Wednesday, February 27, 2008

yay, lists!

I apologize for my recent slacking in the blogging department (not commenting on your posts, not replying to your comments on mine, not posting in general), but things have been a little crazy around here. How so? you wonder. Let me enlighten you.

1. Last week was school vacation, and I volunteered to take not only my own two kids, but also Jen's three to a teeny-tiny hotel room an hour and a half away from home, where Jen would meet us and we'd all spend a relaxing three days frolicking in the pool and visiting some quiet not-crowded local kid-friendly spots. (No, no, it's okay... I'll wait while you laugh. It's cool; I'd laugh too, if it hadn't happened to me. And please don't ask, I haven't been able to figure out what in God's name I was thinking.) Care to guess how it went? In my defense, I'd like to say that things probably would have gone better had Magic Baby not chosen that day to come down with a temperature of a million degrees. See, 'cause if he had not been all warm and clingy and miserable, one of us would actually have been able to get the kids out of the shoebox we were calling a room and take them swimming. As it was, I was too busy trying to keep him comfortable and figure out why the hell he was breathing so fast to be of much help to the other kids. So, um, yeah... great vacation. We're going to be doing that again real soon.

2. Magic Baby decided to bring the uber-high fever home with him, you know as a souvenir. He was mopey and medicated and not sleeping well from Wednesday until Tuesday at which point he recovered, realized he had missed almost a week of causing mayhem and promptly went to work making up for lost time. Which means that not only am I exhausted, but also that I'm expected to be back on "Toddler Patrol." You are all so jealous of me right now, aren't you!

3. In the 'good' department, my family and I went to see Jesus Christ Superstar last night. WITH the original Jesus!! (Okay, not the original Jesus, but the one from the movie and stuff.) For most people that might not be a huge deal, but for some reason JCS has reached cult status in my family. My brother, cousins and I all grew up listening to it and are now able to not only sing every single word from every single song, but also to do so loudly. And off-key. We've all (except for Kathryn, our JCS newbie) seen the show at least once before (not to mention watched the movie a million times), but we were all still super excited. Because it's Jesus Christ Superstar! And it was with the original Jesus! (Well, not the origi... oh, you know.) Seriously, I don't know if I can express how into this show we are. You know how some people are with The Rocky Horror Picture Show? That's us with JCS, only we start young. (As an aside, this has led to some very interesting religion-related stories. Like the time in church on Easter when the priest asked what happened at the Last Supper and my brother raised his hand. My parents looked on proudly as the priest called my five-year-old brother's name and asked him to tell the entire congregation. Heck, my parents probably even elbowed their neighbors, mouthing "That's my boy!" as my brother proclaimed "The Apostles got drunk!" Sorry, Mom and Dad, but you brought that on yourselves; after all, it's not like we would be listening to JCS at that young an age without someone introducing us to it. Then there was the time I showed the movie to my husband for the first time and he commented that it must have been very progressive and controversial of them to cast a black man as Judas, seeing as it was the '70s and all. I looked at him for a minute and said (in honest disbelief) "... Judas wasn't black?" Again, I blame my parents.) Anyway, we're a bit obsessed with the show so it was a really great night.

4. It was also a night about which I'd like to lodge a complaint. If I am north of my intended location, and I take a highway labeled "South" I should, theoretically at least, eventually reach my destination (or at least pretty close) right? Apparently not. Which is why I didn't get home until about 2 a.m. after the show. Good times.

5. Regardless of this incident, I've decided I'm really glad to live where I do. It's far enough away from a big city that I'm not really living in "a city" while still being close enough that I can go see plays and musicals pretty frequently. I love this, because I am a huge fan of live theater. There's nothing like it, except live dance, which can also be found less than 15 minutes from my house! So, yay for where I live!

What else has kept me away from my blogging friends? Knitting, of course, but as it's late and I'm tired (remember, a sick baby and then out 'til 2 getting lost last night?) you'll just have to wait for my next post to get your woollen curiosity sated. You naughty bloggers, you! (Sorry; did I mention I'm tired?)

Monday, February 25, 2008

i love my son because...

he loves his big sister,

he's very artistic,

he eats his toast like this,

he is the consummate boy,

he loves to "rock out,"

Yeah, that's him with his "harmonica" and "guitar." What, you couldn't tell?

he's very cute when he's shy,

That is not me singing, I swear. Did you like how we totally sang him "Happy Birthday" just for the blog? I'm dorky like that.

oh, and did I mention it's his birthday?

Happy Second Birthday, Binka!

Love, Mommy

Friday, February 15, 2008

hope... and a contest

My mom's health has always been iffy. That's not to say she's sickly, just that she's always sick. She has always had random-seeming symptoms that end up being diagnosed as really obscure diseases. Wegener's Granulomatosis, chronic Pancreatitis and Osteomyelitis are just a few. (Never heard of 'em? Don't worry, neither had we.) Multiple surgeries and hospital stays have punctuated the last decade or so, and are included in many major life events (most notably, my engagement. I remember my mom being all excited to tell... the nurses, because she was stuck in the hospital. Again.) She's seen specialists from this state, as well as the really big-name doctors in Boston and each has had an opinion. Each has also recommended treatment and most were successful, at least for awhile. Then, just a few months after Magic Baby was born, the reason for all her recent stomach problems (and possibly some of her previous health troubles) was found. She had cancer. Of course, being my mom, she couldn't have a normal cancer. No, she was diagnosed with Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Cancer, a super-rare form symptomized by basically every unpleasant stomach thing you can think of.
I remember well the day she told us she had cancer. She, who shares everything with me, had kept the possible diagnosis secret because she was afraid to upset me. (And considering all that had happened in the previous four months- the birth and subsequent hospitalization of Magic Baby in February, followed by the death of my great-grandmother with whom we were all extremely close less than a month after that- I suppose I understand. I mean, think about how you'd feel if all those things happened to you right after you gave birth and you can imagine how stable I was. She was not about to add the possibility that she had cancer to my list of worries.) That is, until it was confirmed. She. Had. Cancer. As a family we had fought all the other diseases she'd had, and we'd tackled them all head-on, too. But this was different. This was The Big C. I'll admit I was scared. I mean, this was cancer. My brother, father and I accompanied my mom to Boston for her surgery that September, during which the doctors removed the tumors, her gall bladder and part of her intestine, all of which were affected by the cancer. This was the first time in my life that I was really scared for her. She'd had plenty of surgeries and illnesses before, but for some reason this one seemed so much more potent than any of those. Sitting in the waiting room while she was in surgery, my brother and I played games and joked around as usual, but there was something in our eyes that told each other how afraid we were. Little things, like my dad taking longer than usual in the pre-op room with my mom, worried us. We were on pins and needles all day. Then, hours later, the doctor called us all in a little room to tell us the news. I looked at his face, then at my brother's. I saw the same fear mirrored on my brother's face as on mine. The doctor didn't seem to have good news for us. Then, he spoke. He told us things went well. They had been able to get the tumors laparoscopically, which was better than they had hoped. I felt myself let out a breath I didn't know I'd been holding, and I heard my father and brother do the same. She was going to be okay. Her recovery was painful and marked by more than a few unpleasant setbacks that I won't get into here, but, less than two years after her diagnosis, my mom's doing great. She's back at work and her stomach problems have cleared up greatly. She's able to play with my kids like a "normal" healthy grandmother, and they adore her.

Her diagnosis (and especially the scare it gave me) really made me think, though. Cancer is such a rampant far-reaching disease. I mean, everyone knows someone who has (or had) cancer. It literally touches us all, and I think that makes it everyone's responsibility to fight it. The year my mom was diagnosed, I organized a bunch of family members into a team and we participated in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in honor of my mom. The Relay is an overnight event that raises money for cancer research, education and support. It celebrates survivors and remembers those who have lost their battle with cancer, and it does so in a beautiful, powerful way. Last year, we also participated in Relay- and there were so many of us we had to form two teams! I love Relay; it's my way to show my mom how much she is loved, while helping ensure others won't have to go through what my family and I did. And I know we're some of the lucky ones. I've heard so many tragic stories from people who have lost a loved one to cancer, and I'm sure you have, too. That's why I'm asking you to help me. Help the American Cancer Society. I've put up a link to my ACS/ Relay page for this year and I'd love if you'd check it out and make a donation. If you Relay in your own area, that's even better. As an incentive (in case fighting cancer wasn't enough), I've decided to award a skein of hand-spun, hand-dyed yarn (dyed by me and graciously spun by Jen) to someone who donates to the Relay, either through my link or to a Relay in your area. (If you give money in your area, just email me and I'll include you in the contest. This is on an honor system, but I trust you all.) The yarn will be dyed Relay Purple, and I've named it (appropriately enough, as it is the Relay's motto) "Hope." I'll post pictures of it as soon as we've actually spun and dyed it.

Edited to add: If you're not a knitter and you'd like to donate, please just let me know and I'll come up with some kind of non-knitting prize.

The contest will run until May 28th, 2008, at which time I have to turn in all my donations.

Thank you so much for your help.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

memo to the menfolk

Magic Baby and I were playing in the kitchen this evening, minding our own business, when the magnetic letters on our refrigerator began to rearrange themselves! Immediately I grabbed my camera... (because everything around here makes it on the blog)

Feel free to share this phenomenon with someone you love... it may save him some problems come tomorrow. And may all your love be warm and woollen!

Monday, February 11, 2008

how to induce heart failure

A Toddlers' Guide To Causing Mayhem
by Magic Baby

Step 1. Move playpen into position.

Step 2. Use playpen to climb on windowseat.

Step 3. Pause. Look back at Mom with expression of complete innocence.

Step 4. Undo safety latches on window.

Step 5. Unlock window.

Step 6. Open window wide; attempt to jump out.
(Fortunately Mom is there to stop you. This time.)

If you can accomplish all this before you are two years old, Congratulations! You will have successfully given your parent/caregiver a heart attack. You may now resume normal play.

Editor's Note: After repeated attempts on the part of Magic Baby to throw caution (and himself) to the wind, Hubby and I smartened up and wedged some PVC pipe in the window. Now it can't be open by anyone. I expect this solution will work for about a week, at which point Magic Baby will undoubtedly figure out how to remove the pipe. Possibly with a chainsaw.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

venn vill i learn?

We here in the lilypotterknits household are all about teachable moments. These are those little, unplanned instances when a child sees or does something that the parents can turn into a learning opportunity. A teachable moment might occur when you and your child are cruising downtown and you see a prostitute on the corner and you take the opportunity to point out to your daughter all the problems inherent with prostitution... especially on a low-traffic corner like that. Or you might be at a bank one day where you witness a robbery and you take the opportunity to tell your son how bank robbery is wrong... mainly because it's so easy to get caught, unlike stealing someone's identity online, which is virtually untraceable. I'm sure you've had a million teachable moments in your life, and my husband and I like to jump on these opportunities when our children present them to us and beat the living crap out of them. (The moment, not the kid. Really.)

Anyway, over the weekend, Big Sister and I were playing her I Spy Board Game, and I noticed that one board was made up of Venn Diagrams. A Venn Diagram, in case you're not familiar, is used to compare and contrast things in a clear, easy-to-understand way. It's made up of two (or more) overlapping circles and each circle represents one of the things you want to compare. Where the circles overlap, you put attributes that the things have in common, and where they don't overlap, you put attributes specific to only one of the things. It sounds more confusing than it really is, so here's an example to make it more clear.

The circle on the left represents the profession "Bank Robber" and that circle says the job comes with the possibilty of getting arrested, you have to wear a creepy mask, you make good money and it's technically illegal. The circle on the right, which represents the career of "Prostitute", says there's the possibility of getting infected, you have to wear creepy makeup, you make good money and it's technically illegal, but since both can make good money and are technically illegal, you only write those things once where the circles overlap. Get it? Okay, enough explanation. Back to the story. Really quick, though, I'd like to point out I did not use this particular example with my daughter. I'm not that into teachable moments. Yet. Really now, back to what I was saying...

I noticed Big Sister's I Spy Game had Venn Diagrams on it, so I showed her the board and told her I thought the circles seemed to organize the toys into groups and maybe we could figure out together what each circle had in common. We worked for awhile, discussing the circles and their objects and I'll admit I was feeling pretty good about capitalizing on this particular teachable moment. After we were done, I explained to her that the circles made up something called a Venn Diagram and that we could do the same with words and would she like to try making one about her and her brother? She was excited to try, and so we did. (Damn, I am good at this.) THEN, I told her you could make Venn Diagrams with more than two circles (Seriously, you are so jealous of my educational prowess.) and we made one of the three Pirates of the Carribbean movies, which are her favorites right now. (Ignore that fact when you're marvelling at how good I am at this mothering thing, but really she needs to know how hot Johnny Depp is. That should totally be a subject in school.) She seemed to have a pretty good grasp of Venn Diagrams at this point, so I decided to proceed to the next step and let her try one on her own while I sat back and basked in my awesomeness. This is what she came up with:

I have no idea why there's a diagram for 1/2 on there, but at least she got it right!

Let me interpret. Her dad apparently farts too much (no argument there), and the kids rule. As for me, the wonderful Mom who had just spent all that quality time with her, teaching her about Venn Diagrams in a true, meaningful way that she surely appreciates? I am "too annoying."

Care to guess how I felt at this point?

On the bright side, at least she'll be able to convey her feelings in a clear, easy-to-understand way when she goes on Oprah to complain about me and my pissy, grumpy, tired, overbearing annoying self.

Friday, February 1, 2008

nothing much

Well, after all of Sunday's excitement, it seems as though the world has rewarded me with a pretty boring week. I mean, it wasn't a bad week by any means, just not very blog-worthy. (I did see Monty Python's Spamalot last night, which I highly recommend.) Even my knitting is boring: I finished the back of Big Sister's Pirate Sweater a few days ago, but it's really just a lot of black stockinette, not very exciting. I've also been working on the Liam sweater from Ravelry's Testing Pool, but right now that's just thirty or so rows of green garter stitch, also not exciting. Other than that it's been a week of housework and kids. You know, the usual. So in lieu of a long, funny post, how about a short post and some funny pictures?

At least they like fruit!

Magic Baby putting the moves on Jen's daughter. She loves it...


(Don't you think if those two get together that their offspring would be super-cute? I'm referring to the sweaters of course!)