25 out of 2 socks. Still, I read Julie's House Numerology post and decided that I had to do it too. I promise to go right back to knitting in a minute. This is based off the numbers on the house that we are moving too, not the rented duplex we are moving from because that would just be silly.

House Number 2
Here is a house that creates peace, harmony and balance in anyone's lives. It is a house suited for relationships, and people who are laid back and friendly. This is a great home for new lovers or people who have lived together for a long time. It will aid in the balancing of any relationship.
However sometimes we are so laid back that one may call it laziness. So don't forget to get off the sofa and DO. Do what needs to be done to fix the creaky floorboards and cracks in the pavement with this house.

Positive Colour Suggestions: Cream, Green and White.

Well thank goodness that we've picked green as one of our house colors. I don't know what would have happened otherwise. Perhaps our sloth inducing couch would raise on it's rear legs and force us into slave labor.

Get your house numerology here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

RIP Tobias

I used to have a bearded dragon named Tobias, but I always just called him Toby. Most people didn't know much about Toby, because he lived in the "guest room" so as to keep the cats from torturing him. Despite being handled frequently in his youth, and sheltered from as much stress as possible, he was never a friendly guy. He tolerated people because we were bigger than him, and we gave him food. He didn't want to hang out on your shoulder and be the cool dragon that some people are lucky to end up with, it just wasn't in his nature.

This past week Toby passed away. I think it happened during the night, and it didn't look like he suffered, so that's good. He was an old dragon, and towards the end we knew it was coming. He stopped being motivated to eat, and just seemed ready to go.

He's buried under the china berry tree out back, so if you're the next person to rent our duplex, don't dig him up please.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Things on My Mind

So I'm sitting here at work, and honestly I have no idea what I should be doing. I've been ready to go home since 2. My brain just seemed to click off and decide that the work day should be ended, and that it was done thinking. Since then I've managed to remember a couple of things I'm supposed to have done, and even done them all I think. I still have an hour or more of sitting here to do, doomed to spend most of it staring into space.

I finished Round 2 of Sock Madness III within the limit of the first 20 people of my division. I thought that I would be barely squeaking in, I think I was number 16 or 17, but since then the going has been slow and we are still waiting for the elusive number 20 to finish up. This was a difficult pattern, but something strange must have happened, because by all rights this round should have ended a while ago. Honestly I was so slow I shouldn't have made it in, and I wouldn't have if I were in a faster division. I am 90% sure that I will not make it through round 3. I do like these socks, and the stranding means that they mostly fit my foot. This is a good thing since I plan to keep them for myself. The pattern is called Tokena and is based on some funky basket weave pattern. The astute will notice that I am not using the same colors that were shown in the previous post, it didn't work out so well. I swapped the multi-color over to a more solid green, and it shows the stitch work a lot better.

Had an OB appointment last Thursday and Dr Collins said the baby measured 2.75 lbs. When people ask if I'm ready for him to be born I can't help but think that under 3 pounds is a trifle small, and no matter how uncomfortable I might be at that moment he really shouldn't be evicted yet. Everything is still going well, and the doc keeps saying that it's all normal/average/on track. No gestational diabetes, or any other issues, so I'll just keep getting bigger and he'll keep kicking harder, and hopefully we'll continue the smooth sailing.

We're still waiting to close on the house. I'll find out more tomorrow, but we're hopeful that we will be able to close on Monday. On the one hand I'm a bit bummed that it's going to happen after the weekend, because that's one less weekend that we have to do house stuff, but on the other hand this weekend is our wedding anniversary. As long as we know for sure when we are closing tomorrow then we can just celebrate this weekend, and relax without feeling pressured to be working on projects. Although I might have to start doing a little packing, only a little though. I'm so glad that we don't have to be completely moved until May 31st, because I have been one lazy slug lately, and I couldn't stand to have to hurry though this process.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Waiting For Teh Go

Tomorrow morning, sometime between 7 am and 11 am the pattern for Sock Madness III Round 2 will be released into the wild. With any luck it will be closer to 7 since we are meeting some people at 10:30 and I'd love to get started knitting before we get busy for the day. You can take this as a heads up that I probably won't post again until the socks are done. I'm going to be busy at work in such a way that I won't be able to goof off and knit at my desk, much less spare a few minutes for the blog, so I thought I ought to say hi now.

I'm excited by the two colors that I've chosen, and super curious to find out how they are going to mix together. We were told to pick two solids, or one solid color and one semi-solid... I didn't do that so much. At least one of them is solid colored, but the other is just pretty. I can already tell that I'm going to have a hard time falling asleep tonight, because I'm really looking forward to knitting these socks. I hope that it comes together in a pleasing way, or I shall be put out. For your viewing pleasure I present my yarns.
[Left to Right: Shibui Sock in Honey (1395) and Shibui Sock in Stone (51302)]

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Little Madder

We are approaching the end of Sock Madness Round 1. Just like last year Round 1 is looking to end with a bit of a fizzle. The first round cut was limited to the first 40 finishers from each of the 4 divisions. So far no a single division actually has 40 people that have managed to knit the pair of socks. There is only one division that even stands a chance to hit that number by 6pm Eastern tonight. That is the official cut off for completed entries to progress to the next round. The first pattern was unveiled March 19th, and the round ends tonight roughly 14.5 days later.

It's looking as if to get Round 2 down to under 2 weeks they are going to have to limit the number of people moving on to 20. This sounds like a huge cut, from 40 down to 20 but as it stands several of the groups only have 26-27 people who have finished. Of course Round 1 was full of new techniques for most of us, and there were tales of lost socks or major issues that necessitated starting completely over. It's possible that Round 2 will go by quicker if it runs smoother for the participants.

Me, I think I'm going to take advantage of the sale at Hill Country Weaver's tonight. It's the monthly 1st Thursday sale and sock yarns happen to be 20% off. I do have sock yarn in the stash that I can use for socks in general, but I don't really have anything that fits the specs for the next round. The next round is slated to start some time Saturday, and of course I will be busy and unable to print the pattern. Still, I will get it on my iPhone and get cracking to the best of my ability.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Couch Potato or Futon Carrot

As I mentioned yesterday we have a couch to replace. We aren't planning on getting a "real" couch until we're moved into the new house, because we want one that fits that space, and not the space we are only going to stay in for the next two months. However, we also wanted to get something for guests to sleep on in the new house, and we had a fairly large couch shaped hole in our current living room. After only one day without a couch to curl up on together we knew that we had to get something quick.

In stepped the Beddinge from Ikea. The end goal for this sofa bed (aka futon) is to end up in the office upstairs so that the room can double as a guest room. If we ever replace our bed, then it may move to the guest room and the futon can move into the loft space as a couch. So it really seemed like an ideal furniture purchase for the moment. We had been thinking about it for a while, but hadn't planned on purchasing it ahead of time until bulky trash day came about March 30. An opportunity to quickly, easily, and cheaply dispose of a broken sofa could not be missed.
The combination that we chose is the Beddinge Frame with a Murbo mattress, and the green Sandvik cover. While I really like the green (it is brighter in person) and was excited about it, I knew that when I saw the Jorun throw nearby that I needed it to help break up the wall of color. I like it a lot, and I think it will be fun to actually decorate the office with that piece of furniture involved instead of just piling junk in it the way we do now. Maybe I'll hang my frog prints in there... We did not spend the extra $80 bucks to get square cushions to make "arms" for the couch, because I wasn't convinced we need them. If this were to be a full time couch I'd feel differently, but I'd rather save the money for now. We can always go back and purchase them or craft some up later if we decide that we just have to have them.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cake Cake

We celebrated Jeff's birthday this year with a bash that started with pints at Opal Divine's on south Congress, where people ate drank and were merry. Jeff had a blast, and that was the important thing, but everyone else seemed to have fun too and that's bonus. We managed to wrangle a few folks back to our place to have some birthday cake and I've been told that it was delicious. I like it enough that I plan to have a slice every day until it's gone. Thank goodness it was more than half gone by the time the gang left Sunday night.

For Jeff's birthday cake he requested that I bake him a Guinness Cake. I decided to add cocoa to the top, because it looked so pretty on the cupcakes and so very plain without it.I think that I like the flavor of the cupcake better than that of the cake, but the cake is definitely a denser more cake like food. The texture of the cake is a lot nicer I think, although maybe not for a cupcake. I liked the icing recipe with the cake much better than the cupcakes, it has more cream cheese flavor and less just SUGAR flavor.

The cupcake recipe was a bit easier, since it didn't involve melting things together on the stove, but all in all they are both pretty easy and worth it. So far they've both been a big hit, even with folks that don't enjoy Guinness.

The other thing that we did Sunday was throw out our broken down couch. It's been good to us, but the wooden frame was giving out, and seeing as how this is our last bulky trash day before we move it seemed like a good time to get rid of it. Once the beast was outside you could see a place where the wood frame had broken and punched a hole through the back of the couch fabric. It's really a miracle that we never lost someone inside that thing. So it's gone now and today we picked up a temporary replacement. I'll have more on that later.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Night at the Theater

Last night Jeff and I saw Time Steps, the 11th annual Out of Ink festival from Austin Script Works, at the Blue Theater. It was a series of 8 plays written over a retreat weekend that were to conform to the following 3 rules:

The play must go backward, from beginning to end
Include a sudden dance break that causes a shift in the action
Include three things your mother told you not to do

All in all it was a very enjoyable experience. There was a good mix of drama, suspense, and comedy. Supposedly they were 10 minute plays, but that only accounts for 80 minutes plus a ten minute intermission, and we were there for almost two hours so I think one or two may have run a little longer.

Out of the whole lot there was only one play that I didn't really enjoy. It was okay, and Jeff liked it much more than I did, but I couldn't get into it. I'm not going to name it because I have nothing constructive to say about it and I don't want to put down any of the hard work that went into it. Instead I'll tell you what I felt were some major highlights of the night.

My favorite drama piece of the night was Where the Sidewalk Ends by Meg Haley. It was a really compelling story, and if you need a girl to cry in your next play you should check out Kathleen Fletcher, because that was hard to watch. She was also good when she wasn't crying; I'm just saying that girl can turn on the sorrow.

My favorite character of the night was Bernard, played by David Gallagher in Bernard Henry's Magic Tricks by Aimee Gonzalez. He was funny and charming and so much fun to cheer on. He reminded us a lot of the character Andrew from the Buffy tv series. Kind of a goofy innocence about him that ends up causing quite a bit of trouble, but despite it all you still like him and are routing for him.

My favorite dance of the night was done by Kelli Bland in Dancing Counts by Susan McMath Platt. I've never in my life seen someone in a cow suit perform such a great dance routine. Nicole Marosis as Aunt Charlotte provided a great backdrop and counter point to the wild cow dance that was happening across the rest of the stage. It was hysterical.

Finally my favorite monologue, by a huge margin, was in Hungry Love by Timothy Thomas. I've always loved the St Crispin's Day speech from Henry V and in my mind I always see it as done by Kenneth Branagh in the 1989 film version. Tim takes that speech and tweaks it to become a St Valentine's Day speech instead, but still with the same sound, mood, and fervor of the original. Zeb L. West did an awesome job delivering the speech and rallying the troops with his call to arms as he climbed in and out of the audience. It was full of win.

Jeff and I had a good time, and I recommend you go check it out. Time Steps only runs two weekends though so don't wait too long.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Two Socks and Some Cupcakes

Sock Madness 3 is upon us now. It started last Thursday, and so I haven't really had time to post. I've taken time to read blogs (while I knit) and I've twitted a bit, but a full post would have taken too long out of my knitting schedule, not to mention when I did take breaks from knitting I had to try and give my wrists a break, not more of a work out.

The round 1 pattern is called Tropical Mertini, and was a pretty hard easy knit. The pattern itself wasn't terribly difficult, but I had to learn an entirely new (to me) cast on method, and then it was written with an afterthought heel. This means that I knit all of the sock except the heel first, which left me with socks like this until today.

On Thursday morning I started with this:
After four and a half days (plus about an hour) I ended up with:
Not bad, but definitely not the best time I've ever made. Last year I managed one of the pairs in just two days, but this one did have several challenges for me in learning new techniques. The socks are very baggy on me, so they may end up being gifted. First I need to see what happens to them after they are washed. There is a metallic strand in the yarn that is a bit scratchy, and if it's too uncomfortable then they will turn into some house socks for me. My feet are always cold, so it's not like they won't get used.

A non-knitting reason these took so long to knit is that we went to San Antonio to visit some of my family this weekend. Since my cousin (the over worked Houston doctor) and I were both in the same place at the same time all sorts of people came out of the wood work. It was a blast. I really need to not wait so long before the next time I go to visit. We finished the weekend by heading out to lunch with just my cousin and her husband. We went to Jacala's which has been a family tradition as long as I can remember. It was a lot of fun and Kathy and I were both glad to get a chance to go while we were in town.

Last St Patrick's Day I found a recipe for Guinness cupcakes. They looked great, but I never got around to making them until this year. Jeff loves Guinness so I figured they'd get eaten by someone, even if I didn't care for them. I was really impressed with the recipe. I was concerned because it made a very runny batter, but it baked great and stayed fluffy and moist. The thing I was really shocked about is that I followed the directions and ended up with a cupcake that looked like the picture advertised or maybe even better. You can be the judge of that. I can tell you that it makes a tasty cupcake, and although a Guinness drinker may like it more than other folks it is plenty yummy even if you normally hate the taste. The beer adds just a hint of bitter really, more than a complete Guinness flavor. I hate Guinness, so that's okay by me.That picture is just a crappy iPhone pic. You will just have to imagine how much better they look in person. I'd love to share, but I'm afraid the remnants are going to work tomorrow and I don't think they'll survive the day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sitting on Hold

Buying a house is a pain in the ass. People will warn you about it when you start looking, but they are kind. They don't want to scare you off the prospect, because having a house is cool. As an added bonus they can come over and enjoy hanging out while you get to clean up the mess later, or maybe that's just why I want you to have a house.

Once you decide it's time to buy a house you might think that finding a house that you like/love, in your price range, in a neighborhood that doesn't scare you because of the crack dens or Stepford-ness of it, is the hard part. You look through listings online. You enlist friends to look through listings online. You have a realtor looking through listings and sending you messages every day or two. You trek all across town multiple times a week sometimes marking off large swaths of the map that you never want to visit again, other times wistfully gazing at the property whose value is a little too high for your current needs. Yeah, that's not the hard part.

The hardest part of buying a house is waiting for other people to do the shit they need to do. See, once you find that house that you want you get to make an offer. You sign some papers promising to pay some amount of money and then you send it away to the seller. If you're unlucky you aren't the only one who liked what they saw. We had to wait for the seller to decide that they wanted to let everyone submit a second round of offers so that we could wait some more before they finally accepted our offer on the house. Mind you they accepted our offer on Feb 26th, and we have been waiting since then for them to sign the contract and send it back. We have been waiting about 20 days for them to sign a piece of paper that they had already agreed to verbally and mail the damn thing back. Really? Seriously? I mean, I'm a procrastinator, but even I'm not that bad. This unsigned contract has meant that the mortgage broker could not submit the loan app, the realtor could not schedule the house inspection, and meanwhile we have been marching on, steadily getting closer and closer to the date of April 6th that was printed on that unsigned contract as our closing date. We have been waiting for this contract to come back for longer than we have left to go until that close date. That's just nuts. Of course, I still don't know that anyone has a copy of this so-called executed contract yet. I was told that the seller's agent has it and that she is sending it to our realtor and our mortgage broker, but I don't know if she's done it yet. Still, if it's signed I'm a happy camper. If I have to, I will find her and drive to her house to pick it up personally tomorrow just to get this show on the road.

Now we're waiting to find out when we'll inspect the house (hopefully this week) and then we get to wait and make sure the loan goes through. We are pre-approved for the loan, but I'll be nervous until it's all said and done. All this waiting is what is really getting to me. You sit and you wait and there is nothing that you can do that will make things go any faster or easier, like being on hold listening to some terrible muzak playing the same two songs over and over, except that in the end hopefully you get a house.