Eye on the prize

I am determined to finish Sammy’s dressing gown by Christmas morning. He wants to be just like his Daddy so much that he is even wearing hats now. The idea of the two of them in their dressing gowns unwrapping presents on Christmas is the very best thing I can possibly imagine.

I have devised a schedule for myself. I am already behind, as my schedule has me finishing the left front by the end of the night and I am maybe 2/3 done and almost totally wiped out. But maybe I can finish it tomorrow and still knit both sleeves. Maybe. I hope. Monday the schedule has me knitting the pockets and the tie and sewing the whole thing together. I also will be cooking a small feast — luckily very small! Also I will need to actually enjoy my family in addition to all this knitting.

I think I can do it but I may need a lot of coffee and I think it will be weeks before the skin on my fingertips grows back. But it will be worth it. My boys in their robes. Not to mention this:

Manos del Uruguay

This is a skein of Manos del Uruguay that Violet sent in a wonderful surprise box full of beautiful, gorgeous, delicious, amazing yarn. It is currently sitting across the room from me, yelling at me to hurry up and finish typing so I can finish the dressing gown and get onto my reward: a hat for myself. Red and pink are my colors. (Well, two of them.)

Edited because I just have to say two things:

1. Surely knitters are the only idiots who do this. We torture ourselves with knitting, we make our fingers sore and our brains explode and then when it is finally finished and we can rest we reward ourselves with more knitting.

2. I never had my colors done, and the teensy little part of me that is stuck in the 80s is very sad about that. Surely there is some clever online application where I can upload a photo or something, or the equivalent of a phone psychic I can call?

Things I am hoping to get done before Christmas

Because I am an optimistic idiot this time of year. (The rest of the year I am a pessimist. And an idiot.) As this list is kind of boring and depressing (at least to me), I will break it up with some photos of our decorations.


Sam’s dressing gown. Unlike most gift recipients, I really cannot show him the pieces I have knitted and expect him to have any idea what the heck he is looking at. It’s got to be finished.


Will’s typing gloves (it’s OK, he knows I am making them). At this point I am hoping to finish one. One would make me so happy. Who needs two hands to type? He types too fast anyway, it’s embarrassing for the rest of us.


Sammy’s Santa Hat. He had one last year, I want him to have one every year. But I don’t know! I made one that turned out too big, I have to frog it and try again. I don’t have time but I really want to make some.

humming bird

Make time. (Just joking. But man, I wish I could.) (Moving on.)

My present. Yes, I am making myself a present! I miss the lap quilt already so I am making one for myself. Solid (non-patchwork, that is) fabrics on both sides, simple quilting. Delightful. I haven’t even started it and I don’t have batting.


My stocking. I am not even going to try. Unless I do.

joni’s felt bird

The rest of the holiday CDs. This one might happen, actually.

Saint Nick

Some stacking trees and felt ornaments, for us and a few local friends.

mini nutcrackers

Compile photos of Sam for a holiday e-card.



Lessons Learned

  • USPS Track and Confirm totally sucks, making me worry because I did not purchase insurance for any of the Christmas presents I mailed. Luckily, the most important one got to its destination this morning, despite USPS trying to tell me it is still in Los Angeles.
  • If you never empty the trash on your iBook, it stops working. Eventually. And then you have to get rid of three thousand files if you want to open a PDF.
  • Unlike oatmeal, which sticks to the pot and makes a tremendous mess, if you forget about your grits they just cook. Awesome.
  • Goats milk yogurt is even better than cow milk or water buffalo milk yogurt. It’s like eating the creamiest chevre you ever tasted, only better.

And in Sam news: He now says “Yeah baby!” He practiced saying “baby” for some time yesterday and says it on its own now, too. And when I asked if he wanted grits, he said, “Gree.” He must be Texan! “Gree-its” are very popular in the land of his forefathers. He also knocks on doors with a closed fist now and flushes the toilet for me (whether I want him to or not).

Also, we opened one of his presents from Will’s parents early:

Sam’s new chair

I am ready to move on about five minutes’ notice.

Since two people have brought this to my attention, I guess it is News: The Lakota are seceding from the United States. (You might know them as the Sioux, a tribe that never actually existed.)

Lakota territory includes parts of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. I have been through Wyoming and it is totally fucking gorgeous, so I would like to put my name down as a citizen of this new/old country. I am approximately 0% Native American but I think I could be pretty good at taking care of the earth and building community and all that stuff.

As long as there is wireless internet.

Last Minute Gift Guide: Your Po’ Friends

There’s less than a week till Christmas and you just aren’t sure if you should go practical or frivolous for your friends (or family members) who are barely scraping by. As someone who has had to chose between rent and the car payment, I feel qualified to help.

Both are OK. Practical is good because we need to eat. Frivolous is good because we aren’t getting those things for ourselves.

My #1 suggestion: gift cards. I know it seems boring and impersonal but it is really the perfect gift. I love being able to get exactly what I want without having to juggle the budget, whether it is a loaf of bread or some new clothes. Stores like Trader Joe’s are ideal, since there is a wide variety of foods ranging from inexpensive staples to delicious treats. If you’re OK with bigger chains, Target is great for the same reason: practical and frivolous all in one place. Also consider office supply stores, hardware stores, bookstores, and anyplace else you know they shop. A gas card or metro pass would also be lovely.

Also excellent: cash. A check works just fine too but nothing is as good as cash. Cash doesn’t have to go toward your overdraft or your credit card bill. Cash can get you anything you need right away.

But you want specific suggestions. I have those, too.

  • Something to do (this one is good for families especially). Our friends bought us a membership at the LA Zoo. We can go visit the animals any time we want now, and it won’t cost us a penny. Other ideas might include tickets to a show or movies passes.
  • A meal out — or in. We can’t afford to eat out. And we miss it. My dad had a pizza delivered for us last week and it was the best meal ever.
  • A treat. Maybe a manicure for a female friend (or a male friend if he’s into that sort of thing), a massage if your pockets are a little deeper. Any service that is non-essential has probably been cut from the budget (for instance, I don’t even get haircuts anymore).
  • Does your friend have a hobby? They probably need supplies. Gift certificates really are best, but if you know what they need go ahead and get something to wrap up. (It is a good idea to find out the store’s return policy and make sure your friend can exchange the item if necessary. Gift receipts are a good thing.) Local store suggestion: The Art Store (now Blick). Online local store suggestion: SuperCrafty!
  • If your friend has a camera, pay for film processing or digital prints. You can buy a frame or a nice album and put the gift card in it, so you have something to wrap up.
  • Shop their Amazon wish list. Movies, books, and music are hard to budget and are huge morale boosters.
  • A travel mug (or paper cup sleeve) and a Starbucks gift card (or Peet’s or any other coffee shop). Obviously this is really only a good idea for a coffee or tea drinker.
  • Something handmade. There is no better gift. (Except cash.) (Kidding.) (Sort of.)

Anyone have further ideas to share?

(By the way, I hope no one will take this post as a “hint” — while I’d be thrilled to get anything listed here, I am offering the ideas for the people on your shopping list.)

Mom of the Year!

My award is in the bag, folks.

Yesterday Sam and I went out (in the rain! we are so brave!*) with the intention of washing his dirty diapers (which was most of them) and checking the mail over at Tim and Andrea’s house. We were also hoping to make it to the post office but we failed again. Mailing things this month has turned into a comedy of errors, and I am the butt of all the jokes. I AM SO SORRY, EVERYONE. I swear, the fault does not lay entirely with me.

So we’re at their empty house, sad because they are not there, but maybe a little excited to steal their Netflix, and the laundry is going and I’ve finally put a snap on Baby Boy’s bib, and I think to myself that I should put Sam in a dry diaper and then I realize: the diaper bag that I packed before we left? The one that’s full of the back-up diapers because all the good ones are dirty? Yeah, it is sitting on the stairs at home. I have NO DIAPERS. No clean, dry diapers, at any rate. And I won’t for at least an hour and a half. And I think he has pooped.

I came through in the end, using a wash cloth as a wipe and an old towel as a diaper (naturally I found diaper pins in my purse, because I am a Mom with a capital M) and it was fine until the laundry finished. But seriously. I forgot the diaper bag. Can you imagine what I would have done if we used disposable diapers? Yeah, I can’t either.

*I also braved the elements on Monday night and met up with some awesome local bloggers at an awesome local bar. I am deeply infatuated with them all. Especially Randi, who takes Reckless Capitalization to a whole nother level.

A little gift to the government.

Dear President Bush,

It’s the holidays, so instead of my usual $25 per hour base rate I am going to give you my services for free. (Not that kind of services. I have not mistaken you for your predecessor, nor do I wish to vomit.)

As an editor (out of work, by the way) I find that I have to give advice frequently. This sentence doesn’t make sense here, what if you switch it around like this? That sort of thing. And I am pretty good at it, I think.

So I have some advice for you. Not word advice (I feel there is no hope) but war advice. I hope you will not think me overly bold, as it is slightly outside the realm of my expertise, but I do wish to point out that my 19-month-old son already knows how to wield a sword and the proper way to field-strip an M60. So anyway, I hope you will take my suggestions under consideration.

I’m just going to say it: Iran. We all know that’s in the pipeline, so let’s not pussyfoot around it. I am assuming it will happen on, like, a Monday in early November, but I realize it might be sooner. I don’t approve, but that’s not why I’m writing.

Let’s not have it be a disaster like Afghanistan (remember them?) and Iraq. Modern warfare just isn’t working, so I propose something a little bit different: pillow fight. Send in a battalion of feather pillows from Target, priced quite reasonably starting under $10 (I’m sure as Commander In Chief you could arrange a bulk discount).

They’ll never see it coming. And? It. Will. Work.

Trust me, I know.

Glad to serve my country (and to do so in my pajamas),
Annika Barranti
U.S. Citizen