Thursday, September 26, 2013

One of those days...

Yeah, it's been one of those days...

I've been back at work since Monday, and it's been a lot of jumbling and shuffling of students, getting used to teaching 15 credits, trying to get more textbooks ordered, and just generally trying to get back into the swing of things. I'm feeling a little under-prepared and a little overwhelmed at the moment - normal first week of the quarter stuff.

Today, however, has been extra rough. The morning started out fine. Elijah played happily after breakfast, was excited to go to school, and I easily found a parking spot at work (a rare thing, indeed). It was then that my day started to go downhill. As I got ready to get out of the car and reached for my work bag, I realized that it was still sitting on the table at home. Ah, crap! I sat and tried to decided if I really needed to run home to get it. In one class we were watching a movie, which thankfully I had put in my purse and had with me, and we were in the computer lab in my second class. I could figure this out! I prepped a couple of worksheets and found some websites to use in class, and called it good. Problem solved.

The next issue came when I got the dreaded "have to work late" text message from my husband a few moments later. No! Do you not realize how many things I have to get done tonight? Do you not realize how much it ruins my craft store Zen to have to take Elijah with me? (Our Joann's is right next to a Toys R Us, so Elijah screams pretty much the whole time - we're working on it.) Do you not realize that tonight is the season premiere of The Big Bang Theory - the one show I look forward to watching uninterrupted all week? Why does the universe hate me?

Yes, I hate to admit it, but that really was my internal conversation. Externally, I simply expressed that it was sad for my husband that he had to work late - there's nothing he can do about it, so there's no need to make him feel bad.

So, after work, I braved the craft store with my shopping-cart hating, "No mama hand" saying, "choo-choo store" screaming two and a half year old. Dear Joann's employees and customers, I am so sorry! I got what I went for, and we left without visiting the "choo-choo store" due to Elijah's bad behavior. Needless to say, he screamed the whole way home. Someone please remind me that it will get better. Parenting is hard and exhausting work.

Once we got home, we had to take the dog out, which in my world means literally being pulled in two directions., and trying to avoid all other dogs. It's stressful and always gets my blood pressure up. I try to avoid having to take Elijah with me when I take our crazy, aggressive dog out to do her business, but some days it just can't be helped. Thankfully, there were no incidents today.

After that was taken care, the evening passed well, with the exception of Elijah refusing to eat dinner without a phone, something else we've been working on. For the most part, he played with his trains and I was able to get some crocheting done. Once my show started though, the two year old terror took over - throwing trains (die-cast ones hurt when they hit you), jumping off the furniture, attacking Lillie. I felt like ripping my hair out. Finally, I gave up trying to watch my show (it will be On Demand tomorrow anyway), and tried putting the boy to bed...

An hour and a half later (and many trips into  Elijah's bedroom), I am finally able to sit down and spend a few minutes processing this crazy day.

I remember someone saying once that marriage makes you less selfish, and perhaps that's true, but parenting is the never-ending unselfishness boot camp, and sometimes, it really sucks.

But the good news is that today is over, and tomorrow is another least, I hope that's good news :)

I hope your evening was spent a little more enjoyably occupied than mine.

On a side note, my craft store fast is over due to the need to purchase things to make items bought by customers from my etsy store. Things have picked up the last few days, which is awesome! Thank you, Fall, for making people think about buying cute hats and scarves!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy Fall!

Today is the first day of fall, and it seems like the weather here in Western Washington got that message loud and clear. I woke up to rain and a special weather advisory - wind, rain, possible power outages, and possible snow (!) in the mountains this evening. I also woke up with head and chest congestion, a sore throat and a scratchy voice...the day before the first day of class...awesome. Can't you hear the enthusiasm?

Today, I plan to take a hot bath, drink tea and orange juice by the gallons, keep the nose spray nearby, stay in my pajamas, watch the Hawks, crochet a couple of hats, and just generally lounge around trying to kick this cold that is threatening to complicate my first week back at work. Prayers appreciated.

I hope your fall is kicking off a little better than mine...Happy First Day of Fall!

Friday, September 20, 2013

3 Year Baby Blanket and Fall Decorating

Well, it's taken me over 3 years to finish, but here is the blanket I started for Elijah before I was even pregnant with him. I think it probably spent a good year and a half in a bag under the back seat of my car - oops! It's a simple single crochet blanket done in back loops only, changing colors every 32 rows. I finished it just before lunch today, with only 4 feet of yarn left over.
 So glad to be able to cross this one off the list!
 Elijah getting involved in the picture taking process
At home on Elijah's chair in our living room.

I also finished the book, The Story of English, which was interesting, but not necessarily an easy book to relax with. You had to think about the linguistics involved and how ideas were connected to one another, my brain felt a little tired when I was done.

Last night, I started and stayed up way too late to finish another book. Kisses From Katie is the true story of a young girl who follows God's call on her life into a village in Uganda, where she teaches kindergarten, adopts/fosters 16 girls, and started the non-profit Amazima. I cried a few times throughout the book, and was deeply challenged in the way I look at my own life and the way I treat people. You can read more about her on her blog, also called Kisses from Katie.

Fall officially starts on Sunday, and I decided to spend some of my morning getting the house ready. Fall and Christmas are really the only holidays that I decorate the house for. And to be honest, I only decorate for fall because our house is already mostly green and orange and red. I just toss a few leaves and plastic apples and pears around and call it good.

Dining room table centerpiece and piano (aka "the mantle") centerpiece

I found this cute little tea pot at Marshall's yesterday during the few hours of daycare freedom I had before my division meeting. I have no intentions of actually using it, but I loved it, and it was $5. Sold!

Happy Blue Friday! Here's a little paper embroidery Seahawks logo I made, just because.

Now, it's time to buckle down and get some stuff done for work. I'm so looking forward to meeting my new students, and getting started with the new school year! Here's to the last weekend before fall really begins!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

And the craft store fast continues...

So, I ended up being able to buy everything I needed at the grocery store and was able to avoid the craft store - yay! One stop shopping!

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, I'm on a self-imposed craft store fast (too much money, too much time, too many projects already to do at home), but I was going to make an exception because I needed some packaging supplies for a special order for a young teenage girl who will be having her head shaved for medical treatment. I just finished putting together her order, so I can deliver it tonight.

Here are the hats I made:

Like them? Once I get the pattern perfected and sized, you can expect to see them in the shop.

Here they are with my newly made custom hat gift certificate and envelope:

All packaged up and ready for delivery:

On a side note, I purchased these lunch bags at the grocery store, but I don't think I will continue to use them for hand delivering purposes. They are too flimsy and my printer will not print on them. I will have to go pick up some of the nicer ones at the craft store next month. In the meantime, I have a feeling Elijah and I are going to spend some time making a whole lot of paper sack puppets soon.
The gift certificate is now posted in my esty shop, so head over there and get the perfect gift for that hard to shop for person in your life!
In other news, I only have 10 more rows to finish on my blanket, and 20 more pages to read in my book. I love being able to cross things off my to-do list, and I'm looking forward to crossing these two items off!
Happy Wednesday! (Because who doesn't love a camel on hump day? Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike...)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Small Break in the Craft Store Fast

Tomorrow, I will be breaking my self-imposed craft store fast. I'm a little upset as I was doing so well, but it is for a good cause. A friend of a friend has ordered two hats for a young teenage girl who is going to be having brain surgery to help regulate her epilepsy. Unfortunately, she will have to get her head shaved.

I had a couple of hats sitting around that I had made while trying to size out a pattern and they perfectly matched what this customer was looking for, so I sold them to her at a great price.

My heart was moved with compassion for this young girl. When I was almost 13, I broke a vertebrae in my lower back (no trauma, it was a freak thing), and I spent almost all of my seventh grade year in a back brace that looked a little something like this:
Needless to say, it was not very comfortable, and not very easy to hide. It's hard enough being a young teenage girl dealing with all the insecurities that come with just being in that period of life (all you ladies remember, don't you?), but adding in something like a back brace or a bald head makes it just that much more uncomfortable. With the exception of a few snide "Hey, Quasimodo!" remarks, my classmates really rallied behind me, and I was never treated much differently because of the brace. I pray this young girl feels the same support from those around her.

I wanted to do something special for her, so I also included a gift certificate for a free custom-made hat so that once she is feeling up to it, she can design her very own hat. It's not a big thing, but I really hope it lifts her spirits and helps take the edge off of losing her hair.

Now, as I went to get tags printed up to package up this order, I realized that not only am I out of colored ink, I'm out of tags and bags. So, tomorrow it's off to the office supply store and the craft store. I promise to walk in, grab tags and bags, and walk out (after paying for them of course). Now to go find two coupons to use since I've just been tossing them all in the recycling to avoid temptation. :)

I have been inspired to add this gift certificate for a custom-made hat to my etsy shop in the future. It'll be a great gift for those hard to buy for people. I will post an update once the item is in the shop. Are you thinking about Christmas gifts yet?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Last Week of Summer

I know, I know...most of you are already deep into "Fall Mode", but for me (and most college instructors and college students at quarter schools), we are just now entering into the last week of summer. Next week, it's back to work for me!

As I look at the six and a half days stretched out in front of me, I'm trying to figure out what things I really want to get done while I still have the luxury of naptime. Today was bathroom day - I put together a space saver, cleaned and organized Elijah's bathroom, and put down new bath mats and cleaned our master bathroom. I'm also working on finishing up some crafty projects that have been laying around for days, months, and even years. Currently, I've got a baby blanket on my hook that I started before I was pregnant with Elijah. I was a little depressed at how long it was taking to get pregnant (10 months, in case you were wondering), and I started the blanket off in black. When I found out I was pregnant, I switched to green. I then added in yellow and orange. I am now currently working on the last dark green section to complete the blanket - only 20 more rows to go. I'm hoping to get it done this week. I'll be sure to post picture so you can see it when I'm done.

I also want to finish the pattern for my hooded infinity scarf, but since I don't have enough yarn to make another one to take pictures of while I'm making it, and I can't go to the craft store until next month (self-imposed), it will just have to wait.

I need to make a blocking box for the little snowflakes I've been making, which I'm hoping to turn into Christmas tree ornaments. I know, I make a big deal about it still being summer, but when you hand make Christmas gifts, you have to get an early start.

The house is pretty clean, but I would like to spend an evening with the carpet cleaner and see if I can't make our carpet beige again. Oh little boy, how you have covered our carpet in stains!

I am currently reading the book The Story of English, by Robert McCrum et al, which I find fascinating, but unless you are actually interested in languages and language change, and have at least a little knowledge of linguistics, I would not recommend. It's not difficult, but I can see how without at least basic background linguistics knowledge, it would be difficult to understand. I would like to finish this book in the next couple of days. I still have Elizabeth I by Margaret George to finish before the new quarter begins.

I also have to get ready for the quarter - syllabus tweaking and printing, finding the textbook, and general organization of class materials. I enjoy teaching the same class over and over because it is so much less work when you only have to prep a couple of things for each new quarter. I'm looking forward to meeting my new group of students!

I have a long-ish meeting  at work tomorrow (which includes an all-faculty meeting), and a one hour division meeting on Thursday. Wednesday night I have a meeting at church, so things are really ramping up during my final week of vacation. I'm ready to get back into the swing of things and get a real routine going, but I am sure going to miss naptime!

Now, I'm off to take a shower, walk the dog and get working on those 20 more rows!

Happy last week of summer!

Ps. Go Hawks! And good job 12th Man on breaking the crowd roar world record! What an awesome day in Seattle!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Daycare Freedom: Antique Mall Mini Freak Out

So, I've been on a bit of a break from craft stores. They haven't done anything wrong, I just spend too much time and too much money, and I have too many projects around the house already that need to get done. I generally take a month long craft store break about twice a year (the last one was in April and it culminated in a trip to our new and first Hobby Lobby store on my birthday in early May). It's a good time to work through my yarn and fabric stash, and I've been making plenty of cowls.

The only problem  with taking a craft store break is that on my Daycare Freedom days, I'm never quite sure what to do. Today, I went to the library and read all kinds of magazines that I would never spend money on. It was quite relaxing. Then I made a spur of the moment decision to hit up our local antique mall.

So, here's the thing - I love antique stores. They're filled with all kinds of interesting and historical items. I love walking around thinking about what kind of people owned them, what they used them for, and where in the world they've been. I can spend hours walking through the store, but I hate, hate, hate antiques. They give me a little bit of the heebie-jeebies. I don't know who has touched it, or where it's been, and all the fur coats and fox stoles and random animal skin bags (today - eel, and baby alligator - with the head and limbs being part of the design) really creep me out.

Today, the antique mall more than creeped me out - I about lost my non-existent breakfast. But before I get to that story, let me tell you about some of the strange things I saw today.

1. A large glass jar filled with plastic doll heads (and only the heads)
2. What looked like a book of landscape photographs with the title Photographs for Men. I didn't want to see what made the photographs specifically for men.
3. A very large painting of two very naked ladies (which surprised me as I walked around a corner)
4. The aforementioned eel and baby alligator bags

Now, as to the display that caused my stomach to turn...apparently one of the contributors to this particular antique mall has a fascination with taxidermy. Normally, I find this a little weird, but it's not a big deal. This collection, however, had taxidermy baby animals posed in strange ways - there was a ninja hedgehog complete with mini ninja stars and two ducklings driving toy race cars.

My attention was caught and I looked a little closer at the collection. One of the displays had a bunch of glass jars (not uncommon in an antique store), but as I examined them further, I realized that it was a wet specimen collection - you know, animals/animal parts hanging out in formaldehyde. Now, I've taken plenty of science classes, I've dissected a frog, and I'm not too terribly squeamish about stuff these kinds of things, but this was different. What got me was the little signs attached to each of the jars telling potential buyers about the animal/animal part inside the jar:

This is Mary. She's a baby possum. Who doesn't love a marsupial that can hang from her tail? Mary came to us after she was born by C-section to a mother who had been hit by a truck. Baby possums can not live without their mother, so she was preserved. She would make a great addition to anyone's collection.

Have you ever wanted to own your own three blind mice? Well now you can! These three mice...

This is where I stopped reading and got a little sick and decided it was time to go. There was just something too cheeky about the notes talking about these dead preserved animals that rubbed me the wrong way.

Now, I'm back home with a pile of new books from the library and a slightly queasy stomach. Hopefully a nice cup of tea and zoning out in the pages of a book will help.

On a side note, this was possibly my last truly free daycare freedom day for a while (depending on which class I get assigned this coming quarter). I will be spending part of my last two daycare freedom days getting professionally developed at work next week (and by that I mean attending two staff meeting - one all faculty, and one department), and then class begins the week after that. Summer break sure goes fast!

Stay tuned though, I've still got my hooded infinity scarf pattern coming up!

Monday, September 9, 2013

It's been a while...

Things have been busy around here. Since the last time I posted, here's what has been going on...

1. My husband and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. Five down, seventy-ish left to go!

2. I made a blanket - simple, three strands of worsted weight yarn held together and a very large hook, ch 53, dc in 4th ch from hook, dc across, ch 3 (counts as first dc), turn and continue until it is the length you want. For the ombre effect, I used 11 different colors, laid out from darkest to lightest I started with the three darkest, and after three rows I switched out the darkest color for the next lightest one in the line. I continued this until I was using the three lightest colors, and then I started adding the darker colors back in. If I was going to make this again, I would use a hdc stitch, the holes are too big and my toes get stuck. I love how the colors are rather Seahawks-ish. Go Hawks!

3. I made a hooded infinity scarf. Pattern to come later - check back! It will probably also end up in my Etsy store at some point, because I'm kind of in love with it. I'm looking forward to cooler weather so I can wear it!

4. We went on a mini vacation to Langley, BC (where I spent my first semester of college) and Birch Bay, Washington. We also stopped off at the Seattle Premium Outlet Mall in Quil Ceda, Blaine and Lynden. We went to Langley mainly so we could buy Elijah some Kinder Surprise Eggs (which are illegal to import into the US). He has found videos like this of people opening these eggs and he is obsessed with them. All day long he hands me various electronic devices asking "Eggs, Mama? Eggs? Please!" He thoroughly enjoyed his Kinder Egg experience and asks for more all the time. I'm a firm believer in indulging the things my kid is into - right now, trains and eggs. I don't get it, but I love giving him experiences like this.

5. We went to the Puyallup Fair (now the Washington State Fair) for some scones, animals and other fun things. Elijah even rode his first rides - a train with Mom, and a giant slide with Dad.


6. I made another simple cowl yesterday - I'm trying to use up all the bulk yarn in my stash from last year. I've got three more in queue. I have no idea what I'm going to do with all these scarves...but I'm experimenting with little scarf accessories like the star below.

 Whew! I told you it's been busy. Now, I've just got to finish up my laundry and I can spend the rest of naptime relaxing...or know, whatever! :)