Sunday, November 27, 2011

Elliott's First Thanksgiving

The holidays are going to bring about so many "Elliott's firsts," and I'm glad that Thanksgiving went so well.  Christmas will be a lot more complicated, but I think Elliott will do well.

On Wednesday night, Elliott went to bed easily, which allowed Jason and I to finish our baking and "cooking" for Thanksgiving.  Jason made mint-chocolate cookies, which are always delicious, and I made a mango salsa.  We wanted everything finished before bed so we could just get up, shower, and go in the morning.

It didn't feel like Thanksgiving when I woke up.  This was the first Thanksgiving that I couldn't watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Jason and I don't have cable or anything, and we had to get ready anyway.  I watched some clips online, but it obviously wasn't the same.  We also thought we'd hit serious traffic on the way to my aunt's house, but we didn't see anything!  We made record time.

When we got there, Elliott was almost instantly picked-up by his Aunt Sarah, who he hasn't seen since August.  Everyone was excited to play with him and cuddle him, which is probably why he was exhausted by about 2 o'clock.  We ate a delicious dinner (my mango salsa was gone well before we sat down to eat), and Elliott slept until about 5:30!  I even took a walk with my aunt, mom, sister, and grandparents.  My sister wanted to see the Muppet movie, so after Elliott woke up, he got settled in with Grandma Tay-Tay (my mom), and Jason, Sarah, and I had a great time at the movies.  It was so nice to spend time with my sister while she was home.  It makes me antsy for Christmas.

We stayed at Aunt Chris' until about 10, when we decided it was time to head out.  We made record time home and we all went right to bed, which was about 2 hours before Jason and I normally do.

On Friday, we had a second Thanksgiving with Jason's parents and brother.  Jason and I rearranged our apartment to make it more conducive to a dinner party, and we actually decided to leave it this way.  We have some other things to move, but it looks pretty good.  We never used our table before, but now we use it a lot.  Anyway, the dinner was really nice.  We had pasta-in-a-pot, which is kind of like lasagna, but with shells.  Jill also made a banana cream pudding pie, which is one of my favorites.

The rest of the weekend was just like any other.  Saturday, Jason worked, and today we shopped and did things around the house.  I have a few projects I want to get done before the end of the year, so I'm working hard whenever I can to finish them.

I have another post in the works for Crafty Lady Tuesday.  :)

- J & M.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful.

It's Elliott's first Thanksgiving, and we are so thankful for everything we have!

Barney is thankful for...
 - His "mommy" and "daddy" who take care of him, scratch his ears, and feed him.
 - His "brother" who DOES NOT pull on his tail or mess with him.
 - his toys and comfy bed.
 - the birds, squirrels, and leaves that entertain him all day.

Elliott is thankful for...
 - Mama and Daddy, who love him and take care of him.
 - His extended family, who visit him as much as they can and love him.
 - His "brother" Barney who sniffs his head.
 - Teething rings and his toys, which help him relieve his sore gums.

Jason and Megan are thankful for...
 - Each other.
 - Jobs that let them support their family.
 - Their healthy happy little boy (and the fairly easy pregnancy)
 - Their (mostly) sweet and fluffy kitty-cat.
 - Their families and friends, who have supported them 100% through this last crazy year.

Enjoy time with your families tomorrow, and enjoy the weekend of turkey-based leftovers.

- J & M.

Crafty Lady Tuesday

Starting today, and continuing when I remember, I'm going to post on Tuesdays about my latest craft projects.  I have a craft "tumblr" and a Ravelry account, the latter of which is essential for anyone who knits or crochets.  Tumblr, Ravelry, and Pinterest all provide me with a lot of inspiration, both for needlecraft and for other little ideas.

I can't actually discuss many of the projects I'm currently working on because they are gifts for readers of this blog and I'd hate to spoil the surprise.  Therefore, to get things started, I'm going to answer this 30 Days of Crochet questionnaire from Tumblr.


1: What was your first finished project? - It was a pink hat from Stitch 'n' Bitch: The Happy Hooker, which is still my favorite crochet guide.  I messed up a little on the bottom and it ended up flaring out, probably because I didn't count correctly and wasn't using stitch markers.  I dressed it up with a little ribbon, but I don't wear it a lot.  Still, I was pretty proud.
2: What is currently on your hooks? - The advantage of having a lot of hooks (thanks Jason!) is that I can have a lot of projects going at once.  Some are almost done and in the sewing stage, while others are actually in the design and layout stage.
Day 3: Do you have any other WIPs (works in progress)? - My official WIP's (the items I have started crocheting) include a blanket for my cousin's daughter (baby gift to one-year gift to Christmas...)and a blanket for Elliott for Christmas  I've finished  A LOT of long term projects lately.  I also have a lot of projects on deck for Christmas.
Day 4: How did you learn how to crochet? - I tried to learn from videos online and from a small book I bought at the craft store.  However, a little help from my friend Jenny and her copy of SnB (I have my own now) got me moving.
Day 5: How long did it take from the time your learned how to crochet, to finish your first project? - Not long at all.  That's the beauty of crochet, to me at least.  You can learn a few basic stitches that build on one another, and complete a project that's not just a scarf in a few hours.  
Day 6: What is your favorite piece that you’ve crochet? - This is really difficult to answer, since I've completed a number of really cool things in the last year.  Asher's blanket, my La Salle cowl, and the owl hats I made for Little Miss Anne and Kaius are probably my favorites off the top of my head.
Day 7: Your least favorite? - I started making a kitten stuffed animal for a friend's daughter and it looked like a convict's art therapy project.  I finished it and kept it for myself.  The face I had sewn on it was just too cute to frog it (rip it out, for non-crocheters).
Day 8: What’s your most challenging project? - In retrospect, none of my projects seem too difficult because I've mastered the stitches by now.  The "Wool Eater" blanket included a lot of new skills, but I got into that quickly.  I bought a pattern for an ear-warmer a year ago and few people on Ravelry can figure it out.  The designer has gone AWOL, and those who did complete it can't actually explain how they did it.  I'm annoyed because it should be easy, and my sister requested it as a gift, and I still haven't come through.  I get really ambitious with projects for my sister, and as a result, she gets very few finished items.  
Day 9: What fiber or yarn do you love working with? - I adore cotton and any sort of merino wool blend.  Cotton is a workhorse fiber, while merino is soooo soft.
Day 10: Do you have a favorite pattern or designer? - Hannah Kaminsky makes adorable little amigurumi creations (it's a Japanese form of crochet that is used for making stuffed animals).  I usually have trouble with the sewing parts of amigurumi, but her instructions are just so easy to follow and they are worth the time.  I love any designer who takes the time to write a clear and concise pattern that is easy to understand.  I'll go back to them again and again.
Day 11: Do you have a “Crocheting Hero” or someone that is just way too awesome for their own good? Do share! - Again, those designers like Hannah Kaminsky impress me.  I don't know how to design projects yet, or at least the inspiration hasn't struck me, so I'm super jealous of their skills.  My friend Jill is an amazing knitter, so I look up to her when it comes to needlecraft in general. 
Day 12: Where do you keep your stash? - We are blessed with ample closet space in our apartment.  Because Elliott is small, he doesn't really need his closet, so we use that for storage.  Our hall closet is used for crafts and other fun things we use a lot, like puzzles, board games, and exercise stuff.  I have my stash and supplies organized in there.  My other craft supplies are in a dresser in the hall way.  
Day 13: Do you have yarn that you love but can’t find a project for? - Yes.  I bought bamboo yarn (so soft) for a project that didn't work out.  I still haven't found that special project, although I do currently have some contenders.
Day 14: What’s the worst yarn/fiber that you’ve worked with and why?* - Any really cheap, stiff acrylic (Red Heart Super Saver or Caron One Pound comes to mind).  It's no fun to wear (itchy) and isn't fun to touch while I'm making stuff.
Day 15: What was your least favorite pattern and why?* - Almost any amigurumi that requires me to sew on arms, legs, ears, etc.  My sewing on things like that looks terrible.  
Day 16: Have you ever had a crocheting related injury? - Right after I had Elliott, my wrists got sore from nursing, pumping, and crocheting, so I'll say that's a crochet related injury.  
Day 17: Have you ever had a project that you loved become ruined? What’s the story behind it? - No, thank goodness.  If that happened, I'd rather not know.
Day 18: What are your preferred hooks made from (metal, steel, bamboo, wood, plastic)? - Maybe I'm odd, but I love metal hooks.  They don't get caught on the cheap yarn I buy and they slide through everything easily.
Day 19: Do you watch movies and/or listen to podcasts while crocheting? What are your favorite things to crochet to? - I usually crochet while watching TV.  I've never been able to sit and watch TV without doing something else.  As a kid, I would craft or color in coloring books.  Now I crochet.  I love to crochet to Parks and Recreation (because I've seen the episodes so many times) or one of my many favorite movies.
Day 20: Do you crochet in public? Was anyone offended/incredibly happy/curious that you were doing so? - I usually don't because the project just doesn't allow it.  I did when I was pregnant at doctor's appointments and during tests.  I also crochet while my students are taking tests so I'm not just sitting there.
Day 21: Do you crochet gifts for friends and family for the holidays or birthdays? - Goodness, yes.
Day 22: Have you ever stricken someone off your to-crochet-for list because they didn’t appreciate/take care of your last crochet gift to them? - No, but I do think about that sometimes.  When I first started crocheting, I gave a number of people things that I am now not 100% happy with, so they can stuff them in the back of their closets, and I would not be offended.
Day 23: If you had the supplies (and patience) for it, what project would you start today? - There is a really cute cardigan that I want to make.  It's blue striped, 1/2 sleeves, and really the perfect cardigan in terms of weight and style.  It's going to take a lot of not-so-cheap yarn though, so I'm hoping to get some gift cards or the like to defray the cost over Christmas.
Day 24: Have you ever made your own pattern or dyed your own yarn? How did it turn out? - I'm working on a Mario Brothers scarf for my cousin (a design anyway), but it's only partly original, so I guess my answer is sort of.  
Day 25: Do you have a crocheting book or a place where you keep patterns, ideas, size measurements? - I have an accordian file where I keep all of my patterns.  However, it's getting a little tight in there, so I might move to a 3-ring binder.
Day 26: Have you ever been a part, or wanted to be a part of a crochet-a-long? What was it? If not, why? - I've wanted to be a part of one, but I really can't crochet on someone else's time table right now.
Day 27: How do you acquire most of yarn? Online retailers, local yarn shops, swaps, or large chain craft stores? What’s your favorite? - I buy everything at chain stores.  I'd love to be cool and hip and such and buy my supplies at independent stores, but I just don't have the cash flow.
Day 28: Do you do any other crafts besides crochet? What are they, and did learning to crochet come before or after learning these other crafts? - I'm re-learning to knit; I scrapbook, decoupage, and do a lot of DIY projects.  
Day 29: Do you have any tips, or things that you’ve learned from crochet? - I've learned to be realistic about my time.  I used to think I could get more crochet done in a certain time, but now I know what my abilities are and how long things will actually take me.
Day 30: What’s your name on Ravelry? If you don’t have a Ravelry account, why? - I do have a Ravelry account, and I suggest everyone who crochets or knits signs up.  It's an invaluable resource.  Tons of free patterns, access to beautiful pay-patterns, and the other members are always happy to leave a supportive comment or answer questions about mutual projects.

Hope you enjoy!  Comment with questions or things you'd like to see in the future.

- J & M.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

4 Months!

We cannot believe our little peanut is four months old already.  There are days when it feels like we just came home from the hospital, and others when it feels like a lifetime ago.  We don't have our 4-month appointment for another 2 weeks (scheduling issue at the doctor's office), so we don't have any stats, but we estimate that he is about 15 pounds, based on previous weight gain.

Elliott is teething, which has been a joy (ahem).  He's just miserable at times, and it's very difficult to watch him cry.  We try to do what we can (cold teethers, Tylenol, washcloths, fingers), but sometimes nothing works.  If anyone has any other solutions, we'd be happy to hear them.

He's also working on rolling from back to belly, which is pretty cute to watch.  He enjoys when I sing with (read: to) him, especially "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider," "If You're Happy and You Know It," "Octopus' Garden," and "The Tiki Room."  I also modified the song "Lollipop" to say "Elliott" and he enjoys that too, especially the part where we make the popping noise.

We had a very long day yesterday, and he was great all day.  We went to Homecoming at La Salle, and he let our friends hold him and talk to him.  We then went to a party about 30 minutes away and he was pretty agreeable.  He went right to bed after, and so did we.

Here are some 4-month shots:

I'd do business with this trustworthy face.

What do you mean that Greece is defaulting?

Attempt at self-soothing.

I love seeing this little face everyday.
This week has a lot going on.  Short work weeks for me and Jason (which translates into more Elliott time), Thanksgiving with my family, Friday-Thanksgiving with Jason's family, and possibly a dinner out with my best lady friends (plus men and baby).

- J & M.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's How Elliott Rolls...

Since we were all battling colds and midterms, I haven't updated much.  However, based on the number of projects I've finished, I'm pretty cool with that.

First, I have a goal to be back at pre-pregnancy weight by my 26th birthday.  It's a month away, and I'm only about 5 pounds away, so a totally do-able goal.  I want to be back in shape by April (the first possible time I would end up at the beach...outlandish, I know).  I'm trying to eat better (although I have a real weakness for sweets and things that are easy to make).  I'm starting a work-out regimen that includes yoga, walking, and pilates.  That being said, Jason's making "Once a Year Cupcakes" tonight.  They're yellow cupcakes with chocolate icing...and filled with cookie dough.

Elliott is growing up too fast.  There, I said it.  He's starting to teethe (what?!), rolling over, working on sitting up, and developing a personality.  When I look at him, I don't see a newborn, but almost a little kid.  It doesn't help that he's at a healthy weight, so he just looks bigger.  Here's a video of him rolling over:

video

Finally, I'm finally (FINALLY) learning to get things done with Elliott is actually awake.  I go to work a little earlier than usual (like, 20 minutes earlier), and I manage to get a lot more done at work.  This way, I can more or less keep work at work (for now).  It helps me enjoy my time with Elliott more.  My mind is here with him, rather than in my work bag.  If I need to clean, I set him up in his bouncy-chair and talk to him while I clean.  I'm sure it's exciting, but at least we are still learning words and singing.  Finally, I save leisure projects (crochet, blogging) for naps.  I know I only have an hour (more if I'm lucky) to work, so I get my mind in gear and focus.  As a result, I have completed a number of projects that have been in my "to-do" box for YEARS.  Honestly.  Not finishing projects had nothing to do with lack of time, just lack of focus (or in the case of a year ago, lack of alertness).

Well, cupcakes are done!  For my loyal readers, I will be featured soon on a blog called "Early Mama" in the next few weeks.  She talked to me about being considered a young mom, as well as my impending role as a Ph.D. student-mom.  I'll link it when it goes up.

Question: Should I start a blog about crafting, or feature it here?  I'm curious to see what my more dedicated bloggers say.

 - J & M.