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January 2010

Friday RoundUp, January-Style

It's been a busy week. . . so I'm going to end it with a Friday RoundUp.

First up -- An Exciting Contest!

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When I first started this blog, back at the end of May, it was part of my "healing plan."  My way of stepping away from The Edge.  I needed to give myself a voice; to seem "real" after the whole cancer thing.  I don't know what I really expected from it.  But, after 6 months of blogging, I can say that I've gotten a lot more out of this than I ever imagined.  I didn't think anyone would read it.  But you do.  I didn't think anyone would comment.  But you do.  I had no idea that I would meet such cool people through my blog.  But I do. And here's the most amazing thing.  As of right now, I've had 922 comments on my blog (plus one about do-it-yourself awnings -- but I deleted that one).  Amazing. 

So, here's the contest.  The person that makes the 1,000th comment on my blog will win a prize of their choosing!  Either. . . a somewhat-custom handmade (by me) Minion of their very own. . . or a cool skein of sock yarn from my stash.

So get commenting!  (You have no idea how much your comments mean to me!)

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Next -- The Celebrating Continues!  

Brian and I thank you for your cheers of support about his hockey triumph.  He is still walking around on Cloud Nine.  I would hate to be their next opponent. . .  Anyway, I just want to show you how BIG this win was.  Here's the front page of last night's sports section in the Kalamazoo Gazette:

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So cool!  It doesn't get much better than that!

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Next - Those Damn Mittens

I trashed my first Psychic Heart mitten earlier this week.  The colors were just not working for me.  Not even a little.  (Tom thought they were fine, but he is color blind.)  Here they are, before their demise.

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After thinking about them for a couple of days, I decided to dive back into the stash and see if I could come up with a better color combination.  I'm trying again. . . but the jury is still out.

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What do you think?  (I'm actually knitting these "inside-out" on the needles - to manage the floats on the outside where I can see them.  I sort of like the inside better than the outside.  Maybe the pattern is just not doing it for me?)

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Opinions welcome.  I'm going to finish this one. . . but EZ's mitered mittens are beginning to call.  Loudly.

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Next -- January Thaw

It's been warming up a bit over the last few days.  Not WARM-warm, but over 32 degrees (Fahrenheit).  So we're in the January Thaw.  The "dirty-snow" part of winter.  Yuck.  My driveway pile:

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My car:

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I'd rather have new snow.  It's prettier.

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Next -- The Knitter's Equivalent of the "Bat Signal" Has Been Activated

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Haiti needs our support.  See the Yarn Harlot's blog (as if you haven't already) for details of how you can help.

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And, Finally -- Some Mind Candy

Important decisions 

Yes, it's been That Kind of Week!  Enjoy the weekend!


Do You Believe. . .

Hockey movies are big in our house.  We watch 'em all, but have favorites.  Mystery, AlaskaSlap Shot. Miracle.  They're fun, inspirational, and - generally - have endings that are . . . satisfying.  You know what I mean.  The "good guys" end up winning, or, at least, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps (skate laces. . .) and making a decent show of things.

Life isn't like the movies, though.  And sometimes, things just don't go well for a hockey team.  Like, take for instance, Brian's high school hockey team this year.  It's been a rough season so far.  Not so many wins.  It's not that the boys are unskilled (because that's not at all the case), but this year, situations have conspired to make things . . . challenging.  Lots of rookies.  Inexperienced goalies.  Untimely injuries.  Confidence problems. 

It's especially tough when you're a senior.  And you were hoping for . . . more.

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In this difficult season, we've encouraged Brian to continue to play hard; to play with integrity; to hold his head up ---- and to look for the little things that make this season "special" -- regardless of this year's win/loss record.  And so he has.

He was named Captain.

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He won the title of "Fastest Shot" in the League Skills Competition/Parent Night earlier this week (71 mph).

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And he's being recruited to play hockey at Hope College next year.  These are all Really Good Things, and these individual triumphs help to offset the disappointment of a disappointing season.  We all know better than to think that Ordinary Life is anything like The Movies.

But.  Do you believe? 

Here's a clip from the hockey movie Miracle (about the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team).  It's a great locker room talk -- from Coach Herb Brooks (played by Kurt Russell) to his team before they went out to meet the Soviet team.

Last night, Brian's team went up against their cross-town rival in a league contest.  Now, this cross-town rivalry is intense and long-standing, and, unfortunately, the Other Team has been dominating for years.  On top of all the "history," the Other Team is having a Very Good Year.  In fact, they are undefeated in the league, and, earlier this season, beat Brian's team 8-0.  We all expected another blow-out.

But.  Do you believe?

Brian's team scored first -- and early -- in the game. 

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You could hear the sigh of relief.  (Because . . . at least they would have a SCORE on the board in this game.)

But.  Do you believe?

Something happened.  There was confidence in the air!  They played well.  Really well.  Their confidence grew.  They frustrated the Other Team.  The crowd (always big in this hockey-loving town, but especially big for this rivalry) went CRAZY. 

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It was . . . like a movie!  It was as if it had been scripted!  Every kid on the team had his Best Game.  They played with excitement and integrity and skill.  And confidence.  The final score. . .

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The underdogs beat their rivals -- handing them their first league loss in over two years!

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The celebration was as big as if they had won the state championship!  (That's Brian jumping up on the glass to celebrate with some of his former teammates who came back for the game.)

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It was a True Movie Moment.  (This is Brian hugging another senior, Brandon, a longtime teammate -- from back in the travel days.)

Do you believe?  I think they do!


Injured Reserve

Here is me. . . today.  Unfortunately.

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I have aggravated an old wrist problem and must rest it today.  (It was those damn heart mittens -- and they have aggravated more than my wrist.  When I can type with both hands, I'll fill you in on the details.)

In the meantime, you can see Erin's new "back-to-school-bling".  She visited the piercing studio yesterday.  She wanted to let it heal at home --- before heading back to Denison this weekend.

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That's all I can type for now. . .


The Color of Michigan Winter

Winter in West Michigan is usually . . . a neutral color.  Grey-ish.  Beige-ish.  White-ish.  There is snow.  There is dirty snow.  There is slush.  There is ice.  There are dirty, slush-covered cars.  (Erin jokes that the color of her car - actually called "champagne" - should be re-named the "color of Michigan winter.") 

Because of our proximity to Lake Michigan, we have a lot of cloud cover.  Let me say that again. . . with more feeling. . . A LOT of cloud cover.  In the winter, we rarely see the sun.  Sometimes weeks and weeks go by with no sun at all.  

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So, on Saturday, this was a sight to behold!

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This hardly ever happens!  Snow on the trees. . . but not a cloud in the sky!

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It was brilliant!

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I had to find my sunglasses! 

Not to worry, though.  The weather patterns have righted themselves again.  It is snowing a little today.  And the sky . . . in fact, the entire landscape. . . is grey again.  Neutral reigns as the official color of Michigan winter!


In the Mood

It looks like this outside my window right now.

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Although you can't really see it in the photo, it's pouring snow.  A fine but heavy snow is falling, and it's piling up fast.  This puts me in the mood for. . .

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MITTENS!

Yes, it was just yesterday that I specifically stated I would "knit what I feel like" in 2010. . . and here I've gone and joined a knit-along!  NaKniMitMo.  But I'm not already losing sight of my knitting goals . . . because I FEEL LIKE knitting mittens!  In fact, I'm definitely in the mood for mittens.  (Besides, the name says it all ---- "Mo" as in Month is much more agreeable than "MoDo" as in Twelve of Them.)

So my big problem is . . . which mittens to knit?  There are so many great patterns.  And, because I'm totally not losing sight of my knitting goals here, I need to have the appropriate yarn on hand - already in my stash! 

Let's see. . . I really like the new Spilly Jane mitten pattern called Anna's Mittens (which also happens to be the Official Mitten of NaKniMitMo 2010).  (Note:  None of these pattern links are Ravelry links, so non-Ravelers can check out my options, too.)  Do I have appropriate yarn in my stash?  Why, yes.  I do!  Plenty of random leftovers would work for these mittens!

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Or, hmmmmm.  There's another Spilly Jane pattern I've had my eyes on for a while -- Psychic Hearts.  I love the crayon-box look of these mittens!  And, uh, I happen to have the exact yarn called for in the pattern (Knit Picks Palette) right in my stash (different colors, though).

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But, then, I've always had EZ's mitered mittens on my to-knit list.  And. . . I do happen to have some Noro silk garden in my stash.

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Oh!  And I love Connie Chang Chinchio's new Cayuga Mittens. . . and I think they'd be fabulous in (my all time favorite go-to yarn) Berroco Ultra Alpaca.  Which, I just happen. . . to . . . ummmm. . .have in my stash.

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Of course, I also like Laurie's Mittens from Through the Loops.  I love their texture and tweedy-ness.  And, you guessed it, I do have the required one-skein of Knit Picks City Tweed HW just sitting there.  In my stash.

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I picked up a little mitten kit at the Michigan Fiber Festival last August.  Lucy Neatby's Fiesta pattern with wool from Blackberry Ridge.  Maybe it's time to knit them up!

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You can see. . . I have plenty of ideas. . . and plenty of yarn!  But which to choose? 

Can you guess which one I was. . . in the mood . . .to start?




Writing Them Down: The Knitting

The tragedy of life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal.  The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach.  -- Benjamin Mays

It's a new year.  2010.  And here we are. . .at the beginning of January, trying to get used to writing this new date.  Rolling the sound of "twenty-ten" around in our mouths.  And primed for action with our new, blank calendars and hopes for a fresh start.

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Lots of us begin the year with resolutions or goals.  As for me. . . well, I start with both. You see, to me, "resolutions" are in a completely different category than "goals."  To me, "resolutions" are ways you want to live. . . and "goals" are what you want to do.

You've already seen my resolutions for the new year; now it's time for me to start rolling out my goals.  I tend to follow the old SMART system of setting goals -- you know, Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant and Time-limited.  I break my goals down into different categories, and I limit myself to 3 or 4 goals in each category.  And, for me, the most important part of the task is writing them down.  Because, somehow that makes me more accountable.  To myself, of course.  And it makes my goals seem more real.  For myself, of course.  And what better way to write them down. . . than to write them down in my blog!

So, for starters, today. . . here are my Personal Knitting Goals for 2010:

  1. To knit what I feel like knitting. (I know this is not consistent with a SMART goal, but I can't help myself after the whole NaKniSweMoDo thing of 2009, so I'm sticking with it!)
  2. To finally try entrelac by making a scarf like Vicki's gorgeous wonder!
  3. To knit exclusively from my stash.  (Note:  I am not saying I will not purchase any yarn; I'm quite certain I will.  I'm just not going to knit with it during 2010.)
  4. To knit at least three charitable projects during 2010.
There you have them.  Written down.

Monsters, Inc.

Soundtrack time. . . Click in to this video to set the mood for this post!

Monsters have invaded my house!!!  They've taken over my life!!!  I can't escape them!!!  They're EVERYwhere!!!  They're. . . in the dog food!!!

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They're. . . in the laundry!!!

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They're. . .watching my tv!!!

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Even my children are in danger!!! They're. . . reading Erin's books!!!

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And. . .hiding in Brian's hockey bag!!!

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Truth is. . . I've been utterly charmed by these little monsters!  (Two Ravelry links.)

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They are knit from Heather Sebastian's Minions pattern (Ravelry link here), using a variety of sock yarn scraps I had on hand.  I intended to make one for Erin. . .

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and it was so dang cute that I decided to make some more!

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Then Brian wanted one.  And I decided . . . why stop there?  I'll make one for his girlfriend, too!

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(The one with the scarf is not in the pattern -- I did the scarf, "mittens" and "boots" on my own.) 

I had WAY too much fun with these little guys!  It's a great way to use leftover sock yarn and mismatched buttons -- and a fun way to start the new year, most definitely.

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Away Game

For years, Brian played "travel hockey."  That meant that Tom and I spent many, many hours driving to ice rinks around the state of Michigan (and sometimes to states beyond) to transport Brian to, and then watch him play in, hockey games and tournaments.  This was a weekend lifestyle for us -- for many months of many years.  Yes, a Bit Nuts.

Outlaw hockey 

I think this is a photo of Brian in 6th grade, although it may have been 7th.  I know it was one of those two years.

Anyway, for the last three years, Brian has played hockey for his high school team.  It's nice for him to play for his school -- and, as a bonus for his travel hockey-weary parents, most of the games are local!  When there are out of town games, a charter bus transports the team in style.  We Hockey Parents are a die-hard group, though.  Like I said.  A Bit Nuts.  We still go to any "away games."  (It's just not so much a lifestyle anymore.) 

Back in the travel hockey days, away games used to eat up entire days.  Sometimes game locations were two hours (or more) away.  Tack on to that. . . getting to the rink an hour before game time, then the actual game, then waiting for Brian after the game, and, finally, the return trip.  Sounds crazy, doesn't it?  That's what I mean by lifestyle.  A Bit Nuts.  But it was, actually, kind of fun.  (I got lots of knitting done.)  Now, Tom and I can just hop in the car and drive to the game -- and get back in the car right after the game.  That cuts out a lot of hanging-around time (and, unfortunately, knitting time).

This weekend, Brian's team had a game in Muskegon, Michigan . . . which meant . . . Road Trip for Tom and I. 

Here is the Hockey Mom getting ready for the game.

Hockey Mom Prepares for Game

Now, I must admit, this is how I look before all games -- local or away.  What's different about an away game. . . is that I also pack my knitting for the car!

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And. . . off we go!  Heading north.

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For Saturday's game in Muskegon, we drove north through Grand Rapids. . .

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and on further into the north . . .

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(We've played games in both Lansing and Cadillac, too, of course.  But today we were headed for Muskegon!)

where the sun disappeared as we got closer to the lake. . .

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We passed the time watching for hawks along the highway (we spotted 5 on the way) and listening to podcasts of "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" on NPR.  And. . . knitting, of course.

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After nearly an hour and a half of driving. . . we arrived at the rink in Muskegon.

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(I used to be very disturbed that ambulances were in the parking lots of hockey rinks, but, over the years, I've gradually gotten used to them being there.)

And, surprise!  There in the parking lot were my Mom and Dad!  Hockey Grandparents are a Bit Nuts, too! 

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And, look at the crowd!  This is the visitors side of the rink!  We really are a Bit Nuts, we Hockey Parents.  We just can't keep away. 

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Just in time for the boys to warm up before the game.

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And that's pretty much all I have to say about the game.  See the scoreboard there?  Before the game began?  That's the best it looked for our team the whole game.  'Nuff said. 

By the time we left the rink, it was dark for our drive home.  What does a hawk-spotting knitter do on the way home in dark?  Why. . . play with her camera and oncoming traffic, of course!

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All of Brian's games for the next couple of weeks are local.  Wish him luck.  His team could use it this year!


Be It Resolved

Happy New Year!

New years card

As for me. . . during 2010 I resolve to. . .

  1. Smile more
  2. Worry less
  3. Embrace adventure
  4. Stretch
  5. Tune in
  6. Challenge myself
  7. Drink it in
  8. Cheer loudly
  9. Feel the joy
  10. Learn something new
  11. Make music
  12. Smell the roses
  13. Be present
  14. Laugh out loud
  15. Eat well
  16. Sleep enough
  17. Do good
  18. Really taste
  19. Listen carefully
  20. Reach out
  21. Harmonize
  22. Walk on tiptoe
  23. Share
  24. Go there
  25. Live in peace
That should do it.  Here's to a great year.  For all of us.