Sunday, December 31, 2006

Christmas Vacation Wrap-Up

Sorry for the sporadic posts these last few weeks... I was here:

Looks pretty idyllic, doesn't it? We spent our Christmas vacation with my parents and family in Honeymoon Bay, British Columbia and returned just a few days ago. Willow and I had an inauspicious start to our holiday - the night before we were supposed to leave I get a phone call from my Mom saying she had just received an automated message from United Airlines saying my flight had been canceled. WTF?!!? I quickly get off the phone with her and call United and found that indeed, all early morning flights leaving from Philadelphia on December 15th had been canceled due to a power outage on the runways (so planes could not land). We were rescheduled to a later morning flight and ended up getting to Vancouver about 7:30pm instead of the 3pm we had planned for.

Willow made friendly with the pilot in the first leg of our trip and he let her wear his captain's hat and sit in the cockpit for this picture:

My Auntie Daryth was waiting for us in the airport and she whisked us to the Tswassen ferry. Remember the inauspicious bit above? Well, by the time we got on the Island Highway and on our way to my parents' house, it had started to snow. My parents called just as we rolled into lake Cowichan to let us know that there was no power... and hadn't been all day. We saw one car already in a ditch, so Auntie slowed down to about 20 clicks and we chugged down the road. We arrived at my parents' house just before midnight, had a quick cup of hot cocoa with water cooked on the Franklin stove, and bundled under blankets to go to sleep. Willow was over the moon the next day to see snow on the ground as we hadn't had any snow yet in the Philly area. The power did eventually come back on, but there was a continued threat over the next two weeks (which luckily never materialized) of more snow and power outages. I spent much of my time watching the news coverage of the devastation in Stanley Park after the windstorms.

Willow and I attended Honeymoon Bay's "Pot Lick Dimmer" (yes, spelling intentional) a few days after we arrived, and Willow finally got to sit on Santa's lap and tell him all about how good she had been this year (**cough**splutter**) and what she would like for Christmas.

My friend Lisa, her husband Rob, and her darling daughter Aleksia came over from Vancouver to visit with us and it was so nice to see them all again. Willow and Aleksia had never met before and got along like a house on fire. Lisa and I have been friends for 19 years now. How is that earthly possible?!!?

We also got to meet new family members while up in BC. My sister, Jaime, had a little boy at the end of May and Willow was thrilled to no longer be the baby in the family. This is a picture of Willow helping William unwrap his Christmas presents:

William is a lovely little boy - so happy and affectionate. It really started to make my biological clock clamour! I think he was a little confused when he first met me - not that Jaime and I look particularly alike, but we both have dark, curly hair and similar curvy builds. Here is a pic of William and his great-grandmother Pauline:

The nearest big city to Honeymoon Bay is Duncan, which is probably the third largest city on Vancouver Island after Victoria and Nanaimo (okay, everyone pronounce: NA-NYE-MO. It isn't that hard). Unfortunately, for all of Duncan being the third largest city, it's still pretty small. My sister Teri and I had some high hopes for Boxing Day shopping, but practically everything but WallyWorld and the StupidStore was closed. However, Duncan is known as the City of Totems - so we were not at a loss of things to take pictures of. Here are some photos of the totems in the downtown area:

And let me tell you, knitting-wise I made out like a bandit at Christmas :) From Andrew I received two knitting books - Knitting Nature and One Skein Wonders. On Christmas Day my sister Teri hands me this little package and tells me this is my big Christmas present. I open it up and inside is a delicately soft black skein of Quiviut and pattern for a lace scarf. She laughed and said she left the price tag on deliberately ($55 CDN!) to prove that it was my big present.

Coming back to the East Coast was another lesson in stress and temper. Andrew went back a day before we did without incident. Willow and I arrived at the Vancouver Airport at 4:45am for our 7am flight... and found over 300 people already (!!!) in line for their flights. Apparently it was a bundle of things mixed together - the impending blizzard in Denver (their second), United's decision to implement the January 8th passport rule a little early, among other things. We checked in 10 minutes before our flight was supposed to leave and still had to go through Customs. Someone (an older East Indian gentleman, to be exact), guided me into an express line for people with passports (which we did not have with us - see my previous passport hell post). After seeing who was coming up behind me in line, I found out he was culling out single adults with little children and putting them in the express line rather than in the line we were supposed to be in. We blaze through customs and a guard tells me our flight hasn't left yet and if we run we might make it. We run... get to the gate, scramble on the plane, and they shut the door behind us. They make an announcement that 25 people were still in line and didn't make the flight but the plane had to leave (it was already 40 minutes late) because of the Denver storm.
Now, I feel that at this point I should mention that Willow and I have been up for nearly 4 hours, have not had anything to drink, and only some dried fruit in my pocket to eat. We had woken up, packed and on the hotel shuttle bus within 30 minutes and I had promised her breakfast in the airport after we checked in. Obviously, this didn't happen. On the plane, I consoled Willow by saying we would buy one of the snack packs and have that for breakfast. It sounded like a good idea until the flight attendant told us they didn't have snack packs - only biscotti. (Again, WTF?!!?!) He did give us 6 packs of biscotti, so that was our breakfast. We arrived in Denver an hour late and had to again run across the concourse from one end to the other, and once again, we got on the plane and they shut the doors. The runways were clear and it was just starting to snow - I later learned that over 28 inches of snow had fallen later that night... so I was definitely glad we got out when we did. Our luggage was not as speedy as we were, incidentally - it had to get delivered the next day.
I miss my family, but it is nice to be back in my own bed :) Honeymoon Bay is a gorgeous place to visit - and if you ever want to see it in person... go in the summer! Swimming, camping, hiking, inner-tubing down the river and so many other things... in the winter, not so much :)

Lastly, Andrew took a picture for you:
His caption: "This is what happens when your child's independence out-distances her fashion sense." And trust me, this outfit was after some intervention where we convinced her it was too cold to wear hot pink Winnie the Pooh capri pants. From neck down we have: black and rainbow-striped turtleneck, crystal bead necklace, flowered halter top, blue jeans (worn backwards), and Halloween socks.
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas Dulaan! (Or, How I Spent my Christmas Break)

Remember a while back I said I was going to enlist my family members into knitting hats over our Christmas Break? Yeah, well, that didn't go as planned and I ended up being the only one to knit any Dulaan hats. So, for Christmas 2006 I present six hats in 10 days for Dulaan:

From the top going clockwise:
  1. Blue-green to fit 6 month-ish baby out of leftover Malabrigo. This hat was intended for my nephew William, but his head was bigger than I imagined... (he's a big boy for a seven month old!), so he received the rust and orange (picture to come later) Dulaan hat and we traded this one to the Dulaan pile.
  2. Blue Wool-Ease and Orange Caron Simply Soft to fit a 9 month old. This hat was also my first attempt at colourwork. It was easy enough, but not my cup of tea. The blue was leftover from my Veste Everest earlier in the year and the orange leftover from William's baby blanket.
  3. Rainbow Malabrigo. This was leftover from my friend Asami's son's hat and will probably fit an older child or adult.
  4. Pink Acrylic and Dark Green Wool-Ease to fit a 10 - 14 year old. I am honestly not sure where the pink came from, but there were small balls of it in my stash pile... and the dark green is leftover from my sadly missed Sitcom Chic cardigan that I had to give to my sister since I am too generous in the frontal area.
  5. Brown Encore and Orange Caron Simply Soft (same size as above). The brown is leftover from a poncho I knit for my friend Tara and the orange was more leftovers from William's baby blanket.
  6. This is the only new yarn hat I made over the break. I was in a shop and I was entranced by the colours in this Patons Decor yarn - a dark teal/cream/chocolate brown mix. It's a chunky weight so was a quick knit and the variegation did some neat things.. This hat will also fit an older child or adult.

The sizes here are all over the place since I don't use a pattern for my hats - I just sort of go on how thick the yarn is and what I want to do with it.

We also went to a community Christmas Party a few days ago and Willow and I commandeered the microphone (um, before the majority of the other guests arrived) and belted out a few rounds of "Jingle Bells" and "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer." Seriously, folks - those are the only two carols she knows so we sang each of them a few times... until I convinced her it was okay to sing non-Christmas songs and we sang Laurie Berkner's version of "I've Been Working on the Railroad." Also in the picture is my friend Lisa's daughter, Aleksia. I tried to get Aleksia to sing as well but she just wanted to watch.

And what did the munchkin get for Christmas? Well, does this tell picture tell you what the biggest hit of the morning was?

Her own dancing costume, complete with a blue tutu. She would have worn it all day if I had let her! The wand came separately, but she has decided it is a package and has also decided that now she has a costume she needs to take dancing lessons...

Merry Christmas All!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sweet Relief

I seem to remember there was an album called "Sweet Relief" by various artists that came out when I was in university in the early 90s. I remember listening to the album incessantly - so isn't it funny that now all I can remember is that the album had something to do with Lucinda Williams and there was a song sung by Pearl Jam on it?

The passport. It's safe, everyone. Passport Canada messed up and sent it to our apartment address without our apartment number, so it was delivered to the apartment office. Now, why we were not told there was a package waiting for us... that's another matter I'm just not going to let myself get angry about right now. The passport was supposed to get sent to my in-laws' house (as our mailing address) since we are house-hunting. I really didn't need all this aggravation, so I am extremely glad the passport is accounted for and now locked up :) Interestingly enough, after I sent them a very angry email on Saturday, Passport Canada did call me first thing Monday morning and admitted they had sent it to the wrong address.

I've seen this meme on a few people's blogs, so I thought I should chime in:

Six Weird Things About Me

1. I have small wide feet - 6.5 wide, which is a size that just does not exist for a lot of shoe manufacturers. I usually end up having to go up to 7W, which is where a lot of companies start with their wide shoes.

2. As I get older (yeah, I know - I am ancient at 34!), I am finding that I just don't care for cakes, cookies, pies, candies and other sweet stuff. Put something salty and crunchy in front of me and I'm a goner, though.

3. On both feet, my second and third toes are joined almost to the first knuckle. This is more prominent in my Mom and youngest sister. I read somewhere once this is a common trait with families with Irish lineage. My Mom's maiden name is Pogue.

4. I once cooked avocado into my hair. Quite unintentionally - I was trying this holistic means of moisteurizing my super-cooked over-dyed hair (yeah, I see the irony in all of this). Everything worked fine until I tried rinsing out the mashed up avocado with warm water. It cooked right in, and I had to comb it all out with a lice comb.

5. I like making up symptoms for drugs during the commercials on TV: "May cause purple spots and unprovoked narcolepsy." This is even funnier considering where I work.

6. I have a horrible fear of deep water - to the point of back spasms and nausea. I used to live in Japan and would fly home (over the *&^%$*^$ Pacific Ocean for 9+ hours) once a year and would be a wreck every time.

Feel free to steal at will :)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Stress and Passports

You know, this really isn't the time of year when extra stress is warranted. Come to think of it, it is probably the absolutely worst time for extra stress to sneak its insidious way in.

Back at the beginning of November I mailed off my completed passport application. Passport Canada claims to have a 20 day turn-around, so when I hadn't received my passport by December 10th, I sent them an email (they have a link to ask the status of your application on their website) to ask where it might be. On Saturday, December 16th I receive my response - that the passport had been couriered to me by DHL on 12/9 and gave me a tracking number. Pleased as punch but still wondering where the passport was (thinking, oh it's Christmas and there are a billion packages out there, etc.), I typed in the tracking number on DHL's website and found that the passport had been delivered.

To the wrong address... (Um, right city and state, wrong zip code, and to an office, not a residence)

Five days prior.

I think my head and stomach exploded at the same time. And, being Saturday afternoon, I could not contact Passport Canada and DHL was a fat lot of no help whatsoever. Andrew called their Customer Service number and the response they gave was, "We think the package is in Chicago somewhere." WTF?!!!?! Your website said it was delivered! Unfortunately, the results on DHL's website don't get more specific than city, state, and zip - so we don't know the exact address it was sent to and DHL is supposed to find that out for us so we can track it down.

So, I must wait until tomorrow to start harassing government agencies. I really want to blame someone for this - who is more culpable? Passport Canada for sending it to the wrong address? DHL for letting someone sign for a package of government paperwork who was clearly not the person the package it was addressed to? Help!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Oh, just for fun.

How evil are you?

This quiz, stolen from Juno, seems to suit my mood right now. Things are so busy right now between work, impending Christmas plans, and everything else that I feel like my head is going to explode. In the last 4 days I have knit exactly 1 round one a cabled hat that I had intended tobe someone's Christmas present (yeah, and trust me - that ain't happening now).

Wednesdays are cheap-o Happy Meal night at McD's ($1.99!), so I stopped there to get Willow her meal of choice, and some idjit honked at me because I apparently didn't turn into the McD's parking lot fast enough. ARGH! Everyone needs to take a chill pill! I don't get it - why do people have to behave so badly?

There are some bright spots to all of this - Willow told me what she learned in school today - that when someone gives you a gift, you say, "Thank you! That was so thoughtful of you!" It made me happy that in this road-rage-prone/dog-eat-dog world that someone still thinks to teach manners to four year olds.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Willow's Big Sweater

Finished! I love knitting kids' clothes - the quick satisfaction of it all :)

Yes, it's a bit big for her and the sleeves are rolled up two times, but I'm so happy that she insisted on wearing it this morning :) The pattern is from Ann Budd's multiple gauge pattern book, and the only deviation this time was not as many decreases as called for due to the bulkiness of the yarn. This is the second smallest child's size - I think 26" chest, and it took a little less than 3 skeins of Lion Brand Thick and Chunky yarn.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Getting to Know You... Christmas Edition (Blogstalking)

Christmas Edition of Getting to Know Your Friends

Welcome to the 2006 Christmas Edition of Getting to Know Your Friends! You know the drill. Highlight, copy, and paste (not forward) and change my answers to your answers. Enjoy!! Everyone has time for a few moments of fun! Don't be a scrooge!!!Come on!


1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Egg Nog, for certain! I just wish it wasn't a gazillion calories and a billion grams a fat for two tablespoons. For that reason I really have to limit myself to a little on Christmas Day.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Wrapped, of course - although my family has got more in the habit of using cloth re-usable Christmas bags. My MIL has been turned onto this as well.
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?We are still in an apartment, so we don't have any lights up. Or a tree for that matter - no, we aren't scrooges - but there just isn't space for one. I say coloured lights on both if we had the opportunity.
4. Do you hang mistletoe? Not since junior high school.
5. When do you put your decorations up? Usually about two weeks before Christmas.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Pudahha - since I don't make it myself the only time I really get it is when I visit my Mom and Dad.
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: My family goes all out with Christmas stockings - not that we are getting huge amounts of things, but there is a 'neato!' factor to it all. I still love opening up my Christmas stocking.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I'm afraid Lisa McAdie spoiled it for me when I was about 7 or 8 years old.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Not usually.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? I've never really decorated my own tree. My parents sent me a small artificial tree when Andrew and I lived in Japan and we had some small ornaments for it (I left it in Japan for my school when we moved back here). I'm not a fan of cheesy ornaments (like most of the ones you see in card stores) and I have a few nices ones I have packed away over the years - I really hope that someday my Christmas ornaments will have stories around them.
11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love it - especially if I don't have to go anywhere when it is happening!
12. Can you ice skate? Hmm. I can go about 5 feet before I fall on my behind. Does that count? I'm going to take Willow for the first time this winter - I foresee her skating circles around me in 10 seconds flat.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Not really. I remember receiving these 18" Barbie dolls - but I was past Kindergarten at that point.
14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Spending time with family.
15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Pumpkin Pie
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Playing Christmas music and wrapping presents
17. What tops your tree? Angel
18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Giving, of course. I love putting presents together for people.
19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? "Momma Mary" by Roger Whittaker
20. Candy Canes... Yuck or Yum? You know, normally I love minty stuff, but I have to say Yuck.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Quick Sleeves, Tiny Blogstalking, and an Update

Two sleeves in one night - a personal best :) Okay, they are sleeves for a four-year-old and are knit from Lion Thick and Quick Woolease on size 11 needles... but two sleeves in one night!

And a close up of one sleeve:

It's a very simple project - a raglan sweater - probably for Willow. We will have to see how she likes it when it is all put together. Woo-hoo! Two sleeves in one night!

No, I didn't get much sleep last night. Despite the codeine cough syrup.

I'm behind on my Blogstalking activities - partly due to being very busy at work and partly due to feeling horrible. Two tasks back the topic was "Trinket" in which you were to explain some little thing you have around your house. Well, here's a two-for-one for you:

I realize now that the little guy on the left is hard to make out, but he is a little wooden pig with a stick through his middle. No - I'm not trying to be gruesome - he is a musical instrument. My sister-in-law brought it back from China for Willow. You take out the stick and brush/roll/tap it on his back and it sounds somewhat like a wooden xylophone. Notice it is on top of the TV? The progeny gets a little over-exuberant with it and so it gets put beyond her reach on a regular basis. I can only take so much of the percussion... My Dad made the little dog on the right - I believe he is intended as a Christmas decoration, but he's out all year since Willow likes to play with him, too.

Health update... still sick. Three days into the antibiotics has me a bit nauseous but still hacking my brains out with a wet cough. On the plus side, no fever since Sunday morning. I don't feel like I am getting enough air when I breath and it is making me tired all the time. The urgent care doc said give the antibiotics 4 days to kick in... tomorrow is day 4.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Lesser of Two Evils?

I ended up going to an urgent care clinic this morning and it turns out I have acute bronchitis, not the flu. The doctor is worried that I may develop pneumonia, so I came home with some (**very expensive!!!**) antibiotics and some codeine cough syrup. I was given a list of things I cannot eat/drink while sick - the prohibition on dairy I can understand - but who knew that spicy foods were off the list?!?! Apparently they can do weird things with the antibiotic and make you sick to your stomach.

Thank you for the well wishes!


The big Christmas present is finished - actually, I finished it Friday night while watching Battlestar Gallactica. Now to wash it, hopefully shrink it a tiny bit...

After two days of feeling relatively okay (relatively being the key word here), my temperature spiked to 102.6'F yesterday afternoon and I got a whole new round of hot-cold-hot-cold-hot-cold-hot-cold-hot-cold. My head hurts from constantly coughing... and my in-laws convinced me to call my dr's office to see if I have the flu.

Yes, I had the flu shot. Back in October. Bah Humbug.

Friday, December 01, 2006

I want to... I really do

Gah. I haven't knitted in three days now because instead of indulging in my project o'the moment, I have been going through literally reams of paper at night. Yup, work stuff. The end of the year coincides with a lot of things at work... add in a phlegmy cough and you've got me in a nutshell. I nearly passed out in the shower this morning - and I'm not entirely sure why. I was coughing a little bit, but I don't think it was enough to cut off my air supply long enough for me to faint. So at 6:15 this morning I was sitting soaking wet in my shower stall drinking apple juice while Andrew hovered over me.

And no, Mom - I'm not pregnant.

Anyway, Battlestar Gallactica is back on tonight (Apollo!) so I will definitely be knitting. I'm determined to get that last Christmas present finished this weekend. Maybe I will even pick up Andrew's cable knit sweater before Christmas. Here's a question for you all - there is a smidgen of a chance I won't have enough wool for his sweater. He is very long bodied (for someone 6'1" he only has a 32" inseam) so I added some extra length in the front and back. I bought this wool a year ago and I am fairly certain I won't be able to match dye lots. What would you do? I'm thinking of getting the same colour and doing the sleeves in the same colour - but perhaps a different dye lot. Do you think that would be weird?