Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey do

There are constant games of this going on in my house. One child immitating the other (or more likely trying to play with the same toy as the other).

But it's funny how it happens. It isn't always the little one trying to immitate the older one. Often Nikki will jump in right along side James to play with him (or take the toy away from him).

The other night I got this photo:

Originally taken with the thought of e-mailing it off to the grandparents so they can see one of James' current favorite activities. Little man like to be standing.

Once Nikki saw me taking pictures of her brother she walked right over and stood the same way he was.

Kids just crack me up sometimes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Gone fishing

This past weekend, I met my sister and sister-in-law for a spa overnight in Groton — a day and night with no children.
Childless for me, since I am the only one with kids.
It’s something a mother never quite gets used to — not having to buckle in a little guy in the car seat, not packing juices, portable snacks and toys, not having to reach for a tiny hand to cross the street.
I sat in a jacuzzi for the first time — hot, frothy water gurgling neck-deep; reading the rules posted at eye-level: "no more than 15 people" (??), "don’t go in alone" (doing exactly that), "take a shower with soap beforehand" (oops!) — and promptly removed myself after succumbing to guilt after just five minutes.
Next to the pool. I was the only one of the three who packed a swimsuit (a mom thing), so I did a few lazy laps then treaded water, watching the clock tick slowly past 12:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon and the whole area was empty save for me, even though the sign indicated it was "family swim" time.
A pedicure, then manicure, listening to two women discover their son and daughter attended the same school in Boston ("What a small world!") and a trio of co-workers catching up on gossip ("Linda left her husband." Immediate chorus of gasps, then, "Poor Linda!" I countered with "Poor Linda’s husband!" They didn’t reply.)
Dinner at Olio’s in Groton, then drinks at Margarita’s.
Back at the hotel by 9:15 p.m.
"Law and Order: Criminal Intent."
Asleep by 10 p.m.
Awaken Sunday, shockingly late for me — at 7:56 a.m.
Best night’s sleep in more than 10 years.
Don’t tell the boys.

Friday, January 25, 2008

baby knits

This weekend is the shower for my sister in law. And I spent the last few weeks furiously knitting away to get some projects done. In the end I think I've managed to cobble together a cute little layette.

I just hope the momma to be agrees.

We have a little sweater, and given that the baby is supposed to arrive in mid-March it is little. I figured the newborn size would get some use and I wouldn't guess wrong at to how fast and how much baby might grow over the summer. A matching hat to keep her head warm.
And I have to admit I'm in love with the little knit MaryJanes. A really easy project with some serious awwww factor. I think the pair took me less than 4 hours to churn out.

Then given that I still had some yarn left I made a little toy -- just the right size for a small pint to hold and cuddle.

All of which took a little less than 2 skeins of Caron Simply Soft.

However, the gift I love the most isn't the one which I knit. My grandmother started making feather and fan stitch baby blankets years ago as her nieces and nephews began having children. And she continues making them now for a second generation of babies.

In some cases they are done in white for a Christening blanket, in others varigated yarn. Occassionally they go to people outside of our family -- I've asked for them for my nieces and for my best friend's children.

I also make my grandmother slightly insane with the colors I ask her to do. There was sage green for my best friend's daughter (and now a slate blue for her son). For my own son I requested a bright red. Gram thought I lost my mind. Red for a baby blanket.

(In my defense for everyone thinking "why would you choose red?" The quilt I made for him is primary colors and the fabric I used to re-cover the rocking chair (which has rocked 4 generations of babies to sleep) was a navy blue and red plaid. Trust me in his nursery it works.)

For my sister-in-law it was done in the same varrigated yarn as the rest of the layette. I hope it serves my niece well through childhood, and when she outgrows it I hope it gets put away for her own children to use and love.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Baby weight goes away

I subscribe to the nine months up, nine months down theory to losing baby weight. In other words it takes you nine months to put on the weight, so you should give yourself at least nine months to take it off.

I also happen to be lucky -- I lose the bulk of the baby weight rather quickly after giving birth. With both of my pregnancies I put on the suggested 25 to 35 pounds and with both I lost the first 15-20 pounds by the time I returned to work from my six-weeks of maternity leave.

Unfortunately after my daughter that was all the weight I lost. So during my pregnancy with my son the scale was pushing 200 pounds at the

Talk about an ego bruiser.

I made a resolution to myself at that point that not only was the weight from James coming off, but so was that 10 pounds from Nikki.

James is now 6.5 months and according to the scale at my parents house - I've officially lost the weight I put on while pregnant with him. So now it's onto that infamous last ten pounds.

Learning that I lost the weight set me to thinking about why it was easier this time than it was with Nikki. A couple of things occured to me.

First, I'm still breastfeeding. With Nikki because of medical complications I had to stop at 6 weeks.

Second, when the newspaper's offices moved from our corner on Main and Union to the Main Street Market building the vending machines didn't come with us. Now if I want something to drink (and don't want to leave the office), water is my only option. The only snacks easily available are those I pack. There's no chocolate calling my name from a few feet away.

That doesn't mean the building doesn't have temptations -- on the first floor is a fantastic bakery (I allow myself one indulgence a week), a restuarant and a grocery store. Granted the last two contain some pretty healthy options, but it's always possible to overeat.

Third, there's four flights of stairs to climb. I'm trying to walk it at least once a day (my New Year's resolution).

How are you doing on you New Year's resolutions?

Monday, January 14, 2008

The great unifier

For Christmas, my 4-year-old got a dry-erase marker book that includes pictures of animal babies one one side and their adult versions on the other. The task is to draw a line, matching the pairs.
In our home, basketball is the great unifier — between mother and son, brother and brother, father and son. There are a handful of things that interest us all together — besides pizza — and the great game of hoops is at the forefront.
This occurred to me Saturday night, as T was winding down before bed with a little game of soft hoop in his bedroom. B was away for the night and his over-the-door hoop suddenly appealed to the 4-year-old. I had discovered the soft plastic basketball on a reconnaissance mission to retrieve T’s two Matchbox cars high at the top of an 8-foot bookcase, flung there in fury.
So, this 4-foot-tall, 40-pounder was repeatedly lobbing the ball upward toward an impossibly high hoop. Mom was implored to "watch," but cautioned against cheering or making disrupting noises. Offers to lower the hoop to a respectible height were refused.
That sentiment is echoed at B’s games, when mom is glared at if she even thinks about hugging him in congratulations. After all, the guys are looking. High-fives are, however, permitted.
B’s games have been fast and furious, since his Parks and Recreation and elementary school leagues have converged with practices. My January-into-February calendar is a veritable Basketball Nation.
There hasn’t been much up until now that captures the attention of both boys, since their ages span more than six years. But in the driveway and in the bedroom, both can play basketball, though it isn’t long before a fight erupts, and mom or dad is drafted to umpire the dispute.
When B plays games, T is known to scream out in his Chipmunk voice, "Go, B! Go, B!" even when B is on the bench. His enthusiasm knows little bounds.
Ah, the mystery of the Y chromosome.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The dreaded phone call

Every mother who works outside the home knows that sinking feeling. The phone on your desk at work rings and the voice on the other end say "Hi Mrs. X, this is the nurse at xyz school. Your child is in my office sick."

And then the mad scramble ensues. Which parent can rearrange their schedule to miss the remainder of the day at work (and of course the following day as well) and get to the school the quickest to pick up the child.

I got that phone call yesterday. Nikki had thrown up at school and was running a little fever. This time it was easy. My husband is off on Thursdays, so he could pick her up. And we're extremely fortunate in that we have a wide variety of hours we can work in the newspaper business so often accomondating a sick child is as easy as coming in extra early and leaving extra early so that the other parent can go into their job.

We're also blessed to have my parents living near by and they are often willing to give us a helping hand when we need it.

So my husband picked her up from school and once they got home he took her temp again. There was no fever. And she never showed any other sign of illness last night or all day today.

The mysteries of being four.

Nikki and my husband enjoyed their "sick day" this morning, after all memories are sometimes best created while in pajamas.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Little Boy Blue

It's a wonder this little boy's sock every was finished. And alas, T has two feet, so to avoid the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome, I've begun ribbing a second.

Notice the handicraft, the freeform design, incorporating a never-before-attempted seed stitch!
One would imagine witnesses would fall upon the floor in disbelief that such perfection was achieved in a house with a pair of cunning rugrats.
But darned if those kids don't foil my every attempt to knit a few more rows.
T has taken to grabbing my tiny project and running around the house, trailing a rapidly unraveling ball behind him - when he wants my attention.
B has a more studied approach when he's piqued. He'll commandeer my craft bag, threatening to dispose of it in some barbaric fashion unless I say "yes" to whatever I've disallowed.
All of which makes me more determined than ever to soldier on.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

pink beaded glory

For severals months I kept seeing the advertisement for a little bit of wonderment in various knitting magazines. Just before Christmas I walked into The Yarn Garden in Meriden seeking some buttons for cardigans I knit for Nikki and my best friend's daughter.

The store had several other people in it, so while the owner was busy I wandered about, and touched, and dreamed. At one point I wandered back up toward the cash register and in a basket there it was. Dusty rose sparkling up at me. I couldn't contain the gasp, but I did manage to stop myself from squeeing outloud.

My little bit of beaded heaven.

Thankfully my sister in law is expecting a baby girl in March, so I actually could knit this up with a purpose. And this is one of those projects that while it's being knit to give away -- it was done for selfish reasons. I just had to knit this.

I think even if I didn't have a baby girl to knit this for that the yarn and pattern would have come home with me -- to be stashed and saved for some future child.

Now for those of you who care about particulars the yarn is Tilli Tomas Flurries (100% Austrailian Merino wool with glass beads) and the pattern is the Tilli Tomas Baby Beanie. It's a really simple project - the hardest part is getting all the beads to the right side of the hat after it's finished.

It's a quick sparkly bit of knitting goodness.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Let sleeping boys lie

To envision it now is an anomaly. B waking up at 4 a.m., that is. Which is what happened six years ago, on Christmas morning.
B, 4 years old at the time and obviously powered by never-exhausted preschool fuel, arose at said ungodly hour and, depite the obvious darkness outside, proceeded to run insanely around the apartment, footsteps pounding the wood floors, whooping and ripping the wrapping paper off every single present under the tree.
Our landlady, who lived directly below, was furious.
We were furious.
It's cute in hindsight and in the retelling, it's even hilarious, now part of our curious family lore.
I recalled this mental video clip recently as, for the 1,000th school morning, I tried to get that same boy to wake up in time for fifth grade.
Since September, 10-year-old B has been unable to rise in time to get ready for class.
I've tried the preparation route. I set his breakfast cereal on the table in the evening, along with his clothes for the next day. His book bag is packed with snack, lunch and homework. Coat and hat hung by the door. Sneakers out.
School starts at 9:05 a.m., which means we leave the house at 8:55 a.m.
Mom's "time to wake up!" begins at 7:45 a.m. and again every 5 minutes after that, increasing in pitch from gentle-reminder to steam-exploding-from-the ears, head-popping-off.
8, 8;30, even 8:45 a.m. pass with B barely stirring.
Wednesday, he arrived at school at 9:15 a.m.
Last night, B suggested he dress in his school clothes the night before.
I suggested he eat breakfast before going to bed.
This morning, B left my car at 9:06 a.m., half-running (only at my urging) down the school driveway, coat flaps aflutter, sneaks untied, sweatshirt unzipped. In 1-degree weather.
I watched as he got smaller and smaller, approaching the door, then stopped to remove his hat before going inside.
Tomorrow morning, I'm aiming high: hoping to shave a minute off his arrival by having B sleep in his sneakers.
Plan B: match under the smoke alarm.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Socks 101

Today is the first day of the New Year. Coincidentally, I completed my sock project late last night.
My husband was sifting through his old newspapers and T was noisily playing with his Matchbox cars. "SNL in the '90s" was on the television and periodically my husband and I would turn our attention to Chris Farley's or Will Ferrell's antics and laugh uproariously.
I arrived at the final stretch -- the kitchener stitch. Naturally, T chose that moment to jump on me, miming knitting with two green Tinker Toys: "Hey, I'm an old gramma! I'm knitting!"
That was funnier than the TV show.
I managed to finish the sock without fanfare, although a pair that takes three months to knit really deserves at least fireworks.
11 1/2 inches from heel to toe: they were a Christmas gift for my husband; only a week late.
I told him to make sure his toenails were clipped.
He pulled off his thread-bare oatmeal-colored woolen socks and pulled the new ones on.
They fit perfectly.
I was elated.
He took them off without a word and pulled back on his wool socks, saying, "What are they made of? They aren't as warm as these socks."
So much for fanfare.
Still, I can revel in the fact today that I completed the world's longest sock project at the crest of the New Year.
Today it's corn fiber and nylon Maizy yarn in Sailor Blue. This next pair is for T, who will surely wear the heck out of them.
Happy New Year.