Sunday, May 27, 2012

mothering soundbyte: an angry moment for the boy

son: mom, i want some chocolate milk

me: after nap.

son: no, i want some now.

me: you've already had 2 treats: a penguin cookie and two little 
chocolates. nap first, then you can have some chocolate milk.

son: you make me so angry [hands clenched]

me: i'm sorry i make you angry [hugging him tighter]  but it's my job to make sure that you're not eating too much sweets. (a weak argument, i know). i'm sure i will make you angry many more times again throughout your entire life. 

son: [wide-eyed silence]

me: [tighter grip on the three-year old]

is it... weird, that it makes me proud that he told me he was angry with me? it kind of makes my heart swell a bit.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

knit parade: sock tangent

the very first year the wife and i lived together was 13 years ago. we were in our mid-twenties. we were both still in university. we had three cats. and everything we owned was a hand-me-down.

we had just survived a very hard summer of making and losing friends. we were both still very much in the infamous closet. we had very little money. and we worked all the time. at one point, the wife even had three jobs.

our first place, just the two of us, was right in the heart of the toronto "village:" church and wellesley.  and we loved living there, in the heart of it all, protected by our community. we danced in the space we sectioned off for our living room. and in that little bachelor apartment full of melting walls and falling tiles, we found out we loved to entertain.

but as anyone who loves to entertain will attest, it can take its toll. 

one night, just minutes before friends were coming over for dinner, the wife and i had a fight. i don't remember about what, but it was probably one of our first heated arguments in that first apartment of ours. we got it together just before our guests arrived. and of course, all was well and presumably, a good time was had by all.

unfortunately, we had also done a load of laundry that day, which we completely forgot about, because of said fight. a load full of socks. for days... or even weeks we wondered where some of our favourite pairs were. 

when we finally went to the laundry room, optimistic the socks were still there, waiting ever-so-patiently for us to claim them, they were gone. and we were devastated.

you see, my wife has a thing for socks. she loves socks. and that load of socks was a collection of gifts and carefully selected impulse-buys full of brand names and special beloved designs. that load of socks was nearly our entire sock drawer. we had no money to replace the lot. and to this day, we sort of haven't recovered from the loss. (if you've ever asked me what to get the wife for a christmas or a birthday gift, and you ever wondered why my answer is always socks, now you know why.)

over a decade later, i find i am finally able to begin to redeem that moment in time because i am a knitter. and i have discovered a love for making socks.

after knitting the wife's 17th anniversary socks, i immediately cast on for my own. and when i finished my pair,  i thought i'd try and knit my grandmother a pair of socks. surely she'd appreciate them since she used to be a knitter, herself. (and if she doesn't like them, she won't tell me, so it's all good.) here they are.

yarn: spud and chloe fine

then the designer of the pattern i'd been using mentioned on her blog that she has drawer-full of hand-knit socks. and ever since i read that, i was inspired to work towards a similar goal... in lieu of all the socks we lost that-time-we-had-a-fight-right- before-our-dinner-party-oh-so-long-ago.

and then the same designer decided to host a patchwork sock-a-long on ravelry using only scrap sock yarn. and... well, i couldn't resist joining. you know, because every pair of socks i knit works towards my drawer-full goal. 

anyhoo, check out my first sock entry!

isn't it crazy? i adore it. i'm usually such a colour wimp but socks are so wearable, whatever they look like, because they are easily hidden. i thought i'd just trust in the process of just putting the colours together and have fun. 

yarn: (left column, from the top) mystery yarn, koigu kppm
(right column, from the top) auracauna, knitpicks stroll handpainted, tosh sock

the yarn i used for this project are all scraps from projects past - socks i made the wife, the boy, and the girl; a sleep sack i made for the girl, her newborn hat, a failed project for the girl, and fingerless gloves for me

weaving the ends in were kind of a saga. but such is the small consequence of a truly unique pair of socks full of family memories, hand-knitted by me. 

surely a drawer-full of these should make up for that lost laundry load of socks, right? 

well, they better!

Friday, May 25, 2012

(gorgeous moments)

friday weekly ritual (modified from its original inception), where i share a photograph or two (or more) featuring my favourite moment(s) from the week.

i know i haven't been around of late. and i can't really apologize for it much because there is only so many hours in a day. and some days, there is just no room to blog.

i do have lots to share. and i will, once i get a moment to myself to organize an entry or two.

today, i simply want to share the first hydrangeas of the season from our garden. 

this lovely little bouquet was delivered to be me by the wife and the boy, as i was wrapping up some work for the job-that-pays. all the while, the girl was napping just behind me. 

a gorgeous moment i want to remember. 

happy friday!

Monday, May 21, 2012

{gorgeous moments}

friday weekly ritual (modified from its original inception), where i share a photograph or two (or more) featuring my favourite moment(s) from the week.

better late than never.

a  haircut "adventure"

a discovery walk in stanley park

a first time encounter with african penguins

a snuggle on the bus

a snuggle on the bed

a snooze in the chariot

a rest in the back patio

last week was very full. this week, is even fuller still. we already had to cancel on dinner and with a friend this evening just to catch up, stay sane, and stay well (fighting a headache is no fun when on duty with two toddlers. thankfully, they were on the whole, mild mannered today.)

i have today off because it's victoria day in canada. we spent most of our weekend prepping to transition the kids into their own room. after three years of co-sleeping, the wife and i are well nigh giddy with, well... hope. our expectations are low, and we most certainly will continue to cherish the snuggles while we can get them, but i do think that all four of us are ready to begin stretching into our own space. 

we'll keep y'all posted.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

there went swimmy....

the boy's first fish.

remember that episode of bill cosby? the one where rudy's fish, "lamont" dies? well, the day swimmy died was just like that. 

i saw it sink like a stone to the bottom of its tank. and then my heart stopped. what am i going to tell my three year-old about his dead fish? 

i called the wife and waited for her to come home?.

but in the end, the boy was intent on looking at its lifeless body. he even took initiative and grabbed a jumbo knitting needle to get the fish out. when i finally spooned the fish onto a cup to transport its body to its purgatory (the toilet), second before i was to assure the boy that "all drains lead back to the ocean where swimmy belonged," he flushed. 

and that was that.

in other news, the cat is on four different meds, is eating properly, and there is no more vomiting. 

also, the boy and the cat are now deeply bonded. 

that is, the boy is deeply bonded to the cat. she... could use a bit more space.

Friday, May 18, 2012

knit parade: the blues

i've got some knits in blues i've been meaning to show you.

first, you  might notice that i've made the wife and the girl matching hats. the pattern is called felicity, it was the first hat i ever knit... and these two hats make it five times that i've knit this pattern.

the wife and her hat at stanley park
the yarn: rowan denim
if you've never knit a hat before, this is such a lovely, versatile, easy, and satisfying project. 

i did try to get my girls in a photo together, wearing their twin hats. it just did not happen. 
the girl in her hat, in the stroller

ah well.

i also recently knit a hat for our very sweet friend and neighbour. apparently, he has a love of toques. and so i knit him one to match one of his jackets. 

pattern: rib-a-roni
yarn: spud and chloe sweater, 
striped with sweet georgia superwash worsted

as you may have noticed, i'm a fan of knitting the same pattern over and over again. for one thing, there's really nothing better than a really simple, classic, wearable design. for another, they are a comfort to knit. living with toddlers and working through the very busy routine of being a working mother, i have to be able to put a project down at a moment's notice. comfort knitting the same patterns again and again, helps me do that without wanting to tear my hair out.

i know. i do like to babble about the knitting.

i've got one more blue hat to make for the wife, a special request... but i've got two more sets of knits to finish off before i start that project.

in the mean time, let's have another shot of the girl-in-her-hat, this time with her brother, where they are both practicing the fine art of re-merchandising. right.

and here are my first ever pair of socks for me, which i believe also qualifies in "the blues" category. 

pattern: how i make my socks
yarn: misti alpaca hand paint socks yarn
i love them. they are sooo comfy and super cozy. it's still a bit nippy at night out here so these beauties are a great help.

i officially declare myself officially addicted to making socks. i've just finished my third pair and have already cast on for another. 

crazy. i know. thank goodness i've amassed enough sock yarn in my stash to make a few more. and then i'll have to stop for lack of yarn. :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

from the kitchen: humble pies

it was pizza all day on mother's day. but yesterday was all about pie.

i've been hankering to make pie for weeks now. weeks.

i finally got down to making pastry and getting all my ingredients together to make a rhubarb custard pie and a version of chicken pot pie.

presenting the finished products to my family made me feel a bit like a domestic goddess.

i over-salted the pot pie biscuits though. but the kids ate up and it had fabulous texture. i used this recipe but added soy sauce and worcestershire sauce to the stew and used half white flour, half whole wheat flour for the biscuits.

and the pie - my favourite pie EVER. EVER. EVER. brilliant, brilliant recipe. simple and straight forward. but the wife didn't love the pie. probably because i may have used the same knife to cut up the chives and the rhubarb. next time, there will be less sugar. and of course, i vow to use a different knife for savouries and sweets. 

oh well. i really can't win 'em all.

Monday, May 14, 2012

mother's day in a nutshell

mother's day is very nearly over. and if you asked me how my day was, my answer would simply be this: full. 

the day was full:
  • of children awake before i was ready.
  • of a failed breakfast of oatmeal - which neither child enjoyed, and then a far more successful second breakfast of eggs and toast.
  • of the children escaping to the back patio, because they can.
  • of my having to comply, with their answer to the sun's call.
  • of a daughter climbing in places i wasn't ready to support.
  • of a son astounding me with what he can draw, at three years old.
  • of friends and their children, storming, norming, and forming with ours after months of not seeing each other. which was lovely. because they have each known each other since birth.
  • of the four children who took turns crying, as a result.
  • of force-feeding our cat-hoepfully-on-the-mend, her meds.
  • of steam cleaning carpets and rotating and reorganizing toys and dishes.
  • of resorting to pizza delivery for lunch and its leftovers for dinner.
  • of the girl poking the hole in my last clean pair of pants while laughing hysterically.
  • of the boy throwing off his shoes from the stroller at the grocery store. and then having a tantrum about wanting them back.
  • of hugging the boy and the girl with every tantrum.
  • of losing my temper and apologizing to the boy, with my own tantrum.
  • of having a grand total of 10 minutes of eye contact with the wife all day.
  • of working from home for a few hours, just to get ahead of the week.
  • of squeezing in time to blog and knit.
  • of finally turning in, exhausted, but grateful to be able to snuggle with with my little brood before i start another week: my reward for getting through the bustle of the day.

just another day in the life of this mother. 

a belated happy mother's day to my fellow mommas! 

may we all recognize and cherish the spirit of our role in the universe with humility and love - amid the chaos and the "uncontrollables."

Saturday, May 12, 2012

{gorgeous moments}

a friday weekly ritual (modified from its original inception), where i share a photograph or two (or more) featuring my favourite moment(s) from the week.

we have been walloped quite a bit lately with loads of uncontrollables. fortunately, each circumstance came with solutions, expensive though they may have been.

so our first date night this month was just the thing we needed. 

there's nothing like a walk and a chat along the beach to help our worn little souls reconnect.

english bay was the perfect backdrop. we are resolved to take the kids to the beach next weekend. not the riverside beach we frequent. but a beach next to ocean water, somewhere we can park for the afternoon so that the kids can rediscover the sand and tide.

the quiet company of wildlife would be welcome again, too.


on the kitty front, spike is coming home today. her most prominent condition seems to have stabilized and we are committed to keeping the old girl as comfortable and as pain free as possible. 

looks like we're skipping our one day a week this week in favour of some spring deep cleaning, the beginnings of it anyway. and maybe some gardening for the wife and the boy. 

we'll be making a conscious effort to enjoy the sun in any case. it's been just gorgeous.

i hope it's been just as beautiful in your world.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

state of mind

: feeling like i'm cleaning all the time and the more effort i put into cleaning and tidying and organizing, the dirtier my home is. especially since we broke our vacuum.

: worried about my elderly cat and her quality of life. the vet's not done with the all the tests that rule out everything that may be wrong with her. and already the words hip arthritis and kidney failure have been thrown around. the fact that hip arthritis is a surety is unsettling. my cat only has 3 fully functioning legs. 

: not surprised that the first two points i've just made are related to the fact that we bought a carpet cleaner and a vacuum cleaner: our mother's day gifts to ourselves.

: embracing the warmth of spring but a bit sad that i have to put my boots away. 

: looking at the first adult-sized sweater i ever made at the blocking table. i haven't looked at it since i finished it. i can't wait to put it on.  

: amazed at how articulate the boy already is, having just turned 3.

: proud of how much the girl fends for herself and stands up for what she wants already, at 14 months old.

: looking forward to celebrating mother's day with parents we met at my prenatal class when i was pregnant with the boy. our kids are the same ages and we so enjoy the time we spend with their family.

: grateful that my wife summons the energy that she does every day.

: impatient for the date we have planned this friday.

: thankful that i have a very sweet cousin who is generous of his time and is so kind and gentle with my babes.

: excited that my brother and his long-time lady friend are coming for a visit in just two weeks.

: hoping my work efforts will pay off. or that i'm not over-thinking the scope of my current project.

: giddy that the poppies are arriving.

: wondering why in the world i'm still up at this time of night. (oh right. the living room still needs a tidy.)

: annoyed that there really isn't enough time in a day. 

: vowing to rethink i how spend my days (again).

: counting each and every one of my blessings. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

knit parade: belated anniversary socks

i know i gave myself a march deadline for these because i can get fairly delusional. it's nearly mid-may now, which makes this pair of anniversary socks nearly two months late.

sock pattern: how i make my socks by susan b. anderson
yarn: madelinetosh sock
i loved making these socks. i chose a very simple and straightforward pattern, for two reasons, really. first, so that the yarn could sing. and delicious it was. i loved watching the colourway reveal itself as i knit. and second, because these are only the second pair of socks i've ever worked on. so i knew i was in for a learning curve.

and a learning curve it was. 

you see the heels there? there are two different heel constructions. i misread the pattern instructions for making the heel on the first sock (if you care or know what i'm talking about, i slipped every other heel on both sides) and i didn't even realize it until i was at the same point in making the second sock.

i was honestly ready to rip out the first sock so i can reknit the section properly - but the wife was happy. she said the socks felt relatively the same - though if i was being honest, i would tell you that the first sock is less elastic than the second, at the heel. 

but when you lay each sock on top of each other, they are the same size. and the wife wore them to bed two nights in a row. so i think she likes them well enough. 

here are my feet, modelling the socks for you. (the wife wasn't on hand when i was ready to write this entry, unfortunately).

i can honestly attest to the fact that wearing hand knit socks really does feel like the warmest hug for your feet. i loved making socks so much that i've already cast on for my third pair of socks ever. the lady who wrote the sock pattern i am using, she has a drawer dedicated to hand knit socks. something to aspire to, no? 

i've had this yarn for two years. i've been trying to make a baby elf hat out of it - first for the boy, and then for the girl. i failed every time. i just kept getting confused. so the poor ball of yarn has been knit and ripped several times over now.

i did make the girl a pair of newborn booties with some of the yarn. (oh that baby girl! be still my beating heart!).

but as many knitting bloggers have come to realize before me (because i only have them as a reference), the yarn almost always knows what it wants to be. and this yarn wanted to be the first pair of socks i've ever made for me.

pattern: how i make my socks by susan b. anderson (again)
sock: misti alpaca hand painted sock yarn

Monday, May 7, 2012

fish and cat news

meet swimmy the red beluga, the newest member of our little family. 

swimmy was presented to the boy at a favourite chinese restaurant last week by a dear uncle, on account of the boy's obsession with fish.

he fluctuates between wanting "it died" (because he wants to give him the whole package of food and hold it out of the water) and taking care of it. such is the logic of a three year old. 

and while i am dreading the water changes with every fibre of my being, i am smitten anyway.

in other pet-related matters news, our dearest spike has been throwing up a lot in the last 24 hours. 

spike is 12. elderly, for a cat. and constantly subjected to toddler energy, which, unfortunately, she really does hate -  despite both toddlers' best efforts to endear themselves. 

her resistance to their charms probably has a little bit to do with the fact that it was she in our arms and in our bed before the babes arrived. i imagine she is quite bitter, actually. 

we found her on the internet when she was just a kitten and we adore her. 

so we are observing her closely and making sure she's eating and drinking and going to the bathroom. but it is worrisome. poor girl. i'm hoping that she'll get over it and be her old self again, especially because she is alert as ever. but i have a feeling we'll have to take her to the vet very soon, if not tomorrow.

feel better soon, pikers.

favourite things

: watching the pigeons alternate between flitting about and hanging out when i wait for the bus.

: sitting at the very back of the bus, stroller-free, and knitting nearly the whole way, to and from the office.

: my first lace project: a baptism shrug in the making for the girl.

: sharing a very favourite place with very favourite people.

: found objects, worn and weathered by time and elements.

: returning grass, new and spindly. and that boy there, digging his way through damp sand.

: a hug from my favourite little girl.

happy monday!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

{gorgeous moments}

a friday ritual (modified from its original inception), where i share a photograph or two (or more) featuring my favourite moment(s) from the week.

"cousins:" two sets of two children, a boy and girl; each set has two moms. how much i adore them all, individually and together. 

it really was luck that brought us all together almost 7 years ago.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

occupy the toddler: down and dirty

this weekend was all about chores (i cleaned out the my office and the fridge), managing other duties (like taxes, the wife did that),  and unfortunate situations (in which we tried to find ways to help some of our dearest).  which meant that while we refuse for our babes to take a back seat to such necessities, we needed them to be occupied. 

so, we hired my dearest godson (who they both adore) to "manny" for a few hours, and when he had his life to get back to, i turned to both indoor and outdoor exercises in getting dirty. 

i wasn't allowed to get dirty as a kid. my grandmother sprayed everything with disinfectant. i avoided mud like the plague and i was allergic to cleaning up (because i was lucky enough not to have to do it). 

in mothering, however, i am all about self-discovery, sensory experiences, and open-ended free-play. and i consider myself successful at promoting this kind of play when toys aren't in the forefront.

today i share some of my successes in occupying the toddler, partly because sharing is caring. but mostly, because i would also like to be able to look back on these days and pat myself on the back when bad parenting days strike.

homemade play dough is a god-send, no joke. i don't worry about what goes in their mouths because i know what's in it. the only detriment to me? the after-clean up. play dough sticks to carpet like nobody's business. but the time my babes spend occupied, discovering, being creative, using their imaginations = worth it. 

kitchen work
the boy gets to help out a ton these days because i've been working with him in the kitchen since he was as young as the girl is now. he can mix ingredients, decant liquids into solids, and he is well aware of the dangers of a hot oven. i didn't learn how to cook until i was in university so one of my goals as a parent is to equip my own littles with practical survival skills - like developing self-awareness and cooking for themselves. 

the invention of the learning tower is genius. 

if you don't have one, and you intend to work with your toddlers in the kitchen, i recommend the investment. it pays for itself in not worrying about whether your kids will fall or hurt themselves in the kitchen. no, i am not being paid by the manufacturers to endorse them. i bought ours used, knowing i would have two babes to use it. and they're often both on it at the same time. honestly, my kids wouldn't be allowed in the kitchen as often if i didn't have it.

i have been dreaming about outdoor play for the kids since we moved to this apartment. 

we've never had a ground floor patio before. this means water and mud play for the kids - fettered only by how dirty we can stand the kids to get.

(we found the water table during spring clean up at the coop, discarded by one of our neighbours)

and to be honest, i don't mind how dirty the babes get, because in my view, it boosts their immune system and allows them to explore their natural surroundings without having to worry about anything except their safety. 

in fact, i'm quite sure my parents would be horrified by some of these photos. 

i am also pretty confident that the dirtier the kids get, the keener their sense of the world, the more they know about the ground beneath their feet, the healthier their respect for their natural environment.

bringing outside in
my tulips are just about the only things thriving in our garden right now. everything else the wife planted last year is in various states of spring recovery. but the tulips, they are delicious. and i bring them in all the time because they happen to be my very favourite flowers. 

the last time i brought them in, the boy insisted on arranging them in the vase for the first time. how could i refuse? 

be still my beating heart.

full disclosure
when i engage my babes in such activities, i have no intention to educate any further than the experience themselves. i am no early childhood educator. i'm an adult learning professional, which means my attention span for nurturing the senses of my littles amounts to as much time as it takes for them to get bored, themselves.

all the above activities don't last very long and are pretty well supervised. also, my toddlers were only occupied to the extent that they weren't hanging off my legs while i tried to tidy, etc. and the clean up can get insane. i let them make a mess simply because i don't want to be harping about not making a mess the whole time.  

i know there are many in the blogosphere that do these things better, so i'll list my favourite resources, in case you are inclined to be inspired by their examples of mothering and home schooling:


as an aside, i've had this post almost ready to go since sunday. this week has clearly gotten away from me. i have chosen to sleep more in lieu of blogging. and things seem to be heading towards the right path so optimism and clarity are returning to my senses. 

hope your week is going well!