Tuesday, July 30, 2013

summer sweater kal progress update - week 1: miracles do happen

we are gearing up for a week long vacation away from home and what will be the babes' first very first camping experience. naturally, the wife and i figured it would be an appropriate time to rearrange our bedroom, play musical chest of drawers,  and overhaul our entire storage system. this means that our bedroom feels a bit airier; the girl's chest of drawers now lives in the hallway with the winter accessories; our chest of drawers now hold the girl's entire wardrobe in their room; the secretary desk that also has a chest of drawers now lives in our room; the linens have been moved to our bedroom closet, and the rest of our collective wardrobe now lives in what once was our linen closet. 

did you get all that? small spaces are fun. 

did i mention the 8 loads of laundry i did over the weekend? oh yes. all that. amid the usual housekeeping and home cooking and parenting and packing.

suffice it to say that with all that activity (necessarily) centred away from the boy and the girl, it's also been feeling like the toddler wars games around here. and i'll leave it at that. because the days. have. been. long. 

but there has been knitting - there has to be knitting. very late night knitting. and today, park knitting. 

ever the optimist, i never go to the park without some knitting. even though i know that at least 80% of the time, i'm pushing 2 swings, negotiating someone's right to be next, surveying for hazards, and practicing the art of keeping one eye on each kid at the same time.

my knitting basket usually sits lonely.

and as i go about the of business carrying out my mothering-at-the-park duties, the knitting basket and i cast furtive and longing glances at each other. then, my hands begin to itch - at which point, i finally give myself a talking to and force myself choose to be present.

but today, a small miracle happened. today i brought the sweaters i've been working on for luvinthemommyhood's summer sweater knit-along. and the babes - they agreed to try them on at. the. park. AND let me photograph them! 


they are little sweaters for little people so i really am speeding along.

the girl's sweater is called ms. marple and i'm really enjoying the pattern. there's some lace going on and its streamlined sweater construction makes me feel clever. 

as you can see, i can easily just call it a vest and be done with it. but i've got some more yarn and i really should get those needles off the back collar. also, that would defeat the purpose of participating in a sweater kal.

yarn: madelinetosh tosh dk in nutmeg
i really love this colour on her!

now the boy - he asked for a purple sweater. here is my answer: the wonder years cardigan. the pattern is simple, speedy, and straightforward, with a bit of a vintage vibe. 

i really like how this sweater is knitting up in my chosen yarn but i think that were i to knit this again, i would go with plied yarn in something tweedy or heathered. 

yarn: malabrigo worsted
both sweaters were inspired by my friend ava who has knit each of them for her adorable daughter. (thanks ava!)

just the sleeves, neckband, and button bands to go, really. so, i may just squeeze in another sweater or 2 as part of this kal. we'll see. 


oh! and the wife (finally) joined ravelry and is knitting away at her sweater: slowly and surely (see opening paragraphs).  maybe i'll get to show you her sweater progress soon, too. 

anyone else knitting along with us? 

Friday, July 26, 2013

knit parade: piles part 2 - gift knitting

sadly, there is no way in the world i can knit for every single person i want to knit for. i am a working mama. knitting is what i do for fun. there can be no room for orders or obligation knitting. otherwise; the thing that gives me a moment to compose myself in an otherwise chaotic existence where nearly every sentence i hear begins with the word "mama" (followed by some sort of demand), this thing that allows me a moment of triumph when yarn and pattern happen to marry and whatever i'm knitting is actually looking right (despite the fact that my home is a perpetual state of toddler-frat-party-aftermath); this hobby that affords me an opportunity to learn something new everyday (not out of necessity or to better my career but for the sheer pleasure of it) - the act of spontaneously creating something wherever i am, in the middle of whatever i'm doing - would just become another chore. and i just can't let that happen.

but now and again, inspiration strikes: dear friends make humble and respectful requests without tying me down to a deadline; new babies must be smothered in hand-knitted woolly love; and some random acts of kindness and friendships can only be reciprocated with hundreds of stitches to convey my gratitude, in the smallest possible way.

this pile of knitting represents all of the above. 

my needles have been busy indeed. i have just been tearing through my stash - and not just for myself but for some of the people i adore. they are all in various stages of finishing, these knits: some need seaming, others need buttons, every single one of them have yet to be blocked. and there are 2 or 3 more little things to add to the pile that will complete a sibling set. but all in all, i'm pretty pleased with what i've been able to knit up in the last 3 weeks.

i hope to share a proper show and tell of each of these items anon. but luvinthemommyhood's summer sweater kal kicked off this week and i've been hard at work. 

i have just over 2 months to knit each of my babes a sweater - totally doable - if i stay focused and keep the side projects to a minimum.

suffice it to say that you can expect quite a bit of knit-centric posts in the next little while. 

enjoy your weekend y'all! 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

from the kitchen: bread superhero

i have lots more knitting to report but while i get that ready, i wanted to share the best news ever.

i made bread. with my hands. using every flour and grain in my pantry.

and its edible! hearty, filling, and dare i say it - tasty and delicious!

the recipe isn't mine to share, alas. once upon a time, i wasn't such a fan of bread in general. but then: katie brought a loaf of bread to my university townhome for my roommates and i - made from this exact recipe. one bite and my eyes were opened. i got hooked on bread. i've been thinking about that loaf ever since.

katie and were recently exchanging emails and i confessed my obsession with that loaf she brought long ago (in my early twenties, when time seemed to stretch forever). and just like that, from memory, she typed her grandmother's recipe. 

so i bought i huge bag of flour and raided my pantry for all the grains i had and got to it. 

i should probably confess that i wanted my first bread-making experience to be a solitary one: focused, deliberate, meditative. not so much fraught with the manic supervision required of me when i'm cooking with my babes. but the boy got wind and i gracefully (as in, i was the only parent on duty at time) obliged.

thankfully, there was only a little scolding involved: not enough to break my bread-making zen, anyway.

and lo!

i made bread, yo. 

in my mind, when these loaves came out of the oven, trumpets played as i burst through 3 apartment stories, twirling, with my cape and mini skirt (there was a costume change, naturally), 4 loaves of bread in my arms, to fly with the eagles (in case they wanted some freshly made hand-baked bread with their prey). i also suppressed an irrational desire to run up and down the co-op telling anyone who would listen i made bread (i posted a photo on instagram instead).

but it is more than enough that i loved baking the bread, that the boy loved the experience, that the girl was just as excited to taste the bread right out of the oven, and that the wife forced herself from her sick bed (she was nursing something nasty at the time)to have her fill.

i'm totally making bread regularly from now on. (thank you, katie!)

as long as it doesn't eat into too much of my knitting time. bread-making superheroes need to stay sane, too.

any favourite bread recipes you'd care to share? 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

knit parade: piles part 1: selfish knitting

until i knit myself my first sweater, it felt very much like i would never knit for myself again. i was knitting a slew of (embarassingly late) christmas gifts, hit a few bouts of dud knitting, and just felt like my knitting mojo had been benched. 

now that i've pledged to get through my stash, i thought i'd begin by tackling my reserve stash:  the yarn i like to look at the most, my most petted, my most prized. 

project pile before blocking
yes. yarn really is one of the things that make me happy. in my late 30's it's not as easy to reverse the effects of regular chocolate eating (oh how i miss you), so it really is indulgent binge knitting that soothes this working momma's soul when the job-work and parenting-work day is done and most of the housework hastily attended to.

that's a shawlette, a cowl,  and 2 hats. just look at all that texture! oh they make me so happy. all my favourite colours, too.

here i am wearing the hat at the top of the pile. i don't usually like to take photos of myself but i was just so happy with how the hat turned out that i thought i'd show you just how fabulous it looks on.

 renfrew by jane richmond in madelinetosh vintage 
here is the wife modelling the butterfly hat and the lansbury cowl that comes next. i  knit an extra pattern repeat on th ehat because i wanted it extra slouchy. she looks good wearing them, doesn't she?

hat: butterfly hat in madelinetosh pashmina
cowl: lansbury cowl in fibre company terra
let me be clear. these knits are mine. 

(i may lend them to her if she asks me nicely. my children hijack my food. she hijacks my knits. i am a pushover.)

and then, there's this first lace shawl. 

it was such a surprisingly easy and fast knit. i couldn't be happier with how it turned out. 

little shells in we will tell you all of our secrets bfl 

what's more... the wife sewed a button for me on each end, so i could potentially wear it as an adjustable shrug, should the need arise. brilliant really. but i'll show you that another time (mainly because i have no picture to show for it just yet)

i'm gearing up for luvinthemommyhood's annual summer sweater knit-a-long (kal). it starts this wednesday! 

i'm pretty excited about it, giddy almost. i'm not even sure why, to be honest. there are prizes, yes. but the last time i won something in a raffle of any kind was in my early twenties. these things just rarely happen for me. but if i had to put my finger on why i wound my yarn the moment i saw shannon's announcement on her blog, the reason for my rapt anticipation is the idea of knitting sweaters along with many around the world. those who participate in kals like this generally post their comments, progress, and pictures on the ravelry forum page and cheer each other on. the moderators  are always sweet and encouraging (becca of nook is one of them). you meet new people, drool over their yarn, marvel at their knitting genius, pick up a tip or two. not bad for fringe benefits - especially when you've finished 2-3 toddler-sized sweaters by the time the kal has run it's course (grand plans i have, you see).

if you've never joined a kal or knit a sweater (even the wee ones count), knit along with me! i'm always up for a bit of knit chat. 

you can check out the general summer sweater kal rules and all the other details here

the wife is in. she's knitting her first sweater - in her size. which i think is rather brave and super cool. 

i hope to share some weekly updates but let's just see how the next few weeks pan out. work is busy. our parenting days are similarly full. and we have a vacation coming up - which means cleaning house and dotting the i's and t's on everything else so we can just zone and and be for a week. but i fully intend on tracking my own progress here so... fair warning: it's going to get more knit-centric over here than it usually is!


Monday, July 22, 2013

sun soaking

outside or in, near home and about, in shade or without, every last bit of us from the tops of our heads to the tips of our fingers and the tops of our toes are soaking in every bit of the sunshine that is gracing this city right now. 

we will be needing the vitamin d fortification in our bones come winter, after all.

while the summer lasts, i plan to do a lot of stopping, staring, and taking close snapshots of the gorgeous moments that abound - with or without my camera - amid the busy-busy-slow-crazy of the working week. 

happy monday! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

liebster lovin' again

it seems so improbable to me but this little blog has been getting a little bit of recognition.

one of my readers, a fabulous mommy blogger and colour-gifted crafter in her own right, and who is also fast becoming a good virtual friend, has honoured this little blog with the prestige of being featured on schmutzie.com's five star friday feature for my open birthday letter to the boy.

as if that weren't enough, alma has also nominated my blog with the liebster love award - for the second year in a row.

image src: alma boheme

i am both humbled and mind-boggled by such honours.

i began this blog for so many reasons. most of all, i continue to write to help me feel like a whole person. this space has become a small sanctuary, where i reflect on all the chaos and make friends with all my demons. here, i keep a record of the things that make me happy - which, i tell you, has already come in handy, and on more than one occasion - as  reassurance, when the going got ugly.

i never thought that anyone would visit this space that wasn't my wife - and the few friends and family that like to keep tabs on what my little family is up to. i couldn't have predicted that i would rekindle friendships from long ago as a direct result of the posts they've read. i couldn't have told you that i would make new friends virtually - and actually meet a few of them in person. and i could not have fathomed that anything on my blog would receive recognition of any kind.

such gifts can only be returned by paying them forward.

the liebster love award is about keeping the big blog love chain going. to quote alma, "the point of this award is to get to know more about a new or small blogger and to pass the love onto others that deserve recognition." the rules of the game: 

image src: alma boheme

i'd like to give the some liebster love to the following blogs:

ms. t's clubfoot club
my dearest friend tea is 12. she was born with clubfoot. her life so far has included many surgeries and physiotherapy amid all the coming of age she's doing. as if i didn't already call her my hero, she astounds me again with her decision to begin a blog in which to engage conversations about clubfoot as part of an effort to connect with others who share her experience, and educate the rest of us about the condition. she writes with a maturity that belies her age, a frank sincerity that will pull you in, and a sense of humour that will find you actually laughing out loud.

julie is one of my oldest and dearest friends.  she lives in toronto and writes about iceland.  her blog reads like a deliciously surreal and witty foreign film: uncanny, visceral, quirky and unabashedly real. 

i followed becca's blog long before i met her at knitsocial last year. i'm pretty sure she recognized me and the wife before i even found her. the wife and i had drinks with her when we were in victoria last and she is now one of my favourite people. if you're a knitter, all you need to know is that she often features yarn porn, works in progress, and seriously beautiful finished projects.

lynn is a long-time friend. we met in toronto but became friends in vancouver. she now blogs from canmore, alberta, has exquisite taste and much to share. she just had a sweet baby boy so she hasn't updated in a while but i've already learned a lot from her product reviews and experience! 

hannah originally gave this blog some liebster love last year. she doesn't post as often as she once did. she's a momma of 2 littles, too. so i imagine she's as busy as i. if not more. but i enjoy her posts. her little girls are adorable. and don't get me started on her knitterly tastes. she has a knack for choosing colours i would never put together myself but always want to wear!

and now for 10 random facts about me:

  1. i have an undergraduate degree in english and theatre.
  2. i went on 2 auditions after graduating before deciding that it wasn't the life for me.
  3. after working in a call centre for a year, i got myself a job as a corporate trainer.
  4. years later, i developed a passion for adult learning. i have been a corporate adult learning professional ever since.
  5. because i am an adult learning professional, i am terrible at facilitating toddler crafts.
  6. seriously. i give my kids the materials and don't know how to direct them. (i should go back to all those reference books i bought and get inspired)
  7. my spirit wants to be a neat freak but my actual person doesn't know how to stay organized so i live in a messy home even though i feel like i'm always cleaning (also, see #6)
  8. i have at least 4 projects on my knitting needles at one time.
  9. i always want to go to the yarn store. always. 
  10. the ocean is my temple.

i totally didn't intend for that to read like a resume/confessional.

alma, thank you again for being so generous with your comments and your faith. i am very much enjoying getting to know you through your blog and beyond. 

and to you who come to visit, stranger or not, it means so much to me that you take the time to do so (if only to withstand my poor editing). do comment. let me know what you think. or not. 

i always appreciate your visits.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

parenting hard

i woke up this morning with a short fuse.

the kids took turns kicking and jabbing me awake and there wasn't any coffee in the house. (and by no coffee, the wife usually makes it for me as i'm not allowed to touch the espresso machine because she is afraid i will break it. and she was at work. tea just doesn't do the trick in the morning.)

i refuse to grumble grumble grumble away this opportunity to collect my thoughts and find some sense of serenity before awaking tomorrow to the grind of a regular work week (+ parenting drama + housekeeping + other miscellaneous responsibilities). so i won't. 

i will simply say that the weekend was productive and restful, with overcast patches of the grumbles. momma the hulk was most definitely around. a lot.

i will also say that the mouthy, argumentative, and insistent nature of a certain aries 4-year old (who eggs on his little sister to do inappropriate things) does nothing but fuel the fire. 

disciplining requires discipline itself: rigour, consistency, a willingness to be both repetitive and practically unforgiving. rudeness is unacceptable. violence will not stand. blatant disobedience masquerading as ignorance cannot be tolerated. all of which are hard lessons, even for grown-ups. but it's in these early years that these lessons have to stick. there needs to be consequences - as much as there needs to be many opportunities to start again and make better choices.

the measure of my success in parenting isn't so much the hopes and dreams i have for my children. their lives are theirs to live. their hopes and dreams are theirs to own entirely. my intention is simply to give them roots and wings to fly. my success in motherhood lies simply in the fact that on most given days, when in trouble or doubt, happy or sad, brave or afraid - that both my children allow me an opportunity to be there. i want the honour of having a place in each of their lives - not out of obligation or need - but out of a sincere desire to stay connected to me. 

i've been struggling with the lines that blur kindness and discipline. when does my willingness to forgive become an open invitation to be bullied by the impetuous reflex desires of a toddler or two? 

is the answer simply to summon up more patience? take an extended (more than 5 hours) break from parenting? permanently extricate the television from existence in our home? burn  hide all the toys? i'm not sure.

there are good days and there are bad days. the weekend was peppered with some good and much bad.

photo taken by the wife

i love my children. it's my job to teach them right from wrong. it's my duty to influence the choices they make while in my care.  and i will bust my butt do my best to help them become good people: kind, happy, healthy, fulfilled. 

photo also taken by the wife

i love myself, too. i am human. i have limits. and for my children to respect the boundaries of their strengths, i have to stand up to my own weakness for their little hearts. for my children to respect me, i will have to be ruthless about showing them what it means to respect myself. 

hard lessons indeed.

"isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is another day with no mistakes in it yet?" lucy maude montgomery

here's to a clean slate and a peaceful start to the week for all of us.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

postcards from a day at jericho beach: in which i ramble about domestic life in general

i do love summer. but it is at this time of year that i rather feel at war in my own home. flies abound. moths appear (and freak the wool-loving daylights out of me). there are spiders everywhere. and then there's the general kid mess: mud tracks, wet spots, food droppings that wander both inside and out(i dream about a dog who will help with this someday. also, see prior mention of flies above), and somehow the toys multiply.

these days, too, my sweet cat - who has always been an angel - very recently decided to wage a protest and refuse to use her litter box. so there's cat pee to contend with in various pockets of carpet all around our home. (gross, i know. but i'm a mother. my daily life is all about the pee and the poo. hence the need to focus on the loveluckbliss of a day on the beach.) we are armed with laboratory grade germ-killing power, to be sure (thanks to our vet). and we're getting ready to come to the negotiating table with options for spike (our 12 year-old cat) to consider using her litter box again. but until she's willing to hear what we have to say about how we will manage the dinosaurs toddlers that roar every time they see her, until we convince her that she doesn't have spread her urine to assert dominance over the monsters children, and that hissing really does the trick - the days are rather smelly and irritating because i work from home most days and it's quite a job turning away from any of this while actually working or while attempting to engage in a mother's version of play (which includes actual playing but also disciplining, constant cleaning, intermittent cooking - and if my children are to be exposed only to the mildest of my hulk-like temper - some knitting. the blogging usually happens late at night. or in the stolen moments between bathroom breaks. if i'm very lucky.)

i know. it's all rather full, isn't it? i often wonder how amanda soule does it all. her blog is my version of fantasy fiction these days: a slice of the most idyllic life. kind of like what i imagine living in modern green gables would be like. i'm pretty sure i can't fathom her version of chaos - what with caring for and homeschooling 5 children, not to mention running a farm with animals, and gardens and everything - and that's on top of the drama of maintaining a blog and editing a magazine. that's a lot of hard work and effort, even if she has help. still. i dream about all the pretty parts she shares. she takes lovely photographs.

oh, and did i mention i'm recovering from some freak of nature virus that had me passed out the whole day on canada day? now that really wasn't pretty. i couldn't even pick up my knitting, if that tells you anything about my condition.

thankfully, before i was knocked down by the wretched viral club, we managed to trek it out to jericho beach by bus and on foot, with the most pared down parade float ever.

it was rather epic, to be honest. when we got there, the beach water was completely flooded with seaweed. 

but as you can see, the boy was in heaven. and the girl was happy enough to be in her bathing suit, on sand and tree.


the sea weed was super gross and thick when i waded briefly in all its glory, so i stayed on shore the rest of the time and said a prayer of gratitude for the kindness of the parents and children that humoured and played with my little man. 

i do regret not spending more time with the wife when we were out there. we went in separate directions, opting for a one-on-one parent-child defence strategy amid such a wide expanse. but such is our lot, while our toddlers arbitrarily decide to stray from us without a second thought.

sticky, smelly, and tired, we walked through our home so happy. and refreshed.

even though it felt like the longest stretch of a day, i can't wait to do it all over again: different day, different beach, new adventure (well away from my home-keeping woes).

now i just need to talk my wife into it again.