Saturday, September 26, 2009

Asthma/RSV/Pneumonia Update

Stopping home for a few minutes to grab some clean clothes, shampoo, hair brush, you know, things you don't think of grabbing when you take your sick child into the doctor...
**our local hospital was not comfortable keeping Grace, as she was requiring 100% oxygen at 10 liters and continuous nebs, they were talking possible intubation, etc... so she transferred to St. paul Children's (Minneapolis had no room!) My dear friend, Traci, who came to babysit ended up taking Hope in to the local ER the next morning, and riding in the ambulance with her when they transferred down as well... (leaving the other 4 with her teenager, as my teenager was away at a soccer mini-tournament).
They both have asthma, and they both now have pneumonia, and they both tested positive for an active RSV infection. Not fun.
Both girls are still at St. Paul Children's Hospital. Hope (4 yr old) only spent one day and night in the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) and was doing well enough to move out onto 'the floor' today. She is still on quite a bit of oxygen, but only requiring breathing treatments every 2 hrs at this point. Grace (6 yr old) is still in the PICU, still on continuous albuterol nebs and atrovent every 6 hrs (down from 4 hrs) and quite a bit of oxygen. Her respiration rate has come down a bit, which is a sign of improvement- when we got there she was in the 50-60 (breaths per minute) range and is now in the 30-45 range (it fluctuates a lot as she moves around in bed). They had tried to turn down her O2 a tiny bit this morning, but had to bump it back up as her stats started dropping after only minutes. They have both had IV steroids and antibiotics since they got there (Grace transferred Thursday late afternoon/evening and Hope transferred down Friday late morning/noonish...) and Hope is responding quite well (she's our little trooper!) Grace is responding, just not as fast as we'd like to see...
The hospital has wireless internet access, but the filter blocks anything having to do with blogger, and twitter, but not facebook- don't ask me why, but that's where I've been updating... friend me if you'd like to stay informed, or if you'd just like to be my friend...
Gotta run,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lacy baktus, Making Progress

As I poured over inspiring photos of the many Lacy Baktusses (I totally made that up, how do you make Baktus plural?!), I couldn't help but be impressed with the ones started and finished in a day or two. I may knit rather fast, but I knew I wasn't going to be wearing this in 48 hrs. This isn't worsted weight, if you know what I mean.
After a week of mostly soccer time knitting, I came to the end of my 1st skein of Mystery Yarn (I still have no idea what it is, but I refuse to let that detract from my Lacy Baktus enjoyment) with 70 sts on the needle and decided that was going to be just about perfect. I've joined my 2nd skein and am now on the decreasing half, which is totally wonderful, as my attention deficit riddled hands are itching to work on a number of other projects- soccer knitting or no soccer knitting.

Sleep has eluded me for the past few days, other than a couple frequently-interrupted-by-tossing-and-turning hours towards morning... anyway, determined to get off to a decent start this week, despite what sleep deprivation can do to a person (I've seen it, you know, in the mirror, it isn't pretty) on Monday morning, I gathered up the phonics and reading books, and a tablecloth, and headed to the picnic table out back.

They loved it, of course, and decided we should always do school at the picnic table. Sure, well, maybe not, this is Minnesota, you know, but I'll see what I can do...

I've been reading a lot about vitamin D, and its potential to prevent, or at least help fight the flu, and, well, 101 other things... Kids need fresh air, we have a backyard, and a picnic table, so there ya go- outdoor learning it will be until our state turns into the frozen tundra we all know it to be for too much of the year.

One more blessing that comes with our homeschooling adventure- instead of being cooped up in a stuffy old building surrounded by dozens of other children and all of their germs, my children can run and play and learn in the big outdoors, a blessing, I endeavor to NOT take for granted!

*Okay, in the time since I started writing this post yesterday, asthma has reared its ugly head again. 6 yr old Miss G is back on steroids as her O2 level does not want to stay above 92% despite frequent albuterol neb treatments. We're trying to stay out of the ER with her. 4 yr old Little Miss H has added a nasty cough to her wheezing, that's no good, she, too, is getting frequent nebs, which she responds too pretty well these days, so no big guns steroids yet.

I put Miss G to bed on the couch tonight and she said to me, "Mom, I'll try to not have to go to the hospital tonight." Sweet pea. She knows how tired I am this week, and how draining it is to go through the several days in the hospital ordeal, 'but your breathing is more important than any of that right now'. Children, they can touch a heart like nothing else.

I ran to town earlier to buy a couple chickens. I roasted one for a hearty supper and the bones are now stewing, Nourishing Traditions style, for some healthy broth tomorrow. The other chicken will be a soup for Friday. I also picked up some Elder extract and Echinacea/Goldenseal tincture, some more herbal teas, and a few more heads of garlic. I am also culturing some kefir for some strawberry banana probiotic anitoxidant powerhouse smoothies. Dr. Mom is ready to give it my all, sleep or no sleep, this crew needs some Tender Loving Care.

With the new sniffly developments, a swift finish on my Lacy Baktus looks to be some more days away, and that's ok. It'll get done eventually, right?

**Sigh, 2 girls went to the ER last night (it is now thursday morning), Little Miss H (4 yrs) is now sleeping better, holding her stats up much better, but still wheezing and coughing. Miss G (6 yrs) just headed back to the ER, for the third time in about 10 hrs, for more oxygen after continuing to drop her O2 level down into the low 80s, even dipping to 70% for a few scary moments. They x-rayed at her 2nd visit and confirmed that it has already turned into pneumonia- it happens so fast with her, so she is now on antibiotics in addition to another round of steroids. Every time she falls back asleep her O2 level drops too much, her respiratory rate is too fast, along with her heart rate, and she's been retracting- those of you who've dealt with respiratory stuff know that retracting isn't good, she's needing to use auxillary muscles to expand and contract her lungs, in other words, she's working hard to breath- that is very taxing on a little body.

I'm too tired to knit, but I hope the rest of you are getting some good yarn & needle time in in my stead. This too, shall pass, I know that from experience, but it's going to be a long couple of days here in the Williams Home. Those of you that are praying people, we'd appreciate any thoughts and prayers on behalf of our little ones, especially Grace, our Miss G, as she struggles through this yet another time. Thank you so much.

Now I need a nap,
happy knitting to the rest of you-

Friday, September 18, 2009

Making Me Smile This Week 9.18.09

  • Watching my Lacy Baktus grow.
  • Making new friends at a new (to us) homeschool coop, and finding out I actually graduated high school with one of the dear homeschooling moms! That would explain why she looked familiar...
  • 6 & 8 yr old learning about Spain (european geography class at coop) and excitedly telling about the 'umbrellos' they wear on their heads and how they have really big tomato fights, and then finding silly video clips of the tomato throwing festival and hearing their collective giggles as they watch the craziness under the guise of a cultural event, hehe...
  • My last two bad pain days (head & neck) both responded to ice and Motrin, within about an hour, that is huge for me, I used to lose entire days to severe pain. I love my chiropractor, he has changed my life.
  • My teenager, who was once my baby, and who turned 16 last Saturday, making me feel older, but blessing this Momma's heart every day.
  • Hearing about my son scoring his 1st 2 goals of the season, in the 1st game I couldn't make it to... (that one makes me a little bit bummed as well, but I'm choosing to focus on the good- he scored! Twice! Woohoo!)
  • Watching my little girls play cowboys, or rather, cowgirls, running around in fake leather vests with fringe and wearing my cowboy hat. (There are a lot of people, with a lot of horses, around here, and my girls like to count horses as we drive around, and imagine they all belong on our ranch, except, we don't live on a ranch...)
  • Watching Baby J feel, and try to eat, the tiny pebbles at the playground, after being released from the stroller to go exploring for the 1st time. It was the perfect opportunity for a little "no mouth" training!
  • Having to work hard to find snippets of time to knit because my life is so full right now, contented sigh...
  • Hearing 2, 4, 6, 8, & 10 yr olds using Spanish words they've picked up (watching Dora!) Too bad I took 4 1/2 yrs of French, haha!
  • Cool evenings- I can finally get cozy in all of my favorite sweaters! (And start knitting some more!!)

What's making you smile this week?

happy knitting-


Monday, September 14, 2009

My Mysterious Baktus

It must've been the that bit of crisp cool air those couple nights (before the latest heat wave), well, I dunno, but whatever it was, it got me casting on another scarf. This time, a Lacy Backtus, a sweet and simple scarf. Or is it a narrow shawl? Or, was the blonde knitter right when she asked me 'would that make it a scrawl?'

I've always liked the scarf as an accessory. I have a couple woven cotton ones with fringes, from Global Village, that I used to practically live in- I'd tie up my dreads in funky ways, or maybe I just told myself it was funky, and so were the colors I used to dye them. That was then (my early 20s), this is now (mid 30s), my hair is no longer dreaded, (nor dyed candy apple red, granny smith apple green, nor never seen an apple that color teal)- though it threatens to return to such a state if I don't keep working a brush through it, high-maintenance hair, that's what I have, but I never meant to mention my hair, I was talking about scarves...
There's my teen, who I can't believe just turned 16 on Saturday...!?! Should that be whom? I forget...

Back to my Baktus. I've had this bag of mystery yarn for a while. I don't know what it is, there are no labels/ball bands, but I like the color, and I have a lot of it, so, hey, time to make a scarf. I adore the pic of the original one, and this one, this one, this one, and this one- love her tassels.
*Distraction #7, I could just eat him up all day... very hard to knit when he's around...

I cast on last Thursday, while waiting for a soccer game to begin, and got off to a running start. How could I not? Cast on 4 sts, the 1st rows go pretty fast... the 8 row repeat is pretty easy to memorize, and the only thing fiddly for me has been doing my k2togs on that garter stitch (always a bit more fiddly than a k2tog on stockinette) with what has turned out to be a rather splitty, though bright and lively in color, yarn. I have a slight dread of every Row 3, especially now that I have 50 sts on my scarf. I realize that I am nearing the halfway point, and soon each row 3 will have 1 k2tog less than the one before, but I'm still ordering a new addi turbo lace needle and hoping it gets here before I finish this baby. I'm thinking that pointed tip will do wonders in this particular situation.
*Distraction #6, I wish I had her hair...

I mentioned that I cast on before a soccer game. I'd also like to mention that I cannot knit much during actual games, as I am manning the camera much more these days. I do get to knit a bit more during practice, though I am often quite *distracted by my sweet children, in most cases a welcome distraction. This scarf is my current grab-n-go project, getting only snippets of time here and there, time that I am glad to be doing something with my hands while my mind is racing along processing way more than I could ever journal if I wanted to.
4 & 8 yr olds playing checkers, except that the 4 yr old doesn't actually know how to play checkers yet...

And with that, it's time for me to process some to-do lists for tomorrow and the rest of the week. We start our homeschool coop tomorrow, which I am very excited about, then it's off to a soccer (away) game, Wednesday is violin lessons, Thursday should be a 'normal' school day, and Friday we're headed on another historic fort field trip, before another soccer (away) game. I think this week will fly by, and we'll just have to wait and see if there's a finished Baktus at the end of it...
Teenager playing gourd banjo at Fort Snelling recently
Nice hats, eh? They're supposed to make you look taller...

Happy knitting-

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Just Beyond the Garter Ridge

A while back, as I was playing with stitch patterns I found in my Harmony Guides, I fell into some stitch love with the garter slip stitches, which can be knit with 1, 2, 3, or 4 (or more!) colors, each choice bringing a distinct look to the knitted piece. I was in swatch heaven, ok, that might be going a bit overboard, but I was having fun with a couple washcloths.
I think my computer ate the washcloth pictures...
if, no when, I find them, I'll edit this post to include them,
and hopefully get them a nice Ravelry page...

*Sidenote- a washcloth is a great little project to try out a new stitch pattern. It's a usable swatch. Seriously, I love the practicality in this one, and I have 2 new washcloths to show for it.
**Another sidenote- my teenage son was cleaning up in the kitchen some months back (no, it was not the 1 and only time, we train 'em to work their tails off, er, um, I mean to pitch in and lend a helping hand, every day, around here) and he was using a recently knit washcloth. He told me we should go to all hand knit washcloths, because they're so much sturdier to clean with. Ah, music to my ears, (and 3 kids have washcloths on the needles again, sweet!)
Back to my scarf- after 2 washcloths, a single colored one, and a two-colored one, I knew I wanted to knit more with this stitch, and I wanted to see what it would look like knit up at a very loose gauge. I got my hands on a skein of Brushed Suri (Earl Grey) and I cast on for a light and airy scarf. I knit this on a US 11 needle, a fairly big needle for this yarn. I loved the result. This scarf is so soft and light, admittedly more adornment than utilitarian as far as winter gear goes way up here in the soon-to-be-frozen north, but we won't be holding that against it.
I wanted to try out a different yarn for a two-colored version and went with 2 lovely shades of Alpaca Silk (Plum & Amethyst), this time using size 11 needles for a nice and loose look, but not quite loose enough for many small fingers to just poke on through- occupational hazard of mine. This scarf still needs to be blocked, but I'll be sporting this one very soon, blocking or no blocking...

I'm going to offer up a basic recipe for this scarf, rather than a 'stricter' pattern. It looks lovely in 1 or 2 colors, the stitch pattern is interesting at both tighter and looser gauges (and so simple to knit!) and it would look nice in almost any width or length- whatever suits your fancy!
For both of these scarves I started out by casting on 21 sts and they both ended up approx 5" wide. I used the darker color as Color A on the silk version, and I wish I had photographed my swatch when I did it the other way around, with the lighter yarn as Color A- a totally different effect, seriously, I think the slipped stitch showed up more that way, but I went with the darker Color A for the overall darker effect.

Anyhoo, back to the recipe-

You could cast on more or fewer stitches, depending on your yarn choice and your preferred scarf width, just keep it an odd number, or 'multiple of 2, plus 1'. Then it's an easy to memorize repeat of 4 rows, as follows-
Row 1 (RS): Knit.
Row 2 (WS): Knit.
I told you this was easy...
Now, here comes that part that is just beyond the garter ridge-
Row 3 (RS): *K1, slip 1 as if to purl, rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 4 (WS): *K1, bring yarn to front, slip 1 as if to purl, bring yarn to back, * rep to last st, k1.

That's it, all there is to it, now just keep going, and going, and going, until to have a scarf length you love! (and then bind off in knit...)

If you are doing a 2 color version, Work the Rows 1 & 2 in Color A, and Rows 3 & 4 in Color B.


Happy knitting-

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Friday, September 04, 2009

A Little Camping

Time for a little camping, with maybe a little knitting thrown in!

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!
Happy knitting-

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

And Then It Was September

Wow- did you hear that? The sound of another August flying by and the door slamming shut behind it? Yeah, that was fast. I have a couple projects to wrap up and then I'm eager to begin some fall knitting, the thought process goes something like this- 'ooo, it's getting chilly again at night, brrr, that's a cold breeze, gee, I should put some hats on these kids, hmmm, we all need some new hats, and scarves, and they'll need mittens before I can spell b-l-i-z-z-a-r-d, and wouldn't a big comfy, cozy, warm, worsted weight sweater be wonderful right about now?'
Around here it's time to rearrange the schedule to accommodate some good daily learning- our homeschooling adventure, some good physical activity- soccer practice, and plenty of outdoor adventures and field trips, while somehow managing to fit in a large number of cozy evenings together with popcorn, games, & knitting. Oh, I suppose I should fit in a bit of cooking and cleaning- the daily cleanest room competition has been heating up (and a huge success!), it's getting very hard to judge between them. We're down to things like dust, random air soft pellets, and the occasional cobweb or unstuck sticker that evaded the vacuum... I think I'll have them clean my room next.
I mentioned cold nights- it's been crazy around here. The last couple nights of August we had lows of 39 and 42, and I think I heard something on the radio news I wake up to about a record 29 or 27 or some such insane for the month of August even in Minnesota temperature way up north. Some hats are on the agenda, but for now my girls have some new 'night caps' to adorn their cute little heads (I fully acknowledge my maternal bias) that I whipped up this past weekend.
They loved wearing them when they camped out in the backyard. They're certainly not as warm as a nice Cozy hat (see sidebar), but whatever, my girly girls enjoyed them, so it's all good. I scrounged though a few pages of a Google search and couldn't find a decent tutorial (it could be out there, I just couldn't find one)- so I took a lot of pictures and am writing up directions for these as they are so quick and easy! And I haven't forgotten the rice pack tutorial, I just need to take pictures when I make my next one, a facial mask size for my aching sinuses, coming up, oh, I don't know, maybe in the next 24 hrs as I am in real need this week!
(why the goggles? I have no idea, but who am I to stifle that creativity?)
Time for a cup of herbal tea, sans cream, my sinuses need some tender loving care.

Happy knitting-

Oh, and Baby J keeps letting go of the piece of furniture (or my legs) that he's standing next to! How did he get so big so fast?!
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