Things that Go BUMP in my Mind

Knitting, stitching, reading, gardening, cooking--I have no time for any of it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Misc. stuff...

My first completed knitting object: My mom's chemo cap.

This will teach me to take pictures indoors, instead of in natural light. Believe it or not, the cap is a lovely, cool green, not grayish pink (or pinkish gray, depending on your monitor). It is not as ugly and hopeless as the picture makes it appear. In any event, it is on its way to my mom (who starts chemo today), along with another cap much more capably knit by the inestimable Patti.

I've also finished the never-ending baby blanket, and none too soon. The lucky recipient arrived in the world yesterday. Pics (of the blanket, if not the baby) soon.

And, believe it or not, there is some stitching going on.

This is what I've gotten done so far on Teresa Wentzler's "Above the Clouds." Again, it's a pretty cruddy picture, but you can see the mottled look of the fabric, which is going to be really cool when it's all done. I'll post more pics as the work progresses.

I'm reading a fascinating book right now: No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting, by Anne McDonald. Seriously, this book is a must-read for American women who knit. Did you know that knitting was a form of protest from way, way, waaaaaay before Knitters Against Bush? True fact, my friend. But you have to read the book to learn more about it, hahaha. If you liked Debbie Stoller's introducton to Stitch & Bitch, you'll probably enjoy McDonald's book.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Gratuitous cuteness

aka, party pics. Just a few, some of which were taken by special guest photographer Andy.

First, the cake:

There are two things you will notice about the cake (other than its really cool "Madagascar" theme, which Andy loved). First, it is huge. This is my fault. Chuck dutifully ordered a "half-sheet" cake, per my instructions. Evidently, in bakery parlance "half-sheet" means "roughly twice the size of anything you could bake in your puny little home oven." Silly me. We fed every kid at the pool (some of them twice) and still had a ton left. Not that I am complaining--see the next paragraph.

Also, there is the fact that it is not homemade. I do not feel the least bit guilty about this, and if you have ever tasted a cake from Publix, you will understand why. When people bite into a piece of Publix cake, their eyes roll back in their heads and they say, "Oh my God, you got this from Publix, didn't you?" and you are immediately the best hostess that ever walked the face of the earth. All hail the Publix cake. (For the record, Andy will get a homemade cake for his actual birthday.)

Here is a close-up of a slice of cake, courtesy of our Special Guest Photographer:

Andy also took pictures of his lunch, his juice, and the pole for the table umbrella.

And, he snapped this:

That's the back of his friend Jonathan's head. I think Andy was going for some kind of avant-garde, post-modern kind of thing.

Of course, after several hours at the pool and the general merriment that ensued there, our party guy was a bit wiped out: Gratuitous cuteness alert!

The absolute adorableness of my big guy cuddled up with a stuffed kitten totally makes up for the fact that this nap caused him to be awake until almost midnight.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

And a good time was had by...

both of them--Andy and the one kid who showed up. Sheesh. But Andy didn't notice and we shared the cake with everyone at the pool, so all in all it was not a bad day. Pictures (I let Andy have the camera again) coming later.

Here goes nothin'

The first word out of Andy's mouth upon waking this morning was "Yippee!" He then ran into our bedroom shouting "It's my birthday! Mommy, it's my birthday!" It's actually not his birthday today--today is just the party. His birthday is next Friday. Apparently, however, such trivial distinctions are lost on the youth of this household.

We're just about ready for la fete. Andy and Chuck are out getting the balloons, cake, and some ice. All of my prep work is pretty much done (for once, I have managed to keep things simple. There will be no ice cream because I don't want to bother trying to keep it frozen at the pool. And there will be no fruit salad because people who don't RSVP do not deserve such niceties. Yes, I'm still torqued about that, thanks for noticing.) Hot dogs, chips (potato and tortilla), veggies & dip, various drinks, and cake. And goodie bags, of course. And the pool. Hopefully that will keep everyone happy.]

So, now I just have to hope that people show up. Cross your fingers for us.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Helloooooooo!

Look who we found at the bookstore last night:

A cute little hippo guy. He was found wandering, bereft, in a basket of clearance-priced beanie babies, and we simply had to rescue him. Cute little hippo guys do not belong amongst pink striped "tigers". It's just not right, for a variety of ecological and chromatic reasons. So naturally we brought him home.

Here he is getting to know the rest of the hippo population chez Small:

We think he will get along well with the other hippos. (Well, except for the gold-tone one Mom sent me for my birthday. But that one’s kind of snooty in general, being gold and all.)

And here, just in case you were wondering, is what Andy’s feet look like:

This is what happens when you let your almost-five-year-old have your digital camera for more than 30 seconds. There is also a picture of the shoes on the mat by the door, but trust me when I tell you that this picture is even less inspiring than the picture of Andy’s feet.

Poor Andy. His birthday party is Saturday, and he’s so excited about it, but I don’t think many kids are going to come. In addition to the ones that are out of town (a problem we had tried to avoid by scheduling the party *before* the July 4 weekend), it turns out that there are two other birthday parties this Saturday, and Andy’s is the one in the middle. Only about 1/3 of the guest list has bothered to RSVP (you people are rude, rude, rude, and I am very. annoyed. at you.), so we have no idea who else might be coming.

And, of course, there’s the fact that he wasn’t invited to either of the other birthday parties. One of the kids is an older boy, so I’m not surprised Andy wasn’t invited to that one. The other, I don’t know. Either way, I’m upset because I think Andy is going to get crushed on Saturday. Every maternal fiber in my being (turns out there are a lot of them, by the way), wants to scream at the world for daring to hurt my precious little boy. Life shouldn’t be like this, not at five years old.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

J'accuse!

It's a conspiracy, I tell you.

Now that the weather has turned consistently hot here in the South, I've been trying to go running before work, when it's much cooler. To get a decent run in, I need to get up at 6:00 a.m. This would not be all that difficult to accomplish (placing the alarm clock far away from my bedside and right next to my running clothes helps), were it not for my beloved children, who evidently have decided that I do not need to go running in the morning. In fact, they appear to be of the view that things work out best if I consistently oversleep.

Allow me to explain. The last several times I planned an early morning run, Owen decided to need a substantial amount of nocturnal attention from me. The first night, I was a substitute for a missing blanket, which was later discovered under Andy's bed (that should have clued me in right there, but I am slow about these things). The following night, the problem was missing loveys (later discovered stashed in the playroom. Another clue.). The next time, it was an eczema flare up.

So, last night Owen finally gets back to sleeping through the night (getting him to sleep was another story, however). We should be all clear for an early morning run, right? Nope, because apparently it's Andy's turn. My eldest child, who sleeps like a stone and who has not spent the night in our bed since infancy, had a nightmare and came to join us at about 2:30. I was not sufficiently coherent to escort him back to his room, but it wouldn't have mattered. Either way I would have ended up sharing a bed with him. And he squirms. A lot. And asks for pillows and blankets. And then asks for a different pillow and a different blanket. On the way to fulfill the second blanket request I turned off my alarm, knowing that my early morning run was not to be. Again.

So there you have it. My children are in league against me. How can people who are so cute be so diabolical?

Monday, June 20, 2005

I have just sent my first letter to my congressman. I really can't believe that I'm 36 and I'm just getting around to this, but there you are. I am sufficiently incensed about the proposed funding cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that I decided to have my say. So I've sent off my letter to my Rep. (whose vote I will be checking, trust me), and I'm saving it so that I can modify it to send to my senators if (hopefully not when) the time comes.

If you or your kids watch any programming on PBS, or if you listen to NPR, please consider doing what you can to oppose the cuts. The CPB receives 15% of its budget from the federal gov't, and the CPB passes its funds to local PBS and NPR stations. According to the plan approved by a House subcommitte this week, this funding (which had previously been approved) will be cut by 25 percent this year and will be eliminated altogether within two years. Can CPB make up the funds through additional donations? Maybe so, but why should it have to? Publicly funded television and radio is a good idea, and it's good for the country. For the educational programming alone, it's worth a paltry $400 million (okay. $400M is not paltry to the average American, but when you're talking about a trillion dollar federal budget, it is.)

Seriously, go do something. If nothing else, add your name to the petition at moveon.org. (I know several people, my husband included, who are going to be shocked at me linking to moveon on my blog. That should indicate to you how much I care about this.)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

What I did this weekend,

an essay by me.

I took Friday off so I could go shopping. How decadent is that? I honestly can't remember the last time I went to the mall, and after running around for a couple of hours trying to find the *perfect* outfit, I know why. I hate the mall. But I did manage to find a slinky black dress suitable for a nice dinner out (see below). I had wanted to build an outfit around a lace tank top in this gorgeous chocolate brown that made my skin positively glow, but unfortunately they were out of the matching skirt in my size and the matching pants appeared to be designed for people with the curves of your average 2x4. So, like any red-blooded American woman, I sought solace in footwear and got a lovely pair of sandals at 40 percent off. Yay, me.

So, dinner. Chuck did some research not long ago for a friend, and in addition to paying him, said friend sent along a $100 gift certificate to a tres swanky new restaurant in town--the kind of place where Chuck and I might think about going to celebrate a major anniversary (10th, 25th, you get the idea), but then we'd say, "Nah, too expensive. Let's try someplace else." But, if you're going to spot us $100 to get started.... It was really, really, really good. Impeccable service, excellent food, and they seated us at this cute little semi-circular booth that was perfect for people watching. Then we took a walk downtown before heading home. All in all, a really nice evening.

The rest of the weekend has been fairly routine. I got a bit of knitting done last night, but not enough. I saw the mom of the recipient of the baby blanket, and she looked ready to explode. I'm going to try to finish it this week, and hopefully the blanket will be done before the baby arrives.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A mind is a terrible thing.

Creativity should be used for good, not evil. Sometimes, however, the creative person finds it difficult to tell the difference between "Wow, honey, that's brilliant!" and "Honey, you probably shouldn't have done that." To illustrate the difference, I give you the following two examples of my husband's creativity.

First up: Creativity used for good.
We've wanted a table for the kids to build their train tracks (and sundry other construction-type things) on for ages, but the things are hella-expensive. So on Monday, my darling hubby had the brilliant idea of adding 1x4 edges to an old table from Ikea that had been hanging around, being generally useless. Seven dollars and three coats of paint later, we have this:

A train table that Owen loves so much he wants to sit on it to be sure it doesn't fly away.

Next: I wish he hadn't thought of this:

What you see here is a "Blue Meany", which Chuck concocted by freezing blue raspberry bug juice and blending it with vanilla ice cream. I thought it was vile; Andy, of course, loved it.

I suspect we will be serving them at Andy's birthday party (where we will be serving, apparently, every food that Andy likes and many that he doesn't, but which he insists must be served anyway).

Monday, June 13, 2005

A new project.

Yes, another one. But it's not what you think. I went to A.C. Moore yesterday and got some lovely pima cotton and some dpn's. I'm going to make a chemo cap. For my mom.

This weekend, my mom told me she has inflammatory breast cancer. IBC is a particularly nasty form of this disease. It grows in sheets, so it's rarely detected by routine mammograms (indeed, my mom had her most recent routine mammogram in, I think, February). One day you wake up with a lump in your breast that wasn't there the day before, and congratulations! You have stage IV cancer. You now have a 40 percent chance of living to see your eldest grandson's 10th birthday. Have a nice day, ma'am.

Forty. F'ing. Percent.

On the brighter side, there is a fairly decent chance that my mom will be one of the lucky ones. All the tests she's had indicate that the cancer has not spread (other than to two of her lymph nodes, which is pretty routine with IBC), and this form of cancer responds quite well to chemotherapy. So she'll have 5-6 months of chemotherapy (does that seem like a really long time to anyone other than me?), then surgery, then radiation to kill whatever's left.

There isn't really much I can do for her at this point, other than pray and make sure her soon-to-be-bald head is as styling as I can make it. I plan to make her a pretty cool collection of caps (including, possibly, a hallowig) . If anyone has a good source for really soft, 100% cotton yarn (she can't wear anything other than cotton b/c of allergies), please let me know.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Don't look at me like that.

I have needs. I have urges. I can't be expected to knit on the same baby blanket day after day after day after day, especially not when I am within a skein and a half of finishing. And I couldn't satisfy my lust for new projects with a measly dinosaur (who is going to be utterly cute, by the way, when he has a couple more legs). And, for Pete's sake, I have a nephew on the way. So, you'll understand why I had to buy this:


So that I could knit this.

This is what I will be working on tomorrow, when the boys and I are on our way to see Thomas the Tank Engine at Tweetsie Railroad. I totally can't wait to see Owen's face when he sees Thomas up close and personal. The kid is seriously going to blow a gasket. It's going to be a long day, but hopefully it will be a fun one.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Marshmallow.

I am a total, complete marshmallow on the inside. I just finished reading "My Sister's Keeper," by Jodi Picoult, and I cried like a baby. I sat here, weeping into my tissue, and hoping nobody would come to my office or call. Like I said, I'm a marshmallow. It makes me feel better that the author's 12-year-old son was so upset after he finished reading the book that he left the room crying and wouldn't talk to her for hours.

Go read this book, especially if you're a mom. Or a dad. Or a sister. Or a brother. It is wonderfully and empathetically written, and my heart broke for each and every character, in each and every chapter.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Curse you, Antonio Banderas!

Look what you made me do!



That's right, Tony-boy. The mistakes I made while watching you in "The 13th Warrior" were so bad I felt the only way to redemption was through frogging. An entire evening's work gone, and for what? A brief cinematic fling with you. And it wasn't all that good, anyway. In fact, it was quite wretched. (The movie, that is. You, as always, were a smokin' hottie.) I felt tainted afterwards.

And then, to see the aftermath of our torrid encounter in a poor, sweet, innocent little baby blanket. The dropped stitches, the bad tension, the pervasive evidence of having abandoned it for nothing more than a little eye candy. As painful as it was, I had to eliminate the evidence.

And while I sit on the living room floor, muttering under my breath as I attempt to thread those itty bitty stitches back onto my needles, you skip off without a care. Curse you, I say, curse you!

Friday, June 03, 2005

A series of [insert adjective here] events.

What a short, strange week it's been in Kirsten's world. Let's hit the highlights, shall we?

Unusual event #1: See this? It's my desk. My *clean* desk. Because I am caught up. I am never caught up. It's one of those things you can count on--the sun rises in the East, bunny rabbits are cute, and Kirsten is always just a little bit (or sometimes a lot) behind at work. Not today, baby. Today, I am caught up.

Unusual events #2a and 2b:The kids have gone to sleep with relatively little fuss the last couple of nights. Owen, in particular, has been quite mellow at bedtime the last couple of days. (Of course, he was also mellow on Tuesday night, while he was eviscerating his stuffed fish, leaving a huge pile of stuffing and styrofoam pellets for us to clean up when we discovered the fiasco at 10:30. But I digress.)

Unusual event #3:Chuck and I rented a movie ("Anchorman") on Wednesday night. We *never* rent movies, because we can never count on actually being able to watch them.

Unusual event #4:I liked "Anchorman." Okay, technically this is not an event, but me liking any movie by a SNL alum is pretty unusual. With the exception of the "cat poop" scene (don't ask), "Anchorman" is a pretty good movie, that is actually quite funny. Or maybe I was just tired and/or tipsy. Anyway, I enjoyed it.

Unfortunate events #1 & 2:I dropped two stitches in the baby blanket last night. I managed to pick them back up, but it was a little frightening at the time.

Unfortunate events #3 & 4:More mistakes in the baby blanket. See that? There are supposed to be 10 purls and 10 knits in those two blocks. Instead, there's 11 of one and 9 of the other. Oops.


Another goof (other than the blurriness of the picture)--I knit when I should have purled, or something like that.

Unusual event #5:Two wrongs (the dropped stitches) shall presently make a right. I spent some time last night looking at the mistakes described above, and despairing over the evident need to rip out an entire evening's worth of work. Then, as I was dragging myself off to bed, I had a knitting epiphany: I don't have to rip out. I can just drop stitches back to the mistakes, and pick them up correctly. Problem solved. Had I not realized that it's really not all that scary or difficult to pick up dropped stitches, this epiphany may not have happened. I know it's not much, as knitting epiphanies go. But hey, I'm still new at this.

Oh, and next Saturday is World-wide knit in public day. Get out there and knit!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Maybe it's true

But I don't have to like it.

You are dishcloth cotton.
You are Dishcloth Cotton.
You are a very hard worker, most at home when
you're at home. You are thrifty and seemingly
born to clean. You are considered to be a Plain
Jane, but you are too practical to notice.


What kind of yarn are you?
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