Archive for June, 2006

Catching Up

Friday, June 30th, 2006

If you hadn’t figured it out yet, the stressful thing I was keeping secret last week was that we were quickly planning a trip to L.A. after Joe’s grandfather passed away and we learned that the funeral was planned for this Monday. Flying across the country and staying for four days with two tiny kids is never easy – add in major food allergies and preparing backup meals for one of them throws another kink in the wire. But we did it, and the whole thing went fairly smoothly. I feel like I made one major mistake during the trip, and I’ll get to that in a bit, but overall it was good to see Joe’s extended family – some of them for the first time, others not since our wedding.

I’ll start from the beginning, but first I want to openly thank our neighbors across the street, who did a great job watching the house and the cats (I think M reads here sometimes). I also want to thank Joe’s mom (who I think doesn’t read here, and if she does, I don’t want to know about it please.) All the same, I’ve said this to her face, but I should say it to the world as well since I have complained about her once or twice here. I was nervous about having her by my side so much during the trip. She flew with us both going out and coming home, and I didn’t know what to expect. Let me tell you – she was perfect. She gave me the space that I needed to take care of my kids my way, but she stepped up at the perfect moments to take Julie’s hand through security, to hold the baby when Julie needed some of my attention, she helped lug all the extra baggage through the airport. We even made some pleasant conversation, more and more towards the end of the trip. Best of all, it was amazing to watch her with my girls. She is a wonderful grandmother, and they love her. There is nothing more I could ask for in life than more love for my girls, and she has it.

Okay, the mistake thing – it involved a huge fashion faux pas. I want to tell the whole story, but it is long and complicated and would take pages for me to tell it in the detail required. Some of it has to do with cultural differences, but it boils down to this – my girls and I were the only people at the entire funeral wearing any color other than black and white. Except Joe and his brother, who had blue in their ties, and I know that this upset Joe’s uncle deeply. I really thought I was in the realm of appropriate funeral attire when I put on the outfit I put on that day – I’m used to modern American funerals where people wear colors and celebrate the life of the deceased. Especially when they’re 94 years old and lived full lives. Well, that’s not how it is at traditional Korean funerals. I didn’t know that, and if I could take back that decision and wear something appropriate, I would pay dearly to do so. This sounds like a little thing to the casual reader, but it wasn’t. Nobody said anything directly to me about it, but I know I hurt some feelings. To the elders in the family, it looked like I was disrespecting them and their father. I see that now, and I wish there were some way I could take back that pain and embarrassment I caused. There’s not, and I’m going to have to let it go, but I’m having a hard time with it. All I can say now is I’m really sorry, and I hope some of you younger Kangs are reading this and can pass the sentiment along to the older ones in an appropriate manner.

Whew. That’s out there. Now for the rest of the trip. It was great to see so many of my daughters’ relatives in one place. Joe’s brother came back from Seoul, Joe’s cousin Jin came back from New York, his cousin Chris came from Maryland, cousin Lindsey lives in L.A. with her parents, all the uncles and aunts were there, and another cousin from I’m-not-sure-where. It was a big group, and they all doted on Julie and Sophie. Sophie was happy being passed around among all the aunts and uncles, and Julie loved playing with the cousins – and Uncle Dave especially. On the last morning when we said goodbye after breakfast at the IHOP, tears came to my eyes thinking about how lucky we were to get to share our girls with their family, how lucky I am to get to be part of their family, to be accepted even though I am a big, loud, white girl who wears the wrong thing. I can’t wait to see them all again and I hope that the talk about a family reunion in the next few years pans out to reality. At the very least, I hope Lindsey ends up marrying the nice guy she’s dating now and we all get to come back out for the wedding in a year or so.

There were a lot of other things I wanted to talk about -

  • having to pack and plan meals for the food-allergic child – she ate a lot of lunch meat is all I have to say, I guess
  • the surprising number of stains on my girls’ clothing and how quickly they added up. It’s a good thing I packed twice as many clothes as I thought I needed, a good thing I discovered Oxyclean a couple months ago. The wash is done and I think all the stains came out.
  • The lack of knitting I did on the trip – I packed several things in case I finished and needed more, but I ended up having surprisingly little hands-free time, and that’s okay – it was worth it.
  • The amazing food we ate in korea town. Three different meals at three different restaurants. Two included Dolso Bibimbahp, my favorite. I also got to eat all the sushi I could handle in one sitting and some really good udon noodles. Joe and I also managed to stop at an In-and-Out burger for the first time. YUM!
  • We got to see some Internet friends while we were there – unfortunately, not all of the people we “know” in L.A., but it was good to meet Dan, Robin and their boys, and Dan made us a yummy breakfast to boot.
  • The crazy, giant mini-van we rented – a Chevy Uplander. It was a nice ride – huge inside, and we needed the space because we were carrying up to 7 people at a time, but I felt so guilty guzzling all that gas. Joe complained every time he had to park it.

There are so many other things, but I’m running out of time, so I’ll leave you with a pretty picture.

Important Quickie

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

This is just a quickie post – we just got back from L.A. late Tuesday night, where we spent a long weekend with Joe’s family at his grandfather’s funeral. Since we’ve been back, I’ve been busy with laundry and other catch-up chores, but hope to have some real blog time tonight.

In the mean time, Stephanie over at the Yarn Harlot has spoken my mind on the breastfeeding issue better than I can ever hope to. There has been a recent ruckus in the blogosphere and in the real-world media about a recommendation to encourage breastfeeding more by I think the American Academy of Pediatrics, but it might have been the World Health Organization or both. The scientific evidence showing that breastfeeding is important to the health and development of babies is overwhelming. Go read what Stephanie says to see how I feel. Even if you don’t care about nursing issues, go take a look at her blog – she does wonderful knitting and is a really cool person.

Oh, and she’s looking for fruit hats to help support the pro-nursing cause. I’m casting on for one today. If you knit, and are in the Twin Cities area, I’d be happy to help you start one too. I’ll even give you the materials you need.

Comfort Food

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Okay, maybe I’m not all *that* desperate, but I sure was frustrated this afternoon. It’s pretty hard getting a not-quite-three-year-old to understand that if she can just shut up and leave me the hell alone for 15 minutes, I will probably be able to get her little sister to sleep and then I will be at her individual mercy for a while at least. It’s even harder to maintain your cool when the baby finally does go to sleep, but wakes up 20 minutes later and when I’m trying to quickly soothe her back down for the rest of her nap by quietly stroking her eyebrow (go figure, it works!) the toddler comes up and starts jumping around and talking loudly, thus ensuring that baby’s naptime is completely and totally over even though she’s still exhausted from practicing rolling over all morning.

This, dear readers, is just the tip of the iceberg of my frustrations today. There are some other stressful things going on that I will disclose later, but for security reasons I need to play my cards close till sometime next week. Don’t worry, it’s nothing Bad, just something I don’t want to talk about till it’s over. Oh, the suspense!

So, to self-medicate with food despite the fact that I’m still avoiding most of my favorite poisons, I dredged up a childhood comfort food memory and did my best to replicate it for tonight’s dinner. It wasn’t a perfect match, but it tasted great nonetheless and Joe cleaned his plate and Julie at least didn’t complain. Brace yourselves, it’s a truly decadent recipe. So decadent that it involves frying half a pound of bacon and not pouring off the grease.

Start with half a pound of bacon. Fry it up nice and crispy. Set the bacon aside, but keep that pan hot ’cause you’re going to put about 5 thinly-sliced potatoes in it. Stir ‘em around so they all get nice and coated with the grease, then cook them, flipping carefully every so often, till they’re cooked through and have nice crunchy brown bits throughout. Slice up a Vidalia onion fairly thin, and in a separate pan cook it slowly with some olive oil till the pieces are limp and a bit caramelized. I think if you had a big enough pan, you could probably do the onions with the potatoes, but I didn’t. Thaw out some frozen okra in the microwave, then add it to the onions to heat it up some more. The version in my distant past involved garden-fresh okra, but that wasn’t available today. Crumble up the bacon and toss it and the onion mixture in with the potatoes and cook for a couple minutes more. That’s it. Really good eats. Not exactly the dish I had when I was a kid, but close. In a perfect world, it would be served with a big plate of sliced, salt and peppered garden-fresh tomatoes and a dish of cucumbers and onions in vinegar. Maybe even some wilted-lettuce salad. Tonight we just had some fresh spinach salad with the random grocery-store veggies from the fridge sliced up on top.

It would have been perfect if I hadn’t had to give up eating my dinner halfway through to soothe an overtired baby. I finally just got her to sleep and laid her down in the crib at 10:15. God help me, I’m going to go unwind with my knitting needles in front of the TV for a while.

Aaand, we’re back.

Friday, June 16th, 2006

In case you noticed, my site disappeared for a couple days there. After several weeks of drought, we had quite the thunderstorm Thursday night. One particular lightning bolt struck close enough that I (with my poor sense of smell) could smell the ozone and it fried a couple of key components of our home network. Since we serve our own domains, it meant bye-bye web sites and e-mail connectivity till Joe bought new modems and access points and got them all configured. Quite a task, apparently, but he valiantly rose to the occasion and it’s all working once more. I love having a husband who is even more of a nerdy tech-head than me.

It just so happened that Joe had promised me some time to myself Thursday night, to be used for the express purpose of blogging. I had so much to say and it was getting backed up, running around in my brain, causing me all kinds of anxiety. Now there is even more bottled up and running around in there, so watch out, here comes at least some of it.

Let’s start with some nice pictures.

First, Julie and Sophie in the double stroller getting ready for our walk to the library last Tuesday. See how Sophie is grabbing at the toys above her? She’s really getting the hang of grabbing stuff lately – versus just waving her arms at it.

Julie is sporting a Hello Kitty bandage on her right eyebrow, covering the three stitches she got Monday night (a week ago) after bonking her head on the nightstand. You can read Joe’s version of events here. He really beats himself up about these things, and so I’m going to share two older photos of Julie, the aftermath of incidents that happened under my watch.
Her first shiner, after a similar incident where she fell off the bed and hit her head on the nightstand while reaching for a book in July 2004.

Secondly, her first road rash, after falling while trying to run along an asphalt path at Shepherd’s Harvest in May 2005.

Julie got her stitches out on Friday, and the little owie seems to be healing just fine. She will have a scar, but hopefully it will be mostly obscured by her eyebrow. It’s funny, the night before I jokingly said something to Joe about “Do you think I should save the stitches for her scrapbook the way moms save the first haircut hair?” and he said “I still can’t believe people really save locks of hair. Yuck.” I had fogotten how creeped out he was by that after Julie’s first haircut.

Okay, here’s another happy one. Julie is busy enjoying her sandbox.

Here’s Sophie that same afternoon. She loves laying out on the blanket under the elm trees, and lately she’s been getting lots of practice rolling over and squirming around. Joe watched her do a complete 360 turn over the course of maybe half an hour the other day. I can’t believe how quickly she’s growing and changing.

In preparation for my planned blogging time last Thursday, I had taken a couple of pictures of my knitting basket contents. Even though I’ve made significant progress since they were taken, I’ll use what I have so there’s something interesting to show next time.

  • Starting on the upper left, the current pair of on-the-go socks are some Fortissima self-striping yarn in a plain stockinette that knits up really fast. Both are past the heel, so it’s smooth sailing till they’re done.
  • Next we have the finished pair of Dublin Bay socks, which you can’t see very well, but they have a simple lace pattern inset on the ankle and I’m very happy with how they turned out. That’s a free pattern from Mossy Cottage, although I changed it to use only 64 sts instead of 72 in order to fit my feet better.
  • The socks on the right are the most-expensive-socks-I’ll-ever-knit, ready for some purple toes. I actually finished knitting them over the weekend, and I’m in love with ‘em. They might even get to take a trip to the State Fair, I’m so satisfied with them. I did a little something interesting with the toes that I’ve never done before, and I’m curious to see whether the State Fair judges would like it the way I think I do. More on that another time if you’re lucky.
  • Down at the bottom of the picture are a couple of balls of that cotton yarn I was using to make the -ahem- Ann Norling items. I’ve made three now and have enough yarn for one more.
  • There’s also a swatch of fabric spit out by my knitting machine from that yarn that climbed out of the stash last month. I like how the swatch turned out, I even somewhat enjoyed knitting it up, but I’m really thinking about putting the machine away again without knitting an actual garment right now because there is too much else on my knitting to-do list.

This little sweater wouldn’t fit in the picture with all the socks. The pink one is a little bavarian twist thing I designed for Sophie last winter before she was born. My original intent was to knit a similar one for Julie so they could match, but I was sick of cables by the time Sophie’s was done. I decided I could handle them again and that I want to get this puppy done before the State Fair so that I at least have the option of entering it if I think it’s worthy. Also, we’ve scheduled a family photo shoot in August with Jeff Dunn, the guy who did our wedding, and I think it would be perfect to have them in those sweaters. I obviously have a ways to go before then, so I’m expecting this to be my tv-watching knitting for most of the summer.

There are so many other things I’ve been wanting to talk about. There’s been some breastfeeding debate going on in and out of the blogosphere in the last couple of weeks, and I wanted to share my own set of opinions on that, but not tonight. I could tell you about all the dinners I’ve cooked in the last two weeks – including some inedibly charred NY Strip steaks, some brats that had to be nuked after I took the first bite of mine, and some shish kebab that rocked. My poor allergy page continues to languish. I could tell you about Sophie’s new ECFE class, and the experience we had with the sibling-care for Julie…but all that will have to wait. It’s getting late and the knitting it calls.

Four Months

Saturday, June 10th, 2006

Sophie is four months old as of yesterday. We had her well-child visit, and she is just perfect. She’s a nice little chunk, has grown three inches in the last two months, and has a smallish head just like her daddy (the poor guy has to wear youth sizes in fitted baseball caps). As the nurse practitioner was asking me all the normal well-child questions, I realized yet again how wonderful life is. Sophie is a happy baby most of the time. At this point in Julie’s life, I was practically breaking down in tears begging the doctor for help figuring out what was wrong with my baby, how could we help her stop screaming all the time, figure out what was hurting her so constantly. Well, life is pretty good.

This morning, Julie demonstrated again what a great big sister she can be. Sophie was fussing in her crib as I finished my shower – she had been asleep when I went in, and woke up and started fussing just a little. Julie came in and told me she was awake. “Sophie’s eyes are open. Mama go pick her up.” Julie has also been known to gently put Sophie’s pacifier back in her mouth if I ask her to. Although Julie seems somewhat oblivious, Sophie loves watching Julie’s antics and will give Julie some of her biggest gummy grins ever.

Sophie makes the cutest laughs. They are sort of grunty Huh Huh Huh kind of laughs interspersed with squeals and giggles. The best way to get her to laugh is to laugh at her. She’ll do something cute that makes me laugh, and before I know it she is laughing with me. Raspberries and tummy-tickling are somewhat less effective, although so much fun to do I can hardly stop myself most of the time.

Sophie has been working her abdominal muscles pretty hard the last couple of weeks especially. She tries to sit up straight when she’s stuck in any baby-holding device like the car seat or her bouncy seat or swing, and if I lay her down awake on the baby gym mat or in her crib, she immediately starts trying to roll over. In fact, she DID roll over this evening. Three times from back to front, and once back to the back again. It is so engrossing to watch her try to pull her fat little hands out from under her body and try to prop herself up.

Her favorite toy right now is her hands. She loves bringing them together, waving them around, putting them in her mouth to explore them fully. The many rattles I keep trying to hand her are somewhat interesting for a moment, especially when I am shaking them for her, but she doesn’t really have the control yet to hold them herself for long without flinging them across the room.

I keep begging time to slow down right now. I want this phase to last longer. Before we know it she will be crawling, and after that it will be pulling up and walking, then running and chasing after Julie. All of those stages will be fun in their own right, I know. But this one is pretty awesome right now.

Sorry, I should have some amazing pictures to go with this post and I don’t. I’ll do my best to take some good ones this week.

Not Much Bloggin’

Tuesday, June 6th, 2006

I feel very behind on the blogging at the moment, mostly because I haven’t had much time to myself this last week. Sophie had a few fussy nights for some reason – I’m thinking it may be because I ate some ice cream and maybe she really doesn’t like the milk products. Too bad, so sad, time to get back on the weight-loss wagon anyway. On top of that, she’s gotten a lot more active lately, and we’ve had to change her evening sleeping arrangements. We had – um – been putting her down to sleep in the swing (with the swing swinging) in the evenings because it seemed to help her sleep better, especially in the early days when she had somewhat fussy evenings. Then we would take her up to bed when we went up ourselves. In the last couple of weeks, she had been waking up and wiggling around a little too much for my comfort. So I decided it was time to transition her to the crib, especially before she gets any older and more aware of the change in routine. And that’s what we’ve been doing the last few evenings. Knock on wood, it’s been going pretty smoothly.

Tonight I taught the first session of a new knitting class at the Yarnery, and it went really well. It’s a two-color knitting class and they all seemed to pick up the tricks I was teaching them right away. I start with knitting with the hand you’re not used to using, then we do a little math to figure out how many to cast on because we’re designing the hat as we go, then I show them a provisional crochet cast on and send them home to practice knitting with their other hand for the week before we try using both hands at once. I love it when they all have good attitudes and there are no party-poopers in the bunch. I’ve been enjoying a very pleasant streak of nice knitters in my classes lately.

Last week I put up an auction on e-bay for a few skeins of yarn from my stash that I knew I would never use and that had no sentimental value to me. I’m not the kind of person who has to hold on to something if I don’t love it or need it, and I thought I could get at least a few dollars out of the deal. Silly me – the auction closed yesterday with one bid – I’m getting 99 cents plus postage. That might just cover the cost of posting it. Oh well, I’m sure it’s going to a good home. Now I have a little space left in one of my stash boxes that could hold something new and exciting too.

I’ve been having a lot of fun shopping for my yarn-ball swap partner. I bought a couple little things at the store tonight, and I’ve been experimenting with another little item that I made to put in it as well. It turned out okay, and I think I’m getting pretty close to ready to wrap the things all up and ship it off. Hopefully by the middle of next week it will be done. I have all month to get it shipped, but I don’t want to procrastinate on this.

That’s about it. I haven’t updated the allergy page this week at all even though I have been cooking. I’ve just been too busy dealing with a fussy baby and having fun with a rampant toddler. Julie is loving the summer weather. We spent a good chunk of the afternoon splashing in the wading pool again today. She already has tan lines from her swimsuit (despite plenty of sunscreen). I need to post some swimpool pics – it’s on the to-do list, I promise!

Magic Yarn Ball

Saturday, June 3rd, 2006

For a couple of years now, I’ve been aware of an intriguing phenomena where complete, or at least relative, strangers exchange various things after meeting and corresponding on the internet. To be honest, I guess I’ve seen this happening in various forms for more like 8 or 9 years in online communities. Someone was having a bad streak, and someone else would overnight them a box of cookies. Someone else was moving and wanted to get rid of some books, so they offered them to their online friends.

But the more recent version of it, the one I’ve really only been aware of for the last few of years is the crafty one, and I’ve always thought it sounded neat, but never had the gumption to sign up for one. It starts with some online group – the first one I saw was in the Socknitter’s Yahoo group, and they were exchanging little mini-socks. Over time, I’ve seen people in the same group do normal-size sock exchanges. I’ve wanted to join in, but always felt afraid that I would fail to get my socks knit up and sent off in time.

Even more recently, I’ve seen this swapping thing take off to whole new levels. Often, some popular blogger suggests a swap – hand dyed yarn, socks, scarves, scrapbook materials – you name it they swap it. It’s been done enough that there are even sites out there that manage it all for the group. Last week I saw an announcement of a new swap starting on a blog I read, whipup.net, and not only did it sound like fun, but also easy enough that I was sure I could get it done in the month alotted. The idea is that you take some yarn and wind it into a ball, hiding little gifts in it as you wind. Then you ship it off to the person that the computer randomly selected as your swap-buddy. If everything works out like it’s supposed to, you then expect to get a similar ball of yarn in the mail from a different swap-buddy who drew your name. Then, you knit up a project of some kind and as you knit out pop the little gifts one by one.

Yes, this is a little nutty. But I am coming in late to the game – this thing has been going on for quite a while (swapping weird stuff with strangers on the Internet) and people keep doing it, so it must work out and be kind of fun. In a way, it’s like the pen pal from Japan I had in grade school who sometimes sent me interesting stickers and things and I sent her something in return – I have no memory of what.

So I signed up, and I heard from the person who got my name, Magni in Norway. I’m getting yarn from Norway!!!! That sounds like fun to me. She seems very nice, and I’ve read her blog. She’s also a mom who knits, and her craftiness blows me out of the water. I got the name and information for the person I’m sending my ball to – Amy also a mom and lives in Nashville and is also very creative. It looks like she’s getting ready to start her own stationery boutique. I e-mailed her and haven’t heard back yet, but from reading her blog I got a few ideas for things to include. In fact, I have many ideas of things to include, and will have to whittle them down to a reasonable number in order to get the thing together and sent off in time.

Anyway, one other thing about these swaps is that they have buttons – little images that you can put on your blog to show that you’re participating. I’m putting my little button up over on the right and linking to this entry (if I get the coding right, I hope!) I’ll try to post updates as new information develops. What I’d really like to talk about is all the cool stuff I’m going to be putting in Amy’s yarn ball, but of course if I did that I might be ruining Amy’s surprise. So I’ll have to wait till it’s all over to tell.

Not Liberace

Thursday, June 1st, 2006

We were at cousin Katelyn’s house this morning, and the girls had a good time together. They sat down at the grand piano and started fooling around, so I took a little video clip of it. It’s very cute, but like a fool I had the camera turned sideways so I could get a better shot. Only, unlike regular photos, I don’t know how to rotate videos on the screen. If you’re up for it, you can view it here – just tilt your head 90 degrees to the left. I promise I’ll do better next time. Katelyn is singing a medley of “Hot Cross Buns” and “Three Blind Mice”. Oh, and it’s kind of a big file – almost 4 meg. You might have to play it in Real Player to get the sound to work – for some reason Windows Media didn’t want to play the sound for me. You can see I spent a lot of time figuring out how to make your video-viewing experience most pleasurable. Sorry, but I had to go to the grocery store tonight, and I’m pooped. I’ll try to come up with something a bit more professional tomorrow. Maybe. :-)