Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The big day

Monday was Hannah Montana day for A, her first concert. Okay, if you want to get picky, she did drop in on a Juice Newton show (free) at one of the Disney Parks last year; Juice was big (temporarily) in the 80s when J first started paying attention to music, so they listened for a while, primarily to sit down and rest.

But HM is the first big star A's gone to see; I think I was as excited as she was, maybe more, since it was so difficult to get tickets to the show, and I did it. (Why yes, I'm proud of myself, why do you ask?)

Unfortunately, my son and his family were in Orlando for a few days, and A was torn between spending one last evening with them and going to the show. I mean, it's not unfortunate that the family was all together, that was great, just the timing of the concert in relation to their visit.

The kids (and parents) had spent four days together at the parks having a blast. I'm so glad that they were able to spend that much time together, since they live 1000 miles apart and have seen each other for only a couple of hours in the last 2.5 years. A and B are 7 weeks apart and were inseparable their first two years; R and B2 are 6 months apart and never got to know each other, since they were both very small when J and family moved, first to Virginia Beach, then to Orlando.

J's daddy took her to the concert; I think he was as excited as she was. Before they left, A begged me to stay up till she got home so she could call and tell me about the show. I agreed, even though my bedtime is before 9 most nights.

It was 10:40 when A got home, and she was wound up. The show was glitzy and flashy (lots of lights and special effects) and loud, and there were lots of little girls there wearing their Hannah Montana wigs and headsets. I wish I could have seen it! We talked for half an hour before I could persuade A that I really had to go to bed. B2 got on the phone shortly to tell me he'd ridden Tower of Terror that night, then he got into bed and pulled up the covers. He's a man of few words--occasionally. And "Tower of Terror" is always among the words!

So then I was wound up and couldn't sleep.

The price we pay!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ten degrees

That is all.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Knit some love

My friend, Elisa, needs some knitting love. Her dad is in a VA hospital far from family, and some of her friends are knitting blocks to be made into a nice, warm blanket for him. If you feel that you'd like to help, you can knit an 8" square, blocked, of any durable yarn (will be washed by the hospital laundry), whatever color or pattern you like. You can email me or Elisa for instructions on mailing the block to her.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


My absolute favorite things to knit are socks from fingering yarn. Yeah, that usually means using tiny double-pointed needles (I prefer size 1 bamboos), and yeah they usually take a while longer to knit than, say, a hat of worsted on size 8s, and yeah socks can be bought for practically nothing just about anywhere. But.


I've rarely been able to find socks that are just the right color (or combination of colors), or have just the right leg length, or fit just right into my favorite shoes. I actually learned to knit just so I could knit socks for myself (and others, but mainly myself).

And I enjoy them so much! These days I wear mostly blacks and browns because it's easier to grab something out of the closet and have things that are sort-of color-coordinated (and I won't even mention that dark colors are generally more slimming), so it's fun to wear socks that have color and presence and in-your-faceness. I love the feel of wool and wool-blend socks in cold weather. Let me be more specific: I love the feel of soft wool and wool-blend socks, not just any wool, but comfy wool.

I've gotten past that whole oh-geez-I-have-to-wash-these-things-by-hand? of wool socks. Throw them in the washer on cold water with some Eucalan (no rinse needed), let 'em sit a bit, then spin. Lay flat on a towel, or, my favorite, hang 'em over a plastic clothes hanger and let 'em dry. A little more trouble, but not enough to keep me from wanting to wear them. But then, maybe it's the knitter in me that keeps me from balking at "hand wash".

So I knit with wools.

So, on to my latest obsession: Claudia Hand Painted Yarns.

Not because I work for Claudia, either. It's because her yarn is just so wonderful to knit with. The baby hats that I knit a while back of sport-weight yarn just made my heart sing. The twist, the feel, the colors all combine to make yarn that I'd rather use more than any other kind. I love the feel of the fingering, too, for the same reasons. I've knit a pair of ladies' socks and a pair of child's socks for a friend using Blue Sky colorway fingering, and before I finished the first sock, I knew I had to knit a pair for myself. That's going to have to wait now, because I showed those socks to a coworker at school and she commissioned me to make a pair for her and her little girl using the same colorway.

The placement of the colors on the hanks of yarn is just genius. I wasn't impressed with Blue Sky when I saw it in the skeins, but once I started knitting, I was hooked. The blues spool from lightest blue to a deep, deep blue, and the creams from a pale cream to a deep brownish yellow. It just fascinates me. I don't want to stop knitting; I want to see what color combination comes up yet.

Yeah, this sock knitting stuff is deeply satisfying!

Showing off

I'm just so proud of my work on Zippy's Penny sweater.

Can you just feel the sarcasm oozing there?

After watching A knit her part of the sweater, and with the nasty freakin' cold weather we've had, I wanted to finish it, put it on Zip, and sit back and enjoy his warmth.

So I quickly finished it, sewed it up, then the next morning picked it up and. I'd. Sewn. Up. The. Legholes.

And yes, red wine was involved. Why do you ask? That Zippy is such a lush.


Particulars: Claudia's worsted, Desert Dusk colorway, about 1.5 skeins
Penny, with rows added at the back waist to cover Zippy's back
US size 8 needles (I think)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Random fun

I can't find my photos of my latest sock knitting, so for now I'll bore dazzle you with some photos of the fun we had while I was in Florida.

B2's favorite game--playing "Tower of Terror". Disney, anyone?

A's taking gymnastics.

Hannah Montana!

B2 entertains himself.

What can I say?

I really can't explain this one. A decided it was Nanamarana Day and I was Nanamarana. She took photos of me with about 15 of her stuffed animals.

Then A is Nanamarana.

Spaceship Earth at Epcot

Too loud!

Ice castle

Pole dancer

And last, Orlando Christmas.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Snow day!

I'm not one who wants to use up our "bank" of snow days; I'd rather have the time off early at the end of the school year. But today I'm glad to be at home.

It wasn't snowing at 6 a.m., but NOAA's weather map showed a buttl0ad of precipitation heading our way, and for once our supe went with science instead of looking out the window, not seeing any snow or ice (I think he lives in Hawaii), and saying, "Aw, we might as well go in today." Even yesterday morning the principal announced the schedule for Friday in case we were off today (exam schedule days).

Now it's looking like we still might be getting snow or ice at 10 a.m. tomorrow, so it's anybody's guess what will happen with school.

I hope the supe looks out the right window in the morning.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


That didn't last long.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Zippy's next sweater

I still haven't finished his current sweater (see previous post at the end), but I already have a new pattern ready to go: Cables and Bits. It's not really practical, but it's so doggone cute (ha!) that I have to try it. I've never tried cables before so it will be interesting (read: difficult) to knit, but I've got to try it.

Jax looks so happy with her new sweater!

Pattern & images © 2007 by Sarah Wilson

Check out her blog; it has a bunch of free patterns (granted, most of them are golf club covers; golf and its appeal are things I'll never understand, but there are some socks, a scarf, a shrug, etc.). Do you recognize the grass, Florida Freaks? It's that wonderful springy grass that I love to walk barefoot on. Another thing that I like about Sarah! (She lives in S. FL, which is where I'd love to live.)

And she did it before her 8th birthday

You know, I thought, years ago, that I wouldn't care if I never had grandkids. They'd get in the way of my time. Yes, I'm selfish. Who'da thought?

But when my daughter told me that she was pregnant the first time, totally unexpected to me, showed me the test stick with the positive marker, scared to tell me because I'd been rather vocal about her waiting till she was more mature or something (she was 27!!!), unexpectedly my world shifted on its axis.

Suddenly, more than anything, I wanted--no, needed--a grandchild to fill the emptiness in my heart that I hadn't even realized was there, a newborn-sized space that ached to hold my grandchild. I needed a tiny girlchild, someone that I could hold, read to, play with, tell about her Nana (more later), pass on my love of knitting and crocheting.

J and M had been married for over 4 years by that time and had decided that if they had a child, fine, and if they didn't, they were okay with that, too. I think they'd sort of decided that they couldn't have kids, since none had shown up by that time.

Then my Nana died in February of 1999 at the age of almost 91. Nana was that perfect grandmother, loving, tolerant, wanting us kids to stay with her. We lived with her and Grandaddy till I was almost 3, I think; by that time I had a younger sister, Betty, and I can't remember life without her, as we are only 15 months apart. We spent as much time with Nana and Grandaddy as we could while we were growing up. Nana would dress us alike, and since we are so close in age, people would often stop her and ask if we were twins. Okay, that's another story in itself, how much I love and depend on Betty.

So when Nana's health failed that February, J really wanted to tell Nana that there was a great-great grandchild on the way, although there wasn't. Nana loved her grandkids and great-grandkids so much and would have been so happy to know that another little one was coming to the family.

J was pregnant about 3 months later. M has said that he thinks that Nana sent A to them.

J loves carnivals, fairs, and theme parks, and a carnival was in town. She rode the Twister or something, a ride that flung the riders around and around; two large women were in the seat with her (M doesn't do that kind of ride; neither do I, for that matter) and crushed her into the corner. She had so much pain for the next couple of weeks that she thought that her ribs were broken. Totally unaware that she might be pregnant, she went to the ER and was x-rayed (no one there asked her if she might be pregnant). No broken bones were found, narcotics were prescribed, and a week later she was back, still in incredible pain. More x-rays, still no question about possibility of pregnancy. No broken bones.

That night, she suddenly thought, oh my God, I missed my period last week or so, and she took a pregnancy test. It was positive, so she took another, thinking there had to be a mistake. Nope, positive. Still unbelieving, she sent M to the store for yet another test. Yep. Positive. (She should have been born in Missouri, don'tcha think?)

So she showed the stick to me. To her surprise, I was elated! Suddenly I was a grandmother-to-be and loved that child more than I though could be possible. BUT--there were those xrays a week apart, no lead apron, possible damage to the embryo. We were terrified at the thought of that damage.

J called her OB-GYN the next morning and was told to come in that morning for testing. Yep, she was pregnant all right, but the xrays could have killed the embryo. If it was still alive, there could be brain damage (as in only a brain stem left). She was told to come back in a couple of days to see if the pregnancy hormone (I'm too lazy to check what that is; I should remember it) was increasing. It was; the baby was still there.

Can you imagine going through the early months of your first pregnancy knowing that your child might be brain-damaged? I was optimistic that the baby would be okay; I loved it so much that it felt like I could will it to be okay.

I went with J and M to a nearby well-know university that has a teaching hospital for the first ultrasound (second-level ultrasound, whatever that is; again, too lazy to google) (on another note, I find myself amazed at the ease with which I began to use "google" as a verb). On the way (it's about an hour's drive), J told me the names they'd chosen. I loved the girl's name immediately. It's unusual enough that she won't hear it in her schoolroom as someone else's name, unlike J, which was a very popular name for her age group. I was still willing the child to be a girl; I'd have loved a boy, but I so wanted a little girl.

I was present when the monitor showed a perfectly-formed little head, a beautiful little head, its brain intact and the right size for the time of development. And I cried when the nurse said that it was a girl. From that moment on, we called the baby "A". She was real, and she was perfect.

I insisted on being present when A was born. I couldn't wait to see her and hold her. J wasn't happy; she's very modest and really didn't even want a doctor present. She had a wonderful midwife at her OB-GYN's office; she was somewhat comfortable with that. But I continued to insist, and J reluctantly relented, but "only if you stay behind my shoulders when A is born." M was similarly instructed.

J really wanted A to be born on New Year's day, but she would have been happy with any time before that. The last month of pregnancy is a bitch. For the last two weeks of December, she was having false labor, and she ate Mexican food, took long walks, did everything she'd heard could induce labor, but A wasn't going to be born until she was ready. First glimpse of her personality there.

A few days into January, J called me at work and said she felt funny, so I left work and went to her house. We talked for a while, then she said that she was going to call M and go to the hospital. Shortly after I left to go home to get ready for the big event, her water broke, and labor started in earnest.

I have to say that my mom, my two sisters and I had all had very short, easy labors and births; my first was 2.5 hours (induced, but still) and the second was only about 40 minutes. We lived 25 miles from the hospital; let me tell you, I was ready to deliver after only 4 miles. Anyway, J had heard all of our stories, and I expected her to have a similar easy time.

She later accused me of lying.

Her labor was only 8 hours from start to finish, but she has always felt pain more intensely and would spend three days in bed each month from cramps when she was in high school. After 6 hours her midwife told her she had to start pushing, and J wasn't ready for that. It hurt even more, and J wasn't going to have it. She'd had an epidural, but one "window" of her abdomen didn't numb, and she felt every contraction anyway. And her anethesiologist had been called to an emergency c -section and wasn't there to authorize more meds.

J begged for a c-section to end the pain, but A had already descended into the birth canal and it was too late for surgery, even if it had been an option. She was again told to push, and her wonderful midwife and nurses encouraged her. I don't know how she'd have gotten through it without their help. Her midwife was crying because she'd promised J beforehand that J wouldn't feel any pain, and she felt so bad for J.

Finally, finally that beautiful little head appeared, and I was the first family member to see A. Of course, I cried. She slipped out easily after that, and my Bunny Baby had arrived.

M and I watched the nurses quickly suction and wipe off and bundle A into a blanket and hat, then she was given to him. I'll never forget the look on his face. His little girl. He was already imagining her running to the door, yelling "Daddy's home!" Then he handed her to me. Finally, that empty spot in my heart was filled, and it's been filled ever since. I couldn't love that little girl any more if I'd given birth to her myself.
So, anyway, the whole reason for this post is to announce that A learned to knit last week, while she was still 7. That was so fulfilling for me. Nana had taught me to crochet when I was 7, and while I never really used it till J told me she was pregnant that first time (immediately Nana whispered to me, "Start crocheting! You've got a baby on the way!"), it was something that I could pick up and play with and actually use later. I really wanted to be able to pass my love of crafts on to A, and the OCD part of me insisted that she learn to knit or crochet when she was 7. Keep the karma rolling, you know?

And she did. She'd tried knitting since she was 3, but it was more than she wanted to deal with and would quickly lose interest. Each visit, she'd ask to knit, and she'd try it, and she'd hand it back. But this visit, she picked up the needles with Zippy's sweater on them and she started knitting. It wasn't perfect, it was a slow, labor-intensive process, but dammit, she was knitting. She even wanted to take it with her when we got into the car to go anywhere, just like I do, and she knitted. (Or is it knit? I have problems with those troublesome past-tense verbs, like swim and hang. And knit.) She's left-handed (which, for some reason, has always delighted me, just like B2's big blue eyes), and I cannot knit left-handed, so she had to figure out for herself, but she did it.

And she did it before her 8th birthday.

This is the tummy part of Zippy's sweater (Penny). A's work:

She only did a few rows, but she worked really hard on them and it took a couple of days, working on it in the car mostly, to knit them.

I'm so proud of her!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Why is my nose running again??? I just had a cold the week before Christmas. First of the school year, which is a record for me. Granted, I did fly yesterday and it seemed that everyone was sneezing, but I used Zicam before the flight and once during, and that usually does the trick.

Then on New Year's Eve I came down with a UTI. Fortunately my doctor here at home was able to prescribe an antibiotic and have it transferred to a drug store in Orlando (at the absolute last minute; his office was closing and I had 10 minutes to find a pharmacy that was open past 6 p.m.), and that took care of that.

I hate colds. For some reason I get angry when I come down with one. If I get the flu or a UTI or even a bleeding ulcer like I did 13 months ago, I can deal with it. But colds make me angry.


Monday, January 07, 2008

On the road again

As I write this, I’m sitting at the gate in Dulles International Airport. I won’t be posting this from here, though, as they charge for their “free” wireless access. If you figure out the “free” part, please let me know.

I’m heading to Orlando for a week in the (I hope) sun. Not to mention the time with my grandkids. It’s supposed to be quite cold for two days this week—I mean, 55 degrees for the high. 30 for the low. I’m not sure that B2 is going to survive the frigid weather. He wears two sweaters and a jacket when it hits 60.

We’ll be doing a photo shoot, baking a cake, planning a New Year’s Eve party (J and M’s 13th anniversary), going to a water park (if it’s warm enough), walking to the park (which we plan to do every visit, but we haven’t made it yet; it’s usually too warm for much exercise), and go to Epcot for A’s 8th birthday.

I’ll be home in time to have missed three days of work (thank goodness for comp time!) and return to the cold weather.


UPDATE: Now I'm on the way home. MCO has free internet access. Just another thing to love about Florida.

Photo shoot--negative. (Get it? Haha.) Cake bake--negative. Instead, we made dinner the night before A's birthday. New Year's Eve party--check. Party poppers, little horns, assorted M&Ms from the M&M store, which has an incredible array of colors (yeah, for $9 a pound). While I posed the kids with the pink, purple, and bright blue M&Ms and assorted party paraphernalia, J sneaked up behind them and pulled a popper. Not nice, but it was amusing.

We blew the horns and pulled the poppers at midnight, then A, B2 and I went outside and danced in the street while we watched the colors on the clouds from the fireworks at the Disney parks. January 1, just after midnight, and we were dancing barefoot, wearing shorts, outside. (I hate cold weather; it was nice that night.) Then we went inside and took stupid photos and stayed up till almost 2.

Water park? Negative. It was stinking cold Wednesday-Friday, along with gale-force winds. Okay, stinking cold in Florida is below 45, and the wind didn't help. It finally got warm (around 70) on Saturday, but it was too chilly to spend any time in the water.

Walk to the park--negative. Yesterday B2 and I took a walk around the neighborhood. It was a gorgeous day, maybe 72, so we spent some time outside.

New Year's Day we rode around looking for a house for rent (they'd like to move to a less-congested area). We didn't find a house, but we did find a small tree just full of tiny tangerines. It wasn't on anyone's property (unless you call the county anyone), so I jumped out of the car and picked as many as I could before a car came by. The results:

And we did go to Epcot for A's birthday. And Disney MGM Studios, and the Magic Kingdom. They were hideously crowded, but we had fun.

Gotta go--just about time to board the plane. According to my email home page, it's over 50 at home.

Warmer than it was this past week in Orlando.

Oh well, I had a great time anyway.

Last Train Home

The. Best. Alt Country. Band. Ever.

Originating in the Washington, DC area, now from Nashville, they do a bunch of shows in Virginia each year. The most shows are at the IOTA in Arlington, Virginia, but we’ve never been there. Yet. They’ve been to Harrisonburg a number of times and we’ve seen them twice there. The last time they were there was the weekend we flew to Belize, so we had to miss that one.

Ashland Coffee & Tea is a tiny coffee house a few blocks from Randolph Macon College. It has an eclectic d├ęcor, lots of sofas and chairs, a reading area, and a listening room that holds 150 people. In spite of its small size, the room didn’t seem at all crowded during the show.

AC&T draws some decent names in the music world. LTH plays there about four times a year. It’s a three-hour drive from home, but it’s worth it for the intimate setting. Since it’s a college town, it has a bunch of hotels and motels and one ritzy inn. We didn’t stay there.

Check out their website and listen to some of their songs. And if they come to your area, go to see them. It’s well worth the price of the tickets (in this case, $16 each!).

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


I'm in Orlando now, about to run out of battery power, and on "borrowed" wireless. So if you don't hear from me for a week, that's why!

Christmas overload

Saturday afternoon, as Tom and I were driving to Ashland to the New Year’s Eve Eve Eve show, we passed this house. I had to have photos of this place!

It’s almost, almost as good as the trailer in Brandywine that has four blowups and a trillion lights, all of which are worth more than the trailer itself.