Monday, December 31, 2012

Falling Asleep in the Middle of a

Have you ever fallen asleep in the middle of a sentence? I have. It’s pretty awesome. If the people you were speaking to love you enough, they’ll wait for you to finish what you were saying when you wake up. They might even be helpful and remind you what the first half of your sentence was.

Naps are great. They revitalize us and give us energy for the rest of the day. And as long as you don’t fall asleep at 5:30 PM and forget to wake up and have dinner and instead sleep through the night, naps are the best. (Although sometimes a mid-evening bedtime is necessary. Just make sure there’s enough food in your house for a nice breakfast in the morning.)

In the afternoon, I tell my daughter to “go in your room and find a blankiephant to snuggle up with.” She obeys (sometimes more slowly than I would like), and usually within twenty minutes she’s snoozing away. Her little mini-blanket, with its plush elephant attached, is her comfort item. She can fall asleep without it, but that process isn’t fun for anyone. It’s much easier if she has the tags of her blankiephant to chew on. My younger daughter has a bunny/blanket, but she falls asleep much more easily if she has to do without it, because she chews on her thumb instead of relying solely on the item’s snuggliness. She can fall asleep pretty easily without it, but on the other hand, if her intent is to yell herself to sleep (or yell until someone picks her up), she’s going to go ahead and do that instead, and no amount of shoving a fuzzy pink bunny/blanket in her face is going to make her change her plans.

I don’t ever remember having a comfort item as a kid. I’m sure I probably had one for a while, but I can’t recall ever needing to have a certain toy in my possession before I could calm down enough to fall asleep.

Now, all I need to fall asleep is a list in my head of the chores I haven’t finished yet, a snuggly place to sit/lay, maybe a blanket to keep my feet as warm as possible, and my Amazon kindle. Actually, I can do without the kindle.

But I really prefer falling asleep in the middle of a sentence.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Time to Crochet! Week 10

I didn’t finish the stocking on time. I finished the front half. Well, almost. I finished the front half, minus about six final stitches.

But it turns out that when you give a two year old a pile of treats, she doesn’t mind whether they are in a bag or in a stocking. It wasn’t like she was going to say, “how dare you not give me these in an extra large sock made specifically for holding delectables on Christmas morning?!” She was just like, “yay! Fruit!” I’ll get it finished eventually, probably before I take on another project.

My next project, though, is definitely going to be a tea cozy! Americans don’t know what that is, because in general, they don’t care about tea. A tea cozy is like a sweater for a tea pot. It keeps the tea warm while it steeps so that when it’s finally tea (instead of just hot water) it’s still warm. And since I got an awesome tea pot for Christmas (it’s microwavable! And dishwasher safe!), I’m going to need something to keep it warm.

I think I’m finished with making things for my daughter’s birthday, but since it’s on Tuesday, I’ll be sure to update again on how things are received.

Maybe I’ll finally post some pictures!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: The Lorax

We all knew the story since she’d told it to us a hundred times before, but my brothers and I loved to sit down with my aunt and hear her tell it again. There were no pictures, no one else’s ideas to interrupt my own, and since “shortish, and brownish, and oldish, and mossy,” isn’t a terribly detailed description, the character in my head was Horus-like, a bird’s head on a man’s body, wearing a blue button up shirt. I must have thought there was something birdish about the name “Lorax,” and I think the shirt must have come from the Once-ler’s angry line, “Now listen here, Dad!” Dad = dress shirt to my young mind.

My aunt has always given awesome gifts, and one of them was the book itself. Now we’d be able to read the story we loved on our own, not just when she came to visit. Of course, she included a tape of her reading it so that we could play it while we looked at the pictures, and that was one of the best parts about it.

Although the vibrant illustrations of the Doctor usurped my own imaginings (I definitely understood what he meant by “brownish” after looking at the pictures), one thing that took me by surprise was the trees. “The trees, the trees, the truffula trees! All my life I’d been searching for trees such as these!” As a lover of color, I was blown away by the beautiful images that Dr Seuss created for his world. The words he uses to describe them don’t begin to cover the plethora of shades he used in their visual representations.

For years, my brothers and I enjoyed the book, often listening to my aunt’s voice while we browsed through the pages. I love reading it to my children. And on long car rides, my brothers and I have been known to recite the whole thing from start to finish, with a little help from one another, of course.

When the movie came out, I had mixed feelings. Those who know me well (or those who read my blog) (or both) know that I’m not usually a fan of movies that are based on books. The reason for this is because most movie studios define the word “based” the same way most people define the word “scented.” When a movie is based on a book, it’s usually in a “sorta like the book but not really” kind of way.

I was mostly afraid that there would be tons of things in the movie that weren’t in the book. If you’ve ever plunked yourself down on the floor to read a children’s book, you’ll know that most of them take about 90 seconds to read from start to finish, if you don’t linger to look at the pictures. A Dr Seuss book will keep you in your reading spot for quite a while, usually longer than a two year old’s attention span will allow. But no matter how you try, a story that takes seven minutes to read will never stretch to entertain audiences for an hour and a half.

When my brother turned the movie on Christmas Day, I let out a little whine of reluctance. “It’s good,” he assured me, “It has a secondary plot, but it’s not completely different. You’ll like it.”

And I did.

The trees were more orange than they were supposed to be (I never saw a purple Thneed in the movie), but the little love story was cute, and I actually appreciated seeing that the Once-ler was a real person, instead of a creepy thing wearing some sort of gruvvulous full body glove. I was concerned that I would be distracted by Danny DeVito’s distinct voice, but I wasn’t (it was actually perfect for what Dr Seuss must have meant by “sharpish and bossy”).

The only thing that really bothered me was the pronunciation of the letter “u.” All my life I’d been hearing “truffula” with both “u”s pronounced the same way, the same way you’d pronounce them in the word “full.” But in the movie, the first “u” sounds just they way it does when you say the word “truffle,” but the second “u” is pronounced like the one in “unicorn.” I’m sure that there are people other than those at Universal Pictures that say it that way, but since my aunt never did, it was hard for me to ignore. I would sit there, enjoying the movie, and jump every time someone said, “truffUla.” That was pretty much the only time I felt like shouting, “WRONG!” at the screen. Which is far less than most of the movies “based” on books that I am convinced to/forced to/willingly watch.

I’d recommend seeing The Lorax. It’s fun and cute. I wouldn’t mind watching it again.

And it’s hard to say no to such an epic mustache.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Sweetness of Anticipation

My daughter was leaping around yesterday morning declaring, “It’s almost Christmas! It’s almost Christmas!” After I had tried to explain it several times and then finally sat her down so she was actually paying attention to me, I spelled it out for her: “It is Christmas.” She was slightly disappointed, I think mostly because she didn’t have anything to leap about and declare anymore.

Sometimes the anticipation of an event is more fun than the actual event.

What’s the point of the extra week at the end of the year after Christmas? There’s nothing more to celebrate except the new year, so why don’t we skip the rest of the week and get right to it? It’s not like we’ve got anything going on. And we all got these new calendars for Christmas that we want to start using right away. They all have new things on them to look forward to and anticipate, and looking at those last seven days of December on the old calendar just seems a little sad.

Maybe that’s why some calendars come with the first three months of the next year tacked on, too. Or maybe those people just want to make sure future generations know that the world didn’t end just because the calendar did. It could be, though, that those extra-three-month calendar types are just the kind of people who know they won’t get a calendar for Christmas and are leaving enough time to go out and buy themselves a new one.

I guess we could spend the rest of the year anticipating the next one. There’s always something to look forward to.

My plan is to spend this last week of 2012 waiting for my 2013 calendars to show up in the mail.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Time to Crochet! Week 9

Apparently when a Red Heart pattern says “Intermediate” it means “cry into your pillow difficult.”

Normally you’d assume that this kind of pattern would be knitted, but this one is actually crocheted. I was pretty excited and got started on it right away, but almost immediately ran into stitches I wasn’t familiar with. Thankfully the pattern had all the instructions for a “one over one left cross” and all the other new and interesting techniques I needed to know. Even with the instructions, there were still things I was confused about. In the next row after a “three over three right cross,” which stitches was I supposed to “back post double crochet” first? How could I know for sure that I was using the correct stitch for my “front post double crochet?”

I ended up having to redo the first, second, and third rows over and over again. I’d finish, get ready to start the fourth, and not have the correct number of stitches or something would look terribly wrong. So I’d have to pull everything out and start again.

I got frustrated and ignored it for a couple of days. Then on Wednesday morning, I realized, “It’s the 19th!” Like, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25. That 19th. If I was going to finish this stocking before Christmas, I had to get moving!

Eventually I learned the tricks. The next stitch to do a double crochet in was two after the one over one left cross, because technically those stitches had already been used. The nine back post double crochets had to be done in a precise order, but it was going to depend on where in the twist the cable was.

I’m still not close to done with it. It works up in pieces: the cuff, either side of the leg, and either side of the stocking. I think it will be faster now that I (kind of) know what I’m doing. Hopefully I’ll be able to have it done by the time we need to put something in it!

I’d hate to see a pattern that this company decided was “hard.” My head would probably explode.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Kate's Snowman

Kate looked out the window. “Snow, snow, snow,” she sang. “Today I will make a snowman,” said Kate.

When I was a kid my (great) Aunt Dorothy got me a collection of books by Kay Chorao. They were all about a little elephant named Kate. She had everyday adventures: once her mother made her a quilt when she really wanted a dolly, another time she dealt with her family’s aversion to her deep longing for “Car!”, and then there was the time that the only one who could calm her screaming baby cousin was Kate (with the help of her box).

Today, I could see the pages of Chorao’s book Kate’s Snowman in my mind’s eye as my brother waited patiently, holding my ten month old. My almost-three year old was chattering away as I armed her against the weather.

I helped her into her new snow pants, remembering Kate’s vows to build her snowman round, like her mother.

My daughter’s boots, coat, mittens, and hat went on next, and I recalled the scene with Kate’s brother, and her promise to build a snowman that was “mean, like you, George,” as he stuffed her hat on her head.

She tried to pull the face guard I was letting her borrow off of her nose after I velcroed it there, but in the book, Kate didn’t mind as her father tied a scarf around her neck, because she was bragging that her snowman was going to be big, just like him.
“Have fun,” said Mama and Papa. Kate stood in the snow. “Help,” she cried. “I can’t move.”

My daughter stood hesitantly on the porch, and my brother had to pick her up and carry her into the deep snow in the front yard. After he suggested they run through the snow, she slowly started moving, and he had to be content with walking instead.

Kate’s brother suggested that she sit, and then he rolled her in the snow. We don’t have a hill in our yard, so there was no way my daughter was accidentally going to set off an avalanche anywhere. Kate’s yard did, and she was covered in snow by the time she got to the bottom of it, where she made a happy discovery.

My daughter eventually started pushing snow around and giggling happily. When she came in, I asked her if she’d built a snowman. “No,” she responded. “Did you at least find any sticks?” I asked. “No,” she repeated, frowning.

That’s okay. There’s plenty of snow on the ground, and plenty of times this winter when my daughter can make a snowman. If she doesn’t, I’m sure at some point she’ll parade around with some sticks.

“Look, Mama! Look, Papa! I made a snowman!”

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Really Real, You Know?

Ashley and James used to fight about which was better: Friends or Survivor. Since I was his girlfriend and not hers, I would spend my evenings glued to the television watching the antics of Colby and Tina instead of Ross and Rachel.

Aside from those four months in 2001, I have never been dedicated to watching a reality television show. I’ve never watched The Real World, Dancing With the Stars, or Jersey Shore. I heard about Keeping Up with the Kardashians, but since I didn’t watch it, it was a while before I realized that it wasn’t some kind of quirky Star Trek spin-off.

I’ve heard it said that reality television is what’s wrong with the world today. In some ways, I agree.

One of the reasons that I don’t watch reality television is that I’m afraid I would like it. It is entertaining because of the tension between the participants, the drama, the backstabbing, and the hilarious moments when someone is acting like a fool. But that’s also the reason that it is so sad, and the precise reason why I prefer my television fictional.

A fictional character’s dysfunctions are fake. A fictional character’s behavior, while it may be a reflection of the behavior of the current society, is not real. And most often, things turn out okay at the end of an episode on a television program that has a script.

The feelings that a reality star has are usually real. The problems they have with their co-stars are normally really there, even if the fights are staged. And when one of them stomps off in a rage, they really are acting like a fool.

That’s the saddest thing about reality television: it’s real. With fictional television, you can console yourself with the thought that the crazy serial killer isn’t really like that in real life, but with reality TV, the idiot tasering himself is actually doing so.

Maybe reality television is what’s wrong with the world today. Or maybe what’s wrong is that people watch it and enjoy it. Maybe what’s wrong is that we glorify and pay attention to these fools, thinking that if they can be famous this way, there might be a day when we are famous too.

Now that I look back on it, I’m thinking I should have been on Ashley’s side.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012



For most people, this word brings up images, remembered smells and tastes of a delicious, crispy party in your mouth. Some have argued that if you do not like bacon... then you are not alive.

I love bacon.

But I have to be careful when purchasing it, because somewhere, sometime in the past some demented individual altered the course of bacon forever. My brother describes it as a glorious accident: maple syrup left over from pancakes seeped over onto some unsuspecting bacon. The owner of the plate, a somewhat questionable person (being that there was maple syrup there in the first place), nevertheless did not want to waste the glorious experience of bacon, and so ate it anyway, maple syrup and all.

The true horror of this story is not that the disgusting maple syrup was allowed to touch the hallowed bacon in the first place. It’s not even that no one caught this individual and locked them up in a padded room before the idea could be pitched to some food company to sell it to unsuspecting consumers. No, the true horror of this story is that a large portion of the population of the previously mentioned unsuspecting consumers think that it’s a great idea and actually buy it on purpose.

Recently I purchased some bacon for the eating enjoyment of my family, as I am wont to do. I am always careful when selecting my future deliciousness that I differentiate between those packages of bacon that say “MAPLE SMOKED!!!” and those that do not. The former has no place in my grocery cart (or in my mouth. Because it is gross). I had made my selection (it was on sale!) and given myself a high five, because, as we all know, bacon + discount = high five. This particular bacon was “hardwood smoked,” and I was all, “cool, as long as it’s not maple.” There are several kinds of wood that are considered “hardwood,” such as oak, cherry, or birch. But apparently the hardwood that was used to smoke this particular bacon was (you guessed it!) maple.

Thankfully, the bacon only smelled disgusting while being cooked and tasted fine (translation: not mapley). So a disaster was narrowly averted. Although my house did smell like maple bacon for the next several hours instead of just normal delicious bacon.

Something must be done about this. I propose separating the bacon section so that this never happens again. Perhaps the maple bacon could be put on one side of the meat department and the normal bacon on the other, with large signs letting people know about the change. It would be sad if people who want normal bacon were to find the maple section and then think there was no alternative.

A less confusing solution would be to stop making maple bacon entirely and then just put a selection of syrups next to the bacon section. There’s usually a side or end cap on the ice cream aisle for people who for unknowable reasons like butterscotch on their ice cream. I don’t judge, I just don’t buy that kind of sauce. Why shouldn’t purchasers of bacon have the same choice?

Or, maybe, they should stop trying to disguise their yucky maple bacon as regular normal delicious bacon to try to trick those of us who would prefer to enjoy their bacon instead of having to toss it out. Not cool, bacon packaging designers. Not cool.

I have a dream that all people who enjoy eating bacon can be free to enjoy whatever kind they want without having to freak out because one of their favorite foods smells/tastes like one of their least favorite foods.

So enjoy your bacon, whatever kind it is that you like.

Monday, December 17, 2012

All About the Beard

The best way to watch a movie based on a book is to only read the book through once, and then watch the movie fifteen or so years after you’ve read the book. That is the optimal time because you’ll have forgotten enough about the book to not be bothered by any changes that may have been made by the writers of the screenplay, and still be excited to see the characters come to life on the screen. This was me, going into The Hobbit this weekend: “So there’s Bilbo and Gandalf, and some dwarves, I think? Whatever, it’s going to be a good time.”

And it was, but one thing I had completely forgotten about was the sheer number of dwarves. There’s so many! The movie tries to start you out with just a few: a bald one with tattoos on his head, a white-bearded one with no mustache, a couple that look more like men of Rohan than dwarves of the Lonely Mountain, but it just snowballs from there, and soon your head is spinning in circles like Bilbo Baggins having his pantry raided.

The filmmakers did an amazing job of creating distinct looks for each of the thirteen characters, but it’s hard to fit in coherent introductions for all of them, even if you have three movies to do so. Another thing that doesn’t help is the fact that their names are all slightly similar to one another. One point that Tolkien wasn’t worried about when writing was how filmmakers were going to help audiences keep each character separate while staying caught up with the story. In fact, he may have been more concerned with not forgetting which one was which himself. I think that may be why he stuck them together in rhyming pairs or trios: Balin/Dwalin, Fili/Kili, Oin/Gloin, Bifur/Bofur/Bombur, Dori/Nori/Ori, and Thorin. (Thorin gets to be on his own because he’s special.) He wasn’t thinking about whose beard was red and whose was white and which one had braids and which was brushed so it curled at the ends. He just needed a sufficiently large group for an adventure, and thirteen was the number he chose.

One of the first things we discussed when the movie ended was how to keep up with which dwarf was which. Aside from the way they looked, one way that was put forward was the weapons they chose to wield. That doesn’t work, because there are only one or two that stick out. One of the pretty ones (Fili or Kili) sometimes employs a bow (when he’s not being a Jedi while escaping from goblins. “These are not the dwarves you’re looking for”), but the only other strange weapon is Ori (I think)’s ridiculous slingshot.

I had come across a helpful chart online, so I thought I would share it. I don’t know exactly who the original credit for this image goes to, since I have seen it in so many places, but it definitely does not go to me.

With dwarves, it's all about the beard.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Time to Crochet! Week 8

I have finished the tiger hat!

No, really. It’s put away in the box and everything!

Fine, you don’t have to believe me if you don’t want to, I guess.

It turned out really cute! I just kinda made up the ears as I went along, I made one first entirely out of orange, then looked at it, decided against it, and took it apart and added a black row after every couple orange rows. It looked way better like that, so then I had to remember how I’d done it as I made the second one. Finally, I tacked it to the hat, and even my husband said it looked cute.

Even my husband! (Do you believe me now?)

I’m also almost finished with my Tunisian crochet project, I made 6 little squares and put them together to make a little cube. It still needs to be stuffed and sealed up before I give it to my kids to toss around, but it looks really nice already.

My next project is Christmas stockings for my kids. When I was a kid, we never really did stocking stuff, but it’s a big deal for my husband’s family. He figures since I have the tools, I might as well make them, since it would be cheaper than going out and buying some.

Though I suppose he is assuming that my labor is free...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Vehicular Portrait

Have you ever noticed that you can tell what someone drives by the way they dress?

The guy in the leather jacket (and pants, man, those must be uncomfortable) toting his helmet everywhere obviously goes with the motorcycle. The girl with the puffy jacket, leggings, and fashionable scarf matches the little eco-friendly car that is the same color as her skirt. And the guy in the work-worn jeans, flannel shirt, and baseball cap is the one driving the two ton pickup truck. And the harassed woman dragging several children along behind the stroller she’s pushing is going to put all of that stuff in the minivan. Or the SUV. Or maybe the four door wagon.

Each of these people needs their respective vehicle to accomplish their daily tasks. The guy needs the motorcycle to show the world how cool he is, the girl needs her little car to save the earth and match her outfit, the truck is for hauling, and, in a different way, so is the minivan/SUV/wagon.

Some cars are for fun and some are for work. But why can’t the ones we use for work also be fun to drive? And by “fun to drive” I mean “not automatics.” Do auto makers think that soccer moms are too distracted making sure that their kids are still buckled in to change gears? Personally, I’m more befuddled while driving an automatic, because I’m used to a car that changes gears when I tell it to instead of a week later or whenever it gets around to it.

If the people mover that I’m going to have to purchase in the future had a manual transmission instead of an automatic, I would find it much more fun to drive, and therefore, be less reluctant to give up my tiny Volkswagen, which I have never dressed to match.

At least not on purpose.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ambrosia & Cheese

Lots of people my age will remember school lunch: standing in line, those plastic trays with their compartments, fiestadas, chicken sandwiches, and boxes of milk. There were a few of us who mostly brought their lunch to school, and a couple of others (though not many) who went home for lunch.

I can only remember going home for lunch once in my life. I was in elementary school, so our house was a block away from the school; it didn’t take long to get there and back. I’m pretty sure I made the trip with my brother, so I suppose it must have been when he was in kindergarten and I was in second grade. I’m not sure why we went home for lunch that day, or really anything else about it but this: my dad served us macaroni and cheese.

My dad is a master of macaroni and cheese. You don’t have to go to a fancy school in Italy to be able to make it, but only my father is able to make a 33 cent box of noodles and cheese powder taste like ambrosia.

Don’t worry. He has passed the closely guarded secret down to his offspring. But I’m not telling you.
I will, however, share a delicious recipe with you, internet, that includes this delicious macaroni and cheese.

Step 1: Make the macaroni & cheese.

Step 2: Brown some hamburger, seasoning it with garlic salt while doing so (you’ll know there’s enough after you taste the final product; if there isn’t, remind yourself to add more next time).

Step 3: After draining the fat from the meat, combine it with the macaroni and cheese.

Step 4: Enjoy.

Step 5: Deliberate for years about what to call it. “Garlic Hamburger Macaroni & Cheese” is too long, “Hamburger Helper” is incorrect...

Step 6: Hug your daddy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


“We’ll only email you once a week,” she said as she stuffed yarn into my bag. “It’s just special offers and coupons and that kind of thing. I shrugged. I might like the occasional coupon to use when I needed something.

That was October.

If you get a call from a telemarketer, it’s best to interrupt them politely as soon as possible and ask to be taken off of the list. It can take up to two weeks for your number to be removed, and a different company might still have your number, so you might have to ask different people several times before you stop getting calls. If you hang up on them, swear or shout at them and then hang up, all that does is puts your number at the bottom of the call list for someone else to call you again. If the list is short enough, you might even get another call the same night.

I know. I worked as a “teletubby” for two weeks. It was not a good time. The only good call I had was a guy that was more interested in flirting with me than in signing up for the credit card I was reluctantly selling.

Email is different. Even if you’ve got the box next to “email me once a week” or “email me once a month” checked on the website, once the holidays roll around, they forget about those boxes and email you every single day.

The only thing to do at that point is to head back to those boxes and hope they stick to their word when you click “UNSUBSCRIBE.”

Some would say that a call while you’re eating dinner is much more invasive than a gigantically full email inbox, but I would disagree.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Time to Crochet! Week 7

I’ll shut up about the crowns now, because I have finally finished one! (And by “finally,” I mean that I finished weaving in the ends about thirty seconds before typing this.)

It looks awesome! When we picked out the yarn, I couldn’t decide between the gold and the silver, and asked my two year old. She, of course, went for the shiny blue one. My mother was standing nearby and informed me that I couldn’t ask her which one she wanted and then not get it for her. So I ended up with a sparkly gold and sparkly blue. I’ve finished the blue one, and trimmed it with gold, and I’m just about to trim the gold one with blue.

I tried to get motivated to finish the ears for the tiger hat I stopped working on a month ago, but the ears that came with the pattern aren’t going to work, so I’ve been searching around for ears that will be cute.

But I got distracted.

I have a friend who knits and crochets and is generally a yarn geek just like me. Whenever I’m befuddled about a pattern, I go straight to her, and she de-fuddles it. Most often, her advice is something like “just follow the pattern and see what happens. If you don’t like it you can always figure out something different.” I could tell myself that, and I’m sure there’s an instant when I do, but that thought always gets disregarded when it comes from me, and when I hear it from her it’s gospel truth.

In addition to project advice, we chat about things we’re working on, giggle about yarn prices on (a penny for a skein seems like a good price until you look at the cost of shipping), and share new things. One of the things she distracted me with this week was something called Tunisian crochet.

It’s a very interesting method of crocheting that works with all the stitches at once instead of one at a time. It looks a lot like knitting, since all of the stitches stay on the hook, and the preferred tool is a longer hook with a stopper on the end, to keep the stitches from escaping. I shared it with my mother, and we sat and oohed and aahed at how pretty the finished product was. We both had the same reaction: “You wouldn’t have to use one of those fancy long hooks, would you?”

You don’t. But I’d imagine it’s helpful. I made a little square of the basic Tunisian crochet stitch, and it looks awesome, but one problem I had while making it was my hook, which was not made for Tunisian crochet. Most crochet hooks are not uniformly cylindrical, and often have a little flat part near the middle, so that the makers would have a place to stamp what size the tool happens to be.

My problem was that as I scooted the stitches onto the hook, they crowded over that bumpy middle part, and were larger than I’d meant them to be. That wasn’t a huge problem for me, since I hadn’t meant for my stitches to be any particular size, but it would have caused some difficulties if I’d needed them to be precise.

But Tunisian crocheting is fun! I’m going to try a little project with them and explore the different styles.

Maybe someday my poor tiger hat will have ears...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Exception to the Rule

I’ve changed my stance on bumper stickers.

Well, I haven’t.

I’ve allowed an exception.

I only meant to get the first one, but they come in a set, apparently. The best part about them is that they are removable! I proved it to my husband and brother, who were both looking at me with disbelief on their faces, by putting the ‘honor student’ sticker on the refrigerator, then peeling it right off, and putting it back on again. They’re not magnets that will blow off in a stiff breeze, and they’re not made out of regular bumper sticker paper. They are weatherproof, and as you can see, they are awesome. It’s like having a tattoo that you can peel off when you go to visit your grandma!

Now I just have to overcome my distaste of actually having a sticker on the back of my car. Then there’s the fact that it’ll totally clash with the new Nebraska license plates I just got, which are yellow, for some reason...

Baby steps.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Headache (Part 2)

I never (or hardly ever) got migraines when I was a kid. I know people have different experiences with them, but my definition of a migraine is a headache accompanied by (or made worse by) an aversion to light, sound, or smells, and occasionally, nausea.

This particular migraine treated me to half a day of aversion to light and sound, and another whole day of aversion to smells, with nausea the whole time, holding hands with a headache that even Excedrin Migraine couldn’t shift.

When I was a kid, I just had regular headaches. My head hurt, and sometimes it hurt a lot, and sometimes it only hurt a little. I don’t remember that the doctor ever did an allergy test, but I do know that he prescribed ibuprofen. Sometimes the headache went away after taking it, but more often, it didn’t.

The reason we never chased down the cause of these daily headaches was that we moved at the end of the school year, and immediately, my headaches ceased. I got them occasionally like any other normal person instead of almost every day of the week. My dad joked that I was tying my hair up too tight. But I have another theory.

The community that we lived in was small enough to have a consolidated school. That means that kids from both towns are put into the same classes in order to save space and money. After all, it’s cheaper to pay one third grade teacher than two, right? When I was there, they were still paying two third grade teachers, because until sixth grade, a child attended school in their own town. After that, students from both towns were squished together in the same classes. Senior high school students got their learn on in the same building that I was taught my multiplication tables, but junior highers attended school in Elmwood, the neighboring town. And I’m not sure why, but... the school in Elmwood smells funny.

Some people love the smell of old books. You know the smell I’m talking about: the slightly moldy but (for some) delightful scent of history. And I agree that it is a nice smell, but it gives me a headache.

What a ridiculous affliction for a historian. I looked stupid while researching for my senior paper in college: wrapping a scarf around my face before diving into the stacks at the library to get the right volume of The Letters and Papers of Henry VIII. I got a strange glance from a curator while volunteering to cataloge items in the basement of the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys, and had to explain the mask that I was wearing over my nose and mouth.

When I was in seventh grade, I stayed over at my friend Hannah’s house in Murdock and rode the bus to school with her the next morning, for a visit to my old school while my new school in Lincoln had a day off for parent-teacher conferences. While hanging out with a few old friends in a study hall in Mrs. Roth’s classroom, I heard my favorite teacher Miss Haefle say to my former science teacher, “Did you know Tricia is here today?” “I saw her,” Mrs. Roth responded, “how is she?” To which Miss Haefle replied, “she has a headache.”

The smell of old books isn’t the reason for all of my headaches, but I think it was a factor in most, if not all, of the headaches I had while attending school in a building that reeked of it.

Thank goodness for the internet, which I can use to do historical research without having to deal with my body’s rejection of my chosen career. It’s not a substitute for holding a first printing of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs in my hands, but it’s not like I can do that on a random Tuesday, anyway. So thanks, internet, for existing so that I can be a historian without having to scarf ibuprofen.

Except on the days when the light from the computer's screen bothers my migraine.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Headache (Part 1)

I had a headache every single day in sixth grade. I went to the doctor several times, but we never did chase down the cause.

My mom and I had to start making use of a scale to describe pain. It was a simple 1-5 rating system, one being “yes I acknowledge that it is there, but what else is new, let me get on with what I’m doing” and five being “let me lay in bed alone in the dark, undisturbed, and do battle with this beast in my mind.”

Yesterday evening I had an 8.

(To be continued... if the migraine allows)

Monday, December 3, 2012


It’s hard for me to focus on my own creativity if it’s already been distracted by someone else’s. If I read something, watch something, or listen to something new before I’ve gotten a chance to think about what I want to write, it tends to be harder for me to think of something interesting to convey. Sometimes even the ideas crowding social media websites push out the ones trying to sprout in my head.

But it’s especially hard to focus when there’s a really good reason for me to want to get back to those things. Like a new book featuring the latest adventures of my favorite private investigator/wizard for hire.

My kindle is calling me from my bedside table. “Forget about your responsibilities,” it calls. “You can do the dishes whenever. The laundry in the washing machine isn’t going anywhere. Breakfast is over and your kids just want to play. Come and find out what happens!” I can just ignore the dishes for a while. I really should swap the laundry over, though, and if I do curl up with the kindle, it should be near the kids so that I can make sure that nothing gets destroyed and no eyes get gouged out, accidentally or otherwise.

As much as I want to devour the book whole, part of me wants to take it slow and savor it. After all, it’s not like I’ll be able to read the next installment until it comes out next year, so there’s no reason to put off my life just to find out about someone’s fictional life.

In addition to that, my husband is in the middle of reading a different book series, and plans to get back to this one when he’s finished, starting either at the beginning or several books back from the current one. I love to discuss ideas about what we think is going to happen as I read. But since he can’t stand spoilers, I have to censor myself whenever I get the urge to share something, whether it’s exciting, confusing, or heartwarming.

I’m sure I’ll calm down once I finish reading it, and be able to more easily do the things that need doing. Or I’ll at least find my responsibilities less intrusive. I definitely will after I’ve reread it. And it’ll be super easy to ignore the siren call of my kindle once I’ve started from the beginning of the series and read all the way through them again.

But for now, I’d better go get back to reading doing the laundry.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Time to Crochet! Week 6

I dragged along one of those expensive sparkly Vanna White skeins of yarn with me to Colorado last week, thinking that I wouldn’t have much time to crochet but that I might as well take it along just in case.

I was finished with a crown in two days.

It’s shiny and pretty, and fits my daughter (I haven’t put the trim on the edge yet so I have to keep yelling at her to put it back down), but after I was done I didn’t have anything left to do.

The first night we were there, my mother in law had all of her family in the house, and the only thing to do with all of us in the same space is to sit us down in front of the television and watch a movie. I can’t remember what we watched, but as we sat, I had my project, my mother in law was knitting a dress for my daughter, one of my sisters in law was working on knitting a scarf, and the other was making sure her new puppy didn’t jump on anyone important or make a mess. At one point I looked at her and said, “Did you want us to get you some yarn? I’m sure we could find some for you.” She declined and we all laughed.

You can’t exactly chase a puppy around and concentrate on a pattern at the same time.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Warmth > Gift Cards

Right now, on our bed, my husband and I have: sheets, a jean quilt, a thick six pound afghan that I made, a comforter that his parents gave us, and to top it all off, the down comforter that we got as a wedding present.

My daughter runs around with fluffy blankets, using them as capes, laying them flat on the ground like she’s going to have a picnic, wrapping her stuffed animals in them, or just generally rolling around the floor with them.

In our living room, there’s a blue fuzzy king size blanket draped over the back of the chair that sits in front of my husband’s desk. There’s another fuzzy blanket (green) tossed on the couch where I usually sit, and sometimes a blanket left by my daughter on the other end of the couch, when she finishes her day by cuddling with me.

We have enough blankets.

But if you’re looking for a gift to get us, walk right past that big display of gift cards. They don’t keep you warm. A fuzzy, fluffy, warm blanket will always be appreciated by my family.

Even if we already have plenty.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Sterling Silver Lining

Long road trips with small children are hard. You have to stop frequently to get to a potty, make sure they get enough time to run around when you take a lunch break and have enough things to entertain them on the road, otherwise you’ll have several hours of screaming.

Even if you have a perfectly happy child, there are always things that will vex you on the way, like when you are trying to have a quick snack before getting back on the road after gassing up and your two year old grabs the latch to the car door and gets both her hand and the apple slice she was enjoying covered in grease.

Make sure, when you’re chucking the apple slice into the grass, that the $18 ring that you bought at Kohl’s in 2005 doesn’t fly off your finger into the wild unknown to be consumed, along with a greasy apple, by some prowling creature.

But if it does, don’t worry. Just go into the Arby’s, change the baby’s diaper so that she goes to sleep instead of screaming for the next two hours, and when you come back out, maybe check on the other side of that van parked next to you where a truck was parked when you went inside, and you might find it.

After that, the trip will be no problem. You’ll be so relieved that you almost lost but then found the ring you’ve had since before you got married that you won’t even mind that your two year old is whining that she wants to go back to Grandmama’s house or that your nine month old yells for the last hour of the trip.

Though traveling with small children can be difficult and stressful, there’s always a silver lining. Even if you accidentally made it yourself.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

You Should Feel Bad

The other day I bought a zester. For those of you who don’t know what a zester is, don’t be intimidated by the name. A zester comes from the same family as a cheese grater. 

But instead of the nice large holes used to shred cheese, a zester has tiny holes to grate the outside of a citrus fruit. The shredded outside layer of a citrus fruit is called “zest” instead of “the shredded outside layer of a citrus fruit.” Zest is used in recipes that need a bit more zing, or “zest,” if you will.

I needed both the zest and the juice from a lemon for my recipe, but first I needed to get the zester out of the packaging. It was encased in what I have heard called “a dungeon of plastic.” You know, that kind that’s two thick pieces of plastic sealed together so tightly that you have to stab it repeatedly to get at whatever’s inside.

I didn’t break my scissors (mostly because I used my knife), and I didn’t think it was a big deal until after I washed my zester and began to use it, because as I was using it, something terrible happened.

I got lemon juice on my hands.

Which was when I realized that I’d cut myself on the sharp packaging.

So whoever it was that decided to design packaging this way should be ashamed. Your product is bad and you should feel bad. You should have realized that it was a bad idea when you were creating it, though I guess it’s not your fault that companies have continued to use it despite the fact that everyone hates it.

But I guess they could always just get one of these.

As long as they don’t mind opening the package.