Saturday, March 31, 2012

Our first bowling trip

So today we had our first experience bowling with the boys.  One of our friends from church was celebrating his 5th birthday and had a bowling party. Down at the local rec center we have a small bowling alley- only 4 lanes of candle pin but big enough to entertain a crew of 3-5 year olds! Xander was much more impressed than James though.  Xander actually did amazingly well even when he was bowling without bumpers. At first he wasn't giving the ball enough ooomph but then he figured it out and went to town. James never really figured how to put enough power behind the ball to get it to the end of the lane- luckily the lanes slope slightly downward! It was a good thing we had bowling to keep the boys occupied though because once Xander saw the cake that was pretty much the only thing he was interested in. John's mom made a wonderful Spiderman cake with very bright red and blue frosting.  Once they finally got their pieces of cake it was quite obvious since James' mouth and face were dyed blue and Xander's dyed red.Note to self only light colored frosting is allowed a kid birthday parties!

After the party we took off for the seacoast to visit my family and to go to the new grand opening sale of  the Tractor Supply in Brentwood.   It's pretty sad when a sale at Tractor Supply gets everyone in the family excited but welcome to farm life! Frank was able to get a new stock tank, some fence posts and some fencing supplies and the boys got some toys alpacas to add to their fleet of farm animals. Somehow both boys managed to have potty accidents on the way there so the poor kids were running around Tractor Supply barelegged because I have gotten out of the habit of bringing changes of clothes with us everywhere- shame on mommy. Luckily Nan came to meet us with boxes of hand me downs from the cousins so we were able to find 2 pairs of pants that fit- poor James got yellow with white polka dots! After Tractor Supply we headed over to my brother's house and for the first time in almost 2 years had my whole immediate family together for dinner (well except my poor niece who was off at boarding school). It was a lot of fun to hang out with everyone.  It made for a long day but it was worthwhile!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The end of lambing

On Monday when we sheared we could tell that Honeybun was the last of the ewes to be getting ready to lamb and she proved us right this afternoon by gracing us with our last spring lamb of 2012.  Unfortunately it looks like she was bred with the Dorset ram rather than the Babydoll ram who was supposed to be breeding her but she didn't have problems with the birthing which was our main concern with breeding her to the dorset. She had a little beast of a ram lamb who weighed in at just under 10 lbs, which when you consider that Honeybun fully grown only weighs about 60-70 lbs is a giant lamb for her. So that brings our lambing total to 9 lambs- 3 sets of twins and 3 singles. We have one more group of ewes that lambed in the winter so they should lamb again later this summer and we have one yearling ewe who also hasn't lambed yet so we'll see what happens with her. All in all it was a great year for lambing- no stillbirths and all the lambs survived without intervention!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Yarn Along

I'm yarning along as usual with Ginny and the crew at Small Things.  Come and join the fun...

This was a good week for both knitting and reading.  I love newborn things- they knit up so quickly! I finished these longies from Amy's new Bulky Little Loungers pattern.  I used malabrigo chunky for these also- I think it might be my new favorite chunky yarn.  It is so soft and squishy.  As I was knitting these I wasn't really sure about the color variegation- it just wasn't doing it for me but once I finished and looked at the final product I do really like them. The blue for the cuffs doesn't "match" as well as I would like but it coordinates alright and makes the overall effect more gender neutral, which is important since these are for a momma who won't be finding out the gender of her baby. I really liked this pattern.  It knit up quickly and looks good.  I did have some issues with the rise being too long but that had mostly to do with my misreading the pattern! I have some more chunky yarn so I am going to knit up another pair and fix my mistakes. I went a little crazy buying single skeins of chunky yarn last summer so this is a perfect way to use them up!

I also knit up a seedling soaker this week from this pattern. In general I like this pattern but if I made it again I will make some tweaks. I find that on this the rise seems short to me so I will add a bit of rise.  I didn't like how the increases were done so I modified that as I went along in the pattern- basically I just moved them in so the I wasn't increasing right on the leg edge. I think the buttonholes are way too far in so they need to be moved out and they are too big so next time I would make those smaller. I also feel like the back is way too wide for a nb and needs something to snug it up a bit so I think I will try adding a ribbed panel in the back to eliminate gaping.  A lot of the comments on Raverly were about the leg cuffs- why not knit them as you go along in garter stitch etc but I don't think it is that difficult to pick up some stitches at the end and knit a cuff.  I really liked how the leg cuffs came out, they were pretty simple and quick to do and they really helped improve the sizing. We are still waiting on Baby B so I am hoping he will make his appearance so I can try this out on him before I make a new one.  The nice thing is that this is entirely usable even with all my proposed tweaks and it was a quick knit.

I also read The Hunger Games this week.  I hadn't even heard about this book until very recently when Frank said he wanted to read it. So I got it for him for an Easter present (shhhhh...) and then decided I would be naughty and read it before I gave it to him. I really enjoyed this book.  It feels weird to say that I liked a book that centers around death and murder but the reality is that isn't what the book is truly about. It's a nicely written book that flows well and is hard to put down. I read through it very quickly and have been thinking about it ever since.  While the premise of the book is really dreadful and evil there are many other themes of love, romance, survival, morality, rebellion, independence, free will, etc woven throughout. It's all those themes that make you think.  What would you do if you were Katniss? Would you chose survival over morality? Is my life so important that saving it is worth costing someone else theirs? I'm not saying that I have the answers to these questions and in many cases I imagine that these answers are incredibly personal but it certainly causes room for self-reflection. I'm looking forward to reading books two and three. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Busy, busy, busy...

Well we had three more lambs Saturday (or rather Friday night into Saturday).  Looks like just about everyone will have lambed before shearing!  So much for best laid plans (apparently we were a month off on our lamb timing...) Pearl had a gorgeous little black ewe lamb and Betty graced us with ewe/ram twins. So that bring the total to 6 so far, 2 sets of twins and 2 singeltons. Frank set up a pen in the barn and we kicked the cows out and moved the sheep in Saturday evening.  Good thing he moved them Saturday evening b/c it started pouring rain in the middle of the night! Shearing is set for later today so we want them to be dry before they are sheared. Its going to be a busy afternoon.  I'm really hoping that as we work on shearing I will be able to get some decent shots of all the girls so I can update the menagerie page to reflect the actual herd.  We'll also be tail cropping and tagging all the new lambs b/c it is getting hard to tell them apart.  Everyone will be getting feet trimmed and dewormed also. An afternoon of true sheep farming! I'd better make sure the camera is fully charged...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Yarn Along

I'm yarning along with Ginny and the crew at Small Things again this week.  Come join us...
I finished these longies pretty quick this week- the joy of newborn things in a bulky weight yarn! I used the WonderPants pattern for the first time and I like the wider leg of the pattern but I definitely used every single last scrap of yarn that I had.  I only had one skein of the citrus color to make them with and I thought about striping the legs but then decided I didn't want to do that and they were just going to be as long as I had yarn for.  I chickened out on the magic loop though.  I'm so used to using dpns and I don't have a really long circular needle so... I just divided my skein in half and did the legs on dpns. This is the first time I have done a gusset like this one so we'll see what the fit is like on an actual infant- it was nice not having to graft the gusset though. I used malabrigo chunky for these and I love it!  They are so nice and soft and the colors- while a bit bright and bold- are wonderful.

Next up I am testing out a pattern for a fellow Diva.  Amy is working on her Little Loungers pattern in a bulky weight and I am going to test the newborn size for her. I'm going to use some more malabrigo chunky that I got last summer up in Burlington. Although, baby B needs to hurry up and arrive soon so I can have a model for her! I'm sure his mother would agree...

I haven't had the chance to do much reading recently.  I've been up to my eyeballs in laundry and dishes and we have been taking advantage of this wonderfully warm weather and getting outside a lot.  I planted all the tomato seeds and broccoli and the garden planning has begun in earnest. So I have nothing to report so far on this book other than the first few pages are interesting enough!

Happy knitting and reading!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

James is 2.5 yrs old!

My baby boy is two and half years old! It's somewhat shocking to me that he got so big so fast.  Because of his ongoing ear issues and his small size he has been going to the doctor every six months just to check in. He had an excellent check up this time.  He now weighs 27.7 lbs! He's actually on the 25th percentile for weight which is a huge jump from the 3rd where has been living the last 2 years. He is rapidly catching up to Xander in term of height and is now 33.6 in tall. He did such a good job with exam I was really impressed.  He sat still the whole time Dr Walter examined him and he sat by himself on the examination table!  He let him look in his ears and mouth and everything. Overall he looks pretty good, although it looks like his right ear tube might have fallen out.  We go to the audiologist for routine 6 month follow-up next month so we find out for sure then.  In the meantime it doesn't seem to bother him so I am not concerned until then. All in all it was a great visit! While we were there I threw Xander on scale too and he weighs 32 lbs and is 37 inches tall. So he better have a growth spurt otherwise James is going to catch up!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

So much for no more lambs....

Boop had one little ram lamb this Saturday afternoon.  He weighed in a 10+ lbs (like I said we need a new scale) and mom and baby are doing well.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

2012 lambing has begun...

Well lambing has begun on the farm.  Mary graced us with twins this afternoon in her usual no-fuss way.  She is such a good Mama!  Mom, baby girl, and baby boy are doing well and they both weighed in a at a hefty 10+ lbs (our lamb scale tops out at 10 lbs- apparently we need a bigger one!). Both lambs are white so that is a nice addition to the white flock.  We'll have to come up with a name for the girl, although the boy will probably be sold this fall. This bring our current sheep total to 22 and we have 9 more ewes to lamb- yikes! We have a couple of ewes that lambed in December though so they won't be lambing again till late summer.  Shearing is coming up fast on March 26th so hopefully we don't have any more lambs before that.

Yarn Along

I'm yarning along again with Ginny and the crew at Small Things. Come and join us...

I made some good progress on this bunting this week. It is just about complete- one side seam and some decorative finishes left to go on the bottom.  I made quite a few changes to the pattern as I went- something that I am not usually known to do.  I took advice from my fellow Ravelers and made some tweaks of my own. I moved the car seat slit down a bit in order to make it fit longer.  I figure you can always bunch it up between the baby's legs a bit but you can't really stretch it longer if the slit is too high.  I kitchenered all the joins instead of using a 3 needle bind off b/c I like the look better. Since I don't really crochet (what can I say working with one needle just isn't my style!) I picked up stitches and knit the borders in seed stitch.  I just seamed the sides instead of using her fancy crocheted edging (due to said lack of ability to manage one needle...).  I will suck it up and crochet an edge on the bottom though b/c I am not planning on using a zipper but I thought I would put a few buttons in and it needs a more finished edge than what is there now- plus it is easy to single crochet a few buttonholes that way. All in all this is a really pretty easy knit, although I kept trying to figure out a way I could have done it in the round instead of knitting the front and back separately b/c that was more purling that I like. At least with such a large gauge it knitted up really fast.  I worked all weekend otherwise this would have been done already.  It's a super quick knit.

Now I just have to decide on my next knitting project.  I'm thinking some longies for my cloth diapering friends.  I've got quite a few baby gifts left to do and I have some fabulous orange malabrigo chunky that is calling out to be made into some wild, gender neutral longies. I'm going to try the Wonderpants pattern for the first time so we'll see how it goes.

As for reading I'll admit I have been in a drought recently.  I started on this trilogy that is to put it mildly is just terrible, but I hate not finishing things that I start.  However, I'm at the point where I really have no desire to read this any longer and I think for maybe the first time in my life I am just going to chuck it into the donate box without finishing it and call it good. I'm shocked at myself but I can't seem to bring myself to pick something else up while I have this book lingering in my purse just waiting to be read. So I read nothing because I just can't bring myself to pick it up again. So the time has come to move on.

Since I am breaking one of my cardinal rules I decided I would read something in the spirit of Lent and renewal. We recently were given a copy of the book Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion and Purpose by Matthew Kelly.  It seems like appropriate Lenten reading and I've been feeling pretty disconnected from the Church recently.  Our parish is elderly to say the least and there isn't much in the way of programming for families and children, everything is geared towards seniors since that is the bulk of the population.  Most of my close friends are not at all religious and given that I work every other weekend and they only offer 1 midweek Mass my own attendance at Mass has been less than stellar. Our parish is set up in such a way that we have rotating Priests.  There are 5 churches in the diocese and only 3 Priests so they rotate through each week, but it means that getting to know and develop a good relationship with a Priest is rather difficult. Unfortunately the nearest church that has a single priest is 45 minutes away and in a different state, which becomes a problem if we ever want to send the boys to the local Catholic school. But on the bright side there are several young families that have joined the church in the last year or so and a few babies have been born in the past months so at least the boys aren't the only kids in church any longer. I'm hopeful that if we continue to grow as a parish we can develop some programming through the church that is geared towards families and kids. Maybe this book will give me some good ideas or starting points.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Word of the Week- Armadillo

The boys are both doing really well right now.  James has a bit of an ear infection but he is soldiering through and overall is doing much better at sleeping through the night in his big boy bed.  He still likes someone to lay down with him to fall asleep and usually once a night he wakes up and need some cuddles but he is at least going pretty much right back to sleep. Xander is much better about falling asleep on his own but usually at some point during the night I wake up and find him in bed with me- he's sneaky that way! James can be pretty impish at times and is usually in the way because he is right on your heels but for the most part he is pretty happy.  His favorite words continue to be "no" and "why." Xander is much more compliant than James in a lot of ways but he is going through the terrible three with a vengeance. He's trying very hard to assert his independence so when he doesn't get what he wants a temper tantrum usually ensues.  I think some of it is directly related to how well he slept the night before!

It's hard to tell exactly how well he is doing in school since I am not there with him.  I know he has trouble with doing activities that he doesn't really feel like doing at that particular time but overall I am really impressed with how much he is learning.  At home at least he is doing well with counting up to 3 and often further is you don't mind him routinely skipping 4, and he has a impressive command of the alphabet already. Last night he was actually reading the words "yes" and "no" to me. A lot of it depends on how interested he is in the subject but since he's only 3 we'll cut him some slack!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Yarn Along

Honestly I can't say that I have been doing much reading or knitting the last few weeks.  We have been very busy putting the house back together after having the floors redone- that is still very much a work in progress.  James room is still in need a lots of little details- paint touch ups, trim being replaced, etc.  We've been getting to it bit by bit. The boys had a blast with their Nan for school vacation but luckily there wasn't too much drama getting them back into routine at home.  James seems excited about his new "big boy" room so hopefully we can get it done in the near future before the excitement wears off.

I feel as though I haven't gotten a lot done recently but we were extremely busy at work and between working extra hours, meetings, and general craziness I worked like 8 days in a row.  Then of course I felt lousy for the next three days as I tried to catch up on sleep. Poor Frank and the boys were subjected to a very cranky and icky feeling mommy for a few days.  Yesterday I was feeling better but we spent the day in Nashua with Nan visiting the dentist and doing our biyearly shopping in the "big" city so we didn't get much done at home.  The boys and I were in bed by 7:30! Today I finally feel like I got my groove back and we made progress in cleaning and getting the house back in order. Of course tomorrow James has gym and swim and Thursday I go back to work so... I guess it's good that I had at least one productive day.

All that being said I did get some knitting done.  I finally finished this hat for a fellow diva. It's always fun to test patterns for people- although really I think I am not a fast enough knitter to make it feasible most of the time. I used the leftovers from Baby B's layette to make this hat.  I wanted to make sure I had plenty of yarn for the layette and I guess I got a little overzealous because I had three balls leftover! So hat making ensued... besides I always feel like cables show off better on a solid colored yarn.  Anyway I am planning on making an aran bodysuit from this pattern as a baby gift so I'll call this a warm up in cabling.  I actually like the finished product but I am not sure who it is for yet...

After finishing that hat I started on another baby gift (can you tell it's been raining babies around here) from this pattern. This one is knitting up really quickly so that is a welcome change from all those cables.  The knitting part of this is super easy but we'll see how the construction part goes.  I feel like there should have been a way to knit the front and back in one piece rather than 2- or to knit it in the round- but I definitely plan on joining the shoulders with a Kitchener rather than the 3 needle bind off the pattern calls for. I tried to wrap my brain around a way to just loop over and knit the front and back together in one piece but of course the back and front have a different # of stitches at the shoulder to allow for the hood join- if I had knit the back first it might have worked out better but I didn't think that far ahead.  Actually I have made several changes as I have gone along so hopefully it doesn't work out to be a total disaster! We'll find out soon enough!

Happy Knitting- come join us at Ginny's place.