Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Or. Ga. Nised.

Gasp!! It has been over a week since I last posted! It's been pretty busy here though, I am knitting like a madwoman trying to get this afghan finished in time - I am now almost quarter of the way through the third and final panel (not including the two border strips). Much less mistakes this time around, as I think I may have it sorted finally ;-)

I have booked the movers, organised the carpet cleaner, and have packed everything that can possibly be packed in the house.

Please don't send me hate mail, but...

I have finished my Christmas shopping!! All that is left is for Deane to get a few bits and pieces for the boys, and a couple of family friends, and we're done. A couple of items still have to arrive in the mail, but everything is wrapped and stashed in the top of the wardrobe (which was emptied last week thanks to packing). Oh my, it feels good to be so organised. Now all that's left is to knit knit knit. And make a plum pudding. But that will happen after we've moved.

How is your Christmas planning going?

Monday, 21 November 2011

Next year? Sleep overs.

Ugh. The boys' birthday party, although not a complete disaster, didn't exactly go off without a hitch. I had to wait for Deane to finish a phone call before we could leave (at the absolute last possible second so as not to be late). On our way we were to pick up one of the kids attending the party. He wasn't home. The babysitter had 'got confused' about the times, and had gone to the park. Grrr!!! After knocking on doors, speaking to the next-door kid, phoning various phone numbers and driving around the block a few times, we managed to find the child. Unfortunately, he was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and jandals. Not ice-skating appropriate clothing!!! So we had to go back to his place and grab appropriate attire before zooming off to the venue. We managed to arrive only five minutes late, and only one other kid had turned up.

We hauled everyone inside and got them kitted out with skates and frames (none of the kids were able to skate without them) and I went out to wait for the others. It turned out to be a waste of time, as nobody else turned up. At least not for another hour. Meanwhile, the coach came along and said to ditch the frames, as she was used to teaching kids how to skate without them. Well, after about ten minutes, T was off the ice and refused to go back on, one of the kids had fallen over a number of times and was very sore, and very upset, and wanted to sit down. Only X and his friend were left on the ice, clinging to the sides of the rink. After another five minutes or so, the coach gave up. Waste. Of. Money. It was supposed to be a half hour lesson :-/ Falling-over kid got some better skates, and we gave him back his frame, so he was happy. The other two grabbed their frames back as well, and all was hunky-dory again.

Just before we headed up to the party room, the only other kid to turn up, turned up. So we went in and scoffed as much food as possible (although there was still enough left for four kids. Funny that...) had some cake, opened the few presents (un-organised kid didn't have a present. Wonder why?) and then we all trooped back downstairs for another hour of skating. Thankfully, with frames again available, T decided he wanted to skate after all, and I just kept watch on all the gear.

Unfortunately, even with only five kids in total, we still had to pay for the minimum of eight, so it ended up being a very expensive birthday party. Next year, the boys can invite one friend over for a sleep over each. I can't deal with the stress of a party that people don't RSVP/bother to turn up to. I'm starting to wonder if I'm the birthday-party jinxer. Last year, I was away for X's party, so Deane went it alone. Every child turned up, they had a great time. For T's party, Deane and X were away, so it was just me. Nobody turned up to that party, so T and I hung out together. This year, both Deane and I were there, and less than half the kids turned up. WTF? Must be me... ;-)

Some good news though, we're moving! In three weeks' time, we will be residing in an actual house, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, one of which has a bath tub, with an actual garage, and an actual real-life laundry, two decks, a proper-sized living room, and actual kitchen with cupboard space, and there is actual storage!!! Oh, and there's a grassy outdoor area too. Did I mention there was parking for more than one car? OMG, there will be space to move around in!!! And somewhere to put my spinning wheel!!! And it's across the road from school too, so X can be all responsible and walk to school by himself ;-) Using the pedestrian crossing of course (^_^) The rent is astronomical, and the landlord is anally-retentive, but it's about time we lived somewhere that doesn't resemble a shoe-box. Deane's happy with it, even though it'll be about a half-hour walk to his office. I'm certainly not going to complain! Supermarket five minutes' walk away, school, dairy, laundromat (mwahaha), doctor and chemist across the road... sorted ;-) And the library is only 15 minutes away too. Can't wait. And the best thing? We can have visitors!!!

I spent several hours yesterday and today packing up the stuff we don't need out, which is actually a lot easier with Deane away at yet another conference, or two, or three. (Taupo/Christchurch this time, and Auckland later in the week so at least I'll see him at some point). I have this horrible feeling though, that when he arrives home, he'll ask where ::insert item name here:: is and I'll have to find which box I packed it into... For now though, I'm enjoying the extra space and tidiness I have created by squashing everything into boxes and shoving them into the spare room/Deane's temporary office. I can't do much more though, all that's left is stuff we're using, so I just have to clean clean clean. I've got quotes from five different moving companies, and have narrowed it down to two, so I'll book that tomorrow. Our current landlord is being really nice about everything, and coordinating open home times that suit us. She's also organising the carpet cleaning for us. Fabulous. For once, I'm actually happy to be moving!

And now for a bit of randomness:

I have four repeats left of the centre panel for the Epic Aran Afghan, then I can start on the third and final (not including the borders) panel. I might actually make the Christmas deadline, if I really put in an effort...

This week, I'm re-watching the Twilight movies in preparation for seeing Breaking Dawn Part 1 this weekend. Life is so much better when you have things to look forward to, don't you agree?

Hope you're enjoying your week!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Busy week

Sitting here taking a breather (read: avoiding housework) in amongst the craziness that is this week. And it's only Thursday! Here's the condensed version:

15km run. Dude! What a mission!

Athletics Day at school. Got a wee bit sunburned - oops. Guess that's what happens when you run out of the house in a hurry, thinking you're going to have time to swing by home and grab sunscreen and a hat before heading out again to sit in the sun for a few hours, only to find that your plans (as always - why don't I ever learn?) don't work out.

Christmas shopping. Yep, being all organised and stuff this year. Had to get birthday party supplies for this weekend as well. Then sat and made up the goodie bags for the kids to take home after the party. This year, the boys are having a combined party, at Paradice. Easiest party organisation ever! Book the party, send out the invitations, make a cake, and just meet everyone there. Food/drinks/entertainment: covered, courtesy of the ice skating rink. Awesome. Now, if only people would bloody well RSVP!!!!!

8km run. Housework (supposedly). Laundromat. X's 9th birthday. Wow. N I N E . Trying to ignore the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 DVD sitting on my shelf, newly acquired during by shopping expedition yesterday. Seriously resisting the temptation to say 'screw it' and head to the movies to watch The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 all by myself. Nobody needs to know, right? Damn, housework and laundry... At least I don't have to cook dinner tonight, I believe X wants McDonalds for dinner. Sweet.

In amongst all this, I have managed to get some knitting time in (of course ;-P) I have nine repeats of 16 done on the centre panel of the Epic Aran Afghan. I'm nearly at the halfway point!! Although, considering I started this monster project back in September, and we only have (oh dear) 37 days left until Christmas... Somebody stand behind me and crack the whip, will you? I need to get my butt moving!!

Yet to happen:

Meeting Miss Jenny for coffee/brunch for a good ol' catch up before she heads off on a plane outta here. Haven't seen her since I was last in Wellington. About a year ago. Must get back down there some day... Baking the birthday cake needs to happen somewhere in here too.

The all-important combined birthday party for my two boys. One already nine, the other very-nearly seven. My, how time flies.

Um... sleep in? Please?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

You knit and learn...

I knew fairly early on that I'd miscrossed a couple of cables at the beginning of the centre panel of my Epic Aran Afghan, but I couldn't quite figure it out just by looking at it, and decided to knit a full pattern repeat and part of the next, so I could compare and see where I'd gone wrong.

Can you see it? Here, I'll help you:

In my 'I've fixed plenty of mistakes, I know what I'm doing' confidence, I carried on knitting, figuring I'd do a Yarn Harlot and snip a thread, re-knitting the mistake row and grafting it back together later. I'm getting pretty good at this knitting lark, right? I'm sure I can fix a wee mistake like that no problem. So I kept knitting. About 3/4 of the way through the third repeat, it was starting to get to me. So I decided 'I'll just fix that now, then it'll be over and done with, and I won't have to worry about it staring back at me any more'.

I searched the net, found a little tutorial on how exactly to do this type of 'repair', and found the strand I needed to snip:

Then it was just a simple matter of undoing the row, picking up the stitches, reknitting it, and grafting it back together, right? Wrong. So very, very wrong. After spending a good quarter hour trying in vain to pick up the stitches (the bottom ones were fine. The top ones? Not so much...) I gave up and decided to revert to my fail-safe method:

Quite some time later, all is well again:

The lesson? Fix a mistake as soon as possible, before it turns into a nightmare!!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

On the road again

Yes indeedy, on the road to getting stuff finished! I spent a good couple of weeks basically avoiding my knitting - with only the vanilla handspun socks and the Epic Aran Afghan to knit, I wasn't overly inspired to pick up the needles, getting distracted instead by the second Nikki Heat novel (which, by the way, is just as awesome as the first) and surfing the net for thoroughly excellent Christmas presents (because, y'know, I like to at least pretend to be organised).

So, socks are done:

Didn't get them done before the end of October (see previous paragraph) but they were finished in the first week of November, so better than nothing. I just knit generic toe-up socks with a 2x2 rib for the legs, and used Cat Bordhi's most excellent sweet tomato heel. The yarn turned out to be a fairly thick fingering weight, nearly sport-weight, so the socks were only 52 stitches around. They could've done with a few extra stitches in the legs, but I didn't increase before the ribbing, and I couldn't be bothered a) frogging back to include increases, or b) increasing in the ribbing, so they stayed at 52 stitches around. They still fit, so it's all good.

I have started the second (centre) panel on the afghan - cast on yesterday. So far, I'm only 1 1/2 repeats in (of 16) but I expect to get quite a bit done over this week, with X at home with chicken pox. His are worse than T's, and he's rather miserable, so there's lots of sitting on the couch doing bugger all at the moment. I'm not complaining...

If I get stuck in and actually spend some time working on this thing, I still have a good chance of getting it done before Christmas. Although I also have other projects on the list - ie: a baby cricket vest (special request) that I have the yarn for - some yummy Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo that I can't wait to cast on. I have the pattern ready to go, I'm just waiting for an extra ball of red (because I accidentally ordered pink, which just won't do for the wee little boy it's being made for) and I'm good to go. I also have some sewing projects to get stuck into, and maybe some foodie stuff. Although that can probably wait until last minute. I wonder if I should make a plum pudding again this year...?

Speaking of 'on the road again', I got my feet out on the road (or rather the footpath) yesterday morning, for my longest run to date: 12 kilometres. I nearly reached Kelly Tarlton's! (Which is my personal goal. The next goal after that is running 15km. One step at a time.) It felt good, and I still had some juice in the tank at the end of the run. Made me feel better about the whole quarter marathon thing - I think the combination of head cold/upset tummy/earlier-than-normal start to the morning was probably what got to me at the end of the race. I've come to the conclusion that paying money to enter a race I have no chance of winning is a little pointless, particularly when there's nobody to cheer you on at the end. I'll just keep setting myself goals and cheering myself on (in my head of course - not going to do the whole Rocky-at-the-top-of-the-stairs thing, that would just be weird).

I think it's important, being a stay-at-home-mum that doesn't have to go out and work, to set personal goals. It gives me something to to, and gets me out and about. I don't want to become one of those people with no motivation in life, sitting around all day wearing track pants and sweatshirts with the curtains closed watching movie after movie. Oh no, I'm waffling...

I am however, currently in danger of becoming an internet blob, so I best get moving. Washing to do, dinner to organise, sick kid to tend to, and personal goals to achieve. Onwards!!!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The race is run, and I'm still here

What an experience. We had Indian for dinner on Saturday night (my idea) - it was yummy, as usual, but I did not feel well later that evening, though I couldn't decide if it was the food or nerves. I ended up having to take a couple of ginger capsules to deal with the nausea and went to bed early. I woke up at 5.30am Sunday morning, got out of bed, and only managed one piece of toast for breakfast. No cup of tea, just a small glass of water. Not the best breakfast before a race. Got myself all geared up and wandered down to the start line for the Quarter Marathon.

Thankfully, it wasn't too cold, as standing around for ten minutes with just a singlet on at 6.40am isn't all that fun. It was interesting listening to the pre-race chatter from other participants who were clearly with a friend or in a group. Discussions on what music to listen to during the race ('Eye of the Tiger' on repeat was one guy's idea of motivation. I'm 90% certain he was joking), how far they'd run before, who dragged them into signing up for it, etc etc. Then the race started, and the chatter turned to near silence.

The sound of thousands of feet hitting the road over and over again all around you is quite something.

I felt pretty good running the race, and knew my pace was steady. It was just before I hit the 4km mark when the race leaders started flying past on their way back to the finish line. I started counting (just for something to do, since I hadn't brought along my iPod) and lost count somewhere around 185 - they were coming too thick and fast after that. A little while later I swung around the halfway mark and started heading back. I was feeling good, so I think I may have picked up the pace just a little - I could see some people up ahead of me that where a little bit closer earlier on in the race, and I thought it would be nice to be able to keep up with them as they seemed to be setting a good, easy pace.

I think it was around about 6km or 7km when we saw the first full marathoner running along the road - he got a large round of applause from us measley quarter-marathoners. I gave a wee clap to all the full and half marathoners that ran past us, until about the 20th or 30th runner - by then I was a bit sick of clapping while running. After a while, I noticed there was a lady who appeared to be keeping pace with me. If she got a little ahead and realised, she'd slow down a bit. When she saw me approaching out of the corner of her eye, she'd speed up just a little. Some time after the 9km mark she looked over and asked what the race distance was, and I told her - 10.55km. Well, if I'm honest, I actually said "10.3km, but mine's a little out". Then realised she was talking about the race distance, not what my sportband said, and replied "oh, you mean the race! 10.55km". She probably thought I was a bit looney.

Unfortunately, it was about 300m from the end of the race that my energy was running at its lowest, and I was in danger of passing out. When everybody was digging in for their big strong finish, I had to slow down, out of fear of vomiting or flaking, whichever came first. I kept going though, determined to finish at a run, not a walk. I tried to keep an eye out to see if there was anybody cheering me on - sadly, there was not. Oh well. I crossed the finish line with an official time of 1:05:08 - 544th place overall (out of 1,689 finishers) and 240th female across the line (out of 1,041). Not bad for a first-timer, who wasn't feeling 100%. The lady who'd kept pace with me for the last third of the race came up and said "thanks for setting the pace for me" to which I mumbled an inarticulate "huhyahmsrigh", or something to that effect. I passed on the banana and bottle of water, still battling the black fuzziness at the edges of my vision, and walked through to the area set up for removing and returning the timer tags. It was about then that I remembered to press the stop button on my sportband (oops! According to Nike, I ran 11.03km in one hour, six minutes, with a severe drop-off in speed at the end). I sat down, removed my tag, dropped it in the bucket, and headed through the exit arch, grabbing a bottle of Powerade Isotonic on the way. Then I walked home.

I hadn't brought my keys with me, so I had to buzz the apartment. Deane sent X down to let me in, who told me to wait outside the door. After several minutes, the door opened, and Queen's 'We Are the Champions' was playing on the laptop. Deane had set up a 'finish line' across the kitchen for me to run through. Wally.

I went straight to the shower, then we finished packing our suitcase and jumped in the car. Six hours later, we arrived at Cooper's Beach, in Doubtless Bay. We stayed in a lovely apartment right on the beach

View from the downstairs deck

Where the kids built sand castles

and I made starfish (but no sponges)

Collected shells

many, many shells

And went swimming

or paddling

There was a bit of exploring too

X played a game of chess with Deane that took two and a half days, and I read the rest of Snuff by Terry Pratchett, all of The Vampyre; A Tale by John William Polidori and Honeymooning by Rachael Herron, some of Big White Panties by Dale Alderman and Shattered by Sophia Sharp before deciding they were crap and starting on Naked Heat by Richard Castle. I only knit a few inches on my handspun socks though. It was a nice, relaxing few days.

We're back home now, T's fully recovered from his bout of chicken pox, and X is showing no signs of them yet. I feel much better, and keen to get back into the swing of things. School tomorrow - hurrah!!! Oh God, it's already November...