Saturday, March 29, 2008

Chardy's Musings

Me (running upstairs to tell Chardy that her Aunt Mary will be coming for her 1st Communion):
"Chardy, guess what? I have exciting news about Aunt Mary!!!"

Chardy (in her most ladylike grown up voice): "Oh, is she expecting?"
Chardy (one night when we were talking politics): "My teacher says that somebody needs to give President Bush a problem solving wheel."

You know, one of these that kids use in grade-school:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Betcha Can't Knit Just One!

Wanna bet? For you non-knitters out there, socks are like potato chips (sort of). You can't knit just one. This is true (sort of). You can knit just one sock. But, unfortunately, by the time you are done with that one sock, you have found 10 new sock patterns that look really cool...much cooler than the one you just slaved over for days.

So, you start the new one. Think of it as a potato chip, but just a different brand. But, just as it doesn't make sense to eat one potato chip from the bag and then open up a new bag to try out a new brand (over and over again), it also has its disadvantages when it comes to socks. It's called SSS (Second Sock Syndrome) and if you see knitters habitually wearing two beautiful (but completely different) socks, you know they suffer from this malady.

On the upside, SSS gives you an excuse to go to your favorite yarn store for their once-a-year-at-5am-in-the-pitch-black-dark-40%-off-sale (because you want to save $$ after all)...and buy that new yarn you've been hank-ering after (excuse the pun).

Whenever I feel guilty about SSS, I remind myself that this is a hobby after all and the last thing it should do is cause stress or guilt. There are lots of other things in life that already do that, thank you very much. So, I happily keep knitting my different socks and maybe someday, all those socks will have mates.

In the meantime, I would like to show that the situation is not completely hopeless, because all of these socks featured below have mates (even if it took months for those mates to materialize)...

The very first socks - crocheted.

Now, I love crochet; it was my first yarn addiction. But, crocheted socks are no good, IMHO. They look nice, but they have zero stretch to them. Think about it the next time you put a pair of socks on, especially after a shower. You don't want to spend 5 minutes tugging and fighting with your socks, when you are already late getting the kids breakfast and out the door. It takes all the joy out of it.

But, because of that first humble pair of socks (which I still wear when I am out of all my other socks), I learned to knit. And, walla: the very first pair of knit socks (and, no my feet aren't actually that big). This pair could very easily be in one of those kid's activities books where you have to spot all the differences. See if you can find them all...

Next came multiple tries to get a pair of socks made for Chardy. Poor girl, nobody's feet are shaped like that. The first one (far right) had ankles that could have fit around her thigh, but the length of the foot was a few inches too short. The second one [not pictured] was (very slightly) better. The third and fourth fit (me) perfectly, but not Chardy. So, I got a nice pair of socks, but Chardy had to wait awhile.

The next pair used perhaps the ugliest yarn known to man, but the colors (orange, green, blue, and lt. green) looked nice when they were all balled up in the hank... On the positive side, they fit (me).

These ones below are so comfy, but they smelled like vinegar for the entire time I knitted them (over the span of 3-4 weeks). Some hand-dyed yarn folks use vinegar in the dye process. Makes for great colors, not so great scent until you wash them.

These are called Coriolis Socks. They get their name from the cool spiraling line that wends it way up the foot and around the ankle. As is typical with SSS, though, I found a new pattern that I wanted to work on. And so, these got cut short and turned into slippers for Alli, which she loves.

So, this whole time, Chardy is waiting patiently for her own pair of socks... In addition to all the above socks, I had actually made a good-faith effort to make yet another pair for her (not pictured), but they turned out way too small (but fit Aaron perfectly, so at least he got some).

Finally, fate worked in her favor. I was working on a pair of socks for me in the absolutely best colors. I figure if you are going to wear hand-knit socks, they should be shockingly bright. But, karma caught up with me on these socks. They ended up too small for me, but fit Chardy perfectly. Can you tell whose happy feet are whose?

In the end, all of these misfit socks showed me reason #2593 why it is a really good thing to have 4 kids. If nothing else, no matter how big or small the socks turn out, they will always fit someone in the house perfectly.

Currently, I am working on yet another pair of really bright socks using a pattern I found off the web called "Circle Socks". I finished the first one ages ago, but finally started today on its mate during Alli's Ortho appointment. (Didn't get very far, I know, but that's what happens when you knit 5-10 minutes a day.)

So, in the end, the moral of this (admittedly very long) story is: If you get one sock from me for Christmas (or two, but they don't match), you'll understand why. And, who knows? The next Christmas, you just might get their mates.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Alli's School Project Photos

Feel free to ignore this post...or scroll through for a trip down memory lane and some cool family pictures from the past few years!

Pictures from France:

"Shreddin' Alli" at Mt. Hood:

Alli "Longjumpin' Longlegs":

Track Finale Party with Friends Lily, Emily, and Hailey:

Summer 2007 Trip to DisneyLand:

Mt. St. Helens, 2007:


Souvenirs from Pakistan:

Alpha and the Omega:

2008 Basketball Season:

Rrooww (DisneyWorld 2008):


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Round Robin and Mickey

We've been having round robin bouts of the flu in our family for the past few weeks (months?). We think it started with Ginny, worsened with Chardy before leaving for Disney World, peaked with Aaron throwing up in the pediatrician's office, and ending with Alli having to cancel her own birthday party so it wouldn't progress through the rest of her class...

But, the flu aside, we had an awesome time in Florida with Leo and Noel this past weekend!!! They were truly spectacular hosts (hint...hint...visit them!). On Saturday, we had dinner at a "glorified Chuck-e-Cheese's for adults" (Leo's words, not mine, but I can't remember the exact name, Dave and Basher's or something like that). Lots of games, Skeeball, etc. One cool thing they had was a photobooth that merges two faces to see what a resulting "kid" would look like. Alli wanted to merge hers with mine...anyone remember Punky Brewster?

Sunday, we drove to Orlando, where Noel and Leo had reserved a fantastic 3-BR condo.
Looks pretty cool huh? (Did I mention they were awesome hosts?! Really, you should visit them.)

We spent Sunday afternoon at Magic Kingdom trying to hit the rides they don't have at Disneyland in CA.

Alli and Chardy with their faces painted:

We spent all day on Monday at Animal Kingdom, which was really wonderful. The Living Tree was so cool and the safari was equally impressive. Despite Alli's flu, we stayed until closing (what a trooper!).

The girls with Leo and Noel:

On Tuesday our final day we went to SeaWorld and watched the dolphin show and of course, the Shamu show. Staying for Shamu cut it really close with our flight, but Leo assured us it would be worth it and it was. (Of course, he was the one that had to speed like a madman the 2 1/2 hours back to Jacksonville airport...but we made it with 50 minutes to spare before take-off.)

Other SeaWorld highlights included the Journey to Atlantis log ride...don't you agree that Leo looked the most scared of all??

Journey to Atlantis

But, no one wanted to join me on the Kraken rollercoaster (ok, Leo had a perfectly good excuse, but what about everyone else??) This rollercoaster is amazing and was worth the SeaWorld entrance price alone. I think it went upside down about 3-4 times, corkscrewed a few other times, and went underground twice...seriously fun. (I did feel lightheaded and a bit queasy afterwards, but I can admit that now since Leo and Noel are thousands of miles away and can't make fun of me.) Kraken

After a grueling mega-flight back across the country, we finally made it back. I don't know who was happier to see whom, but it was a happy reunion after almost a week away especially for Alli and I, who had been at Outdoor School earlier in the week (more on that in the next post...who knew camp could be so cool?!).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Free Crochet Pattern - Summer Shells

I'm not normally a pattern writer, so I can't guarantee that this one will be error-free, but it is a very easy pattern I wrote last summer while improvising a top for Ginny. It is sized for a 6-9 month baby, but can be easily made larger/smaller by changing the foundation chain or using heavier/lighter weight yarn. If you use the pattern, I only ask that you leave me a comment telling me how it went and if there are any pattern corrections to be made.

Summer Shells

Materials Used:
J Hook
Yarn: TLC Baby (Sport Weight)
Main Color (MC): 3 ozs.
Contrasting Color (CC): 1 oz.
Tapestry Needle
15 hdc = 4"
13 rows (in hdc) = 4"
3 shells = 4.25"

Pattern Note:
Pattern begins at waist working down. Do not join rows. Once bottom is finished, pattern works in rounds from waist up to neckline. For a longer top, rows may be added following Row 4 and/or Round 12.

Size: 6-9 mos.

Foundation chain is created in multiples of 6 + 5. To increase, add multiples of 6 ch until desired size.

With MC, ch 95.

Row 1 (mark as right side):
Dc in 5th ch from hook (counts as dc and ch-2 sp); *ch 2, sk next 5 chs, in next ch work (dc, ch2, dc) − V-stich made. Rep from * across. Turn.

Row 2:
Sl st in ch-2 sp of first V-stich. Ch 2 (counts as first dc throughout), 6 dc in same sp − beg shell made. Sk next ch-2 space; *7 dc in ch-2 space of next V-stich − shell made. Sk next ch-2 sp; Rep from * to beg 4 skipped chs; 7 dc in space.

Row 3:
Sl st in next 4 dc, ch 4 (counts as dc and ch-2 sp throughout). Dc in same dc as last sl st made – beg V-stich made. *Ch 2, work V-stich in 4th dc of next shell. Rep from * across. Turn.

Row 4:
Sl st in ch-2 sp of first V-stich, make beg shell in same sp. *Sk next ch-2 space. In Ch-2 sp of next V-stich make shell. Rep from * to beg V-st; make shell in ch-2 sp of beg V-stich. Turn.

Rep Rows 3 and 4 2 times (or for desired length).

Rep Row 3 changing to CC in last st.

Next to Last Row:
Sl st in ch-2 sp of first V-stich. Ch 4 (counts as first trc), 6 trc in same sp. Sk next ch-2 space; *7 trc in ch-2 space of next V-stich − shell made. Sk next ch-2 sp; Rep from * to beg V-stich; 7 trc in ch-4 space. Turn.

Last Row:
Sl st across previous row.

Round 1:
With right-side facing, hold garment upside down, and join MC with sc to first ch-5 sp of foundation. Work 4 sc in same sp. Work 5 sc in each ch 5 sp across. Join with sl st to first sc. (75 sc) Ch 2.

Round 2 and 3:
Hdc in each sc around, joining with sl st at end of each round. Ch 2.

Round 4 (dec round):
Hdc in next 13 st. Dec 1 st. *Hdc in next 14 st. Dec. 1 st. Repeat from * around. (70 hdc)

Rounds 5-12 (or until desired length):
Hdc in each st around, joining with sl st at end of each round. Ch 2.

Round 13:
Hdc in each st around, joining with sl st at end of round. Fasten off.

Locate center front 21 stitches.
Row 1:
With right side facing, join MC with hdc and hdc across remaining 20 stitches. (21 hdc) Turn.

Row 2:
Sl st in first hdc. Hdc across next 19. Leave last hdc unworked. (19 hdc) Turn.

Row 3:
Sl st in first hdc. Hdc across next 17. Leave last hdc unworked. (17 hdc)

Edging and Straps:
Join CC with sc in last hdc made. Sc 2 more in same corner stitch. Sc evenly down hdc rows, then sc in each hdc around back and to opposite corner. 2 Sc in corner, then ch 40 and sl st back down to same st. Sc in same st and across to end of row. Before joining with first sc, ch 40 and sl st back down to same st. Join with first sc and FO.

Belt:If desired, with H hook, ch 150 and sc in back ridge of each chain starting with 2nd ch from hook. Weave through first shell row at waistline.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Of Haikus and Tonkas

Alli and Chardy have been writing haikus and tonkas ever since they had a visiting teacher from Japan, Miss Ohi. (Chardy says Alli taught her all about haikus.) In case you're not familiar with the haiku, it consists of three lines, where the 1st and 3rd have 5 syllables and the 2nd has 7. Tonkas (which I had never even heard of) are supposed to have 2, 3, 2, 3, 3, words in each line.

Here is a sampling of their poetry:

They capture your mind
With colors and shafts of light
That is what dreams are.

The riverbank sounds
Of many small animals
Resting in their homes.

A snowman is built
By laughing cheerful children
Too bad it will melt.

Rain falls
very very gently.
Children cuddle.
The rain stopped.
They go play.