Saturday, December 24, 2011

With a little help from my friends

A few years ago, Andrew and I figured out how to juggle the holidays so that neither of our families felt jilted. We would follow German tradition and do the bulk of our celebrating on Christmas eve, have breakfast (*coughbrunchcough*), and open our gifts in a leisurely manner.


In the afternoon, Andrew and I would mosey over to his family celebration and have Christmas dinner with them. It was such a simple and elegant solution; I felt like a genius for working it out.

Christmas eve dinner is always crab, and we invite our closest friends to join us. It's the BEST. Sure, it requires some planning, but it's totally worth it.

This year, I couldn't do most of the things I normally do to plan. Andrew has been running around like Buddy the Elf, trying to get everything done, and I'm directing via lists from the couch. The tree isn't up this year because there just wasn't time. But Christmas isn't about the tree.

We made our list this morning, and we went through the timeline for the day to make sure that (a) dinner went on as scheduled and (b) I didn't "overdo it" (Andrew's words). As the guests arrived, I was told to sit and direct; so I did.

Laura (the Joy of Cooking Fairy) took care of the crab, Andrew roasted a chicken (for my father, who is not a fan of shellfish), Bromantic Brandon picked up ice for the drinks, Mom did dishes, Snackary lined the table in paper, and MacGuyver Colleen cracked the eggs for the homemade egg nog. Our one-butt kitchen was a-bustling with activity.

(Side note: The egg nog recipe from The Joy of Cooking is AMAZING.)

It was a team effort, and that's really the message of the holidays, right? Nobody was stuck cooking all by themselves, or cleaning up solo. The Holiday CheerTM was abundant, the food was delicious, and we had enough egg nog to share with our neighbors.

The evening wouldn't have been the same without the company of our family and closest friends; it wouldn't have be do-able without them either. That's the sign of real friendship; everyone seems to come together when times are tough, and when times are good, we all just bask in the goodness.

I'm a little sappy about it, but this is my first year needing help, and for this type-A, control-freak, it is incredibly reassuring to know that - believe it or not - I don't have to do everything.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Slipped deadlines

There are 9 days left until 2012. It appears that I will not be finishing Andrew's sweater before the ball drops. I can't even begin to tell you how disappointed I am that I won't be meeting this goal.

Andrew understands; I can't knit with swollen hands, with my feet up and my torso reclined, *or* through the hormone-related joint pain. Still, his sweater sits on a TV tray next to the couch, with its half-knit sleeves mocking me with how close I got.

If I was a less confident person, I would worry that Andrew took the not-finishing-his-sweater as a sign that I don't love him. Since I'm not, I'm taking a sweater-half-done approach; I'll have to keep him around long enough to finish the sweater, which of course, is a sign that I love him even MORE, right? (I'm glad we're on the same page.)

With any luck, the swelling and joint pain in my hands will subside, and I'll be able to finish it up before SharkBean makes her debut. If not, then Andrew will just have to wait until I get around to finishing it. Let's face it, if a handspun, handknit sweater isn't worth waiting a little longer for, then I don't know what is.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mama's watchin' her stories

As I mentioned in the previous post, part of how I'm spending my time is watching TV. There are some pretty good shows on this season, along with some old favorites.

Most notably, Andrew and I have been watching Grimm, The Walking Dead, and American Horror Story together.

Grimm is new, and it has a distinctly Supernatural vibe to it, with a few major exceptions- namely, no hunky Winchesters. Don't get me wrong; David Giuntoli is cute enough, but he's no Jensen Ackles or Jared Padalecki.

It's more enjoyable if you're (vaguely) familiar with the Grimm fairy tales; less enjoyable if you speak any German. (Mom is frequently annoyed by the mangling of German on the show.)

Shortcomings include that *everyone* seems to know that the main character is a Grimm, who hunts all the fairy-tale bad guys- except that this one doesn't, really. It's been fun watching this show develop.

The Walking Dead is (now) filming the third season (I think), but the second season? Fantastic. So much character development! The writing is so good that they've completely changed my opinion on a number of characters. Just don't watch it at night if you're like me; I have the most horrific zombie nightmares if I watch this one too late at night. (But seriously, it's sooooo good.)

I'm a little torn on American Horror Story. It's dark. It's ultra-violent. They don't give away too much of the story too quickly. It's created by the same guys who created Glee. (Andrew didn't believe that last bit when I first told him, by the way.)

I'm not into the violence- particularly the prevalence of graphic violence against women (and feminized characters) on the show, but mostly, I'm really skeeved by the idea that the house *itself* is a creepy character. Not being safe in your own home is a great horror trope, but it makes you jump at small, benign noises after watching it.

We watch this show week after week, and I'm still not certain that I like it. I'm partly worried that it will take a LOST turn, and I'll feel cheated out of the time I've spent watching. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Some R & R

Last week, I was put on modified bed rest. I won't go into details because - frankly speaking - this whole pregnancy business can be pretty gross extremely magical. What this really means is I'm spending a lot of time on the couch with my feet elevated.

I've been doing some reading, and I've been watching some TV. The reading has been productive, the TV watching... not so much.

I just finished reading The Rookie Mom's Handbook, which I enjoyed enough that I thought it would be worth blogging about. I borrowed it from the library (and I'm returning it tomorrow), so nobody sent me a comp copy for review. I just thought I'd share books that I liked, since there have been quite a few that were ... not as good.

Cover picture shamelessly stolen from

What I liked: 

- The book is very positive, and it takes into account that you might not have your pre-partum body back 15 minutes after being discharged from the hospital. 
- Some of the suggestions were very creative, and I hadn't considered before. Also, they sounded very fun.
- At least *3* of the activities required yarn. I wholly approve.

What I didn't like:

- A lot of the suggestions include going to a mall, shopping, or other consumer-centered activities. Take this with a grain of salt: On a good day, I hate the mall.

Overall, I'd recommend this book, especially if you're worried about being short on ideas on how to maintain your identity post-partum.

Me? I'll be here on the couch, reading and catching up on my stories.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Jasmin 2012

I can't believe it's mid-December and I haven't talked about Jasmin 2012 yet.

The theme for Jasmin 2012 this year is "balance". (Special thanks to AmyDe for the suggestion, I couldn't think of a single idea for 2012 aside from "apocalypse". Balance is better.)

I like "balance" as a theme because with SharkBean getting ready to make her debut, I have zero idea what the rest of my life is going to look like with her in it. But let's take it one year at a time for now, shall we?

Balance is tough for me, so it's going to be a challenge sticking to it. I used to be all go-go-GO! all the time, but what I have already learned from SharkBean is that is just not going to work. (Now I'm just "Go! Nap!")

Everything will not always be the way I want it to be, when I want it to be done (because I just *can't* do it all anymore), but that's okay. I can (and will) rely on the people who offer to help, and - the "balance" part - not get my giant knickers in a twist when it's not done 100% the way I would have done it. I have a feeling that when SharkBean is a more vocal member of our household, this will be especially important.

[This is where I give Andrew lots of credit for pulling a double-shift- working full time and doing the lion's share of the housework when he gets home.]

For now, I'm going to be okay with doing what I can and coping with the rest. Even if it *does* look like our bedroom threw up all over the house. (We're still moving back in to the bedroom, and the Grownup FurnitureTM is AMAZING, even if I have to take a running leap to get into bed.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lighting the way

The fact that we will be parents in under 2 months is starting to sink in. Proof?

Add caption

We have nightlights all over the house now. (Specifically, these ones.) It makes our house feel more like a home, which is strange, because it's never *not* felt like home.

Until this last weekend, I had forgotten how amazing night lights are. Having night lights all over means:

- I no longer have to do a shuffle step when I get up in the middle of the night to avoid stepping on either of the dogs.

- I can get a midnight snack without searing my retinas with overhead lights.

- Personal injuries (toe stubbings, knee bangings) have been greatly reduced, not just by my graceful self, either. 

- The gentle lighting is always flattering. (If for no other reason, go with this one.)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cashmere is not a carcinogen

Knitting and spinning aren't happening too much for me much these days. Thank *goodness* I have the Cricket loom!

Some manly gingham, in Jade Sapphire 2-ply cashmere.

I started this scarf a while ago, shortly after I finished my Five Projects and for some reason, it never got finished. I had a frustrating week because, let's face it, if I can't play with yarn, I'm pretty awful less delightful to spend time with. It's like being around a smoker who can't get out to get a cigarette, if you've ever been around one.

[Once upon a time, I was knitting at a Starbucks, and I was accosted approached by a woman who used to knit when she was in college, and after she was done talking at to me at the speed of light, she declared that if she didn't have a cigarette RIGHT NOW she was liable to choke me.]

While smoking and knitting *can* alienate some people, wool isn't a carcinogen, so just pass me my knitting and I'll stop twitching.

I'm also getting larger. We're at 33 weeks (and change), and sitting at the table is becoming a bit ... iffy. The Cricket is great, because you can weave anywhere without a huge space (or seating) commitment for a loom. It's also not a million dollars.

[Side note: I wish LYSes would do a trade-up deal with Crickets; learn on a Cricket, trade it up for a Flip if when you decide that weaving is TOTALLY AWESOME. Truth be told, you'll have to pry my Cricket from my cold, dead hands, regardless of the presence of any other looms in the house.]

It's amazing how inspiring making fabric is; I have SO many ideas about things I want to weave, and things I want to learn how to do. Yesterday, I also BRIEFLY considered doing a whole whack of weaving for Christmas. Which is 14 days away. Fortunately, I came to my senses quickly, and didn't share this particular bit of crazy with Mom.

For now, I'm going to finish this scarf. Because the next project beckons.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Two dog night

I mentioned in an earlier post that Andrew painted in anticipation of our Grownup FurnitureTM. Part of painting included dismantling our very well-loved bed, and sleeping in our guest room.

When we bought the bed for the guest room, I *insisted* (all those years ago) that we spend a little extra and buy a queen-sized bed. I hated people who would invite couples to stay over, only to have them (us) on a twin bed; either we'd have to squish, or rock-paper-scissors for the bed. Even if Andrew *had* ever won, his feet would have dangled over the edge. I vowed to never be that hostess.

The salesman, when we splurged on a high-end mattress for the guest room, asked us were we really, really sure? Considering that our guests sleep soundly, Mom recovered from cardiac surgery, and one of us sleeps on it when the other is sick, yeah. I have never regretted this decision, except when I end up on a subpar mattress when traveling. My own fault, really.

We sleep on a California King bed, normally. There's enough room for my beloved but oversized Andrew, myself, two dogs, and the Snoogle. (The Snoogle is the best invention, ever, by the way. I have to wrestle both dogs *and* Andrew for it. Every night.) The dogs come and go as they please, and usually it's one dog or the other on the bed- unless it's REALLY cold outside. You know, like 40 degrees.

(For the record, the house never gets below 60ºF/15.5ºC. My dogs are both double-coated Chow mixes, and they're indoor/outdoor dogs. Who don't like the cold. It gives entirely new meaning to a two dog night.)

What I have observed in the last few nights is the following:

The smaller the bed, the more creatures want to be in it at the same time. Proof:

Andrew took this picture when I was sleeping, sick on the couch. Charming man.

I'm just lucky that we're not all sleeping on a twin. If the theorem holds, we'd have to share it with an opossum. Or something.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A holiday plea

Dear Readers;

This holiday season, please, stop killing yourselves. If you need an excuse, please please PLEASE, make it your gift to me. Stephanie is knitting mittens for an army, Alison always expresses her love in stitches, and I know that more than a few of you reading are scrambling to find a way to get all of those gifts knit, crocheted, woven, or sewn.

I know you want your loved ones to feel loved. Believe it or not, your loved ones want you to be happy, too. (And if they don't, they should.) Knitting yourself into a repetitive stress injury- or madness - is not in the Holiday SpiritTM. Trust me. We have 19 days until Christmas, 16 days until Yule, and 14 days until the first day of Hanukkah. Time is a'tickin'.

Some suggestions from me, the Grinchiest Elf on the block:

- Everyone buys stuff there, and a $25 gift certificate is usually more well-received than a gift made with love. Also, it's near impossible for me to make something for *less* than $25.

- Bake, and use butter. A few extra pounds will also keep your loved ones warm! BONUS: You can finally justify buying a bucket of butter, like this one:

Why yes, that IS 5 lbs of butter. And this year it WILL BE MINE!

Enlist the young people in the family- they'll enjoy it and not realize that they're participating in a whitewashing-the-fence-type scam. Chase it with a brisk walk after dinner, and admire the decor on the homes in your neighborhood. We have a set of neighbors who never cease to amaze me with how much Holiday SpiritTM they have. Especially after a few mugs of Glühwein. (Our family gets into Holiday Spirits a whole different way, if you get my meaning.)

- Put together s'mores kits (scroll down, totally worth it), but make the marshmallows from scratch, and use the Smitten Kitchen recipe. Andrew and I were asked to recall a favorite memory in birth class last week, and it's remarkable how much we enjoy something as simple as making s'mores in the backyard with friends.

Remember what the intention of the holiday season is really about. I was in the car with LittleJ last week, and, as usual, I asked her how she would feel about our gift to them (the kids) being baking and decorating gingerbread men. Also, doing it earlier than Christmas, since my mobility is getting more and more limited as the Countdown to SharkBean looms nearer and nearer.

[Side note: The "kids"? Only three are under 18 at this point. When did they get so OLD?]

LittleJ, at 16, pointed out that it's not about *when* we do the baking. It's about the doing the baking. We could all take a page out of her book.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Operation Home Beautification

Andrew has gotten the nesting bug something fierce. He's had it since August, when we were listening to the PregTASTIC podcast on the way up to Uncle Andy's memorial. One of the contributors on the show mentioned that their baby was imminently due, and - GASP!- they hadn't finished the nursery yet. Even though I was only four-ish months pregnant at the time, Andrew shared the panic.

A month or so ago, Andrew, GingerMan, Bromantic Brandon, and KidBrother Sam painted SharkBean's room, the hallway, and the entryway (the areas in the house where we didn't need to move furniture). Shortly after that, her furniture showed up, and what used to be Andrew's office started to really start looking like a bedroom.

We'd find ourselves randomly in SharkBean's room, just admiring the sand-colored walls and the smell of new maple furniture. There was envy, and envy smells like old IKEA dressers.

Fortunately, Andrew and I had picked out some Real Grownup FurnitureTM, which happened to go on sale at EXACTLY the right time. Andrew ordered the furniture, and we got started on packing up the bedroom. And by "we", I mean, Andrew packed and did the heavy lifting, and I directed. Because that's where we are at this point.

As I blog, Andrew is painting our bedroom, which looks much larger when none of our furniture is in it. By next weekend, we'll (hopefully) be moved back into our bedroom, but with our fancy new furniture. Possibly with new lighting.

For now, I'll be sitting on the couch with my feet up, knitting. Because somebody needs to.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Orangutans and Canadian Geese

Knitting a sweater for a giant man is fast work. Did you all just faint?

Let me backtrack.

If you recall, I'm knitting Andrew the Baseball Jersey from Knits Men Want, out of my handspun.

Photo from the book, by Jared Flood. Because I'm knitting mine SO FAST that it would be a blurry shot.

I cast this on last Tuesday (11/08) right before our birthing class, literally, the INSTANT that one of the skeins of yarn was dry. (The rest were still damp, in case you were curious.) I was so stressed that my deadline would slip excited that I haven't taken a single picture of the finished skeins. Of which there is only a little left from the first batch at this point.

(Side note: I don't think I'll need any of the extra 9 oz that I spun for the body. I'll likely need all of the sleeve color, plus the extra 6 oz that I spun, since Andrew is an orangutan. A lovable, supportive, orangutan who helps me put on my shoes. But seriously, the man has a 75" wingspan. That's the same as a Canadian Goose, in case you were curious. I googled it.)

In three hours of class, I managed to knit all three inches of the ribbing. For Andrew. Who has a 48" chest. There was a lot of self-high-fiving in the car on our way home.

I even had him try it on- using the incredibly clever Try-it-On Tubing that I got as a gift last week. I don't know why, but I was surprised that it fit the way it's supposed to. I swatched. I did math. But on 24" circular needles, nothing looks big enough to circumnavigate my redwood of a husband.

I was pleasantly surprised; Andrew was not. Apparently, my being an AMAZING knitter is no longer a surprise to him. That's what being together for 10 years will get you, I suppose.

In one week, I've knit all 18" of the body, which is the "divide for the armholes" part. I think this is partly due to the fact that I'm working with handspun- which we all know is the most satisfying thing to knit with, ever- and partly because knitting a giant tube of stockinette stitch is possibly the most compelling knitting in the world right now.

Maybe not the most compelling, but definitely the most satisfying. My brain is itching to knit a lace shawl- or maybe finish one that I've already started - but there is something really great about being able to just grab something and knit and knit and knit.

It doesn't hurt that no matter how exhausted I am, I still have enough brainpower to work on this sweater. Tomorrow I divide for the front and back and do the armhole decreases.

Let's just hope I don't get caught up on the sleeves. 45 days until 2012!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Selective Memory

Me: Do you ever remember a time when we were growing up when you weren't exhausted?
Mom: [Uncomfortably long pause] ... That's not the part I remember.
Me: Is that because you were too sleep deprived to remember?

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Andrew: What makes Kosher salt Kosher?
Mom (simultaneously): How it's slaughtered.
Me (simultaneously): They say a prayer over it.
Andrew: [Pause] You two are seriously unhelpful.
Mom & Me: [Hysterical laughter]

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jasmin 1997

My Mom has a friend named Mary Ellen, and when Mom tells people about Mary Ellen, the first thing she says is "Mary Ellen always has something nice to say about everyone."

Impressive, right? Also, it really speaks to her character. Having been raised with stories of Mom's time in Boston (where she and Mary Ellen met and became friends), it worked it's way into my developing brain.

When I was in high school, I started actively saying nice things. (We could refer to this as "Jasmin 1997".) Not insincerely, but when I looked at someone and thought "Wow, X looks good in that shirt" or "Hot damn, that's a great haircut", instead of keeping it in, I would tell them.

Some people thought it was strange. Some people were put off by the bluntness, since my intention was really only to say the nice thing and move on with my day. Especially on the high school scene, where you have the Mean Girl/Queen Bee phenomena, and cutting someone down is more fun (or more empowering) than saying something that would potentially lift them up.

At some point, I stopped. I don't know if it was hormones, or classic teen angst, but I just ... stopped. For a long time. I would occasionally pay a compliment to someone I knew, but strangers? Not so much.

I was at a store the other day, and the girl at the counter had the best dye job I've seen in ages- and I knew it was a dye job the same way that most people knew that my hair wasn't naturally hot pink. So I told her.

After the shock of a Random Compliment wore off, she felt really good, too. Like, spring-in-her-step, tossing-her-hair good.

You know what? It felt really good to say it. Maybe it's time for Jasmin 1997 to make a comeback.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Excitement Stew

A dish of Excitement Stew for your Sunday brunch:

- The new Michael Bublé Christmas album. I got it in the mail a few days ago and *almost* broke the "no Christmas music before Black Friday" rule. Almost. (You can bet that this will be what we listen to on Black Friday when Mom and I go to the Pajama Jammie Jam at Purlescence at o'dark hundred.)

- New furniture. My IKEA dressers are giving up the ghost after seven years of hard use. Andrew might have fixed them once or ten times already before declaring them "done".

Andrew and I found furniture made out of REAL wood, made in Eugene, OR. Since I want to retire there, I'm excited to be supporting their economy. It's due to arrive at the beginning of December, so we're emptying out the bedroom, painting and having lights (and a dimmer switch!) installed in the meantime. Real wood furniture? Smells amazing.

- SharkBean. She's due to arrive in 10-14 weeks. She has already met Galina and Lily Chin. She's got a wooly future ahead of her, but for now, she seems content doing barrel rolls every time I sit down. Maybe she'll be a knitting and spinning pilot. Or a Cirque du Soleil tumbler.

In any case, that clock is ticking down at what feels like breakneck speed. I can't wait to meet this strange little person I've been growing.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Snipe hunt

One of the perks of living so close to my parents is that we have the same mailman. Ron the Mailman has been delivering the mail in our area for over 20 years, which is kind of awesome. He has watched the families grow and change, and in our case, grow up and start our own family. He has also heard me caterwauling singing in the shower, and thinks I'm pretty good.

Mailman Ron and I have a special relationship. He will tuck large packages behind our gate and leave a note in the box (when we get them), if something needs a signature, he'll take it to my parents' house and have them sign for it instead of making me find time to head over to the post office for a pickup. Let's suffice it to say that Mailman Ron always has my back.

I always know when we have a substitute mail carrier. Mostly because they are terrible, slow, misdeliver a LOT of mail, and most of all - they aren't Mailman Ron.

Mailman Ron is married to a lapsed weaver. He thinks all of my "wool mail" is hilarious because, let's face it, if it's not actually yarn or roving, it's books/needles/notions for my knitting. He doesn't really get why I spend all this time knitting and spinning when I could be *weaving*. He was over the moon when I told him earlier this year that I was officially a weaver.

Fast forward to yesterday. Andrew and I have been getting bids on how much it's going to cost to install some desperately needed cabinets in our garage. (Remember Project Workspace?) While one of the sales folks was figuring out our estimate, Mailman Ron walked up us sitting in the open garage. The garage that was positively GAPING, exposing the neighborhood to All of Our Things. It's tidy, so I don't feel too bad about it, but I felt a little naked. If that makes any sense.

(Let's face it, there are *much* worse things we could store in our garage. Use your imagination.)

Two of the looms (the table loom and the Gilmore X-frame loom) live in the garage right now, and are on the garage door side- clearly visible when the door is open. Apparently, Mailman Ron's wife had a mystery loom in their attic, and he had been searching for the missing parts. (He had been hunting for legs. For a table loom.)

After a quick peek at the two looms, and a short conversation, his mystery was solved. I'm not going to tell you how long he's been looking for the missing legs on that loom.

Long enough that it will be a while before that's a funny story for them, that's for sure.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Failing already

I have never been comfortable with failure. From what I have gathered (from anecdotal evidence, of course), motherhood is basically a never ending series of failures and guilt. Starting from conception.

Let me back up. When we first found out that SharkBean was on the way, I had already started reading "What to Expect When You're Expecting, 4th Edition", which is like *the* book to read, or so I've heard.

While it's incredibly helpful about pointing out What Could Go Wrong When You're Expecting, it felt more like What You're ALREADY Doing Wrong to Completely Fail Your Child. Or maybe that's my interpretation- since I read what *could* go wrong, and I tend to jump to "that WILL go wrong". That might be my personal brand of crazy, though.

I read "What to Expect" in short bursts, get well ahead of where I am, and put it down in favor of something else. Since we started Bradley classes this week, I thought I would get a jump on class by reading "Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way". I know. I'm a nerd, the sky is blue, grass is green, and all three statements are obvious. (Who else shows up to a birthing class having read the book already?! This gal.)

I got to the nutrition section, and I got hammered with Mommy Guilt. I eat a balanced diet, but I could stand to eat more leafy greens. We all could. (Except Mom. She gets a pass on excessive leafy greens. See: Vitamin K and cardiac patients.)

Since I like to share all of my crazy with her, she is lucky enough to be subjected to my Freakout of the Day(tm). She usually thinks it's funny. Today she pointed out that - while she ate nutritious food - she didn't really count servings of leafy greens or protein. "... and look at how well you and your brother turned out!"

I'll admit, it made me feel better.

Other things that I have felt like I was already failing SharkBean at:

- Talking to her. I don't, other than to say things like, "SERIOUSLY?! Could you ease up on using your elbows?!"
- Singing to her. This kid has gotten an eclectic mix of whatever I'm in the mood to listen to. Including stuff that holds an "R" rating.
- Finishing her sweaters. I can just hear her little voice now, "My mom is a process knitter."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tiny cows, jellyfish, and tradition

Halloween is my favorite holiday. Our family actually has almost as many Halloween traditions as we do for Christmas.

Historically, we have decided by August what we're going to be for Halloween. This hearkens back to when we were little and Mom wanted *plenty* of time to sew our costumes, and that never really changed. Until this year.

Somehow, Halloween fell to the background this year. When Andrew's eldest sister invited us for a Halloween party last Friday, I *scrambled* to figure out what on earth we could go as. All of my costume pieces are fitted and I am... a completely different shape.

What to do? I ran a couple of ideas past Andrew, and we landed on Priest (for him) and pregnant nun (me). Off I went to the Halloween costume store, in search of a habit.

I must share that I've never bought a costume before. I have bought components, but they were always Real Clothes. For example, a few years ago I bought my sailor costume from the Army/Navy surplus store. A beautiful, wool, sailor's uniform. I also wore the living daylights out of the pants afterwards. Real Clothes.

The Halloween costume store stinks. It smells like off-gassing plastic and poor decisions. But, with a day left to the event and I was badly in need of a nap, I marched myself through aisles and aisles and aisles of "sexy" costumes. I had started to lose hope that there would be ANYTHING to cover my bulbous midriff when I saw... The Sexy Nun costume.

Seriously? A Sexy Nun? Fortunately, they had her more conservative counterpart- just a Nun costume - right next to her. I grabbed it like it was hot and got in line.

Funny thing- the guy behind me was going as Jesus, and hit on me ALL the way until he realized that I was pregnant- which was when I waddled to the register. I've totally still got "it".

I brought it home, and it lived in the bag for a day. When we unwrapped it, even Andrew gasped at how strong the offgassing fumes were. (Andrew looked positively delicious in his priest outfit, for the record. Gabriel Byrne, Colin Hanks, and Joaquin Phoenix have got NOTHING on him.)

Sunday, Andrew and I hit the pumpkin patch because we had plans to carve a pumpkin.

For the record, SharkBean is the size of a $3 pumpkin.

The pumpkin patch lady was so charmed by my competing pumpkin photo, that she insisted we get a family photo:

My pumpkin brings all the boys to the patch. Oh yeah.
Sunday night, we fired up Hocus Pocus (which is my favorite Halloween movie ever, right next to The Halloween That Almost Wasn't) and got to carving pumpkins.

I love silly pumpkins. Andrew and I teamed up and came up with this:

Andrew did the left side, I did the right side.
Mom's was a more classic jack'o'lantern. But she's a classic gal, so it fits.

Ours, left. Mom's, right.

So, fast forward to last night. We're THAT house. You know, the house with the full-sized candy bars. I have a feeling that so long as I am married to Andrew, we will always be That House. It's not a bad thing.

Early on in the evening, we had some small kids at the door, but their littlest sister (dressed as the world's tiniest and most adorable cow) didn't come to the door. You see, the Tiny Cow was a babe-in-arms. I walked out to the edge of the stoop and asked if the Tiny Cow would like any candy.

I know trick-or-treating can be an iffy proposition with tiny people, so I didn't want to chase them down the street, but apparently, one of the neighbors was outright NASTY to the Tiny Cow. She refused to give her any candy. Where exactly is the holiday spirit in that? Every house has X amount of candy; I understand that Halloween is a first-come-first-serve situation. And it's not like she was a no-costume teenager.

(For the record, I overheard the Tiny Cow's older siblings exclaiming how we were SO MUCH NICER than those OTHER people.)

We had a parade of zombies, ninjas, and princesses. Best costume of the night went to a young man whose costume was a jellyfish. It was positively stunning. KidBrother Sam (who had arrived by this point) declared it the best costume of the night (he was right) and awarded the young jellyfish *two* full sized candy bars for his efforts.

KidBrother Sam also pulled out his phone to take a picture, to which I stopped him and said, "You can't take pictures of people's *children*!"

Sam turned to Jellyfish and asked how old he was.

"Old enough," answered the Jellyfish, causing all of us to laugh hysterically.

(Given that answer, I'm pretty sure that the Jellyfish was at least 30 years old.)

Oh, and for the record? We've already decided on what our costumes (including SharkBean's) will be next year. You can never start planning too early.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Disorganized sounds

SharkBean hasn't even been born yet, and I can just hear my nomination for "worst mother of the year".

Let me explain.

The other night, I heard a thump in the bedroom. This isn't unusual for a couple of reasons- one being that I'm not sleeping as soundly as I used to (YAY! Third trimester!), the other being that the dogs come and go out of our room during the night, and Elphie will none-too-delicately thump her furry self down next to the bed. She is remarkably loud for a 30 pounds-soaking-wet dog.

But this was a *different* thump. It was what I would call a "disorganized sound"- meaning, normally you hear her butt, then her elbows hit the hardwood. Orderly. This was just one, strange thump. One strange thump, I could disregard, despite the fact that my spider senses were a'tinglin'. When I heard a second, and a third, my spider senses were on full alert.

I turned on the light on my nightstand, searing my own retinas, got on the floor (easier said than done, for the record) and saw that Elphie's dewclaw had gotten caught and somehow twisted on her (charming) ear fur. Seriously caught.

I propped her face and paw on my knee, and woke Andrew up, since I knew that if *I* got up and got the scissors, chaos would ensue. (Niki would discover that OMG! Elphie was getting MORE ATTENTION RIGHT NOW!) Also, if you thought sitting on the ground was a production, getting up off of the ground? Not a subtle or simple endeavor.

With surgical speed and precision, Andrew and I separated Elphie's paw from her ear, for which we were rewarded with nose kisses and snuggles (a la The Lion's Paw, remember that book?), all without waking Niki up. Still, the guilt. It PLAGUES me.

(Mom has informed me that Mommy Guilt is the most pervasive kind- she has guilt over things that happened more than twenty years ago. For the record, I've forgiven her for everything *except* the saddle shoes. And mostly forgiven her on those, too.)

Lesson learned: hear a funny noise, get up right away. At least then the guilt isn't "I let this go on for fifteen minutes." Then it's just "MAH POOOR BAYBEEEEEEE!"

Right, Mom?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


This last week, Abby (from the Knit Knit Cafe podcast) came to visit.

Things that got done:

We went to BJ's and had deep fried artichoke hearts (since Mom and I didn't get to go to Rhinebeck this year):

WAY better than at Rhinebeck, in case you were curious.

Abby made challah:

Do you see Venus of Willendorf? Seems apropros at the moment.

Started a new sweater:

The Rocky Coast Cardigan. 1 Million stitch markers optional.
We also saw Anthony Jeselnik live at Rooster T. Feathers. (He was better on the Charlie Sheen Roast, for the record.)

Things that did not get done finished:

Ah, priorities.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dessert first

When last I left you, amazing readers, you were staring at a pot of poison green, turned emerald green wool.

Apple Green Malabrigo, mmmmm!

Apple Green + Blue dye = Emerald green
Remember? Good.

I refused to be deterred by a little thing like the color not being exactly right, and instead took Judith MacKenzie's advice on overdyeing, which is to keep dyeing until you get a color you like. This is what I ended up with:

Yes, they are drying in the back of my car.

Much better. Since the skeins were still damp when we started our adventures yesterday, I set up them up to dry and utilized the back of my hatchback in a way I'm *relatively* certain the manufacturers didn't intend. Added bonus: my car smelled delightfully like wool all day.

Our adventures ended up at Purlescence, where many of our adventures end, and after socializing for a bit, one of the skeins was dry enough to wind and cast on:

This is the most color accurate photo of the yarn. Coastal Knits in the background.

It's not navy, but I LOVE it. I got my sweater started, and I'm not *quite* at the "coasting" portion (get it? COASTING!!!!) of the sweater, but I am enjoying knitting it more than it should really be legal to enjoy knitting anything.

Especially since there are three sweaters waiting in limbo for finishing touches on my dining room table. There's nothing like having dessert first.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dyeing to start

This week we reviewed a PHENOMENAL book on the podcast- it's Coastal Knits by Alana Dakos and Hannah Fettig. They're both brilliant, and this book is - as the kids say - 100% full of win. It took real restraint for me to actually sit and record with Mom instead of just go stashdiving and start half a dozen new sweaters.

Seriously. I love all the sweaters in this book. Instead of pulling yarn for all the sweaters, I decided to start with ONE (restraint! Self-control!)- the Rocky Coast Cardigan:

Picture shamelessly stolen from Alana's blog.

There are so many things I love about this sweater- mostly that it's an open-front, drapey cardigan that I can wear regardless of how big the bump gets. It will also look great once I've lost all the baby weight and have a six-pack. (A woman can dream!)

One of the (many) great parts of Coastal Knits is that they suggest alternative yarns for each sweater. And for the Rocky Coast cardigan, Malabrigo is a suggested substitute.

I have a robust stash. I could have *sworn* that I had a bag of navy blue Malabrigo in my stash- and I'm rarely wrong about what yarn I do - or don't - have. I checked the stash, and there were other colors, just no navy blue Malabrigo. Boo. (Any bets on the navy blue turning up when I'm 90% done with this sweater?)

I went and fished the poison green (which they call "Apple Green") out of my stash, and to my utter shock and delight, this cardigan calls for *ONLY* four skeins of Malabrigo. I had four skeins, five if you counted the skein that was in a Hugo-in-Progress.

I swatched, because I've never knit Malabrigo at 4 stitches per inch- in CABLES!

Ever-so-gently blocked. Houston, we have gauge!

In the spirit of "making it work" a la Project Runway (CAUTION: noisy site), which we're FINALLY current on, guess who has two thumbs and still had 4 (or 5, if you count the one skein in my half-knit Hugo monster) skeins of poison green Malabrigo leftover from her Twist cardigan, and a dyepot? This gal.

I have faith in Hannah Fettig, but when it comes to custom colors, an extra skein is always better than trying to match it at the end. So, I ripped out my half-knit monster and told Hugo, "Sorry, this is for the good of the sweater."

I threw all five (neatly tied) skeins in some soapy water to soak, and waited.

I had to wait for Andrew to get home, because my dyeing stuff is all neatly tucked away behind some of the baby stuff we've got- but completely inaccessible to my short and round-in-front self. While he was not thrilled that I was cooking wool (instead of, you know, food), he knows better than to put a dampener on my enthusiasm. Smart man.

(He also made dinner while I was cooking wool.)

I used Mother MacKenzie's miracle dyes, because *somehow* I am completely out of any and all blue Jacquard dyes. I have enough red to dye the Nile, but blue? Nuthin'.

Just blue in the dye bath yielded these results:

Dye bath #1

Not dark enough. Not navy blue, not hunter green, not a nice teal. I decided to let the pot cool overnight, and overdye it the next day.

I got up early yesterday morning and fired up a pot of the Mother MacKenzie's worker blue and a good dose of black. Today? We have a beautiful, albeit damp, hunter green.

Now if only it would hurry up and dry so that I can cast on. Dyeing is not for the impatient.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

99 days

Today, we hit 99 days to SharkBean's due date. At this point, the calendar is getting progressively busier (classes, appointments, and oh yeah, the holidays), and this whole we're-having-a-baby thing? That is getting really real.

I know. You'd think ultrasounds, the elastic-waisted pants, and the merciless kicking would have been what made it "really real", but no. SharkBean's furniture arrived this weekend (crib and dressers), and that's when it got Real.

The crib has been built. We’re calling our AMAZING electrician to install a few lights (and a dimmer switch) this week. She is officially a real person, with a real room, real furniture, and her own dimmer switch.

That's when the crazy kicked in. We're going to be parents. We're going to be 100% responsible for someone else. Everything is going to change, we just don't know how. We just know that everything is going to change.

I vacillate between being really, really excited to meet SharkBean, and being COMPLETELY terrified that we will make All of the Wrong Decisions and we'll end up on Maury Povich. Which I don't watch. (Anymore.)

We haven't been documenting The Bump as diligently as we should, but I mostly blame that on the fact that I tend to sport the Cryptkeeper look on the weekends, unless we have plans. (I'm also usually the one who takes the pictures.)

Picture one, not as the Cryptkeeper:

18 weeks, 1 day. Spike heels worn only for this photo.

A Cryptkeeper Sunday, complete with stylin' headband:
24 weeks, profile

24 weeks, from the front

The other thing I'm finding strange is the kicking. Does kicking mean she likes something, or she *doesn't* like something? USE YOUR WORDS, SHARKBEAN!


I'm supposed to be talking to her, but what do you discuss with a developing baby? I figure she can listen in on conversations I have with the dogs about the importance of being neighborly, discussions I have with Mom about knitting, and all of the peaceful natural birth stories I was reading out loud to Andrew from Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Natural Childbirth. (I hope if nothing else, this last one sticks with her.)

In any case, she has her whole life ahead of her for one-sided lectures. For now, I hope to provide interesting material for her to eavesdrop on.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thought Goulash

I'm still in a wait-and-see-if-your-data-is-fully-recoverable place until Monday. There's nothing I can do about it right now, and my options are somewhat limited if it turns out that the Nice Computer People can't recover all of my stuff. Thus, agonizing over spilled milk (or a disintegrated hard drive) is pointless, n'est-ce pas?


Instead, here's some Thought Goulash for you to chew on:

- I'm reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. I dig it so far. She has uncommonly good sense, and the calm voice she writes with is reassuring. She is like the Elizabeth Zimmermann of natural childbirth. (The knitters will know what I'm talking about.)

- The public library system has made a whole bunch of ebooks available to borrow on the Kindle. I can't tell you how excited this made me. I am reading NOTHING but utter drivel on my Kindle. (I'm finishing the "in Death" series by J.D. Robb, in case you're curious.) No War and Peace for me!

- Egg season has begun! I have gone through 30 eggs in 2 weeks. Chances are good those numbers will rise as the temperature drops. This last week alone, I baked three batches of cookies and a loaf of pumpkin bread, along with the usual egg-using suspects.

- I finally got the dogs licensed. Every time I say (or think) that, I think "Licensed to kill." That's probably not what the City of San Jose has licensed them for. I'm also not letting Elphie convince me to give her the keys to my car. Especially not after she stole half of my salami sandwich yesterday.

- I need to complete the finishing on Logan's sweater. It shouldn't take me longer to sew on the grosgrain ribbon and buttons than it took me knit the whole sweater. Longest journeys, one step, yadda yadda.

Just in time for Sharks season!

- I didn't spin enough for Andrew's sweater. I really liked spinning it the first time, but when you're spinning (roughly) another POUND to get enough yardage, it takes the wind out of your sails as a spinner. Especially when you thought you were done with the spinning and ready to start the knitting. And you only have 84 days left in 2011. And a huge husband. Of the 15 ounces extra I needed to spin, I have about 8 oz left to spin. Not bad, really.

- I'm knitting a tiny sweater for SharkBean. I'm on the finishing part of that one, too, and that's where I'm stalling out. Notice a trend?

You should see this with the ruffle. So cute!

- I've reached the "wear a headband" stage of growing my hair out. And I'm 24 weeks pregnant. Guess whose license needs renewing WITH A NEW PHOTO? According to my math, it should have required renewing LAST YEAR, you know, when I had a great hairdo in an awesome color, and I was in the best shape of my life? The universe will make it so I never have a great driver's license photo. It's a petty complaint, but seriously.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Dear Computer Gods;

If you help me recover all the data from my disintegrating hard drive, I promise to back up my data at least once a week. A lot has happened on my computer since January, which happens to be the last time I backed up my computer. Pretty please?



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Taking initiative

It's Banned Books Week in the United States, and I've been reading blog post after blog post about how pointless, stupid, and oh yeah- how ANTI-AMERICAN it is. You know, if you count the first amendment.

But that's not what this post is about.

When KidBrotherSam and I were growing up, Mom kept tight control over what we watched on television. If it was violent, it was out. If it showed that being disrespectful to parents is okay, it was out. Those are the two main things I remember her censoring for- and I *totally* agree on those choices, but I'm sure there were more. (She also seriously limited how much TV we watched. Something like 3 hours total per week, and only on the weekend.)

Sam and I have always been voracious readers. I don't think it's because we didn't watch TV; I think it's because our parents were readers. What my mother never censored was our reading material. In hindsight, I remember Mom reading some of the stuff we read, and as an adult I can recognize that if Mom thought a book might have objectionable content, she would read it, too. (She never let on that was *why* she was reading our books. And we never questioned it.) Afterward, we would talk about it.

It wasn't a "This isn't appropriate for a child your age" conversation; she was always taking the temperature of how I had interpreted the objectionable content in books, somehow without obviously leading the discussions. I'm sure I missed a lot of the objectionable material, but the stuff that I picked up on, we talked about.

I have to say, I'm seriously impressed with how Mom parented us. When I was 14 years old, I was reading the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series (before they got all super-smutty), and one of the books centered around snuff films. My Mom, in her SuperMom cape, instead of ripping the book out of my hands and handing me something (perhaps) more age-appropriate, had a calm discussion with me about snuff films.

Stop a moment and think about that last sentence. How many parents could have a calm discussion with their teenage daughter about snuff films? Mom was pretty unflappable as a parent. I don't even remember her making crazy eyes, quickly changing the subject, or having an uncomfortable nervous laugh, ever.

Enough bragging on my mom. The point is, instead of censoring what we read, she made sure that she was informed about what we were reading. She read it herself. She talked to us. (Novel idea, that last one.)

It wasn't until I was in college where Mom actually expressed any negative opinions about *what* I was reading. My senior seminar class was on Virginia Woolf and Toni Morrison. In case you're curious, filicide is where Mom draws the line. Not only did Mom not read any of the Morrison books, she also *did not* want to discuss any of it.

She never said, "Don't read it" or "Don't take the class", she basically said, "I just *can't* talk about this with you." I don't blame her; it was a seriously dark semester. By then, I was a GrownUp (sort of), and my choices in reading material were my own.

Books aren't dangerous. Sure, they put ideas in people's heads. But if you stay ahead of the curve, you can probably keep your kids from inciting a revolution with a few calm conversations.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Smug cometh before the fall

Two weeks ago, I was telling Andrew how much I loved my iPod. It was a 2006, 5th generation video iPod (with a color screen!), it had 80G of memory, and I loved it. I also smugly declared that I had no need or desire to get a new, fancy iPod touch- unless they come out with one that has the same amount of memory as this one. (I have a lot of music. A LOT of music.)

Given that flash memory isn't quite there yet, I had been more than content with my precious iPod. Also, I told Andrew, since I take *exceedingly* good care of my stuff, I wasn't planning on replacing this iPod until the hard drive fails. Verne and I were in agreement on that one. We were smug as could be, and Verne may have thrown in a "Kids these days!" just for good measure.

The very next day, in a feat of spectacular klutziness, I managed to do a *spectacular* job dropping my iPod. I don't think I could have *thrown* it harder than it managed to drop.

No big; I've dropped it before. A few times. When I fired it up the next day, I noticed this:

Doesn't that make you sad just looking at it?

Hm. I could still *mostly* see what I was selecting, but over the next few days the screen got worse. And worse.

Still, Verne and I were intent not to replace this iPod. ("Kids these days", see above.)

With drama worthy of Sarah Bernhardt, I put my hand to my forehead and told Andrew that I would soldier on with a cracked screen.

Andrew, earning his nomination for Husband of the Year, kidnapped my ailing iPod and now, check it out:

Yes, I do have 694 podcasts episodes to listen to.

All better. Apparently, Andrew took my old iPod to go live on a farm**. Probably with LukeWarm, our old oven. Apparently, at the farm, Andrew found this little iPod who happened to need a home. You see, he's an older model, and nobody seemed to want him.

Andrew took him by his sync cable, and let the new iPod know that he'd have a long, happy life with me.

Provided that I don't drop him, that is.

** The "farm" is the Apple Repair/Replacement program, in case you're curious. Or you happened to destroy your screen, too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Beauty is pain

One of my mother's favorite sayings is "Kill me, but make me beautiful". It's a cultural saying, but in an age of waxing, threading, and other painful beauty trends, it has never been more relevant.

My Sothia, fini.

That's how I feel about knitting ruffles. I love how they look. I love wearing them. I love adding a little extra bounce to my step to make them swing when I walk. I also find them utterly painful to knit.

Not literally, of course. It's not like faggoting, which is the natural enemy of my carpal tunnels. It's just... a lot of knitting. Which is a silly, because I'm usually itching to knit something else. Which is technically, THE SAME KNITTING.

But then you look at the ruffle-in-progress, how far you have to go, and if you're me, you feel like Brent Spiner in Independence Day. You might also have done a dramatic re-enactment for your family, shaking the shawl in front of you and rasping out, "Kiiiiiiiiiiiiill meeeeeeeeeee" in the creepiest voice you can muster. So creepy that both dogs decide it's time to leave the room.

So you knit and knit and knit. Then you knit some more. You decide that you will NEVER knit another ruffle EVER again so long as you LIVE.

You knit a baby hat and a baby sweater in the meantime, because sometimes you just need a relationship break from a project, you know? It's me, not you, Sothia. But since it was LOVE with Sothia, once you finished your dalliance with a baby hat and sweater, you come back, refreshed and ready to commit.

And you will commit, wholeheartedly. After what seems like an eternity, you begin the bind-off. You stay up really, really late because all you want in the world is the satisfaction of finishing this project. And also, Kit Kats.

I can feel your ruffle envy.

You double your yarn for the bind-off, because you LOVE how substantial it feels, and then spend the remaining 60% of the bind-off wondering if you have enough yarn to finish. You then decide if you run out of yarn, you're abandoning this project forever. Thankfully, you have enough (and a little leftover, even!) and that particular set of events doesn't transpire.

You go to bed, and the next day, you realize that you have a GORGEOUS shawl. You consider turning up the air conditioning so you can wear it around the house, but instead decide to weave in ends and take pictures of your beauteous shawl.

In my mind, this wrap will make me six feet tall. It's the "V".

You look at the colors, the beautiful ruffle, you feel that rush of accomplishment and pride at a job well done, and you say to yourself, "This wasn't so bad. It was really fun to knit."

"...Maybe I'll knit another one."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Stay-At -Home Survival Guide: A review

I've had some questions about what I've been reading, as far as parenting books are concerned. The first book I read (and liked, nay, LOVED) was the The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide: Field-Tested Strategies for Staying Smart, Sane, and Connected While Caring for Your Kids by Melissa Stanton.

I'm not being paid to review this, Seal Press didn't send me a galley copy, and best of all? I borrowed it from my local library.

Cover, for you to enjoy

While it's true that I'm not a stay-at-home mom *yet*, that's the end goal. I was reading this book, and it was like Melissa Stanton had been following me around when it came to how other people reacted to our choice to have me stay home. True, she was a few years ahead of me (the book came out in 2008), but her powers of pre-cognition are to be commended.

But seriously.

Stanton talks about dealing with the "yes, but what do you DO" question, household finances, and how demanding being a full-time Mom can be. So it's not a parenting-parenting book, per se, but it helps parents. So it totally counts.

It took me a LONG time to figure out that most people don't respect useful life skills that they lack- like raising children, cooking, or knitting. People who don't (or can't) cook from scratch don't appreciate that skill from someone in a home environment. If you measure success and happiness in dollars and cents, any activity that doesn't make money is worthless and a waste of your time.

We know that's not true. Knitters put thousands of hours into projects every year- many of which never get finished. We knit because it brings us pleasure, because it can be challenging, because it is creatively fulfilling. Not because it is profitable- or even has the *potential* to be profitable.

[Did you just fall out of your chair laughing at the idea that hand knitting is - or could be - profitable? I did.]

Back to the book.

It also includes loads of useful advice and strategies on changing relationships (romantic and otherwise), keeping up your self-esteem, and division of labor.

Division of labor isn't really an issue in our house. Given all of the Mommy Memoirs I've been reading, Andrew is really and truly a prince among men. He doesn't expect to be waited on when he gets home from work, and doesn't assume that because I'm staying at home that I've become the maid, the cook, and the household personal assistant. I thought this was normal in a marriage, but I stand corrected. Also, horrified that it's *not* the status quo.

Not only does he contribute to household chores, but he usually also picks some sort of home improvement project every weekend (sometimes something small, sometimes something... bigger). For the record, I also try to defend his leisure time, by making sure he has plans to do something fun.

(Did I just sign my own death warrant by bragging on my husband? Let me balance all his great qualities with the fact that he snores like a buzzsaw and sometimes leaves his shoes in the living room. He also has a taste for handknit socks and wears a size 12 men's shoe. Move on, he's not so great.)

In short,  I really felt like Stanton addressed a lot of the issues that *all* parents have- not JUST stay-at-homes. I handed the book over to Andrew to read and he's finding it useful, too, for managing expectations (mostly). I've been screening the books, and handing over the ones that I particularly like to Andrew to read. (I have more time right now to sift through the chaff. Also, I read faster.)

I think this is a great book for *all* parents. Everyone has a schedule to accommodate, whether or not you work outside the home. I think the real key is that *both* parents need to read this book. (All the books, really, but this is a good place to start.)

The writing is compelling, Stanton has a personable style as a writer. I powered through this book in two days- that's how "readable" it is. Pick up a copy, you'll thank me for it.