I don't have a problem....

Do you find that you collect ideas faster than you can commit to them?
Plugging away at work this morning I found in my subdirectories a chunk of free patterns- a whole folder full of tantalizing patterns and pictures, entitled "Rainy Day." It appears that in my web-travels my lust for cute patterns has snuck up on me. Mindlessly, I have been tossing anything that perks my interest into this little e:cubby for that 'rainy day.' Of course, when the time is right, I am always home and nowhere near my work computer, so that doesn't help.
I printed off the patterns to take home and deleted the evidence, in case our web administrator decided to poke around my drives during my upcoming maternity leave. (Is this beginning to sound like some form of addiction? Let's see...compulsive behavior *check* ...hiding the evidence *check*)
Easy Delite cap from the ladies at Zephyr! Mikado fingerless gloves from Crystal Palace Yarns! Why haven't I tried these yet? Does anyone else have a folder in which they stash countless fun and easy weekend projects that are never to be done? Come to think of it, just having these patterns at my disposal is almost as exciting as having a finished version of them in my hands. Just the potential of whipping off an adorable peapod hat for someone's baby shower, or felted flowers to trim a birthday gift gives me the warm fuzzies. Elbow-length fingerless gloves-so cool! Meanwhile, not a single pattern is suitable for the growing stash of yarn I have at home.

Just A Little Something....

Do you have what it takes to become a US citizen? In my continued break from knitting posts (so sorry, still working on my Knit Unto Others project while contemplating my next venture) I would like to share this little quiz from MSN. It is a sample of the questions arranged for potential US citizenship, and at the moment it is under scrutiny. Well, just give it a shot and see how you do. I was happy to see I wasn't so clueless after all, but then again these are pretty straitforward:

Showered With Love...

Well, you all get a break from the turkey-day posts with this one.
One day you're driving home from church, happy as can be, when your husband turns into the local hotel parking lot. Uh oh. Despite what he's mouthing to you, you know better-we don't eat breakfast here! Its a shower!!
(Here's a shot of my initial response-see the silly grin? Also mom AKA Blogless Sharon looked so darn fantastic!)
I won't be so crass as to single out any special gifts-it wouldn't be possible to anyways. We are so lucky to have such thoughtful friends and family. And very talented too! The room was decorated to match our nursery room decor- with little bears and twinkling stars. Then, from the detailed homemade gifts which I will take care of and treasure, to the generous and thoughtful supplies, toys and needs, I am so happy to say that we are so ready to receive this little guy!!!
There was a lot of parenting wisdom in the room as well, which helps a lot when you're trying to figure out what you will need for the first time. You quickly realize you may not have thought this through enough!
So just eight (give or take) weeks to go, and thanks to my loving family and friends, the nursery has changed from a sad and stark little room to a bright and joyful room filled with bags, bows, books, and toys.
If it is at all possible, my excitement is even greater. With any luck, I'll be waving pom poms and cheering in the delivery room rather than swearing and crying. But I need to get friendly with my anesthesiologist first.

Welcome to the Third Trimester!

Yay! We're finally in the third trimester, actually just two months to go- as of my latest visit with the midwife we are also a portrait of perfect health (knock on wood. My heart goes out to those who haven't been so fortunate.) Positive, positive, positive has been my approach to this. I figured if I could find a way to not be bothered with the yucky stuff-the heaviness, the swollen feet, the CONSTANT KICKING, it might not be that bad at all. And wouldn't ya know- I've really enjoyed being pregnant. Might even do it again. A few times.
Or not.
Some things I have learned from this experience since I just LOVE making lists, and few cutesy pictures I ripped off the internet:

1) Primary colors aren't so bad. So my wardrobe and my house is a drab collection of muted colors-pale yellows and tans. Soon it will be swamped with bright red, yellow and blue plastic, which might be a great improvement...
2) Must learn to clean. And vacuum. Because unlike Scout, little Rand will not be able to differentiate between a cookie and a fur ball.
3) People LOVE pregnant women. We're like santa claus, easter bunny, and humpty dumpty rolled into one. We bring smiles to people's faces. Children edge closer to us. Strangers smile and wink at us. Cashiers at every store want us to stop and talk about it. And expect lots of flattery-I wasn't called beautiful this often even when I was a bride.
4) I have uttered those words to describe the experience that I used to dread, "It will change your life forever." Just about 7 months ago those words were enough to send chills up my spine and make me secretly swear to avoid this if at all possible.
After all, unless you have gone through it, those words are quite ominous. But once you feel your first kick or wiggle, that all changes. You get 'the glow'-yes it does exist, and you realize the changes you are going through are welcome ones. Now after I say those words, I wonder why I waited so long to do this.
5) Dude-you get heavy! It feels like someone is making me tote a small watermelon around all day long! But as one of my preggie co-workers describes, "you have to have some reason to want them to come out. Otherwise you'd want them to stay in there forever." How true.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families. Don't forget what this holiday is about-be thankful!

Bring on the Pilgrims!

Just another tasty tidbit about my hometown- we have a great Thanksgiving Parade. Great marching bands. Tons of bagpipes. Lots of bells and whistles. And muskets. I favor the Revolutionary War-era bands with their snare drums and fifes-pretty nifty.

Cabby Shack also does a fantastic float that is a replica of the Mayflower-it is so tall that they have to lower the masts at every streetlight.

And also notable is the Budweiser draft horses, who made a special appearance and will be around town until they head off for the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. I didn't get a good shot of the horses, but happened to grab a shot of the chase-car.

It takes a lot of humility to be the pooper-scooper for the Budweiser draft horses. I tip my hat to that guy...

Sweet Charity

Its been so long since I have been involved in a charity. Or fundraiser. Or even devoted my time to any cause. (Not counting stuff for the troops.) It occurred to me how much I took those chances once offered up in high school and college for granted. Since the day I was handed my diploma, out the window went all those days volunteering at the MSPCA, those afternoons at Dana Hall organizing and arranging Thanksgiving meals for needy families, those weeks spent in preparation at Kappa Alpha Theta raising money through party events and the annual Mr. Fraternity pageant.

Yeah, so maybe I did the Walk for Hunger a few times since then, or emptied some spare change in the good old fireman's boot, but why? Take a moment and make sure your heart was in the right place when you did those things. Sadly, mine was not.

While starting up this teensy little cardigan for Newborns in Need, I reflected upon this. Going to the animal shelter every week was more fun for me than a night out at the latest Belmont Hill dance. And cleaning out the coin pocket in my car for a cause made me feel better than a day of beauty at the dayspa. But to be honest, I spent that time to beef up my college applications rather than in a selfless act for homeless animals or people. And when the mission was accomplished, so was my volunteerism.

HOWEVER. Looking more closely at the things I have done, who is to say I was selfish at all? Most college-bound kids focused their time on friends, their grades, and their athletic skills rather than cleaning poop in a puppy pen. So maybe I was trying to look good for those admissions peeps at Union, Gettysburg, and Washington & Lee, but I most likely gave up better grades, athletic excellence, and greater popularity to do it this way.

Luckily, we get so many chances to redeem ourselves. And in the coming years, I can try to lead a more philanthropic life without working for my own gain. After all, that is what it's all about.

One Sign That I Knit Too Much

When I arrived at work today, instead of fussing about the wrinkles in my pants, I broke out the lint roller to remove the alpaca fibers from my shirt....

Molly Be Gone!

Wow- just one more poofy cap sleeve and Molly Ringwald is done. It has been a fun and easy project, and I learned a few new skills such as how to do a kitchener stitch, and how to make ruffles. Now the question is when will I ever fit into this?

Plus, I've been obsessing over what next to do. The last issue of Interweave Knits was rather blah (if anyone wants my copy please help yourself!) so I wasn't feeling very inspired. My next thought was a stash-reduction project. I have a million skeins of yarn in crimson and wine-like colors that are begging to be used before they become Scout's chew toys. On the other hand, I don't like knitting accessories as much as I enjoy tackling a sweater. But then again, with the cold weather coming, there are people in need of warm items. Maybe its time to stop thinking of myself, and time to find ways to distribute those soft and fuzzy cashmerino and durable wool hats and scarves I have made to people who will need them the most.

Veteran's Day

Since tomorrow I will most likely be sitting at a parade with Scout (probably thinking of my grandpa and crying a little) here's your Veteran's Day post from me a day early.

Please remember the veterans. At some time in their lives they made a huge sacrifice. They were sent away from home, away from loved ones, away from comfort and safety. They may have made tough decisions. Or they may have found they had no choice at all. While we can sit here and bicker about politicians, the price of gas, or the taxes for a cup of coffee, they dutifully follow orders. Even the most horrendous ones of which they will never divulge to us at home. While we are horrified by the news reports and casualties of war, they know with actually experience.

So please honor and treat our veterans with respect. If you see a VFW or American legion table set up at the supermarket, please stop for a moment to thank them. If you see a soldier, stop and thank him or her. Donate a bit of cash to the next care package drive you see.

I hate this post as I write it. I hate the years my family has suffered while our men have been deployed. I hate the fear we all feel as my youngest brother is serving overseas right now. But above all, I am so proud. While others sit back and say "not MY son..." my family bravely steps up and defends our country. I hate it, but know I am safe in my home thanks to the bravery of these men and women.

A little ode to the 82nd airborne:

(Pictured above: Phil, Mike Howie, Dave LaRosa. Lower:Mike Kent, Phil, Jimmy Lok)

A Wish List

My silly teacozy hat. A silly hat for a very silly girl....

Dear Santa, I really have a lot to ask of you this year. Since CVS is already engorged with red and green wrapped candies, tinsel, and horrendous singing stuffed snowmen I thought of bringing my list early to you. So here goes:

1) Here’s a biggie: bring my youngest brother home, healthy, victorious and proud of the service he has done for his country. And if the democrats can accomplish this before you do, kudos to them. (Even better if they do it humbly.…)
2) An umbrella-my favorite umbrella, sad to say, has shit the bed. It was so darn cute too, black with little martini glasses.
3) Gift certificates to my favorite clothing stores. After feeling like a fuzzy ripe grape for nine months, some shnazzy new duds would give me the confidence I need.
4) The ability to tell my husband that a TV of gigantic proportions is not going to appear in our imminent future. Maybe never.
5) New feet. It appears that the extra weight I’m carrying has just plain worn out my old feet. If you could, Santa, bring me a pair of bouncy, springy new feet. With prettier toes than my last set, if possible.
6) That foxy brown velvety Michael Kors shoulder bag I saw in Lord & Taylor at lunch today. Even the brown paisley (yes even in dreaded paisley) one will do.
7) Music. I love music. I want to hear it throughout the house. I want my babbakins to grow up familiar with Chopin, Mussorgsky, and such just like I did.
8) Peace on earth? Screw that. There will never be peace on earth, and if there could be, who would want it anyway. If life was always beautiful and kind, and suffering didn’t exist we would thrive, overpopulate, and consume everything in sight. So it would be, say, 50 years of peace at the price of total and immediate world devastation. So call me selfish, but to hell with wishing for world peace. I think the only purity in this world that exists anyways is in the balance and cruelty of nature.
9) A sling to hold up my enormous baby bump for the last month of pregnancy.
10) Continued health, comfort and happiness for my family and friends, yadda yadda yadda. And for my enemies, each a fridge full of rotten eggs. With 800 pounds of cole slaw. Just because they wouldn’t know what to do with all that slaw. That would get ‘em good.
11) For that nasty girl that spread rumors about me at work, dragged me through the torment of her pathetic dating sagas, made fun of my laugh, tried to copy my clothing, announced to people that I was throwing her a surprise 30th birthday party before I even knew I was throwing it, and took a personal stab at a good friend of mine, even MORE cole slaw. Hah!
12) A half pound of cole slaw, light on the cream. Yum.
13) A healthy little boy.

Channeling the Domestic Goddess in Me

Call it nesting, or what you will, but I had a domestic goddess moment over the weekend. Actually, you could call it a barefoot-pregnant-in-the-kitchen moment.

My hon was working his drill weekend at the JAG office (making the best darned coffee in the National Guard, so we say) and I was home in a tizzy. A few nights before I had attempted to make my apple spice bundt cake for a dinner with the Fab 5. Fab 5? JAG office? I should start a glossary of Heather-terms. Perhaps it was because I was baking at 11 at night, or perhaps those hormones just got in the way, but I forgot to spray the bundt pan, and my lovely cake was a disaster. In crumbles.

So I haphazardly tossed some chopped apples and raspberries in two pie plates with some brown sugar, rum, and nutmeg and baked them at 350 for 20 minutes. I then topped them with the crumbled cake and some chopped walnuts and baked for another 20 minutes. And so channeled my inner domestic goddess. Success! And the house smelled pretty damn good.

Proud of my ingenuity, I wandered down to Plymouth center and did some shopping. Along the way I came face to face with THE TURKEY.

A few weeks ago Phil loved this turkey when he saw it in the gift shop. He had to have it. So now its a fixture in our home- it will probably have a name soon. We'll see...

What Turkeys!

Sometimes the toughest kind of men are just the cutest. Can you believe each and every one of these men are fearsome in their day-to-day lives?
I am truly sorry that I have just dispelled your perception of the boys in black and blue. Its true, behind that stern demeanor they can be a bunch of clowns, silly even. I wouldn't say sensitive-come on let's be real. Sensitive men are not my bag, baby. Comic, however, is just fine with me. Especially when their line of work is no laughing matter.

But I wouldn't put it past them to don a blinking sash and crown on their 40th birthdays....

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time I was a freshman at CMU in Pittsburgh. The first day I stepped onto campus I was greeted quite warmly, approached by upperclassmen, and stared at openly while waiting for my student ID photo at the campus center.

I was a bit concerned-I had heard the ratio of men to women was a bit off balance here, but was it really that bad? Men, wearing greek letters, watched me almost greedily. Unbeknownst to me, my tiny frame and low weight were considered very desireable at this campus. In fact, the first week of orientation is a wild hunt for the leaders of every organization, in order to seek and recruit the smallest incoming students.

Carnegie Mellon is host to a long-standing tradition called Sweepstakes (informally known as buggy). Every Spring, the city of Pittsburgh allows CMU to block off the roads of Schenley Park to use in this amazing raze of manpower and IQ. Veiled in secrecy, every organization on campus gathers their geek know-how to design and build the most streamlined man-powered vehicles for this 2-3 minute race. And yes, there is a person (just like me) inside there.

It turns out I was a precious commodity in college: I was driver material.
Within hours of my arrival, I was recuited to drive for Spirit, the minority organization on campus. That night, meeting new friends over beer and visiting the fraternity quad, I was constantly asked if I was driving for anyone yet. Every time, my answer was met with groans of disappointment.

So, beginning that fall, every morning at about 4:30 AM I would crawl out of bed and head over to our designated room in a hall close to the start line. Behind closed doors, I would strip down to a skintight bodysuit and don my helment and gloves and slide feetfirst into my buggy, with the help of my own assistant. At the crack of dawn four large men would carry me in my rocket-like buggy to the safety checkpoint. After a safety inspection I was off. Pushed up Hill 1 and 2 by the strongest athletes on campus, I was launched down the road around flagstaff hill with a mighty shove, and would practice my navigation and turns in order to accelerate to speeds of 25-30MPH.

Behold my baby: VICIOUS FLOW

The tradition of buggy is one veiled in complete secrecy. The windows of every buggy are tinted to hide the steering and braking system from competing teams. The organizations do not reveal the materials or designs to anyone, as the lightest and fastest engineering is also judged in this competition. Even my weight was a matter of secrecy. Looking back, I find the whole experience a bit surreal. But at least we know now, if you asked me if I would be interested in climbing into a lycra bodysuit and be propelled down a steep road headfirst in a small rocket my answer would be "Where do I sign up?"

Trick or Treat

Well, it was a treat!

My nieces came to visit last night and join the hordes of children that haunt our neighborhood on Halloween. Its a perfect place for the holiday-quiet streets, close-packed houses with a lot of families like us. When I got home from work Phil had the driveway lit up and ready, and we watched the flashlights bob up and down the street from our picture window. Soon my mom (Blogless Sharon) and the girls joined us for cookies, and even posed for a few pictures.
We estimate that about 50 children stopped by our house last night-thank god for the backup candy stash!

I think Halloween may just be my favorite holiday ever.