Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm Allergic to my Christmas Tree

So, is it normal to go to the doctor's office this often? I had to go to see my doctor AGAIN....three times in one year is just unheard of for me. Am I falling apart at 34? Please don't say it's true!!

I've been having a really difficult time breathing since Sunday. Some days better than others, but mostly feeling like I had Ben sitting on my chest and not being able to inhale fully. After a few days of this, I became light-headed and a bit anxious...without any real reason. It's not because I'm out of shape (which, of course, I AM...even though I'm at the gym now 3 times a week...yea!)...since I've been waking up this way...wheezing and out of breath and I've got this "tingly, fiery, itchy" feeling in my chest and arms.

My grandma has asthma and so does my cousin, so I was I have asthma? And freaking out...

I finally had so much trouble sleeping last night (each breath was so hard to take...even with yogic breaths and imagery, which I DID try) that I made an appointment to go and see my doctor this morning.

The first thing that the nurse did was to give me a weird breathing test by having me take a HUGE breath in and then breathing out as hard and long as I could. I had to do it 4 times because the levels were pretty low. My blood pressure was a bit high and my oxygen level a bit low.

While I was waiting, I was able to knit a bit on my KFI Felted Noro Bucket Bag with Charms (a store sample and fun to knit) it is looking all sad and limp:

The doctor came in (she just had twins and, boy, does she have a fantastic figure already!) and, after asking me some questions and doing some routine checks, had me sit in a room with a nebulizer (sp?)...some Frankenstein looking contraption that had liquid drugs in it (woo-hoo...) to help me breathe. The nurse came in and jokingly said it was like "smoking a peace pipe". Not that I'd know what THAT feels like but, hey, I can imagine, right?

I had to breathe into this gadget for a long time and, at first, it was soothing and relaxing. Then, I started coughing like there was no tomorrow and my chest hurt and my nose and eyes were watering. But, at least I could breathe better.

Come to find out, I've been having a severe allergic reaction to something since Sunday quite possibly could be the Christmas Tree.

No kidding.

The sap sometimes causes allergic reactions in people...and, after talking to my mom, learned that she can't even touch the tree because she'll get hives and a rash and all that. And...Ian got our tree on Sunday. And I've been decorating it, pulling off stray branches and all that since then.

Is this the weirdest thing or WHAT???

So, now, I'm on four different medications: some smaller inhaler, 2 allergy meds, Zantac 75 and I have a prescription for Prednesone (my grandmother takes this for her asthma, but it's NOT a good drug to be taking if you don't need to), but I'm keeping that for an emergency.

If it's not an allergy to the tree, it's something I've touched or eaten and it's impossible to easily find out what it is. I have another appointment on Friday to make sure I'm breathing okay. Keep your fingers crossed for me, okay? There is NOTHING worse than feeling like you're drowning in muck with no air and it takes all your effort to suck in some oxygen. Ugh!

Hope you're all feeling well and have a great weekend! (I'll have more knitting updates and such next post!)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving in Vermitten...I mean, Vermont.

We had a very peaceful Thanksgiving weekend in Vermont. This is what we saw when we drove up to Ian's grandparent's house (The House House)....

I gave thanks for SO many things:

*Our drive up went pretty well. Since I get carsick and was unable to knit the 3 hours up to northern VT (boo hoo), I drove halfway. It was very foggy, but the kids were so good and Ian and I were even able to talk to each other.

*We stayed in a totally awesome hotel (yes, I am one of those very sheltered people who gets very excited about hotels!) and...I didn't have to clean! Free breakfast, luxury amenities and friendly people, too. (eee!) Ben loved having cable tv (Tim stayed at Ian's grandparents' house) and we were all able to watch the live action Ben 10 movie together on Friday night. (It was good!)

*Ian's grandparents (also the Houses) are such simple living people with such a peaceful, quiet demeanor that you can't help but feel relaxed around them. Their house is comfy, warm and almost in the middle of nowhere, so it's just perfect to visit. Ian's grandmother, Edith is a professional designer and Master weaver (click on her name to see one of her gorgeous woven scarves) who has won numerous awards for her designs and woven items. I am proud to own a gorgeous scarf, rug (which Tim stole for his room), two or three dishcloths and mug rugs (little woven rugs to put your hot mugs on) and the kids both have a huge blanket a lovely! Grandma Ferg (as Edith is known) showed me around her huge weaving room (her own room!!!) and her three looms. It's a such a light, airy and creative room. Someday, I'd love to have a spinning or knitting room like this for my own ( dream!)

Here is her "main" loom (see the awards in the background!) where she creates her handwoven scarves:

Her second loom...

And her third loom, which she makes the mug rugs on (if you look closely, you can see one being made):

I always love visiting because Grandma Ferg and I can "talk shop", which Ian was teasing us about. She doesn't spin and I don't weave, but there is still a lot to talk about!

*The kids, for the most part, were angels. They played so nicely and were quiet, relaxed and in good moods most of the time. Bliss.....I love this picture of them putting a puzzle together.

*While Ian took his family and Ben geocashing, Tim and I went walking up to the top of the road to the Christmas Tree farm and I convinced Tim (by agreeing to play a number of ping pong games with him) to let me take a pic of him with this snowman (see, he's SO happy, isn't he?? LOL!) with his handknit hat and new "Fire and Ice" mittens on. (He also had his handknit socks on, but those, unfortunately, aren't pictured.) Yup, I finished another pair of mittens! Woo-hoo!

Mittens up close:

*On Thanksgiving Day, we had a slighty underdone turkey (but the cooked parts were very good), fresh vegetables right from the garden (green beans, corn, potatoes and carrots), and stuffing (which was yummy). We also had Wickles pickles (yes, Jackie, I ate them all), crackers & cheese, apple and pumkin pie and Ben & Jerry's ice cream (me, chocolate) for dessert. Y-U-M! We also played "Pin the Gobble on the Turkey", and if you look closely, mine is the furthest gobble from the "gobble-area". Oh, well. I have other talents.....

*I wanted to share the views from the huge, picture windows of the house....I always wish that I could live there all year round....

Left-(with vegetable and berry garden and Christmas tree farm)

Right- (the mountain in the distance is called the "Camel's Hump", I think)

Oh, it was a lovely time and I was also able to work on Tim's sweater....just have to add the ribbed bottom and the body is done....and my dad's cashmere scarf, which is a gift for his birthday on Dec. 1st. He's going to be 55! The ride home was fun, too, though seemed longer. We stopped at Lui Lui's in West Lebanon and had the most delicious Italian food for dinner before heading home.

And, speaking of heading home, we had a slight adventure on the way. We stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things...and as we were getting out of the car to head INTO the store, I tossed Ian his keys (from the driver's seat to the passenger seat...I was borrowing his because mine were in the trunk), but I guess he didn't hear me and didn't pick them up. We ended up locking BOTH sets of our keys in the car. It was cold, the kids were tired and we were exhausted from such a long trip. I called my friend, Chris, because I knew he had some experience with locked things...but that didn't work out (it was also his birthday and it was late....sorry!)....though he and his wife (he he), Ericka gave us a good (and logical...duh!) idea of calling a locksmith, since we don't have roadside assistance. Blah blah blah, we paid $40 and the guy unlocked our door. Woo-hoo! In light of this, I've decided to give my best friend a copy of our car keys....just in case. (as well as making other copies, too)

Well, hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving, too, and now I'm off to catch up on blogs!! (and I'll leave you with a picture of us from Thanksgiving....please excuse my wacky expression.)

(L to R, T to B) Grandma Ferg, Grandpa Hank, Me, Felice (Ian's sister), Tim, Ian and Ben. Cheese!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Whew...Mittens Just in Time!

Mmmm......I spent most of the morning "ooh"ing and "ahh"ing with Ben while we watched the first snow of the season. There is NOTHING like sitting at the window with your warm, little child, drinking hot chocolate with mini marshmellows and watching the beautiful snowflakes dance to the ground. It was the best day I've had in I-don't-know-how long.

I've been spending the rest of my "free" time knitting mittens (no time for sweater right now....) for Ben and Tim.

Here is Ben's 1st pair of adorable mittens!! (Look at his c-r-a-z-y hair! He cut the front himself with his craft scissors....sigh)


Yarn:1/2 skein of Malabrigo in Blue Surf (which looks like ice to me....)
Needle: Size 6 KP Interchangable Circ, 32" for Magic Loop
Pattern: Ann Budd's Handy Book of Patterns

These were extremely fun to knit and I can't tell you how soft and cushy they are! Oh, bliss...! Holding my favorite needles and one of my absolute favorite yarns in my hands was such a dream. I actually savored each and every stitch...if that sounds weird, might be, but it's SO true. Have you ever had a project that you wanted to put off finishing because you loved the process of knitting it so much? If so, which one?

Ian held the mittens and said to me, "Hey, can you make me a pair of gloves out of that yarn?" How could I possibly say "no" to that??? He's actually one of the few people I will knit for because he definitely wears (and appreciates) my knitted items. He's worn his socks, hats, mittens and sweater that I've made him often.

For Tim's, I am using a basic mitten pattern, but adding my own colorwork and change to the design. I can't wait to see how these come out. I hope to finish them while in VT for Thanksgiving. I'll be calling them "Fire and Ice Mittens". I was shocked to see how large Tim's hands are getting and just assumed that they'd be close to my size. I'm making him a men's medium!! EEEK! (Moms of teens, you know what I'm talking about, right?)

So, like I said, we'll be visiting Ian's grandparents in VT for Thanksgiving this year....and I think we're really looking forward to it. They have a beautiful house on a dead end road with acres and acres of Christmas trees, veggie gardens and places to run around for the kids. Ian's sister, Felice, will be meeting us there, too, so it will be extra special. We only see her about once a year. I'm cleaning the house and getting it all set, so that when we get back, it will be nice and cozy for us. I keep thinking about sitting in front of the fireplace (or woodstove), drinking my cocoa, and either knitting or reading a favorite book. Can it get any better than that? (well, maybe getting a backrub, too...)

Hmmmm...what else have I been doing?? Well, working and working (Friday to Sunday this week) and cleaning and doing errands....and fixing a horrible banking "thing" we had going was almost good timing because I was able to fix most of it in time before any MAJOR happenings, but it was still horribly stressful. I spent a good 4 hours straight on the laptop with my bank statements, Quicken, calculator and occasionally screaming. Poor Tim...he had to watch Ben all that time while I was freaking out. (I seem to be doing a lot of that lately....)

I'm giving myself permission to put some knitted items on hold until after Thanksgiving. It's the only sane thing to do or else....


Hope you all have a wonderful holiday and keep on knitting those mittens! Only 10 days left! (If you've linked me on your blog or are participating in the Month of Mittens contest, please remember to comment here, on the mitten post or email me so that I can put you in the drawing for PRIZES!!!

Happy Knitting! G ; )

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Scarlett Belle Sweater

Update on my life:

1. I had to take Tim to get xrays today for his ring's all swollen, purplish-blue and he couldn't move it...but luckily, it's not broken and he only has to keep it taped, elevated and iced for a few days. Whew!

2. Ben and Tim are both feeling better, recovering from their strep and are taking their meds with minimal whining...whew again!

3. Computer is back in business....keyboard was delivered and is working fine! Woo-hoo!

Things just might be looking up for the House Family!


On Saturday, at work, I was able to take a class with the very talented designer, Tonia Barry. She is teaching a class that teaches you how to design your own sweaters and adapt patterns you like to fit your body perfectly.

I picked out Elsbeth Lavold "Silky Wool" (a gorgeous dk yarn in a 65%wool/35%silk blend) in color #56. I asked Cyndi if she knew the colorway name and she said she wasn't sure....but offered the name of "Scarlett Belle". I liked it so much that I decided to give that name to my new sweater pattern that I'm designing.

Generally, it will be a comfortable cardigan (no buttons or zippers) with a shawl collar, belle sleeves, seed stitch edging (or maybe garter) and a pretty cable up each side. Here is a close up of the sketch....(pretending, of course, that my body looks as nice as this...ha!)

During the class, we took our measurements, filled out some mathematical equations (will be doing more in the next class) and made swatches using our chosen yarn and needles. Tonia is very patient, helpful and knowledgable and I'm looking forward to more classes. You should come to the store to see some of her beautiful designs...we have samples and patterns!

As you could see from the first pic of the post, I am about 10 or so inches into the sweater (top down) and I'm loving every minute of it. This yarn is incredible and very soft...I'm a little nervous about knitting this on size 4 needles (oh, yes!), but I hope to finish it before the winter is 2010. LOL! No, hopefully, I should be done with it by January....or at least that's my deadline for myself.

What do you think of the design?

Before I go pick up the little guy from preschool, I wanted to share one more thing. About a week ago, I finished my last sock class and thought that the class handouts might be helpful to others who didn't have time to actually GO to a sock class. (Did that make sense?) Anyway, I edited the handouts a bit and make them into a pdf so that you can download them and have a "virtual" sock class at your own leisure at home. There's no substituting a real live teacher to help you, but this might be a first step toward taking a real class.

*Look to the right sidebar under SleepyEyes's called the "Plain Jane" Sock Class. It's free and fun...I hope!*

Or, if you're a tiny bit lazy like me, you can click HERE instead.

I'm also in the process of designing two other things:

1. ANOTHER sock pattern....I know, I know....but this one is cute and really fun to knit...and I just LOVE the Sereknity yarn I'm working with!! I'm almost done and I'm dying to get it "out there"!

2. A lace pattern....this one is 1/3 done but I'm not sure I'm going to be able to have it ready for when I hope to. I may just bring to Vermont with me and hope more rows get done while I'm sleeping.

Plus, I'm working on Tim's sweater, Ben's "Ice" mittens (see pic below), and the holiday stockings (which I think will be done for NEXT year!).....AHHHHH!!!! (Calgon, take me away!)

Oh, and an update on my Poseidon sock....this is as far as I've gotten so far. Not because it isn't wonderful to knit, which it is (and I LOVE the yarn, too)...but I'm putting all "extra" knitting things to the side and trying to work on things with deadlines...oh, I hate that word, don't you?

At least I feel like the tide is turning around here and I can take a breath and smile a little. How about YOU??? : ) Don't forget to KNIT THOSE MITTENS!!!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Couple Fo's, Boiling Water, and Strep Throat

I thought I'd use a title that really conveyed the essence of the past weekend or two. What do you think? (Above is the beautiful Blogless along until the end to see why she is featured above....)

I've been so behind in blogging that it's getting me down. I didn't even talk about or show pictures of the Grand View trip and that was almost two weeks ago. Needless to say, things have been pretty difficult around here for the House Family.

I think I'll share the abbreviated version, okay?


As I shared in my last post (thank you so much for the people who commented), Ben accidently poured water into our iMac laptop. Luckily, Ian was able to save it and we probably only need a new keyboard (which is on it's way in the mail). If the new keyboard doesn't work right, then we'll need to buy a whole new computer. Cross your fingers for us, k? In the meantime, I have graduated from typing on Ian's homemade arcade machine (which he made himself from SCRATCH) to using a foldable usb keyboard. It's like typing on a sheet of bubble wrap, but it's better than nothing! Here is a pic of the arcade machine so you can visualize me blogging on it. Funny, huh? This is for you, Lora!


On Monday, I woke up to a bizarre, high pitched whining sound. I went downstairs (half groggy) to find out what the heck it was. As soon as I got to the kitchen, I noticed that the entire white room (our big playroom/greenhouse room with full glass doors on all sides, white tile floor and white walls....sorry, no black curtains.) was filled with (what I thought was) smoke. I started freaking out. Ian was away in MA visiting his friend and I was alone with the kids. As I got closer to the room, I realized that the smoke was actually steam. I ran into the laundry room and saw that the smoke alarm was going off and the room was filled with steam and gushing boiling water.

I freaked!

Ben started crying and I was trying to figure out what to do and how to keep Ben from getting hurt. Finally, I was able to get him to sit in the living room while I went to turn off the smoke alarm. I had gathered some of my senses and turned off the boiler first. There was a pipe that was blasting hot water out onto the floor and none of the knobs around it seemed to turn it off. I called Ian (he doesn't have a cell so it was hard to get a hold of him) and his explanations didn't really help me. He thought I was hysterical because I was yelling over the water blasting and Ben's crying, so he started yelling at me! I hung up on him and called my parents in RI. They calmed me down and suggested I call the boiler company, which I ended up doing once I was able to breathe. Once I got in touch with the boiler company and they were on their way, I started putting buckets on the floor to catch all the gushing water.

Finally, after an hour, things were back to normal and it was just a rusted out bolt in the heating thing or whatever. The guy showed me how to turn things off for next time and I was relieved. BIG BREATH and then I could collapse from shock and exhaustion.


After such a stressful morning, Ben started to say that his ear was "on fire" and crying non stop. I was able to make an appointment at the doctor for that day and, come to find out, Ben has an ear infection AND strep throat. This morning, I found out Tim has strep, too. AHHHHH!

After Ian being away all week, me working most of the weekend and then the boiling water thing....this was just too much for me. The poor kids are miserable, cranky and feeling horrible....and I am barely keeping it together. BARELY. The moments not spent giving the kids medicine, cooking, hugging, cleaning or crying myself are being spent on knitting. Just slowly, slowly knitting and using that as my own medicine for calming and centering. Amazing how well it works. Just knitting and purling on my newest project (more on that the next blog post) has really saved me this week. I have such a grand respect for knitting....more than ever.


I was actually able to finish Ben's sweater at Grand View. The collar is a bit too tight and I ran out of the blue yarn, so I had to use the white colorway to make the "B" and the collar, but Ben loves it and it's so soft. I'm just going to redo the ribbing in a bigger needle and bind off a bit more loosely. Ben's got a BIG melon head, I guess.


-6 balls Frog Tree Alpaca in Cobalt Blue, sportweight
-Size 2 and 4 needles
-Pattern-Reversible Crew Neck Sweater by Jacqueine Fee's book: The Sweater Workshop

I'm pretty happy with it and hope it'll keep him warm this winter. It almost matches the socks I knit for him, too. He looks so cute in both. Once he's feeling better, I'll take a pic.


I started working on Tim's sweater again so he'll have a chance to wear it this winter. I got at least a few inches done at Grand View and now I only have two inches to go and then the body will be done. Sleeves next and it's done! I can't wait to see him in it. It's the same size as the one I made for Ian last year while I was at Grand View...except I've added a few color accents to it and am not under the same amount of pressure to finish it as I was for Ian's. Hopefully, it should be done in a few weeks.

LASTLY, The "Amanda Hat" pattern!

I am sooo happy to finally announce my newest pattern, The Amanda Hat!!! Thanks to Sonya, who said that a hat looking like the Radiance Lace Headband in the Amanda style would look very good....and she was SO right! This hat is so cute and, so far, has been flattering to many types of heads.....and is also very, very soft.

I used Malabrigo worsted wool for this pattern in the "Jacinto" colorway and I can't tell you how wonderful it is for this pattern. It may only take 1 skein to make 2 hats....Ericka is going to do the test knitting for me on this. I know it takes less than one skein to make 1 hat in the largest size.

Try it and let me know if you like it! Ben's already stolen mine so I think I might have to make another in pink! Or blue!

Of course, the hat pattern is being modeled by the amazing Blogless Amanda and is named after her as well. I wonder if I can do something with the Jacqueline pattern, too.....what do you think, Jackie ?

GRAND VIEW: Quick and Painless...kinda


-Lovely company, got Ben's sweater finished, laughed a lot on Saturday evening, loved seeing the other things people were working on and ate yummy things....Blogless Sarah, you're kielbasa and salad were awesome and thanks so much for the alcohol-free jello shots! YUMMY! Another great thing....riding in Sarah's van. She is the BEST driver (fast but responsible) and was so generous to drive all 6 of us to GV. Big hugs, Sarah!!!


-Horrible confusion over rooms, uncomfortable sleeping, bad news/experiences for friends of mine, bad attitude of owner, a bit more subdued fun and so much dust that it was almost unbearable.

I'd say more, but I'd really rather not. It's over and we're picking somewhere new and exciting to go on our Knitting Retreat next year!


1. Laurin was looking like the Godfather on the last morning we were there. She was not only granting requests for the extermination of husbands (joking...kinda), but also sharing with us her wise advice for living a knitter's life...."Eh....listen, must SHARE the yarn in order to REAP the benefits of the knitting experience. Believe your Yarnmother....and I will protect you. Eh....alright?" (again...making this up entirely....but you get the idea, right?)

2. A peek into one of the nights of my shared room with Jackie and Heather. There was a little more than knitting going on in OUR room!

(yea....sneezing and coughing! LOL!)

So, that's the update. Hope I didn't bore you much and would love you to send some loving and healing thoughts to me and the kiddies. Please check out the new hat pattern and don't forget to spread the word about the Month of Mittens (button on right). Make sure to email me a pic of your mittens when you're done to be in the drawing for tasty yarn! Woo-hoo! Stay healthy and remember to keep knitting.....I know I will : )

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Um...Technical Difficulties...

Let me say a few words: Ben, water, oops.

Those words aptly describe what happened last night when Ben accidently dropped his water bottle on my laptop.

Sh*t,damn, holy h*ll and OMG!!! are just a couple of the things I said at thatmoment.

So, I am writing to you...not from my lovely white iMac iBook, but from Ian's arcade machine. Yes,you heard right. I mean, read right. Ian's homemade arcade machine (I will post pictures once I have a computer again) is now the vehicle for my blogging. Can things be any worse?

Last night, I tried desperately to dry off the inside...took off the keypad, took out the battery, etc..and it worked for a while. Ian (who is now in Maryland on a business trip) suggested (via the phone)that I should take off/out as much as I could and leave it unplugged overnight. So...I did.

This morning, THE LAPTOP WON'T TURN ON!!!!

I am now waiting for Ian to come home and pray to the Computer Gods and Goddesses that he can get things running again. I don't want to imagine all the pictures and things that might have gotten lost if the harddrive is fried. We do have some of the stuff backed up on another harddrive, but haven't backed it up recently. AhHHHHHH!!!

So, please send all your happy, computer-ish thoughts and I hope to be back soon. (If you've emailed me or noticed I haven't commented on your blog, now you know why. I'll do my best to get back to you asap!)

BTW...I'm working on some knitted lace, Tim's sweater and my sock pattern. I finished knitting Ben's sweater (Reversible Crew Neck Sweater) at Grand View and hope to show pics of it in the next post. If you're on Ravelry, you can see it there...that and my new Amanda Hat pattern, which is free with link at right. (of course, on Ravelry, I'm SleepyEyes.)

Happy Knitting!!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Month of Mittens!

Before I leave for my wonderful trip to Grand View for 3 days of knitting, buying yarn and girly foolishness, I wanted to announce my MONTH OF MITTENS contest.


1. Take the smaller "Month of Mittens" button (on the right sidebar) and link here:

2. Put the button on your blog and comment on this post that you've done it.

3. Then, knit mittens throughout the month of November!.

4. Email me by November 31st with your name, blog (if you have one), number of mittens and what pattern/yarn you used for them.

5. In the first week of December, I will share your name/blog/number of mittens and add your name into a drawing for fantastic yarn!

That's all!

Have fun knitting mittens!

Some Suggestions for Mittens:

-Anemoi Mittens
-Peekaboo Mittens
-Corazon Mittens
-Alex's Mittens
-Sea Mineral Mittens
-Chevalier Mittens
-House Mittens
-Pirate Mittens
-Kathy's Mittens
-Bulky Kids Mittens
and, of course, my own...
-La La Mittens

I already know I have two special boys I want to knit mittens for. : )