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Monday, November 30, 2009

Reassessment of Life

Every once in a while something happens that makes you stop and reassess your life. It makes you ask “Am I doing everything possible to get the most out of my life?”

What caused me to pause and ask myself that question is that a good friend of mine had a stroke on November 22, 2009. She is 37 years old and is a single mom of two daughters (a 15 year old and a 21 year old). Like me, she is a paralegal and we met on-the-job at my first “real” paralegal job. She has had her ups and downs in life but she always manages to smile. The stroke has left her unable to work, unable to drive, unable to use her right leg, unable to remember events and details from the past few years, unable to be left alone because the doctos fear another stroke, and feeling very depressed and alone. My heart aches for her and her girls right now.

This has caused me to reevaluate my life and take stock of things such as:

  • My mental health which has been taxed as of late by stress (always a constant in the life of a single parent): For my mental health, I have decided to delay our move back to Massachusetts until the summer of 2011. This will allow us to save more money while still paying off debts. And most of all, it will allow me to have a job. My fear has been that I will leave this job, move 1,300 miles and not be able to find a job. Granted, that could still happen later but if I have more money saved for us to live off of while I am looking for work, it won’t be so bad.
  • My physical health which is in need of some serious attention: I have decided to join the YMCA in January and to go to the gym everyday at lunch even if I do nothing but walk on the treadmill. I would also like to take a Pilates class if possible.
  • My emotional well-being: This is the tricky part for me. Some days, it feels like nothing will help me feel better and every little effort is too much. This will be an area hardest hit by the decision to delay the move. Part of the motivation to move is to be closer to my sister (who is also my best friend). Being this far apart from her is so very hard and obviously the longer we are apart, the worse I feel. There is no real cure for being away from her except to be sure we communicate (by phone, email or mail) as much as we can. I steered away from doing this for a while but I am going to get back in the habit of sending her a snail mail package at least once a month which includes all those little things I see and think to myself “Marci would like that”.

    Another project that I am going to undertake for my emotional well-being is to work on my organization. Since I live with my mother, my room is my only private space. Currently it is not a very relaxing place. It is too cramped and unorganized and I can’t stand it. It doesn’t help that my room not only contains my bedroom but also all my yarn, my paperwork, and any thing that I don’t want in the storage shed.

    My room has the following pieces of furniture in it: One Queen size bed; one night stand; one metal two-drawer filing cabinet; one glass-door shelf which holds DVDS, photo albums, and binders of knitting patterns; a chair which holds clean clothes, yarn, etc.; an armoire for clothes and books; and a three shelf wire shelving system.

    My room also contains rubbermaid bins of yarn, boxes of cookbooks, all my paperwork, etc. My room mess has also spread into the hallway outside of my room. The hallway currently holds a bookcase with photo boxes, board games, and knitting books. There is also a box of photo albums on the floor and a box of books that need to go somewhere.

    In an effort to do something with all this mess, I am going to do the following:

  • Sort all loose paperwork into three piles (knitting, cooking and to be filed) then file it appropriately;
  • Purchase a small bookcase for the hallway which will hold remaining photo albums, loose board games, cook books, etc.;
  • Put away all clean clothes;
  • Dust, sweep and mop the floor;
  • Reevaluate all items that are not currently being used for a better storage solution (shed, under the bed, etc.);
  • Sort through closet to determine if any items can be donated;
  • Get rid of box of books to be donated; and
  • Finish sorting through magazines and get rid of them.

    I figure if I do all this, my room might become something a bit more relaxing. Of course, I can’t get rid of it all until I find a place of my own but I can at least make things a bit better.
  • My social well-being: I have the tendency to be a bit of a hermit which is never a good thing when you also suffer from anxiety and depression. Before you know it, months have gone by and you realize that other than your mother, your kid and the dog, you haven’t had a real conversation with anyone else. For the past few months, a group of women have gotten together once a month to chat and visit. The common denominator in this group is that we all work in law offices or the legal field. It is a nice way to put a face to the person you have been speaking with for years. I am going to make sure I continue to go to this outing.

    Also, I am going to go to the Stitch n’ Bitch on Sundays. I am going to commit to going every other Sunday since it is an hours drive. Before or after the meeting, Princess Ivi and I will run any errands we may need to run but we will also go somewhere fun like the Museum of Natural History, the Botanical Garden (although we will need to remember to take an allergy pill), the bookstore to browse, a movie, or something like that.

    I would also like Princess Ivi and I to go to see the sights. There are many places here in Florida that we have not seen or Princess Ivi has not seen and it seems a shame to be here and not see them especially since we won’t always be in Florida. I am going to order one of those Florida vacation guides and we are going to start going to see the sites.
    • None of us knows how long we really have and I don’t want the time to come where I realize that my time is up and there are things I haven’t done and seen and I am not satisfied with the way I have lived my life.

      Check out this beautiful picture from The Pioneer Woman.

      Tuesday, November 24, 2009

      Knit Purl Gurl's Giveaway

      Check out this contest at Knit Purl Gurl. She is giving away a Namaste Hermosa Bag that is beautiful. I want one so bad. Go check it out here.

      10 Things You are Thankful For

      10 Things You Are Thankful For

      1. Princess Ivi
      2. My Sister, Marci
      3. My adorable nephew, Isaac
      4. That someone special who has the end of my red string. (See post of November 24, 2009)
      5. My family
      6. Yarn, Needles and the ability to create
      7. The military for fighting for our freedom
      8. Their families who sacrifice their time with their loved ones.
      9. Faith
      10. Coffee (sorry, I am super sleepy this morning).

      Red String of Destiny

      I learned about something interesting last night while watching "Trauma". The background is this...there was a Chinese man who was having a heart attack and his friend said, "he can't die because he hasn't met his soul mate yet (paraphrased)."

      Apparently, the red string of fate, also referred to as the red thread of destiny or red thread of fate, is an East Asian belief originating from Chinese legend. According to this myth, the gods tie an invisible red string around the ankles of men and women who are destined to be soul mates and will one day marry each other. According to Chinese legend, the deity in charge of "the red thread" is believed to be Yue Xia Lao (often abbreviated to "Yuelao"), the old lunar matchmaker god who is also in charge of marriages.

      "An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break." - an ancient Chinese belief

      I really like this. So much in fact, that I am thinking of a tattoo on my ankle of a red thread. It would wrap around my ankle and the ends would cross but not be tied. Then, the ends would float off to attach to the string around the other person. Make sense? I am also considering having the text added that says "the thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break."

      Monday, November 23, 2009

      Hococo the Lemur Pattern

      I have been asked many times for the pattern for Hococo the Lemur which I obtained from Hotter Comfort. I have been advised that the email contact for this pattern is no longer valid so I am posting the pattern here. The posting of this pattern is in no way meant to infringe upon anyone's copyright.

      (****This is not my pattern. This pattern was designed by Alan Dart for Hotter Comfort Concept. Therefore, I would ask that you respect the copyright of this pattern and use it for its intended purpose only.****)

      Hococo the Lemur

      ‘HOCOCO’ THE LEMUR designed by Alan Dart for Hotter Comfort

      This lemur pattern was commissioned by Hotter Comfort Concept to be knitted and sold to raise money for the Sisters of the Good Shepherd orphanage in Madagascar. He was named Hococo by Hotter Comfort Club reader Jean Summers of Wooton Under Edge.

      Cheques should be made out to Money for Madagascar (reg charity no 1001420) and sent to Llwyncelyn, Carregsawdde, Llangadog, SA19 9BY. If you cannot sell Hococo you can send your completed version to Dorothy Devereux, Felinwynt Rainforest Centre, Felinwynt, Cardigan, Ceredigion, SA43 1RT, where he will be sold on the charity’s behalf.

      MEASUREMENTS
      22cm/81/2in tall.

      MATERIALS
      Of Sirdar Country Style D.K. 100g balls: 35g in Hazel (shade no.500), 15g in White (shade no.412), 5g in Black (shade no.417), and a small amount in Mango (shade no.583).
      Pair of 3mm (no.11) knitting needles; 40g of washable toy stuffing; long tweezers.

      TENSION
      26 sts and 36 rows to 10cm, measured over stocking stitch worked with D.K. on 3mm needles.

      ABBREVIATIONS
      beg = beginning; dec = decrease (by working 2 stitches together); gs = garter stitch; inc = increase (by working into front and back of stitch); K = knit; P = purl; ss = stocking stitch; st(s) = stitch(es); SKPO = slip one, knit one, pass slipped stitch over; tog = together.

      NOTE
      Use 3mm needles throughout, cast on by using the cable (two needle) method, and begin all pieces with a K row.

      BODY BACK make 1 piece
      With Hazel cast on 10 sts for base edge and ss 2 rows.
      1st inc row: Inc into every st to end [20 sts].
      P 1 row.
      2nd inc row: (Inc 1, K1) to end [30 sts].
      Ss 5 rows.
      3rd inc row: (K1, inc 1, K1) to end [40 sts].
      Ss 19 rows.
      1st dec row: (K2, K 2 tog, K1) to end [32 sts].
      Ss 5 rows.
      2nd dec row: (K1, K 2 tog, K1) to end [24 sts].,
      Ss 11 rows.
      3rd dec row: (K5, K 2 tog, K5) twice [22 sts].
      Ss 9 rows.
      4th dec row: (K5, K 2 tog, K4) twice [20 sts].
      P 1 row.
      Cast off for neck edge.

      BODY FRONT make 1 piece
      With White cast on 5 sts for base edge and ss 2 rows.
      1st inc row: Inc into every st to end [10 sts].
      P 1 row.
      2nd inc row: (Inc 1, K1) to end [15 sts].
      Ss 5 rows.
      3rd inc row: (K1, inc 1, K1) to end [20 sts].
      Ss 19 rows.
      1st dec row: (K2, K 2 tog, K1) to end [16 sts].
      Ss 5 rows.
      2nd dec row: (K1, K 2 tog, K1) to end [12 sts].
      Ss 11 rows.
      3rd dec row: K5, K 2 tog, K5 [11 sts].
      Ss 9 rows.
      4th dec row: K5, K 2 tog, K4 [10 sts].
      P 1 row.
      Cast off for neck edge.

      HEAD make 1 piece
      With Hazel cast on 10 sts for back edge and ss 2 rows.
      1st inc row: Inc into every st to end [20 sts].
      P 1 row.
      2nd inc row: (Inc 1, K1) to end [30 sts].
      Ss 3 rows.
      3rd inc row: (K1, inc 1, K1) to end [40 sts].
      Ss 5 rows.
      Change to White and ss 4 rows.
      1st dec row: (K2, K 2 tog, K1) to end [32 sts].
      P 1 row.
      2nd dec row: (K1, K 2 tog, K1) to end [24 sts].
      P 1 row.
      3rd dec row: K4, (K 2 tog) eight times, K4 [16 sts].
      P 1 row.
      Change to Black and ss 4 rows.
      4th dec row: (K1, SKPO, K2, K 2 tog, K1) twice [12 sts].
      P 1 row.
      5th dec row: (K1, SKPO, K 2 tog, K1) twice [8 sts].
      P 1 row.
      Cast off for front edge.

      EAR BACKS make 2 pieces
      With White cast on 11 sts for base edge and ss 2 rows.
      Dec 1 st at beg and end of next row.
      P 1 row.
      Repeat the last 2 rows three more times [3 sts].
      Cast off for top edge.

      EAR LININGS make 2 pieces
      With Hazel work as given for ear backs.

      EYES make 2 pieces
      With Black cast on 10 sts for outside edge.
      Change to Mango and K 1 row.
      Break yarn, leaving a long end. Thread through sts on needle, draw up tightly and fasten off.

      LEGS make 2 pieces
      With Hazel cast on 12 sts for base edge and ss 4 rows.
      1st inc row: (K1, inc 1, K1) to end [16 sts].
      Ss 3 rows.
      2nd inc row: (K1, inc 1, K2) to end [20 sts].
      Ss 5 rows.
      3rd inc row: (K2, inc 1, K2) to end [24 sts].
      Ss 5 rows.
      Dec 1 st at beg and end of next row.
      P 1 row.
      Repeat the last 2 rows five more times [12 sts].
      Dec row: (K1, K 2 tog) to end [8 sts].
      Break yarn, leaving a long end. Thread through sts on needle, draw up tightly and fasten off.

      FEET make 2 pieces
      With Hazel cast on 14 sts for front edge and ss 4 rows.
      Dec row: K3, K 2 tog, K4, SKPO, K3 [12 sts].
      Ss 7 rows.
      Break yarn, leaving a long end. Thread through sts on needle, draw up tightly and fasten off.

      ARMS make 2 pieces
      With Hazel cast on 6 sts for top edge and ss 2 rows.
      Inc 1 st at beg of next 6 rows [12 sts].
      Cast on 3 sts at beg of next 2 rows for underarm [18 sts].
      Ss 16 rows.
      1st dec row: (K4, K 2 tog, K3) twice [16 sts].
      Ss 5 rows.
      2nd dec row: (K3, K 2 tog, K3) twice [14 sts].
      Ss 3 rows.
      3rd dec row: (K3, K 2 tog, K2) twice [12 sts].
      P 1 row.
      4th dec row: (K2, K 2 tog, K2) twice [10 sts].
      Ss 3 rows.
      Inc row: (Inc 1, K2, inc 1, K1) twice [14 sts].
      Ss 4 rows.
      Cast off for front of paw.

      FINGERS AND TOES make 4 pieces
      With Hazel cast on 6 sts and gs 6 rows.
      Cast off.

      TAIL make 1 piece
      With White cast on 16 sts for body edge and continue in alternate 4 rows ss stripes of White and Black, working as follows:
      Ss 72 rows.
      Dec 1 st at beg and end of next row.
      Ss 7 rows.
      Repeat the last 8 rows two more times [10 sts].
      Break yarn, leaving a long end. Thread through sts on needle, draw up tightly and fasten off.

      TO MAKE UP
      For best results, join seams and sew pieces in place using mattress stitch, working with right side of knitting uppermost. A one stitch knitted seam turning has been allowed on all pieces to accommodate this method.

      Join front and back body pieces along side seams, then work a gathering thread through every stitch along base edge, draw up tightly and fasten off. Stuff body firmly through open neck edge.

      Fold front edge of head in half and join, then join side edges of head piece, stopping 3cm away from back edge. Stuff head firmly, join remainder of seam, then work a gathering thread through every stitch along back edge, draw up tightly and fasten off. With head seam running along underside, position and sew head to neck edge of body, matching points where White and Hazel sections meet.

      Join side edges on each leg piece, leaving base edge open, then use tweezers to stuff firmly. Join seam on each foot piece, leaving front edge open, then use tweezers to stuff firmly. With seam at centre on underside, fold front edge of foot flat and join, then sew a toe piece to front of each foot. Now position and sew base edge of each leg to a foot, placing at back of foot. Pin legs on body, placing centre of leg on top of body side seam, then sew securely in position, attaching between last increase and first decrease rows on body.

      With each arm piece, fold front edge of paw in half and join, then join arm seam, stopping at underarm. Use tweezers to stuff paws firmly and arms lightly, then sew a finger piece to front of each paw. Position and sew arms to side of body, placing top edge of arm 2 knitted rows down from neck seam, then, following photograph, bend each arm at elbow and hold in position at this point with a few stitches.

      Join tail seam from gathered tip to body edge, then use tweezers to stuff lightly. Checking that lemur sits correctly, position and sew tail to back of body.

      Sew a lining piece to each ear back along side edges, then fold base edge of lining in half and oversew. Position and sew ears to head with front in line with white section, and spacing 12 knitted stitches apart.

      Join ends of cast on edge on each eye piece, then pin in position on head, spacing 1 knitted stitch apart and placing 2 knitted rows up from Black snout. Take a length of Black yarn and draw out a single strand. Use the remaining 2 strands to sew eyes in place, working backstitch over outside edge, then embroider a tiny French knot in the centre of each eye.

      Finally, use a length of Black yarn to embroider nose with 4 horizontal satin stitches, forming an inverted triangle shape.

      **ALAN DART hereby asserts and gives notice of his right under section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988 to be identified as the author of this pattern.

      Feeling Froggy

      I started the aforementioned Alice Wrist Warmers Knifty Knitter Loom Along with Vickie Howell but the wristwarmers were way too small for Princess Ivi, even when I held one strand together. I debated about knitting them on the loom as a flat panel but I wasn't thrilled with the ends as they had no cuffs.
      Instead, I am making Vickie's regular pattern. Of course, I somehow lost the box of DPNs so I am making them in flat panels. They are black and white striped and I think they will be super cute when they are done. And they have a 2 inch ribbed cuff on one end and a cuff on the top (it is supposed to be 1 3/4 inches but mine are one 1 inch).

      I had some serious knitting frustration going on. I think I frogged more this weekend than I have all year.

      When I was trying to start a project for Pat, mom's boss, I started and frogged five different scarfs before I finally set it aside. I also frogged the wrist warmers. I think my knitting mojo was disrupted by these guys watching me...
      (My mom made these three quilted pillows.)
      I mean, don't get me wrong, they are cute and all but it started to feel like I was being stalked by the jolly travelocity gnome. But once I did this...
      my knitting mojo was back and I was able to complete one Alice Wrist Warmer on size 8 needles made with black and white Jiffy (striped).

      Wednesday, November 18, 2009

      Alice Wrist Warmers Knifty Knitter Loom-Along with Vickie Howell

      Knifty Knitter Loom-Along

      Since I don't have enough to do, I signed up to participate in the Alice Wristwarmers Knifty Knitter Loom Along with Vickie Howell to make Alice's wristwarmers from New Moon. The Knit Along begins on Friday. I am pretty excited. Princess Ivi really likes these.

      Tuesday, November 17, 2009

      Tales from My Boring Life

      I have been MIA for a few which I hate. I am really trying to be here more but some days life seems way too boring to post anything about.

      Knitting:

      I have been knitting like a crazy person. My sister’s project is done. My nephew’s project was started and finished last night (well, except for the crochet parts that my mom will do for me because I can’t crochet). The only worry I have is that it is too short. I have my sister measuring so I guess we will see.

      The wristers for Princess Ivi are knitted and going on the blocking board this weekend.

      I also found some surprise projects for Princess Ivi that I am working on. Her projects will help since she has asked for three things this year: a laptop (which isn’t going to happen), a digital
      camera (which will happen so I can get my camera back) and an Ipod Nano. Considering the fact that the camera and ipod are over $300, I need all the help I can get with smaller, less expensive gifts. I sort of miss the days when she was content with a Barbie. Or when she was really little and she was content with the box the Barbie came in. What is up with babies and their love of boxes?

      I still have a lot to do though. I have to make a hat for Mom’s boss/landlord. I am scared of this because lately it seems that every time I make a hat, it is way too short even though I follow the pattern. I am looking for a basic watch cap pattern that is long enough. Hopefully, I will find it soon.

      I also need to knit something for Pat Mom’s female boss/landlord. I am going to make it out of the yarn she gave me last year for Christmas but I can’t decide if it will be a scarf, a hat or some type of headband/ear warmer thing. All I know is the pattern can’t be too busy or it gets lost in the texture of the yarn.

      Of course, I still need to knit for the nephews and niece as well. I am thinking of making a knitted owl (like Wise Owl) for Emi, a spider (think Aragog) for Will, and a golden snitch for Jake and then giving the three of them at least the first two Harry Potter movies.

      Oops, almost forgot about the project for my brother-in-law. Hmm. I guess I have a lot of knitting to do.

      Speaking of knitting, I just looked at the new Twist Collective. All I can say is “must finish Christmas knitting before anything else” all while thinking “yummy...ooh, I want that...I have to make that.” This is why I have so many projects on the needles at once.

      To all my fellow drivers, I am not insane. Really. I just like to sing along really loud to the radio.

      Yesterday I went to the post office and came across a station playing nothing but Christmas music. Now, I am a firm believer that Christmas music should not be played until after Thanksgiving so I would normally steer clear of listening to this station right now. But I was in my car and I had to make a turn so I stopped scanning for other stations and before I knew it, I was driving back to the office belting out lines of Frosty the Snowman.

      Busy Week

      This week is fairly busy at work which is good. Wednesday night is The Girls’ Night Out when a bunch of us legal assistant/paralegal/secretaries get together with a court reporter (my boss’ wife) and visit and have a few drinks. It is nice to be able to do that. We just have to be careful not to get on the subject of attorney bashing or we could be there all night.

      On Thursday, Princess Ivi is being evaluated by a child psychiatrist. There is some concern about bipolar or some other mood disorder along with a serious case of OCD and a possible clinical depression. I have been working on filling out the paperwork they sent me. The questions are crazy: When did the baby start speaking in full sentences? This is hard for me because it seems like she has always done this. I am glad that they gave me a few days to work on it before the appointment.

      On Friday, Princess Ivi has a field trip to St. Augustine. She wants me to go. I have to check with the school board and make sure that they completed my background check first but I think I am going to go. Apparently all of her friends want to meet me because I sound so “cool”. Of course, I have this fear that I will be the kind of chaperone my mom was and repeat the time she lost a kid in the Boston Museum of Science.

      Thanksgiving

      I can’t believe it is next week. I am going to leave work on Wednesday and go pick up my brother’s kids and take them to the house for the weekend. Then Dan, my brother, will be forced to come at a decent time. See my evil plan?

      I have to be honest and tell you that I have been looking forward to turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy for months.

      Concert

      Part of Princess Ivi’s Christmas present is a concert on November 30. I am taking half a day off since she has a 3:30 doctor’s appointment. Then we will go home and get ready to go see...wait for it...wait for it...Daughtry with Cavo and Theory of a Deadman. I am excited and I know Princess Ivi is very excited. Personally, I just want to be able to drool over Chris Daughtry but I think she is actually excited about the music. Huh?

      So that is a pretty basic update on what is going on. Until later.

      10 on Tuesday: 10 Things You Wish You Knew How to Do

      1. Play a musical instrument like the piano or guitar. I tried to learn to play the flute but I disagreed with my music teacher/band instructor on whether my fingers were straight and placed in the right spot. If I recall correctly, I told him where he could place my flute. (Dude, I am sorry about that. I blame it on the pre-teen hormones.)
      2. Make real social change like ending poverty, waging peace, or stopping domestic violence.
      3. Fly-because visiting my sister in Massachusetts would be so much easier and cheaper too.
      4. Spin my own yarn. It is on my list to do but I keep putting it off.
      5. Speak a foreign language fluently.
      6. Draw. I can do a pretty mean stick figure but that is the extent of my artistic ability.
      7. Dance. Like ballroom dancing. Of course, I am probably the least graceful person and the most accident-prone person so I would most likely look ridiculous.
      8. Find the time to finish writing the two (2) books I have in draft.
      9. Knit like Mrs. Weasley. I could get so much of my Christmas knitting done if I could just figure out how to cast a charm on my needles to whip up that hat for Barry, scarf for Pat....
      10. Shut my brain off enough to actually get something out of meditating.

      Monday, November 9, 2009

      Five for Fighting CD giveaway on Mommatudes.

      Mommatudes is giving away an autographed copy of Five for Fighting's new CD, Slice. Check it out here.

      I adore Five for Fighting. John Ondrasik has an amazing voice and is an exceptional pianist.

      Be sure to check out the giveaway and the new CD.