Friday, January 28, 2011

Fine, I'll Knit the Damn Sock...

This sock-in-progress has been stashed away in a little project bag since last winter. It's my first attempt at fingerling weight socks. As you might have guessed, progress hasn't gone like I had hoped.

Today after pondering what to do with it...finish or frog...I decided to pull it out and rip, rip, rip. Only I had incorrectly remembered just how far I had already knit...6 of the 8 inches at which point I can start the heel.


So even though there are a couple of mistakes really close to the beginning of the cuff, and even though I feel like I will never actually finish a PAIR of these...I can't bring myself to rip it out. And before I allow myself to order yarn for those darn SpillyJane mittens that I can't get out of my head, I've told myself I have to finish at least one project with the fingerling weight yarn that I have already purchased.

So fine...I'll knit the damn socks. And if I'm lucky I might get them done before the end of sock wearing season. And THEN I'm ordering mitten yarn...mark my words!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

THE Board...

This is Lexi and her board...

The board she broke using a side kick Wednesday night in her Tae Kwon Do Class...

The board that she broke in Tae Kwon Do that she will tell you makes her very proud of herself...

And we are so VERY proud of her too!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

DPS Assignment: Catching Up...

Many months ago I came across an online photography forum called Digital Photography School. I think I ended up there when I was looking for more information on white balance. Any who, I signed up for the weekly e-newsletter from DSP and have quite enjoyed the variety of articles written by a host of photographers from all over the world. The forum also poses a weekly challenge...a photo assignment with a theme. After poking around on the discussion boards a bit through December, I decided that with the turn of the calendar maybe I would participate in the weekly assignment if for no other reason than to help me keep shooting even through the winter months when my camera can lay untouched for days (even weeks) at a time.

Last week I submitted my first photo for the theme "Brand New". I had just started knitting the Dashing Mitts for Scott so I chose knitting as my model.

To my COMPLETE surprise, my photo was featured as one of the two runner-ups for the winners of the "Brand New" theme. Funny because I wouldn't consider this one of my better photos for a number of reasons. Even so, I have gotten several nice comments about the photo...and quite a few new contacts on Flickr. Mostly knitters...wouldn't you know. (I should note, you don't actually "win" anything but the recognition. But hey, sometimes a little recognition is nice!)

I decided it might be fun to post the photos I submit for each weekly assignment know, so you can see what crazy ideas are keeping my camera shutter clicking. The current assignment drawing to a close is "A Spot of Color." I guess I took it literally...

Next week's assignment..."Still Life: Food". Oh how I wish it were the season of fresh produce!

I should note, thanks to a respiratory bug that keep my recliner bound for a good part of 2 days last week...the Dashing Mitts have been finished. I have yet to take a final picture of them...


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lil Bits...

Brea (Walking into the kitchen with a baby bottle in hand.): "I need some milk and juice mixed together." (Proceeding to the fridge where where she pretends to open the door and pour in the two liquids.)
Me: "Milk and water mixed together? That sounds kinda gross."
Brea: "It's for my baby unicorn."
Me: "Oh. Your unicorn has weird taste."
Brea: "Well Mom, she is a unicorn." (Exiting to go continue her play.)

Yesterday while we were out and about picking up a few groceries, we stopped for a what has become rare shop time. The girls settled into the two leather chairs situated in front of a gas fire place with their hot chocolates, while Scott and I grabbed a table for some much needed talk time. At one point I turned to check on the girls and found Lexi, snuggling her hot cocoa, reading an article in one of the little magazines sitting around about knitting. It made my heart skip a beat to realize what a reflection of her mother she is at times.

It's these little bits of life that that I will forever cherish.


Friday, January 21, 2011


I had a clear vision for what would be accomplished this afternoon. After wasting most of the week fighting a cold, today I finally felt as if I could muster up enough energy to do some cleaning around the house. I mean between the sizable dog hair tumbleweeds floating around in not so far away corners and the fact I can only offer a best guess as to the last time the toilets have seen anything besides our tushes, I figured it was time. So I walked Brea to preschool (in 3 degree, wind chill of -10 weather mind you) and returned home to get busy.

I started upstairs in the bathroom that gets the most use. Scrubbed, vacuumed, moist mopped and made the turn out in the hall to finish vacuuming the carpets of our bedrooms. So far so good. As I start transferring the cleaning supplies from the 2nd to the 1st floor, my tummy reminded me that I hadn't yet eaten lunch. Plus I noticed that the 1:30ish light coming in the window of the stairwell might be good for getting a photo that I've been thinking about taking as my submission for this week's DPS weekly photo assignment (a photography forum I've decided to participate in to help me think outside of "my" photography box a bit). So I started warming a can of soup on the stove top and grabbed my camera, my subject, and my back drop material and headed to the stairway to "quickly" grab the shot.

I'm shooting away and it occurs to me that this would be a fun set up to take a picture of Danbo with his new toy. So off I go to grab him...and it. Soon the smell of warm lentil soup makes its way to me at the front of the house and I return to the kitchen just in time to narrowly escape scorched lentil soup. I pour my soup into a big ol' latte cup and sit down to check email while I eat. By the time I am done I realize I have a mear 45 minutes left before it's time to go retrieve the kiddos from school and that if I have any hope of getting the cleaning done before hand, it's gonna have to be the quick and dirty (no pun intended) version. I drop my now dirty cup in the sink with the rest of the dishes waiting for my attention and get to vacuuming.

We love the openness of the living space in our new house, but the number of corners that can harbor dusty dog hair nests is ridiculous. So, to help keep me entertained while I'm working I start writing this post in my head. Thinking that maybe if I get lucky, someone will discover it and I'll find myself following in the steps of the Yarn Harlot, or Dooce, or any of the number of witty blog/writers out these on the interwebs who enjoy a paycheck with their often sarcastically funny views on their lives. Then I reminded myself of my lack of any formal writing related writing, not to mention the fact that I don't have much to offer up but the woes of your average lower middle class Midwestern mom-wife, and decided my dream energies might be better spent in another store. My life is just not as sexy as liberal living in Salt Lake City. Or being Canadian. (Shout out to my cousin's Candian husband who turns older today.) At this point I have exactly 15 minutes left to scrub down bathroom #2 before I need to be out the door on my way back to school. Luckily it's a small bathroom.

It's now 4:00 something and the girls are enjoying a snack and PBS Kids. The dishes still need my attention and I should think about peeling the potatoes for tonight's supper plan. My camera and various accessories are sitting askew on the table and the vacuum has yet to make it back up the stairs to the closet. I'm wondering if I'm gonna get on a chance to cast on a new knitting project tonight after dinner, having finished up Scott's fingerless mitts yesterday. (Which I hope to grab a picture of tomorrow when we are both home.)

But for now, because it makes total sense, here's that picture of Danbo and his new toy...

Just another day in my non-linear world. I know...'splains a lot, doesn't it?


Monday, January 17, 2011

The Book...

The book Lexi brought home from school today about yoga...

Copyrighted in 1973.

(Yes, this is actually what it looks's not just a poorly colored photo!)


Business Partner in the Making...

As Lexi was filling me in on her school day this afternoon she mentioned that during her class' trip to the media center she checked out the ONLY book about yoga in the WHOLE library. And then she gathered some of her friends in an open space and they tried doing some of the poses in the book. I asked her if she mentioned to anyone that her Mom teaches yoga. To which she replied,oh yes! Apparently when the librarian commented about her choosing a book about yoga, Lexi piped up to say...

"You know that place downtown on the corner of School Street? The dance studio? My Mom's studio is in room A. She teaches yoga there."

Does that mean I have to start paying her a salary for marketing? I'm not sure that's in the budget...


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Just A Normal Sunday...

Pancakes for breakfast...

And casual fun...

We've reached a new stage with chats with friends. What an amazing (and from a Mom's point of view, slightly sad) thing to watch how quickly she is growing up.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Education Matters...

When we decided to relocate to Carlisle, it was in large part because of the positive things we had heard about the school district. While every school district these days faces tighter budgets and the expectation to do more with less, Carlisle schools seem to have been able to step up to the challenge of meeting the demands of a growing enrollment while keeping their facilities and services fresh and up to date in the constraints of a tight budget.

During our inquiry before the move we also learned that, unlike Grinnell, Carlisle was able to offer pre-school to every 4-year-old in the district free of tuition thanks to grant funding. For us that means Brea benefits from 4, 1/2 day days of school at no cost to us...a considerable step up from the 2, 1/2 day sessions we would have been able to squeeze into our budget if we had remained in Grinnell where the number of students interested in attending pre-school out numbers the available spaces. Brea's lead teacher, and 2 assistant teachers, are super fantastic. She is excited to go to school every day, and comes home full of stories of what she did and learned. We are so thankful that she has this opportunity and are confident that it's setting a foundation on which we hope to continue to grow a love for learning.

As the district administration had begun the budgeting process for the 2011-12 school year, several updates have been offered to parents over the past several weeks. Yesterday a message was sent out with some disturbing information that could affect the future of the preschool program at Carlisle (as well as others like it across the state) due to a bill that has brought to the floor of the Iowa statehouse. A summary of the Tax Payers First Act can be read here, or you can read the full 59 page bill (with current revisions) here. I've never taken the time to sift through a proposed bill such as this...until now. (A summary of the bill starts on page 48 if you want to skip all the messy, number filled referencing legal mumbo jumbo that fills up pages 1-47.) I must say I'm quite disheartened, and a little pissed off, by what I have read.

To give you the quick and dirty from my perspective:
  • The purpose of the bill is to reduce unnecessary and wasteful spending, refocusing budget surpluses back into tax payers pockets. Which in theory sounds like a solid, responsible plan.
  • Some of the proposed cuts would make sense to just about anyone. Cuts such as reducing the amount of funds spend on state office supplies and travel expenses. Changing state employee benefits to be more in line with a comparable corporate package in terms of employer/employee responsibilities. As someone who manages both a family, and a small business, budget, these reductions make sense to me.
  • The BIG losers in the bill are EDUCATION (across the board from preschool to University levels), human services, environmental and sustainable energy programs, smoking education/cessation programs targeting Iowa's youth, and small businesses.
While many of the programs that could be affected by the passing of this bill are near and dear to my heart, it's the preschool funding that really gets me fired up. If this bill passes it could mean that the preschool programs, such as Brea's, would lose their MAJOR source of funding. And while the bill calls for an increase in the availability of tuition assistance funds, my heart goes out to the families who, like ours, won't qualify for such assistance BUT whose budgets may not be able to cover the extra expense of preschool tuition.

If you live in Iowa, please take time to review the bill. If after doing so, if the proposed cuts strike a negative cord with you as they do me, please take time to contact the statehouse representatives in your district who support this act. Generally speaking Republican reps are supporting, Democratic reps are opposing, but you may have to do a little research to see on which side of the issue your representatives stand. You can also keep up with how the fight to save Iowa's preschools is going here.

As someone who values education and as a Mom, I will be keeping a close eye on this issue. Thank you for your consideration in voicing your opinion as well!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Day...

First snow day of the year.

I downloaded a new Retro Camera app to use with my phone camera. Can you tell I'm having fun with it?

Stay warm!


Monday, January 10, 2011


Before we lean Left or Right,

Before we are Christians or Muslims or Jews or Hindus or Atheists,

Before we are straight or gay,

Before we are the administration, the workers, or the students,

Before it ALL...we are humans.

It makes me wonder with the most recent acts of violence, slinging of words and pointing of fingers if as a society we have forgotten that most basic of truths. Violence, whether through physical acts OR words, is never the answer. It saddens my heart that some see no other way to voice their opinion. The long term consequences of such hate are great for us all.

May you live today free from fear, free from unnecessary sources of suffering, and in a place of peace.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

As Pretty as a Princess...

Brea helped me take the blocking pins out of my shawl yesterday. It simply amazes me how my previous pile of lumpy nothingness has turned into a lacy shawl. Brea wanted to wear it around the house for a bit and informed me she felt as beautiful as a princess...even in her polar fleece monkey footie PJs.

I myself have NO IDEA how/when/with what I'm ever going to wear my new pretty. It's small as far as shawls go, so I might end up using it more like a scarf with my black wool coat. I don't know that I'm much of a triangle shawl person. I'm leaning towards casting on a half circle shawl that I found on Ravelry next...or a lovely rectangular lace shrug pictured in one of my knitting books...I want to make both and I need to buy yarn either way so I just need to commit and cast on. Knowing my knitting tenancies it is quite possible that something else may catch my fancy before I get yarn for either. (Though do not worry, I have a project on the needles to keep me company while I am deciding.)

On a completely unrelated note, I have been doing a lot more practicing/playing with my flash photography and I'm starting to feel as if I'm slowing getting the hang of using both a flash to freeze my subject and a slower shutter speed to allow ambient light to fill in to create some depth to the whole scene. I'm thankful that Brea is willing to patiently model for me at random times of the day when I feel like experimenting a bit. Points learned this week...Manual mode is not scary and it's necessary at times for the flash diffuser to be removed for more direct bouncing. Who knew? Now I do.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Go Ahead and Laugh...

I don't care how many times we to this...

It's bust a gut funny...

Every damn time...


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

At the Top of the Stairs...

My shawl is blocking on the landing at the top of the stairs...

All stretched and pinned in what I hope is the correct shape...

Interestingly enough, having watched the lace take shape as I laid it out, I'm kinda getting the urge to start pick another shawl pattern to cast on. I'm thinking 1/2 circle or rectangular in shape this time. Any suggestions from you knitters out there?


Sunday, January 2, 2011

A 2nd Celebration...

I love that I learned to knit on New Year's Eve 2 years makes remembering my Knitiversary so much easier than if it were some other random day of this year. So how did I spend my 2nd Knitiversary?

Knitting of course!

Actually, binding off to be more specific. Binding off this...

My first shawl...

I still have to block it, but I couldn't resist taking pictures of it in all of it's bumpy pre-stretched goodness...

It's fun to look back at what I wrote about my 1st Knitiversary. It's amazing to realize how many things have been made on my needles over the past 2 years. This year the FO count is quite a bit smaller than last, but the projects tackled definitely took a step up the difficulty meter. This year's FO list includes:
  • 2 pairs of fingerless mitts...including these little lovelies I whipped out for my MIL over the Christmas weekend in less than 48 hours. (A personal best for me in terms of time from start to finish.)

STILL on my needles (same as last year...sigh)...
  • A fingerling weight sock
  • A pot-holder waiting for a finished I-cord edge so that it can be felted. (I'm not a fan of I-cord edging it turns out.)
Since I consider those 2 projects as sleepers at this point, I have no in progress projects in my knitting bag! However I expect that to change later today when I decide whether I'm going to cast on...
  • A pair of baby booties for an expected February arrival (NOT ours!)
  • A pair of slipper socks for myself
  • A pair of hand-warmers (using the yarn left over from my sweater...also for myself)
  • A bulky cabled bag that Lexi requested last spring break when we were at Brown Sheep
  • One of the circle shrugs I'd like to make for the girls
  • Something completely different

I don't know that I have any specific knitting related goals for this coming year, but I am super excited about the new Yoga & Yarn events I'm planning to hold at my studio this winter and the Yoga for Fiber Fanatics session I am presenting at the Sticks & String event organized by the Des Moines Metro Knitters! The only thing better than yoga or AND knitting!

Thanks for reading. Thanks for celebrating this silly little holiday with me. And thanks to all of you who through your words, your teaching, and the sharing of your own fabulous projects keep my sticks clicking. Cheers to another year of yarn filled goodness for us all!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Year 2011...

While I'm generally not a big on the whole "it's the start of a new year" thing, it's hard not to take time to pause and reflect on 2010. It was kinda a big year for the Mavin clan. It's been somewhat of a blur, giving the year the feeling of being both just a passing moment and the longest year ever. A year ago today I would have never guessed today would find us where we are...but here we are.

Yesterday I was chatting with a friend and I was talking about how it's hard to believe it's been 6 months since we moved to Carlisle. I was telling her how I felt like I was still in a period of transition because our life looks so different that I envisioned it would at this point. She kinda looked at me funny...which made me stop and think about what I had just said.

While my comment encompasses more than just where we are physically living, the fact of the matter is regardless of what it looks like, life is happening NOW. Period. I need to do a better job of accepting that fact rather than moaning over what I THINK life SHOULD look like. Relocations happen. Relationships change. (I think this one is the hardest for my heart to come to terms with.) My professional life is going to flex and change...sometimes in unexpected ways. Sometimes life is going to move in the direction we expect, sometimes it's going to take unexpected turns.

Acceptance of the now doesn't mean I can't work towards changing the aspects of life that don't serve our family well. But it also means I need to stop wasting time and energy fretting over what is not...and may never be. It's not an easy exercise for me.

I really don't know what will come to be be in 2011, but I do have a small hope. I hope that through the year I start to feel more settled. More settled in our new community...because I'd like to feel at home in Carlisle for more reasons than just the address of our house. More settled with my place in this world professionally...because as I sit here and type this I'm still quite unsure of what that picture is going to look like in the coming months. More settled as we continue to work find a better place in our financial life...because always being stressed about money is EXHAUSTING.

I guess after 2010, the year of change, I'm craving a bit of stability in 2011.

What are you hoping for in 2011?