cocoa purl

Chocolate Covered Misadventures (knitting, childrearing, surviving) of a Passable Mind

To the Exclusion of Everything Else June 29, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — cocoapurl @ 3:31 pm

I tend to be a bit of an extremist when it comes to “projects” (I know, Mom and Dad – no news there). For some reason I get it in my head that if I can’t go all the way with something, or be really good at it, I shouldn’t do it at all, and I lose interest. Fast. Casualties of this philosophy include: my photography, knitting projects (I’m never gonna give up the number of UFOs I have), housecleaning, exercise – you get the idea.

I’ve come to realize that this approach is, well – stupid. Its a recipe for disaster and usually has the added benefit of making me feel like a failure. And so here I sit, in a house with a sparkling upstairs bathroom but an inch of dust and dog hair everywhere else, writing this instead of doing those things that I should do. But there’s a method at work here – I’m giving myself a good (public) kick in the pants.

And the first item on the agenda: exercise. Lately I’ve been pretty irritated with myself for allowing my weight to go up while my fitness has gone WAY down. So three weeks ago, I found a site called “Couch to 5K” that intrigued me. Running has never been my favorite thing to do in terms of exercise – in fact, it ranks right up there with going to the dentist – but its always done wonders for my body, and fast (at least it did when I was 21.). And this program promised a slow steady progression – literally from the couch (which is exactly where I was at the time) to being able to run 5K.

And so I was DOING it – every other day I would run/walk for 25 minutes (according to the training program), and I was feeling pretty good. Great, in fact. And my right knee, my cantankerous Achilles Heel that had all of its cartilage removed in the second of two surgeries, was not protesting at all.

And then I got a cold. Not a big one, but it coincided with going out to Albany to celebrate Tori’s B-day, and the next thing you know –

Its ten days later, and I haven’t stepped foot on the treadmill. And yesterday, I was coming dangerously close to packing it in, using that old standby – I’m not doing it well, so what’s the point in doing it at all?

See what I mean? Stupid.

But today’s a new day. I’m turning this around. In the immortal words of Susan Powter (remember her?) “Stop the Madness”! (Wow – she’s scares me more than I remember).

And one of the purposes of writing all this down in a fairly public way, is to state this as my goal. I figure that if its just me holding myself accountable, then I can walk away without much fuss. Whereas if I announce this as my goal here on the blog, then hey presto! The REST of you can give me a kick in the patootie if I lapse again. Right? At the very least, it provides me with the sense of potential public humiliation – as good a motivator as I’ve ever heard of.

I’m off – the treadmill calls. Wish me luck!

CPS

 

C’mon Baby, Do the Locomotion June 20, 2008

Filed under: adventures,BG,knitting,Uncategorized — cocoapurl @ 10:39 pm

Racecars, boats, trains, trucks, motorcycles, even dirigibles. All boys LOVE locomotion.

This father’s day weekend was all about locomotion. We went to the Poconos this weekend to redeem BG’s raincheck for his stockcar driving lesson (warning – very annoying web site) that we (me and pretty much our entire extended family) got him for our anniversary/his birthday. The weather held out, though we were a bit nervous given the little lightning bolt icon that came up when we checked local weather Saturday morning.

This time around it was a little different atmosphere – being the day before Dad’s day, there were lots of families that treated their respective “Dad’s”, mostly to rides. Slightly less testosterone than the last time, but I had my Koigu sock with me – as good an estrogen shield as any. A purple, green and yellow handmade sock is a fine antidote for sitting in the pit of Pocono International Speedway. Which, by the way, matched the purple car that BG drove just so, though I kept that to myself at the time.

If you look closely, you can see the whites of his teeth.

And while I didn’t make it to my local WWKIP in Rochester, I represented at the speedway. I’m pretty sure I was the only one there. But who knows – maybe the tough-guy drivers, instructors and pit guys were sitting in the trailer in their badass fireproof jumpsuits, knitting away on some socks and debating the pros and cons of dpn’s and circulars. Not likely. But the mental image amuses me to no end.

Not too many men can pull of a bright red, white and blue jumpsuit. But even dudes are checking him out.

As for how he liked it, I give you exhibit A:

Clearly he didn’t have any fun. At ALL.

I asked him as we were leaving how his back dealt with it all (I was afraid to even mention how he was going to twist his three herniated disks into that car, Dukes of Hazzard style. You’d think for $120,000 they could afford door handles. Or even DOORS.) His answer: “My back?”

On Sunday, we went out on the Colonial Belle, a local canal boat that does tours down the Erie Canal. It was a great day – they had a guitarist on board, who, in addition to lovely canal-touring ditties, also did a fab rendition of the Gilligan’s Island theme (which is still in my head, unfortunately) and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”. (He had some ghost karaoke-style backup singers doing the ba-ba-ba‘s, but I couldn’t seem to locate them. Did I mention they had a full bar on the boat?)

The captain was a great guide, and pointed out all sorts of areas of interest and points of history. BG and LG had hot dogs, BG got a beer, mom-in-law had a margarita – good times. LG wasn’t completely enthralled, but tolerated the 1.5 hours of relative inactivity fairly well. His high points included going under the bridges (he has a bit of a thing for bridges – and ones that raise up? Forget it. He loses his mind.) and spotting the high tension wires.

And, dutiful historian of family activities that I am, I FORGOT THE CAMERA. Dumbass.

Over the course of the weekend, I finished one Jaywalker, out of previously mentioned purple Koigu, literally by a nose. Or a toe. I was getting very nervous as my remaining yarn ball got smaller and smaller. I kept holding it up to BG in an effort to use his spatial soothsaying abilities to give me some sense of things – will I finish the sock? Should I put in a contrasting toe? And where can I find Koigu in northeastern Pennsylvania? He was no help, but I managed to finish the sock. I think it was because I knitted faster and faster as I got to the toe – I hear that helps.

Will I make it?

Must knit faster…Hey! Are those caution cones ahead? Oh, wait, that’s just my toes.

I’m feeling the urge to cast on another big(ger) project still – I have a slew of Debbie Bliss Silk Aran burning a hole in my stash that I got on sale at Knit n’ Purl’s going out of business sale. I’ve been thinking (still) about Something Red, but I may go with Sprout instead. I’m not completely sure about the cables, though – they strike me as a little out of place. So basically, I’m still deciding to make a decision. I’m feeling a little flush with victory from the CPH – a pretty dangerous thing, as I’m even thinking of trying Lace Ribbon. Again.

Lace Ribbon

Lace Ribbon – so pretty, but I don’t know that my attention span and lace are compatible.

Happy Father’s Day to my BG, and to my Dad. Thank goodness for Dads. Who better to teach about how that liftbridge actually raises up, or why you probably shouldn’t somersault off the couch (they speak from experience). BG is a combination of good cop, explainer of all things, kisser of booboo’s (the bumps, not the dog. At least, not very often – BooBoo’s oral hygiene is questionable), giver of bear hugs, and builder of the best train tracks. Not to mention that he plays endless rounds of CandyLand, changes poopy diapers (level 4 toxicity), cleans the litter box and even the dogs’ late night gastric emissions from ill-conceived “snacks”, and watches the Do the Alphabet video AGAIN even though This Old House is on. All without complaint. (OK, maybe the diapers evokes a fairly dramatic grimace and a shudder.) Thanks, sweetie – you’re the best.

And while I’m sure my sister and I were such angels that discussions of gravity vs. us were not required, I thought I’d say: Thanks, Dad – not only for keeping the number of visits to the emergency room down, but for helping to make us into decent, law-abiding citizens. Who also know the merits of carburetors vs. throttle body injection – an important life skill.

And to my Mom and stepmom and mom-in-law – it goes without saying you rock! I neglected to give you a blog shout-out on Mom’s day. Sorry about that. So much for the “decent citizen” part – you did what you could with what you had to work with. On the upside, I comb my hair regularly, floss, and eat all of my broccoli. I even take a vitamin. Usually. And I’m doing my very best to make the world a nicer place, and raise my boy to do the same. But I just can’t bring myself to wear pantyhose/knee-highs. Or eat beets. They’re just gross.

You all have a pair of pretty hand-knit socks with your names on them. See, you DID raise me right.

CPS

 

File Under: What Was I Thinking? June 9, 2008

Filed under: adventures,crafts,knitting,LG — cocoapurl @ 9:21 pm

Ever get caught up in the moment? Your heart pounds with anticipation, excitement, and a touch of fear, and that inner voice tells you, “Go for it! What have you got to lose?”

I’m old enough that I ought to take this voice as a warning. Otherwise, I end up with this:

What Was I Thinking?

Maybe it was a reaction to the giddiness of the summer’s first pedicure. Maybe it was the acetone fumes. It seemed so cute and summery in the bottle, and yet somehow, on me, it’s like I have caution cones on my feet. The photo doesn’t do it justice. They glow in the dark, or it sure seems that way.

Other than my personal fashion setbacks, I’ve had a fabulous week in knitting news. I FINALLY finished the Central Park Hoodie for Tori:

Central Park Hoodie

Needles: US 7 / 4.5 mm
Yarn: Cascade Ecological Wool
How much? 2.5 skeins = 1195.0 yards (1092.7m)
Colorway = 8063 (“Latte”)

I was pretty darn proud of myself. My first REAL sweater (not counting Green Gables, or the Baby Kimono Sweater, or Dean’s Sweater that Shall not Be Named. Okay, maybe not my FIRST FIRST sweater, but first fully successful sweater), with set-in sleeves (not fun), picked up button band (not fun until I found out the whole 3 out of 4 rule, then it was a snap!), and its not gimoungous. Its a little small for me, but that’s okay, because its for Tori, who is about half my size. I sure hope it fits her, or maybe it could be a cozy, lounge-about sweater. How’s that for rationalization?

A bit part of the CPH’s success was the pattern itself – it was so well-written, even I could follow it. The only modifications I made were to make it a couple of inches longer in both the body and the sleeves, and no buttonholes – I’ll add loops if she wants some, but am just praying she doesn’t want a zipper. I don’t want to push my luck.

Central Park Hoodie

In other knitting/fiber news, I took my first spinning class last Saturday, at Village Yarn and Fiber Shop in East Rochester. I was ridiculously excited to go, so much so that I was EARLY (and I’m NEVER early. Ask anyone). I’ve been thinking about it ever since going to my first Finger Lakes Fiber Festival last fall and seeing all that glorious roving and the resulting handspun. It wasn’t so much that I was interested in the process, in all honestly, as the product – sooo pretty. Not only that, but its an economical way to feed a yarn habit – you can get a pound of gorgeous handpainted roving for 30 bucks. That’s nearly a sweater!

There is a catch, though – I’ve never been one known for my coordination. I can hardly carry on a conversation and drive a car, much less treadle with my feet while my hands are supposed to be doing something different. And if I’m expected to talk and behave like a normal social creature all the while – invitation to disaster.

So it was a mix of excitement and trepidation that I went to my first class, and sure enough, my hands and feet steadfastly refused to listen to instruction (Deb’s or mine) for the first hour or so. The Louet wheel I was using was cooperative enough, but I couldn’t seem to avoid the mega-twisties (for lack of a better description), in which the yarn formed little twists that stuck out like dreadlocks all over the bobbin. So while most everyone else had lovely, delicately twisted yarn with just enough variation to look organic and homey, and I had dread yarn. NOT the goal.

I’ve come to terms with my lack of coordination many many moons ago (somewhere about the time when, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t hit the damn baseball even though it was sitting motionless on top of the T) but this was upsetting, as I started to get the feeling that I could REALLY like spinning. I LIKED feeling the wool in my fingers, treadling barefoot (Deb assured me that it counted as aerobic exercise, and politely ignored my garish toenails) and watching it literally and magically transform into yarn.

Just about the point where I resigned myself to the fact that it was going to take me a LOT longer than my classmates to get it (“Do you have a remedial spinning class?”), Deb told me to adjust my tension a bit (the little doojiggy in front of the orifice).

{Cue Hallelujah chorus}

Suddenly, wonderful, thin, even yarn started coming out of my hands. I can’t describe how cool it was – clearly, I’m easily amused, but it was just so ….COOL. I had a few hiccups whenever I stopped to get more roving, and had to remind myself to breathe, but I DID it. The downside is that when I went to ply, it meant I had to ply my Bob Marley single with my heavenly, even single, but that’s okay. I like to think its organic.

My first handspun!

So I’m now thinking about a wheel of my own. Ahh, but money is always the issue – these things are NOT cheap, unfortunately (how do I always DO this? Why can’t I come up with cheap hobbies?). Since bake sales or a “Buy Christye a Wheel” walk-a-thon are probably out of the question, I started to eyeball the giant kitty litter bucket full of change we have in our closet. I was thinking MAYBE fifty bucks out of it, and that would be a great start, like found money, right? Nick and I took two coffee cans worth to Wegmans this morning (they have one of those Coinstar machines that you just dump it into) and we walked out with $150. Dollars. I guess its a good thing I never tried to guess the M&Ms in the jar or anything, because I’m apparently lousy at it. But free money! Its a sign – the wheel will be mine.

The Louet is okay, but I’ve read that you should try as many wheels as you can before you buy. I’ve been scouting eBay and craigslist too, just in case I can score a bargain.

I’ve also been threatening to have a yard sale for awhile – this seems as worthy a goal to clean out my clutter, and our Scoop Away bucket of change, as any.

Cursed Koigu

My precious Koigu yarn, so pretty and yet so cursed, has finally agreed to be knitted into a sock pattern. One that fits my foot. I must have started and ripped and started again 6 times. First with one pattern – didn’t like it with the yarn. Then with another, and another. Then finally a good pattern (Jaywalker)- but I got all the way to the heel flap before I realized it was TOO SMALL – I couldn’t even get it over my foot. Finally the right pattern/needle combo: There’s a reason why Jaywalker is such a hit. It really shows the colors to their advantage, but is simple enough to warrant not-too-much concentration. Good for watching “Lost” or to distract from “War“.

In Nick news, he finally worked up the courage to go through the sprinkler.

Nick and the Sprinkler

Nick and the Sprinkler

Wet Boy

I miss the elbow dimples, but what a little man he is. A cheeky monkey, too.

CPS

 

Happy Birthday Tori! June 6, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — cocoapurl @ 2:57 pm


100_2836

Originally uploaded by sisson_christye

In the interest of equal opportunity public humiliation, we present the Sisson Family singers. Sort of. We’re no VonTrapps, but what we lack in talent, we make up with, well – I’m not exactly sure what it is.

We love you, Tori! Happy Happy Birthday. We’ll see you soon!

Love,

Christye, Dad, and Nick (and of Yogi and BooBoo, who were our soundcheck/roadies. They did a fabulous job, and are currently enjoying a greenie for their trouble. Monkey and Stinky also send their hairy love.)

 

Happy Big Three June 5, 2008

Filed under: kid's stuff,LG,rambling — cocoapurl @ 8:23 pm

Dear Nick –

Its that time again – time for me to collate the mental files for the last year and chronicle this, your third year (technically, it was your second – but that whole 21 century thing, while logical, just never sounded right given its not 2100).

Birthday Cupcakes

You’ve officially crossed the line from toddler to preschooler/little boy.

Yesterday, you were decked out in your shorts (with new longer skinny little legs), sunglasses (Crayola, of course), red Converse all-stars, and your new airplane watch. (Nothing transforms a little kid into a bigger kid than a watch). While it is extremely difficult in these sorts of instances to not grab you up and give you about a million kisses on your not-so-chubby neck, all the while telling you how painfully cute and grown up you are, I restrained myself with no small effort Instead, I told you that I loved you, and that I was so proud of what a big boy you have become. You told me you loved me back (I figure I have another year or so until I get the eye roll as it relates to Mommy being sappy) and returned to your “Hey, Pancakes!” book. Did I mention you were sitting on your potty at the time? Sigh.

Your latest thing is to ask me how to spell everything: while I love this from a developmental/learning point of view, it always seems to be at its height before I’ve had coffee. Spelling “refrigerator” is WAY more difficult from this perspective. (Also challenging: garbage disposal, marsupial, and chalkboard, for some dumb reason. It has, however, made me spelling bee-ready. Amorphous? Bring it on.)

Your sense of humor has also seemed to come into its own – you’ve become quite the teller of jokes (except you usually crack up before getting to the punch line). But as I’ve said before, neither I or your Dad have any illusions regarding the sophistication of our own humor – if it falls or flatulates (is that a word?), its funny. And nothing makes your Dad giggle like a schoolgirl than the scene in Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery, of MiniMe beating the cr*p out of Austin. Like I said, you don’t have much to work with.

But back to your favorite jokes, such as the following:

“What is a ghost’s favorite dessert? BOOO-berry pie”!

“How does the ocean say hello? It gives a WAVE!”

At which point you collapse into a riff of what can best be described as Cleatus-inspired laughter. Or Roscoe P. Coltrane, depending on your generation.

Not content to deliver your lines without your own creative twist, however, the original joke is usually then re-delivered with noun in the punchline replaced with “poop”. Or “poopy-head”. Or “tooty-head”. I know not what is this thing that attracts and amuses young boys (and let’s face it – all boys/men) to anything rear end-related. Its like a hard-wired Y-linked funny button. If you don’t believe me, walk into a room full of people, and say “FART!” at the top of your lungs. Then check to see who’s smiling. It’s not the women.

Teenager Flashforward

I do admit at being enormously and completely proud of all that you can DO now, even though you tell me all the time, “Don’t be proud of me!”. (But you dressed yourself! I can’t help grinning like an idiot!) I also know that you’re both sensitive (to the point of mind-reading, see previous sentence) AND stubborn – which are two characteristics I have mixed feelings about having passed on to you. Though the stubbornness can pay off in the form of terrier-like tenacity, and the sensitivity is already making you into a kind and generous little boy. You’re pretty giving with your affections, and are even showing Yogi (your nemesis!) a little love now every so often. You bring BooBoo his ball when you think “he looks sad”. It also, however, confuses the heck out of you when another kid yells at you, or is mean to you. And your little quivering chin breaks my heart, because I know there’s more to come. And that it will be HARD. And that there’s not a thing I can do to help, other than hug you when you need it.

The stubbornness is evidenced by the whole resistance to the potty thing, but I keep telling myself that you will be going on the potty by the time you’re twelve. I hope. All I know is that you’re already in “Goodnights” (the diapers for big kids who wet the bed sometimes) full time, because at 46 lbs and 48 inches tall, you’re a wee bit big for the Pull-ups/diapers anymore (they only go up to 5T). Pretty soon we’ll be using Depends.

You’ve become quite social lately, especially with the ladies. And I do mean ladies. The other day you asked our waitress if she liked your sneakers. And at the grocery store yesterday, you stuck your face nearly between the scanner and the cashier trying to catch her eye with a smile. Your subtle moves crack me up, mostly because you’re willing to share just about any and all information (“I’m three! I have four engines! I need a diaper change! I like boobies!”) except your name. At that point, you become “shy”. Somehow, shyness didn’t prevent you from entertaining the entire produce section at Wegmans with a spontaneous rendition of the I Love Boobies song (a Nick original, apparently). While I’m working on teaching you the meaning of the word appropriate, this lesson is not helped by the fact that I can’t really keep a straight face when trying to lecture you about time and place.

Brain Freeze be darned

Your favorite things at the moment (and have been for some time) are your books. Any books. All books. Library books, kid’s books, even Dog Training for Dummies. (The other day, you had pulled out Setting up an LLC, and were apparently riveted). Your current favorite books, in order of repetition, are Hey, Pancakes!, Harry the Dirty Dog, and Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar. That’s pretty much how you like to conduct your days – eat, get dirty, eat some more – preferably something sweet. Repeat.

One of my favorite things at the moment is our talks right before bed, after we’ve read at least three books, and you’re in your robot jammies. You’ve already run around and “gotten the junk out”, and are sitting, sometimes quietly, in my lap. Our nightly discussion of late has been what to dream about; last night, it was that you were going to build a rocket ship out of your crib and that giant box that your beanbag came in, you were going to Pluto, and you would make room for me and Daddy, and Tori (and even Yogi and BooBoo, but we would need to make spacesuits for them first). We discussed on how it was a really long trip, so you decided we needed plenty of snacks; a whole box of granola bars, M&M’s, and lots of juice boxes. The ones with the funny faces that they have at the grocery store (that I never let you get).

We’ll be getting you a big boy bed soon (another baby-hood relic you don’t seem too keen to let go) – that, with the giving up of the Paci (thank YOU, Paci Fairy!), sitting on the potty, the fact that you could now have a booster instead of a carseat, that REALLY you don’t need a booster in a restaurant – its all so much so fast. You are transforming so quickly into a little man that I can’t seem to easily let go of the baby that you were. But you remind me every day about how what a unique, brilliant, funny and kind little boy you are (and are growing into). And while I’m more and more nervous as you engage the world outside ours (and I’m less able to control what you see, what you hear, or what you experience), I know your good heart and sharp mind will serve you pretty well.

No caption required

I love you, big boy. Happy Three.

Love,

Mommy

P.S. I’m really sorry about the potty picture. If this is uncovered during a future gubernatorial campaign, you have my permission to declare me insane and tuck me away in some beachside villa where I can subject you to no further public embarrassment. But if anyone asks, you’ll always be my cutie-patootie.