Monday, January 31, 2011

january's handmade

laura's leaves

laura's leaves, boxed
january hasn't exactly gone as well as i'd hoped, what with all the sickness and bad news. but i've been thinking about my yearly goals in spite of it all. i am making time to knit--gg's cardigan progresses apace in spite of the universe's attempts to derail all my best-laid plans. and--i've actually managed to squeeze under the wire with a small handmade gift for laura, the first recipient of my 2011 handmade facebook meme. for january's handmade item, i give you a simple pair of earrings:

note that you've seen these before, when i made a set of jewelry for my friend kerstin's birthday a while ago. the earrings were my favorite part of that set, and kerstin has loved them and wears them all the time. i had exactly the right amount of stuff to replicate them one more time, and i thought reproducing a prior creation would be a great way to get back into the jewels, which i've wanted to do for a while. plus, i really didn't want to knit something for laura, who is an avid and skilled spinner, dyer, and knitter who owns her own yarn store, so i went trolling through pictures of laura facebook for ideas. i decided that the style of these little glass leaves suits her very well, and i think they will look fabulous with her february lady sweater. :)

Friday, January 28, 2011


i am so tired of sick.

jason's aunt is sick. she's getting ready to start a new round of chemotherapy for brain cancer. here's hoping this one works better than the last...

my brother is sick. today he starts his first round of medication to treat his kidney cancer, which will hopefully shrink the tumor that plagues him. here's hoping he doesn't have adverse reactions to the drugs and that they are effective.

my little baby has RSV. mostly this means he has a really awful cold, but it's also a little scary. the list of problems it can easily lead to in a baby as young as him is rather tremendous. here's hoping that he doesn't develop croup, bronchitis, pneumonia, or even an ear infection. he's so miserable. he sounds like darth vader when he breathes. he has a fever that comes back every time his medication wears off. he's so ill that he cries out in his sleep. it's horrible to watch. i think this is the sickest that either of my boys has ever been, and i hate it. not to mention how hard it is to take care of him and keep working, which i absolutely must do. so it's no wonder that, between the not sleeping, and the worrying, and the trying to keep my professional head above water, well--i am a bit worn down.

and so it comes as no surprise...

i'm sick, too. boo.

perhaps if i go finish off the lovely chocolate chip cookies my friend beth brought to me, i will feel better.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

story time

story time
the other night, the hippie snapped this grainy phone picture of me reading to the babies before bedtime, and i just adore it in spite of it's somewhat crappy quality. i absolutely love reading to the boys, and i do it every single day, even if we're late and there's no time to dedicate to reading. the boys also love books--it works out. when finn first went into daycare, his favorite toys there were these lovely cloth books just made of heavily patterned cloth sewn together. i was delighted! (by the way, i have tried like crazy to find these books to buy somewhere--i can't. i am sure they wouldn't be too hard to make, but i don't have that kind of time laying around, unfortunately. but i digress...)

both boys love board books, and lately, kieran's been moving more and more into true story books, which is great fun for me. in my youth, i had aspirations to become a children's book illustrator, and i guess i've never lost my love of the field. i had a few books on hand before k was even born, and now, neither of us can expand our collection quickly enough. his current favorites are little blue truck. harry the dirty dog, the cat at night, and going to sleep on the farm.

last night, i learned the hard way that reading where the wild things are before bedtime is a MISTAKE. critter got all wild and crazy and was chasing the hippie through the house with a stuffed dragon, roaring at the top of his lungs. when i said it was time for bed, he burst into tears, and wailed at me, "no mama! i rawring!!!" cute, but not exactly desired at 9pm...

anyway--the point is, if there are awesome story and picture and cloth books you guys love or have known a little one to love, we'd love to hear about it. we're in the market for more good books!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


tiny tea leaves progress

i am trying a new strategy for knitting. i am not putting this sweater away until it's done. seriously--i am leaving it out on the coffee table where i can just pick it up and knit a stitch, or a row, or whatever, when i have two seconds to do it. and check it out: it's WORKING! i knitted a swatch (please see the photo i have included as proof of my swatch. i hate swatching.), even. (granted, the swatch was off gauge, but that's irrelevant, right? i just guessed at the right needle size based on the wrong swatch and went with it--isn't that what everyone does?) i cast on for the sweater on saturday, and observe that i am making some serious progress. it helped a ton that i was able to leave the baby at home last night and actually go out and KNIT at my knitting night (thanks, hippie!)--this is only the second time i have been able to do this. i can JUST squeak it in between finn's evening feedings as long as the hippie is willing to feed both boys dinner and get the older one to bed with no help. last night i came home from actually knitting to a quiet house--it was so nice i almost wanted to cry. of course, the diabolical squeaker then woke up and threw up on me, but that's a whole other story, and not for today, when i am reveling in actually knitting. :)

there's actually a real possibility that i might get this done IN TIME for gabriella's birthday. can you feel my amazement?

Monday, January 17, 2011

thoughts on breastfeeding


i am no breastfeeding nazi, although i definitely think it's too good for a baby not to do if you can. i definitely think it's an awesome thing to do for you and for your baby. there are, however, a million reasons why you perhaps CAN'T. some women just aren't comfortable with it at ALL, and that's reason enough, really. and god knows, it's a level of work and commitment for a working woman--well, for any woman, really--that i nearly stop having every third day. not to mention all the physical issues you can have too--inverted nipples, milk doesn't come in, baby won't or can't latch for a bundle of reasons, low production, infection, blocked milk ducts that can be horribly painful, thrush, yeast infections... the list goes on. all that aside, however, i am breastfeeding. i did with kieran, too, but with him, my milk supply was crappy, and we had to start supplementing almost from the beginning. finn, however, is a champion eater. i have noticed a bunch of small things that were wrong with how kieran was eating now that i have finn who is Doing It Right.

what i want to say here is that we, meaning myself and the women i know who have or who are presently breastfeeding, are a generation of women without teachers. there's this idea that, because breastfeeding is "natural", it comes easily to anyone who wants to do it. well--not really. in the past, you would have had your mother, grandmother, aunts, sisters, cousins, etc. right there to help you, and all of them would have had experience with breastfeeding. but our mothers? we were born to a generation of women who didn't do it, and for whon it was often not even a choice. with the introduction of mass-produced baby formula, NOT breastfeeding became the norm, marketed as it was to women of means and women who wanted to be "free" of their babies and the ties that quite literally bind mother to baby for a year or more. an assumption was made by many doctors during this time that women didn't want to breastfeed, and those who did had to often fight for the right to do so in a medical environment where drugs to dry up milk were given without consent or discussion before the baby's first feeding. for our generation, we have mothers who don't know what we're doing, or in many cases, why we are doing it. add to all that the fact that families are more spread out than they once were and the fact that so many more of us are single mothers than we used to be, and what you have is a generation of women trying to breastfeed without support. it's no wonder that so many women don't do it.

the other thing is--if you have a job, then you have no choice but to pump. and well, pumping sucks. pumping isn't the intimate, bonding act that breastfeeding is. it's purely pragmatic, sometimes painful, and just a bit yucky. thank goodness for it--it makes it possible to continue breastfeeding is you DO have a job. but it's work and not fun at all. it's also disruptive to your work day. you have to have bosses who understand and support your goals as a mother to be able to pull it off, not to mention that you need a place to do it. i know too many women who have been forced to pump in a bathroom because there's nowhere else. again--no wonder so many women choose not to do it.

you read all the statistics about women breastfeeding in this country, and how low those statistics are, and how much better it would be if more women did it, but damn. it's hard. it's work. and there's little support without going to a complete stranger and being willing to let that stranger see and handle both your breasts and your baby, not something everyone is able to do. the services of a lactation consultant are also far from free. most insurance companies won't pay for it, so if you can't afford it, then you are stuck. in my personal experience, it has also seemed that lactation consultants vary so wildly--some of them can make you feel worse than dirt when you are having problems, and others are like miracle workers--one must choose very wisely.

anyway. all i am saying is that i get why people choose not to breastfeed.

for me, i feel lucky that i've been able to do it as much as i have. with k it was about half and half. with finn, it's been all breastmilk, so far at least. and it's been fantastic to be able to do it! FANTASTIC!

one of my favorite things about my breastfeeding experience has been feeding finn in the middle of the night. he wakes up just enough to know he's hungry, and it's a contest to see if i can get him latched on before he actually starts to cry. i bring him into bed and lay on my side to feed him, and he curls into me like a soft little kitten with its mother cat. he pushes against my belly with his knees, and he pats my face with his little hand while he eats. it is not only one of the sweetest moments you can experience as a mother, there's also something very satisfying about the kind of care you are providing on a primal level. your body is doing what it's supposed to, and so is his. it's at moments like that when it's all worth it. all of it.

then there are all the benefits to mama no one talks about. i have dropped weight from breastfeeding like crazy! for a person who has had weight issues since forever, that's no small thing. i am still losing weight now, and finn is six months old and eating solids, too. in addition, breastfeeding helps you stop bleeding after your baby is born, it helps fight depression be releasing yummy chemicals in your brain, it helps you bond with your baby, and there are studies that say it reduces your risk of developing breast cancer, too. for me, with my family history of just about every type of cancer there is, that's pretty huge. but seriously, best of all, it helps you get rid of your big old pregnant butt. (of course, there's the downside that none of my pants fit, and that the babies mean i have no $ left after child care to go buy new pants. but i digress...)

so if you are breastfeeding, or trying to decide whether or not to do it, my advice is--give it a shot, and go into it with your eyes wide open. realize that there may be problems. realize that it's going to be a lot of work. accept that it's going to be something that kind of takes over your life for a year. then give yourself credit for every day that you make it--every single day you can do it is that much better for your baby, so go go go! but if you can't, for ANY reason, for goodness sake, don't beat yourself up about it, and don't feel guilty about it. as with all things related to parenting, i think you just have to do the best you can with what you've got. and, unless you are harming your child, no one--NO ONE--is in a position to judge your decision but you.

Friday, January 14, 2011


i am participating in a meme on facebook. i don't do too many of these sorts of things, but this one i could get behind, plus it's in line with my goal to make something every month in 2011. my friend kim posted the meme, which was a commitment to make something by hand for each of the first five people to comment on the post. each of the five people must then, in turn, post the meme and make something for five more people, paying it forward.

this morning, i came into my office to find this laying on my desk:


kim is in town for a class, and she brought me a bar of lavender olive oil soap she had made. it smells simply divine! an excellent treat for a friday morning--maybe i will actually find time to take a real bath this weekend and try it out. :)

somethin' new

i am going to make gabriella a sweater for her birthday. she will be 8 in march, and i have wanted to make her something she could wear basically since the day her mother and i learned to knit together. i've been loosely waiting for the right sweater to come along and jump out at me, and finally, it has--the tiny tea leaves sweater (rav link). something about this is just so appealing to me--it's a real, grown-up style sweater that still looks like a young girl. it calls for some lovely madeling tosh yarn that costs more than i can really spend, so i was hunting for options when i stumbled across something PERFECT in my stash (i LOVE my stash!). i'll be knitting with this lovely brooks farm solana that i bought at SAFF in 2007:

brooks farm solana

this is a washable wool, perfect for an 8-year-old girl. it's a gorgeous color that will suit her beautifully. this stuff has 320 yards in a skein, and i had two, which gives me more than enough yarn to knit this cardigan and lengthen the sleeves as well. i cannot WAIT to cast on!

i knit a swatch last night in spite of being so tired i couldn't see straight. i was sleepy enough that i knit the swatch, then went to bed without even measuring the thing. we'll see tonight if i guessed my needle size right or if, instead, i have to knit another swatch before i can get going. this, by the way, is torture for a knitter. you KNOW the swatch is fully necessary, but it feels like wasted time when you JUST WANT TO KNIT! but i digress... the point is--this is the first time since finn was born that i am actually fired up to knit something. here's hoping it's a sign of things to come...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

the babies, part squeaker

finn from below

finn asleep

finn dino

finn playing on his mat

finn and daddy

finn out for a walk
finn is six months old today! he has been such a joy and such an adjustment! he's a fat, happy baby almost all the time, and man, his toothless grin is one of my favorite things in the universe.

the squeaker is huge--in the 85th to 90th percentile in all categories. he eats and eats and eats. when kieran was a baby, breastfeeding didn't come all that easily--we had to supplement with formula from very early on--not so with finn! the boy is all business. he's been on a pretty tight feeding schedule almost from day one, and has cluster fed exactly in line with every growth spurt. he started trying to grab my food at 4 and a half months, so i started giving him cereal then. everything you read says not to start a breastfeeding baby on solids until he's 6 months old, but you try telling that to this baby. now he's nursing as much as ever, eating cereal 3 times a day, and eating fruits/veggies 2 times. that seems nuts for a baby who's not even 6 months old, but that's the way it is, man. at 21 pounds, he's as big as a lot of 1-year-olds, so i guess it shouldn't be a surprise.

finn looks a LOT like kieran did at his age, and yet, there are enough differences to keep it interesting. k's hair all fell out, then came back in white blonde, and by this age, it was clear that k would have blue eyes. finn's coloring is different--he has dark, wavy hair, and has from day one, and his eyes are a mystery. they are still that baby blue-grey that could become anything. it's funny to me that kieran means dark and finn means light, yet their coloring is becoming just the opposite of that.

so far, finn is on target developmentally, but without the insane gross motor development that kieran displayed. finn is just blissfully normal. he plays with baby toys exactly as they were designed. he is on the verge of crawling and sitting up by himself, exactly as a 6 month old baby should be. i can't tell you how glad i am that he's not doing crazy stuff like climbing the stairs! a second baby should be laid back, and this one definitely is.

the daycare thing has been the biggest adjustment with finn. it's still a little strange to have him not with a person we know and love and trust from the beginning, but in a situation where i feel like he sometimes gets lost in the crowd. we started him in the daycare across the street from my office, and his caregiver there, zoe, was just fantastic--she absolutely helped me adjust to the whole thing, even though i won't say it was easy. now he's in the same daycare as kieran, which is far more affordable. and, while i am not concerned that they aren't meeting his needs, i do kind of feel like he's viewed as just another baby there. i think i just want one of his caregivers to show some signs of attachment to him or something. anyway--i don't mean to turn this into a whining session about daycare--i just miss zoe and having finn close to me at work.

finn is still small, but he has a ton of personality. he's ticklish as all get out and giggles if you even touch his feet. he loves toys, he loves us, and he loves his brother above all. he laughs all the time, more than about any baby i've seen. but he also has a little temper, and won't hesitate to shake his fists if you take to long to feed him or pick him up. he likes his scenery to change pretty often, so we cycle through play mats, a quilt on the floor, the high chair, the exersaucer, a bouncy seat, the bed, and our arms. if he's tired of a toy, you know it because it goes flying away from him. he's also super duper cuddly, which is awesome. his head still smells so good. he's the kind of baby that makes people want a baby--no joke.

having two is hard. having two is so different from one--there's never a break for me or for the hippie, which sometimes wears us down. but having #2 be like finn is worth it. and there's a light at the end of that tunnel, too. having two also makes the time fly by at a rte i would not have thought possible. finn is six months old today--where did that go? i really need to write more so i don't forget these heady first months with him. he's a treasure, and i want to hang onto every day!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

the babies, part critter

i haven't written jack about the boys in a while, and well--it's time. past time, really. so. oldest boy first. warning--this will be very stream of conscious.

kieran at the red door

k digging for fossils

k and daddy on the beach

k as an elephant

k running

kieran is growing like a WEED. he goes up, then out, then up, then out, in that way that toddlers do. We just finished an up, and now we're on an out cycle, which means he's eating--well--everything in the house. this morning for breakfast, he had a bowl of oatmeal, half a banana, a mini bran muffin, 10+ oz of milk, and a TON of blackberries. he goes, "mmmmmmmm, these blackberries are goooooood, mama!" and yay for the fact that the child loves food so much. his speech is taking off at an alarming rate, and he's become a little chatterbox. with us at least. he turns out to be a shy kid who doesn't want to be the center of anyone's attention but those closest to him. we won't even discuss his reaction to having to be in a holiday "performance" at school. that didn't end well.

he likes to be home with his stuff, and he likes to play outside. he's adjusted ok to the daycare thing, although he's hard to move in the morning--like his mother and father, the child is NOT a morning person. he loves trucks and trains and things that move. he loves animals and stories about animals. he feeds his dinosaurs from "troughs" he builds from the silverware caddies he steals from the dishwasher. he's very care-giver-y, putting his hippo down for a nap, feeding his stuffed animals, making them share.

it's pretty hilarious to watch him play, which he sometimes prefers to do alone. not that he doesn't love other kids--i just think he gets his share of them at school and is relieved to have some down time with his own stuff at home. it's good really--i think he's finding a personal balance there. we took him the the art museum this weekend, and that was a hit--he's a fan of the sculptures, especially rodin. he has also had a ton of fun this past year at the durham museum of natural history, and he appreciates a trip to the aquarium or the zoo a LOT these days. back in september, we took a little weekend trip to the beach with some friends, and he had an absolute blast playing with sting rays at the pine knoll shores aquarium and running around on the beach learning to stomp in the surf and digging in the sand with his trucks.

i look at him, and he's such a BOY now. no hint of the baby he was just a few months ago. he's starting to give up his nap (the horror!), and is more and more independent as the days go by. the speech explosion is leading rapidly to a question explosion as well. he asks me a thousand times a day, "what you doing, mama?" or, "what's that noise?"--probably his two biggest questions right now. he's learning to count (up to 20 consistently), to add, and he's recognizing letters--he tells us his name is K because it starts with K. he's too big to be a kieran!

it's been really fun watching him learn to be a big brother to finn. by turns, he takes care of finn--brings him toys, covers him up, pats him on the head, worries about him when he's crying--and is jealous of him. he wants mama when he wants mama--the end. ESPECIALLY when he's sick or tired or hungry. he'll pretent to be a baby himself, and tell me that mama has TWO babies. he remembers some of the baby toys finn now plays with, and he'll sometimes steal them, claiming them for his own. with christmas, we have actually had to draw a line in the sand over a few things, which is a hard lesson for the critter.

at every age, i find that he gets both easier and more difficult to manage. each progression brings its own challenges, which we are just meeting one day at a time. he's a hoot, a pain in the ass, stubborn as a rock, moody, hilarious, and possibly hypoglycemic. he makes me laugh every single day. he fills me with frustration almost as often. but good and bad, he's my little man, and a joy to behold.

Monday, January 03, 2011


one of the physically strongest and most robust people i have ever known is my brother, doug. as it turns out, nature doesn't give a damn about this. my family history is filled with cancer, and while i've sort of always quietly and morbidly assumed i'd have to battle it someday, it somehow never occurred to me that any of my siblings might also have to face the beast. my brother is heading up that hill, and his fight is likely to be hard one. good thoughts and prayers for him and his family would be greatly appreciated.

this, my friends, is a shitty way to start a new year.

Saturday, January 01, 2011


2010 was the year of unfinished projects. so many things half done; so much life passed in a hurtle without stopping to breathe; so much time escaped from me in a fog of half concentration. to this, i cry: no more! my main goal for 2011 is to follow through on what i start. i want concrete goals for the year, so i have things i can check off. here's my list--consider it in sharpie:

1. clean out/organize closet and dresser
2. fold laundry within 24 hours of doing it
3. plan meals better so we waste less food
4. finish bedroom decor
5. do more art with the boys
6. more dates with the hippie

1. knit kieran a fair isle hat
2. finish my sister's clapotis
3. felt all the nearly finished felted bags i have ready to go (and have HAD nearly ready to go for...uh...a long time)
4. finish one of the two shawls for me that i have on the needles
5. knit a sweater for ME
6. knit finn a blanket

1. maintain my haircut
2. move more
3. play more with my family
4. write more
5. make at least one thing a month
6. finish 3 novels

there. something down on paper, so to speak. as cliche as it is, it's important to me to start the year off with some thoughts of this nature. i'm not wasting time regretting all the things i didn't get done in 2010--that's pointless. all i am doing is looking to the future with thoughts of improvement.

i believe i will print this out and put it in the fridge to remind me every day what i want to get done.