Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It's done!

The anniversary sweater. It's really done!

I started it waaaay back in April 2006 and planned to knit it for my sweetness on the occasion of our second (cotton) anniversary on April 17, 2006. And then I started it. And immediately I knew that was not going to happen ;0) I then reasoned that it would be okay as long as I finished it during our cotton anniversary year giving myself and extra 364 days in which to finish it.

I knit on it a lot. Heck I even knit on it when I was in labour! Now that's dedication!

But man, that's a lot of cables and, well, that didn't happen either. Birthday? Father's day? Nope. Nada. But on the occasion of Quebec's national holiday on Sunday, I finally did it!

I knit the smallest size using just over 14 balls of Rowan All Seasons Cotton, modified the sleeves to knit them in the round, cast on fewer sleeve stitches (104 instead of 114) and worked sleeve decreases until there were 60 stitches rather than 56. Other than that I knit it pretty much as directed (for posterity did I mention that I used 4.5mm Addi's). I did have a few beefs with the pattern though. The main one was that if you knit it to the letter, that is, same cable pattern on both front and back pieces, the cables and ribs don't line up when you do the 3-needle bind-off. See:

My other beef? I hate how dropped sleeves fit. This is not that pattern's fault. But I wish I had given it more thought and modified the sleeve shaping. But, I digress. It's done! And more importantly, it's very comfy and daddy loves it. Modelled shots are forthcoming though because it's a gazillion degrees these days and it just seemed mean to make him wear it out for some pics so I'm waiting for a less muggy day... In the meantime, here's another shot before I show Julian's last 2nd birthday cake:

After his birthday barbecool with friends last weekend, we had another birthday celebration for Julian's 2nd birthday on Saturday, this time with our families. I baked him a cookie cake with layers of cream cheese filling. Yum! I got it from one of the Kids' magazines, but the recipe is reprinted online if anyone is interested.

We all sang happy birthday to his great delight and then right on beat at the end of the song when we generally blow out the candles, he went in for a bite instead and his cap extinguished the candles. It was a roar! We're still giggling about it. Silly billy ;0)

And now, he has officially entered the 'terrible twos', but so far it's more like the 'terrific twos'! Awwww. I'm counting on him to change the stereotype for all toddlerkind! LOL!

Happy birthday Jubilee Bubilee. Mommy loves you big like the sky ;0)

Friday, June 22, 2007

More birthday fun!

It sure seems like it's all birthday all the time around these parts! Most of our relatives were born in April, May and June and it seems like every week-end celebrates someone's birthday! Last week, we threw a triple birthday bar-b-cool (that' what Julian calls a barbeque ;0) to celebrate Stephen's birthday (June 12), mine (June 19) and Julian's (June 25th) with our friends and lots of fun was had by all.

Daddy and I made the most of naptime decorating the yard and I putting the finishing touch on the caterpillar cake while our Jujube napped. I baked 5 cakes in pyrex bowls to get the dome shape and iced the lot using the 7-minute icing recipe from 'The Joy of Cooking'. I finished it off with lots of smarties and it turned out better than I'd hoped! The icing went splendidly with the three kinds of cake I made: german chocolate, lemon and spice (two domes each). Yum!

The weather was terrific so we all went for a swim in the pool and of course the butterfly pinata was lots of fun...except that it was filled with boxes of smarties and hanging out in the hot sun all afternoon! Rookie pinata mistake! But it was a blast and Julian was good and tired by bedtime ;0)

Then came my birthday on Tuesday, the 19th! And boy did daddy treat me ;0) With all the stresses at work lately I really didn't really think Stephen would have the time to give my birthday much thought so I figured we would just order in (which we did, my pick!) and he would give me back the card! In fact, I had already treated myself to some knitting books earlier in the week as a present because I knew he wouldn't have the time to go shopping. Well boy was I surprised when I put out my hands after dinner and opened my eyes to see this:

I was so excited! I had mentioned a while back that sometimes, when he gets home from work, I would really enjoy going out for a walk by myself while he minds the kids. I know you totally get this if you have kids and stay home with them. It's a 'round the clock job and lately I've been longing to take a real break just for a half hour or so... So the iPod nano came with an offer for babysitting anytime I want to just get out for a walk with my favourite tunes! I love that man!

One more party this weekend to celebrate Julian's real birthday with our families and then it's all knitting all the time, baby!

And bonus, I've got knitting books coming my way too ;0)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happy birthday daddy!

It was Stephen's birthday on Tuesday, the twelfth. He turned 29 for the first time ;0) I hadn't really planned anything in advance but really wanted to something special so I pulled out the cookbooks to look for a Tiramisu recipe (his favourite!), ordered some groceries online and spent nap time making this:

Nice, eh? I must admit I spent a good part of the afternoon just staring at it. It's easily the nicest looking cake I've ever made, but sadly, it was not as yummy as it looked. It's the thought that counts thought and daddy was very happy. Julian and I had also put up some "fancy yellow tape" (Julian-speak for streamers) and "cool" balloons on our chandelier and of course our front door. We made lasagna with Cesar salad and cheesy garlic bread too! And we really surprised our beloved daddy-o. It was a hit!

I even found our mutual birthday card and was able to squeeze in another message by branching out chromatically and using a different coloured pen to write in between the lines of previous years' messages. We should really just add a page to it but it's much funner this way (though difficult to read!).

We started using this Easter card as a mutual birthday card 5 years ago: I write a birthday message to him and he writes a birthday message for me the following week (our birthdays happen to be exactly one week apart). Every year we enjoy reading previous years' messages and reminiscing. We started using it before we got engaged and in the five years we've been using it, we got married, built a house, had two children, Stephen travelled for work and changed jobs! That's a lot of reminiscing right there ;0)

And then, I guiltily pulled out the anniversary sweater I started knitting for our cotton anniversary last year and which I worked on in feverish little spurts the couple of days before every occasion since (birthday, father's day, thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's day, our 3rd wedding anniversary Easter, his other birthday...) and finished off the first sleeve!

I'm thinking it would make a great Canada Day (July 1st) present for him so I'm aiming for that one next.

One sleeve and a neckband to go...

Monday, June 11, 2007

So...that's a kilometre of yarn?

So I have this bad habit of buying yarn from across the pond in the wee hours of the morning. It's usually a one night stand though because I often don't remember it in the morning, and wonder what I was thinking once the mailman delivers the package a few weeks later.Want an example? Check out this monster skein of Danish yarn (Kauni) whose yardage, or rather metreage, exceeds a kilometre! Here it is posing with our growing Lolo (who is already 3 months old!) for scale:

It's the largest skein I've ever seen! The ball winder couldn't handle that much yarn so I had to break it down into 4 balls. Surprisingly, I wound it mostly by myself with practically no tangles! It was a very proud moment since I'm notorious at spaghettification ;0)

I have no idea what to knit with it though. The colour transitions from yellow to gold to dark green to chartreuse and back again but the stripes seem really wide. There's enough in there for a sweater for myself, but I'll probably end up making something for the kidlets instead... I don't have the time or the patience for a grown-up garment right now. I'm all about instant gratification these days. Like this grass stuffie, for instance (a free pattern from mochimochi)!

I came across the pattern the other night and cast on for it right away. I used Knit Picks Shine Worsted in the 'grass' colourway and must say that while it's nice to work with, this yarn is not great. I kept pulling fluff out of it as I knit and after being handled by my curious boys for about an hour this afternoon, it's already mega pilly! Good thing I snapped a few pics before introducing it to the little hands;0)

And now for something completely different, here's a video of my boys building elephant towers on Saturday morning. So sweet! How I delight in these little moments. Swoon!

Happy knitting!

PS - My husband and I want to thank you for your kind support and words of encouragement this week. Reading your stories made us feel a lot better about the situation and though we don't want to jinx it, we're following a really good lead... ;0)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Training wheels

My husband is brilliant. He is also kind and considerate. And for the past 2 and a half years held a dream job. He had a wonderful boss. His skills were recognised and rewarded. The location was convenient and the hours were flexible. The pay was good too and afforded us many luxuries like me being able to stay at home with the kidlets. But on Thursday, Motorola Canada announced that it will be closing the software centre where my husband works effective in September. Two hundred and fifty people, including my husband, will be laid off. Ouch.

We so didn't see that coming. I've been doing corporate research for a large telco for 8 years and I have seen probably a dozen significant shake-ups and at least half a dozen serious waves of downsizing worrying about whether I would be tapped on the shoulder. So when my husband came home with the news two weeks ago that Motorola was looking to cut 3500 positions globally, I told him not to worry. His division didn't know what that would mean for them yet but I figured they couldn't get rid of the whole department because of project commitments to large customers and so even if his group was touched, it wouldn't be everybody and he'd be okay because he is a top performer.

And so I didn't worry. But when he called me from work on Thursday with the news that all of Montreal would be winding down...I was completely gobsmacked. And worried. And scared. I even let myself cry a little (okay, a lot). Afterall, he's the sole bread-winner right now and we have a growing family to care for. Thankfully were not indebted but we've been spending a lot of money on yard improvements (deck, patio furniture, fence, shed, swingset,...) and whatever cushion we had managed to save is freshly spent. All of it.

I dwelled on it for a couple of days but am now past the denial, anger and fear and am in complete acceptance. And I have a feeling that something really good is going to come out of this. Really big. Luckily, my husband and I were cut from the same cloth and he is already prepared to move on and is getting excited at the thought that maybe Motorola was a stepping stone to something bigger and better and that this is an opportunity to refocus and to go after what he really wants, a step closer to meeting his full potential.

We came to this realisation the very same night he came home with the news. We had decided to skip the bedtime routine and just bring both kids in bed with us for extra closeness and comfort and because really, we're all in this together. The kids were both snoring away while we lay in the dark, thinking about the next step, possibilies, leads, and worst-case scenarios. We held hands and both felt like the training wheels had just come off. This is the first major storm since we were married, homeowners and parents. It's like a test and whatever it takes, we're going to ace it!
So bye, bye training wheels. We don't need you anymore. It's going to be okay ;0)


PS - Just in case anyone out there knows of an opportunity for my husband, he's been a senior software designer for Motorola in their public safety division (mostly working on dispatch software for 911 service in major US cities) for the past few years and has been working with tandem machines and COBOL for the past 10 years. He's brilliant. And available. His dream would be to be able to continue to work on the tools he's been developing for Motorola at either HP or Carr Scott. That's his preference and where he'll be focusing his energy first. But if anyone knows of any opportunities in the field...well, we'd be grateful for your help ;0)

PPS - Photos courtesy of my little Jujube who just got his first tricycle, a supercute radio-flyer with a nice long handle at the back so we can push him until he figures out what the deal with the pedals is. Right now, he especially loves 'fixing' it with his wrench. Too cute! And of course our little Lolo who just keeps getting bigger and bigger!

PPPS - I've still got knitting on the brain. But since I got my invite to beta-test Ravelry, I've been surfing rather than knitting. Seriously, Ravelry rocks! And it will be a revolution in the online knitting community once it goes live. I'm completely amazed and excited.