Star Wars in my Kitchen, or How Jude Turned Eleven

Well, the last two weeks have been very busy, not least of all because Jude turned 11 last Sunday. To celebrate, we had a Star Wars-themed birthday party for him last Saturday, which was extremely fun--both to plan and to implement. He only had two of his best buddies over, but we went all-out anyway.

Star Wars characters

Of course, in somewhat typical fashion, I didn't start planning it until the Tuesday before--but decided to go BIG anyway. Well, BIG--but with shortcuts. I bought the awesome Star Wars Digital Printable Birthday Pack from SimoneMadeIt on Etsy to help me get started, spent some time trolling the 'net for other people's Star Wars Birthday ideas, and even decided that making Jedi robes for the men-folk of the family wouldn't be too much to tackle, with the help of an online tutorial to save me a bunch of the brain work. (Okay, there was still some involved--four robes in four sizes? I had to come up with my own pattern-drafting formula. Yay! Geometry! But that's okay, still saved me a ton of research. And for those of you who can count, Levi gets to be an Ewok, not a Jedi.)

Star Wars birthday balloons

Star Wars party food 3

Star Wars party food

Star Wars party food 2

Jedi birthday cake

I wasn't the only parent getting in on the fun. Jason planned an extremely elaborate--and difficult--obstacle course for the young Jedi-wannabes. And made them light sabres out of plumbing foam pipe insulators and coloured duct tape. They had to undergo training, then they got their meal, and as the "instructional video" section of the party, we watched the original, first Star Wars movie. (Episode IV. Yes, it's confusing. If you don't know why, I'm not explaining it here.)

Just part of the Jedi training

This was actually the boys' first time watching Star Wars, although they have played the Wii game, read the Encyclopedia, and are fairly familiar with the "world".

Star Wars characters gone crazy!
Putting their crazy faces on!

Okay, okay... I didn't get it all done. Jude's robe was mostly done--enough for him to wear, anyway. Last week, I finished Noah's, and am currently 1/4 of the hem away from finishing Jabin's. Jason's may have to wait for some other projects I have to finish up... but that's okay. There are six movies, after all, and as of this weekend, we are only finished two of them. :-)

My progress was severely slowed by a very nasty cold that I caught from Levi halfway through last week. I am well on the road to recovery, now, and thankfully, Levi was over the worst of it before I succumbed, but I guess I got what I deserved for all those late nights trying to finish robes on time for a party I didn't plan until the last minute!

I keep telling myself that I won't do the same thing for Jabin's party in two weeks...

I hope I'm right!

Jolly Holiday

Not this past weekend, but the one before, our family got to take a weekend trip that didn't involve a funeral. What it did involve was only a three-hour drive to get there, and a hotel with a pool! It was wonderful.

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We all had a good time in Fort St. John, B.C., especially since fall is the loveliest time of year along the Peace River Valley. The colours were slightly more advanced there than here, and on the Sunday, we had to take a drive out to a lookout to take in a new view of the Peace River before heading home.

Another kind tourist, seeing my frustrations trying to work the remote shutter on my fancy-pantsy new camera, kindly offered to take a family photo of us. Other than Levi being sick, grumpy, and needing a nap, it turned out pretty good, I thought. (At least we're all looking at the camera, for a change.)

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Thank you, Fort St. John, for a great end to the summer.

Cardi Love

I am so in love with this shrug:


I desperately want to make it, especially since one of my few wardrobe items that resembled it has felted to much too small for me this winter because I was too lazy to handwash it. Apparently, that was a bad idea. It used to look like this:

Bulky Cabled Vest 3.

Now, it doesn't. :-) (It is much more of a shoulder-hugging shrug now than the original Cable Vest, actually--which, by the way, is a brilliantly simple design by Sarah Punderson.)

The only problem is how very little knitting time I am getting these days. Less that blogging time, apparently, and that hasn't happened in a few years. :-) On the rare day when I do have a chance to sit on the couch with my hubby at the end of it, my hands are just so happy to be empty, and my arms are so thrilled to not be holding anything in them, that I will sit and watch an entire episode (currently on Season 1 of Smallville) without so much as opening my knitting bag.

Not to mention, I'm in the middle of three knitting projects already.

Still, the Forest and Frill pattern is calling me... It's so darn summery... and those other projects-in-progress (double-knit cheetah balaclava/mitt set I'm designing, thigh-high chunky cabled socks I'm designing, and green lace socks I'm not designing) all seem to be dragging into rather unseasonable seasons.... well, with the exception of the lace socks. Which, in my defence, is what I have been working on lately, when I have been knitting at all. (Although I know I need to finish the other ones so the patterns can be posted at the beginning of the appropriate season!)

Cables and lace, how I love thee... especially when combined in a perfect crop top and a delicious chocolate hue...

Bulking Up

This winter, Jason has been doing some training, as he is planning to enter the Spartan Race in Edmonton this July. There is a kid's version of the race, too, and the boys are stoked that Daddy let them enter it. Thus, they have been diligently doing karate, swimming lessons, walks or Nike Plus (Fitness XBox Kinect program) on non-class days, and with the nice weather lately, they have added "trampolining" to the regimen.

All that hard work has really been paying off.

Honest, we don't let our kids use steroids, or anything! Maybe there was a radioactive spider around the place, somewhere...


Newly Nine!

 Noah, my sweet middle boy, is turning nine today. What a perfect opportunity to celebrate a child who is cuddles and smiles and math genius and cause-of-mommy's-gray-hairs all in one. Here are some things about Noah right now:

Favourite Food: Cake and ice cream, pancakes run a close second and pasta gets honourable mention (except pasta with tomato sauce)

Favourite Books: Bone, Calvin & Hobbes, Garfield, For Better or Worse (do you see a trend?)

Favourite Games: Super Marvel Squad, Angry Birds (any variation),

Favourite Subjects: Spelling ("It's so fast!"), Bible ("That's so fast, too!"), Math, Piano

Dislikes: Work, tomatoes, cauliflower, and hot days. (Also zombies.)

What do you want to do when you grow up?
 "When I grow up, I want to marry Emily and build a house or buy a house that is so nice, and buy beds or bunk beds for my kids. And also, I'd get Wii and XBox 360 and Nintendo DS."

 Last week, we studied the story of Midas' golden touch. For their notebook page after, they had to write what Midas learned ("there are things more important than gold"), and what they would wish for if they had had that opportunity. This was Noah's wish:
"I would wish for all the video games in the world, except zombie and monster games."

When Noah was a baby, he was the cuddliest of all our children. He would snuggle right into the crook of your neck with his arms tucked in front of him and go to sleep. Once he became the "middle", there was less time for all those cuddles, which he seemed to handle well, but he still loves his hugs and kisses.

He is a sweet, sensitive boy, but he also likes to play rough-and-tumble--to a point. He gets excited and doesn't always know what to do with himself, which can annoy his brothers and friends somewhat.

He also loves to sing while he does his schoolwork, or listen to music. This annoys both his brothers, but especially Jabin, who would love everything to be perfectly silent while doing his work. Mommy is still working on solutions to the problem...

Noah is gifted in math and music, and although he struggles with the writing process, he has a wonderful imagination that can come up with some really great story ideas.

Noah gave us a scare a couple of months ago when he silently disappeared as we got up to leave the A&W. His boots and coat were still there, but the last I had seen him out of the corner of my eye, he was heading out into the hallway of the mall. Ten minutes of panicked searching in the bathrooms, stores of the mall, and around the outside (at -20C) had Jason and I both (mostly me, I'm sure) starting to become VERY alarmed... when we discovered that he had gone to the bathroom in the handicapped washroom, in a back hallway we didn't know existed, without bothering to tell anyone. He still forgets to communicate things like that because his mind--while fertile--works on only one row of the garden at a time. :-) Despite Jason's and my extreme, obvious concern and reiterations about how important it was to tell us (and take a Bathroom Buddy) when he does that, he still did it the next time we were in the restaurant. Things like that take constant repetition with him. I am encouraged, though, that he is finally starting to remember to excuse himself from the table after a meal... about a third of the time, anyway. :-)

Noah, we are so thankful that you are part of our family--and that we didn't lose you that day! By God's grace, you are growing into a wonderful young man. We are excited to see what the next year has in store for you, Little Big Man.

Happy birthday!

Going Green

Jabin had a green birthday.
Jabin promptly named this guy "Normy".

It was inundated with piggies.

He's barely taken this hat off since (2 weeks, now).

Mom makes him take it off at meals, though. :-)

I still have two baby piggies to go. The hat was made using a combination of the tutorials found at Obsessively Stitching and Tracy's Treasury.

Who knew it would be so much fun being green? :-)

November, already?

The last week or so has been a bit of a blur. I decided on the Friday before last that I would enter a craft fair on December the 9th, and figured it was a perfect opportunity to knit up a few dozen things and move some older yarn out of my stash. Ergo, I have been knitting. And designing. And knitting. A lot.

Which is perfectly fine, because for the duration of that time, it was snowing. A lot. The sun finally came out a few days ago, sparkling off a new-fallen foot of snow. And me with the summer tires, still.

During that time, I managed to finish the first sweater I've ever made for my darling husband. He has a strong dislike for the effects of wool on his skin, so it took me this long to convince him that there was wool that was less itchy, and that it didn't have to touch his skin. Since it has been finished, he has worn it a gratifying amount of times. I'm not sure if he really likes it, or is just trying to make me feel better. Either way, it looks great on him.

Also during that time--on Saturday, to be precise--Jude managed, through no fault of his own, to turn 10 years old. I managed not to cry about it--but I did succumb to nostalgia and picture the little bundle of joy we brought home from the hospital that catapulted Jason and I from the world of normal adults into that wonderful and scary job category of "parents."

Jude is now not even a little boy--I am starting to see the man he will become, both in his features, and his person. He has helped me grow up--and it is a joy watching him grow up.

I love you, little man! And though the prospect of what the next ten years may hold has me a little nervous, I look forward to entering this next stage of the adventure with you!

Pillow Fight

When Jude was born, one of his baby gifts was a child-size body pillow covered in flannel decorated with ducklings and cutesy ladybugs. It soon became one of his favourite possessions.

This pillow has gotten a lot of use over the years.

As moral support when learning to put on socks:

As a dance mat, before Wii was invented (Daddy's shoes make it even better):

As a surface long enough to accommodate a brotherly moment of bonding:

When Jabin got old enough, he became quite attached to the pillow, too. (Noah, not liking confrontation, chose to stay mum on the subject.)

The mutual attachment soon became a source of constant friction--both between the two boys, and on Mom's and Dad's nerves. Finally, after years of this, and various "systems" to try and get the boys to share it peacefully that all failed miserably, I had had enough. I went to the fabric store, bought some flannel and quilt batting, and using some muslin I had at home made not one, but two more body pillows, plus pillowcases for all three. (No sense leaving Noah out--when the prospect of having one of his own arose, he was duly thrilled.)

Finally, a truce. And we are ALL happy about it. :-)

Unreasonable Blessings

Sometimes I feel blessed beyond reason. As in, I'm not sure for what reason I am so blessed... but I am grateful.

Jason has been on holidays since last Wednesday. Originally, we had been planning on taking a trip out to Abbotsford for a wedding, then down to Seattle to see my brother for Thanksgiving. We weren't the only ones who were disappointed when we had to cancel due to budgetary constraints. However, Jason had been saving up his time off, and we had several fall projects that needed doing, so he took the holidays anyway.

For the most part, I have continued to do school with the kids during his holiday, as he has been outside cutting and splitting wood most days. He has also helped teach the kids at times, which has been fun for them and for him. Today, as I napped to try and kick the final vestiges of a cold that just won't die combined with the monthly cyclical low that leaves me drained of energy, Jason took over the morning subjects completely.

By afternoon, bolstered by my nap, I was able to teach the kids science so Jason could take advantage of the gorgeous weather and get back outside. As part of a lesson on evaporation, the kids did a watercolour painting. Two of the three made pictures for me that said "I love you."

"And this is me hugging and kissing you," explained Jabin.

I am so blessed by my family.


This morning, I had the boys working in the garden with me while I harvested potatoes. They were snipping ripe stalks of volunteer oats that had grown up among them, thanks to the chicken-litter-fertilizer I had used this spring.

Suddenly, with no precursor, Jabin pipes up, "If I were a superhero, my name would be 'Genius Jabin'."

Chuckling, I asked him why.

"Because I'm so genius," he replied.

Completely logical. And with phonetic alliteration, if there is such a thing. Why did I even ask?

Any Season is Knitting Season

I am in adamant denial that summer is only two weeks from ending. Even while typing that, I blindfolded myself and thought about rainbows and sunflowers so I could trick myself that it was just a "pretend."

This summer has been full, and busy, and not, all at the same time. July was travelling and visiting and getting sick, a cold that worked its way through our entire household and didn't move on for about a month. What is it about summer colds that makes them hang on so long, anyway?

Combine that with the heat wave that we endured for most of the month, and on into the first part of August, making our li'l Tin Can o' Dreams a mere 30C+ by evening every night, and most of the summer "to-do" list didn't really start getting tackled until the August long weekend (first weekend, for those not Canadian-holiday-aware). So, what did we do while we were coughing, and sweltering, through July?

First two weeks: The boys had swimming lessons from Monday to Thursday in the morning. Conveniently (for me), they were in a consecutive two-hour stretch each morning. Guess what? That meant two hours of nearly-uninterrupted KNITTING TIME!! I also met a new friend, another avid knitter named Lori. She was making a tank top. I was making a cotton sundress. (More about that in a minute.)

Next two weeks: Veg. Recover. Read. KNIT. I read several books this summer. The whole 12-month "Conspiracy 365" series (preview for Jude, ostensibly. Not bad--a little "mile-a-minute" for my tastes, but good adventure for teen and pre-teen reading.) After that, I read "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West" by Gregory McGuire. This is the novel that the musical "Wicked" is based on. While I enjoyed the skill of the writing, and seeing how the source material was changed to create the musical, I was disappointed in the vulgarity of the book--about an "R" rating. Oh, well. Since then, I have been working through "Which Lie Did I Tell?", William Goldman's sequel to "Adventures in the Screen Trade" about his life as a screenwriter.

The skirt of the sundress was very boring. Since I was reading "Wicked" on the Kindle app on my phone and PC, and therefore didn't need hands to hold a book open (and only a light touch to "turn pages"), I also got a great deal of knitting done while I was reading. This was a new trick for me, but I found it worked well to keep my mind occupied while my fingers were doing the same repetitive stitch for hours.

Cotton Cool Sundress 2

Here's the story of the sundress: I actually started it early last summer (2011), very excited about the slight challenge the lace bodice would supply, and the prospect of making myself a summer garment. (I don't usually knit summer dresses, I sew them.) Last summer, as you all know, was more than a little busy with moving, renovating, and the like. So, I didn't really put any speed on with the project until the week between Christmas and New Year's, when Jason was off of work and we were watching movies every night, with not much to do all day but knit, either.

Cotton Cool Sundress lace detail

By the end of the week, the skirt was nearly finished when I realized I had made two fatal errors: my gauge had loosened considerably from when I started the project, meaning the fit would be off, and I had also cast on the wrong number of stitches in the first place.

I was so grouchy about it, I stuffed the whole thing into my knitting bag and didn't touch it again for months. This spring, I was finally over my "irk" enough to rip it out and prepare to re-knit.

I (re)cast this on the third weekend of June, and finished it by the end of July. I am SO glad it is done, it fits (maybe a touch loose, but nothing major), and I can move onto something else.

Cotton Cool Sundress

Like this sweater for Jason, for which I just ordered the yarn.


The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers

Jude has been asking to get a kitten for quite some time, now. As it happened, when my mother brought her creamsicle tabby, Peaches, up here for the summer, she was "in a way", thanks to an unplanned night out with a neighbouring Arkansonian feline.

So, last Tuesday, Jude got to bring home a little miniature male version of the kitten's mother, which he named "Tigger".

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Tigger has been in the house, except for a few brief forays into the outside world, so we can make sure he is good and used to us. We have two other cats, both males: one is Simba, one of our original two kittens from 2009 that spent the winter inside (and contributed to Jason's contracting pneumonia the following spring), the other Samson, Simba's nephew.

Samson and his siblings were born in October of 2010, going into a particularly cold winter, and did not get handled much. As a result, he is feral--but he sticks around and keeps the mice population under control.

Still, it's a shame he won't let us near him. Because of that, Jason agreed to keeping Tigger inside for a limited time (ending today or tomorrow, methinks) to make sure he is good and tame--and also to ease him and the Great White Dork (aka "Thunder") into some kind of understanding with one another. Even if the understanding is just that Tigger learns not to let Thunder anywhere near him...

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Welcome to the family, Tigger!