Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Lovely Christmas Day

Mitchell woke up around normal time and rushed out to see if Santa had come. He was worried he had gotten on the "Naughty List" at the very last moment... Right before bed time, he pulled a towel bar off of the wall, leaving a large hole in the dry wall. Chris and I were not pleased. As he went to bed, he said, "Am I going to get any presents, tonight?"

Well, Santa came, anyway...

Christmas 2012
Mitchell was surprised by the T-ball batting set. It wasn't on his list!

We had gift exchanges with both sets of grandparents, and all four grandparents joined us for lunch and dinner.

Christmas 2012
Gma W was more interested in watching Mitchell than in her presents! Grandmas... go figure!

Christmas 2012
I made both grandpas fingerless mitts.

Christmas 2012
I think Chris liked the magic wand from his parents as much as Mitchell did.

Mitchell is a huge Lego fan, and Santa (and grandparents) brought him some Hobbit Lego sets. We spent all afternoon putting together, Attack of the Wargs.

Christmas 2012
I showed Gma E the process we use, sorting the pieces by type. I usually help Mitchell find the pieces, and he assembles them.

Christmas 2012
Gma and Gpa E enjoyed helping Mitchell with the Legos.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Fiddlehead Mittens for Mom

The Fiddlehead Mittens were part of the Southern Cross Fibre “semi-solid” spin along on Ravelry. I just finished them last Friday. I included them in the gift summary in the previous post, but I have a bit more to say…

Fiddleheads Finished

Fiddleheads Finished

Fiddleheads Finished

I’ve been working on these mittens for a couple of months, in between the other Christmas gift knitting and such. You can find more info on the handspun yarn and pattern in this post from November. The fact that I spun seven colors of yarn, combined with the fairisle design and then the lining, made these mittens a bit more involved than some of the other Christmas gift knitting. I didn’t bother to hide the process from my mom, because that would make it harder to get done… and she had no idea they were for her, anyway.

At one point in the spin-along forum on Ravelry, I mentioned something about having to get them done before Christmas. Another member of the forum, said, “Whoa whoa whoa. Are you saying those mitts will be Christmas gifts?!?” I said, “Yes. They’re for my mom. I know it will be hard to give them away… But Moms you know… well, they’re moms.”

Well, that being said, and I’m sure many of you must feel the same way about your moms, I also feel that I haven’t said enough.

"My mom is wonderful."

There. That is what I want to say.

I wish that I could paint a picture to tell you who she is to me. It isn’t an easy thing to convey, but I want to try.

My mom is the next-to-youngest daughter in a Texas farm family who had so many kids that the oldest daughter was married and moved away and having children of her own before the youngest child was born.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Baby Linda Kay with Siblings Virgil, Virginia, and Zula

Mom Fiddlehead Post
With Maternal Grandmother, Siblings and Cousins (Mom front on Grandma’s right, Virgil front left, Mary, Virginia, Zula in back)

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Fourth Grade

Of course, I only know what I’ve been told about Mom’s years on the farm, but basically mom grew up helping with a lot of aspects of providing for the family and herself.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Farm Fresh Eggs Don't Come in Styrofoam Cartons

One of my best memories of visiting Grandma’s house when I was a kid was the fresh bread and homemade butter—from fresh cow’s milk! Yum! Here’s how I remember my Grandma.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Mom’s Mom

Mom was always close with her brother, Virgil, and then, later, his wife, Gail.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Mom and Gail, 1962

Mom went to Texas Women’s College at Denton, studying nursing for a year before marrying my dad. They met at a Valentine’s Dance in 1964 and married that June.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
March 29, 1964

I once asked her why in the world she didn’t finish school. She said, “I went to college to find a husband, and I found one.” I was surprised, and she said, (I’m paraphrasing of course, since this was probably twenty or more years ago), “You have to understand how different things were, then. My family expected me to sit at home and wait for a man to come and find me. Going to college to find a husband was an extremely ambitious thing to do.”

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Mom always said having to wash dishes a lot
meant you were eating well

Enter two kids, almost three years apart. As an Airman in the USAF in the late 60’s and early 70’s, my dad spent a lot of time in Vietnam—among other places, but mainly Vietnam during my first few years of life—and my mom managed us on her own a large part of the time. In the picture below, my mom is wearing a dress she made herself from cloth my dad brought back from overseas.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Someone is Missing From This Group

Mom Fiddlehead Post
There, That’s Better!

For folks that know my family, and me, it may seem “given” that my dad was my role model. He has always loved airplanes, and I was inundated with them, growing up. We lived on or near Air Force bases, giving me a certain perspective somewhat different from average folks. For example, Dad took us for a seemingly random drive, once, parking on a rise outside of the Beale AFB main gate, and it turns out that what I was seeing was the SR-71 take off on its way to do the speed run to London.

Airplanes were a daily site. One of the images that sticks in my mind is the way the B-52 tails looked like shark fins poking up above the horizon as we drove toward the airfield. We went to the base air show every year. Here is a picture of me in a T-38 at one of the shows.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
I Could Barely Peek Out of the Cockpit

Dad worked on R/C models every chance he had, and the whole family got involved to varying degrees.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Learning to Fly at Age 11

Since I turned out to be an aerospace engineer, it’s impossible to argue that my dad and his ways didn’t shape me. If I were a Christmas Cookie, (a sugar cookie, of course) I suppose that would make him the cutter… but my mom made the dough.

In my High School yearbook, there is a section where seniors submit favorite quotes. Mine was, “Can’t never could do anything.” Nobody ever asked me about that. I can remember learning that quote when I was learning to tie my shoes. Literally. Perhaps I had already heard that quote a few times before, but that is the time I remember. I was fussing and trying to get Mom to do it for me, and saying I couldn’t do it. She said, “Can’t never could do anything.” I remember stopping and looking at her and saying, “What?” She repeated it. (Say it out loud to yourself. It sounds weird.) Who or what is the subject of that sentence? Perhaps to a kid just learning to express herself, particularly, the wording seemed odd, and I had to ask myself what the heck that meant. I thought about it a lot. I would think about it more over the years to come, when my mom would offer up the same words, advising me, almost taunting me, challenging me to find a way around something besides resorting to, “Can’t.

When I got into high school, I had already formulated a plan to become an engineer, and I already knew I wanted to go to the best school I could groom myself to get into. The main tenet of the plan was to get straight A’s and become Valedictorian. (When I was a senior, my English teacher reminded me that I had announced my intention to be Valedictorian when I introduced myself in her class at the beginning of freshman year. I had forgotten about that. Or maybe I had just shut it out. What a piece of work. Sheesh.) My plan went along fine until the first quarter of sophomore year, when I got a B in American History. Of course, quarter grades didn’t actually affect GPA. Only semester grades did. We also didn’t have any plusses or minuses. If two quarter grades were different, the LAST one counted, so I could still get an A in my GPA by getting an A the second quarter. Even so, I was horrified. It did not bode well for my plans. When I got home that day, I told my mom about it, and I lay on my bed with the light off until dinner time, brooding. When I came out for dinner, my dad talked to me about it. You have to understand, to start with, that my dad thought I was a little bit too tightly wound. He told me that it was inevitable, and that it would hurt less if I got it over with sooner—if I went into junior or even senior year before it happened, I would just be that much more disappointed. I didn’t take that point of view as at all comforting. I didn’t say much, and neither did my mom. Later, after I had sulked all evening and was getting ready for bed, my mom came in to say goodnight. She said, “The only one that can fix it is you. If you want it, go get it.”

The fact that Mom did not have a high profile “career” did not keep her from teaching me to set the bar high. When she does something, she does it well.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Matching Dresses Made by Mom, 1973

My mom sewed my clothes from the time I was small. My parents gave me my first sewing machine for a birthday when I was in Junior High, and I took Home Ec sewing the summer before 8th grade to get a “crash course.” After that, Mom could help with anything I needed. One time, I was putting sleeves in a blouse, and I had sewn a pleat in the back shoulder. I took it in to my mom (who was also sewing) and showed it to her and asked if I could leave it like that. She said, “If you want to wear it like that, go ahead.” Of course, I didn’t. She taught me that the only one I had to please was me. Here’s a picture of the blouse in question:

Mom Fiddlehead Post
My High School Sophomore Picture, 1983

My mom is my best friend. She always has been. We still get our hair cut together every four weeks.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
That Thing On My Head Is a Hairdryer

Even when I was an, “I know what I’m doing, so don’t tell me anything,” teenager, I was never on the outs with my mom. Of course I disagreed with some things she said or did, but I typically found out fairly shortly that she was right. One time in junior high, I had several friends over for a slumber party. Afterward, my mom told me to be careful of a certain girl, that she was not really my friend and would throw me under the bus (or some such metaphor) when she had the slightest reason to do so. I disagreed with her, and it is the one time I can remember feeling like she, “Didn't get it.” I didn’t appreciate her assessment of my friend (or the implication of my own lack of importance to my supposed friend). But, of course, my mother is and always was extremely astute, and she turned out (unfortunately) to be absolutely, spot-on correct in her assessment. Mom’s advice was always right, even at times I didn’t want to hear it, but she didn’t press me. She told me what she thought and then let me make my own decisions…

I feel that I live a blessed life. In more ways than one, it is the life my mother made me.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Septermber 18, 2004

I love you, Mom!

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Christmas Gifting

I've been working up various little gifts for folks over the last couple of months. I held off posting them until after the holiday. Now that everything is gifted, I can post them. (The links go to Ravelry project pages.)

Fingerless Mitts for Dad and Ron For Mitchell's Teacher
Beret for Vicky Beret for Mic
Cowl for Chris Cowl for Mom
Mittens for Mom Mittens for Barb

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Monday, December 24, 2012

Baking Christmas Cookies

My mom baked cookies with me and Mitchell, yesterday. Baking cookies together is something my mom and I have done for as long as I can remember. This year, we made sugar cookies, Gingerbread Boys, and Santa Surprises. The Santa Surprises are basically a piece of Snickers bar wrapped in peanut butter cookie dough. After baking, they get drizzled with Dove chocolate. They're awesomely decadent. Here are some pictures of cutting the Gingerbread Boys.

Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies

The sugar cookie recipe we use is one that my mom got on a label of a new cookie sheet in 1964, when she and my dad had their first Christmas together. I think it makes the best sugar cookies in the whole world.

Christmas Cookies

Of course, for me, these evoke memories of childhood Christmases. Even allowing for that, and attempting to be impartial, they seem terrific. Given the source and age of the recipe, I imagine I'm unbound by copyright limitations in sharing this recipe:

Mom's Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups sifted flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg plus milk to make 1/3 cup
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into bowl. Add oil. Blend well with fork or pastry blender. Mixture will appear dry. In second bowl, beat sugar, vanilla, and egg mixture. Add second mixture with first mixture, then chill at least one hour. (I usually chill it overnight, if possible.) Roll out on a floured board and cut as desired. Bake in 400 degree oven about nine minutes, until edges are just beginning to brown. Remove to cooling racks. Once completely cool, decorate with icing and sprinkles. The original recipe says it makes 3 dozen small cookies, but it should have said "very small!" We used to make 4-6 times the recipe. These days, I double it.

For icing, not part of the original recipe, we start with confectioners sugar. I used half a large bag for a double batch of sugar cookies and a double batch of Gingerbread Boys, and it worked out exactly right. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until it seems the right consistency. For the half bag of sugar, I ended up using around fifteen tablespoons. Then, the most important part to get these cookies to taste just right: Add a few drops of almond extract to the frosting.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sing, Snowflake, Sing!

Mitchell sang in his Winter Musical on Tuesday night. All the kids in First Grade were either snowflakes or snirts. (Snow plus dirt). We didn't feel ready for snow, but we got some on Thursday. Since today is the first day of winter, perhaps it was time...

Snowflake

Snowflake

Snowflake

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Experiments

Mitchell likes to mix things and see what happens, a practice that began with his first "baking soda and vinegar" volcano. Now, if he slows down enough to be slightly bored, he's known to say, "Can we do an experiment?"

Experiments 1

Experiments

Experiments 3

Experiments 4

We are very blessed.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bohus Yoke Progress

I made it to the bottom of the Bohus yoke, and I added some "dripping" colorwork at the bottom of the chart, after dividing for the sleeves. I worked the entire chart, even though it was designed for much smaller gauge. The result turned out to be a "funnel neck," which I actually like! I thought I was going to end up with the neck as expected but the body starting late (underarms well below where they should normally be). So I was pleasantly surprised, which is just luck or good knitting karma or something. I can't claim to have made it into a funnel neck on purpose...

BMB

BMB

Here is a closeup of the "dripping" at the edge of the yoke.
BMB

BMB

Some blocking will make it lay a bit flatter... but I'm happy with how it fits! So far, so good.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mitchell!!

Mitchell's birthday is this week, and we enjoyed his party at Edison's Entertainment Complex, with a couple games of laser tag.

birthday

birthday

birthday

birthday

birthday

birthday

birthday

birthday

birthday

birthday

birthday

birthday

birthday

birthday

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay