Friday, February 29, 2008

Family Photo Friday: Random

Not much of a story today, I just wanted to check in and say that I haven't had a baby. All signs point to labour starting a.s.a.p., but there's been nothing but teaser contractions and such. Every now and then I think we're on our way to the hospital in a few hours and then everything stops. Does anyone have any experience with this kind of thing? I'm not getting a lot of info from medical professionals other than "it should start within 24 hours."

Anyway, here's a picture of my lovely Grandma Ruby when she was a young lady. Enjoy.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Nesting Portraits

So, remember how last post I was lamenting how my kids seem to be in such a hurry to be born (Ruby was two weeks early, and at three weeks to go, I'd gone into pre-labour with Frank). Well, I jinxed myself. Five days into pre-labour and there is no sign of the baby. Now, I understand that pre-labour can go on for weeks, but since my water broke with Ruby before any labour symptoms even started, this is new for me. It's freaky, it hurts, and I'm starting to get really impatient. Every time I talk to/see a medical professional they tell me that I should be good to go within 24 hours, but it's just not happening. I finally saw my OB today who quite frankly told me that it could be weeks still (his bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired, but at least he's matter-of-fact). Ugh. Well, at least I got to see the Oscars.

Through all of this I've been in pretty hard-core nesting mode -- on Thursday alone I did about six loads of laundry. I've also put together just about every piece of baby equipment we own and even though he'll be in our room for a few months in the cradle, I've been starting to transform my office into a nursery. In a way, this is hard for me because I'm not too jazzed about losing my who A Room Of One's Own vibe, but there's so many cute things to be done.

I've been wanting to make the Swatch Portraits that showed up at Purl Bee about a year ago since they first became such a blog sensation, but haven't had the motivation until now. A couple of months ago I bought a bunch of kids' fabric from (you guessed it) Reprodepot with the intention of making portraits for Ruby's room, but once they arrived I decided that they were a bit too baby-ish for my growingly mature little girl's room. Since they weren't too girly, I saved them for Frank and voila! Three swatch portraits to hang over his diaper table.

I really love all of these fabrics (I have a similar one with a Sleeping Beauty theme that I got from Superbuzzy, also ages ago) and I see them all over people's blogs. So cute. The yellow one is a Wizard of Oz theme, the brown one an ABC/apple pie kind of deal, and the white one about counting. So cute. I want to get more of the story-driven ones, but I have no idea what I'll do with them -- I'm just coveting.

So, that's about it. Wish me luck with this whole labour thing. Like I said, I'm not in too big of a hurry to see Frank -- he's still a few weeks before his due date -- but the anticipation that comes with this prelabour nonsense is killing me. I'm at 2 cm right now -- only 8 to go.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Grand Apron #2

I really wanted to whip up another nursing apron before baby day and I managed to eek out enough time yesterday. I used the same recipe as the last time, so the sewing and cutting only took a couple of hours to do. Easy as pie. I used some fabric that I got ages ago at Repro Depot. I bought it with no real purpose and a single yard was just the right amount for this apron. Hooray.

Above is a picture of it on. I didn't really have the patience to stage a decent self-shoot, so this is the best you get.

And, it looks like I finished just in the nick of time, as I seem to have gone into pre-labour. I think it's still going to be a couple of days, but it looks like I'm going to have another February baby. Three weeks early? Why can't these kids give me a little extra time? Always in such a rush!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Colorform Me Beautiful

Poor Ruby. Everything here has been about organizing the baby's clothes, putting together the baby's bed, finding time for mommy to have a rest... She's been throwing a lot of tantrums and just generally driving me crazy, which only makes me feel more guilty. Life's hard for a three-year-old princess who's being forced to abdicate her throne.

One thing that we're having fun doing together though, is old school Colorforms. She got the set for her birthday and it's the perfect retro, not changed for the new now times kind of toy. Just plain vinyl shapes that stick to shiny work boards. Leena bought them at the suggestion of Aaron's sister's girlfriend Erin, who is a really great artist and claims that Colorforms paved the way to art school for her.

As you can see, Ruby is influenced by the work of Jackson Pollock, who she knows from the original Olivia storybook (you know, Olivia sees a Pollock at the museum and then attempts to recreate it on the wall at home, which results in a time-out). Either way, it's good times and right now I'll take just about anything that keeps down the whining about turning on the TV.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Family Photo Friday: Happy V-Day

Happy belated Valentine's Day (or as my dear friend Kitty always calls it, V-D Day), if you're into that kind of thing. So far in these family photo things I've been mostly talking about my mom's family. This isn't a prejudice, it's just that I don't know quite as much about my dad's fam. My dad has never talked a whole lot about his family; he only has one brother who I don't see a whole lot; his dad passed away some years ago and was never very chatty about such things; and his mom, my Grandma Vi tends to... well, we'll call it exaggerating. I can't really fault her, as, ahem, creative embellishment is a trait shared by both my father and myself as well, but it's really hard to believe much that she says. And as she gets older her memory gets more creative. So take the following story with a grain of salt.

The above photo is the portrait taken at Grandma Vi and Grandpa George's wedding in about 1941 or so. I don't know many details about their wedding -- although they claim they had to run away to get hitched because neither's parents approved of their engagement. But, here's the story of how they (and I do stress, allegedly) met. My grandfather worked as a refrigeration repair technician and my grandmother worked as a receptionist at some company that he had to call often. They came to recognize each other's voices and took to flirting on the phone. Vi claims that his voice was rather sexy.

So, one night, Vi was out bowling with some girlfriends. Apparently, my clumsy ways were also inherited from her and as she lobbed the ball down the alley her feet fell out from under her and she went sliding to the ground. A gentleman from the next lane walked over and said "Can I help you up?" She immediately looked up at him, recognized that sexy voice and said "George?" To which he replied, "Vi?" And they lived happily ever after.

Up until the time of his death, George liked to say "Yup, I picked her up out of the gutter." He meant it to be charming and she always thought it was.

In other news, Aaron really pulled one out of the hat for our Valentines Day. Much to my horror, he's been out of town for work a lot lately (I'll remind you I'm eight months pregnant!) and he came home from New York yesterday with cupcakes from Magnolia. I know people who live in NYC are totally over Magnolia, but in these parts they're quite an exotic treat from my sweet.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Kickin' With Koigu

When it comes to socks, I'm a bit of a one trick pony. Lorna's Laces (or yarn with exactly the same thickness) knit on US #1 DPNs, cuff down, with a standard heel flap and a really simple lace or rib pattern. The lovely and talented Lucy showed up at my Christmas party in December with a hostess gift of sock yarn! Is that not totally awesome? She gave me a nice fat hank of Cherry Tree Hill, plus two hanks of Koigu Kpppm, which I've never dared to use before.

I admit, I've been frightened of Koigu because of the slightly thicker weight and the recommended size 3 needles on the label. I'm not great at adjusting for gauge and I know that most sock patterns will work with my standard Lorna's Laces formula. So, I sought out patterns that specifically called for Koigu, starting with Crusoe, which I don't love the look of (it's a stranded slip-stitch pattern), but seem to do well with the Koigu.

Mistake. I didn't heed the word of the naysayers on Ravelry, who complained that these socks knit up way too small and overestimated the heavyness of the Koigu. After knitting the gusset and the heel I realized that there was no way that I'd get these socks on my feet. Way too tight. I never wear my Jaywalkers because there's no give, so even if I added more stitches or went up another needle size (which I'd already done), I was going to hate these socks. I frogged so quickly that I didn't even have time for a picture. So I moved on to Anastasia.

Again, I wasn't totally confident with my ability to guess on the gauge (and I can't be bothered to swatch with socks), so I went with the recommended needle size and, as you can see from the above photo, they were way too big. But, I'm so excited about my first pair of toe-ups and I love the simple pattern that I cast on with smaller needles and completed my first sock yesterday. And it fits. And the short row heel and toe don't look totally horrible. Hoorah!

I'll post pictures once I'm done sock #2 -- I really want to finish before the baby comes so that I can wear them for the delivery or pad around the hospital in them. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

SPC: Blue Week #2

Do you expect much from Valentines Day? When we first got together, I always half expected Aaron to surprise me with a Valentine -- nothing too special, but something. I was always disappointed. I'd come home from work expecting to be greeted by a bouquet of flowers or a heart-shaped box, and I'd just get Aaron asking me what I was cooking for dinner. I've learned to stop expecting and even to stop asking -- when I do suggest something specific (afterall, the guy isn't a mind reader), he gets angry, saying that I'm only spoiling any surprise that he may have been planning. It's too complicated.

He is pretty good with birthdays though (other than the first year of our marriage when he gave me Julia Child's Mastering The Art Of French Cooking as an unsubtle hint that he wanted me to improve my culinary skills). And he has a charming habit of buying me costume jewelry, something I never do for myself. So, in honour of my sometimes romantic husband, here's one of my favourite necklaces, in a shade of blue that he often turns to for his purchases (I have a similar-shaded ring, which I can't model because my hands are way too puffy these days). I love it. And I love it all the more because it was indeed a surprise.

Monday, February 11, 2008


We've been having some digestive problems in our house. Okay, Ruby has. The kid is picky -- I think we manage to get an alright amount of fruits and veg and fibre into her diet, but her preferences lean towards cheese ravioli, pizza, peanut butter sandwiches, bananas and other constipating foods. So, I'm trying to sneak at least one super duper healthy ingredient into any baked snack, just to get some extra oomph (and hopefully some regularity) into her little bod.

I don't know if quinoa is any good for constipation (it's a whole grain, but full of iron, which can bung kids up), but overall it's such a healthy food, I figured I can't go wrong. I've always kept quinoa in the house, but rarely cook with it. We're not really fancy salad for dinner kind of people (and by that, I mean Aaron and Ruby), and I don't have the patience to try a lot of the hippie veggie recipes that tend to call for quinoa. So I was really happy to find this recipe for Quinoa Muffins from Martha Stewart.

I made them as is, but used chocolate chips instead of raisins. The hot quioa immediately melted the chips, but that actually makes the muffins all the more delicious. And the kid loves them. Hoorah!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Family Photo Friday: Happy Birthday Mom

Tuesday marks my mom's birthday. I'm not going to tell you how old she is, but she's quite young to be mother to three kids in their thirties (actually, my youngest brother is 29, but close enough). Let's just say she has a few years to go before she hits 60. She's always looked pretty young too -- or maybe we just choose not to see our own mother's signs of aging... I'm not sure.

Anyway, this is a picture of mom with her father, my Grandpa Ed, the night of her wedding. It was a really casual affair -- my dad (who I think she'd been dating for about a year or so) was called to work overseas and his company would arrange to also move out his wife, but not his girlfriend. So, with very little notice, they arranged to get married at a downtown church. I always loved looking at the pictures from the reception, where my mom changed out of her wedding dress (which was a very polyester '70s affair with a mock turtleneck collar) into this outfit, which kind of looks like a glammed-up nurses outfit or a kickier version of what supermarket clerks wore in the '70s. I really love this outfit -- I wish she'd have kept it. Anyway, she looks so young and happy and really, not much different than she looks today. Happy birtday mom. You're a good one.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Grande Apron #1

After making those wee aprons for Ruby (one of which she wore to help make dinner last night... sigh), I've turned to super-sized aprons. I didn't use a nursing apron when I was feeding Ruby. In fact, I think they've only gained popularity in the last couple of years (I could be wrong on this), because in my mom's group, only one of us used one as far as I know. I found that my lack of a cover made for a limited wardrobe choice -- while I'm not shy about feeding in public, I always did so in a t-shirt that I could discreetly pull up rather than something that needed to be pulled down from the top, as to not show my goods to the whole world. I believe in being natural, but I also have my pride.

You can buy nursing aprons in all kinds of super hip fabrics, but like their cousins the hipster sling (which I did buy -- I don't trust myself to sew anything that requires safety standards), they're mucho expensive. So, I decided to try my hand making one. I used the Vintage Apron pattern from Amy Karol's Bend-The-Rules Sewing as my starting point and just made a few simple modifications. I made it about five inches longer than the pattern called for and only gathered it up to 19 inches rather than 15 inches at the top. I tucked the edges of the waistband in and sewed them flush to the body of the apron and attached the ties vertically, rather than horizontally. Not rocket science at all.

Here it is on -- I think my belly roughly simulates how much room the baby will take up underneath. I love the fabric, which is another super cheap-o deal I found at a local going-out-of-business sale. I added the pocket to stick any supplies I need in and some rick-rack to keep it sassy. I plan to make at least one more of these before Frank makes his appearance because as any mother already knows, these things tend to get covered in barf and end up in the laundry often.

I also treated myself to a new teapot, since I'll be able to jump back on the multiple cups of tea bandwagon before too long and my old teapot is all gross and flaky inside. Nothing special, I just think it's pretty.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

SPC: Blue Week #1

Blue (the photo is, obviously, a very literal interpretation of the theme -- though it also captures the mood of "having the blues," as I took it last night when I was tired and worn out after Ruby being sick all day. Also, no make-up, which is a sign of not having left the house all day, thus giving me the blues).

* the colour of my daughter's eyes, even though mine are hazel and Aaron's are a deep soulful brown

* how can you think about blue today without thinking about the Democrats? So exciting -- way more exciting in these parts than that Superbowl business

* baby boys clothing. Everything is blue -- it's really quite difficult to find something fun for an infant (i.e. not "manly" outfits that are essentially business casual for babies) that isn't blue. Even the orange and red stuff usually has a flower or a heart or something to girlify it.

* Blue Bayou, Blue Moon, Forever In Blue Jeans, Blue Suede Shoes, Blue Moon Of Kentucky, Blue Velvet, Blue Monday, Blue Skies, Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue, Behind Blue Eyes, Lady Sings The Blues, Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain, Navy Blue, Song Sung Blue, Famous Blue Raincoat, Tangled Up In Blue

* Other than jeans and a navy sweater, I don't own any blue clothing. I also can't stand blues music.

more blues next week...

Monday, February 04, 2008

Baby Boy In The Hood

Whew, it's been a little tough around here. After a fun, but stressful birthday party for our little lass, she came down with a horrible cold and fever yesterday. Ugh. Plus Aaron's all stressed with Aaron stuff and I've been diagnosed with pregnancy-related carpal tunnel syndrome. Ouch. It'll go away after I have the baby, but it also means that production will slow in the craft department, since it hurts to knit for more than a half hour and I'm not even going to think about hand sewing or embroidering anything.

So, you're looking at what will probably be my final baby knit before the baby moves up to a larger size. It's the Hoodie Baby Blanket from the November 2007 Magknits. Not much to report here: I used Lion Brand Cotton Ease in the green and blue colours. I kind of miss the old wackier colours, but the subdued ones are kind of nice too, in that I appreciate Lion Brand's efforts to make themselves more appealing to yarn snobs, because it makes me more comfortable in making such an economical purchase -- even though the cost isn't high, I still feel like I'm making something nice with a yarn worthy of my effort.

Anyway, this is simple as pie -- I didn't modify the basic pattern or try to do anything fancy since time was definitely a factor on this one (and I'm still hurting from NEVER finishing the baby blanket I was knitting while pregnant with Ruby). It's just a nice big square of stockinette with a little triangle attached, then edged in broken rib. Easy.

Here's Snow White modeling the blanket/towel. With Frank I'm being really careful about only spending my time making super practical things. I know that Leena has been working on a beautiful wool blanket for him, which will be his heirloom piece and I wouldn't be surprised if my mom crochets or cross-stitches something. Fancy-pants baby stuff is for gifts. Mama's gotta keep it real.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Family Photo Friday: Happy Birthday Ruby

Despite the growing popularity of the name Ruby, I didn't choose it for my little gal because it's now and hip, or because it appears in so many songs (though, with the exception of that Kaiser Chiefs song, most Ruby songs are way too sad to name a kid after -- though I will note, she was born on a Tuesday). I named my daughter after my grandmother, who I always thought had a beautiful name to match her beautiful self. I'm sure I'll talk much more about Grandma Ruby in these Family Photo Fridays (she's still alive and well, so she's a fountain of stories), but I thought this picture was particularly appropriate for my little Ruby's third birthday.

A funny thing about Grandma Ruby's name: when she was born in 1923, her parents Fred and Lydia had a hot debate over what to name their little daughter. Lydia liked the name Ruby (which was very popular at the time) and Fred wanted to name her Frieda, after himself. It's puzzling to me why he would be so stuck on Frieda, since Ruby did have an older brother named Ted -- I guess Fred didn't win the name battle with him either. Anyway, Lydia was apparently not the kind of woman you wanted to mess with, so Fred agreed to name the baby Ruby. He went off and registered the name (you can see where this is going).

So, about 40 years later, the now grown Ruby went to the local records office to get a copy of her birth certificate because she needed to apply for a passport or something. After searching through the records (this was in the pre-computer days), the guy at the office regretted to tell her that he didn't have a certificate for a Ruby Frieda, but he did have a Frieda Ruby with the same parents and birthday as hers. That rascal Fred went behind his wife's back and named the kid Frieda anyway, with no one the wiser. Fred was gone before this news was revealed and I'm not sure if Ruby told her mother what had happened or if she just let it go. Either way, she had to legally change her name to what she thought it was for the first 40 so years of her life.

So, there's a picture of Ruby, on what I imagine is her fifth or sixth birthday. I love the picture even though it doesn't really capture who she is -- I've never known her to be scowly or morose, she's actually very sweet and delightful. Like another Ruby I know.

P.S. Sorry about the tiny-ness of the photo. Pictures in those days were pretty small and my scanner couldn't make it any bigger.