Tuesday, May 28, 2013

rain ramblings and our outside garden

it's sounding pretty torrential outside. i haven't looked. the curtains are drawn but i can hear the soft thundering of the rain against our fences. 

for as long as i can remember, i have always liked the rain. when i was growing up in the philippines, i used to love  watching sheets of rain guzzle down outside my classroom. my favourite years in elementary school had me in a classroom that had no doors or windows. they were brilliant structures: a hexagon building divided into six classrooms with an opening in the middle and stairs that came down to create a little theatre in the round for assemblies. it was amazingly conducive to learning. we were, in fact, always outside. there was always fresh air. it never seemed to get too cold. and when the rain beat down during lessons, i remember feeling more grounded, focused on learning. and the rain smelled wonderful. (there are no pictures to be found online that properly capture what it was like to go to school there. not the way i would photograph them now. but i really loved it.)

on days like today, i want nothing more than to curl up in bed under a blanket, with a good show and a good knit, children occupied with their own pleasures or piled on top of me, napping. 

we live in vancouver. rain happens. all the time. most days, we embrace the rain: i let the kids jump in puddles. we run our errands. we go about our business. but on really rainy days, it's so nice to be able to just stop and slow down. listen to the rain. and we absolutely get to relish the fact that we don't have to water our plants: that on this day, mother nature is taking care of our gardens for us.

our gardens are wee but so full of heart and rather busy these days. while i have been dreaming up kitchen feasts with the fruits of our very small harvest - the wife and the boy have been hard at work putting the plants in. 

in the little garden we share on the co-op grounds, what i call our outside garden, we are growing tomatoes and basil and green onions. and a very kind neighbour shared some green bean seedlings with us. 

there, the boy also planted his beloved carrots and pumpkins - seed packets he picked out himself and obsessed over until the very day he set them in. here's hoping they take. our carrots didn't do so well last year. and oh, wouldn't it be amazing to grow our very own pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern this year? that would totally rock.

i'm so grateful for this little gardening space. i never had a garden like this. growing up, i was just not interested. i suppose it was because i was never really exposed to the experience. and in my adult life, apartment living never afforded such a luxury (and my potted plants died). so, i never really understood how satisfying and relatively easy it would be to grow your own food. and while i'm also grateful for grocery stores the world over, my little family is becoming addicted to the simplicity and real beauty of being this close to the earth: appreciating our hand in the cycles of life, and literally filling our table with food that tastes all the better because we grew some part of the ingredients ourselves.

i know this garden experience is no real epiphany to many people in the world. but i am so happy be able to share this wonder of mine with my wife and children. it's always a small celebration when we learn something new together, as a family, outside. and gardening is the perfect team building event: the wife supervises all the planting. the boy helps out, does a lot of the digging, and gets into trouble for not doing what he is asked. the girl putters about, talking to plants and doing her own thing. and i photograph the occasion and knit, when permitted. and then it's my job to turn whatever we're able to harvest into a meal.

corn and spinach fritatta with basil from the garden

so i say, rain on. and grow little seeds, grow. we'll be checking the outside garden tomorrow for progress.

Friday, May 24, 2013

parade float upgrade

on the heels of our happy dance, and since it was feeling like our little parade float was a bit ridiculous for a summer full of plans to venture over to the river, it felt right to treat ourselves to an upgraded parade float. which, of course, we took for a test drive to the river just as soon as it was assembled - which was just as soon as the wife came home with the box.


if i was being honest, it's not as nifty as our old favourite. it doesn't hop up on curbs as easily. nor is it as user friendly.

but oh, it has already served its purpose.


the wife and i actually had a conversation on the way home. then we had dinner and drinks. and then stressed about the fact that the kids would be up all night because they napped so well and for so long, well past the point of no return (that's 3pm to non-parents or if you don't remember caring for toddlers). i don't think we actually got them to bed until midnight. 

but it was oh so worth it.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

knit parade: sock stories

there's always a sock on my needles. mainly because they have become a pretty mindless knit. but also because i have ambitions of creating drawerfuls as the wife has always had a thing for socks. and also, hand knit socks are obscenely soft and profoundly comfortable. if your feet have ever slipped into a pair, you'll know what i'm talking about.

and then there's the fact that sock yarn comes in a variety of insane colours and self-striping patterns that alaways result in the most unique pair of matching/mismatching socks. oh the yumminess of all the sock yarn in the world. 

i could go on. but i won't. i promise.

so without further ado - behold, my wife's valentine socks. i made these quite a long while back. but i dropped a stitch on one of them and procrastinated the mending so she's been forbidden to wear them until now. (when i felt like finally fixing them last week.)

the yarn is crazy zauerball and i am smitten with this colourway. i've lost the ball band but every single colour on the socks are on the wife's favourite colour list, which is why i couldn't resist buying it and putting said yarn in her stocking 2 years ago. she started a sock but, being a newer knitter, was, at the time, a bit discouraged at how long it was all taking so she abandoned the project. i thought starting over and presenting these to her for valentine's day would be a good present (however late). 

the yarn has a lighter hand than most of the sock yarn i am used to knitting with but oh my are these socks just delicious on the feet. (that's right. i tried them on. i always do. i also almost always make them so that they fit me - however different our shoe sizes are. but i wanted this pair to be all hers. so they are a bit snug on me.)

i used the only sock pattern i have committed to memory: susan b anderson's how i make my socks pattern - which is perfect for showing off the beauty of self-striping and self-patterning yarn, not to mention an excellent tutorial at that (i highly recommend it if you're a new sock knitter and wear a size 6-8 shoe). 

and she loves them. success!

now when the wife declared she would like to try knitting socks again, she decided to knit the boy a pair of socks. i coached her through the process by basically following the sock pattern i always use, but i also consulted a few free kids sock patterns for guidance around how many stitches to cast on and when to start short rows for the heel. i gotta say, she did a pretty awesome job - especially because she improvised with using the magic loop method!

may i present the results?

when the wife finished the first sock, the boy said to her, "see mom, i told you, you can knit!"  now that the wife has finished the second sock, the boy hugged them -actually hugged them upon presentation - and said he loved them! 

she used knitpicks handpainted stroll sock yarn in the retro colourway. and he does absolutely love them. wouldn't take them off for a while. he even insisted on wearing them to school.

(i'm trying not to be bitter that i've had to wrestle him into pretty much every piece of knitting i've ever made for him.)

on my sock needles right now are a pair of socks for me - same pattern, different yarn. the yarn is the lovely knitpicks felici in its rainbow colourway. 

i am ever enchanted at watching the colour change as i knit. the yarn comes in 50 gram balls - of which, i'm absolutely guessing that i had about 15 grams or so left - so i also finished a sock for the girl (using this pattern). it's so wee, it only took me a few hours in a couple of days to work.

not that i'm bragging.

socks are my travel project. they come with me on the bus, to the playground, in the car - because i can pick them up and put them down and pick them up again without a second thought. so i reckon it will take me another couple of weeks to finish. which i think is pretty reasonable when you think about the fact that i only head to the office on the bus once a week, playground knitting on any given day is a grand total of 5 minutes, and i'm in a car for about 20 minutes at a time once every 2 weeks. 

and yet the boy think that the wife is a faster knitter than me because he has a pair of socks and the girl only has one.

(i'm really not bitter.)
(i'm really not that competitive.)
(i swear i'm not this petty.)
(apparently, just about the knitting.)
(can't blog. knitting socks now.)

Monday, May 13, 2013

poppy love

these poppies blow my mind every year. 

i thought you should see them up close too.

i hope spring is well under way in your part of the world.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

on mother's day

"life is [just] too important to be taken seriously."
- oscar wilde

this past week:

  • i washed my hands with saline solution instead of soap (don't worry, i realized after i washed my hands. so i washed my hands again with soap)
  • i took an expired pregnancy vitamin instead of ibuprofen for my migraine (what? the bottles look the same in the dark without glasses on)
  • i cleaned my bedroom - which is to say that i took the clutter out from said room and transferred it to the hallway
  • there's a corner in my home that perpetually smells like pee and i haven't managed to figure out where it's coming from (i won't tell you for how long)
  • i've been told that we (the wife and i) always look a little stressed (it's not my imagination. i have been rocking the tired and flustered look all this time!)

i reflect a lot about mothering on this space. 

i feel very strongly about the ways i want to parent, the kind of mother i want to be. i wax poetic about the things i learn from my children and the person i am becoming because i am a mother.

when the going gets rough and severely sleep-deprived and messy and stinky and inconvenient and crazy, i turn to this space so i can refocus my consciousness on all the things i love about life and mothering. 

this mother's day, i'd like to take a moment to celebrate all the meltdowns, the misbehaving, the muck, the grouchiness, the failed attempts at keeping a clean house, not to mention all the comically disastrous occasions that are born from good intentions. for these are the things that keep me humble. because when i manage to come through the hill of annoyance and overcome all else (including the perpetual mountain of dirty dishes) to simply be the mother my kids need me to be - and find that i'm still the person i'm striving to become, i get to thump my chest and roar to the wind: i did it. i made it through another day. my kids are alive and healthy. they are happy. they know they are loved. my wife is at my side. i still get to knit.

happy mother's day to my wonderful wife. thank you for taking turns doing all the yucky stuff with me. and for taking on the job of doing all the things i actually really don't like doing. i promise forever more to deal with all the bugs and the arts and craft sessions.

happy mother's day to all who join me in playing the role of mom.


may we all recognize and cherish the spirit of our role in the universe with humility, love, and laughter - especially when there's vomit all over your hair and your child is melting down because you gave them your angry mom eyes (you know you have one. and if you're a new mom and you don't have one yet, don't worry. you'll develop one. and it will be legendary).

Thursday, May 9, 2013

happy dance

i've been working hard on this for weeks: preparing for interviews. carefully crafting assignments. actual interviews. waiting. waiting. waiting. then the offer. and now the official announcement is out so i'm finally free to share.

i got a bit of a promotion in the form of a temporary assignment: a senior role that offers new challenges, really fabulous opportunities - and i get to keep being the kind of mom i want to be to my babes because my hours remain flexible. i get to work from  home, and we get to keep on living in vancouver.

i think a happy dance is in order.

and now to kick butt at the new job so i can turn the tide from temporary to permanent by next year.

i have no idea what effect this new job will have on my family, my sanity, or the knitting - if something gives it's always the housework, after all (ahem) - but today, right now, i'm just going to breathe in the scent of this blank page and dream of filling it with good experiences at work and always - most especially, at home.

i start on monday. wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

parade float

we are a bit of a parade float when we travel together as a family.

since our favourite stroller in the whole wide world got stolen, we have since procured an alternate solution - one that we hoped, would satisfy our need to shuttle toddlers around and still get places even with all the necessary gear (without too much additional cost).

over the weekend, we trekked it once again to the river beach.

here's a little glimpse of our family float - 

up front: the girl in the stroller. 

taking up the rear: the boy on a buggy board

you will note that the float itself is a stroller dressed up with all their gear. we are a colourful motley crew. 

one of us, either the wife or i, pushes said stroller, while the other carries the reinforcements.

this time, i was saddled with the extra gear. and happily so, my hands were free to photograph our procession to the river beach.

like all parade floats, we got stalled along the way.

and like any other parade float performers, these babes stripped off some of their costumes as they got warmer.

that morning, the wife and i were so deliciously proud of ourselves. we prepared well for our beach adventure. we packed light, brought enough food to sustain us for at least four hours, dressed the children in rainwear to combat their inevitable water encounters, and we brought knitting. we puffed out our chests and patted ourselves on the back as we began the 15-minute journey on foot to the river beach at 10 am.

we were not prepared, however, for the fact that despite the fact that the sun shone and there was not a cloud in the sky - a most rare and precious state in this here city - it would be blustery cold by the beach.

the sun beat white. and the wind was relentless. it was so cold, the kids were grouchy as soon as we got there. and it felt like a long while until the sun penetrated the wind's insistence that it's not yet summer, before we all started to enjoy ourselves.

the boy buried himself in sand. i can't get over his resolute and absolute willingness to get dirty and i'm proud of it all the same.

the girl was content to explore her surroundings.

the boy and the girl actually played together - nothing short of a small miracle.

and for a while, for longer than we have ever anticipated in the short time we have been mothers, we were knitting together, chatting, one hairy eye on each of our children - but not at all actually mothering.

i don't know how long it lasted. it could've been 5 minutes. it could have been one hour. but in those moments, time stood still and all four of us were in a lovely state of pure bliss.

it was time to go home when the boy and the girl began to wander far and away from our picnic blanket, off in two different directions, blatantly refusing to be contained.

all in all, we lasted 3 hours before we took our little parade float on its march back home, a little deflated from the altercation that lasted the entire time we gathered the gear and reassembled - but no less renewed.

i took no pictures of the journey back: it was my turn to push the stroller after all.