Friday, April 29, 2011

Turtle Gloves

I'm doing a lot of knitting even though it's spring and there's lots to do outside. I am a writer, but home schooling a busy 6-year old leaves me little time for the silence that requires. Knitting, like baking, is something I do to wrap myself in my own world. This is why I resist help in the kitchen, for now anyway. One day soon Fidget will need to start learning some skills in there. 

Knitting is something I can do even while I teach. So I am doing a lot of it. Here is a fingerless glove I've just finished. I used Cascade 220 Superwash (non-scratchy, easy-care wool) Paints in 2 shades: Celtic (all greens) and Juniper Berries (shades of green to aqua).

This pattern is a Ravelry download which is simpler than  other ones I'd made. I'd rather pay the $5.50 and get a well-designed pattern than a free one in a magazine that always results in getting holes where you add stitches for the thumb gusset, as had happened in the past. This great pattern is called Lazychick's Cabled Fingerless Mitts.

I made some for Fidget last week all in Celtic and was going to make myself a pair to match, but it turns out I would have run out of yarn. So I put leftovers from those 2 skeins together.  Midway through the current glove I realized the colors are just like those from a stuffed turtle my mom made me when I was little. What fun! Turtle gloves! 

We have a lot going on at home these days. We are moving soon and are faced with lots of decisions. Not only about moving. Naturally this is when the ice maker broke, flooding the kitchen and basement overnight. This is when the fix it guy comes over and tells us we can't keep fixing this old relic, that we've got to get a new AC now before it gets sweltering out. We may not be able to return here after a year away so we may want to sell the house- but then again, we might be back. Should we attempt to rent it out? Who would fix errant ice makers and rogue ACs?

Is it any wonder I'm doing a lot of knitting? I can't wait til it gets chilly again and I can use my turtle gloves. At least we're moving somewhere cold!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Training Wheels

I wouldn't say I'm on a health kick. I would say rather that I am constantly trying to work activity into my day instead of choosing a sedentary life. It is so easy to be sedentary, particularly in winter. But as it's spring and the flowers are blooming and the mornings are cool, it is invigorating to be out there. Unless you are following a kid on training wheels. 

Fidget's had training wheels for at least 2 years. We are ready to see her progress. In fact she has gone from the stage when they are helpful to the time when they are a hindrance and downright dangerous. There was something about this morning though that got me to the point where I just couldn't take it. She was toppling over, going slower and slower, stopping, riding into plants, rearranging her tiny purse basket that she'd brought to hang on her handlebars, rearranging her dress...This is all a mom needs when she's trying to exercise and has already struggled just to get out the door. 

By getting out there I'm saying 'no' or 'not now' to lots of other important things like home schooling and home management. I feel those things pressing in on my day and I am eager to get this fun over with so I can get back to what I should do. I have the feeling that exercise is fun, so I should deny myself the pleasure. But in delaying those things at home, I am teaching Fidget and myself that it is important to exercise. It is important to care for our bodies; we learn from the Bible our bodies are temples of God. I need to teach Fidget that even when you're a mom, you still have needs. This exercise is for me, as well as for her. These are great lessons. But, having battled the 'also-shoulds' and gotten out there to the great outdoors, what I don't want is to be stopped and have to walk and barely get up to a jog at any point. 

So as I say I was at the breaking point. I said to myself, you are not going to get any running in, this kid is holding you up, just tell her you are tired of fooling with that darn bike and that you are going to walk home and she can ride if she can make it. Immediately the pride and harshness of those thoughts were echoed to me when I felt God say right back to me, "If she can make it?" She can't make it. So you're going to leave her here? How far can you make it on your own?

That's it. I can't make it on my own. God says, "Apart from me you can do nothing." So, I didn't leave Fidget out there on her own. Of course I wouldn't have anyway even if I was frustrated. God has never once left me, not once has He said, "I am so tired of you, of carrying you, of righting your cycle every single time you lose balance. I am tired of pulling you and your bike out of bushes, of dusting you off when you fall and get scraped." Not once has He told me he is sick of me, when anyone else would have long ago. He says He could never forget us.

I need to give Fidget and her training wheels a break. In this life, I am always going to be on spiritual training wheels; training to be holy, learning to take God at His word, and be changed into His humble likeness.  I didn't get any running in today. But I did get out with my kid. I did learn a little bit about humility and about my need for God. Tomorrow's another day.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lovelies come lately

Here is my first pair of knitted socks and the two pairs of fingerless gloves I've made in the past couple weeks. the longer I knit the more I enjoy choosing cheerful colors- all these are washable wools. I love small but challenging projects,which is probably what keeps me coming back to baking bagels and English muffins too.
As a woman who is home most of my days, it is deeply satisfying to me that the work of my hands can bless those even beyond my family. There are so many recipes, so many knitting and quilting patterns, that I will never run out of interesting things to do!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Presidential Bagels

The Pres likes to take a toasted bagel to work when I remember to get them and don't have to resort to Pop Tarts. While he's been on a little trip I've been working on perfecting my bagel-making technique. He'll be surprised, but whether or not he'll be pleased, I don't yet know. Sometimes the trials of my baking are so arduous he wonders why I bother. I mean, store bought things are good enough, right? But look how darling these puffy little rings are!
 I love King Arthur Flour and all the great baking supplies they sell. These bagels are made with their Sir Lancelot Unbleached Hi-Gluten Flour and their Non-Diastatic Malt Powder, a sweet derivative of roasted barley. I am an avid baker and pretty successful at it most of the time. I only wish I could live near King Arthur and go to their baking demos and classes. I could be more consistent with my bagels. And master the tricky English muffin. Again, consistency is elusive.

Here is the first bagel going into the simmering water. This is where it gets tricky for me. I can bake lots of yeast breads. I have no trouble throwing them in the oven once they're risen. But this boiling step is confounding. So often my bagels-to-be have risen and look just right- until they go in the simmering bath. Some come out great, but some deflate- see the one on the right, below. And after that they still have to bake.

This is how my first batch came out. They look pretty good overall, and they were delicious, but the batch I've just made now that the Pres is on his way home does not look as promising.
The joy of the challenge continues. Maybe I'll have some perfect ones made by the time the Pres gets home from his next trip. One of these days, I'm determined, I'll be serving him truly presidential bagels. And with confidence from that triumph, maybe I'll even be willing to tackle English muffins again.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

At the River's Edge

Fidget and I went down the street to the river yesterday. We were delighted to see the tide was the lowest we'd ever seen. We walked way out on the squishy sand and found all kinds of treasures. We brought a shovel and a trowel, imagining we were archaeologists, and what fun it was to lose ourselves for an hour walking the shoreline way out almost to the bridge pilings. Fidget made a pyramid and a tunnel; I collected pot shards. 

Who used to own the things that made up these dishes, we wondered? How did they lose them? That was enough to spark our imaginations. Actually, Fidget's imagination needs no sparking. On the way to the river she pretended we were dolls out for a walk without their owner.

It is such fun to observe Fidget's simple joy in the sunshine, going walking and exploring. How God must delight too, in seeing His children enjoy the good gifts He gives.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Yesterday while I was making dinner one of my cuticles started to bleed so I asked Fidget to run upstairs and get me a Band aid. It wasn't long before I heard a bang at the front door. I immediately thought she'd  hit the door with her head. We've gone through stitches in her head twice already so I was expecting the third. But when I came out there it turned out she'd slid on the rug  and caught herself with her hand, and broke a window in the door.

It was one of those times as a parent where I was so relieved I felt like crying. Fidget started crying right away not because she was hurt, but because she broke one of the little windows. It's just a window, I kept telling her. I prayed with her there on the rug by the front door, so thankful that she is all right. The stained glass-looking window film I put on a couple years ago apparently kept her from being hurt at the same time that it took the force of her fall and didn't let the glass shatter out. Phew! By the time I knew the danger, the trouble was over.

Those windows are small. The whole thing could have been much worse. But it wasn't. It wasn't bad at all. Fidget didn't get one cut. It made me so thankful to belong to the God who sees and knows all.

I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure..  Psalm 16:8-9