November 28, 2007

What's the Difference Between Chopped Beef and Pea Soup?

You can chop beef, but you can't pee soup! That's the latest joke around this house. Sad, isn't it? Oh well, the kids have had a lot of fun with it.

Not much has changed since my last post. The boys are still in Florida. RL's Dad is still in the hospital waiting for surgery. R and I are trying to get Christmas together in their absence. Although the guys get the stuff out of the attic and then sit and watch R and I decorate the tree, their absence is truly felt. L has never been into all the Christmas hoopla like R is, but I miss his scrooge-like behavior! Go figure.

As for RL's Dad, Popo to all of us, he has finally received word that he will have to go to Shands in Gainesville for his surgery. All of that has to be arranged by a doctor in their home town and a doctor at Shands. Apparently he has two aneurysms, but they are worried about the one near his kidneys since it's so large. RL is quite confused about what to do since he can't sit and wait when he has work waiting for him here. But when it comes to life or death matters, work can wait. We'll know more tomorrow - or at least that's what I'm told every day.

Meanwhile, R and I are busy getting things decorated. We went into L's room since it's the room that accesses the attic. I won't even go into what his room looks like, but I know that more than one stack of papers and books attacked me on purpose. We got all of the boxes down and then set to work on cutting the bottom off the tree we had bought before the guys left. The guy at Home Depot with the chain saw made us look like we live in 1807. After trying several sawing techniques, I was ready to gnaw the bottom off that tree! We ventured out to the shed for the tree stand and other decorations. Oh what fun that was. Did you detect any sarcasm in my typing, because it was there. We got the tree in the stand and it leans. We have decided that since there are lights on the majority of it - we ran out and have to get more - that we are going to let it lean. RL says we'll just say it's an Italian tree, I guess the leaning tree of Pisa. Since R doesn't mind, and she's the perfectionist in this family, nobody else minds! Now to buy more lights and then we can start with the ornaments. I would like to have most of the decorating done before the guys get back.

We had one objection to the tree. Ginger did not like it one bit. She is 12 years old and has been dealing with live trees all her life, but for some reason, she did not like this one. She got right up to it and if we got near her, she would hiss at us. I thought, well, one of them was going to spend the holiday outside and after all the trouble with that tree, it was more than likely going to be her! She finally adjusted and is sleeping in her little fleece cube under the tree.

This was Ginger checking out the tree while it was still in the kitchen/dining area. Here tail wasn't quite as fluffy at this point as it was when the tree first came in.

Knitting is going on. R and I are knitting things we can't knit when the guys are here. I hope we can get finished before they get home. No biggie either way.

If you happen to think of it, and I hope you do, please say a prayer that everybody will have a safe trip to Shands, that the surgery will be a big success and that RL and L will have a safe trip home soon. Thanks

November 24, 2007

Black Friday

I don't ever recall the Friday after Thanksgiving being called 'Black Friday' when I was a kid. I just knew it was a day to avoid the mall. We did avoid the mall today, but ended up going to town. The fabric store wasn't too bad. Of course we didn't go until about 4:00 in the afternoon, so most of the lunatics were heading home with their purchases that they fought for with blood, sweat and possibly tears.
We had a nice Thanksgiving, but it was also one of the weirdest ones we've had. Last year was spent with a house full of family and me in bed fighting off a full plate of stress and recovering from a mini nervous breakdown. I had great hopes for this year. However, things happen and the next thing you know, you are heading in a direction you can't control. Kind of like the year R went down that hill on her sled and couldn't stop. She eventually did stop - thanks to a tree, but that's story for another time. This year was a doozy. RLs Mom and Dad always go on a long trip in their RV from about May to late October. When they get home to Florida, they go for their annual checkups, bloodwork and flu shots. His Dad went and all seemed well. Later in the afternoon he got a phone call to call 911 immediately. He needed to go to the hospital. Apparently a nurse at the doctor's office discovered something 'unusual' which turned out to be a cm abdominal aortic aneurysm about the size of a small grapefruit. Of course he didn't call 911, but he and my Mom-in-law drove to the hospital. That was Tuesday. RL called his mom to find out how their appointments went and found out. What to do - what to do????? He decided Wednesday would be a horrible travel day, but packed anyway. He decided to wait until Thursday. L packed because he wanted to go too. I didn't know what to do. We have a cat and R and I decided we'd just stay here until we knew more. Wednesday night we knew more. He has another aneurysm near his heart and it's about 4 cm. As a result of that they have to check his heart strength before they can operate on the other one. The other one is a time bomb and they have to act fast. Of course they aren't acting as fast as we would have them to, but we understand they have to be careful. So, Thanksgiving morning, my two boys headed to Florida. How odd for R and I to be here without the guys. RL always does the turkey and dressing. He got it started before he hit the road - I couldn't believe he did that, but that's the way he is...a real sweetie. I don't normally do much for the meal because he loves to cook, but R and I stepped up and got things going. Mom and Daddy came over and we had a nice, quiet afternoon. Now that RL has seen his dad he feels better, but everybody is scared. They sit and wait and wait and wait. Nothing will be decided before Monday afternoon at the earliest. He may have to go to Shands in Gainesville, which is about three or four hours away from their home on the Space Coast. R and I are trying to decide what to do about going or staying. Meanwhile we are continuing with Christmas shopping and decorating. It doesn't feel right, but it does give us something to do. Keeping busy seems to be the best thing for us right now.
I heard from my nephew I made the skull - skull cap for. (He sent me a picture of him modeling it, but I don't know if I can share it since he's overseas. There's so many rules about what we can and cannot do. I don't want to overstep anything.) Anyway, he said he was a 'stud' in it and it fits, so I am happy.
R and I plan on crafting if we stay here instead of heading south. If we do, we'll post some pictures. Meanwhile enjoy your Thanksgiving leftovers and be careful if you're out there shopping!

November 19, 2007

Total Bummer!

First of all - there are no pictures. Isn't that a bummer in itself? As for the 'total bummer' that I was referring to in the title - someone stole some of our Christmas gifts out of our car last night. L was at a friends house from 2-7 for some role playing games. R was feeling a little restless and wanted to get out of the house. I suggested we all head to Borders and buy a few gifts that we couldn't buy if he was with us. R and RL were game, so off we went. R picked out a few magazines and I picked out "Shall I Knit You A Hat" for her. Such a cute, cute book. I don't care if she is 19 - sometimes a good children's book is just what you need! I also found a book that was on her list and hid it among our other purchases so she wouldn't see it. We found the book L had on his list, a book for the little boy next door and a book for RLs parents. Over $70 in books. I know - to some of you that doesn't sound like much. But since I've trying to be a little more careful this Christmas with cash, I thought it was a bit much. We got out to the car and, as usual, I took Rs magazines and her 'surprise' children's book out and handed them to her. She put them in the seat next to her and off we headed to Target. The rest of the books were still in the bag with the receipt and a small Christmas list I had made of items to pick up while we were out. We got to Target and parked in the 'back 40'. RL doesn't want anybody to ding the new car - and I don't blame him - so he parks way out there. He hit the button to lock the car, but R was slow getting out of the car so he hit the remote lock button again. Now he says he's not sure if he hit unlock or lock. I know how that feels! I've done it plenty of times - think I've locked it and then come out to the car and find it unlocked. It happens. I draped my sweater over the seat and the bag from Borders and we went into Target. We had the best time. We bought chocolate - a necessity - a gift for my in-laws, a gift or three for L and then realized the time. We still had time to go through a drive thru for dinner and to pick up L. We were goofing off as we walked out to the 'back 40' and just having a good time. RL unlocked the car with the remote and opened my door. Hmmmm, my sweater wasn't where I had left it. It wasn't draped over the seat, but in a pile on my seat. The bag was gone. We tore that car apart! The cds were still there. The stereo was still there. The books I had handed R were in the backseat were still there. Get this - her wallet was still under the front seat! However, the Borders bag was gone. Over $50 in books - stolen. Now, who is going to want that variety of books but us? I imagine I will find them at the used book store soon. Insurance won't cover it because we have a $500 deductible. Because I paid with a debit/credit card, Borders won't give cash to the returner without the card. I guess that's good to know. So, we are out $50 and have nothing to show for it. We told Target security, and their security guy was wonderful. He called the police and waited with us even though it was his lunch/dinner/whatever break. He made small talk with us and was genuinely nice. The police came and made no promises but filed a report.
So, I leave you with this little Public Service Announcement - MAKE SURE YOUR CAR IS LOCKED IF YOU LEAVE YOUR PURCHASES IN THE CAR! It apparently doesn't matter where you park because we were parked, well, in the back 40, but under a light. Just be careful! This experience leaves us with a weird, violated feeling. However, I am truly thankful that books were all that was taken and we are all fine. Be careful. Christmas brings out the good, but unfortunately the bad too.

November 18, 2007

Let the Frenzy Begin!

Mom called yesterday and asked if I'd like to check some sales in town. Sure, I said. I figured now was the time to go. We would beat the rush of next weekend - the official first weekend of Christmas shopping. We must not have gotten the memo. Did you? Apparently Christmas shopping started this weekend - or perhaps even before. The traffic was brutal. The parking lots were just as brutal. I do have to admit I have found great joy in driving my HHR. This was the first time I have been able to park in a compact parking space in a long, long time! I was never able to do that in the Expedition. The first store we hit didn't have the sizes we needed, so we headed off to another shopping center. Wall to wall people complaining about how crowded the mall was. I don't go to the mall for anything but panic attacks, so I just took their word for it and decided to take deep breaths and be cool shopping where I was. We headed from there to Target. For a Saturday night it wasn't too bad. I will probably head back there for some more stuff on the old Christmas lists. However, I have decided that the internet is my friend and I will be using it to the hilt! As a matter of fact, I ordered several things last night and some more things this morning. The internet is your friend too!

R asked for a spinning wheel for her big gift for Christmas. She wanted an Ashford traditional - something like that, I can't remember. I know it when I see it, but I can't remember details. I found one on e-bay for an extremely reasonable price. I bid. I was promptly outbid. I bid again. I was promptly outbid again. Someone had set their maximum price and it was apparently more than my mine. This went on for several bids and over several days. I got an e-mail today that my bid did not win. I didn't really expect it would. I wasn't going to end up paying the same amount for a used spinning wheel as I would for a brand new one. I decided to keep searching and sat at the computer to search e-bay one more time. Before I started looking though, I decided to check my e-mail. I received an e-mail from a friend and I am so thankful I saw it before I went nuts and bought a spinning wheel for more money than I needed to spend. My friend bought, yes, she bought, a spinning wheel for R! Can you believe it???? She is an
e-bay mastermind and bid on a used wheel and got it! I think she was as shocked as I was! I asked her what I owed her and she said nothing. Nothing. Can you believe that? All she wanted in return was for R to participate in Old Timey Days at the local elementary school once a year for an hour. One hour a year for a spinning wheel. I was, and still am, in shock. I keep asking what I can pay her and she won't take any money for it. Mom said, "Quit asking! Just accept her good deed." So, I quit asking. I thanked her more than is probably proper. Now my Christmas shopping budget can be rearranged and probably is more reasonable. Wow! We can all use friends like this!

Knitting is still going on, but not anything that can be shared until after Christmas. I did make the little dragon puppet from Interweave magazine. I saw it and thought - gee, I can knock those out in no time and make them for this kid and that kid. I made one. I got it out of my system and I am finished! No kids, besides the two who live here, will be getting one. Since we have been in drought conditions this year and have a burn ban, I decided not to put flames in his mouth like the one in the magazine.

This picture looks like he is eating a store bought sock - and rightfully so! Who brought a store bought sock into this house???????

November 11, 2007

A Hat for Sam

I've been wanting to knit something for my nephew, Sam. He's in Iraq and I try to send him a package of goodies every month or so. I thought since it's probably getting a little cooler over there now that winter is approaching, he might want a knitted helmet liner. I e-mailed and asked. Nope - his helmet fits tight and there's no room for one. Plus it's still too hot for one. However, if I felt like I needed to knit for him, he would take a cap with a skull and crossbones to sleep in. I guess when you don't have much hair, it gets a little chilly at night. I looked everywhere for a pattern. Hello Yarn has a great one, but I didn't have the needle sizes I needed. Besides, I wanted a fast knit - worsted weight - so I could finish it and get it to him soon. Plus, I need to knit some Christmas gifts and I wanted time for that. I looked and looked. I tried to make one up on my own. I am not the knit design wizard that R is, so I was lost. Then I got a life saving, or knit saving, e-mail from Bella Modiste saying I needed to check out this website: . Boy, she was right on the money! It was just what I needed. Another link from that site and some charts from Made By Tess and I was ready to knit. I started last night and today I present to you.....ta da.....Sam's Hat:

No, Cindy Styrofoamhead is not embarrassed. I just wanted to show the whole hat. I'm debating about blocking it. I know, I should block everything you knit, but I don't always do that. Don't tell anybody, but it's also rare when I knit a gauge swatch. I know and I don't want to hear it. Don't judge me! I hope Sam enjoys it and it's close enough to what he wants. Hopefully he'll send pictures of him wearing it.

Also, I want to send our condolences to a family from our church in Florida. The minister, and his wife, who married RL and I just recently lost their youngest child during surgery. Charity was born almost 29 years ago with the umbilical cord around her neck and has had problems ever since. During a recent operation, a mistake was made and she died on the operating table. Please say a prayer of comfort for this family as they suffer their loss and for the days ahead while they travel to bury her in their home state.

November 10, 2007

What will YOU do during the writer's strike?

With the writer's strike in full force, we have taken to entertaining ourselves in various ways. Oh, I realize television is not actually effected yet, but it will be and we are preparing ourselves. What can you do to keep yourself occupied so you aren't staring at a blank screen - or even worse - reality shows?
You can bake cupcakes. R got an order for three dozen cupcakes for a slumber party. Her knitting student just turned 13, I believe, and her mom ordered cupcakes with sprinkles for a slumber party. They invited ten girls to attend. Now, if I was given the choice between baking cupcakes for eleven 12 and 13 year olds or holding a slumber party for them - I would pick baking cupcakes EVERY SINGLE TIME! R decided that half of the cupcakes needed lollipops, so she made those. There were a hit and the mom survived the entire ordeal. What a woman!
You can put your cat on the top shelf of the living room bookshelves and hope your mom doesn't beat you. The innocent victim is on the right and the guilty, guilty party is on the left. She can hardly be seen, but she is there. Oh yes, she is there.
Hmmm, what else can you do during the writer's strike? Well, you can take pity on your cat and knit her a sweater. Ginger is losing the hair on her tummy and our vet believes she has allergies. I casually mentioned that Ginger needed a sweater in the presence of R. NEVER casually mention anything to a budding knitting designer. R took off with it. Not only does she make a sweater, she puts a collar on it and buttons - with button holes!

She modeled it - a little unwillingly - actually very unwillingly. It took all morning to get that baby on her. She couldn't figure out why we were following her with a knitted article and a camera. Here she is giving us the 'devil eyes' look. But also notice how nicely the collar lays around her neck and the ribbing around her 'waist'. Also, that shade of blue is very flattering on her.

Now this picture just sums it all up. She is giving us her 'I really hate this. Please help me." look. Shortly after this was taken, she was released from her sweater bondage. We haven't seen her since. She is either upstairs hiding or doing vile things to her mother's bedroom. My money is on the latter.

So, as you can see, the possibilities of what you can do during the writer's strike are endless!

November 7, 2007

Nothing to Talk About

There's not too much to post about around here. Well, that's not exactly true. I can't show you what I'm knitting for Mom. She knows what it is, just not what it looks like. I can't tell you what we plan on making next because it's for Mom and Daddy and I don't want them to know about it. I can't show you what I've been sewing guessed it, Christmas gift. What can I tell you about? I finally decided on a coordinating fabric for the dinosaur pillowcase for the little boy next door. It doesn't match perfectly, but it looks okay to me. I also decided on the books to go with them - 'How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends' for him and 'Dora Saves Mermaid Kingdom' for her. I think those will go along with the 'theme' just fine.
I ended up returning a Christmas gift already! I ordered the wrong thing for L and had to send it back. While I was standing in line at the Post Office with half of the town, I decided to buy my Christmas stamps. I got the 'Holiday Knits' stamps. How appropriate! Go to to see them. Since it's been in the 30's at night and in the 50's to 60's during the day, it's a little easier to think about getting Christmas cards written. Not so easy that I want to do it right this second, but a little easier to think about!
Our nephew has safely made it to California. Thank Heaven for that! He shared the driving with a friend of his, so it wasn't a looonnnggg, lonely trip. Now for him to get settled and start his new job. I won't worry about him at all where that is concerned. He's a real 'people person' and will do just fine.
So, that's all the 'nothing' I can find to talk about. Have a day!

November 3, 2007

It's coming whether you're ready or not!

Christmas is coming faster and faster every day. I don't know why R hasn't put an updated post-it on the monitor, but she has been keeping me updated on how many more days we have. The Christmas lists are being perfected. I'm beginning to see more of the Fed Ex, UPS and mail carriers. We should all be on a first name basis by the time the big day rolls around. And, to make matters worse, I haven't even put a dent in the shopping. It will get done though - with you as my witnesses, it will get done!

Last night R and I went to our local card store. (I don't know if I can mention their name or not - anybody know?) We LOVE our local card store. The staff is terrific and treats us like we are their only customers, which we know we are not - not by a long shot. I guess if you spend so much there every year and have one of their 'store cards', you can be invited to a special open house. It's always the night before their big holiday weekend sale in November. You feel kind of special because it's by invitation only and you have to show your invitation to get through the door. It was cold - which helped get us into the spirit of the season. We got there, flashed our invitations and in we went. I had to buy some birthday and Thanksgiving cards (yes, I send Thanksgiving cards to some people - get off my case) so I headed there first. R was ready to hit the seasonal stuff, so she stuck with me for a minute or two and then couldn't take it another minute. Off she went to check out the ornaments. It didn't take long before we had to get a basket to hold the goods. She gets RL and I ornaments every year from certain collections and she always gets her Barbie ornament, so they went into the basket. Then I had to get the ornament that L always gets R for a gift. (I am his official elf, so I had to take care of that. R looked away in her discreet manner while I dropped it in the basket.) From there it was to see all the advertised specials and to pick out which ones we wanted to buy. We bought way too much, but did manage to get quite a few gifts that we wanted to get. Then - to top it all off - the goody bags! We get the greatest goody bags from them if we spend a certain amount - no problem there. We never know what we'll get, but it's always great! This year was no exception. We got some special edition ornaments and the cutest little penguin bowl. We went out to the car and started looking at our goody bags, getting more and more excited about our 'first Christmas gifts' when R gets the idea to turn on the radio. Guess what was on???? Christmas music! November 2nd and Christmas music was playing! R is ready! But then again, she starts lobbying for a Christmas tree before Halloween. No telling how she'll celebrate the holidays when she has a place of her own. She'll probably have a tree up all year long. We went by Mom and Daddy's to share our loot and visit for a while and then back home. What exciting thing were our guys doing when we got home? They were watching Lara Croft. I can't say that I blame them. They probably enjoyed that a whole lot more than if we had made them come along with us. Nah, there's no probably to it - I know they enjoyed it more!

I've been trying to make some of the gifts we give at Christmas too. I decided to make pillow cases for the little kids next door. Sounds boring, I know, but I'm trying to use themes they will like. For the little girl, I got some really busy mermaid fabric. For her brother, I got a dinosaur print since he loves dinosaurs. Did I mention he loves dinosaurs? I should have said he loves dinosaurs. I want to include books with the pillowcases, but don't know what to include. Any ideas?

It's time to close for now and put the Halloween decorations in the attic. While I'm up there, I'll exchange them for the Thanksgiving decorations. Since I access the attic through Ls room, he asked if I could just save him the aggravation of cleaning so I can get to the attic and get the Christmas decorations out too. I don't think so! Leave it to a guy to by logical!
Happy Birthday to our nephew in Iraq! Be safe, we love you and try to enjoy your b'day!
Our nephew is moving across the country this weekend. He's been transferred by his company to California. He's very, very excited. I'm nervous, but very happy for him. We should all get to do something we want to do from time to time, right? So, be careful as you travel - enjoy your new job - and know that we love you very much!