January Blues

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What is it about January that makes me hibernate?

Things seem to be going along nicely and then it seems the bottom drops out. Perhaps it's the Christmas wave of must-dos that come crashing to a halt. Perhaps I get people'd out and just need to be on my own. The most discouraging thing, though, is not all the negative, picky, self-depreciating, depressing things I end up dwelling on, it's the looming February Blahs that are right around the corner.

Right then. So instead of complaining and detailing for all the interweb my gripes and moans, I will tell you what I've been thankful for lately. Because making a list is a good idea. Lists make it more official.
  • Coffee. Kona beans. Good winter warm up with milk and sugar. Better with the addition of a little Irish Cream in the evening.
  • Weekly Menus. So nice to know what we're eating because I've spent the better part of Sunday afternoon tackling this much hated task. Hopefully I'll get better at it.
  • A Generous Husband. He's also pretty patient and tolerant with me. Which is not how everyone else would describe him...so we'll call me grateful² on this point.
  • Low Maintenance Friends. Who don't have an agenda. And who say what they mean.
  • My Kids. Who I like having around. Even if they don't believe me when I tell them. And who spend a good deal of the time frustrated with me because it seems I don't let them do anything or go anywhere lately.
  • Canadian History Classes. Which will make me put on make-up and a nice shirt and go out of the house to see other people tomorrow.
On to coffee #4,

♥Mrs. A.


The Girl Child Secures a Job For Herself

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What does a mom do when her child gets herself a job? She sits in the car and takes pictures, of course!

A couple of weeks ago, The Girl Child announced she'd like a job. This was not news, as such a thing had been talked about - at length - in the past. We had looked into a couple of viable options but it didn't seem to be quite the right time.

It was two weeks ago today that she brought it up again. I suggested that she email the Nice Lady at the weekly newspaper to introduce herself and to restate her desire for a paper route. The first time she had contacted the paper, last fall, was through an online application tool at the website. At that time there hadn't been a route available in our area.

So The Girl got busy and sent a nice email stating that she was a homeschooled high school student with a flexible schedule and supportive parents who were willing to take her to where the available routes were.
Almost immediately she received a reply with an offer for a Fill-In Delivery Person position. A few more emails flew, details were discussed and we were visited by the Nice Lady who was very excited to have The Girl on board.

The Girl's first task involved delivering papers to two routes two days after the papers had been due. Each route took about two and a half hours by the time all was said and done. Her remarks on the way home were that 'it was more work than it sounded like' and 'when, exactly, would the pay cheque arrive?'

Said pay arrived much sooner than we thought it would. Hand delivered, no less! Just in time for a weekend shopping trip with her Grandma and Aunt.

I think The Girl Child was pretty proud of herself throughout the process - but that's the point, right? A little independence and initiative to foster some feelings of satisfaction and pride. And the prospect of more work in the future - although, I must say, I think the novelty has worn off. I'm proud of her, too, for taking this on!

Last week, there was no route. This week, there is one. Papers will arrive today and need to be delivered by Thursday evening. It's up to The Girl to plan around her schedule and the weather. She'll let me know when and where to drop her off to get her work done. I think she's looking forward to the pay cheque more than the long walk in a strange neighbourhood with a sled of papers.

~Mrs. A.


In 2012 I Resolve To Knit

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Being so easily influenced, it's no surprise I succumbed to the pressure and found myself scrambling for a knitting related New Year's Resolution. I briefly thought about not having a resolution, but then I thought that a little focus never hurt anyone.

Of course I started by aiming high into the stratosphere by considering taking on a new-to-me venture like the Rockin' Sock Club. As a new personal expense is not in the budget for 2012, that was a short lived consideration. I started to think more realistically. I thought about what I had resolved last year and how successful I was. I thought about what I found I actually wanted to be knitting throughout 2011. There was something about committing to a "12 Pair of Socks in 2012" that was appealing. Many such groups crop up this time of year on Ravelry. After browsing for a while, nothing seemed to be a perfect fit. And that's a lot of sock knitting for me.

I was reading that many people resolve to knit from the stash and not buy any yarn. That was appealing and right in line with our family resolution to curtail much of our discretionary spending for 2012. But could I do this and still have fun and enjoy my knitting year? Stephanie made it fun in 2010. I'm sure I could at least make a go it...for part of the year. If only I had enough sock yarn. And zippy bags. (Please forgive the vernacular. It's one of the few leftovers from when I had cute toddlers running about.)

So off I went to my yarn hide-y holes collecting all my yarn and I dumped it all onto the couch. Now, understand that we have a small house. It's full of all kinds of stuff but not an abundance of any one particular kind of stuff. Including yarn. At least I was not in danger of being overwhelmed. I definitely didn't have enough sock yarn to knit a pair per month, and I quickly decided I didn't want to buy more yarn. But I was pleasantly surprised.

After the first few minutes of delegating each yarn to its own zippy bag, I had 6 solid projects. Half a year of dedicated knitting. Then I collected the bits and bobs of sock yarn balls. Definitely more than a month's worth of knitting - probably enough to make a couple of pair of patchwork socks...or a Sock Yarn Blanket! Into another bag went all my dishcloth cotton. A couple of WIPs were granted the privilege of their own bags. And a final bag was made after a somewhat panicked search-and-rescue mission that I conducted once I confirmed with The Girl Child the actual - not imaginary - purchase of a skein of Alpaca Silk Lace. At final count there are 15 project bags. Definitely more than enough to keep my busy all year!

I spent the morning tracking down the patterns I needed for each of the projects I had in mind. There were a few hairy moments when I was convinced that I needed to buy a couple of patterns. But I rallied, taking on the challenge of making this an entirely 'free' year of knitting. I'm now fairly convinced that if one takes the time and has a creative moment or two, one can find a free pattern for just about anything. Now all my yarn has a pattern friend.

Leftover is an additional canvas tote of odds and ends: yarn and needles. I set The Girl Child off on a mission to come up with a charity project we could use some of it for. Hopefully that will work out.

I suppose the best fit for my New Year of Knitting finally turned out to be a Surmount The Stash resolution. It's a small stash, but very much a full year of knitting goodness that I'm quite motivated to get to. Lots of variety: easy mindless things, things to finish, new skills to learn, long term things.

I was terribly impressed with myself. My finishing point was eons more economically viable than my starting point. (However my Sock Club research has only been shelved for a later date, not abandoned, by any means!) I was quick to point out to Mr. A. all the time and angst I had saved myself this year by planning ahead. I described a year of calmly grabbing my on-the-needles pre-planned project and perhaps another zippy as I head out the door to knitting group. No more frantic reprinting of a misplaced pattern 5 minutes after I was supposed to leave for where ever I needed to be so that I could have some knitting to occupy me. And FREE! That's glossing over the fact that of course the yarn was bought at some point and that January's project contains a purchased pattern...but since I bought it last October, 2012 is all set up to be the Year I Knit For Free. Somewhat sobering was packing all 15 zippy bags into one overflowing canvas tote bag. But I suppose pre-knitted mittens and socks don't really take up that much room.

My resolution was set and my knitting organized. The last thing I did was check Ravelry one last time for the day. I had set two projects aside to which I will add patterns later - one will be socks and one will be two small table runners. (Clever planning on my part so that I have a good reason to be trawling through the Rav database rather than the not-so-good reason of 'coveting patterns'.) And I found the new pattern Rams and Yowes. (Rav pattern page)

And quicker than I created it, my focus wavered and I found myself so easily influenced by the draw of a beautiful project. Typical. I will stick to my Resolution to Surmount My Stash in 2012...but I will also take on the challenge of somehow getting Rams and Yowes on my needles in 2012...for free.

~Mrs. A.


A Selection of Stitches From 2011

Thursday, January 5, 2012

 I certainly haven't churned out very much knitting in relation to the amount of time I thought I spent knitting this past year! I've been enjoying a community knitting group I set up. It's held at the local library twice a month. Each month I prepare a free washcloth pattern as well as a monthly newsletter, so I suppose that's a lot of time thinking about knitting but not really making any knitted progress.

I didn't really have any hard and fast knitting goals last year...I thought I would do a Mystery a month, but that didn't really jive with my perfectionist tendencies. There was just somehting about diving in and tackling a project without knowing if I would use or like the finished product. I did manage to get two done, though.

I aimed for a sock per month. I got three full pair of socks, a cheater pair of 'socks' that were really little flip-flop thong socks (look for them on Ravelry: Flippant) and a lonely owl sock.

The other knitting related thing I enjoyed this year was watching my daughter knit up a storm. She has a 3-foot stack of hats teetering on her desk along with an impressive collection of knitted monsters and other stuffed toys. She knit her brother a fish hat. She knit baby gifts and she tried out a few clothing items for herself. She had a prolific year!

As I was poking through pictures on the computer, I thought I would collect some of my nicer projects this year in a post. I'm hoping it will add to my knitting motivation for 2012.

-Mrs. A.

Housewarming gift for the community coordinator at the library who made the knitting group I set up possible. She moved on to bigger library pastures.
My Mexico Sweater - a mostly impulsive knit whipped up in Nov/Dec before a family trip. I was on a deadline so couldn't be terribly upset about the less-than-perfect shaping of the front. A neat construction from Knitty.com called Mythos (FirstFall2010) and made out of Misty Alpaca.
Pride Mittens made as a Christmas gift for my brother and sister-in-law. Made with Knit Picks yarn, which I had never bought before. I think I have enough left to make myslef a pair!
Owlie Socks that might be just a bit tight for my foot. Great patten for plain yarn, though! First sock is hibernating for now until I'm motivated enough to ge tthe second sock under way.
Scylla Socks. I wear these all the time. It has a counterpart pattern that I will knit this year.

My first Mystery 220yds project. Very wearable scarf that I lost at a local resturant. Hopefully someone likes it! It was my first official foray into lace and charts.

Striped Scarf built from Jared Flood's Noro Striped scarf pattern. I'm not a Noro fan, so I used something called King Cole's Riot. 2 balls - one rainbow, one a grey-to-black neutral - made for a really long scarf.
Another Knitty.com creation: Wild Stripes. I knit most of this in 2010, but finished it in 2011. It is backed in flanellette and I chose to leave off the embroidery the pattern calls for. I did run a couple of lines of invisible stitching across a few of the stripes to make sure the two layers stuck together. This was a well received gift for a special baby girl who arrived in Feb.2011.
My version of a Snowman Christmas ornament.

My last Mystery 220 project. It turned out great and I get many compliments on this little bag. I use it as a project bag. It fits a couple of balls of sock yarn and all the bits required to make a pair of socks.


New Year New Rule.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mr. A and I have been discussing homeschooling in greater depth this last year. In particular we've been talking about the challenges I'm finding as the kids get older. I'm struggling to balance academics and daily life with all the important things that are coming up as the kids grow into young adults - autonomy, independence, emotions, control, respect.

Mr. A has a fairly black-and-white outlook whereas I'm definitely a colourful kind of girl. This last calendar year I've been waffling from one colour to the next trying to find a groove what we all fit into. Mr. A is very patient. Long story short, I haven't been very successful. So Mr. A has swooped in and handed me a solution.

We've started into the New Year with a New Rule. Normally we're a little like pirates around here - tending toward guidelines rather than hard and fast rules. So you can image how the kids sat up and took note when Mr. A announced a Rule when they were expecting a discussion.

And a simple and silly rule it may seem: no screens until your day's schoolwork is complete. But it has trickle-down consequences. I can't concentrate on schoolwork if things around the house aren't taken care of. If I have to take care of everything then it takes me a long time to get to the books.

Today was essentially Day #1. Mr. A is back to work which means that our holidays are over. The rub is that the kids' peers have another week of school break; they're under the self-imposed impression they have another week of free time. (Never mind the three weeks they've already had off!) So in typical Mrs. A fashion, I toed the middle of the line. There were no screens until today's school work was finished...but I let the kids police their schedule for the day. They started to get antsy about 1pm when we hadn't hit the books and I was still doing post-holiday housework.

In the end we accomplished what we needed to. And the kids pretty quickly picked up on the principle the Rule is meant to accomplish.

I'm so thankful for Mr. A's problems solving tendencies. (Sometimes I don't feel very thankful - like when I mention something in passing and he swoops in with 4 different solutions to pick from when really I was simply venting and just needed him to say soothing things. But really, I do appreciate this man skill he has.) And in true Father Knows Best style, my kids tend to tune in when Dad speaks up. So I hope this New Year's New Rule helps to get us into the groove we're all looking for.

~Mrs. A.


Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Today dawned bright and early with a lovely headache. Which steadily got worse. Happy New Year to me.

The holidays have been full of visiting and family. Much of that family has been plagued by a nasty hang-on sort of cold and/or a mysterious flu-like affliction. With so much obligatory visiting (nothing like spending a week together vacationing to give the germs a chance to spread around) and a couple of cuddly, climbing babies, it's no wonder people were always at varying stages of incubation.

I think I made it through the holidays mostly illness free by sheer force of will. Either that or the universe knew not to tempt my wrath by messing with my schedule. These last two days have been the only 'do nothing' days I've had since the beginning of December. Noone has to go anywhere, do anything, the kids have do-it-yourself food options and lots of stuff to do and Mr. A has more new video games and gadgets than he has time for. If that's not a perfect set up for a Mom to take some sick time, I don't know what is!

So with much thanks to a short-yet-violent migraine or a 12-hour virus, I count myself included in the group of extended family who experienced every sort of state of being over the holiday. I'm just very thankful that I didn't have to be miserable at a family dinner or while laying poolside in the hot sun.

Tomorrow we return to regularly scheduled programming. I begin thinking of school work, groceries and meal plans. I look forward to catching up with friends who were also busy with extended family over the holidays. Perhaps it's the sheer amount of social media sending me messages, but I am feeling the motivation to go through closets and cupboards to reorganize and purge.

I hope your New Year's Day was more noteworthy and celebratory.

~Mrs. A.


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