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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Stocking done, prototype almost done, homework not done.

Last night I finally finished the second of the two Santa stockings that I was commissioned to do in November.  I still have a pair of mittens for a little girl, and one more stocking kit to do for a new mom, but after that my time is my own, to knit as I please...until the next project comes along :)  So it's back to the Apogee prototype, and then on to my husband's sweater.  Did I mention that he's agreed to wear a neck warmer??  I'm making him one ASAP.  It's taken me years to wear him down, but I'm gonna make him look like the husband of a knitter if it's the last thing I do.

School is back in full swing, which means more papers, and stupid amounts of reading every week, and lectures with overly opinionated professors, for the next four weeks.  Then I only have four more classes total so that should be about 20 weeks of school left.  I could possibly be done with classes by the fall!  But my degree plan says that I graduate in March of 2013...which I think means that we'll all cross the stage together in March but I'll be finished with classes before that.  I'll be making a call to confirm that later today.

So, back to my homework.  And my prototype.  And finally updating my Etsy shop with my latest collection (which has been out for weeks now on Ravelry).  Oh, and my blog will probably be out of commission for a few days, while we make the transition to my brand new, sparkly, pretty new blog layout :)  See you on the other side!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Philosophy and hot cocoa mix

I've been stalking the Annie's Eats food blog for a while now, and I just love her to death!  She takes beautiful photos of the food (and lets face it...that's what draws me in to the food), but every recipe is practically fool proof.  I don't think I've made a single thing yet that I haven't absolutely loved...until yesterday.  I made hot chocolate mix this holiday season and I love the stuff, but it needs to be made with milk and we were going through an awful lot of milk around here.  Then I found the hot cocoa mix and figured I'd give it a shot.  I was pretty tired yesterday (as usual) so I mixed it up as best as I could and tried it out.  Not bad, but not what I'd expected.  I had a few cups last night, trying to trick it out with a little of this or a little of that but it wasn't working out.  Then today I thought I'd try again...and use good quality powdered milk (instead of generic) and the chocolate flavored creamer to kick up the chocolate flavor that was lacking.  As I mixed it up this morning I realized what I'd done yesterday...I forgot to add in the salt!  It's crucial.  So today I mixed up another batch with the flavored dry coffee creamer, and realized that this batch would have been perfect if I'd just used the regular creamer like I did yesterday, lol.  So now i have two 32-oz jars of almost perfect hot cocoa mix and I'm sure the boys won't care a bit about how it's not exactly perfect.  Third time's a charm?...

So anyway, last night I was on the way to bed and felt suddenly philosophical about why I do what I do, and how blessed I really am.  It usually happens after I've had a big emotional parenting set-back like I had on Monday.  But I had a chance yesterday to help a brother and sister learn to knit.  They'd come in to take a class together, and they didn't fit our usual customer demographic.  I was a little on edge at first but after they picked out their yarn I took her brother over to find an appropriate set of needles.  I noticed right away that he was a little different.  A little shy.  A little hesitant and unsure of himself.  Very sweet.  And I realized that he needed a little extra care so I chose the needles for him.

We went back and sat down and I asked him about what he wanted to make.  That was when I realized that he had a learning disorder, or a mild developmental disability of some sort.  I don't know what, and I didn't ask (because honestly it wasn't my business and I didn't care).  I only picked up on something because of my training.  So I showed him how to knit and talked about how it's like an exercise and our muscles in our hands will learn what to do and take over after a while.  He was so diligent!  He really struggled at first and it took about an hour of constant coaching and instruction before he was able to knit his first stitch unassisted.  At one point I wasn't sure if he'd be able to learn it, but the time was his...he was paying for it...and I just kept trying to show him what to do, altering my instruction where I felt it was appropriate and breaking steps down smaller and smaller if necessary.  He kept apologizing for not getting it, and I kept telling him it wasn't necessary, and cheering him on.  Every time he did something right, I got really excited for him.  At one point, their mother called to check on him and he told her that he was at the knitting shop taking a lesson, and that he was having fun :)  I couldn't tell because he was concentrating so hard, but he was enjoying himself.  That encouraged me so I didn't give up, and kept being patient; sometimes using hand-over-hand to help him learn the feeling of the stitches, and sometimes demonstrating on the piece I was knitting.  And finally, finally it all paid off when he completed a stitch on his own!  I have never been so proud of a student in my entire teaching life.  Then he did another, and another, and another.  Once he had it down, I switched with my friend who had been helping his sister, and I went over to see what she was doing, and help her out a bit, while my friend kept an eye on my star pupil.

After about half the class went by, my friend asked why they decided to take up knitting.  The sister told us that her brother was a twin, and that his twin had just passed away last month.  They were taking this class together as a way to help them heal from his loss.  We could tell right away that she was very protective of this younger brother, and she took great care of him.  He lives near the shop in an apartment of his own, and checks in with a caseworker every morning to take his medication and evaluate how he's doing on his own.  He's a success story.  And now he's become my friend, how promises to stop in and say 'hello' to me when he walks by in the mornings, if he sees me in the shop.  I'm looking forward to it.  And this is why I do what I do.

Monday, January 16, 2012

One of those posts...about kids and stress...

Look at this face.  You would never know that under this angelic face is a master criminal in the making.  This is your future Lex Luther.  He's a genius.  He's stubborn as a mule.  He will not listen to reason (and yes, I realize that he's only 5-years old, but seriously).  It's going to take every thing I have and everything that I've learned over the course of my psychology degree with emphasis on child development and applied behavior analysis, to ensure that he harness' his powers for good instead of evil.

Today, this cute brilliant so-smart-he's-actually-dangerous child managed to get through the child-safe toddler knob on the bathroom door, and climb onto the toilet seat to reach my makeup bag (which he smeared all over the bathroom floor, and drew on his chest with liquid eyeliner, but I digress...) and his brother's ADHD medication.  He took one of Dante's pills.  My 50lb, 5-year old swallowed a little green 10mg Ritalin pill...because.  This results in my freaking out and running down the stairs with a pill bottle in my hand to call the pediatrician, which then resulted in a call to poison control.  He will be fine.  I'm less fine.

This is only the latest stunt that my cat-burglar son has pulled.  He wakes up anywhere between 4 am and 7 am, so getting up before him is not an option.  He knows how to open the locking toddler gate at the top of the stairs, so there's no keeping him on the top floor.  He can now apparently open the toddler-knob-protected doors and reach items placed on 6 foot shelves.  I now have to replace those knobs with ones that lock and require keys to open, because the current locks can be opened by pushing something into the little hole from the outside and he figured those out last year.  Five-year olds have no idea what dangers lie around the corner and just can't comprehend when you try to explain, and this one in particular is just determined to do what he wants to do.  He's compelled to do it.  Punishment is not an effective deterrent, and rewarding good behavior doesn't work either, when he really really wants to do something.  So now my only option is to try to prevent (which I thought I'd already done) until he's old enough to understand what I'm saying to him.

Want to know how bad it gets?  My little genius (and I don't mean that sarcastically) looked at a box of Safety 1st latches (which I'd planned to use on my kitchen cabinets to lock up the cleaners) and figured out how to open them from the picture on the cover of the box.  This resulted in my freaking out, yelling at him about how he isn't taking this seriously and he could have died, bursting into tears, and going up to my room to cry for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, he started to cry downstairs because I'd yelled at him and left the room crying.  After my husband calmed him down, he came upstairs to calm me down.  I'm usually the level-headed one but today I'd had all I could handle.  Then Alex came upstairs to apologize to me for getting into "stuff that doesn't belong to me", promised to clean up the mess he'd made, and came over to hug me.  That cause me to cry more, and hug my sweet little boy who just doesn't realize that he's taking his life into this hands every time he does something like this.  I feel like Clark Kent, who constantly tries to talk Lois Lane out of doing something stupid which inevitably leads to her being in peril, and his having to go save her as Superman.  There's only so much "child proofing" a parent can do!

So, that being said, I appreciate you sticking with me as I rant to the internet about my stress.  I'm gonna go have something fattening and loaded with chocolate, since I can't go have a drink.