Saturday, July 31

FO! Rhys went right to bed when we got home (she drove the whole way, plus she packed the car while I took the kids to the beach), so I didn't have anyone to take a pic of me wearing it, so this is what we have for now. But I wanted to show it off ASAP.
Just back from vacation. Wonderful time, pictures to come. We went to the Adirondacks with Sara and family. We had a blast. Terry and I have decided that Eleanor is a clone of Hannah. It's truly scary, as is the hero worship going on as El follows Hannah around the house, doing absolutely everything that Hannah does.

Am, for some reason, polishing off half-bottle of white wine that has been languishing in the fridge in our absence. Dogs and cat seem to be feeling especially neglected, but otherwise healthy and generally gleaming thanks to the kind ministrations of Loren, our housesitter and erstwhile babysitter. Am relatively tipsy thanks to wine.

Must take self to bed and sleep this off. Much spinning and knitting was done during vacation, including a tragic mishap related to miscalculation in spin-knit-spin approach, which I confess I was warned about. Result: one half of sweater is about a size 3T, other half is, I dunno, maybe 5 or 6? All this is due to spinning the fiber in different batches and having it become increasingly thick as I went along. Not, not, not good. Ironically, if I had made the sweater in pieces instead of using the side-to-side Knitty Haiku pattern, I wouldn't be in such a pickle.

Photos of the gory details will also be forthcoming, as much as I would like to hide said object in a closet with all my knitting failures (such a closet does exist in my house) and forget about it. Instead I have devised a plan which involves CUTTING said sweater in two (one half with one gauge and one half with the other--see I told you it was bad) and then picking up and knitting (after spinning) each one into two different sweaters in two different sizes.

In better news, I have FINISHED shapely! After much worry that it would be too small, it fits wonderfully, if a teeny bit tight around the bust. I won't be nursing twins forever (though there are days I don't believe it) so hopefully the E cup short-rows will fit for the long term. The alternative would have involved darts that met in the middle and crossed, LOL, so I wasn't about to do that.

I seamed the damn thing in the car on the way home. Remember how I said I had gotten over my aversion to seaming? No, I just hadn't done it in a while for more than 2 inches at a time. Yep, still hate it. Glad I had a long car ride in which to do it! Making next project in the round. I think I'll join the scrap along.

Sara and I did some dyeing on vacation (and I am proud to say that we did not damage the vacation house in any way, shape, or form). I'm still experimenting and learning, so I'm doing about a yard or two of roving at a time, which spins up into about 60 meters of singles yarn. So I'm generating "scraps" at a rapid clip. I think they will add some great interest to a scrap sweater, though. Dyeing went great, and it's quite easy. Now that I have some stock solutions made up, it's something I can easily do in a couple hours after the kids go to bed, especially if I set up a table for it in the basement. Last night, in fact, I started dyeing at the beginning of Kerry's speech, and finished steaming before midnight! The main thing I learned is that it is okay if it looks kind of dark and muddy when it's wet--it lightens up considerably when dry.

Really must sleep. More, including a deluge of cute kid pics, tomorrow (if the posse allows me any computer time, that is).

Thursday, July 22

I should probably explain the BIW thing, since I've been referring to her liberally in the comments on Karen's blog.  BIW stands for Bitter Infertile Woman.  She's a superhero that some friends from the old ParentsPlace IF board (iVillage basically destroyed those boards--most of them went to N54 and The Parent Perspective) and I created to help us through the nightmare of infertility, recurrent miscarriage, and treatment.  We were sick of trying to relax, stay positive, count our blessings, and say "it's no big deal" like everyone tried to tell us to do, so we decided to embrace our inner BIW, and we created a private email loop where we were free to be as bitter as we wanted to be.  I am so grateful for those women--we were each others' lifeline during that time, and I don't know where I'd be without them.  When you're in the thick of it, it seems like nobody understands.  And in a way, nobody does.  Even now, when I read blogs like Karen's and Tertia's, while I can relate to what they're going through, I can't feel it.  

The hardest part for me back then was not knowing how the story ends.  Not knowing if I would have to face the worst news of all, that I would have to stop without a baby, that the process would break me down so far that I would not be fit to parent, that donor egg wouldn't work, that I would be rejected by the adoption homestudy because I had literally gone insane from the pain and the stress and the devastation of it all.  I know that sounds crazy, but there were times when I thought: this is how it happens--this is how normal, functioning people end up in institutions.  I had clients when I worked in mental health who had held down jobs, even had families.  This is the kind of thing that breaks people, or at least that was my fear at the time (it doesn't help that my mom had a psychotic break around the same age I was when I was going through IF). 

I always said, if I just knew that it would end well, that I would have a baby in my arms at the end of all this, then maybe I'd be a little pissed at how long it's taking and how much crap I have to go through for it, but I'd really be okay.  But not knowing that, not knowing if it would ever work, if the hole in my heart would ever be filled, that was where the incredible pain and terror came from.

So now that I know my own happy ending, I can sympathize and I can hope and wish (I am not so sure about praying, see this and this for an absolutely gorgeous discussion of why), but I can't be there again. Not that I'd want to, god knows, but I'm glad these folks have each other, and I'm glad I had Gina and Giz and Anne and Hope and Dawn and D.  And I'm glad we had BIW.

That was the point of this post, wasn't it, to explain who BIW is.  She's a superhero in charge of protecting the infertile from dorky, stupid, useless, idiotic, horrible, rude, intrusive, misinformed, and obnoxious comments and attitudes of DFDs, or Damn Fertile Dorks.  She often takes the guise of a Xena-like character, wielding an ultrasound probe and an intramuscular needle charged with progesterone in oil.  We prefer to refer to her actions as "smiting" other people, in the vein of this comic Giz frequently cited while experiencing recurrent early miscarriages.  But BIW usually just smites the DFDs with harmless annoyances of life--despite our deep anger, we IF folks don't really want bad things to happen to the DFDs.  We just want them to be a little less smug about it.  BIW is also really good at reminding us to allow ourselves to be as bitter as we wanna be.  For a long time in there, I was constantly trying to relax and improve my attitude and get HAPPY so that it would a) make me pregnant, magically, just like the DFDs said it would and b) make me feel less like a bitter, dried up old hag (at 30, mind you).  BIW is glorious in her bitterness--she's mad, she has progesterone, and she's not afraid to use it!

So anyway, BIW is out there cheering on those who are fighting for what they deserved to have without a fight.  She'll be there to defend you from DFDs who have stupid advice to give you.  She's got Infertile Myrtle's back.  She is grieving with those who are climbing out of the depths of despair.  I still call on her from time to time, when people say "double trouble," or ask if I "took something" to get twins or when other twin moms brag about how "natural" their children are (yes, mine are made entirely of petroleum products and cellophane).

So BIW lives...rock on, BIW.

Tuesday, July 20

Silk on the niddy noddy.

Haiku fiber on the bobbin. The guide yarn, from the last batch, is hanging from the whoosis (I didn't study my course materials on spinning wheel parts!) below the flyer.

Same fiber, different colorway for Henry's Haiku.

The rest of the combed top fiber for Eleanor's Haiku.

Here is the first half of the body of Haiku. The photo is a little washed out, but you get the idea. It is SOOO soft.
A dose of fiber for the day....
This post would be much better with photos, but we'll have to wait until a couple of somebody's are in bed for that.  But I'll tell you...I suppose the exchange is a thousand words for each picture, right?  Sit back... ;)
Okay, so I started Haiku with the fervor of a zealot.  I let Rhys chase the kids, I knit in the car, at the playground, while chatting with friends, etc.  I am using the heather/tweedy purple merino top that started out as a sample pack item from Webs, and then I trotted out to get more of it as soon as I spun it up.  It's yummy.  My initial idea was socks, but it was too soft and satiny for feet (I know, true socknitters will be offended, but there you have it).  But this seemed great.  I have about 5 oz., knitting up at 4 sts/in in stockinette, 4.5 in garter.  That amount got me almost exactly halfway through the body.  So I got another 8 oz. of the purple, and got Henry to choose between a greenish and a blue heathered top for his sweater and got him about 14 oz. of that.  He chose the blue without a second thought, by the way--my guy knows his mind! 
So now I'm back to spinning the stuff and I really have my work cut out for me.  I'm a little worried about matching the gauge the second time around.  I am not worried about perfection--there's plenty of thick and thin in that yarn anyway, but it would be bad if it was consistent within itself, but at a larger or smaller gauge, you know?  I posted a thread about whether it is better to spin-spin-spin-knit-knit-knit or spin-knit-spin-knit-spin-knit on spindlers, and it looks like I'm going to see if I can do the latter successfully right now.  And forget that other project (Zeus)--I haven't touched that in a week with all this other stuff I have going on.  I'll be lucky if Zeus gets done before 2005 the way I'm distracting myself these days.
The only good thing about running out of the purple merino is it forced me to get back to Shapley.  I put in some good work on that project in the car going back and forth from Rhys' mom's house this Sunday and Monday.  I'm almost finished with the increases on the back.  I have to be sure to remember *not* to put the short rows on the back, though the idea makes me think of some kind of Hindu goddess of breastfeeding multiples, you know, with boobs on both the back and the front.  That would definitely  come in handy for the days when they keep trying to kill each other while nursing!
I finished the silk cap I started on my last class, and I put it on the niddy noddy last night.  My niddy noddy, oddly, seems to measure out to 62 inches or so, which is 10 inches shy of 2 yards, which is just weird.  Anyway, I tried to count it but lost track at 100 wraps when Rhys asked me a question. (Note: I didn't kill her.  I deserve credit for this.)  I think I was less than halfway through, so that's a lot of (very thin) silk.  I had an idea that I'd ply it with alpaca and then paint the two together for MIL, but I'm not sure I can spin the alpaca that small and I don't think it would work well as a wrap.
Maybe I'll give it a try, but I'm LOVING knitting with the handspun merino top, and it's hard to tear myself away from spinning more of it.  Forget about my mom's soy silk.  Honestly, spinning silk is so much easier, I'm a little spoiled for the nice vegan stuff.  Ah well, I'll get back to it eventually, I'm sure.

What a great weekend!  We had a lovely time with Giz and family visiting.  Giz is an old buddy who I went through IVF with.  We once even miscarried on the same day.  Isn't that special?  We both wound up having twins on our fourth fresh IVF attempts; hers were born 8 months before mine, as she was always ahead of me in the process by a couple of tries.
I haven't seen the boys since they were 4 months old, and she had never met my two, since she had moved out of state shortly after my two were born.  But she came up for the weekend with the guys, and it was so wonderful to see them.  They're the kind of people you really want to live next door to.  So fun, down-to-earth, non-snobby, smart, fun, and sincere.  Rhys didn't know Giz that well before (our friendship was largely online--she was an original BIW), but she loved them just as much as I do.  It was a wonderful visit.
Rhys and I had a chat after they left about how watching Giz (and DH, Gizmo, not their real names, LMBO), was really good for us.  We learned a thing or two, and they helped me, at least for the moment, get over my mean mom phase.  I think they helped the kids check their tantrums a bit too--it's always good to have the influence of slightly older kids around.  Being with Giz and watching her with her boys reminded me to stop trying to do so much when I'm with them, and to try to be more collaborative with them in finding solutions. 
I think I came into it all with such high hopes, and then we had such severe biting, etc. problems so early (around 12 months), that all my high ideals about working with the kids, talking things through, and helping them find a solution that works for them, kind of went out the window because NONE of those things work to help stop a 12-month-old biting.  Really, I'm here to tell ya, I tried them all.  So I sort of gave up on all that and became much more authoritarian than I would have liked.  It was the right thing to do at the time, but they are so much more verbal and able to understand things now, and I think some of the tantrums we've been going through lately are a matter of them telling me that they're ready to participate more in discipline.  I've had a lot of luck with giving choices and talking things through, whereas as little as a few months ago those things only fed the fire of the tantrum or aggressive behavior.  We'll see how it goes when I'm solo on Wednesday and trying to do laundry and housework (though time with Giz reminded me that even at this age, when there are two, you really can't get much housework done except when they're sleeping).
Anyway, they're awesome role models for us, and I'm really glad she got pg first so I can learn from her and not feel like a total dork that she's so much better at this than I am (ok, so I do feel like kind of a dork, but I can rationalize it, which is good).
Back to work.  A colleague/friend of mine who's an economist is going to come over this week and make sure I don't hurt anyone while trying to do regression analysis, a tool which I am entirely unqualified to use.  I'd better put away the nice easy qualitative project I was supposed to be working on and get down to remembering what the heck that data set was all about.

Sara wasn't sure how to make her image clickable.  I thought I'd help her out, and why not, while we're at it, make it so nobody has to click?  Hmmm?
Mild-mannered professor-mom by day....spinning skating superhero by night!

Friday, July 16

Last spinning class last night. Boo hoo. Sniff sniff. I am going to see if I can keep my rental wheel until the Lendrums come in. I'm happy to pay for another month of rental if I can apply it to the cost of the new wheel.

The teacher suggested we try a new fiber so that we can get help during the last class. So I bought a silk cap and tried that. What fun! It was initially hard to draft, but once she told me that I had to really fan out the fibers before starting to spin, I had no problem and it just trucked along. So now I have another UFO. I think my plan is this: I'm going to spin the rest of the cap, ply it, then dye/paint it when we do our dye project on vacation (I've ordered a starter kit and plan to have a day of dyeing when we're vacationing with Sara and family). Then the YARN, not a FO, or perhaps I should say, not a FKO, will be my birthday present for MIL, who is a knitter herself. Pretty neat trick, huh? Of course, that's only if I can restrain myself from starting this with it.

In other news, the merino top that had originally been intended for socks, but turned out too soft and probably a bit too chunky (4 sts/in in stst) for socks is now destined to be...haiku, a cuff-to-cuff cardigan for a kid!

And a good day's work was had by all. Oh yeah, I also finished a timeline for the end of my grant (for someone who's ready to move on, it was a bit wistful), started a focus group report, and initiated a major data request, so it wasn't all surfing around for knitting patterns and daydreaming about spinning, I promise!

Photo of silk on the bobbin to come, probably later in the weekend since we're having Giz and her family over for an overnight visit! Can't wait to see them, so I'm outta here...

Thursday, July 15

I've been morbidly fascinated by the google ads that show up on my blog over time. But the "Support RNC Victory" one has got to go. Disgusting! occurs to me that if you CLICK on it, they'll have to PAY for it! OOOOH...better include more references to George Bush, the miserable failure and John McCain. For the fun of it, maybe I'll include one to Rick Santorum (don't click on this one if you are easily offended). Click away, my friends, click away...
This is what I needed to wave under the noses of all the people who offered stupid advice while we were TTC. Well, in retrospect, I suppose that kicking them in the shins worked equally well....
Caution, this post includes a rant about toddlers. It may be hazardous to those who are struggling to conceive, those who have young infants who they believe will always be sweet and gentle, and to those who are just not in the mood to listen to a raving lunatic mom who is on the verge.

Consider yourself warned.

Bedtime update. Tuesday night, when I was solo with the kids, went really well. Surprisingly well. I was a bit shocked. They both went to sleep with a minimum of rumpus and fuss, and I was downstairs doing chores at 9:30. We used to have 7:30 bedtimes, but no longer--most nights it's 10 pm now. I think daylight savings time has something to do with it, and TWO has a lot to do with it. I chalked my Tuesday success up to my new hard-ass approach to toddler discipline (we LEFT kidsports, one kid kicking and screaming under each arm, because Eleanor bit Henry in the ball pit and Henry threw the balls after being asked not to and having a time out). But it's probably just because Eleanor, the bedtime sleep resister, was feeling under the weather and had a tummy bug the next morning.

Last night was not so good. El took a nap in the car on the way home from the (small) wedding we attended in the afternoon. That never bodes well, but we literally could not wake her up. They pulled their trick of running around the bedroom like mental patients, giggling and trying to rile each other up. So of course I had to take Eleanor downstairs and get Rhys to stay with Henry, which is exactly what we're trying to avoid, plus she had to work late because she took the afternoon off to go to the wedding. Sigh. I could go on and on, but it's just ugly. The only reassurance is that EVERYONE I know with kids the same age is going through this right now. I think it's a summer thing, and a 2.5 thing. I really wish we had two bedrooms for them, because at this point I'd just put them each in a bedroom and let them pass out when they're ready. But if we did that with both of them, someone would get hurt, I guarantee it. Sigh.

I then stayed up way too late spinning. My latest theory is that if I get them up early, bedtime will be easier, but I can't seem to discipline myself to go to bed and wake up early--how am I supposed to do it with them??? Henry was a total bear this morning--insisted on wearing the shirt he slept in. My theory is that I have to be a hard-ass, and not respond to temper tantrums. I think they're ready for that--a few months ago the feelings were overwhelming and they needed more compassion than limit-setting around tantrums, I thought. Now they're spending a lot of energy trying to see how far they can push us, and that means zero-tolerance. It sucks, because there are times when they probably are overwhelmed, and I'm not saying I don't give hugs. But I do respond immediately and strongly to throwing, hitting, kicking, and screaming at me. Call me a meanie. So despite my hard-ass approach, after wrestling his shirt onto him, once he calmed down and told me he wanted his "leopard shirt" using WORDS, I actually found another, CLEAN shirt that also had a leopard on it. Not good enough. Ah well. Another tantrum. Then in the car, we had the Pooh binky, not the Eeyore binky, so that was more proof of my basic faultiness as a parent, which reminded him of how mad he was about the leopard shirt...and here we go again.

One of my IF buddies from the boards posted about how she's going to punch the next person who says that three is worse. I hear ya sister. For all the difficulties of two, it's still easier than one, because there is some hope of discipline, consequences that actually get through, etc. And someday, I hope and pray, they will stop biting each other. If you have information to the contrary, please keep it to yourself.

Tuesday, July 13

I'm off to get the kids. Just wanted to share this great link I ran across, lots of really detailed instructions on spinning and wool prep: HJS Studios Tutorials . I've just started reading it here at work, so I'm posting it on the blog so I can look at it more later.

Feeling a bit of PTSD from last night's bedtime, I'm thinking I'll take the kids directly to Kidsports and let them run themselves ragged there, in hopes of a deep and early sleep, perhaps achieved on the way home but I am not counting on anything. Further updates as events warrant....

This is my fantasy of how bedtime or naptime could be. Let's just say that it was NOT like this tonight.

Sheba fur. I'm spinning dog hair. Henry helped me comb Sheba (my 12-year-old dog who's not doing terribly well lately), and I'm spinning her up. Everything they say is true--soooo soft!

A box o' Zeus (approximately 1.5 lbs). Zeus is a shetland sheep whose wool is going to become an aran cardigan.

Today's other crafty project--pillowcases for the kids. They've been asking for pillows at naptime at school, and I had gotten this great SSI quilting flannel in a co-op about a year ago. The kids picked out their favorite patterns and I whipped them up. I'm a dreadful seamstress, but it's hard to mess up a pillowcase too much (I managed to make the hem pretty wobbly on the frogs, but oh well).

My first hand-dyed, hand-spun, handknitted FO! Of course, it's not completely sewn up yet, but I keep reminding myself that no one is going to have cold hands anytime soon, since it *is* July...

More child labor. Now I've got them both in the act with some cat slicker brushes from the pet store. I've got to get them to work on Zeus!

A bobbin o' Zeus on my rented wheel.

Monday, July 12

Wow, re-read my Friday entry and what a boring yammer that was! Thanks for putting up with me blabbering on about the stuff I was going to buy, etc. I was in one of those weird Webs-induced fiber binges. Not a pretty sight. Sorry you had to witness it. Thank goodness for the cute kids. Here's more, as penance for writing the drivel below.

In other news, I've started spinning Zeus, and he's lovely. I'm not even carding it, just flicking a bit and spinning from the locks. It's working great. I'm trying to match a very fine yarn for a pattern, so I'm spinning it quite fine. It's so easy to spin, though, it's no problem.

Dyeing went great at class. I will take pics and post them. I wish I had taken a picture in the skein--I knitted up the .9 oz of fiber into a pair of toddler mittens by the skin of my teeth.

I'm done spinning and plying the 5 oz of merino top. It was going to be socks, but now that I've started to swatch it and can feel how positively satiny it is, it's going to have to be something showier. Maybe more kid cardis. The good news is that it's easy to get more.

Got three bags of the berroco echo (labels removed) at $1 a ball. One will go to Kimmy (a teacher at the kids' school who is learning to knit and is using dreadful acrylics because she's a daycare teacher and can't buy fancy stuff). The rest are up to me. I figure I shopped my stash for the shapely so this is just the universe righting itself.

Well, this is turning out as bad as the post from Friday. Must go to bed. My EZ book (Knitting Without Tears) just reappeared after going missing for a long time, so I'm having fun reacquainting myself. And I'd like to finish Shapely before the summer is over. Nighty night...

Friday, July 9

Kid pics, get yer cute kid pics!

A dose of fiber, finally!

Last night I had my penultimate spinning class. It has been so nice to have a night "on the town" every week for the last 5 weeks. I'm hoping to go to the knitting clinic in the next room at least occasionally, but it starts earlier so it will be tougher to be home for dinner (but easier to be home for bedtime).

We dyed yarn last night. My fingernails are purple. I had even thought about brining rubber gloves and then forgot. Ah well. I dyed the white blue-faced leiscter/rambouillet cross carded with a little white mohair in a rainbow. It came out nice--a little pastel, but good. I think I've figured out that the mordant you use affects the brightness of the colors. This was mordanted with vinegar, and I think if we'd used something a little more toxic, LOL, it would have been brighter. Not that it isn't nice--it is--but it's just not super-bright and rich. I'm definitely happy with it. I also overdyed some light-brown rambouillet. That was less successful. The red came out pretty nice--a sort of deep maroon--but the rest of it wasn't so great. It probably would have done better in an immersion bath--we painted the dye on. I'm also really interested in dyeing roving, but we didn't have a chance to do that. I don't have a lot of white wool right now, so I think I'm going to have to wait a while to do a lot of dyeing. That's okay, I have too many projects on deck anyway.

So, I'm working on the back of the shapely tank now. It's coming along, but I've been neglecting it in favor of spinning. I am a bit worried that I didn't do enough short rows for the bust, but I can always rip back--it's not that much to take out, happily. I'll see once I pin it together, but I suspect I might be doing that.

I'm spinning up some beautiful multicolored pre-dyed combed merino top from Webs. It was gawd-awful expensive, but they gave me a little sample of it and I just had to go in and buy more. I got 5 oz. and I'm almost done spinning it. I spun it all together, and then I'll ply it from the inside and outside of the ball. The plan is to make socks.

I bought 1.75 lbs of "Zeus," which is a Shetland owned by my spinning teacher. I washed it this weekend. It's a nice uniform color--my classmate got the top, which was nice, but then she wanted more and she got some of the sides, etc. like I did, and now she has a bunch of white-gray stuff and a bunch of brown-gray stuff. I'm actually quite happy with my relatively uniform brown-gray stuff. I'm looking forward to carding and spinning it. Well, perhaps not looking forward quite so much to carding it, LOL. I really want a drum carder for my birthday, since I'm buying myself a wheel, LOL. I'm going to use it to make a really pretty cardigan from the Winter 2001/2002 issue of IK.

I am glad they had closed up the shop by the time I noticed the ribbon yarn in the dollar bin at Webs. I may go back and get it tomorrow, though I wouldn't be surprised if someone snapped it up. There's enough for another shapely tank. It would cost $10 for plenty of yarn--it's a cool ribbon. Looked it up: it's Berroco Echo and they have enough for a tank in gray, beige, and red. Hmmmm. Seriously don't need another project. I think I'll go out and get it in gray. That logic will only make sense to other fiber addicts.

Then when my mom was here, she came with me to get more of the merino, and she bought me some soy silk to spin up and make a shawl for her. It's going to be her Xmas present. It's slow going spinning it because it has a very short staple and I'm trying to spin it really thin. I'm going to make the Lillies of the Valley Shawl from Spring 2004 Spin-Off. When, I'm not so sure.

So let's see, active projects:

Self-striping socks for knitting in the car (90% knitted)
Shapely (60% knitted)
Merino socks (90% spun, 0% knitted)
Zeus cardigan (fiber washed; 0% carded, spun, or knitted)
Soy shawl (30% spun, 0% knitted)
Kids mittens from leicster/rambouillet hand-painted yarn (100% spun, 0% knitted)

I also have some seriously languishing UFOs.

Falling cables cardigan in a wine-colored alpaca/wool blend--this is lovely and deserves to be sewn up, which is just about all I have to do! (95% knitted)
Green sensuwool sweater (10% knitted)
Other things I don't care to think about like the kids' sweater that I never finished and now they're too big for it.

So it's not a good time to buy more yarn. Like that's going to stop me, LOL. I also want to make hats or gloves or socks for people at xmas time, but I'm not sure when that's going to happen!

I should figure out how to get those little graphy-doo-dads people have on their blogs. But I think I'll find them depressing after a while, LOL.

OK, just a few more things, and then back to work. I did go shopping at Webs before class--I just didn't see the markdown Echo then. I got this journal so I can start keeping track of my knitting and spinning. I will make things then have no idea what I did and I need to start keeping records. It's very cute.

I also got a ball-winder, which I think will make my life much better. That and the drum carder I dream about, LOL.

OK, I'm going to post some cute kiddy pics and then back to work.

Tuesday, July 6


Whoo hoo!

(So, I'm finally getting around to the politics stuff here.)

I had no idea that Gephardt was actually a serious contender. But the NY Post seemed to think he was. (Archived on Atrios.) I am no political strategist, but that seems like such a bad move. Edwards has the personality, the populism, the SOUTHERNNESS that Kerry so desperately needs. Gephardt delivers what...unions. Um, last time I checked, we already had the unions. So I'm glad they made a choice that really rounds out Kerry's weaknesses, and creates a strong team.

So the Bush campaign is claiming McCain was Kerry's first choice--that's their feeble attempt to grab the news cycle (listen to me talking all big--I've been watching The West Wing first season DVDs so now I'm a Washington insider, LOL). Here's a news release with the text (supposedly video soon to come) of Bush's ad using McCain. I have to wonder what they threatened him with to get him to do this. Here's some apparently freely spoken stuff from McCain collected by the DNC. Source: Atrios

Another interesting piece of information on the Bush-McCain relationship was quoted on Salon's War Room page. McCain's 2000 campaign manager described a push-poll used to discredit McCain in the Boston Globe.

To quote the Boston Globe article:

Having run Senator John McCain's campaign for president, I can recount a textbook example of a smear made against McCain in South Carolina during the 2000 presidential primary. We had just swept into the state from New Hampshire, where we had racked up a shocking, 19-point win over the heavily favored George W. Bush. What followed was a primary campaign that would make history for its negativity.

In South Carolina, Bush Republicans were facing an opponent who was popular for his straight talk and Vietnam war record. They knew that if McCain won in South Carolina, he would likely win the nomination. With few substantive differences between Bush and McCain, the campaign was bound to turn personal. The situation was ripe for a smear.

It didn't take much research to turn up a seemingly innocuous fact about the McCains: John and his wife, Cindy, have an adopted daughter named Bridget. Cindy found Bridget at Mother Theresa's orphanage in Bangladesh, brought her to the United States for medical treatment, and the family ultimately adopted her. Bridget has dark skin.

Anonymous opponents used "push polling" to suggest that McCain's Bangladeshi born daughter was his own, illegitimate black child. In push polling, a voter gets a call, ostensibly from a polling company, asking which candidate the voter supports. In this case, if the "pollster" determined that the person was a McCain supporter, he made statements designed to create doubt about the senator.

Thus, the "pollsters" asked McCain supporters if they would be more or less likely to vote for McCain if they knew he had fathered an illegitimate child who was black. In the conservative, race-conscious South, that's not a minor charge. We had no idea who made the phone calls, who paid for them, or how many calls were made. Effective and anonymous: the perfect smear campaign.

Some aspects of this smear were hardly so subtle. Bob Jones University professor Richard Hand sent an e-mail to "fellow South Carolinians" stating that McCain had "chosen to sire children without marriage." It didn't take long for mainstream media to carry the charge. CNN interviewed Hand and put him on the spot: "Professor, you say that this man had children out of wedlock. He did not have children out of wedlock." Hand replied, "Wait a minute, that's a universal negative. Can you prove that there aren't any?"

Ugh. Lovely. Well, the way things are going, it's looking really good that W's re-election bid is going to be a miserable failure.

In an outing to my third theater-movie since the kids were born, I did the patriotic thing and saw Fahrenheit 9/11 on the Fourth of July. Good, good stuff. I have always been a Michael Moore fan, but this is a much more powerful and urgent story, and he handles it with more sensitivity than he did in say, Pets or Meat.

If you haven't already, go see it. Worth a babysitter.

Oh, and Mike has a blog.

Really, I promise to post about pieces of fluff soon. Lots of good stuff going on. But must write about flyers in bathroom stalls.'s....suggestion....

Thursday, July 1

Get yer high-quality marketing research advice here folks.

I am, in another window on this self-same computer, advising a client to continue to use bathroom stall flyers for marketing and promotion.

I struggle with finding a noun to continue this paragraph:

...focus group participants reported high awareness and positive reactions to XYZ’s bathroom stall flyers. XYZ should continue to communicate with students through this

This what? Channel? Brings up too many images of plumbing. Medium?

Bleagh. OK, back to it. I'll come up with something. Comments with ideas are welcome. I may foobar it for now, and await the wisdom of the masses (ok, the 5 close friends who I think, optimistically, might read my blog from time to time).
Amazing. Try this. Next time you have a random idea flitting through your brain, try googling it. I did, and there it was, waiting for me to find it.

On the wall in my office, I have the following Emily Dickinson poem circled on a faxed page from a book. Emily is an alumna of the college where I work, and since I do statistics that go into college guidebooks and are used to promote the institution at times, the associate dean of faculty and I agreed that this poem was apt to describe what we do:

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant--
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.

Apply this to admit rate calculations in the context of the size of the early decision pool, and, well, sometimes the Truth's superb suprise can be a little too bright. I'm not saying we're lying, we're just telling the Truth (actually, it should probably have small t) the best we can.

So what does this have to do with google? As I glanced at this poem, I thought, gosh, wouldn't it be nice to have a random poetry engine, where you could get a new Emily Dickinson poem whenever you needed one? And knowing the web as I do, I googled random poetry engine. This led me to a yahoo directory that deserves much more attention than I can spare right now, called Randomized Things. A quick trip to the subdirectory for poetry got me to not only a randomized poetry generator, but one that delivers a random Emily Dickinson epigram (and I learned that they're called epigrams too!) upon each page loading.
The sidebar mysteriously reappeared. I did nothing but post that last post. I have no idea. I'm really not a techno-idiot. I can do pretty cool things in excel and access. Really. And I'm good at explaining to programmers why my idea is NOT impossible, LOL. Anyone who works with programmers knows how important that is!

Now I need to fix the photo. That's a photo of me double nursing while knitting. I'm quite proud of it, LOL. I don't do it often, but it's the sort of extraordinary multi-tasking I strive for. It would be nice if it were a more flattering photo of MEEEE, but I trust you'll be impressed with my skill, even if you think I've got bad hair (I do).

I had a yucky, yelly day with the kids yesterday. Ironic, since I left you last full of weepy gratitude for my amazing brood. That hasn't changed, I'm still spectacularly grateful, and I know that gratitude does not mean I can't have bad days. So, well, I'm having bad days, okay? Why is PMS lasting for over a week lately? Maybe it's because I have two two-year-olds? Or maybe it's the coffee. My pusher--er "barEEsta"--at the library coffee shop here at work is laughing at me when I ask for "just a little caffeinated coffee in the decaf" every day. It's a viscous cycle--I drink caffeine, then I can't sleep, I stay up until 1 am, have to get up at 7:30 (in order to be LATE for work), then need caffeine...lather, rinse, repeat. I'm a junkie, man. I need the caffeine equivalent of methadone. The only good thing about it is that if I have a little caffeine in the afternoon, I am much better able to handle the afternoon pre-dinner meltdown and the wild rumpus before bed.

So by the end of the night last night, the kids were copying me, yelling "stop that!" over and over again, which is what I felt like I was doing. In my own defense, it was not gratuitous yelling. I was telling them to "stop that" meaning:

1) biting each other
2) pushing each other
3) hitting each other
4) throwing things at each other and
5) putting books in the toilet.

Are you noticing a theme here? I hear almost daily, "Oh, twins, they must be the best of friends!" Yup, whenever they aren't trying to kill each other. Of course then there's the aftermath where the perp kisses the victim's booboos and says sorry and gives a sweet hug. Reminds me way too much of a public health pamphlet about domestic violence. I had no idea how brutal this sibling thing could be (I'm an only child). No wonder Rhys is still upset about the time her older siblings bet her she couldn't get her whole finger into her nose. They're still fighting about the ten bucks.

I'm not really sure where #5 came from, but it was a very exciting activity for about 2 minutes until mamacate shut the bathroom door, which thankfully sticks so they couldn't open it again. One book fell victim beyond repair, which is actually okay since it was a freebie from the grocery store based on a TV show they've never seen (Rolie Polie Olie).

But all that self-defense aside, I did not have a banner parenting day. Perfectmama would have always been within arm's reach, gently catching the arm or preventing the bite, or redirecting the throw ("let's play basketball!," perfectmama says cheerily!). Apparently perfectmama does not have laundry to do, nor does she ever have to pee, and every item she needs (sippy cups containing the desired beverage du moment, pajama tops, the third outfit choice) is in arm's reach, so she can always prevent any toddler aggression before it starts. And perfectmama never has to change diapers either, because of course that's a capital offense. Did I mention the kids are into potty learning right now? Which means that they don't want to wear diapers, but they also don't want to sit on the potty. It would be funny if it didn't involve the amount of laundry and carpet stain removal it currently involves.

OK, it seems I am unable to do anything but rant. Perhaps I'll post later about things fibery. Now I'd better finish my executive summary (so close to being done with this report, I can taste it, and wow, I am ready to get it off my desk!). My keyboard is certainly warmed up...