Friday, July 29, 2011

Sea monkeys, ball games, rainy days

Earlier this year my Dad gave Chase a sea monkeys set because "every child should know the joy and experience of raising sea monkeys". Little did any of us know how serious Chase was going to take to them. It has been a great experience for Chase being able to watch them go through their life cycle. At any given time he had at least a dozen adult sea monkeys in the little tank.

 Monday night when Chase was taking care of me during my migraine storm, he had gone upstairs to get his quilt for me and accidentally knocked over his sea monkeys tank. I heard the crash, I heard the shriek of terror. I went for the stairs as he was coming down, shaking, sobbing. The tank had fallen and as Chase tearfully said “They’re all lost, Mom! All gone so fast!” he was shaking. Chase kept repeating that he would buy more, he had to have more, that he loved them so much. I took a moment to assess the situation of spilled sea monkeys and an extremely distraught Chase.

“Get me a medicine syringe from your medical supply kit.” I told Chase. Immediately I could see he was processing what I was planning on doing. We were now officially on a search and rescue mission. Chase refilled the tank with bottled water and I started to look over the spilled water on his desk. I spotted a small twitching mass and quickly sucked up the sea monkey (a female). Chase was thrilled. She went in the tank and swam around – a good sign we thought. I was done on my hands and knees looking over his floor (another time I am so thankful for hardwood floors), looking for any sign of movement. A second sea monkey (a male) I found on the top of a box barely moving. He was added to the tank with the female. We continued our search for half an hour at which time I declared this now a clean up mission (and my head was exploding by now). We cleaned everything up and went back downstairs, hoping that Adam and Eve (that’s what Chase decided to name the survivors) would make it through the night.

Sadly they did not. I had explained to Chase before he went to bed that having been spilled out of their tank and being sucked up into a syringe could be an extremely traumatic experience. I wanted to prepare him for the worst, and am glad that I had, even though he was just as upset in the morning when he saw they didn’t make it as he was when it first happened.

I am happy to report that replacement sea monkeys (along with water purifier and more food) arrived yesterday and he is prepping the tank to start again.


Wednesday evening, members of Steve’s barbershop group were joining another local chapter to sing the Star Spangled Banner at a Toledo Mud Hens game. I hadn’t been to a baseball game since seeing the Durham Bulls play many moons ago, and Chase and Steve had never been to a minor league team game before. As we were leaving the house to meet the other barbershoppers at the church before convoying down to Toledo, it started to rain. “Don’t worry,” I told Steve and Chase “I checked the weather map, and Toledo is going to be dry all night.” As soon as we crossed the state line into Ohio, the rain did stop.

The barbershoppers did a fantastic job. They sang to a crowd over almost ten-thousand people. The game itself was a blast. I think Steve and I were surprised that Chase wasn’t hoarse the next morning from all of his screaming and cheering on. Sadly, the Mud Hens lost to the Norfolk Tide in the end, but it was all so much fun. I told Steve I want to go again, especially on Jamie Farr bobblehead  night ;) (I love M*A*S*H!).

Great seats!

Happy fans!
As we were pulling out from the ball park, it started to sprinkle. And yes, as soon as we crossed back into Michigan, it was pouring. Twenty minutes from home the lightning was phenominal. I was wondering what we were driving into as it got worse and worse. As soon as we got home, we got Chase up to bed and I checked the weather. It was just a massive storm from trailing to the other side of the state. I laid in bed, awake past midnight, watching the lightning and listening to the thunder and the rain.

It kept raining. At three I woke and grumbled about how it still was raining. It stopped briefly around five when Steve got up to head to work, but by six it was starting up again. It was steady, but light, until about nine when Chase and I left my doctor’s office (at which point it was pouring). It continued to rain until after noon.

According to the news, areas around here got anywhere between three and six inches of rain. We got water in our basement (along with a few of our neighbors), and there was scattered power outages yesterday around town. I know the garden is ever so thankful for the soaking (as am  I). It started to storm again around three this morning and continued on until about eight. Now the sun is out and it’s looking like a good day ahead of us!


So what does one do during a rainy day? I would have lost myself in a good book if my head wasn’t bothering me (I was in tears by the time Chase and I got home from my appointment because my head hurt so much). After I rested for a bit, I decided Chase needed a craft project to keep him entertained.
A while ago I had a friend share a link for a rug you make using a hula hoop as a weaving frame and old cut up t-shirts. I have been stock piling shirts of Chase’s since then that he has outgrown just for this project. So we sat down together and looked over the directions and then I helped cut all of those strips for him.

I started the rug for him just to get him focused on the "under, over" of weaving. I think the big problem is I weave too tight (I do so even when basket weaving). Chase's rug turned more into a basket than a rug. I thought it would be fine to put little things in, but for whatever reason, Chase thinks it makes a fantastic hat. Whatever floats his boat, right? LOL

Still recycling!

This shirt has special meaning for us.

A stack of outgrown shirts turns into...

... Multicolored strips!

ready to start weaving

Finished product -- I think Sage was trying to figure out how to get his large body squished inside.
I offered to take it all apart and re-do it so the center wasn't so tight, but Chase absolutely refused (and I can see why he did -- he did work really hard on it). I hope he uses it as a basket for some of his smaller toys, however, instead of insisting on it being a hat.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - SouleMama

Joining in once again this Friday. Please visit SouleMama to see other wonderful moments. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday Yarn Along

Good morning and happy Wednesday! Today we join Ginny and all of the other great fiber artists in her weekly knitting and reading post. Stop by and join in the fun!

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? ~ Ginny

I decided last week to take a break from Chase's sweater and work on something quick, easy, and self-satisfying. It's probably a good thing because, even though I should have plenty of yarn to finish Chase's sweater, I keep eyeballing the last skein and doubt it will make a sleeve and the collar. I ordered one more skein today and am hoping the dye lots will be the same. I'm going to pick up the work on his sweater this week and knit until I can't knit anymore (or at least until the last skein arrives).

Anyway, I have wanted to make a few more cat toys for our fuzzies, my brother's cats, and also for Dale's kitty, Polli, who I am pet sitting this week. I decided since Chase is obsessed with gnomes (especially since many of them are popping up in his garden as of late), that I would make little gnomes. Then it just so happened that a fantastic gnome pattern was posted over at Plain and Joyful Living (thank you so much for the pattern!). I have a bunch of scrap yarn (much of ecowool) that I picked up from the LYS from their orphan bin. Not enough for a large project, but perfect for cat toys.

I made a test gnome first by following the pattern exactly. Chase quickly confiscated this gnome once it was decided it was too big for a cat toy. I decided to half the pattern and the size is just right for cat toys.

There are six gnomes in all (at this time) and each one is more accurate than the last. You see, I made the first cat test gnome (a male) and all was pretty right with the world. Then I made two more, both now with brown pants, blue top, red hat, plus with beards. Life was good. Then Chase, who was quietly watching me work said "But Mom, they're supposed to have wives." Oh. Right. Wives. So this is why three gnomes became six. The first wife gnome was dressed in blue (with matching blue hat) and had cute little braids. As I was finishing it up, I glanced at Chase and I just knew I was doing something wrong by the look on his face. "Mom, the girls don't dress like the boys." Oh. He dragged out his gnome book and stated "..they wear drab clothing as a way of protection." Gotcha. So the next girl gnome was made in drab (brown) colors. The third gnome, dressed in drab also was not done correctly according to Chase. He further explained pig-tailed braids were for single girls (married female gnomes have their hair hidden) and their hats are supposed to be green (the shade darkening depending on marriage). The braids were already attached, but I was able to make the correct color hat.

The most accurate set went to my brother (who also loves gnomes and is where the gnome interest in the family began when he was a baby), the next set (with slightly inaccurately dressed girl gnome) went to Napoleon (Polli) as a "Your momma will be home soon, but here are a couple of toys to console you with", and the last two are at home for our children.


It was hard to take a picture of them because Sage loves these toys. I had to snatch them out of the box Agent has been sleeping (and chewing on) to try and get pictures. This was my fifth attempt to get a picture without a massive paw sending a gnome across the table.

"My Precciiioooouuusss!" - seconds before he threw the gnome into the air.

Along with the light knitting week (company and all) it was also a light reading week. I did get to read She Went to the Field (which I picked up in Gettysburg) and enjoyed it. It's interesting how history classes in high school didn't cover the subject of women during the Civil War. When I took the Civil War history class last semester, there was an entire section dedicated to women and the Civil War and the role they played. Chase and I both devoured the course (it was online and all lectures were via DVD -- it's where he has picked up a good portion of his Civil War knowledge).

I also thought after Chase was so pointedly helpful with the proper dress of gnomes, I'd include his book with mine. Gnomes has been a family book since my brother was born. There is at least one picture of him as a newborn in his gnome sleeper with the copy of the book. Anyway, he gave Chase a copy of the book when Chase was young. It's one of Chase's go-to books when he is between other books and is looking for something to study.

Happy Knitting!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Beans, anyone?

This afternoon when Chase and I came home from the farmer's market, we wandered through our own garden to see how things are doing. Tomatoes? check -- growing bigger every day. Vine items? check -- starting to creep out of the boxes. Even the hot peppers that didn't seem to do too well shortly after planting have made a come back. I advised Chase that this week we are going to get the rest of the last box prepared for the cauliflower (our co-op said we can plant cauliflower seeds directly into the ground as late as August up here -- fantastic!).

The biggest (and happiest) surprise was when we checked on the beans to see how those little buds from last week were doing. Beans! We have beans!

We plucked twelve of those delicious morsels that Chase victoriously carried into the house. This was our first time growing beans (from seed, too) that made it to the garden (last year Jessica ate all of our seedlings down to nothing). I washed them, then ate a few. They are delicious! I love raw green beans (Chase is waiting for more that I can cook).

Finally after all our hard work, we're starting to see some results.


I'm going to take a moment today to write about headaches/migraines because, well, for the past eleven days I have been developing a headache during the day. Sometimes, they'll go away with a two Advil. Other days (like Friday, and last night) they bloom into full blown migraines.

I am so tired of this.

I started getting headaches when I was around eight. I remember the first migraine clearly. My father was being transferred to North Carolina from Massachusetts and we were down for a week house hunting. I remember my head hurting so much when I woke up. My mom had given me some Tylenol at the time and her sunglasses to wear while we sat in a dimly lit hotel restaurant for breakfast.

Headaches, for the most part, I can tolerate. They may be a nuisance, but I try to just medicate and get through the day. Sometimes they go away easily. Other times they get worse. Migraines, on the other hand, start severe and become extreme.

The last doctor I saw wanted to prescribe anti-depressants for the migraines. I refused to take them. She was upset at me because I refused to and since then I decided she was not the doctor for me (plus I never felt comfortable in her office -- like I was always being judged). My theory is that there is an underlying cause for the headaches/migraines. She just wanted to write a script and go from there.

Did she care about the fact my B12 is low? Or the fact I am apparently severely anemic? Not really. After she finally did some bloodwork at my pleading (to confirm the above which I kind of already knew) she told me to take B12 (which I am doing) and iron supplements. I asked her if I could do a low dose of iron to start because the last time I was on prescribed iron, it felt like my gut was on fire (imagine driving the snowy mountains of West Virginia with a fire in your belly, no place to pull off and silently praying to please get to a rest stop safely and quickly). She didn't care about past experiences. It was "Order these iron pills and take them and the anti-depressants and you'll feel like a brand new person.". That's when I thanked her for her time and didn't come back.

Dale suggested I take feverfew tincture for the head pain and for a while now it seems to have reduced the severity and helped in getting past them more easily. But I have no idea what has happened lately that is triggering them. I recently had my eyes checked (before all of this started again) and my vision is fine (no eye strain, etc). I'm drinking the same amount of coffee each day, haven't started/stopped eating anything different. They start doing random times mid-morning. I could be knitting. I could be washing the dishes. I could be napping. Or at the movies. They come whenever. There just does not seem to be any rhymn or reason to them.

All I know is that my head hurts and I am so tired of it being so. I disliked having to put myself to bed early when my friends were here because the pain was so blinding. I disliked last night having to rely on Chase to get me settled on the couch (which he did with no complaint -- he's a great caretaker) only to have to crawl into bed an hour later praying Steve would be quiet when he came home from rehearsal.

I decided since we have new insurance, it was definitely time for a new doctor. I called a practice that is part of the University and have an appointment set for 8 am Thursday. Chase and I will head up there, and hopefully the new doc will listen to my complaints and will be able to offer a suitable solution.

I feel bad when a headache/migraine forms when I am doing something. I read back on my post from last night and there was so much more I wanted to mention (plus add pictures) but it was a bare minimum post. Enough to get some points across, but nothing more. I just could not focus last night. My brain hurt, my thoughts were jumbled, and I didn't think I was making too much sense to even Chase.

For now, I am going to "chill". There's a foggy pain on the right side already, tolerable, but it's there. I don't want to do anything that will set it off again. I have plans, by golly, and I am tired of having to put things on hold because I am not feeling well.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Weekend

Chase and I just said our goodbyes to our guests from the weekend. We had a wonderful visit and hope they'll be able to come back up and see us again. And yes, Koda and Brie got along quite well!

Friday morning after they pulled in we did breakfast at a local spot before a tour of the town. We came home so Chris and Gena could rest. It was a nice and low key kind of day (we also got a bit of a storm!). My zucchini boats were a huge success!

Saturday we went to Dale's house and had a nice visit then went out to dinner at a local bbq place (another spot I insist on visitors eating at) before the adults went to see a friend who was dj'ing an 80's night (so much fun!). Chase spent the night with his grandparents (much to his delight).

Sunday we all say Captain America, then Steve, Chris and Chase went to see the speedway and do guy things while Gena and I hung out, sipped tea, and chatted. Whew! I think we both used each other as sounding boards for our lives!

Today is Gena's birthday. We took her into downtown Ann Arbor so they could see what the supposed big fuss over the UofM is ;) then home for pink lemonade birthday cake. With both of them needing to be at work super early on Wednesday, they opted to leave this evening and drive through the night home.

I am certainly going to miss having Chris and Gena (and Brie) here. It was nice to see our friends again and introduce them to new friends.

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, July 22, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - SouleMama

Joining in once again this Friday. Please visit SouleMama to see other wonderful moments. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In (and out) of the kitchen

Too hot to cook, dinner out tonight!

Our house has been preparing for company that could be arriving any time on Friday. A very good friend of mine (and former co-worker) along with his girlfriend, and their dog will be coming up from North Carolina to spend a long weekend with us.

I have to admit, I am a bit nervous about having company again after our last experience with house guests and how long it took us to recover. I've been mentally weighing the pros and cons about this visit compared to our guests from May. I know it isn't fair, but I am so afraid that our visitors wouldn't be happy here. I know that the previous situation and the upcoming one are completely different, but I still worry. And I still feel bad that I am critical of my friends who visited in May (but really, there are so many things that went wrong that visit, I just am not over it yet -- sorry).

This visit with our friends should be interesting for many reasons: 1) This heat wave that has a firm grip on the nation is putting us Michiganders through our paces (tomorrow is going to be the worst day, but relief is on the way), 2) My friend's girlfriend is vegetarian and I don't have many vegetarian recipes (but I am ready to go with new things to try), and 3) They're bringing their dog and I am not sure how she will get along with our dog (I bet swimmingly -- they're just too alike in many ways).

So yes, what was supposed to be simple tidying this week has turned into full blown scrubbing. For example: I decided to clean the coffee maker this morning. It's not filthy, I cleaned it two weeks ago, but I just had to clean it today. Oh and there is the complete emptying of the fridge, scrubbing it down and re-stocking I did yesterday. And lets not forget the re-organizing of the cabinets and drawers. Because, of course, my friends are going to worry just how sparkling my coffee maker is, or if there are food crumbs in one of the drawers in the fridge, or if my drawer with parchment paper, foil, and wax paper is organized (from smallest box to largest, mind you!). I really don't know why all of this was so important to me!

Chase has been a trooper all week and has been asking constantly if there was anything else he could do to help me. Today, despite the rising temps outdoors, we decided to make cookies for a nice treat in the evenings. So, looking for a change, Chase and I made BBQ cookies.

No really, before you cringe and make faces,  trust me these cookies are fantastic. Four years ago my stepsister, Molly, entered a KC Masterpiece cooking contest being held at the NC State Fair (she's been entering every year and comes up with the most amazing goodies). So she entered a cookie recipe she came up with that uses BBQ sauce and won first prize! I'll share the recipe with you all, and really, you should try them before doubting ;)

Barbeque Spice Cookies, 1st Place
Molly Jarman

1½ cups butter (3 sticks)
½ cup KC Masterpiece Original BBQ Sauce
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 cups of flour
4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup turbinado or granulated sugar

Melt butter in a large bowl. Add BBQ sauce, sugar and eggs to melted butter and beat well. Sift together flour, baking soda and spices. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix until flour is incorporated. Refrigerate several hours until the dough is firm. Make dough into small balls (3/4- inch diameter) and roll in turbinado or granulated sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until firm. Refrigerated dough can also be shaped into a 1-inch thick roll and sliced. Dip the slices in sugar before baking.

To reward us for all of efforts this past week, Steve took us out to dinner. I'm extremely thankful for the break from stuff at home, especially since this afternoon I started to develop another migraine that isn't wanting to be shaken just yet. Sushi was such a nice treat!

On that note, I am going to put myself to bed early. Goodnight, all!

Wednesday Yarn Along

Good morning and happy Wednesday! Today we join Ginny and all of the other great fiber artists in her weekly knitting and reading post. Stop by and join in the fun!

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? ~ Ginny

Chase is convinced it makes great armor.

Despite a slow start on the sleeve last week (I didn't knit at all on Wednesday *gasp*), I did finish it Tuesday morning. I added an extra inch per Chase's request so the sleeve is 19 inches in length.

I did manage to cast on the cuff for Chase's other sleeve, too.

Last week Chase and I finally got to our library to pick up more reading material. He is in desperate search for robot and dragon themed books. I'm trying to remember the books I read when I was his age. I'm pretty sure that they were Isaac Asimov, and I can see the cover of the books clearly, but I cannot find them via title right now. I know there are a few series and I think we'll borrow them all. One of the books I picked up and read, and loved, is Logan Ward's See You in a Hundred Years: Four Seasons in Forgotten America. What a great story. I laughed, I stressed, I was so happy with their community that was there for them.

Chase is also wanting to join in again this week. He'd like me to point out that after casting on and knitting on size 10 needles, he decided he wanted smaller needles. It was rough to watch 10 rows be taken off, but we did cast on again (this time only 30 stitches) and off he went again. He's got about 8 rows now. The last two books in the How to Train Your Dragon series arrived yesterday (he used his allowance to order them) and he is deep in reading again. He also picked up a trilogy at the library that was on the shelf above a robot book we found. It's called The House Called Awful End: The Eddie Dickens Trilogy. The cover illustrations are what caught my attention, and after briefly looking over the book, Chase took all three. He says it's really good. He's also got another book he's reading, but left it in the car last night. I think at any given moment, Chase may be juggling three different books!

(Hi Koda!) 

Happy knitting to everyone -- stay cool this week!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Farmer's Market

The heat wave (that I know pretty much everyone is experiencing right now) needs to go away. Sadly, according to the local weather, it's going to get worse before it gets better this week. *sigh/grumble*

Despite the suffocating heat today, we did head to the farmer's market. The lovely Amish folks were absent last week and I was eager to see them again and let them know how much our family has been enjoying their maple syrup. I think they are my favorite booth to visit.

I picked up a loaf of fresh bread (we're going to have BLTs for dinner tonight -- yummy!), along with goat cheese they are now carrying (can't wait to try it!), and of course the weekly treat of apple fried pies. I think they had some of the best looking zucchini I have seen yet this summer, too.

A new vendor at the market specializes in doggy treats. I figured Koda shouldn't be left out of a shopping trip (and since we are having company this weekend that includes a dog) I decided to pick up a bag of goodies for Koda to share with her friend. Koda has sampled one of the biscuits and I think she approves!

Yay peanut butter treats!

A quick stop at Growing Hope yielded a beautiful bunch of Swiss Chard that will be used in tomorrow night's dinner.

Love it!

Finally, after wandering the market for twenty minutes (and really regretting doing so in dress clothes), we headed across the street to the coffee house for cool, refreshing treats. Chase munched on his cinnamon roll from the Amish bakery (that's his weekly treat) while Steve and I chatted over espresso milkshakes.

So good!

Sadly, no vendors had peaches (Chase is in a peach mood right now) so I will have to check with our co-op tomorrow. I'm still trying to find a recipe for the tart cherries I picked up last week. I pitted and froze them so they're just waiting for use now. Anyone have suggestions?

Hope everyone is staying cool!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Fuzzies

I have always had a cat in my house. Not having one would be like not having a bathroom in a house.

When I first moved from North Carolina to Michigan at eighteen, within a month I had adopted Chico. Chico was the feline love of my life. He was all black, sleek, and as he got older, he reminded me of a panther. To me he was perfect, even when he decided twice a year to get out (once in the spring, once in the winter -- he gave up that quickly when his feet touched snow).

Chico was extremely special to me. He was there as I struggled to settle down in Michigan. He was there through the years of abuse with my ex-husband, through the birth of Chase, and through the move to Indiana to live with my Mom (where we adopted Jessica-4 for Chase) and then a move down to South Carolina. He was a constant rock in my life. His wanderlust hit him in 2008, and on Valentine's Day he slipped out when Steve was coming in the front door. My heart shattered. We tried for days to find him. Jessie stopped eating, and cried for him throughout the house. I worried because he was declawed in the front and how he would make it. He was a big boy and he was almost 9. I never gave up hope that he would come home. I even worried when we moved later that November back to Michigan that he would finally come back and nobody would be at our house.I just could not let him go.

Since we moved back north, Steve always offered to go to the local shelter and we could find someone new to bring home. We'd go to the pet store and look at the kitties, and although they were all extremely adorable (and Chase would take them all home if he could), my heart was not ready.

After going to our Humane Society for a year to see the kitties, play with them, socialize with them, I finally decided that I was ready to welcome another fuzzy into our home. We went to the Humane Society with the mindset that we were going to adopt an adult cat (at least 2-3 years old) and a female. She would be close in age to Jess. We looked, we played, we snuggled. We skipped over the many kittens that were looking for homes ("No kittens.. I think we need an adult" I would say). The closest that came to my wants was a black and white young female who recently had a litter. She was sweet, petite, and loved to be held. She was lovely, but she just wasn't it. I finally said "Well, maybe we could look at the kittens. But just look."

They had so many kittens at the time. They were trying to adopt them all out under a "Adopt one, get one free" program. I looked at orange kittens, I looked at gray kittens. I stepped into one of the kitty condos full of black, and black and white kittens. I stood there and looked at all of those little babies and picked up a little all black girl. She was extremely sweet. As I stood there a very determined kitten started to climb up my pant leg. Steve and Chase watched from the window and laughed as this little guy climbed up to my hip before I scooped him into my arms. I put the little girl down in a basket and held this little boy who just purred. I cried. While I held this little boy another determined kitten jumped the 18 inches from the top of a scratching post to my shoulder. I laughed and cried and held them both. I had been chosen.

We brought both of those little boys home. Agent Spottynose is the oldest by 3 weeks so Sage (we changed his name to Lord Saggio of the Land of Spice -- hey, he needed a fancy name like his brother!) is our baby.

Jess was not amused at first with the boys. I kept reminding her that these were her little brothers and she had the right to treat them as so (she tolerates them now -- her true love is still Chase). And that little black and white female we were considering? It turns out that was actually Sage's mom. She was adopted out a week later. :)

Sage and Agent -- the first week home (2010)

During that first week when the boys were home, I had a bad migraine and took Sage to bed with me. I curled him on my head to sleep and I think the heat and the light pressure from him helped the pain go away. To this day Sage is there when my head is hurting. Thankfully he doesn't try to lay on my head anymore (he's eighteen pounds!), but he does like to lay on my back and knead my head for me.

Sage is everyone's baby. He's there for me when my head is hurting, he's a shadow to Steve when he's cooking pasta, and he's a back up kitty parent to Chase. Agent, however, is mine. He is the one who climbed my pants. Agent is a lover and loves everyone (especially my Mom). He is the one that will just sit in my lap whether I am knitting, reading, or using my laptop. He is part of my bedtime ritual and likes to be "made" into the bed. Trimming his toe nails is a game to him. I trim his, he nibbles on my finger nails. He is like a rag doll and will tolerate being dragged by a small child, carried around, and snuggled tight -- he just purrs through it all.

Agent sleeping on Chase's sweater while I was working on the sleeves yesterday. Yes, his feet really are that big! He has extra webbing between his toes!

Sage discovered the suitcase makes an excellent bed. He's a big baby and has many nicknames to reflect that.
It's been a year since we opened our hearts and home to two little kittens who are now growing up to be wonderful cats. I still get a twinge of sadness when I see pictures of Chico, but I am so thankful he was there for me when I needed him most. I hope someone adopted him and realized how special he is, just like I have realized how special our little boys are.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The past few days have been busy with activity along our street and Chase has been on top of it all.

Thursday morning, the power company sent out their tree trimmers to take care of the tree at the back of the property line. During the storm we had Wednesday evening a couple of small branches came down and were resting on the power lines (that just so happen to run to four houses, including ours). I, personally, would chop the whole dang thing down, but the tree is on the property behind us right at the fence so it is up to them to cut it or have it taken care of. Chase wasn't allowed to go out and watch them cut limbs, but he (and Sage) sat in front of the dining room window to watch the workers carefully. Thankfully our beloved Maple tree in the back yard is safe (though it probably does need a good trimming).

Then the power company sent out a repair crew to check on the gas leak we have at the street level. We've noticed for over a year that there is the hint of natural gas in the air near the street. Our neighbors on both sides of us, plus us, have called the power company. All they were able to determine was that it was at the street level and not on any residential property (somehow this was supposed to reassure us) and that the city is required to handle the repair. A few weeks ago, contractors came through to measure the gas readings and mark the street where leaks were detected. According to the man who was doing the readings, it was considered a level II leak and that the city had up to 60 days to respond to the complaint.

Chase went out to meet the work crew and watch what they were doing. I have to say here that I love how easy Chase is able to make friends and how thankful I am this work crew didn't mind him watching. In fact, they gave him a pair of safety goggles, ear plugs, and those ear muff protector thingies. Chase was over the moon with excitement, because, as he said "they're for keeps!". So while they sucked the fumes from the ground to get a more accurate reading, Chase happily watched from the driveway. He spent a good portion of Thursday afternoon talking with the guys, learning from them. By the time they wrapped up Thursday evening (with a promise to be back in the morning) Chase was told that "he knows as much as they do and could join their team anytime" (again, through the moon).

Friday morning as the work crew was returning (the worst leak on our street was right at the foot of our driveway), Chase and I were heading to see Harry Potter (a fantastic ending). By the time we were home from the movie they had opened up a large hole in the street at the foot of our driveway and were busy repairing the line. Chase grabbed all of his gear and went back out to watch. They were done by 3: the repair fixed, the hole filled and sealed.

It turns out that the lines, they discovered, along the street are the original gas lines in this neighborhood (we live in the historic district) dating back to the 1920's (yikes!). So this is a very temporary fix. There are a couple of other leaks down the street which they will be back to fix next week, but the entire line is going to need to be replaced. How soon will this happen, we have no idea, but it needs to be updated.

Oh the joy of city living!

Today Chase and I stayed closer to home (or at least in our neighborhood). We walked down to our coffee house to have coffee and knitting time. Chase seems to enjoy knitting in public a lot (this little outing was his idea). He's doing great on his own knitting. The other night he decided he wanted to change to smaller needles, and after thinking long and hard, he undid his first knitting and re-started on size 7 needles. I think he's happier (although he's knitting on 32 inch long needles, so he needs a shorter pair). He's got about 10 new rows total (which I think is great for having re-started).

Chase said "I can't help it! When I feel your yarn, Mom, I just have to knit!" 

When we were walking up our driveway, I noticed the Rose of Sharon is starting to bloom. It's a month early again this year, but I blame the really wet spring and now super dry summer.

There are two blooms now, but I bet by Wednesday the entire bush will be in full bloom.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011



(pardon my finger in the corner)

Chase counted 8 little tomatoes on this one plant today.

The garden is really growing. I am getting impatient with it at times because I see what everyone else is pulling from their own plots and I want to be munching on a freshly picked tomato. I have to keep reminding myself that growing zones are different, weather is always a factor, and good things come to those who wait. It is nice, however, to see that among all that green there are specks of color.

Today is also the first day of fall registration out on campus. I am so disheartened with the local community college. I have gone back and forth mentally about how I should have just gone on to the university as planned for this fall instead of taking another semester to re-focus. Then I tell myself I need this semester to get back on track since last semester was so shaky (job loss, plus losing two grandparents within two months of each other - my emotions were shredded by April). Thankfully, the university was willing to extend their offer to me for Winter 2012, so I will have time to prepare my transfer. I plan on going to open campus events, to tour the campus with my family, to prepare myself for total immersion.

In the mean time, I will muddle through at the local CC. Most everything I am taking this semester is to fill my elective requirements (and mostly in humanities). I need one art class, however, to be able to express myself and I am seriously considering art welding. I think it will be unique enough, and offer a challenge to keep me satisfied. Besides, I have almost convinced my baby brother-in-law to take it with me so I won't be alone. ;) The CC is getting strict on courses, dropping many of their regular classes, and offering more at insane times. I refuse to take night classes this semester (I have been for two years) or on the weekend. I miss my family when I am gone at night and on the weekend. It seems like the few classes I still need or want to take are being held at the same time, so I am settling for things I am okay with that are offered online so I can take one class that will transfer.

I have a lot on my mind about personal growth right now, but it's still jumbled in my mind. If I manage to untangle all of my thoughts and feelings enough to write it out, I will attempt to later.

Wednesday Yarn Along

Good morning and happy Wednesday! Today we join Ginny and all of the other great fiber artists in her weekly knitting and reading post. Stop by and join in the fun!

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? ~ Ginny

Last week, I heard about the wonderful book The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane over on Jess' blog (thank you Jess!) and decided it was just the right emotional read that I needed at the time so I downloaded it to my Nook and dug in. I absolutely loved it. It was an honest, emotional, and my heart swelled with love and sorrow. Chase has added it to his reading list (there are about six or seven books ahead of it, though) and I hope he'll enjoy it as much as I did.

After not knitting on Chase's sweater on the way to Delaware (and spending an evening ripping out the lace scarf while there), on our way home I got down to some serious knitting business. I am happy to report that I finished the back of Chase's sweater Sunday evening, finished the front Monday evening, and stitched the shoulder seams together Tuesday evening. Next stop are the sleeves and the collar ribbing and then it will be done! I am just too excited about how much progress I have made.

The back of Chase's sweater.

The front of Chase's sweater (don't you love the hand print?!)

I'll have to try for a better picture of the hand print pattern on the front of the sweater -- every picture I snapped just didn't do it justice. This is the first time I have knitted following a chart and I have to say it's not as hard as I thought it would be.

Monday night while I was finishing up the front of Chase's sweater, he was sitting in the chair behind me reading one of his books. Out of the blue he said "I could do that." and at first I thought he was referring to something he had just read. Turns out he had actually been watching me knit for a while and decided that he was ready to learn to knit. My heart skipped a beat. Chase had dyed yarn earlier using the instructions that Elizabeth had shared, but he has been insisting that he was not ready to learn yet, and then wanted my mother to teach him. Armed with a plan, the motivation, and the tools, I prepared myself to teach Chase to knit.

Yesterday after a trip to the library and before the Farmer's Market, Chase and I went to the coffee house down the street from us and settled in for drinks and knitting. As we sat and waited for my coffee, Chase kept saying "Come on! Yarn me! I am so ready!"

I started with showing him how to cast on. This step rocked his mind. I assured him that I would cast on his stitches for him to get him started. Then, with the steps that the wonderful Elizabeth has offered to teaching littles to knit (In, Around, Through, Off), I showed him how to start on his own needles. He was still a bit confused with how to knit a stitch and move it over to the opposite needle so I pulled him into my lap so he could watch from his point of view.

Did I mention since I am left-handed, he is also learning left-handed? :) 

Deep in concentration.

Getting a little bit more relaxed.

Tada! A completed row! 

Chase knitted three more rows before we left the coffee house for the Farmer's Market and then two more tonight. What is so interesting to me with his knitting now is the mathematical side he is taking to this. He knows he wants his scarf (at least that is the plan right now) to be 80 inches long. He also measured his rows tonight and estimates 6 rows equal an inch. He groaned when he did the math and said "I have to knit 480 rows!". I had to giggle. I know that he will not only count stitches, but will also count rows. He has a final goal for how many rows he needs, so now he'll start subtracting them. He also noted it took him about 40 minutes to knit those last two rows so he is trying to figure out how much time he will need to invest (I keep trying to remind him that as he knits more, he'll get faster).

I asked Chase if he wanted to take part in the yarn along this week and he excitedly agreed to joining along (though he was disappointed to find out that we meet online, and not in person).

Chase's yarn along!

Within the last week Chase had read five of the seven books in the How to Train Your Dragon series. It has been one of his favorite series to read. It will be interesting to see how he balances his time now that he is knitting.

So Chase and I both wish everyone a happy Wednesday and happy knitting!

Monday, July 11, 2011

An Update on Dad

My stepmom sent a text shortly before noon that Dad was out of surgery and the doctor's said all went well. She was able to see him briefly an hour later and said he looked really good.

An email from my stepmom from a few minutes ago says that "surgery went well and that he is sleeping still. He has more tubes and stitches than I can believe.  He's trying to wake up, and as he does, they will have him walk around a bit. 

The surgeon says that his heart is extremely strong, and once he has recovered there will be no lasting consequence from the valve problem." 

We are all breathing a sigh of relief (especially Chase) and are praying still. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Back in the knitting game

I wanted to be knitting, but my heart was not in it. I knew it would help me relax, focus, and keep my mind off stressing matters, but I just could not pick up the needles to work on my two current projects. So on Wednesday I read a short story and that seemed to untangle my mind and I was finally able to relax again.

While sitting at the local B&N in Delaware shortly after finishing the short story, I thumbed through knitting magazines all the while thinking of Chase's sweater and that lace scarf I was working on. The lace scarf, I knew, was going to be ripped out. I made a mistake when I picked it up again, and even though I knew I had made the mistake instantly, I continued to knit to correct (it took 8 inches to finally get it back on track). At the time I didn't care there was a huge mistake in the project. I just kept knitting because the pattern is easy and it was fast growing. When I finally measured it on Wednesday I was at 38 inches of the 80 finished inches. The mistake I made was around the 13th inch. I debated if I would rip it out to the mistake or just ignore it. I probably would have let it be if it was right at the back of my neck (nobody would notice but me, right?) but in the end I decided it needed to come out.

But back to the browsing of knitting magazines. I actually picked one up because of a sweater pattern in there that would be perfect for my Dad. It spoke to me. I just kept staring at it and saying "I have to make this." and couldn't stop babbling to Steve about it being the perfect pattern. So I brought home the magazine.

Wednesday night while my Dad was going through his nightly dialysis and a movie was on for background noise/entertainment purposes (on average it takes between 3-4 hours a night for dialysis), I finished a pattern section on Chase's sweater and put it down, then tore out most of the lace scarf. I was able to stop myself at the last correct row, refer to the pattern to figure out what row I was to start on, and complete that pattern section before bed. Now I should be good to go when I am ready to pick it up again. I'll work on the scarf again soon, but I first need to make copies of the pattern and put them in protective sleeves. This magazine is becoming quite dog-eared and has definitely seen better days. Since I plan on making another one of these scarves for a gift this year, I better make sure the pattern stays in tact (especially since I can't seem to find it online).

I am pleased to say I am sailing away at working on Chase's sweater. I accomplished a lot on our drive home until I was hit with a horrible migraine. I am just all too giddy to be moving forward with it. Even Chase commented this afternoon "Gee! I bet you'll be done with it before the fall if you keep going at this pace!" (thanks for the vote of confidence kiddo!).

I'm also starting to mentally put together a list of gifts I want to start working on for others for Christmas. I'm at that point in the year where I am anxiously waiting on the goodies to start coming out of the garden, but I am also looking forward to the fall and all those wonderful knitted, cozy items coming back out of storage.

For now I am off to bake Chase's weekly supply of raspberry white chocolate chip scones. He picked up golden raspberries today to "mix things up" and is waiting for me to get busy in the kitchen.

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Despite the reason that sent (or kept) our family in Delaware last week, I think that we all had a great time together. My stepsister came up from North Carolina and is staying through the weekend with my dad and stepmom.

Our biggest goal, after being there for my dad and stepmom, was to keep Chase's mind (and probably ours) off why we were there. Until Tuesday evening, we all thought that his surgery was going to be Wednesday (but it's now moved to Monday).

Delaware, and the surrounding areas, are full of so much history. Plus everything is rather convenient to get to.

On the 4th of July, the three of us headed down to Baltimore to the National Aquarium. Chase has never been to Maryland before, so this was a big treat for him. I was looking forward to seeing the jelly fish exhibit, but it did not actually have any living jelly fish (the aquarium made up for this disappointment by having sloths in the rain forest!). Chase was there, as he said, strictly to see the sting rays.

sting rays

Steve and Chase in the rain forest exhibit.

Chase was able to tour the USS Torsk thanks to a wonderful grandma who was touring with her friends. The grandma said she didn't like tight, cramped spaces and wanted someone who would enjoy the submarine to be able to. Chase was tickled!

On Tuesday, Dad was at the hospital early at the cath lab and what we thought would we be pre-op appointments. We decided to take Chase out to Valley Forge for a little bit of American history. It was fabulous. After we toured Valley Forge, we drove into Philadelphia for lunch at the City Tavern and then came home.

Chase and myself.

George Washington's headquarters (Isaac Potts house)

Wednesday we had planned on staying at the house waiting for word on the surgery. Since surgery was scheduled for this coming Monday, we still decided to stay close to the house (Dad still has antibiotic treatment three times a week). We visited a local coffee house and the book store for a bit but kept it all very low key. There was also time to play with Wolfie, my dad and stepmom's miniature schnauzer. She is also nicknamed the "Wiggly Eyebrow" because she reminds me of an old man's bushy eyebrow.

Wolfie takes a break from playing fetch with Steve.

Thursday we were heading back home, but decided if the weather permitted (as in no rain) we would stop in Gettysburg. Gettysburg is definitely a visit that needs more than three hours. We were able to see most of the spots, the Union side of things, but will have to return in the future to see the Confederate view point. This was the highlight of the tourism bit of our vacation for Chase.

Chase is a big fan of military history (and has been forever). I took a Civil War history class two semesters ago that he was able to sit in on and he absorbed the information like a little sponge. While we were driving from site to site in Gettysburg, he was tossing out facts about key figures and statistics. But to actually stand on the battlefield, to walk where soldiers once did, was truly breathtaking.

Time to head home.

It's nice to be home again. All of our fuzzies seemed to have really missed us (the "baby" spent most of the night sleeping on my back).

Unfortunately, I won't be able to get back to Delaware for Dad's surgery on Monday, but I am sure it will go well.