Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One Week Already

Well that was a quick week; I knew it would be. Not much knitting has been done, just baby hats and a round on my lagging behind Mystery Sock, or was it only a half a round? That was all I could manage the other night before my eyelids involuntarily closed on me.

So... I will attempt to distract you with baby pics and good eats.

The night before going in for the induction I felt the need to cook my family 'one last real meal' (turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, etc...) and then I even baked a 'real desert'- a freestyle apple tart.
This recipe is so easy, there's really no excuse not to make one when there are apples on the counter and pie crusts in the fridge and it's fall outside...

Freestyle Apple Tart
Prep: 15 min
Bake: 25 min
Total: 40 min
Makes: 8 servings

You Need:
1 ready to use refrigerated pie crust (it's okay to cheat now and then!)
4 oz (1/2 of 8 oz pkg) Cream Cheese, softened
3 of your favorite baking apples, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon or 'cinnamon sugar' (I'm personally a hard-core cinnamon fan, so I don't use extra sugar here)
optional whipped cream for topping

(I made mine without the cream cheese this time, to accommodate my non-cream cheese appreciating husband)

To make-
  1. Heat oven to 450 F. Line pie plate with crust. Spread cream cheese in 6" circle in center (unless your husband detests cream cheese...)
  2. Toss apples with sugar and flour, spoon over cream cheese.
  3. Fold crust partially over apples. Sprinkle with cinnamon (or 'cinnamon sugar').
  4. Bake 25 min, covering loosely with foil for last 5 min. Cool. Top with whipped cream.
  5. Enjoy!

So easy- older kids can slice the apples, younger kids can toss with flour and sugar, any kids can help assemble, and everyone can eat and enjoy!

*Large family tip: Make 2! (Those refrigerated pie crusts come in 2 packs anyway, right?!)

Well, I got a few naps in the 1st three days after having our new little guy, but I haven't gotten a nap in since. My brain was feeling the effects of fatigue last night, according to my eyelids. I think I need to go to bed earlier, it's just so against my nature, or at least my long ingrained bad habits... Adjusting to waking up every 2 hours to nurse at night always takes me a couple weeks. I'm hoping to settle into a decent schedule soon (tomorrow would be nice) as there is so much on my mind to be doing- fall crafts with kids, Thanksgiving unit study, crafting, sewing, decorating, quilting, baking, oh, and some knitting too...

I have a crazy stitch swatch to work up in the next few days- hopefully I can find an hour here and there where my brain is in alert mode, as this stitch will take concentrating, but I think it will be fun- I do so love a challenge.

I may try to knit up another Baby Shrug, this time for my little Mercy, who will soon be turning 2! Remember this? Or this? Or this? Oh, how time flies... Believe me, I'm soaking this one up, and taking a ton of pictures- yay! for digital cameras!

Off to cuddle and nurse, nurse and cuddle...

Happy knitting-


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Friday, October 24, 2008

And Then There Were Seven

He's here, we're home, and I'm a wee bit tired.

By Monday's midwife appointment I had progressed to 4 cm dilated (with no 'real' contractions, and no braxton-hicks contractions either, just a couple crampy moments). She had reviewed my ultrasound and let me know that my fluid levels were a bit beyond fine, they were about twice as much as is 'normal' for that late stage of pregnancy. Add to that the fact that baby's head was very high and not at all engaged, and we had the makings of a slightly concerned midwife, the risk being that if my water were to break there was a definite cord prolapse possibility, being so 'open' and all... so we discussed inducing.
My options were Tuesday or Thursday, and my husband's work schedule made Tuesday the day (he has a crazy early and long day on Saturday this week, and that wouldn't give me much recovery time if I had a Thursday baby.) That was probably a good thing, because when I went in Tuesday morning I had progressed to 5 cm (again with no noticeable contracting) and baby's head was still high and bobbing around, refusing to engage. In went the pitocin, and I went to lounging around in a rocking chair, waiting for something to happen. It took about an hour to start contracting, mildly and infrequently; another hour until the contractions were a bit firmer; another hour until I started to grimace and said, um, that one was worse than the last one, um that one lasted longer, and there's not so much down time in between anymore. I was at 6 cm.
The midwife mentioned that if I was gonna want to have the ITN that 'now would be a good time' because it could get fast and furious pretty soon. I had already decided that would be my painkiller route, if I felt I needed to have something, and I had expected to want something as I have never made it naturally with pitocin coursing through my veins. He was paged, I had my shot, crawled into bed, and groaned through the next couple contractions while waiting for meds to kick in.
The next contraction brought a marked decrease in baby's heart rate, after which the midwife said 'let's check you again to see where things are at'- she was checking to see if there was cord in front of baby's head. No cord in the way, but I was already at a 9! She had me push a bit to see if we could bring baby's head down some. She let me know that she thought baby was wrapped in the cord a bit and said she would have me push a bit more consistently to try to bring baby out quickly- he'll be okay, try not to worry. (She doesn't know my neurotic family history...)

I was a bit nervous, but was reassured after every contraction by listening to baby's heart rate bounce back- one good thing about the continuous monitoring of inductions. So there I was at 9 cm, I pushed a little to engage the head (and bring me to 10 cm)and then she asked "ready to have a baby?". I shrugged, "Sure, I guess so", she ruptured the membranes and then baby, uterus, and I pushed a handful of times and he was here, all 8 lbs 14 oz of him. I thought for sure he'd be over 9 lbs...
In retrospect, I probably could have made it without painkillers, had I known I only had about 30 or 40 minutes to go... but all in all, it ended up being a beautifully calm and easy birth, even with the pitocin. No crazy bleeding, no tearing, not a stitch needed. The only recovery issue I have is a great need for sleep, sleep, and more sleep, which is okay because that gives me lots of close cuddling time.
Knitting has slowed down, but not for too long, I'm sure. Thanks to everyone for the sweet well wishes, your thoughts and prayers are truly appreciated. I'll update more soon, but for now I've got some more cuddling to do.

Happy knitting-

Thursday, October 16, 2008

6 Days 'Overdue'

Later 10/20/08 ETA: Monday afternoon, still 10 days overdue, 4 cm dilated, induction scheduled...
10/20/08 ETA: Monday morning, Day 10 'overdue'... it has to happen soon... that's what I keep telling myself... I'm getting uncomfortable...
10/19/08 ETA: late Sunday, Day 9 'overdue'... no new news...
10/18/08 ETA: it is now the afternoon of Day 8 'overdue'... still nothing...
10/17/08 ETA: it is now the evening of Day 7 'overdue'... no news... grrr...

Okay, 6 days past my 'due date' and while I'm not getting any more patient, I'm pretty sure baby is getting bigger by the day. We could cross the 10 pound threshold this time, not exactly a goal I was trying to reach, but chubby babies are cuter, right? I'm sure he'll photograph well.
I had an ultrasound yesterday afternoon to check fluid levels and such, making sure the womb environment is still looking good. Fluid levels are fine, heartrate is fine, cord looks fine, placenta's fine too... everything looks good, he's got a nice cozy place to hang out. He's only got another week and a day until he gets evicted- at the latest. I have another appointment with the midwife tomorrow morning, we'll see from there how long I/we can last.
I'm not really accomplishing much around here, but I am working on my delegating skills (and the more technically advanced skill of following through and making sure delegated tasks get done!) So the dishes are still being washed, the laundry is being washed, folded, and put away, and the floors are getting vacuumed every day while I rest up (reading blogs and ravelry forums and planning new knitting projects and designs...)
I have 12 (four sets of three) of these stuffed toy balls cut out and now sewn together. Next step- clipping curves, then it's onto the stuffing, which I'll probably need more of. I have fabrics to make some 'boy' sets next. They'll make such cute gifts, especially if I get some matching bibs done. Fun stuff.
I've got a pattern to edit and some swatching to do to pass some time tonight, perhaps while watching this month's favorite BBC production- North & South, complete with a proposal scene to rival that from Pride & Prejudice. Topped off with a long soak in the tub, not a bad way to spend an evening (even though it's an evening I'd rather spend rushing to the local hospital for a speedy delivery...)
Enough for now- there are more crayons to shave, and toys to sew.
Happy knitting-

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

5 Days 'Overdue'

Something to be thrilled about...

Something I'm not so thrilled about... anyone wanna venture a guess as to how many of those pokey little things I pulled off of my shoes after a fruitless brisk walk through the backyard yesterday? Those things really hurt this time of year!

If I post every day this week, will it make baby join us any sooner? No, probably not, but it does occupy a chunk of my time here and there, and give me something active to do with my mind other than obsess about it all.

I considered starting a great work of literature (Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice) to completely occupy my mind, thinking that perhaps one of Murphy's laws would kick in and right about the time of that horribly awkward first proposal scene that doesn't go so well for Mr. Darcy, my 'water' would 'break' or some intense contractions would start. After further consideration, I realized that it wouldn't work- this baby was so thoughtful as to wait for that last home soccer game to pass so that I could make it, he'd probably be the perfect little gentleman and wait for me to finish the book- it's a long book, so I'll have to come up with something else (and watch my favorite version of the movie this afternoon- I'm sure that will help me feel better.)

Short, managable projects are in order-
  • I have some new card stock, some paper, some stamps, and an idea for some fun little goodies for fall.
  • I have some stuffed toy balls cut out and waiting to be sewn
  • My desk is only half-way decluttered...
  • I need a skein or two of Skinny Dyed Cotton wound
  • I could at least cast on the beret that's next for me, right?
  • Embroidery!
  • Crayon shaving & wax paper leaves, anyone?
  • and maybe I should pack a bag for the hospital...

Nothing personal, but if I have crafty pictures to show you tomorrow, I'm going to be very crabby. (Patience is not my strongest virtue, I'm ready to have this baby.)

Bring it on, Murphy.

Happy knitting-


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Favorite Reference Book

*** baby news- no real news yet. I'm 40 wks & 4 days today, 3 cm dilated, and no contractions whatsoever, baby seems quite content to grow to toddler size before venturing outside the womb...

In my previous post, I mentioned glancing at a reference book before tackling a specific type of seam. I received the comment "I would love to know what reference book you are using, I have some seams I will have to sew together and I am not sure how to do it. I have "Visually Knitting" and has helped some but I would like to do it better next sweater project I do." I thought I'd chime in with a post about my favorite little book.

I say little, because it is. Lightweight and portable (a spiral bound paperback), my Vogue Knitting Quick Reference is usually in my knitting bag, just in case. There is a bigger (and consequently heavier) hardcover Vogue reference book as well. It's a good book, with loads of good content, and pretty good pictures, but it's big, it's heavy, and it costs twice as much.

As a newer knitter, this book was turned to at one point or another in nearly all of my first projects. I'm a self-taught knitter, and after my first few lessons with Debbie Bliss' How To Knit, this handy little book became my knitting coach.

As a more seasoned knitter, I still turn to this book often. I bring it with me whenever I meet up with other knitters, as question or two will inevitably arise from a newbie knitter, and it often helps to show them a nicely worded description and diagram, in addition to attempting to show them myself. You see, it's not just 'ali says'- Vogue says it too... haha! But I don't just carry it for benevolent reasons. I do, periodically, need a reminder or refresher on a technique I haven't used in a while- like seaming in garter stitch stripes, grafting with various stitches, or working a buttonhole other than my usual.

There it is, in a nutshell, why the handy little Vogue Knitting Quick Reference is my favorite knitting reference book, and why I recommend it to every new knitter I meet.

If you don't have one- get one!
(bonus points if you can name that movie reference!)

If you've got another favorite, which one is it? I'm always looking for good recommendations.

Well, I'm off to my son's last home soccer game of the season (wasn't it kind of baby to wait to be born, so I could be there?) I can't decide what knitting to bring today, but I don't think it should be my Mystery Sock- charts need paying attention to...

Happy knitting-

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Finished Baby Object

but not the finished object...
(no baby yet)

In a moment of personal triumph, I managed to overcome my recent case of PCAS (Project Completion Avoidance Syndrome) and seam the sleeves, set in the sleeves, work the easy garter stitch border, and even sew on some buttons, for the finishing touches of the Garter Stitch Cardigan. I have said that garter stitch is not my favorite, but the stripey goodness completely redeems the stitch in my eyes. I definitely like it in 2 or more colors much more than as a solid.
I'm not thrilled with the plain jane buttons- insert mental note to start a button stash enhancement program ASAP. I'd really like to get some orange buttons to bring out that flashy little stripe I couldn't resist adding, but that is gonna take a trip 'down to the city', hehe, I sound like such a 'hick' when I say that.

My parents are both from a tiny little town in rural Minnesota, and I remember it always amusing me when the relatives who never migrated would ask us how things were 'in the city'. I laughed because we didn't live in the city. We lived in a suburb, an outer ring suburb, as in, as far removed from 'the city' (which, in my mind, meant Minneapolis) as you could get before actually qualifying as rural. There was even a prairie/field in our back yard, before it turned into a new neighborhood, with cookie cutter houses and no mature trees...

We now live further out from that outer ring (and that ring has grown significantly) in a rural setting outside our small town's 'city limits' and I find myself saying things like "the next time I get down to the cities" (In Minnesota, the cities means Minneapolis and St. Paul, and even the surrounding area, also known as 'the metro'). Well, suffice it to say, the button selection down 'in the cities' is much more gratifying.

Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton

Graphite 625

Azul 628

Poppy 601

My favorite thing about this little sweater is that orange stripe, it just tickles me and makes me smile. The next best thing (besides the fact that this cotton is so cuddly soft) would have to be the warmth of the color Graphite. It is the loveliest of grays, which, I'm sure my pictures (no thanks to the flash) cannot do justice. It is not a cold gray, even next to the coolness of the Azul. It has just a touch of warm brown to it that makes it oh, so lovely, really. I bought a bag a while back, intending to make something for me, something that hasn't happened yet, but working with this color has renewed that idea and the wheels in my head are definitely turning around that thought again- time to start sketching.
It had been a wee bit of time since I last seamed anything in garter stitch, and I don't think I had ever done so in garter stitch stripes. That may have had something to do with my stalling... A quick glance back through a reference book, and I was off and running. The stripes lined up perfectly, even on the very shaped sleeve, and it took all of about 5 minutes.

I made the 6 month size, so between my babies being born at 'a healthy weight' and growing like weeds, it looks like it ought to fit perfectly during the coldest parts of a snow-covered Minnesota winter.

Ali's Arbitrary Rating-

When all is said and done, I would give this little sweater pattern 4 out of 5 stars. It is a quick, easy, and cute (especially striped, can't forget the stripes) baby item that would be a great gift knit for a gestating friend or relative!

Enough for now, I have another hat to finish,

happy knitting-


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Thursday, October 09, 2008

2 More Days, 1 more day...

The countdown continues...
(and it is likely to continue for another week, maybe 2, if history means anything...)

But, let us distract ourselves with busyness, shall we? There is much fall cleaning to do (you know, those obsessive little things like wiping down all the lightswitch plates and dusting behind the bed), fall decorating to start, and fall projects to make. There are regular meals to cook (we can't have pizza every night), extra meals to freeze (like shepherd's pies!), menus to plan (I wander aimlessly through life, and my kitchen, without a plan), grocery lists to print out (again with the plan), and actual grocery shopping to be done (the hardest part of the plan). No matter how hard I try, I just can't find a way to feed my family with food we don't have...

A little more knitting is in order (it always is, isn't it?). I have been practicing a little 'project completion avoidance', having completed all but the seaming on a Garter Stitch Cardigan , from Knitting for Baby (Melanie Falick and Kristin Nicholas).

Garter stitch and seaming are not my favorite knitting concepts, so I'm dragging my feet on the finishing touches and distracting myself with things like a couple more hats, a new little sweater design, and the Mystery Sock KAL- my cuffs are done, and I hope to get a good start on clue #2 tonight, you know, if I'm not in labor...

Anyhoo- we're off to soccer practice, maybe I should offer to help out with some drills, you know, to help things along a bit... or maybe not. The leaves are in full color around here and I think I'll walk around the lakeside a bit (yeah, rough, ain't it? Soccer field by the lake...) with the other 5 and try to snap some cute fall photos, that, and maybe sit and sew a seam, maybe.

Happy knitting-

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Friday, October 03, 2008

7 More Days

My current 'baby' is getting so big! One of her current favorite things is helping with the laundry! I hope she sticks with it, as it's not one of my current favorite things...

Baby is 'due' in 7 days. I was hoping to go early for the first time. I think it has something to do with one of the definitions of insanity- 'doing the same thing over again, expecting a different result...' I've never gone early, not on my own anyway. So, in the meantime, while this baby continues to grow something like a half a pound with each passing week, I'll be too busy to notice the next few days pass, and may not start feeling too sorry for myself until, oh, about the day before my 'due' date.

Things I managed to get done in the last 24 hours-
  • sew a jumper for oldest daughter
  • prewash fabric for some skirts
  • knit teenager a hat for soccer in his team colors (the rest of the season gets chilly in Minnesota, especially while standing on the sidelines, especially after buzzing off all of your hair...)
  • cook up some bulk ground beef to freeze for easy mealtimes after baby

Things I'd like to get done today-

  • cast on another baby sweater
  • knit a striped cotton hat for Little M to match the Kid's Kimono that is now hers
  • write out and edit a couple recent hat patterns
  • bake a big pumpkin coffee cake
  • cook up more meat- this time, taco meat, to freeze for after baby
  • big grocery list
  • actual grocery shopping/pantry stocking

Things going on tomorrow-

  • mom and aunt coming up to take over the painting of 2 girls' bedrooms
  • teenager needs to be dropped off at 7am (on a Saturday!!!) for 2 'away' soccer games
  • 3 other kids have violin recital (teenager will me missing it, stinker)
  • actually hoping NOT to go into labor, just for tomorrow, come Sunday, hoping's back on...
  • husband's plans were cancelled, so he can make it to recital, which means he can drive, which means I can knit on the way!

Oh, and I should add, somewhere on the list- digging out more needles to cast on for the Mystery Sock KAL, better late than never, right?!

Happy knitting-


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