Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On the Needles: Bramble Scarf

I'm currently working on this bramble scarf. I'm using a merino blend in a color called "Spice House." The camera doesn't do the color justice.

I took a close-up of the bramble, but it looked like ground beef! I'll try again later.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

YogaToes - Who Knows?

Confession: I secretly want a pair of YogaToes.

Well, not so secret now. I showed Paul a picture of them, and he made fun of me in the requisite manner. (That kinda makes me want them more!)

I went to the company's website, These magical toe stretchers cost a whopping $50! I'm not sure I want to spend that kind of money, but if they eliminate toe cramps and foot pain, it may be worth it. I'm wondering how to secretly smuggle them into the house now that I've voiced my wants to Paul!

After scouring the internets, I want them even more! Everyone had glowing reviews and said they eliminated a host of worries, including leg bruises. If you know me, you know that I very rarely wear shorts or skirts because I look like someone beat me with a sock full of pennies.

Let me tell you - I'm no stranger to gimmicks. I own a PedEgg and love it. I bought a Finishing Touch Hair Remover and have not had much luck keeping my Brooke Shieldses under control.

I'm totally of the I'll-try-just-about-anything mentality. Heck, I've found relief from a sinus infection thanks to my netti pot, I've stopped a hacking cough in its tracks with my pal Umcka. All those "ask-your-doctor" commercials are total target marketing. (I'm totally their target!) I've asked my doctor for Nasacort, Nasonex, Patanol, Zocor, Seasonale and a slew of other designer prescriptions.

Just this past week, my MIL and I were watching "The View" (which is something I very rarely - very rarely - watch) and we saw a fantastic hair styling product, the InStyler. We both looked at each other with that look that women recognize - you know, the one that makes men think "Oh crap! What's she buying now?" I grabbed the laptop, went to their website and scored us each one on a two-fer offer!

Now think about it: If everyone out there was a Negative Nelly and refused to try something because someone else said it was good, where would we be?

I can tell you this: If we were all Nellies, we'd never eat lobster or oysters (honestly - look at those things!), we'd never pour premeasured packets of salt into a little tea pot to rinse out our noses and we'd never have relaxed feet and straight toes!

I'm Not Good at These Things

My friend's mother passed away on Christmas Eve. You may recall me mentioning my friend Stace the other day. Her mother suffered from emphysema and COPD.

I told Paul I want to go to the funeral. I never met Lainie, Stace's mom, but I know that this is not an easy time to go through for anyone and to see familiar faces can bring some peace.

The last funeral I attended was back in 2005. My step-grandfather passed away. Mitchell was about 8 months old. The two of us flew to Houston for a quick trip so we could be at the funeral.

I'm never good at visitations and funerals. I never know what to say, where to stand or what to do with my hands. It's a little easier when you're surrounded by family; you know where to stand and with whom to sit.

Please say a prayer of peace for Stace and her family. She said that Christmas Eve was her mother's favorite day - and that she passed away on Christmas Eve. Stace included this little prayer in her email. I'm going to hang it in my medicine cabinet so I see it everyday. It really says it all:

Prayer for Protection
The light of God surrounds you,
The love of God enfolds you,
The power of God watches over you,
Wherever you are, God is.
And all is well (as her Mom would say)

Facebook: The Bounty Hunter

So I joined this little site called Facebook a while back. It was fun to find old friends and people I sort of knew a long time ago.

Then, it became like an addiction! All of a sudden, I'm reconnecting with people I've not heard from in years (decades!), and I'm constantly checking to see if someone commented on my status or has invited me to be their friend.

And, it's really strange, too. There's people you swore you'd never see again, and there they are on your computer everyday. There's people you've wondered about for a while, and there they are with their families in their Christmas jammies or lamenting about pink eye.

Then, there's the people you had hoped you wouldn't see again. And yet, you feel compelled to accept their friend request. (Do they find out if you say "No?")

It's amazing to have a tool out there to find old friends - and foes - and to learn that we're all past high school now and all that junk back then really doesn't matter in our real worlds.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Mitchell (Sorry it's Late!)

Mitchell turned 4 last week, and I totally forgot to post about it! Sorry, sweet boy!

Mitchell was so tiny when he was born (5 lbs., 12 ozs.). Here he is holding Paul's finger just seconds after he was born.
Our first family Christmas photo. He was one week old. I bought this sweater a few days he was born, just in case he came early. I left the tags on, since he wasn't due for four more weeks. It was huge on him! Glad I had it, though!!!

This photo shows just how tiny he was when he should have been plumping up. We were pretty worried.

This has always made me laugh! Tigger loved Mitchell, and Mitchell still loves Tigger.

First birthday. Mmm, cake!

He tried to get Noah to open his eyes when they first met. He's loved him from the get-go.

Happy Birthday, Big Boy.

Some of Mitchell's favorite things:
  • "Apparently ..."
  • Chocolate
  • Math (he can fill the hours asking "What's 4 + 3? What's 2 + 2?"
  • Chocolate
  • Spelling
  • Chocolate
  • Wii boxing
  • Hot Wheels
  • Chocolate
  • Shrimp
  • Chocolate
  • "Goosebumps" books (he has an extensive collection, and Paul reads them to him every night before bed)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Class & Teacher Gifts

Yesterday afternoon, it hit me that I didn't have a little gift for Mitchell's classmates or his teachers. Nothing like the last minute! We had an electrician out in the morning to install a new outlet for our new TV, then it was off to Mitchell's 4-year-old check-up then back home to meet the Geek Squad guys to install our new TV. Once all that was behind us, we jetted off to Hobby Lobby.

For the teachers, I made French Memo Boards. I let Mitchell choose the fabrics for his teachers, and I bought coordinating ribbon and gimp for them. I had not done this project before - nothing like the last minute to try something new! (Thank you, Tara, for the inspiration!)

This is the board I did for Mrs. LeChance. It was my first attempt, and I was really pleased with the results. And, I love the fabric. I used a really dark brown ribbon and gimp.

This is Mrs. A's board. The fabric is cute, and I used black ribbon and gimp. I wasn't really pleased with how it turned out - and it was too late to start over!

For Mitchell's classmates, I made jars of "Magical Reindeer Food" (oatmeal and glitter to us grown-ups). I printed out a little tag and tied it to each jar with a ribbon. Very cute. The tag reads
Be sure to take this magical food & sprinkle it on the lawn. Santa’s reindeer travel many miles before the early dawn. The smell of oats & the glitter path will guide them on their way, & you’ll wake up to Santa’s gifts on Christmas day!

For our crazy deer (who eat everything), we're putting sugar sprinkles in with the oatmeal. I'd hate to know that I gave the herd all tummy aches from the glitter!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Latest Scarf

I finished my latest scarf last night. That's two since Thanksgiving. If I keep up at this pace, I can make one for each of my girlfriends for Christmas next year.

The yarn I selected for this one is a hand-tied collection of different browns and turquoise with a little orange added to the mix. Since there are so many different textures, I decided to just knit this one.

I made the fringe from a section of the ribbon included with the yarn.

Here's that same ribbon knitted up.

Stitch detail - see all the different yarns?

If the weather continues to be as cold as it's been the past few days, I'll wear it to MOPS on Friday. I think it would look great with my orange cashmere sweater.

Scenes from a Birthday Party

We celebrated Mitchell's fourth birthday (which is tomorrow) with a Transformers themed party on Saturday. He loved his ice cream cake, which I think turned out super cool. Who cares that there was blue frosting all over everything in my kitchen after the party?

During the pinata, someone asked "Where's Noah?" I found him at the kids' picnic table, helping himself to the slices of cake some of the kiddos left behind. And, I have no clue whose juice box he's enjoying! (That face says it all!)

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

I've finally begun decorating for Christmas. (Actually, I had most of it done before Mitchell's birthday party this past weekend.)

I really like how my mantle turned out. I've since added stockings plus an angel figurine next to those jars on the left - there is an awkward hole in the picture above. I need to take a photo of my formal dining room - the swag I made for the stairs in our old home was too short to use here, so I used it on my hutch. Looks very good. I'll post a photo of it once my dining chairs come in.

Mitchell and I decorated the Christmas tree ...

most of it anyway! The lower third is ornament-free because of Noah. I had all the unbreakable ones down there, but I was finding them all over the house. So, I just moved everything out of his reach!

Monday, December 15, 2008

No Rest for the Girl Who Can't Say "No"

So, this week is the last week before the final countdown to Christmas.

Am I ready? No.

Have I finished shopping? Not hardly.

Do I know what I'm serving for Christmas dinner? Yes, and lunch and Christmas Eve dinner, too. (Though, I don't remember revising the menu over the weekend after several glasses of wine with my mother-in-law.)

So, in this season of hectic frenzy, I've decided to push aside the need for a Martha Stewart-like family celebration and instead focus on what matters most: Being surrounded by the people you love and helping those who need more than you (even if it's a hug and a kind word).

- - -

My friend Stace sends me an email yesterday that her mother has been admitted to the cardiac ICU due to complications related to emphysema and COPD. I instantly have flash backs to the summer I turned 16 and my grandmother was in the hospital, suffering along these same lines. I have known Stace for a few months now, and I am her assistant in coordinating crafts for our MOPS group. Her youngest daughter is a few months younger than Noah, so I instantly volunteered to look after her so Stace can spend more quality time with her mother (instead of chasing a toddler around a hospital room). Her older two children are in elementary school, so she has just Sarah to worry about during the day.

I still haven't even started shopping for Noah. I have no idea what to get this textbook second child. I mean, the kid has everything - because his older brother had everything at that age. I feel bad for Noah lots of times, especially considering that he doesn't even have a pair of jammies that aren't hand-me-downs. Guess I can add PJs to the list! One gift down ...

During a wine-filled evening the other day, apparently I revised my original menu for the Christmas break (with the help of my mother-in-law). Now I'm making creamed spinach. Yum-o! I had wanted to include this on the original menu but had scratched it in favor of creamed onions, a Gannon family tradition. I may have remembered one of us uttering that they got them at Thanksgiving so we could make what we want at Christmas.

I have done no shopping for my in-laws for Christmas. I don't even know where to start! We agreed with Frank that we wouldn't exchange gifts, but I know he picked up something for the boys - and he's flying down to be with us for Christmas. I can't let him go without something under the tree. I did pick up a little something for him back in October at Ole, but I don't feel it's enough. And, honestly, what do I possibly give to my in-laws, who've given us so much?

I have given no real thought to what to get Mitchell's teachers and the front-office ladies. He'll go to school on Wednesday and Friday of this week and that's it until after the new year. I've thought about making some fancy clipboards for his teachers, as they have to carry one with them anytime they leave their classroom. (It should be noted that this is a project I've never attempted! No time like crunch time to try something new!!!) Our class as a whole collected money to purchase gift cards for the teachers, but I feel like I need to give them something more. After all, they give us so much.

Luckily, Paul and I have decided not to buy each other gifts this year. Instead, we bought a Wii as a family gift. He already hooked it up, and we're wasting entirely too much time playing on it! Finally, our game room has a purpose. (It had been my refuge while nursing, but since those days are behind me, it only got used when we had company.)

Oh yeah, tomorrow is usually my grocery shopping day. I may have an extra toddler in the morning, and the cable company is supposed to send someone out to install a high-def package so everything will be ready to roll when our new LCD TV arrives on New Year's Eve. Yippee! (For the new TV, not for the lack of grocery shopping - I stress at the idea of running out of bread or boy cheese or yummy flavored coffee creamer - of which I'm already out!)

I'm beginning to feel like I'm down to the wire but can't seem to make a loop to hang on. And, I just remembered that I have to do some reading for our MOPS group on Friday and create an outline for my Sunday School class, which will resume after the New Year.

And, that reminds me that it's our week to coordinate a craft for MOPS. Stace and I had talked about doing some beaded ornaments, but then with her mother falling ill, she had contacted someone outside our group to come in and lead a craft. It sounds like a really neat project, but I'm eagerly awaiting a phone call or some direction so I can ensure we have something. I guess it's not the end of the world to not have a craft this month.

Let's not even bring up the friend of mine who is facing the decision to have surgery or ride out the tumors in his lungs, the friend who has cancer and is figuring out how to keep things together since he lost his job too, the friend whose daughter is less than a year old and is facing another surgery, the friend who will face the first Christmas without her husband who was unfaithful to their marriage and chose the other woman over their family ... makes all my stresses seem like nothing at all.

I think I'll pour (another!) glass of wine and knit for a few minutes while I wait for Paul to come down from putting Mitchell to bed. I can hear him reading stories right now - and I always wait to start "Chuck" so he can watch it with me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Special Delivery

Mitchell has been out of school since the Friday before Thanksgiving. And, I know that his friends miss him - their mommies have told me so.

Yesterday, Mitchell got a very special card in the mail.

I like that the teachers took time to write each child's name so we'd know what the letters represent.

Winter Wonderland

Old Man Winter blew into our neighborhood last night, bringing howling wind and snow. It was amazing to wake up to a thin, white blanket this morning!

The wind blew off several chair covers, and you can really see the snow on them.

Mitchell was amazed at how soft the snow was. He touched it for about 4 seconds then wanted to go back inside because the wind was too cold.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Snapshots 2: Thanksgiving Edition

I know, I know ... I'm way behind!

Here are some highlights from our Thanksgiving trip the Houston area.

My boys love cows. Yep, cows. My mother and her husband have two black Angus cows, and they think they're dogs (the people and the cows think the cows are dogs - the cows don't think my mom and her husband are dogs, as far as I know). Reba and T-Bone just loved our boys, and the boys loved them too. In fact, Noah started saying "Cow."

Noah talks a lot more now. In addition to saying "cow," Noah also says "cracker," "dog," "Pa-Pa," "ball," "book" (usually accompanied by him bringing me a book to read him!) ... His verbal ability is really taking off. I blame it attribute it to Uncle Frank. Something about Paul's brother brings out the need to advance. I remember him spurring on Mitchell to walk.

Mitchell "apparently likes cranberry sauce." He also "apparently likes onions" and olives and just about anything else that was served at our Thanksgiving dinners.

Noah also loves Thanksgiving food. Those two boys ate tons.

Mitchell is very complimentary. During the break, he announced that some people really make the best foods:
  • Nanny: cinnamon rolls
  • Uncle Jim: deep fried turkey vulture
  • Aunt Llana: cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes
  • Grandma: stuffing and regular turkey
  • Mommy: onions (a Gannon family tradition is creamed onions at holiday meals, and I'm now in charge of the onions). See note above about him liking onions.
  • Daddy: Guacamole (though he didn't make any over the break)

Mitchell had his tonsils and adenoids taken out on Wednesday. Today he's back 100 percent. He's as nutty as usual and full of energy. I guess four days of rest have built up the craziness!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pink Christmas - Finished and in the Mail

I finally finished my Pink Christmas gifts and got them in the mail today. I'm in love with everything I made, especially the scarf. I'm really excited that I have enough yarn and ribbons left over to make one for myself.

For the scarf, I knitted two different yarns together. One was a basic brown with a hint of blue in it. The other was one that went from a tiny strand of brown to nubby lenghts of orange, yellow, blue and pink. It came out gorgeous! I only knitted this time (no purling - I was being lazy, even though I love purling). When I finished, I tied on some ribbons at the ends to create a fringe. It really gave it a nice, finished look.

For the other items, I created a matching office set with a "Messages" chalkboard, file folders, pen cup and even a personalized journal. I chose coordinating scrapbook papers for all of the items.

The biggest challenge of this project was the message board letters. I Mod Podged the scrapbook paper to the letters first and then attempted to cut them out with an Xacto knife. Next time, I'll trace them onto my paper, cut them out then adhere them to the wood letters.

And, I love altered paper items, so of course I love the file folders, pen cup and journal. I even went as far as cutting out the recipient's name - Chris - in coordinating paper and adhering it to the journal.

I hope Chris enjoys the items I've created for her. (And, selfishly, I can't wait to see what someone created for me!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Quick Update

Okay, I haven't posted anything in a while, and I have good reason!

First, we headed to Baytown and then Houston last week to celebrate Thanksgiving. (Photos to follow soon, I promise!)

We got home on Sunday afternoon then I got to work with "fall cleaning" and ended up going through the boys' closets and drawers, polishing all my wood in my house - even my cabinets - and really going overboard. Oh, but I didn't bother to put away any of the toys in the living room!

And, this morning, we took Mitchell for surgery to remove his tonsils and adenoids. He's back home now, sleeping in my bed - but not after two popsicles at the hospital and some chocolate ice cream here at home. In fact, he was so tired, he would fall asleep after almost each bite. Then, he asked if I'd help him eat the ice cream, so I sat in bed and scooped it into his mouth.

Once I know he's feeling better and life returns a little more close to normal (whatever that means!), then I'll pop up some photos from the break. Here's a sneak peek: COWS who think they're dogs and the children (mine!) who love them!