Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A birthday post for my dad

It's Dad's birthday!

We had a slight party this Sunday, which most of us showed up late for.  Evelyn was tired and cranky.  I got him a shovel because his flat shovel didn't have a handle and I was pretty sure the shovel was older than I am and after I picked it out I realized my brother works in a hardware store and would probably know to pick out a better flat shovel. 

Sidenote: shovels are not as expensive as I had always thought. In my lifetime, I have seen my parents replace shovels twice.  Do you have any idea how reasonably priced these sturdy American-made implements are??!? I nearly went crazy in that aisle.  I tried to buy Evelyn a utility line shovel because it was just her size, but she wasn't interested. 

Dad later said the old shovel came from his parents.  Should have gone with a shovel handle.

Evelyn had also wanted to get him some grown-up toys, so she picked up a protractor of sorts.  I picked out a spiral crossword puzzle workbook and a book of games and brain teasers that can fit into his briefcase when he's in airports.  We've been calling him "old man" since he was in his late thirties, but I've decided to start worrying about his brain even though he's always done crosswords and is one of the smartest people I know.  Maybe it's because I'm nearly the age he was when we started calling him "old man". 

He's a granddad nearly 3 times now.  He uses the AARP discount every chance he can.  He attended the University of Arkansas when there was mostly just the one University of Arkansas and poultry science was not a degree program.  He taught me I could lift just about anything if I had enough leverage.  He changes his cowboy hat according to the seasons and I know that's not something exclusive to someone his age, but it still seems like an older guy thing to do.   He's excited about his new trifocals.  He will fight you for the check.  He can outwork any of us.

He enjoyed Sunday semi-party, and let Evelyn wake him up from his Sunday nap so they could wrestle.  He flips her around and listens to all her stories and takes her for rides on a tractor which is pretty much all anyone wants out of a grandparent ever.

I think 59 is going to be a really good year.  He's supposed to set up a small pool for Mom and Evelyn when it gets warmer.  Evelyn will probably be ready to go camping at the creek with him like he's been wanting to do.  He'll get a new grandkid this fall.  He's always been the type of person to enjoy whatever stage of life he's in (at least he has in the time I've known him, but this is the part where I make a joke about life improving when I show up, etc.), but I think he's really relishing the granddad business.  59 is going to have a ton of adventures!

Happy birthday, old man!  We love you.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Here we are. Isn't it nice?

I had last Friday off. I got a call about it on Thursday evening, which I missed.  When I saw my supervisor's number on my phone I almost felt sick because I was afraid I was about to be called back into work, or that someone was hurt or sick or dead.  These things have happened to us before.

I barely understood her voice mail that we would get Good Friday off because it just seemed so impossible.  But we did!  I felt like the world was full of hope and possibility for the first time in wayyyy too long.  Evelyn and I set out to take pictures with her Argenta tulips, like we do every year.  It didn't go well.

I know there is no child in this picture.

 We also headed out to my parents' house.  That went well. 

No, really.  It went well.

We potted plants and she rode her bike and pushed her dump truck and ate hamburgers and danced for us like a ballerina.  And reminded her Uncle Levi, "Hey, when I'm finished you're supposed to clap."

She took a short nap, and I used the free-to-me washer and dryer.  When she woke up, I took my girl to the creek in the woods.  I love that she's big enough to tramp around in the woods.  We checked out moss and leaves and sticks and plants.  She realized the benefits of hiking on privately owned land--the main one being that you can go off the trails.  Which is fine, because the cattle trails were pretty wiley-looking and the sheep trails are nearly completely overgrown.  We looked for low spots in the water to wade through, and I think her favorite part was throwing sweet gum balls down stream and seeing how far they could go.

My favorite part was when we found a spot where the water splashed up against a rock and she called out, "Oh look, that water's laughing!"  And the part where we walked across the pasture and just as she started to say she "needed" me to carry her I saw a pile of rocks under a tree and started telling her that when her uncle was her age we would wake up early-early in the morning to pull weeds and pick up rocks before the sun would get too hot because we needed grass to grow in the pasture to feed the animals.  I sounded like an absolute codger.  She asked "Was it good?", which I think meant "Was it fun?"  (Not really.)  I waved my hand across the land and said "Yeah, just look at this pasture!"

To be honest, the pasture looks like it was tended by easily distracted child labor.  But now I can rest easy in my hard-earned self-righteousness.  And the piles of rocks until trees are still there, monuments to the fact that things are not as rough as they used to be.

On Saturday, we bundled up and went to the farmers market.  It took a million years of cajoling, even though she wanted to go.  She picked out her honey and paid for it herself. 

He was so patient in counting out the bills to her.

We also bought some carrots, and the farmer threw in an apple because he could tell she'd been growing and thought she needed the extra treat. 

I took pictures of her with her tulips.

I ran errands and she shopped with her dad.  We visited her Gram's house and practiced egg-hunting that evening and did lots of crafty things.  She talked a lot about the flowers she picked for her Gram.

Sunday was cold and gray and grouchy.  I hated that, because Sara's house was festive and cute and it's one of her favorite holidays and Evelyn was very tired and grouchy and we all had to try to work around that.  We hunted eggs indoors and watched some Kindergarten Cop on TV. 


She fell asleep pretty quickly in the car.  Cody and I drove around in silence and caught up on things and reached an agreement about bedtime practices and house-hunting and money planning.  Man, it's fun to make money plans when you're not simultaneously paying bills.

We stopped by Dicy's and Evelyn made sure that her Gram still had her bouquet on her table.  I'm not sure why she was so concerned, but she was.  She was happy to see the hummingbird feeder and her flowers in a vase.  Her grandparents are such good outdoorsy people. It's always nice when she gets to see all of them in one day.  We dragged her away, took her home for a quick dinner, and dropped her into bed.  She fell asleep almost immediately.  I made Cody take this  picture of the shawl I finished knitting when we got home.  I still knit a lot.

Monday and Tuesday were fairly uneventful. My slower pace at work is appreciated, but there's still a lot of hard work to do, and it's wearing on us.  Yesterday felt like it had way too much going on and most of it sucked.  Or at least the things that were bad stole attention from what was good.

Today seems better.  We're still looking for schools for Evelyn, and that's fine.  Objectively, I always know that, but today it was easier to believe.  She's back after an awesome night at her grandparents' house with her bike and her church and her Easter basket from Dallas and his family.  I'm finally taking the time to upload pictures and let you know that we're doing just fine.  I have the time to do that because I get home on time now and because Cody and Evelyn are still visiting Gram.  Yes, she once again got to see all of her grandparents in the same day.  They're picking up pizza for dinner.

We're a lucky little group.  There are good things all around us and I can barely remember to tell you all of them.  I'll have a little more time to do so, though.  And I'm looking forward to that.

Bless you if you made it through all of this news.  Now I get to tell you that I'm going to be an aunt again! My very favorite (and one and only) nephew is going to be a big brother in October! 

Ellis is also my most photogenic nephew.

How many good things can a life hold?  How many beautiful children to we get to enjoy?!  How many things can I make for this baby before it shows up?  (I've already crocheted a blanket.)

I look forward to finding out.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The perfect hat for fall

I knitted the Antler Hat in some nice brown Cascade 220 and now I have a really on-point hat for fall.  Yes, April is almost here.  But I think I'm just really prepared now!  Let's go with that.

I've had the pattern in my Ravelry library for a while now, and I decided to make this for my March hat.  I had a couple of earlier attempts for other hats that didn't quite work out, so I grabbed a skein of the brown yarn and cast this on mostly on a whim.  So many cables.  So. many. cables.

I made this in the largest size because I felt like it.  Seriously.  You cast on 104 stitches for the largest size, and I wanted a project large enough that I could move it around comfortably on a circular needle.  I just wasn't in the mood for double pointed needles.  I made this with all the pattern repeats and now I have a super slouchy hat that's good and woodland-y.

I have 5 more skeins of this yarn left to do something with.  I was going to make a sweater for myself, but then I realized I just don't want to.  I like hats and cowls and sometimes even mittens, but I'm probably not a sweater knitter.  It's fine.  I'm building up a sweet collection of hats.

And!  I have to thank Evelyn for taking some of these pictures of me modeling the hat, like the one at the very top of this post.  She's getting super steady with my camera, and I always appreciate her help.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Dirt, seeds, birthday presents

That's what I've been getting rid of.  On Sunday I went through my craft corner thoroughly.  I pulled out some pattern books I don't want or need, rearranged my baskets and books and folders.  I tossed stuff, set aside stuff to sell, and made another addition to the donate pile.  Then I took Evelyn to see some daffodils.  And we hiked Pinnacle Mountain, because I make terrible choices.

I tossed some papers in my office at some point in the week.  And Tuesday evening, Evelyn and I dumped dirt into pots and poured some seeds in there. They may grow.  They may not.  I think we'll have good luck with the peas and morning glories. We have a couple of hanging pots up now, and our balcony is beautiful.  Evelyn's been a gardening fiend and has to put on her 'gardening hat' every time she even waters some soil. 

I also used up some cotton yarn to make Cody a potholder that looks like Captain America's shield.  I had to fiddle with a couple of patterns and I'm not completely thrilled with that improvised star, but Cody liked it and it's a really thick potholder--three layers of crocheted fabric!  His hands are safe no matter what he does with that potholder.

As it turns out, Evelyn picked out a Captain America watch for him.  So yay!

I know I should say something about Cody's birthday, but he doesn't read here so whatever.  It was a good day, and we are glad he was born.  We're going to have a good year this year!

 And I bought a tent for Cody's birthday. 

It actually doesn't take up that much space in its bag. Which, yes, I was able to smoosh back in there entirely.

We will probably have to bring other things into our home, like a tarp and maybe another sleeping bag (I can't find the one that we do own) and and and. 

But for now, we're excited about getting out more.  Our asthma isn't that rough any more, and Evelyn's a big kid now.  We're pretty pumped!

Thursday, March 19, 2015


This is an old picture from when my stash was cute and manageable.  I have some of this yarn still.

I have been trying to knit and crochet my way through some of the unwanted portions of my yarn stash--and some of the yarns I've been looking forward to using--but the destashing process hasn't been going quite as quickly as I've wanted.  I had gathered up some yarn a few weeks ago and it's been riding around in my car for a while.  I have a friend who works with kids, and I texted her a few nights ago to ask "Hey, would you want some yarn for your kids?"  When she said she did, I got down to some serious business. 

I didn't take a picture of what all I gathered up because Jesus said that's tacky, but I rounded up an extra couple of bags and I finally got to rearrange some of the boxes and packages in my craft area to where things look a bit tidier and I can find more of my stuff.  I'm excited and my friend and her kiddos are (I hope) going to really enjoy doing whatever crafty things kids do with miles upon miles of yarn of every weight, color, and texture.