Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The whole nine feet

It started with some pretty yarn. And a cool pattern. And when I combined them, they colors of the yarn sort of obscured the lace pattern, but I was having so much fun knitting, I kept going anyway.

And going. And going. And going. When I hit the halfway point in the pattern, it was looking a little, um, long, but I forged ahead. And after complaining about not having time to finish it, I finally found time to finish it (thank you, Bill Nye).

All 9'2" of it.

Okay, it's kind of ridiculously long, but it is virtually weightless. Keep in mind that the whole kilometer of yarn that I used to make it weighed about 100 gm or so. It was so light, I went and bought some beads to add to the ends so that the whole thing wouldn't fly off in a light breeze.

And yesterday it was nippy enough to wear it over my t-shirt when we went for a walk in the evening, and I lurrrrrrve my new shawl! It's only slightly too long to wear with one end draped down my front, the middle part wrapped loosely around my shoulders, and the other end flipped over the same shoulder so it hangs down my back. So you get to see the awesome ends whether I'm coming or going - lucky you!

I've already got my next "ridiculously complicated" shawl planned out, yarn bought, beads purchased, needles set aside. But I'm not allowed to work on it until I finish another repeat of the 71-row chart for a blanket that I've been "working on" since, um, October. It's a bit of a bear to work on, and it's so heavy now that I gave up on it entirely for the summer. But I've decided I want to try to finish it by Christmas, and I can only handle one high-maintenance project at a time, so I'd better get it done before I start the shawl. At least it's pretty to look at while I'm slogging along ...

Coolest. Fabric. Ever.

The mind boggles.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Butter and weaving and dulcimers, oh my!

I've been plotting all month to drag my family to the Cedar Valley Settlers Celebration and Music Festival, which was held Sunday at the local metropark. I was not going to be deterred by minor setbacks like a grouchy toddler, a husband who was watching the minutes tick by until football started, or a crippling sinus headache. No, sir! We were going to see square dancing and we were going to have fun, dag-nabbit!

I believe Liza's heels actually left furrows through the parking lot as we hauled her to the gate.

And then she saw the "paint your own leaf stamp t-shirt" booth, and all was right with the world. Add to that some butter churning that resulted in getting to eat your own butter on cornbread that had been baked in a real dutch oven under hot coals, mix in some overachieving music teachers who didn't mind humoring a 4-year-old, add a splash of "sure, you can have a Sprite," and it was apparently the best trip ever.

Who's the cutest little fiddle player in the world? Liza, that's who.

She was oddly creeped out by the whole fiddle experience, and she couldn't wait to put it down. Something about having to hold it with her chin? Or maybe the lady was just freaky up close. I don't know, but I don't see Suzuki lessons in our future.

And who's that trying to beat a dulcimer into submission with a credit card for a pick? Liza, that's who.

Mr. Musically Inclined helps Liza get through a rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star that caused dogs to howl in three separate counties:
Liza loved that dulcimer. I don't know if it was the fact that it seemed more familiar because she knows how guitars and banjos work, or if she liked being able to read the notes on the chart and play along with other people, or she just liked the song, but we had to pretty much drag her out of that tent. And heck, for $60, we can buy a beginner one of our own! Much cheaper than getting a quarter-size violin, that's for sure.

One of the activities they had for the kids to try was a full-sized loom they were using to make a rag rug from strips of old t-shirts. Liza wanted nothing to do with it until she found out that if she helped weave it, she could put in an entry to win it, at which point she was practically knocking people out of the way to get to the contest entry forms. I persuaded her to let me sign up for the contest, as I didn't feel like waiting for 15 minutes for her to write her name just so on the little card. With hundreds of people there, it's not like we were going to win, anyway.

At 5:30 Sunday I found out that we won The Ugliest Rag Rug In The World. I had to scrape Liza off of the ceiling, she was so excited that she had won, especially when she found out we had to go over to the Nature Center to pick it up. So she got to visit the birds and the turtles and the frogs and the fish and the crawdad and the snakes and the spider, and I got to get my picture taken with TURRITW. I'll have to link to the photo if I find it - my hair was sticking straight up, I had on a shirt that I (ahem) may have recycled from the day before, and I wasn't wearing makeup. But next to the rug, hell, I look like a supermodel.

Monday, September 21, 2009

So, how was your day?

I woke up with my side of the bed looking like an abattoir, on day 3 of The Sinus Headache That Laughs At Medicine While Bludgeoning Me Between The Eyes With A Cricket Bat, to a child that has done virtually nothing all day but drag her feet, whine, and defy me. The stains did not come out of my pajamas or my sheets. I have about 40 books checked out of the library, and she refuses to read anything by herself other than a Baby Max and Ruby board book.

We have no bread or juice or soda or chocolate or decent alcohol in the house, and I'm not about to drag Little Miss Positive with me over to the grocery store at rush hour.

I have 40 tiny rows left on my first ridiculously hard lace project, and The Child will not leave me alone for half an hour to finish them. I'm not sure why I'm in such a hurry to finish it, since it's a bad match between pattern and yarn and it's going to be 8' long after I block it, but I feel frustrated all the same.

And I have "Proud to be Aborigine" stuck in my head.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

For Leah and Lindsey

We got to have our own experience with Pablo today at the natural history museum ... only there it was named Polly and was a lot less demonic than your version.

Yes, that's an opossum wandering around the museum with my daughter. Polly the Opossum was there as part of today's "meet the wildlife" experience, and the handler was pretty confident that she wasn't going to go all feral and make a break for it. Given that she's been raised by humans since she was still in her mother's pouch, I'd say that's a pretty safe bet. Still, she doesn't look exactly trustworthy, does she?

More like "batshit insane" than "trustworthy," but she was a total sweetie. We were able to pet her, see how she used her tail to help with climbing in trees (and down her handler's legs), check out her little hands, and even examine her pouch. Plus Liza got to get some photos that I plan to enlarge and randomly hide in Lindsey's room if she ever annoys me, so tell her she's on notice :)

Watch, I can make her grandmothers' heads explode with one photo!

I swear, the child is afraid to watch any Disney movie because the bad guys "have scary voices," yet she will happily climb/scale/scramble up any uneven vertical surface she's near. And usually, I'm just negligent enough to let her. And possibly take pictures of it.

Maybe I should be thinking about climbing camp instead of circus camp?

Monday, September 14, 2009


My daughter has learned to use monkey bars by herself, with no parental involvement beyond hands-off hovering to make sure she doesn't plummet to her death from way up there in the air. O. M. G.

Today at a friend's house Liza nonchalantly climbed up the ladder, grabbed onto the first bar, and before I was even over there to help her she was halfway across the set of bars, swinging hand-to-hand like a freaking monkey. To say I was surprised would be the understatement of the week. As far as I know, she hasn't even tried the monkey bars anywhere this summer other than at the friend's house, and there it's always been this big angst-filled whiny entreaty to helllllllppppp meeeeeeeeee moooooommmmmmmyyyyyy.

I believe I may have said, "Holy crap! Tabitha, get out here, you've got to see this!"

And then today Liza went back and did the bars on her own two more times, followed by a complicated trapeze/ring routine that involved her winding the trapeze around and around and then letting it spin her in circles, then flipping upside down on the trapeze, sticking her feet through the rings, and hanging by her knees from the rings, then managing to extricate both legs and her giant feet before all the blood rushes to her head and she has an anurysim. Truly, it was awe-inspiring. And more than a little scary, especially when she was hanging by one ankle and a couple fingers ... but she didn't panic, and she didn't fall, and she didn't even act like she had done anything particularly impressive.

I am totally sending her to circus camp next summer.

And I am totally retrofitting our swing set so that the rings are separate from the trapeze - the way they were when I was a kid - because it's a hell of a lot harder to do skin-the-cats when the rings are attached to a trapeze that doesn't twist when you flip over and keeps trying to grab your feet when you flip through. Ask me how I know this (I say, brushing mulch out of my hair)... And since she's already got shoulders and arms so defined she looks like she's flexing most of the day, and she loved tumbling classes mainly because she got to go on the uneven parallel bars, we might as well assume she's going to be like I was and spend half of the next ten years flipping upside down on the swingset.

Friday, September 11, 2009

From bedtime tonight

Liza: Can we see God?

Jason: We can't see God, but we can see all the beautiful things around us that He made.

Liza: He made all of that, didn't He? He should put his name on the back of everything so we know He made it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I am being very, very strong.

The designers at Playmobil are conspiring with the local upscale toy shop to make me part with huge wads of cash. It's not fair.

First we walk into the toy store and my child - you know, the one who has watched the volcano video about 400 times - comes eye-to-eye with this:
Why yes, that is, in fact, a Playmobil volcano with real exploding action, plus a whole bunch of other stuff. And here I am with no major holidays in the foreseeable future. Damn. I had to start on the whole "You can put it on your Christmas list for Santa" ruse already, and it's barely September.

After I pry the box out of her cold, dead hands, I turn around to put it back on the shelf. Little old me (the girl who loved Playmobil stuff so much she managed to convince her parents to buy her one of the first pirate ships ... when she was in college) managed to walk away from Playmobil dinosaurs and exploding volcanoes.

And then I came eye-to, er, kneecap with this:
Son of a bitch. Fine, take two of my favorite things in this world - Playmobil and ancient Egypt - and combine them into $104 of all kinds of awesome. And then I saw that it comes with a tomb robber ... I went weak at the knees.

No. I am not going to pay $104 for a Playmobil set that will be just as unplayed with as the other sets we've gotten for the kid. And I do not have room to display a 2' square pyramid in my home, much less room for the pyramid plus all the cool subsets, like this one:
Dude, it comes with canopic jars. And camels. And tomb robbers. And it's only $40. Swoon.

Did I mention that according to our homeschool curriculum, we get to study ancient Egypt in a couple weeks? And this would be good for all kinds of role-playing, and would be Very Educational, and ... damn. I'm not convincing anyone with this, am I?

Yeah, so I carried the tomb around the store for quite a while before it went back on the shelf.

But, god as my witness, I will possess this before the end of the year:

I've got a birthday coming up, and Christmas, and if I just happen to need an extra $8 on my Amazon order to get the free shipping, well, who knows what might happen to fall off the truck and into my cart?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Berry cute

Sorry, couldn't resist the title.

She was still totally into picking raspberries, although this year a lot more ended up in her mouth, and she was much choosier about which ones she picked. The farm had a LOT more berries this year compared to when we went last year, and it was almost ridiculous how quickly we filled up our three quarts of berries. Half an hour, maybe? There were some parts of the row where I swear I think I could have held the basket under a branch and shaken the berries off without having to pick each one individually. If it hadn't been for the bumblebees, I totally would have tried that.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Oh, dear

While I work on making a mermaid tail for a customer, Jason and Liza are downstairs playing homo erectus, living in a cave and using "torches" (orange scarves rubber-banded to tinker toys rods) to scare away the wild animals. If I'm hearing correctly, Jason erectus has just invented tinker toy caltrops to help keep the aligators away from the cave.

See, this is why we're homeschooling. Bet they don't play cave man in public school ... and they certainly don't teach Caltrops Assembly 101 in kindergarten.

Next up - cooking your own steak on a stick over an open flame! Just kidding ... I think.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Busy little beavers

Our experiment in homeschooling has been keeping us busy around here. Realistically, we're probably not doing much more reading/crafting/field-tripping than we normally would, but the fact that it's all channeled in one direction makes it seem to add up quicker. In the past few weeks, we have ...

- read in our history book about everything from the creation of the Earth to homo habilis.
- made a timeline of what we and our friends and relatives did every day for a week.
- made a timeline showing the important holidays and events for our family for a year.
- made a papercraft volcano that's so wonky, it appears to be shooting lava out at a 45 degree angle to the ground.
- made a papercraft lizard that actually looks like it's supposed to (and is so easy, I think Liza could have done it herself, if I'd let her hold the sharp scissors).
- did an experiment to see how bones became permineralized to form fossils.
- watched way too many Bill Nye videos on evolution, the Earth's crust, fossils, dinosaurs, volcanoes, amphibians and mammals. And then we watched them again. And again.
- looked at maps of all the continents and read stories from or about each of them, then painted pictures to go with the stories (or colored in the map with the addition of Liza's signature rainbow-colored butterflies).
- read the first couple of chapters of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle out loud.
- traced pictures of dinosaurs from a book.
- went to the natural history museum to see the fossil collection (and visit the otters).
- read several poems, including some limericks that are unfortunately not the adult versions I remember learning on the bus in junior high.
- memorized the poem "Happiness" by A. A. Milne and recited it to our next door neighbor.
- made a kitchen volcano out of an empty yogurt cup, some baking soda, and some vinegar.
- painted countless pictures of volcanoes, dinosaurs, volcanoes AND dinosaurs, and rainbow-colored butterflies.
- made and painted clay sculptures of dinosaurs, tree ferns, bushes, a nest, and eggs.
- turned a Costco Special-K box into a dinosaur diorama with clay sculptures of dinosaurs and blah blah blah.
- went on a field trip to the river near the beaver pond to check out the rock layers on the sides of the valley (and try to catch some minnows, which we learned have very good hearing/vibration sensors and are even faster than a 4-year-old with a jelly jar).
- practiced handwriting by writing a poem and labeling the dinosaur tracings.

And I'm sure there are some other things, too, all of which probably involve either watching the damn volcano video again, or painting something with watercolors. She's painted so much, we've run out of green. In the past two weeks. But she's getting really good at using nontraditional colors, so we've got lots of red dinosaurs frolicking next to purple volcanoes.

It's all good.