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.