Monday, July 31, 2006

Busy Day

Lots to say and acknowledge. I'll start from the start.

Girlie took swimming lessons two summers ago, and try as hard as she might, she could never get past level two. I don't think her muscles were developed enough to do what was required to pass, and that was to swim across the short length of the pool without stopping to touch her feet on the bottom. We spent the entire summer doing level two over and over and over and over and over again.

Last summer I was a little busy giving birth to Sproutie and taking care of a newborn, so swim lessons were out.

So we started up swim lessons again after our trip to Chicago. Girlie began in level two again, and she sailed right through it this time. She got her patch and certificate last Friday. We celebrated with a pizza dinner in her honor.

Today she started level three, and I can already tell that she's going to sail through this one, too. I'm so very proud of her. My babies love the water. So does their dad. Notice I didn't mention that I did. Because I DON'T. There is nothing about swimming that I enjoy. Call me weird, but we all have our likes and dislikes, and I strongly dislike the water. I like to shower; that's about it where water is concerned.

ZimDee also started his lessons today. He's in the preschool class, which is just for fun, to get him comfortable with being in the water.

Here is a picture of my water babies at the pool:Zim's in the forefront, of course. If you look closely you can see Girlie sitting in the background. She's the skinny little thing sitting to the left of the wooden stool.

Girlie's old enough to shower and dress herself in the locker room after lessons, but ZimDee is just old enough to not be welcome in the girl's locker room, and of course I can't go in the boy's locker room. So it's quite a juggling act to get Zim dried off on the sidelines while also holding Sproutie and trying not to expose ZimDee. We had to wait for Girlie to come out of the dressing room and hold Sproutie so I could help ZimDee. Otherwise Sproutie would want to crawl right into the pool! And there's no room for strollers in the tiny spectator area. So I have my hands full.

After that exhausting experience (and it wasn't even noon yet!) what I wanted to do was, well, go straight to bed. Instead I had tons of errands to run, but had to run home because I forgot my cell phone. When I got home there was a package waiting for me from the very kind Jennifer. She held a little song contest on her blog where you listed three to five of your favorite songs, and I won the drawing! We opened the package right then and there in the car. Jennifer was such a doll, she even sent some goodies for the babies. Here is what we got:Girlie got a very nice journal for writing her stories in. She absolutely loves it.For Sproutie, she sent a little stuffed toy of Elmo's fish Dorothy, which ZimDee promptly snatched up. He is a huge fan of Elmo (and Spongebob, judging by the shirt)But don't worry, because Sproutie loved the Spiderman mask meant for Zim.Just look at that sweet little smile! But I got the good stuff. A pretty card, a zippered bag to hold all sorts of knitting gadgets, and a gorgeous ball of Artful Yarns Portrait. Thank you so much, Jennifer. You are far too kind. And thank you so much for thinking of my babies and putting a smile on their faces too!

And finally, a correction. One of the errands we had to run today was to pick up the items that we submitted to the fair and collect our ribbons (and moneys). Here is a picture of all of my submissions and ribbons. Notice anything? It turns out that my raspberry freezer jam won a second place ribbon after all! I had not brought a separate printed recipe, but instead wrote the recipe by hand on the back of the submission ticket. The judges' comments on the check sheet says "good".
Yay! Hooray! I feel so good that everything I submitted to the fair earned a ribbon. I also earned a total of $16 for my winnings ($4 for first place, and $3 for each second place). I kinda like this fair business.

My raspberry jam is quite good, by the way. If any of you readers ever come to my house I'll let you try some of my "award winning recipe" as we sit and drink our tea.

But best of all, look what we found attached to Girlie's homework submission when we went to pick it up:Yes, my friends, it's a green "Youth Participation" ribbon and Girlie was so excited to get it that she didn't know what to do with herself. The look on her face when she saw the ribbon is one that I will never forget. I shared one of my dollars with her and she was proud as she could be.

Life is good.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Off to the Fair We Go...

But first, a word...

Blogger, oh Blogger, wherefore art thou so unstable when I try to put pictures on my blog??? The only consistent thing about you is your inconsistency. I've tried to fool you with figuring out html and copying and pasting the pictures in that format, making note of and changing the numbers of the photos. That worked for a while, until you caught on to me and no longer allowed even that. What have I done to forsake you? What can I do to get back into your good graces again? To quote the diva, Ms. Barbra Streisand: "Was there a moment when I cut you down? Played around? What have I done?" I'm beseeching you now with this one request: take mercy on this girl who simply wants to share her world with her friends and loved ones. Cooperate, please. Thank you so very much.

We continue now with our regularly scheduled programming, already in place:

Have you ever gone to the fair and looked at the exhibits, especially the ones that won ribbons, and thought to yourself, "I can do that!" Well, I have. Every year I go to the fair and say that, and vow that I'm going to enter something next year. When next year comes, I remind myself again that I'm going to enter something. This continues every year.

But not this year.

This year, I joined the State Fair Knitalong, hosted by Larissa. You can read the details of her KAL by clicking on the button on my sidebar. August 15th is the date to submit entries for the Oregon state fair. I thought I'd get my feet wet first by entering submissions in the county fair. But I rarely hold onto the things I knit. Unlike most of the other crafts I've done, which I tended to hoard, I give most of my knitting away. So the only unused knitting finished objects I had were things I finished just recently: my Mock Croc socks and a picot bag, which is a gift, to be given later this summer. (This bag might look very familiar to you, Kim, as I sent you a purple one for the Knitting Vacation Swap). So as I was going through the guidelines of submission, it occurred to me that I could also enter some raspberry freezer jam and some beaded bracelets. Here is a picture of my entries:

There was also a section for homework by age group. I asked Girlie if she wanted to submit a creative writing piece she wrote last year, and she did. So off to the fair we went. Here we are last Sunday carrying our submissions to the empty fairgrounds for judging later in the week.Here is my sweet Girlie registering her submission. They classify homework under crafts. Interesting.

The fair started today, and I tell you what, I have been on pins and needles waiting to see how the judges ruled. Actually, not so much for my stuff as for my Girlie's.

You know how, as a parent, you want your child to become confident? You want to encourage them to try things without pushing too hard. You want them to succeed on their own merits. You want them to appreciate victories. You want them to be happy and proud of themselves, no matter what.

Today was a no matter what for my sweet little thing. I was nervous the entire long ride to the fairgrounds. I was sweating bullets by the time we got to the exhibits. We went to the craft section, and found my Girlie's paper. There was no ribbon. There were tears in my eyes, I couldn't help it. She took it much better than I did. She said, "Well, the judges probably noticed some misspelled words." I sat her down and looked in her beautiful big brown eyes and told her how very proud I was of her to submit her work to the fair. That I thought it was a wonderful story, that it was my favorite. And that I was sad that she didn't get a ribbon this year. That she should be very proud of herself. While we were in the room, a little boy about Girlie's age came in with his mom and fished out his paper. It didn't have a ribbon on it. He was sad. My darling Girlie went up to him and said, "Don't worry, mine didn't get a ribbon either."

Oh, how I love you, Girlie, and your precious heart.Here you are showing off your crafty homework, ribbon or not. And you're already talking about what you're going to submit next year. That's my girl. Don't you ever lose that spirit.

By then I was afraid to look at my stuff. Afraid to find a ribbon. Afraid not to find a ribbon.

The only entries I was pretty sure would get a ribbon were my two bracelets. I love to do beadwork, though I don't do it as often now since I got so interested in knitting. Knitting is challenging to me because I have yet to master it. Beadwork, on the other hand, I'm very confident about.

I've never been to a fair where the judging for jams and jellies was not highly competitive. This fair was no exception. I didn't expect a ribbon for my freezer jam, because I'm just an amateur. I have not been submitting jams to the fair for generation after generation. I entered the jam on a whim. The guidelines didn't specify that you had to present the exact recipe with the jam. So, while quite tasty, it didn't qualify for a ribbon.

The bracelets, however, did. Another thing to note for when I enter work next year: If I enter two of the same kind of thing, like crystal beaded bracelets, they will be competing against each other. Good to know. So the bracelet on the left got a first place ribbon and the bracelet on the right got a second place ribbon. Girlie said she was so proud of me and started talking more and more about all the things she would submit next year.

Then on to the knitting. I didn't expect a ribbon for either of my submissions. Not because I'm down on myself or anything, but because the picot bag was just a little thing, and the Mock Crocs were my first ever pair of knitted socks.

I fished out and found the picot bag first, but it was kind of being held down by, what is that? A second place ribbon!Totally unexpected, and therefore, happy-making. Don't get me wrong, I was very pleased about the ribbons for the bracelets, but I was less confident about the knitting. Here is a closer picture of the bag:Finally, the socks. I fished those out, and they were also being held down by a second place ribbon!That's when I did a little happy dance. It was very exciting.

Did you know that they actually pay money for entries that win a ribbon? Something like $3 or $4 for first place, $2 for second place, and $1 for third place. I must re-invest this windfall back into my craft, don't you agree?

Here we are, worn out from the emotional highs and lows of our first fair exhibits.
For the state fair, I'm working on a silk daisy scarf like the one I knit for Jimmy's teacher. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

For the love of reading

My mother instilled in all of her four children the love of reading. I can't recall a time when my mom didn't have a book with her. In high school I would bring home assigned books for English class, and she would read them too. She would also read most of the library books I brought home. Her love of reading was contagious.

Now that I'm grown with three children of my own to raise, my time for reading has considerably lessened. In fact, in the last five years I haven't had much chance to read for pleasure at all. The most reading I've done is a magazine article over breakfast, or to consult a reference book on pregnancy or child-rearing. I read children's books to my babies, and they have developed quite a love for reading themselves. In fact, Miss Girlie belongs to a monthly book discussion group at our local library. But I missed being swept away by a good novel.

Then when visiting in Chicago, I asked my niece Stephanie about her favorite book, The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue. She said she loved the story and offered to let me read it. I was skeptical of the time involved, but I got so interested in the beautiful story that I finished the book in no time. It's about a young woman who dies suddenly but her spirit lingers on earth looking for answers. I would definitely recommend this book. 4 1/2 stars out of 5.

Then my hunger for reading surfaced again. I picked up Lost and Foundby Carolyn Parkhurst. I'm a reality TV-show junky, and this story is set behind the scenes of a fictional TV show similar to The Amazing Race. I liked the behind the scenes look, and it was a quick read, but there are some morality and sexuality issues in this book that prevent me from recommending it to, well, my mother. If rating it by stars, I'd have to give it, oh a 1 1/2 out of 5.

That's two books I've finished so far this year. Now I'm a quarter of the way through Wicked by Gregory Maguire, which I'm surprisingly finding quite enjoyable. It's surprising because it is based on the character of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz, a movie that truly freaked me out as a kid. The witch was so scary to me as to be psychologically scarring. I wouldn't have sought out this book on my own, but it's on the reading list for our library's adult discussion group. I requested the book for the discussion, but it didn't arrive until after the meeting had been held. I almost refused it when they called to say they had a copy on hold for me, but I checked it out anyway, and I'm glad I did. The author has several books on the "real" story behind fairy tales like Cinderella and Snow White. I've already requested his version of Cinderella, called Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.

And now I've compiled a list of books that I would like to read before the year is over. Included in this list is The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, Being Committed by Anna Maxted (recommended by my sister A.), The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (I want to read it because I enjoyed the movie SO much), Knit One Kill Two by Maggie Sefton (which was a gift from my Secret Pal), and The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

A lofty goal, to be sure. Since I'm in charge, I can adjust the dates accordingly. But it's good to have a goal, don't you think?

It's nice getting lost inside a book again.

Congratulations to Jennifer for winning the movie line contest from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Funny movie; I enjoyed it. Different from the TV series, but same writers, you could tell. Well done, Jennifer!

The next movie line up for consideration is:

"My, my, my, my, what a mess."

(Which is pretty much what the Count says every day when he comes home from work- ha!)

Good luck to all.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Happy Anniversary, My Love

Happy 14th anniversary, my sweet love.

This picture was taken the year we met. We were just babies then. But we knew true love when we felt it. You told me just tonight that you always knew you would marry me.

We were high school sweethearts, you and me. But we faced opposition from every angle. Cultural, mostly, from both sides, as well as an age difference. You are a few years older than me.

"Hey now, hey now
Don't dream it's over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
to build a wall between us
You know that they won't win
Don't let them win."
--Crowded House

We have always loved each other true, but there was a time when we let the world get in the way and we parted, sure that we would never see each other again.

"Two broken hearts
Neither one knows what to say
Both falling from love
But not quite all the way
Look at us now
Reaching back for yesterday
Wanting to know
If the other wants to stay
After all, I'm the one who said we're through
Now I can't live without you anymore
Out there lost is a dream that can come true
Is it worth the reaching for?
Do you love me anymore?
Darling, hold me till the morning comes
Until I see you smile
Take all the sadness from your eyes
Hold me till the morning comes
Let me stay; we've just begun
I want to stay with you."
--Paul Anka

After some hard life lessons, we found our way back to each other, never to part again.

Our wedding day was one of the best days of my life. I was so calmly sure about marrying you. And oh my gosh were you handsome. I still see that man who met me at the end of the aisle whenever I look at you. I am so proud to be your wife.

Our wedding song was "Get Here" by Oleta Adams. What it represented to us was a commitment to the other, when we would say one to the other, "Get here if you can" that we would do everything in our power to be there for each other. And my love, you have.
I really like this picture. We're being showered by bird seed (more environmentally friendly, understand). What I like is that we are so happy and laughing and everyone around us is smiling and wishing us well. But what I like best is that you are guiding me through it all.I married a kind man. I love your sweetness, your wicked sense of humor, the fact that you've always stayed in touch with the little boy inside of you. I also love the fact that you show enthusiasm for any crazy thing I or the kids can think up. You are a wonderful husband, a loving father, and great provider. I am a lucky girl.
I love sharing my life with you.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The sock, she is done...

I want you to know that it took me ALL DAY to put this post together. Blogger is most definitely not cooperating with me trying to post today, especially with pictures, so I think I'd better go with what I've got before it eats everything. I guess I should be happy that I was able to load what I did.

As promised, some pictures of Chicago. What a great city. Here is ZimDee looking down at the Chicago river: I'm a huge fan of the first Apprentice winner, Bill Rancic. It was exciting to see the progress on the project he's been working on for Trump in the city. When I was in Chicago back in November they had barely broken ground, and now it's going up fast:

And here is a picture of some of my most favorite people in the world at the foot of the John Hancock tower:
That's my beautiful niece Stephanie on the left, holding Sproutie. The cool dude next to her is my fabulous nephew Tim, and the long tall drink of water to his left is my sweet Natey. I couldn't love them more if I had given birth to them myself. One of the best things about my life is that I have the privelege of being their aunt. I love you guys! I miss you every day.

Here are Tim and Girlie walking down Michigan Avenue, the fabulous Miracle Mile that Oprah mentions at the end of every show. I even saw the famous Omni hotel that guests of the Oprah Winfrey show stay at when they're in Chicago. La di da.

So that's enough of the city, in no small part because that's all blogger would let me load.

Oh, looky here, what do we see?Yes, it's my Girlie carrying on in her mother's footsteps! No matter that this scarf has been over a year in the making now. My baby girl loves to knit! She even brought it with her on vacation. That's true dedication, if you ask me.

A belated congratulations to Kim for winning the movie line contest from The Way We Were. Love, love, love that movie. Thank you for elaborating about the scenes that made you cry. *sigh* Your sweet treats are on their way.

The next movie line up for consideration is a long way from The Way We Were. I'm thinking funny, cult movie here. What movie are these lines from?:

"Kill him--a lot!"

"Hey, you missed practice again today! I think you better sit down and think about how that made me feel."

Good luck to all.

And finally, the moment you've all been waiting for: My Mock Croc socks are done!
I finished them yesterday, just in time to show them off to Amanda at our monthly knitting guild meeting. I also got to stand up and show them to the guild members at show and tell. I felt shpeshal.

And now, my loyal readers, I would like to direct your attention to a new knitalong, of which I have been informed that I am the co-host. It all came about rather innocently enough. Amanda and I were talking about (what else) knitting at the guild meeting, and she mentioned a mystery sock knitalong that she knew of once in which the participants picked out a free pattern from the internet that had no picture to show what the finished product would look like. If you are like most people, including me, you usually skip right over those patterns. But not this time. Who of you is brave enough to come along with me on the Mystery Sock KAL? Mamma? Tam? Kim? I'm calling you out by name. Click on the link to get the full details. So, are you with me? Leave me a comment and let me know. I can't wait to find out! This is going to be fun!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Happy Birthday ZimDee!

Happy 4th birthday to my sweet little man.

You were my smallest baby at birth, barely weighing in at 6 pounds, zero ounces. Here we are in the hospital where you were born. I was in awe at the wonder of you.

Your daddy was so happy to finally have a son.

I was just happy to hold you in my arms.

And my how you grew! Here is one of my most favorite pictures of you, taken on your 2nd birthday. Chocolate cake is mighty yummy!

You are one of the funniest people I've ever met. You love your mommy with a fierceness only matched by my love for you in return. Happy birthday, my sweet prince.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I'm Home

Because he was so shocked at not being tagged by name, I now proclaim that Tim has been officially tagged! Let it be known throughout the land of this taggage! And now I look forward to your unquestionably witty answers, Mr. Tim.

And in light of not leaving anyone out, I didn't tag you, mamma, because I knew you would be out of town. But please note that the gracious Tam has done the honors. Looking forward to your answers as well.

I want to acknowledge everyone who answered that fun little meme, or GIM, in Tam's case. Who knew that Kim and Jennifer liked the TV show House as much as I do? That Angela shares the same strange love of asparagus as me? That Stephanie is obsessed with cheeseburgers? And that Amanda and Tam have both lived in Germany? Well done, ladies. It was fun getting to know all of you a little bit more!

We are now back home from our trip to Chicago. I will have some pictures to post of our trip to the city and the boys' new haircuts when everything gets more settled around here.

But right now I want to say a big thank you to my One Skein Secret Pal. She sent me the most lovely skein of Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn in my favorite color scheme: purples! Also included in the package was an adorable mini spa kit with the yummiest smelling citrus-scented candle, bath salts, and a cute little spa book. There was also a frosted lemon sugar cookie that met its untimely demise in my children's tummies before I could unpack my camera. I absolutely cannot wait to knit this fabulous yarn into a pair of socks, which is my new obsession. Thank you so much, O/S Secret Pal!

A word about Sproutie: apparently he is not allergic to penicillin after all. When we returned home we took him to a follow-up visit to his pediatrician because his rash was getting worse, not better. The doctor diagnosed him with roseola, and explained how this mistake could happen: a child presents with a high fever but no other symptoms. He is diagnosed with an ear infection and given antibiotics. When the roseola rash breaks out after the fever, the child is erroneously diagnosed with an allergy to the antibiotics. The doctor said it is a common mistake. The roseola is a virus and not treatable by antibiotics. It just has to take its course. So Sproutie is in good spirits, though still a bit polka-dotted. Thank you all for your caring words of support.

And finally, another movie contest. What movie did these lines come from?:

"Do You think if I come back its going to be ok by magic? What's going to changed? What's going to be different? We'll both be wrong, we'll both lose."
----"Couldn't we both win?"

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were old? Then we could say we survived all this. Everything thing would be uncomplicated, the way it was when we were young"
----"It was never uncomplicated."

and finally:

"Your girl is lovely."

Ok, I think I'm going to go cry now. I love this movie. It always makes me cry. Does it do the same to you? Let me know in your answer.

Good luck to all.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Movie Line Contest Winner and a Tag

Congratulations to lavendersheep for winning the movie line contest from Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest. Johnny Depp was fabulous as usual, but I'm going to go against the grain and say that I was disappointed in this movie. Check out my beautiful niece Stephanie's blog to see her review.

So, Lavendersheep (I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name), if you'd like to email your snail mail address to me at Katrina at HereinTopeka dot com, I will send your candy prize on its way. You have also earned the right to display the movie line contest winner ribbon (located on my sidebar) on your blog if you so desire.

And now for a meme, which I caught from Marji:

A) Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. dental assistant
2. manicurist/nail tech
3. court reporter
4. telephone operator

B) Four movies you would watch over and over:
1. The Incredibles
2. Victor/Victoria
3. 9 to 5
4. Tombstone

C) Four places you have lived besides where you live now:
1. Coos Bay, Oregon
2. Los Angeles, California
3. Salem, Oregon

D) Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. So You Think You Can Dance
2. Dancing with the Stars
3. Last Comic Standing
4. Grey's Anatomy

E) Four places you have been on vacation:
1. Disneyland
2. Victoria, BC
3. Yellowstone Park
4. Chicago

F) Four websites I visit daily:
1. Blogger
2. Outlook Express

G) Four of my favorite foods:
1. raspberries
2. chocolate lava cake
3. freshly made lemonade
4. Jamba Juice!!

H Four places I would rather be right now:
1. being served tea in a tea shop
2. shopping and knitting in a yarn store
3. watching a movie at the theatre
4. at Jamba Juice

I) Four friends I think will respond:
1. Jennifer
2. Kim
3. Amanda
4. Angela

Stephanie and Tam, I am tagging you as well, even though I know you protest to the meme label, Ms. Tam. And anyone else who thinks this would be fun, please join in the festivities and consider yourself tagged!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Now on to the Knitting

Now that Sproutie is feeling better, I will belatedly congratulate Jennifer for correctly guessing the movie line from Postcards from the Edge. I loved the mother/daughter dynamic in this movie, and Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine do not fail to deliver fine comedic performances.

The next movie line up for consideration is very, very current. Try this one on for size (if you've been to the movies within the last week, hint hint):

"Hello, Beastie."

Good luck to all.

And now that Sproutie doesn't want me to hold him 24/7 and he's taken more interest in playing with big brother and sissy, I can start knitting again. I'm about an inch away from turning the heel in my second Mock Croc sock. I'm already searching out patterns for my next pair of socks. I haven't decided between the Jaywalkers (MagKnits, Sept 05), Pomatomus (, Winter 05) or Baudelaire from the new issue of Knitty (, Summer 06). What do you all think? (I'm sorry I can't provide links to the patterns for you to click on and see. If you were so inclined, you could find them by doing a search. I don't know why I can't get the hyperlinks to work. It's either a blog thing or a me thing, and smart money is on it being me. Do any of you techno-savvies out there have any suggestions or explanations why I can't link to these patterns? As always, it's much appreciated.)

My love to all.

Update on Sproutie

Here is an update on my precious Sproutie:Three days into taking antibiotics for his ear infection, he woke up with a terrible rash all over his body. We are still out of town, visiting in Chicago. So we took him back to the urgent care center, where they confirmed my suspicion: he is allergic to penecillin. The doctor said to stop administering the antibiotics immediately, of course, and put him on a regimen of benadryl.

As you can imagine, I'm not very happy about the allergy. Apparently allergies to penecillin are pretty common, but I'm not comforted by that fact when the mommy worrier side of me starts thinking about the options not available to treat my child. I've heard that administering antibiotics too soon and too often will more often lead to allergies to them, but my boy was truly sick, with a fever of 102.4 and in a lot of pain because of the ear infection. And I guess that if he was going to be allergic to penecillin, we would have found out sooner or later whenever he would have been treated with it. Mommy guilt is such an all-consuming thing sometimes.

The good news is that he is in good spirits now, and is smiling and laughing and wanting to play again. That warms my heart to no end.

So aside from a few polka dots, my baby boy is on the mend.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

My apologies

Sorry to my wonderful blog friends for being so scarce. I'm thinking about you every day. Sproutie has been sick with a high fever and ear infection and it's been hard to get away to read your witty blogs and to write on my own. Know that you are all in my thoughts, my dear sweet friends. I will write and fill you all in when my baby boy is feeling better and doesn't need his mommy to hold him constantly. Until then, my love to all.