Friday, October 31, 2008

ketchup list

I've been in Kentucky with the kids visiting my parents this week. They have DSL, thank heavens, but the computer is in Uncle Joe's room, where Daniel sleeps, so I haven't actually had much opportunity to be online this week. Here's a list to catch up with what's going on:

1. It's my mom's birthday today (All Saints' Day). Give her a big shout out, ya'll! I don't think I've been home for my mom's birthday since I was in high school, so this is special.

2. Yesterday, of course, was Halloween. Daniel dressed up as an orange kitty cat:

Notice the lack of mittens. I loved all those suggestions you guys gave me, but I just didn't have time to make them (I often vastly overestimate what I can do in a given amount of time). It was nearly 70 degrees here yesterday, so it's just as well that I didn't make extra warm felted mittens anyway. I DID, however, whip out that orange hat with kitty ears in one evening.

We went trick-or-treating. My hometown has trick-or-treating in the afternoon at downtown businesses for little kids (though I saw some suspiciously large children there who looked to old and too healthy to be missing school for extra candy from the local bank). I think most of the candy is too cheap and chewy for Daniel to eat, but he did have his first sucker, the classic DumDum. And then, immediately after, his second. And then he asked for one for breakfast this morning (I said No). I'm a little sad we've opened that door, but I guess it had to happen sometime.

3. My dad carved his first jack-o-lantern. His very first, can you believe?

Actually, he carved two. I guess these "firsts" come in pairs.

4. Anya tried to climb up the porch steps. She didn't get too far, but she sure enjoyed the attempt.

5. The other night I was jarred awake by several people having a huge screaming fight right outside. "COME HERE YOU MUTHAFUCKA I AM GONNA FUCK! YOU! UP! BITCH" And so on for at least fifteen minutes. I lay there a little frightened because it sounded like they were practically under my window, and I was nervous that Daniel would wake up (he didn't) and then after a while I wondered if I should call the police. Eventually I heard a car leaving and it was quiet again. The next morning I asked my parents if they'd heard the commotion. "No." (They're pretty sound sleepers, apparently). "Were they yelling obscenities?" my mom asked. "That was probably the next door neighbors," my dad said. "They don't really know how to manage their anger."

Understatement of the year.

6. There is an apple tree in my parents' front yard. It's always been there, but I think it's only been producing real apples for a couple years. They're small - just a couple inches across - and a little marked up, but my mom has been collecting them to make applesauce. The best ones are way up on the tree, far above where anyone can reach, so my dad devised a contraption to knock them down on the ground.

Daniel particularly enjoyed picking up the apples and collecting them in a bowl.

7. I've been practicing for my upcoming recital. Why, do you ask, do I come to Kentucky to practice for a recital in Kansas when I live in Wisconsin? Well, that's just my life: divided between my home in Madison and my family's home in Kentucky and my in-laws and alma mater in Kansas. I can't get much done with the kids underfoot, so I figured I'd take advantage of a week of free babysitting to get in some quality practice time. I'm a little frustrated at my rusty technique, but I am preparing as well as I can.

Friday, October 24, 2008

mitten question

(ETA: After reading Becca's comment, I realized I accidentally published this post to Madtown Mama instead of Mad Knitting, where I'd originally intended! That's what happens when you try to pound out a blog post in 10 minutes while simultaneously nursing a squirmy baby and answering 101 questions from the Danimal. While I didn't mean to bore the muggles with a knitting question, I think this blog has a slightly wider readership, so what the heck, I'll leave it up.)

Daniel has asked for red mittens "jus' like" the ones in one of his favorite books, The Three Kittens. You know, the classic tale of the three little kittens who lost their mittens? In this particular book's illustrations, one of the kittens has red mittens, and they have apparently caught the Danimal's eye. Truly cold weather is soon upon us and he's going to need warm mittens regardless, so of course I want to honor his request! I want to get these mittens done by Halloween; he wants to be a cat for Halloween (he's really excited about wearing a costume, and I haven't even told him about the candy yet!) and I thought it appropriate to dress him up as a kitten with the found mittens. You see?

I'm not much into felting, but I know that felted mittens would be far warmer and more wind and waterproof than non-felted mittens, even if they're knitted at a tight gauge. I checked out Felted Knits from the library and found a pattern for toddler and child-sized felted mittens. Problem is, the pattern calls for DK weight yarn. I've got a bit of red yarn in sport (lighter than DK) and worsted (heavier than DK) and the bit of red yarn in I have in DK weight is superwash, so it won't felt. Do I go with sport yarn, or worsted? Worsted is probably going to be warmer, but it might be so heavy and stiff he won't wear them. Any ideas out there?

NYT editorial

The New York Times just endorsed Obama for president. This editorial says it all, and says it well.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Daniel's first taste of lemon

(That's right. He went back for more.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

4-minute post

The sitter got here early today, and I've got approx. 4 minutes (3.5 now...) of peace and quiet while the kids are with her at the park before I bike out to my students' houses. Hmmm. That's not really enough time to write something meaningful, so how about a few kid pictures from today? I hope you're not tired of these...

All right. Time's up!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

it's the economy, stupid

It seems I'm stuck at the computer now. Anya is suffering from a cold and fell asleep on my lap, which means if I put her down she'll snort and fuss, and since Daniel is also napping (a rarity these days, but her complaining woke him up at 5:30 this morning), I think I finally have the opportunity for a blog post.

We have a meeting this Friday with our financial planner. Yeah, I know. I feel like a fraud every time we see this guy. It feels too grown up for me, since I have never had a job that got me a decent amount of income or respect. I mean, I'm not the one earning the money with which we have to plan. I hate sitting in meetings talking about income when I am not responsible for contributing to ours.But after Anya was born, we realized we had 16 years until Daniel starts college, so we figured we better start saving for that. Then when we met this dude for the first time, he made us get life insurance and talked about retirement investments blah blah blah. It makes my head spin, all of it. If there's one subject I can't wrap my head around, it's finance and economics.

Unfortunately, it seems that's the case for, oh, all the bigwigs in charge of everyone's money and mortgages because the way things are going, every major bank is going to fail in the next year or so. I think there are few people on this planet who truly understand how the economy works (free market zealots don't count) and fewer who have an inkling how to fix it. Hence the pickle we're in.

I don't even really know what this meeting is about. I just know that it's at 11 in the morning and thank goodness our sitter (whom Daniel loves and Anya screams at) can come or we'd have two bored, squirmy children in that little room. The thing about financial planners is that they all feed you the same line: invest as much as you can and wait several years and you'll be fine. The stock market will always bounce back eventually. That's been true for a while, and I suppose we could assume that will be true for us a few decades from now. Like I said, I don't really understand this stuff. But the way things are going, Stu and I are beginning to think we're better off investing in a plot of land on which we can grow food and raise chickens so that we can sustain ourselves when the rest of the free-market world falls to pieces around us.

I know that sounds radical. And we're SO not ready to be homesteaders. I shudder to think what would happen if I were suddenly responsible for all of our vegetables; I've got a couple of healthy-looking chard plants out back, and a rogue vine growing out of the compost pile yielded a squash the size of my big toe, but other than a few basil plants about to keel over, that's my harvest for the season. Not that I tried that hard. Obviously.

Maybe this economic crisis will blow over. Maybe Barack Obama can help set things straight after his inauguration in a few months (I remain eternally hopeful). Or maybe the world's been headed this direction for a good long time and it's just now that everything is crashing down around us. I don't know. But I think we should be prepared either way.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


I'm being held hostage by bedtime. It's no secret that Anya doesn't sleep well. Daniel didn't either as a baby, so I have just come to expect this as a fact of babyhood. It doesn't help when I hear of other babies and toddlers who sleep 12 hours every night and take 3-hour naps every afternoon. It also doesn't help that our house is so small that Anya has to sleep in our room and thus, in our bed for most of the night because we just don't have another place to put her. So all of this means that after I get her to sleep in her crib around 8:00, I've got maybe an hour or, if I'm very lucky, an hour and a half, to get a shower in and read a book or knit or watch a DVD (loving Monarch of the Glen right now) before I have to go to bed with her. Otherwise, she would thrash and fuss and scream and if we just let her "cry it out" she'll wake up Daniel (who sleeps just on the other side of the wall). It's a problem, to be sure.

For at least a week I've been meaning to write about something more interesting and important than this. Something like the economy or the Republican veep nominee. But I just don't have it in me. Besides, I can sum that up pretty quickly. Re: the economy - Oh, shit. Re: Sarah Palin - Oh, please.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

dusting the ivories

My poor piano is suffering from months of neglect. It hasn't been tuned since my in-laws were here over Christmas last year, and I've only had one (count it! one!) real gig since Anya was born. Next month, however, I have a big performance coming up: a 4-hand recital with my teacher from college. I'm excited and honored to share a program with her. It's a big deal for me.

We finally settled on repertoire about a week ago - well, almost. The ball's in my court for choosing a few of the Hungarian Dances (Brahms) to close the first half, but the rest of the program is all set. This means, of course, that it's time to practice. The other morning when the kids both seemed pretty happy playing on the floor, I sat down to run through some scales. Tickling the ivories at last! Or, rather, dusting them. After every few scales I had to stop, sigh, and wipe the film of dust off my fingertips. And of course I only made it about halfway through before Daniel decided to join me. He likes to sit on the bench with me and play. Sometimes he makes requests: "Mom, sing 'Row Row Boat'!" I can't accomplish anything while he's sitting there, but I don't have the heart to make him leave me alone.

Anya's starting to develop an interest as well. How long before they're playing duets together? Or fighting over whose turn it is to practice? Or getting mad at each other for learning each other's music?*

Obviously, finding the time to practice is a challenge. I have nowhere to practice but home, so my only opportunity for serious work is when Stuart is here and can take the kids away to the park or the basement to play. I'm counting on the next several weekends and an upcoming trip to Kentucky at the end of the month to learn most of the music.

This is just the kind of performance I get stoked about. It pays nothing (will I ever make money in my profession?!) but I get to play great music with a musician I've known and respected for a long time. It's a small college in a small town so we're likely to get a pretty good-sized and very appreciative audience (unlike here in Madison where there is so much going on all the time nobody goes to anything.)

Now, I just need to finish dusting off the keys (truthfully, my scales are a tad rusty) and learn the music.

*My younger brother used to do that to me ALL THE TIME. I am older and was therefore supposed to be more advanced in piano lessons, but he would get a hold of my music and learn the first few measures, then play them over and over from memory just to get my goat. My goat was totally got. Now that I'm all grown up, I'm willing to admit he has a better ear than I do.