Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Rainy Days

This latest project is quite reflective of our weather lately. Rain, rain, cloudy skies and more rain. I am overjoyed at the cooler temperatures, but a little sun here and there would be nice.

I decided to dig out a crochet hook and try my hand at a larger crochet project. Eva's Shawl seemed like the perfect pattern to start with since there are no fancy stitches and I had yarn on hand that I could use. The yarn I picked is a hand-dyed lightweight sock yarn that I purchased in my early days of knitting. It is beautiful, but a bit splitty and definitely on the thinner side of what I like to use for socks, so I was happy to be able to use it up on this little shawl. While I did have almost a full skein, it wasn't enough to make a full-sized shawl, so what you see here is more of a shawlette. I think I like it better as a scarf, though.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Hootie Hoot-Hoot-Hoooooot

We have an owl. Well, we don't own an owl. It's not ours, nor does it live with us. I guess it's more of a local owl. A neighborhood owl, if you will. And it seems quite fond of the tree outside our bedroom window. It isn't there every night, but when it is there I'll admit that I enjoy drifting off to sleep to it's repeated calls of "Hootie hoot-hoot-hoooot! Hootie hoot-hoot-hooooot!"

Speaking of owls, I finally got around to rehabbing the owl napkin holder that I picked up at Goodwill a few weeks ago. In the interest of frugality, I decided that I would use some of the few paints I already had on hand. I gave it a good prime with white paint, but it didn't cover very well. It was good enough for primer, but I could tell that if I really wanted solid coverage it could be a challenge. Thankfully, solid coverage wasn't what I was after.


I put on a coat of aqua paint, but that particular paint had a very matte finish and it didn't look right at all. Since I decided to let the white of the primer show through in the recessed areas, I decided to do a very light wash of white over the color. It was trial and error at its finest, but in the end I mixed a little bit of the white paint with a little water and lightly brushed it all over with a foam brush. It took the edge off the matte finish without lightening the aqua color, which was exactly what I wanted!


Thursday, September 01, 2011

New Page

For those looking for the Jacobean Socks pattern, I have now added a new "Patterns" page to the blog. If you look to the upper left, you should see the link. Please let me know if you have any trouble with it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Signature Story

It seems like everyone has a signature story - you know, the one they tell at parties or family gatherings. It's the story that usually has everyone leaning in, dying to know, "What happened next??" I had never thought about what my signature story might be until yesterday. While brushing my teeth, I pondered the nosebleed I had the day before. I don't have nosebleeds frequently, but it made me realize that I do, in fact, have a signature story. I cannot guarantee that it will be riveting, but if you're looking for a good comedy of errors, read on.

When I was in high school, my mom and I were invited to spend the day at Six Flags with family friends and their children. Our friends had enough room in their vehicle for us to ride with them, so they picked us up early in the morning so we could spend the whole day at Six Flags. It was late in the summer, so even in the morning it was hot and humid. We arrived when the park opened and general merriment commenced. Rides were ridden, snacks were consumed. 

A good time was being had by all until early afternoon. I was sitting on a park bench with our friend and her baby. My mom had taken one of the older children to ride a roller coaster and as they approached, I noticed three things: 1) Mom looked a little green around the gills, 2) I suddenly had a headache and 3) my nose was starting to bleed. Since we were not driving and planned to spend the entire day at Six Flags, neither my mom nor I had brought a purse. We simply brought our wallets, since that was all we thought we would need. Yet there I was, suddenly in need of a tissue. Lucky for me, our friend had young children and a baby, so she quickly handed me a tissue and we thought nothing more about it until I realized that the slow trickle coming from my nose was now a very steady stream.

When I realized that my nose was now gushing and that I had gone through all the available tissues, I started to feel a bit sick. At a loss for what to do, our friend shoved a clean diaper into my hands. By now a crowd of gawkers had gathered. There I sat, in all my bloody glory, diaper held unashamedly to my face. I heard a man ask our friend, "Does she do drugs?" He should have known better: jeans shorts, t-shirt tucked in and appropriately bloused over the waistband, large bow in the hair, brown saddle-oxford-style Keds (don't judge me, it was the late 80's) - none of these point to Obvious Teenage Drug User of that era. After several minutes, a clot that was easily 6 inches long came out and the nosebleed started to slow down. Someone in the crowd of gawkers had called security, so around this time a very nice man with a wheelchair appeared and whisked me off to the First Aid building.

I'm sure adults and children alike were wondering, "Why is that girl holding a diaper to her face?," as I was wheeled past them, but let's be honest. If you have to ride in a wheelchair to the First Aid building at Six Flags with a diaper clutched against your nose, your inhibitions go right out the window. By the time the nurse looked me over, my nose had stopped bleeding and the whole visit was anticlimactic. She advised me to lay low for the rest of the day and to come back if anything else happened.

Funny about that. I was enjoying the afternoon with my now diaperless nose. Mom suggested lemonade, so we found a nice quiet spot to sip our cold drinks. Mom sat down and immediately sprang back up again, which I found a little odd since I thought we were there to rest. Unfortunately for my mother, a bee had already claimed that spot on the bench and made no bones about stinging whatever part of Mom's anatomy that came closest as she sat down. Once again, we found ourselves visiting the nice folks at the First Aid building. By that point, we had spent quite enough time at Six Flags and were ready to go home.

By the time our friends dropped us off at home, it was quite late and their children were exhausted. We waved goodbye, thanked them for the ride and opened the door to go inside. Well, we tried. The door was locked. Do you remember me mentioning earlier how neither Mom nor I had brought our purses? Yes. No purses, no keys and these were the days before cell phones. At the time, my dad was still working and usually didn't get home until after midnight, so he wasn't there to let us in. We tried the front door (also locked) and the sliding glass door (yep, locked). There was nothing for us to do but sit on the deck in the dark, wait for Dad to get home and pray that this was NOT a night he had a chance to work overtime.

Dad did come home after his shift ended. My nasal passages were fine in the end and Mom's bee sting was a minor (yet painful) annoyance.

Don't do drugs, friends. And if you do, I suggest carrying an ample supply of tissues.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Halfway is for Sissies

As I mentioned in my previous post, my obsession with Pinterest continues to grow. The first project I decided to tackle was a crocheted rag rug. I'm no expert at crochet, but I know the basics and thankfully, that is all you need for this project. I had hoped that I could make a rug entirely out of scrap fabric that I already had on hand, but unfortunately my recent need to purge the house of junk no-longer-needed-treasures left me with little remaining in my fabric stash. There was enough to get a good start, though, and I supplemented the rest for a reasonable price by scouring the clearance fabric bin at Wal-Mart and buying 3 sheets at Goodwill.

If you are a long-time reader of my blog, you may have gathered that I tend toward the "Go big, or go home" theory with crafting. I don't mean to. I guess it's just my nature. When I was really into scrapbooking, I did it with gusto. When I started knitting, I tackled a Dale of Norway colorwork sweater as my first sweater project. So I guess it is no surprise that when I decided to crochet a rag rug, I would make one that is 4.5 feet wide.

I would have loved for it to be even bigger, but as it happened, I had EXACTLY enough fabric for this size. Since I had to buy fabric (cheap though it was) to complete it, I just wasn't willing to buy any more. This is not the color scheme I would have picked if I was actually planning a rug and buying fabric accordingly. However, I meant for it to be a rag rug made from scraps and I love the perfectly imperfect nature of it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

(Nearly) Instant Gratification

Yesterday I posted pictures of the lamp I got at Goodwill. Missing a shade but otherwise in perfect condition, except for a raging case of the blahs. Nothing a can of Valspar "Exotic Sea" couldn't cure.

Here's the before:

And here's the after:

I can honestly say it turned out EXACTLY how I wanted. Now if only I could spray paint the rest of my house.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

One Man's Junk

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem, so here goes. I have a problem. I am a Pinterest addict. One look down that rabbit hole and I was done for. So many ideas! So many possibilities!

The first project I decided to start after spending some time on Pinterest was a crocheted rag rug. No pics of that today, but I will be blogging about it when I finish (hopefully in the next day or two). Of course I have been busy pinning countless other project ideas, too, so when I had to go to Goodwill yesterday to look for sheets to use to complete the rag rug, I couldn't help but look around to see if there was anything there that I could use for other projects.

I knew I needed books for one project, so I bought 4 of the thickest books they had. It made no difference what the books were; I just need books. You'll see why once I tackle that project. I did find a few other bargains, though, and thought I would share "before" pictures of them since I plan to change them up a little!

I got this lamp (minus the light bulb) and plan to get it a shade and a whole new color.
I also found this adorable wooden owl napkin holder, which will also get a new color.
My last find is actually just fine as-is. It's a wooden storage basket with a chalkboard side! It's a little worn around the edges and needs a good cleaning, but it will be perfect for the play room.
Stay tuned for future projects!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Too Sweet

I mentioned recently that in November we learned that Ethan has Type 1 Diabetes. He is, quite literally, too sweet. The symptoms appeared out of nowhere: insatiable thirst, looking tired, dry mouth and suddenly wetting the bed (often multiple times a night). At first I dismissed the tiredness because it happened to coincide with the time change in the fall. We were all tired. The bed-wetting, though, concerned me because it hadn't happened since Ethan was a toddler. After 10 days I decided to call the pediatrician's office and speak to a nurse. My sister had been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes earlier in the year and I knew extreme thirst and dry mouth can be symptoms, so I mentioned that. The nurse asked us to come in the next day to do a finger prick and a urine specimen. When the blood glucose meter showed a reading of 476 I knew life had suddenly changed.

Our pediatrician explained that Ethan very likely had Type 1 and got an appointment for us at the Vanderbilt Eskind Pediatric Diabetes Clinic the next morning, with strict instructions to head straight to the emergency room if we saw any sign of Ethan going downhill. The doctor explained that the problem we faced was that without treatment, Ethan would get very sick, very fast and there was no way to know if it would happen in a few days or a few weeks. Thankfully the night was uneventful and Ethan and I headed to Vanderbilt on November 11 to get a crash course in diabetes management. He started vomiting not long after we arrived (the start of getting "very sick, very fast," otherwise known as DKA). The nurses made him a nest on the floor of the conference room with blankets so he could rest while I learned everything I needed to know. After nearly 5 hours of teaching, the nurse took us down to McDonald's so Ethan could eat and I could test him and give him insulin before we left the hospital. It was there that I had to tell my son that these horrible needles would be a part of his life forever. We both cried.

Our new routine consisted of testing Ethan's blood sugar before each meal, before bed and again at 2 AM, and giving insulin after each meal and at bed. His insulin dose is not a set dose; it is calculated by ratio. For instance, a 1:12 ratio means he would get 1 unit of insulin for every 12 grams of carbs he eats. The trick is that often each meal has a different ratio, plus there is the correction factor - so if his blood sugar is over a certain number, there's a sliding scale system of how much insulin to add. Hello Math, nice to see you again. It's not complicated math, but if you don't keep track the consequences are dire. This is made even more frustrating when you eat out and discover that many restaurants have no nutritional information they can give you. The first week after Ethan's diagnosis was extremely hard on all of us. We never had to physically restrain him to do his shots or finger pricks, but there was a lot of crying and begging me to stop (he wouldn't let Greg even try, so I did it all). The first two days I handled it well because I was in survival mode, just trying to remember how to do everything. The third day was when I was an emotional basketcase. It does get easier - I can attest to that.

I have learned that most people know nothing about Type 1 Diabetes, largely because Type 2 is so rampant in the US. However, many doctors feel strongly that Type 2 should not even be called diabetes. Can Type 2 be managed with diet, exercise and pills? Yes, much of the time. Some people (like my sister) have Type 2 and require insulin. However, Ethan (and anyone with Type 1) cannot manage his diabetes with diet, exercise and pills. His pancreas has stopped producing insulin. Without it being injected into his body throughout the day, he will die. I'm sure it sounds overly dramatic, but it is our reality. Will diet and exercise be important for him? Yes, absolutely! There are some pretty awful things that can happen to diabetics if they don't take care of their bodies. Can Ethan still have sweets? Yes, absolutely! He can have anything (except poison, and cookies...made with poison); he simply has to take insulin for it.

The other thing I have learned is that children are amazingly resilient. They adapt quickly to the new "normal." Ethan doesn't like shots or finger pricks, but they don't bother him anymore. The excellent news is that he will soon be on an insulin pump, which will mean only one quick needle every 2-3 days (plus finger pricks - those can never go away). I know life with the pump will not be without challenges or frustrations, but I am hoping it will be better for Ethan.

As for me, I have realized that as the mother of a child with Type 1, it's like I have diabetes myself. I manage it. I do all the shots. I do all the finger pricks. I record the numbers. I calculate carbs. I try to anticipate lows or highs. I try to make sense of it all. I can't sleep in because Ethan has to be tested before he eats breakfast and get insulin right after. But here's the rub: I don't have diabetes. I have no idea what it physically feels like when his blood sugar crashes or shoots up high. There are signs, but I don't know how it feels leading up to those numbers, nor do I know how drained and exhausted he must feel afterward. I am responsible for being an external pancreas and it can be exhausting. It won't be long before Ethan will be responsible enough to take over some of the diabetes duties, but I will still have to supervise, ask questions and worry.

All in all, Ethan is doing well. We adjust his ratios as needed on a weekly basis and are working on making healthier food choices. "Is his diabetes 'bad?'," you may ask yourself. Let me say this: any disease that requires you to make your child bleed at least 4 times a day and then give them a shot is "bad." Type 1 diabetes is certainly manageable, but it is predictable only in theory. Our bodies sometimes do things for which we have no explanation and leave us scratching our heads as we look at numbers that make no sense based on what Ethan ate. Can he thrive with this disease? YES. My prayer is that my son (and my daughters) will live a long, healthy life - not just surviving, but thriving and making a difference in the world.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

One More Time

It has been a busy week of knitting, trying to get some gifts finished and ready to mail off. In the midst of that my big kids have both had the flu. I do not like the flu. It has been lingering around for 2 weeks now. Thankfully Ellie has only had a runny nose and Greg and I haven't gotten sick. Here's hoping it stays that way!

You may recognize this sweater pattern, since I have knit it twice before. It just doesn't get old!

Friday, February 25, 2011

In All My Spare Time

All in all, as a homeschooling mom with a toddler, the only "me" time I get is between 11 PM and midnight (if I'm lucky), so I have to squeeze in the creative stuff wherever I can. It is easy enough to knit or crochet a few rows here and there while the kids do a worksheet or write spelling words. Sometimes it doesn't feel like much since I'm not working in a big chunk of time, but here's proof that it does add up.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Reminder

There has been a lot going on inside my head during my blog hiatus. A major life change is that we discovered in November that Ethan (who just turned 7 this month) has Type 1 diabetes. The symptoms and diagnosis came seemingly out of nowhere. He was fine and then suddenly, over about 10 days, he wasn't. I am so thankful for the pediatric diabetes clinic at Vanderbilt; they do a fantastic job. Going from only getting a shot once every few years to getting 4 a day, plus at least 4 finger pricks...well, it was extremely stressful for all of us at first. Children are amazing, though, and Ethan is doing great.

All the stress made me choose to avoid blogging, I suppose. There have been many things I have wanted to say and didn't, sometimes for fear of what people might think. Then again, I suppose it's not a bad rule of thumb to err on the side of silence if you're not sure what you have to say really needs to be said in a public forum! But life goes on. Schoolwork still needs to be done, bills still need to be paid, knitting awaits.

Not too long ago, on a day when I was feeling overwhelmed and alone, I went out to run some errands. When I returned, I noticed something that hadn't been there when I left the house a few minutes earlier and I had to take a picture. I know it's just a leaf, but it was a beautiful and unexpected reminder that I am loved. Strangely, when I went back outside later that day, it was gone.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Miss You

Dear Blog,

It's been a long time. We've hardly spoken. It's not's me. Really. Can we put it all behind us and try again?