Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Girly Sez:

Get out and VOTE!


Election Day!

What more can I say that hasn't already been said...


People have died, been incarcerated & voluntarily gone on hunger strikes to give YOU the ability to vote. Don't take this freedom for granted.

Get out and VOTE!

Go now!

Really, I'm not kidding.

Go now and VOTE!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dining in Pittsburgh

Today I find myself with my co-worker 'D' in Pittsburgh. We're here a day early for a training class at a company facility. I have only been to PIT once before about 3 years ago. Similarly, I was here on business attending the same facility.

Feeling rather adventurous, I wanted to find a 'local' restaurant for dinner. And beer sounded really good too. After perusing a 'what to do while in Pittsburgh' magazine, I found Penn Brewery. The magazine claimed it serves German and American favorites. We both thought...yummmm German beer. Decision made.

Armed with directions from Mapquest, we started our adventure. Follow street A to street B. Drive through a trippy underground tunnel. Turn here, turn there. Exit on Exit 7C. Missed 7C completely. I swear there wasn't a sign. Drive out of our way. Turn around. Drive completely out of our way again. Finally we managed to get off the highway and onto a local road. Using the crappy map in the "what to do while in Pittsburgh" magazine, we managed to navigate downtown PIT and finally arrived at our destination.

The restaurant was super cute. They have a great cobble-stone patio which I'm sure is well used during the summer and on the weekends in October. Inside they have long tables where 6 or 8 could sit. Very European...or so I've been told.

I immediately ordered a Penn Dark. Very malty with rich flavor. Went well with the musical stylings of a little German polka band made up of a string bass & and an accordion. I wished I had a stein and had a few more friends around to really play up the toast the band occasionally made.

The menu was completely overwhelming. Not a scant trace of American food. Oh no, this menu was full of calorie laden, artery clogging German comfort foods. I was giddy. I could not decide on what to order, so the waitress helped. I ended up with this...

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloins grilled to order and topped with pan gravy.
Served with Bavarian Red Cabbage and Mashed Potatoes.

The beer was really affordable, however the food was a bit on the pricy side. All in all - it was worth every penny.

yum yum


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

12 Weeks

Tomorrow I am going back to work after being on maternity leave for 12 weeks.


I have completely enjoyed spending time getting to know my girly. I feel fortunate that I could afford to take 12 weeks off from work, but I am sad that I must go back to work so soon.

Yes - 12 weeks = too soon.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Win the Essential BabyWearing Stash

As some of you may know - I am a babywearer. It started with a recommendation from Audrey to register for a Hotsling. Unfortunately I registered for the wrong size, but by doing so it forced me to look at different slings on the market. What I found was a whole subculture of babywearing wares. Pouches, ring slings, wraps, mei tais with straps, mei tais with buckles, etc...

I purchased a MayaWrap ring sling in apple green and now I'm hooked! Mr. CrazyCat even wears the Girly in it. (I once woke up to Mr. Crazycat wearing the Girly while making muffins!)

I've been thinking of getting a BabyHawk mei tai for those times where I'll need to wear her for longer periods of time. Until then I'm going to try my hand at a wrap. I plan to stop by Joann today and pick up 5 yards of gauze. I'll just hem up the ends and give it a try. It is certainly less expensive than buying a wrap right, but of course I'm quite enamored with two commercial wraps this one and this one.

Now for my shamless plug in an effort to receive more entries in a contest....

For those of you who are interested in babywearing this is your lucky day. Alongfortheride.biz is holding a contest to win the essential babywearing stash. Enter by July 31, 2008 to win...one Gypsy Mama Wrap, one Hotslings pouch, one BabyHawk Mei Tai, one Beco Butterfly, and one ZoloWear Ring Sling - in your choice of any in-stock colors or patterns. Click here to enter:

Win the Essential Babywearing Stash from Along for the Ride (one Beco Butterfly, one Hotsling baby pouch, one BabyHawk Mei Tai, one Zolowear Ring Sling, and one Gypsy Mama Wrap)


Saturday, May 31, 2008

The things I've learned in 17 days...

Parenting my first newborn is one of the most challenging tasks that I've ever taken on. I don't think that anyone could have prepared me for the challenge either - I wouldn't have believed a word they said until I went through the experience on my own. (then again I'm just stubborn that way.)

Mr. CrazyCat has been my rock. I know this has not been easy for him either as we're both dealing with taking care of a newborn and my recovery from a c-section. I usually forget that having a c-section is MAJOR surgery, so I feel the need to be somewhat productive around the house and feel guilty when I take a nap with my girly.

Since my girly was born, I've learned a few things along the way...

Transition from the hospital to home -
During your pregnancy & while you're in the hospital all of the focus is on you. I felt like royalty at the hospital. The nurses were very helpful and caring and made me feel like the center of the universe. I (half-heartedly) expected some sort of fan-fare when I was discharged. The best I got was "room 1344 is discharged." while we were walking out of L&D. Not even a "Good Luck" from anyone. What happened to being the center of the universe? Oh yeah - that was given to the woman in the room next door who just delivered her baby minutes before. I was old news with my 4-day-old. And by the way - you're totally on your own once you leave the hospital.

Return policy for newborns -
It is totally normal to want to return your child on day two at home. I've done the research and cannot find any return policies posted on the hospital website. I know they've done this intensionally and am convinced it's a conspiracy.

Pushy lactation consultants - I have a lot of respect for lactation consultants. Breastfeeding is not intuitive. I really believe it is an art form where LC's are the art teachers. Now there are LC's who are there for you and there are others LC's who seem to have their own agenda. Beware of the latter. The pushy LC will tell you do not need to feed your babe anything other than your colostrum before your milk comes in (and then makes you feel guilty for even questioning her knowledge.) When it is 3:00am and the colostrum you're offering your screaming 10lb. is not enough to satisfy her hunger - supplementing with formula is OK.

Baby Spit Up - Nothing is more traumatic that watching your babe hork up breastmilk through her nose - especially when she horks up the same breastmilk you are currently feeding her. Note to self - keep a change of clothes for mom in the diaper bag too.

Swaddling -
My girly really likes to be swaddled. I watched the nurses in the hospital and have watched video's on the Internets. I however am swaddling impaired. I cannot swaddle my girl using a receiving blanket to save my life. For the other swaddling impaired out there - this - is the worlds best solution. It has been a life saver for us.

Usefulness of sound machines -
One of the most useful gifts we received was a sound machine. One of the 'sounds' is a heartbeat. It makes sense that a newborn would feel comforted by the sound of a heartbeat since she's listened to mum's heartbeat for 9 months. I learned the hard way how comforting the sound is when I set the heartbeat on a timer for only 60 minutes. At minute 61 my girly started crying.

Growth spurts & cluster feedings -
Nothing will make you feel more like a cow hooked up to a milking machine than growth spurts & cluster feedings. When your babe, who regularly eats every couple of hours, is eating every hour just give into the fact that your sole purpose in life is to be milked for the day.

Baby blues -
Feeling overwhelmed? Your life has transitioned into a new dimension with your old life never to return. Let yourself have a good cry. Talk to new parents - you'll be surprised that you're not the only one experiencing the same problems. And let me tell you it is very reassuring to know that you're not totally screwing up your two-week old child when you feel your world is about to implode because of her latest cluster feeding which sent you to the hospital website searching for the return policy.

All in all these past two weeks have been, well while stressful, very rewarding. ...and if I could figure out how to upload a photo to this post, then you'd see a pic of my beautiful little girl. Blogger obviously has other plans for me today.

edit: I've been told that the picture does display. There must be something wierd going on with my computer.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Joint Venture

I'm a wee bit tardy in uploading this post. I try to chronicle my finished works in order, so that my progression of a knitter/crocheter moves forward and not in some random order. The following project was finished before the "security blanket." In fact it was the project which lead me to finally finish the security blanket, as I was left feeling much more confident in my crocheting abilities. So the story goes like this....

While visiting my dad on Easter, he mentioned that he found more of my mom's yarn stash in the house. This caught me by surprise as I thought I had found all of it. He left the table and came back with all sorts of treasures. One of which was a beautiful work-in-progress....a baby blanket.

I know that this blanket was not intended for my child-to-be. Mom had only known for 1 month that I was pregnant before she passed away and during that time she was undergoing her chemo/radiation treatment. She generally felt crap and slept a lot, so I'm pretty confident that this blanket was started long before her diagnosis.

As we examined the blanket my dad asked if I could finish it. The body of the blanket did not look too complicated, but my stomach lurched at the site of the edging. I said that I could probably finish the blanket by the time my child was 20.

Then I looked at the blanket again. I noticed that the last stitched row created a natural scalloped pattern. I started mulling over my options and decided that I would try to duplicate the pattern around the other three borders.

Now you have to know that this was quite the daunting task for me as I've never done a border in my life. Straight lines have dominated all of my previous finished works....and that's not saying much since I haven't finished many crocheted projects.

A couple of days later I picked up the blanket and the pattern and decided to charter into unknown territory. I decided to duplicate the last row mom stitched as the border for the other three sides.

I ended up with this...

The stitch itself is identical, but not quite the same. This mattered not to me as I was crocheting my first border!

A couple of hours later, I was done (dang TV watching always gets in the way.) I couldn't have been more proud of myself.

My girly will be the owner of a blanket started by her grandmother and finished by her mom. What a special gift to pass on to her.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

One Baby Blanket Down...

....many more to go!

Hurrah! I have finally finished the first baby blanket I started in this crazy race to make as many blankets as possible before May 11.

Let me introduce you to the "Security Blanket."

I picked the design out of a Vanna White book o'projects. It wasn't a terribly difficult pattern. In fact I'd recommend it to any beginner crocheter.

The finishing of the project was delayed when I had to weave in all of the end pieces. I'm not sure there is anything I despise more than having to weave in end pieces.

I know it comes with the territory, but I don't have to like it.

After the end weaving was complete, I started on the edging. I wasn't terribly fond of the ending recommended in the pattern. I wanted something a bit more eye appealing.

After a bit of experimentation, I settled on a picot edge.

Now all the blanket needs is a good wash and it will be ready for use!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cats v. Alpaca Yarn

I have 4 cats, all of whom have very different personalities.

One is rather regal and one is kinda dopey. One is my fat cat and the other is my husband's cat. Two of the cats get absolutely high off of catnip. One kinda gets it and the other can't be bothered with the stuff. One cannot leave me alone when I eat a bowl of cereal as he waits for the much anticipated bowl of milk to be placed on the floor. The other three can take the milk or leave it. Three love to be petted and fawned over, one enjoys sinking his fangs into the meaty part of your hand if you even think of touching him. One is inexplicably mesmerized with anything that dangles in the air.

So why is it that four cats, with such different personalities, feel it a moral imperative to get into my alpaca yarn, bat it around the house (creating quite the mess) and break the yarn into several short pieces? This of course leads to much cursing and batting of cats out of the way while I rewind the yarn back into a ball.

Mind you it is only the alpaca that they get into. They cannot be bothered with wool or any of my novelty yarns. Just my coveted alpaca.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Reminders of the past…

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of an ordinary, everyday activity when you are suddenly reminded of someone from the past?

Over the years while cleaning the house (or perhaps more appropriately *thinking* about cleaning the house) I have been struck with the thought...

"I bet JJ's house is never this messy, dusty (enter appropriate adjective here.)"

From what I remember when we were growing up, one of JJ's chores was to clean the house. Perhaps she shared this task with her sister and/or her mom. I don't really know. My impression was this house cleaning chore was a weekly task.

Apparently this has been a lasting impression as I've obviously imagined that anyone who had to clean their house on a weekly basis as a kid would continue to do so into adulthood. It's funny how childhood memories affect your perceptions of people, places & things as an adult.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Reconnect x2

Have you ever wondered what happened to your best friend from childhood? I have even though I've seen her on and off over the past twenty years. Now, when I say "on and off", that means about once every 10 years. Well today marks another 10 year anniversary for us, as we met for lunch at a local eatery. Five hours later we parted ways. That was a good lunch.

I still remember the day we met. My family had just moved into our new house. A friend of my mom's who lived in the subdivision told us that there was a girl in the neighborhood who was my age. I'll call her JJ. I remember hanging outside in the front yard when JJ rode her little blue bike past the house. She stopped and we started to chat. From there we were thick as thieves. There were a lot of good laughs - she was a bit of a clown. One time while at a local department store with me and my mom, JJ did an impromptu Playtex "cross your heart" commercial using a belt as her prop. She was such the actress. She had my mom in stitches.

This close friendship lasted for about three years until her family moved across the busy street. When you're in third grade, you're not really allowed to cross the "busy" street so we didn't get to spend as much time together. That's pretty devastating at that age. However, we persevered and still saw each other when we could. (Now that I'm reminiscing, I think we spent a lot more time together after that move than I originally remembered. The memory gets a bit foggy when you're reaching back 30 years ago...)

In school we had a different group of friends and by highschool we had very different hobbies and interests. I always felt that she was one of the cooler kids. Not a "popular" kid, but a cool one. She had an older brother and sister, so I was sure that she learned stuff from them that I would have to figure out on my own since I was the oldest in my family. I remember once she used the term "petting" and I totally pretended to know what she was talking about....then I looked it up in the dictionary. And that whole baseball reference to sex was utterly confusing to me. I understood what a "home run" was, but everything up to that point was really gray. I was so naive.

We somehow connected just before our 10 year high school reunion. We started hanging out, going out to clubs and chatting on the phone like teenagers. But just as soon as the relationship started it ended again. I'm not quite sure why, but I figured we'd see each other again. Little did I know it would be 10 years later and that we'd see each other "virtually".

I happened to have her email address in my address book. Our email carrier is so clever that it tells you when others in your address book who use the same carrier are online. A month ago or so I saw her on-line so I dropped her an IM and today we had lunch. Despite the ups and downs through her life, she has pretty much remained the same person I've known her to be...

...and I still like her.

Cheers to you JJ - I hope we remain connected this time around.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Unfinished Works and Works in Progress

I finally took the plunge and learned how to knit with needles. New obsession - check! My god-mother and I took a beginner's knitting class at the Hawley Street Shoppe in Mundelein, IL. The group was small and I was sad to see it end. Of course I had also just finished reading "Friday Night Knitting Club" and somehow wanted to project the feeling of togetherness from the book onto our little group. Irrational I know. I'm also pregnant, so cut me some slack.

During the four weeks of class, my god-mother and I were able to spend a lot of time together - much more so that we ever have. It felt really good to reconnect with family who you see only once a year. There are those family member's who you see once a year and think..."now that's the reason why I only see so and so once a year." My GM does not fall into that category, I always leave wanting more from our visits. This might just be the year for us to break the chains of our old habits. We're committed to seeing each other at least once a month. That alone is forging a new path in our relationship.

Now that I have a new crafting obsession, I have a whole new group of projects which have been put down on permanent hiatus or are really a work in progress. Take for instance ...

Security Blanket - I purchased a Vanna White book o' projects and found this pattern. I started it before the knitting class. It was easy enough - half double-crochet stitches all the way across. The body of the blanket is finished. All that is left is to weave in the loopy ends and crochet the trim.

Did I mention that I have a new knitting obsession? Yes, this project waits patiently for me to come back to it for finishing.

Dishcloth - I started this project during the my last knitting class. An easy project for a first-time knitter to complete and keep you motivated to keep knitting.

And here it sits on the needle.

I needed a more challenging project - or so I thought.

Fans & Feathers - a project which has kicked my ass 3 times. You'd think I would have given up. Stubbornness really keeps me going. The pattern is easy enough, I just need to pay attention and not drop or add stitches.

I hope to have this afghan complete before I go into labor. Knowing me, I'll be finishing the damn thing while I'm in the throws of labor.

Yet another baby afghan - I started this project a while ago. I had meant to give it to my SIL's sister whose baby is now several months old. It started on my yellow KK loom using the trinity stitch. I've made several blankets in this fashion in the past and thought I could knock another one out. Some where during the process I become bored and put it down.

Where it still sits to this day. Still sitting on the loom.

I then pulled out my trusted knitting board, resigned myself to create a simple stockinette stitch blanket. While the blanket worked up quickly, I realized I was going to run out of yarn - and I have a limited amount. The yarn is out of my mom's old stash, so what I have is what I have. Concept frogged.

The project's next metamorphosis took on the form of the picture you see above. It was also born out of my frustration with the Fans and Feathers blanket. 100 stitches, garter stitch, easy stripes. Nothing to weave in later other than the starting and ending yarns.

I have yarn for two more blankets. Mr. CrazyCat has asked me how many baby blankets could one child need? I responded, "Is there a limit that I wasn't aware of?" The oh-so-patient Mr. CrazyCat just shakes his head and lets me be me....knitting into oblivion.