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Random on a Tuesday

  • My youngest sister, Melinda, died at 25 on January 14, 2011.
  • We drove to Anchorage for a small memorial service for her, held on Friday, January 21, 2011.
  • It’s got me mourning my mother all over again.
  • The kids got to play with Grandpa, cousins Faith, Caleb, and Vicky, Aunts Jessie, Tasha, & Sandee, and Uncle Darrell.
  • We took family photos at my parents’ house, courtesy of Sandee Rice Photography.
  • Back at the hotel, we took the kids down to the swimming pool.  They had a blast.
  • The chlorine in the pool did crazy tightening things to the dreads forming at the back of my head.
  • Bouncing Bears is the coolest place to get kids worn out before a long road trip.
  • The living room floor is the greatest place to roll around after many long hours cooped up in car seats.
  • The wolf and the orca share the same animal spirit in Yup’ik lore.  These are the two animals I debated between in trying to identify the animal essence of my youngest child River.  JR is a polar bear.  Camilla is a lynx/mountain lion/fox.
  • I’ve spun 4 oz of a pinkish-purplish wool/alpaca batt by Bohoknitterchic Spins into 400+ yards of a fingering weight single.  Melinda loved pink.  I’m going to knit a shawl out of this yarn.
  • I’m knee-deep in laundry that needs to be done before we leave Thursday night on vacation.
  • I get a kitten after we get back.  It will go nicely with the litter box and cat food I got from John for Christmas.
  • I’m planning on getting tattooed in San Antonio and Chicago during the next couple of weeks.
  • I’ll be starting a Little Acorn Learning curriculum for JR and Camilla after our trip.  I’m excited.
  • I definitely need to get back to daily workouts.  They’ve fallen by the wayside with a marked increase in fibro pain.
  • I nearly forgot how comfortable Vans are until I bought a new pair the other day.
  • I am very clearly doing anything possible to avoid laundry and packing.
  • I have to start all that now, before Thursday gets here.

Sigh.

Yummy Malabrigo

I made a pair of wool longies for Camilla out of worsted Malabrigo. Yum.

Mmmmalongies 2

Mmmmalongies 2

Pattern: Perfection Pants by Pamela Grossman (purchased at Three Irish Girls)
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted, 100% wool, Little Lovely colourway (purchased at The Backwards Loop)
Needles: Size 6 (4.0 mm) and size 8 (5.0 mm) 16″ bamboo circulars and bamboo double-point needles
Gauge: 4.5 stitches per inch, 5 rows per inch, in stockinette

Yes, I absolutely must buy some awesome 3IG yarn to make more of these. Even more Mmmmalabrigo, since it’s so soft and yummy.

Woolies!

I’ve finished my first pair of knit wool longies, and love them. I’ve knit soakers before, but I’ve only ever crocheted longies. It’s so soft, I almost want to knit a pair for myself!

Malabrigo wool longies for JR

Malabrigo wool longies for JR

Pattern: Perfection Pants by Pamela Grossman (purchased at Three Irish Girls)
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted, 100% wool, Oceanos colourway (purchased at The Backwards Loop)
Needles: Size 6 (4.0 mm) and size 8 (5.0 mm) 16″ bamboo circulars and bamboo double-point needles
Gauge: 4.5 stitches per inch, 5 rows per inch, in stockinette

I’m about halfway done with the pair for Camilla. I’m so excited about how these have come out that I’m sure to make many more in plenty of great colourways! I’ll definitely have to buy some special merino from Three Irish Girls. I know I’ll still crochet longies, but I’m thinking I may reserve that for workhorse wool (read: cheaper) that can handle the abuses of being used during JR’s rougher playtimes.

Toy Talk

I got JR a new toy last Friday. It’s a Thomas the Train Water Tower Figure 8 train set, and we’ve set it up on a coffee table in his room upstairs. He LOVES it. We first saw this in the children’s book section of Barnes & Noble in Fairbanks, and as much as he loves the set-up there at B&N, I couldn’t resist getting him a set of his own. I’m excited about getting him more train pieces, and I just love watching him walk his train around the track!

Thomas the Train Water Tower Figure 8 Train Set

Thomas the Train Water Tower Figure 8 Train Set

I’m thinking of getting him this train set for his birthday. MikeBToys does fantastic work. I bought a few handmade trucks from him, and they are some of JR’s favorites. Doesn’t this set look fantastic?

A few faves

Burt’s Bees Milk & Honey lotion

Super creamy, with no offensive ingredients, leaves my skin feeling super silky soft and hydrated, with a wonderful but not too heavy scent.

Denali Dreams handmade soap in Kodiak Brown (patchouli blend)

This soap is just luscious.  I first found this at Denali National Park last July when my sister-in-law and her family came up for a visit.  I love this stuff!

Silverhook dark roast

Roasted in Anchorage, Alaska, this is an organic coffee that I just adore.  We brew it rich and strong and it kickstarts our days.

James Avery silver jewelry

My modest collection started when my mother-in-law gave me a small pendant a couple years ago.  I’ve enjoyed adding special pieces to it since then.  We added two more prominent pieces on our last trip to Texas — our wedding bands.

Doc Martens

Yep, I’m kickin’ it old style.  I love my Docs.  I want a pair of Doc Marten Mary Janes, as well as a pair of 20-eyelet boots.

ShiBuiKnits Sock Yarn

This stuff is soft, squishy, and a pleasure to knit with.  I’ve made a pair of socks for John that came out comfortably warm and even stood up to an accidental wash and dry cycle.  There are other, truly decadent sock yarns that I love to use, but for a workhorse sock for John, I think this is the winner (for now).

Lip balms

I have no less than a dozen lip balms at any given time, and am compelled to always have one on me.  It’s either in my jeans pocket or in my purse, but I have to have at least one.  I go get another if I don’t have one.  I hate having dry, chapped lips.  I’ve made my own lip balm too, though I gave most of it away for Christmas.  It was good stuff; I’ll have to make more.

Water bottles

I always have to have one of these with me too.  I drink anywhere from half a gallon to a gallon of water a day, and my water bottles have become like grown-up lovies for me.  If I don’t have one, I feel like I’m missing an appendage.  My favorite one at the moment is my purple one from Ozark Trail.  I had wanted to buy a Sigg the last trip to Texas, but forgot.

Sunflowers

Bright and beautiful, these flowers light up my world.  Mama knew this, and would often get me sunflower-adorned things.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

Sarcastic, witty, satirical, irreverant, and absolutely hilarious.  This has to be my favorite book ever.  I lost my copy, so I’ll have to get another one just so I can re-read it again soon.  If you know me, and appreciate my sense of humor, then I am sure you’ll love this book too.

Baby Update, crafts, JR, and such.

I am 16 days away from my due date.  I am as big as a house, and uncomfortable all the time.  I am ready to get this child out of me.  She is not yet ready to come out though.  So be it.  She knows when she’s supposed to be here.  I do not.  I will wait.

JR knows that something is changing with me.  He constantly wants to be climbing on me, and I just can’t deal with it.  I just want personal space.  Poor little guy is in for a major shock when he suddenly finds himself sharing mommy and daddy.  I hope he handles it well.  I think he’s going through another growth spurt; he’s eating constantly. He’ll get to play with another little boy this Friday when we go to town; we’re going to have M watch him for a little while so that JR can get used to her and her son L.  Hopefully he’ll have a good time and get comfortable with them.

We have almost everything we need for Milla’s arrival, except that I still need to sew together the ring sling and prep all of her diapers.  My BFF Melanie is set to come up the last week of the month (also when John is having his sinus surgery).  It’ll be great not only to hang out with her, but to have her help with the kids while John is out of commission.  Besides, I don’t think I could handle having anyone else around the first month or two that Milla is here.  If it were anyone else, I would feel like I would have to play hostess, whether that’s the case or not. I’m just not going to do that, so I’m glad that it’s just Melanie and John who’ll be around after baby comes.

As for my crafting, I’ve got socks for John on the needles using my pattern.  I’m using this beautiful ShiBui Knits Sock yarn that I picked up last weekend at INUA Wool Shoppe.  Isn’t that the cushiest looking yarn?  I know I’ll be getting more.

I’ve decided that I want to make myself a snazzy, stripey sweater with my 1200+ yards of Patons that are back in my stash using this pattern.  It’s not exactly what I want, so I will probably heavily modify it as I go.  I have several other socks planned too, so you should just keep an eye out for me on Ravelry to see what I’m up to.

Let’s see… what else.  Oh, I’m going to go insane if I have to watch The Wizard of Oz one more time this week.  It’s JR’s new favorite movie.  It was cute, the first dozen times.  Now I want to rip all the stuffing out of the Scarecrow, then pull the Lion’s tail.  We’ll see who has a heart now, Tin Man.

Catching up

because I haven’t written in a bit.

The day we were flying back from Texas, I went into false labor. We had just gotten to my sister-in-law’s house, and I realized that my “stomach ache” was turning into something quite different. I had a gut-wrenching, can’t-stand-still-can’t-move-well-can’t-breathe-well contraction. Out of nowhere. Then, like 3 minutes later, I had another one. And then another one. We decided to bag it and go to the hospital seeing as how I was just 32 weeks along and could barely breathe through them. We left a confused JR with my in-laws, and drove off into the unknown parts of Ft. Worth to find a hospital. After getting sort of lost downtown, and me having 9 or 10 super strong contractions in an hour’s time, we got to the hospital’s ER entrance. Everything stopped. Not another contraction.

I talked to the on-call OB who stands in for my OB when he’s out of town, explaining that we had a plane to catch and that it’d been over half an hour without any activity. I signed a form to get out of being seen at the hospital, and we headed back to my in-laws’ house. We loaded everything up, said our goodbyes, got to the airport, dropped off the rental, then were given the runaround by TSA agents who were clueless about where the Alaska Airlines ticket counter was located. After walking like 1/2 a mile through and around the airport just to be sent back, it turned out to be right next to where the damn agents were standing when we asked. We checked in, checked our bags, got some Taco Hell, and made it to the gate just in time to board the plane. Whew!

The flight was fairly uneventful, and we switched planes without a hitch in Seattle. It seemed like it took forever to get to Fairbanks, and we were so ready to be off the plane when we finally landed. Holy crap was it cold though! It was -43*F when we landed. That was heartbreaking, given that it was 88*F when we left Texas. My nose started bleeding as soon as we hit the baggage claim area, it was so dry.

John left to get the truck from the parking garage downtown, we stopped at Safeway for groceries, then drove 100 miles to get home. Oh, the relief to finally be home!

John had to leave insanely early the next morning for work. JR and I were still sick (and still are) so we took it easy the first day. I had (and still have) so much cleaning to do though as we trashed the house in our extreme hurry to get ready to leave in the first place.

Thursday I woke up super early and went on a mini-cleaning spree. I scrubbed the downstairs bathroom, cleaned the living room, did the dishes, the laundry, the diapers, swept and mopped the kitchen, and decluttered the countertops, all before noon. I managed to get dinner in the crockpot (which was super yummy: beef short ribs, slow cooked in barbecue sauce) and had it ready to be served when John walked in the door that night. So tender it was falling off the fork!

Friday I was up early again (gotta love pregnancy insomnia), and had showered, eaten, made and drank coffee, checked all my usual websites, and straightened up the kitchen before anyone else even woke up. We went to town that day for our usual shopping trip. I went to Joann’s and got some cool new knitting supplies (thank you Bec) as well as a baby elephant and hippo for JR that he adores (they’re Schleich, and I love them). We ate at Chili’s because I was craving buffalo wings like nobody’s business, which was so not worth the final ticket price we paid for dinner. Doubt we’ll go back (John had a ribeye, I had shrimp & chicken). I discovered later that night taht I must be allergic to shrimp.  Nice.

Then we picked up a doggie coat & booties for our wussy indoor dog — and before you make any snide comments, those things are totally necessary for creatures in -40* and colder weather. We went in search of a new winter coat for JR too, though kept coming up short. FYI, Big Ray’s had a sign saying they were open until 8 (it was 7:15) and they turned us away. Frontier Outfitters is entirely too floofy, too. Sears was dead, and we speculate that they’ll be going under soon. Then it was off to WalMart for some random crap, then Freddie’s for groceries, then finally back home.

Saturday I was going to try to get together with M (who is this sweet woman that we’re trying to get to watch JR when I go into labor), but I started feeling even sicker and decided to nap with JR. John went back into town to pick up my meds and a handful of other things we’d forgotten (as he’s working this coming weekend and so won’t be home until next Thursday night).

Yesterday was a mellow day, thankfully.  John cleaned up our files downstairs, JR played, and I worked on a fun new knitting project (the Noro Striped Scarf).

Today, John headed back to work.  JR and I have just been hanging out for the most part.  I’ve scheduled John’s sinus surgery/pre-op/cat-scan, and also renewed my belief that Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center majorly sucks.  We got our home heating fuel delivery, and we’re now settled in with some simple snacks to watch the Fiesta Bowl (Hook ‘Em Horns!).

So far in our travels…

We left Delta Thursday afternoon.  I had been sick for a day and a half with some uber-fun gastrointestinal bug, rendering me useless and miserable beyond belief.  We got all our stuff packed on time though, without forgetting anything major.  We did manage to forget the Christmas cards.  I was so proud that I had gotten them all done, addressed, signed, ready to go, and on time… then I left them on the kitchen counter before walking out the door.  Oh well.

We picked up a couple of last minute things at WalMart in Fairbanks, ate dinner at Gallo’s, then headed to the airport after dropping the truck off at the parking garage downtown.  We got the dog situated with TSA, I had a brief glare-down with the security assholes about JR’s baby food, and fairly soon we were on the plane.  JR was awesome on the first leg of the trip — he was so fascinated being on a plane and seeing all the other planes go by.  It was a great distraction for me to watch his excitement (I’m terrified of flying).  Anchorage to Seattle was another story; he was soooo tired, and couldn’t figure out how to comfortably fall asleep in his carseat while on the plane, and poor little guy was crying during takeoff and landing because of the pressure in his ears.  It broke my heart.  We had a three-hour layover in Seattle where we grabbed a bite to eat, then fell asleep in front of the gate.  We nearly missed the guy announcing our flight, and all three of us were passed out on the way to Dallas.

Family friend Evelyn met us at the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport.  Buffle was absolutely exhilerated to see us and get out of her kennel.  John took JR with him to the car rental place, and Evelyn stayed with me at the airport.  We got a bite to eat at this shady McDonald’s on the way to Cara’s house; it made me feel queasy, and gave John a great case of the same gastrointestinal fun that I’d had (which rendered him useless for the next 36 hours or so).

We settled in at Cara’s, JR hung out with the kids, we chatted it up, and eventually passed out.  Saturday John slept all day, and JR wasn’t feeling too hot himself (ear tugging, crying, low-grade fever) so we didn’t go anywhere or do anything.  I had craft time with Maddie and Ryan, making a countdown to Christmas.  They really seemed to enjoy it, and Cara and Mike seemed to enjoy that I made it last a couple of hours.  Sunday, which was also Tori’s birthday, we went to the Ft. Worth Zoo and had an absolute blast.  JR still wasn’t feeling so hot and kept laying down on the ground so we put him in the Ergo on John’s back.  We saw a rhino, and JR insisted it was a dinosaur.  He loved the tigers, the elephants, and the carousel (which I rode on with him).  Total protest when the carousel ride was over.  Rosa’s takeout for dinner, some shopping at Target, then back to Cara’s to pack up our stuff.  JR drew a couple of pictures for Uncle Mike, one of which he said was Uncle Mike himself (totally cute of him, and they’re now on Mike’s wall).

Monday we got ready for our road trip down to SA.  JR had fully picked up a cold, and we had spread our gastrointestinal bug to the Ws.  The cold front had fully arrived, making it windy as hell and mightily cold.  Texas humidity and 30* weather with a 15 mph breeze make for bone-chilling conditions that even this Eskimo wasn’t too fond of.  I know it gets damn cold in Alaska, but it’s a dry cold, making it much more tolerable.

We drove down to SA in our humungous rented Hummer (sweet ride, by the way), stopping in Waco for lunch.  John let Buffle out in the parking lot behind Subway to let her run while I ate; he threw the ball before he noticed the six inches of standing, stagnant, putrid funk that Buffle of course immediately ran into.  She got back in the truck, furiously licking herself, then looking extremely guilty for it, because anything that nasty that tasted that good to my stupid dog must have been something she wasn’t allowed.  She kept hanging her head when I looked at her, which was mildly amusing, but mostly just stinky.

We stopped in Austin to get her bathed at a groomer’s next to Petco; when the groomer went to take her into the back, JR pitched an all-out fit, complete with little tears.  I think he thought we were just letting someone take our dog away, and she’s his closest companion in Alaska.  He was so inconsolably distraught that I almost told the groomer to forget it altogether.  We took him over to Petco though to look at animals, and soon things were a little better.  After Petco I went to Wheatsville.  I love that store so much.  The cashier was like two inches thick total, wearing a hat and scarf and coat indoors, complaining about the weather, wondering how on earth I manage to live in a place that inevitably hits -50* every winter, and called all manner of attention to both of us by proclaiming rather loudly that I said I was an Eskimo from Alaska.  John was right; people really look at me like I’m a leprechaun when I tell them I’m an Alaskan Eskimo.  Too freakin’ funny.

We got to his parents’ house in SA Monday night, caught up a little bit with Mona and John the elder, got unpacked, got something to eat, and finally got to sleep.  I had amassed about 6 hours of sleep over the last two days at Cara’s, and crashed so amazingly hard.  I woke up feeling like a new person, but one complete with new aches and pains.  John and JR slept like rocks too, though JR had a little more trouble as he kept waking up to cough or gasp.  His nose is still leaking like a bad faucet, but he has moments of utterly charming joy.

Mona made us eggs and bacon for breakfast (admittedly served at lunchtime since we didn’t wake up until after 11 am), and we hung out for a little while before heading out.  We checked out a few stores I wanted to see in town.  We went to Eden’s Baby to see if there were any good cloth diaper finds, and I was rather unimpressed with the selection.  She had some very fine items for sale, all generously marked up, and nothing of note that I couldn’t find elsewhere for a better deal.  Our local store, Blueberry Baby, in Fairbanks has so much of a better selection with better deals.  After Eden’s Baby, we ate lunch at Canyon Cafe in the Quarry (where I got this awesome white chocolate pecan tamale as a complimentary dessert) and checked out some stores there.  I went into Whole Earth Provision Co., where I walked out empty-handed; I literally could not justify a single purchase there because their markups were so ridiculous.  And that’s saying something because I can almost always justify a purchase.  I checked out Learning Express toy store, where I picked up a cute stuffed giraffe, a Schleich camel, and a great placemat for JR.  We also went to James Avery, where we got matching wedding bands.  They have so many beautiful shiny things that it’s hard to tear myself away from the store without going broke, but I always manage to show restraint.

Then it was a quick stop at Old Navy; I was looking for a hoodie because I wanted a warm layer, but wasn’t ready to bust out my Alaskan Carhartt jacket.  The place was so unbelievably picked over, there was like nothing left.  Then we were going to pick up some groceries at HEB, but JR’s nose sprung a leak and he had a little meltdown.  So we’ve been hanging out at MiMi & PoPo’s the rest of the night.  John left a while ago to play cards with Alex and get in the guy time I’m sure he’s been wanting.

I had an impossible time getting JR to sleep, though he’s finally down.  I’m getting his cold, which makes me extremely grumpy as I just finally got over my last one before coming down here.  Tomorrow I want to check out Babies R Us since we don’t have one in Alaska, as well as Sun Harvest, and possibly Ingram Mall.  We’re having dinner at Becca’s tomorrow night, and it’ll be a blast to watch JR with the S boys.  I’m tempted to hit up the LLL meeting Thursday morning.  Friday I think we’re getting together with the gang, though I don’t know for sure.  I think John mentioned Austin for Saturday, but I’m not sure about that either.  Sunday I believe we’re going back to Bec’s for Christmasy stuff with her in-laws.  Ultimately I’ve lost track of what our plans our now.

I’m off to find Sudafed for my newfound cold, then attempt some sleep.

Handmade Wooden Toys

I just received an order from Mike’s Toys on Etsy — a set of three trucks.  I ordered a different truck from him last month, and JR just LOVES these things.

The way he squealed with joy when I opened the package, and how he’s been happily playing with his trucks ever since makes it worth every single dime and then some.

I can’t wait to buy more from this guy!  He has a six-car 5+foot-long handmade wooden train set that I am going to be saving up to get.  I also can’t wait to get him the wooden numbers, fire truck, and plane.  And, well, absolutely everything this guy makes!  If you have littles, you should get them something from Mike’s Toys too!!!

Mr. Potato Head

JR loves his Mr. Potato Head.  A lot.

We bought him a new one a couple months ago.  It’s been sitting in it’s package, all brand new and unplayed with, until he came across it tonight.  It is SO adorable watching him move parts around, calling them by name, and asking for help when he can’t get it in its hole.

But then just about everything he does is pretty damn cute.

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