Life's Little Details: Knitting, Sewing, Green Living, Frugal Living and Cooking In A Little Corner of Southern French Countryside.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Scary Realizations

Have you ever thought a thought only to realize that thinking such a thought really was unthinkable? That's a lot of thinking, especially in my current "fragile state." It really wasn't my fault, though - all this thinking, I mean. It all started just the other day when Lambchop #1 innocently asked a devastating question. She looked up at me with her big, blue doe eyes and asked, "How long have we lived in this house?" That's what got me thinking the thought that really shouldn't be thought. It really was best to ignore the issue at least long enough to move out of this prefab hole-in-the-wall that was used to house refugees over 30 years ago house, which was only meant to be temporary.

So, having been asked the question and no longer able to remain in denial, I had to supply an answer. It was easy enough to calculate, since we moved in not long before Lambchop #1's first birthday. She just turned five. The math was pretty simple, really. It was the coming to terms with the answer that was hardest. FOUR YEARS! To give you an idea of the significance of that, I'll relate two little details about my life:

1) Anyone and everyone who ever steps foot into our home marvels at my bravery (I'm not joking or exaggerating here. I'm like a pioneer women on the famed Western Frontier to them. Why, just the other day, my mother congratulated me on having been able to handle it for so long.).

2) After sitting down and calculating it out, I don't believe I have ever lived in a "permanent" home longer than the four years I have been here (the only possibility was in Oklahoma where we may have stayed a whopping four-and-half years). In my life, I've moved over 20 times. Sometimes it was within the same city, but I have changed homes at least that many times (oh, yeah, and I'm only 31).

So, the fact that we have stayed in this so-called temporary home for as long (or almost) as I've ever lived anywhere is a frightening bit of reality. And, just so you see the inner strength I must have developed: I didn't even cry - not even in my current "fragile state" (I love that pregnant women have traditionally been considered fragile - cracks me up when I think that if men had to carry children and deal with all the hormone surges, we'd probably be working on World War X by now - probably best to leave the hard jobs to the women, doncha tink?).

And, a totally unrelated (but always appropriate around here) side note: I've almost finished the second little brown baby sock. I'm halfway done with the toe, and if I get a moment to sit down and knit tonight, I should be able to finish it up. Also, I am pleased to announce that Lambchop #1 is extremely proud of her new hand-made wash cloth. She used it for the first time last night, and Daddy told me she couldn't have been prouder to show it off. Go figure. With all the sweaters, ponchos, etc. I've made her that she turned down flat, she's proud of the wash cloth it took me a few hours to make.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

What a Relief!

Someone finally owned up to it. And, it's a huge relief to know that the baby's refusal to come out when it's most convenient for its parents (the harvest starts tomorrow!!) is NOT (I repeat: NOT) my fault. Whew! That's a load off my mind. I was starting to think maybe this child was actually waiting around for a clean house, and, well, if that's the case, it's just being born into the wrong family. I did, however, mop the kitchen floor last night. I can't say that it's spotless (because the cheapo linoleum in here actually stains in high-traffic areas - impossible to remove), but that should count for something, right?

My plan is to continue on with the cleaning today, as well. Afterall, the freezer is full. What more could I cook (at least until I can convince my husband to plug in the larger deep freeze that we were given a while back - it currently serves as a table in his office till the new house is finished)? And, just in case my sister-in-law finishing the baby's sweater isn't really what its after, it's probably best to throw in some nesting for good measure.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I've Shaved My Legs... What More Do You Want From Me??

A Few Knitted Objects
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
I've done everything under the sun to convince this bun in my oven to come on out and say hello. I'll give you the short list.

*Taken our bumpy dirt road a million times in the past two weeks.
*Walked all over the village next to us on one occasion.
*Worked almost three hours in the garden the other day pulling weeds and harvesting tomatoes.
*Baked/Cooked/Frozen countless meals, breads, sauces, etc. (our refrigerator/freezer is now officially full).
*Washed and put away appropriately-sized baby clothes.
*Tried to jinx myself by renting a movie (therefore attempting to provoke Murphy's Law into action, but NOOO, it didn't work. We got to watch the whole thing AND return it on time.).
*I even shaved my legs, thinking maybe the baby was trying to save its mommy some embarrassment in front of medical staff (though, I'm in France, and this surely wouldn't have mattered to anyone).

Nothing seems to work. So, you, know, I got to thinking the baby wasn't satisfied with just one little knitted object for it to wear (remember the kimono sweater I finished quite a while back?). What did I do, then? I whipped out my needles and threw together some little baby socks. That's the cream-colored pair in the picture. The brownish ones are still a work in progress, but I swear they'll be too big for a newborn (unless, of course, this little one decides to bake long enough to have to come out my mouth (because surely it's bigger than my... umm... other parts), so I'm not in a huge hurry.

In the background is a little washcloth I knitted to make Lambchop #1 happy. It's just some basket weave pattern I threw together. I kind of like it, and it was excellent mindless knitting when I was very preoccupied a week or so ago. The yarn I used is a little something I bought on our little trip to Germany. We had just enough time to drop by the Wolle Rodel shop in Frankfurt, and I picked a few things up. I love this yarn, and I'm thinking if I can ever get ahold of more, it'd make a very nice cotton sweater (it's part of their own little line of yarns, thus ver inexpensive).

The unfinished pair of socks (I'm on the heel of the second one) is made of some yarn I had leftover from my Go With the Flow Socks (actually, it's hard to call it leftover when you haven't actually finished the second sock yet, but I'm throwing caution to the wind and assuming that if I had more than enough yarn leftover from the first sock's ball to make a little baby sock, then I should be fine for the second as well). It's the Fawn color in Knit Picks Essential yarn. Now, I've yet to actually wash this stuff yet, but it's growing on me the more I knit with it.

The littler pair of socks (you know, the ones that should actually fit a baby) are made of a leftover ball of the yarn I used to make that cable baby blanket so long ago. It's Jaeger Baby Merino and has two wonderful qualities that make it ideal for baby socks. First, it's really soft and squishy - always a plus for delicate baby skin. Second, it's thick enough to be knit on 4mm (size 7 US, I think) needles. That meant that I finished the whole pair in a few hours time. I'm all for that kind of instant gratification. Maybe I can't get my baby to come out in the next couple of days, but I know that I could whip out another pair of these babies in no time if I wanted.

Oh, and for those of you who are doing the count-down with me. My American due date (40 weeks) is coming up in a couple of days. The French one (41 weeks) is on the 3rd or 4th of September, and my father-in-law swears I'll be giving birth on the 1st. How does he know? Well, he has used the ever-so-scientific method of asking the good ole divining rods their humble opinion. Will they prove effective at anything other than wowing the crowd gathered around a potential water well dig spot? We'll have to wait and see. I for one, hope their wrong, and that we'll be headed for the clinic later today. Hey, you don't know. It could happen!

Mason-Dixon Scarf

Mason-Dixon Scarf
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
I'm not in the mood to come up with some fancy-schmancy name for this post. It's just a little picture of a recently finished object I thought I'd share to actually be able to justify calling this a knitting blog. See, I do still knit. I've actually done a fair amount of knitting lately, but I haven't had time to post/take pictures. The other day, I decided to change that, so here is the first of two posts about some recently finished projects.

This one is a scarf for my midwife, who, if this dear child of mine ever decides to show its face around here, will no doubt earn far more than her measely pay. She was great for the birth of my last kid, but I never did get a chance to give her anything more than a bottle of wine (if we even did that - because I sort of don't remember. I was busy that day, afterall.).

It's the easy little scarf pattern (whose actual name I'm way too lazy to look up - but in my defense, I'd have to climb over a mountain of toys to get to the book) from the Mason-Dixon Knitting book. I used some mohair/nylon yarn I bought for cheap many moons ago, plus some ribbon yarn whose name also escapes me. I believe it's Lion brand something-or-other. I got it at Michael's a while back, if that helps at all. I'm pretty sure the colorway is called Fiesta. That's right, the only thing I seem to remember about it is the fact that it's all about the party. What can I say? I'm funny that way.

I just hope my midwife likes it. Everyone who saw me knitting it seemed to, so that's a good sign. It's not my style, but then, I'm not French (aka a big scarf wearer), and all those who liked it are. Since my midwife is French, I'm hoping she'll fall in love with it when I give it to her.

Friday, August 25, 2006

My Bestest FOs

(Masterpiece #1)

While we wait (and wait and wait) for the opportunity to post some long-awaited baby pictures (yep, I'm still pregnant - why do they call this being "with child"?? I see no child here!), I'll share a couple of shots of my very best finished objects. Like most knitting, they are warm and soft and cuddly. They do, however, talk back a little more than most of my sweaters. They're cuties, though, so they deserve a little place here in the blog today.

(Masterpiece #2)

Now, those of you without children might think of the poopy diapers, the sleepless nights and the terrible twos (which actually often last way longer than just the second year) and wonder why on earth I'd be having a third one. For me, though, all I need to do is look at these smiling faces, and I instantly remember. They make it all worth my while.

And, while we're talking about finished objects, I thought I'd show you some of the more finished looking parts of our new house. Ready?

First off, we have a picture of the larger of the two bedrooms (larger? yes, I said this tiny space was the larger of the two - ouch!). The chestnut hardwood floor is fully installed. Now, we just have to get that thing all waxed and shiny. Perty, ain't it?

Second is a shot of the hardwood floor in the bathroom (scary how it almost looks bigger than that bedroom, huh?). The bathroom, itself, is not fully finished, but this part is, and it's lovely, I think. It's made of some exotic wood whose name currently escapes me. All I can remember is the important stuff, like that it's water resistant and shouldn't get all mildewy. Oh, and that it's a pretty color.

Third is what would have been my favorite wall in the house. It's red, and I find the color so appealingly warm. Problem is, a chunk of paint fell off not long after it was dry. That's because there was, apparently, a hole my husband patched up at one point there. The change in material meant that the paint stuck nicely to the rest of the wall but not to that spot. Not sure how he plans to remedy that situation, but we'll try to concentrate on the color for now.

Well, now I'm off for another morning of chores to see if I can possibly convince this baby it's time to come out and meet the world. Seriously, I've tried everything, including spending almost 3 hours in the garden yesterday (with my 41 inch belly - can you imagine?? If I get any bigger, I'll no longer be able to fit behind the wheel of the car or squeeze into the tiny room our toilet is located in.). I attacked the weeds so I could actually see some plants and got almost 5 gallons of goodies. So, now my plan is to make something with them (mostly tomatoes of different varieties). I'm thinking more tomato sauce (who couldn't use more of that around the house?) and maybe some fun chutneys.

As for knitting FOs, I've got some pictures to share on that front, as well, but I'll let these soak in for a bit first. Oh, and about the baby thing: Last night, I dreamed I had a girl. Of course, I've had dreams that my other children came out walking and talking or with teeth and all sorts of nonsense, so take this with a grain of salt.

Edited to Add: I spent my entire morning dealing with the enormous quantity of tomatoes I picked yesterday. What do I have to show for my work? Some delicious yellow tomato Mexican salsa, even tastier yellow tomato chutney, and an almost-overflowing pot (10 quarts, I think) of tomato-basil sauce. Like I said before, you can never have enough of that stuff, especially since I can even make some fast and delicious tomato-basil soup out of it. Oh, and I threw in a tiny batch of green tomato jelly (Weird? I'm not sure yet.) with those that decided to render themselves early while I was picking yesterday.

And, to top all that off, I was even able to bake three loaves of sourdough bread from a batch I started yesterday. I have to say that this was the perfect mix of flours. Delicious. I just kind of threw it all together with no recipe, but it's a mix of graham flour, rye flour and white flour. Such a great flavor, and the color given by the rye is very appetizing all by itself.

Monday, August 21, 2006

It's A...

Drum roll please...

Are you ready for it?

Getting curious?

Curiouser and curiouser?

Okay, well, it's still a fetus, actually. Nothing has changed. We're still anxiously awaiting the arrival of our mystery baby. And, if I seemed antsy last week, you should see me now. I've got my bag packed and all ready for the trip to the maternity ward. I'm mentally prepared. I'm just wondering what the baby is waiting for. What? Its actual due date? I mean, come on, who is ever born on their actual due date? Cut me some slack here, kid. I want to meet you. And, we're already starting the 40th week. Seems like it's close enough to me.

But hey, at least I'm not uncomfortable anymore. I guess I've gotten used to the baby having dropped, and now that I've gotten my energy level back after having been nasty-sick (yes, Disentangled, I must have jinxed myself - remind me not to do that again. It wasn't fun.), I'm just excited. I'm ready to see this little person my husband and I have created together (if you need to know how that happened, let me just say that this may not be the most appropriate place for that discussion, and you may want to sit down for a long chat with your mommy and daddy). Then, there's the fact that Daddy plans to start harvesting his grapes at the end of this week. Did you hear that baby? This week. That means it'd be best to come out in the next day or so, otherwise you may miss him entirely for the next month. Do you see all the wonderful reasons to come on out and say hi?

But, then again, since when do kids actually listen to their parents?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cattle, Anyone?

Just to change subjects a little from the non-stop illness and baby chatter around here, we'll talk about that bison reserve we went to while on vacation. Contrary to what you might think, though, I'm not going to actually talk about the bison. I will at some point, but for now I feel like telling you about a type of cattle I'd love to raise here. Yep. You read right. Cattle. Now, I know that this terrain (and you've seen pictures of it before) is usually used to raise sheep or goats, but I think cattle could be interesting. I'd really like a milking cow, but good luck on that with the poor foraging she'd get out here. I have found, however, the perfect meat cattle to fit our place and its harsh vegetation.

They're called Highland Cattle. They come from Scotland, and they're all furry and cute. See in the picture there. I know what you're thinking: "What is she going to do with that hairy beast in a Mediterranean climate?" Well, let me just share some info I've learned about these guys. Apparently, having lived in the harsh environment that is the Scottish Highlands, they evolved into a very hardy animal that can survive almost anything. Incidentally, this must be the same reason the guy on The Highlander can live for hundreds of years, right? Apparently, the climate and terrain are rough enough to alter men to?? Anyway, back to the cattle.

They'll eat anything (quite like goats or sheep). They're very disease resistant. They don't need more shelter than a few nice shade trees (even in winter!!). Now you're probably wondering what kind of temperament such a rugged animal would have, right? Well, apparently they're quite docile. Whoda thunk it? And, now the cool part... because my husband was all concerned they couldn't handle our hot, dry summers with all that hair. "Hair," you say? "What hair?" they say. Yep, they shed it. That's how adaptable they are. I know, as a knitter, part of me wishes we could just sheer it and spin it up into something soft and wearable. That's okay, though, because their real purpose (aside from their wonderful fire preventing land-clearing abilities) is their meat. They are apparently well-known in the British Isles as offering the best beef out there. Sounds like an ideal, low maintenance business idea (sorry if there are any vegetarians out there that are disgusted by this idea).

So, what does all this have to do with the bison reserve? Well, on the way there, I had been telling my mother-in-law about these cattle. The only way I could think to describe their appearance was to say they looked a bit like bison. And, then, what do you know? We get there, and on the walking tour I took (because the bumpy ride in the carriage didn't sound right for my "current state") there were a couple of these guys lounging around under a shade tree. Cute, huh?

Oh, and since this is supposedly a knitting blog, I'll update you on the current knitting project (pictures soon, I swear). I've only got the toe left to do on the baby sock I'm making. Funny thing, though. It's huge. I was disturbed by this at first, because they looked so tiny in the photo with the pattern. Apparently, they should add a little disclaimer: "caution, objects are larger than they appear." I just figured they were for newborns or something tiny like that. Then, I decided to look at the pattern (yeah, I know, weird concept, actually reading the pattern and all). I'm pretty much right on with my gauge, it seems. They're just made for a larger kid. Funny, I think, because for me, something with feet 3 1/2 inches long hardly qualifies as a baby anymore. What is that, a 1-year-old? Or could I have just forgotten how fast they grow? Little weeds.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I've Been Jinxed... Or Have I?

So, about this whole jinxing thing... how does it work, exactly? I mean, did I jinx myself, as my sister-in-law mentioned, by saying I was the only one in the family to not be sick? Or, perhaps, did she do the jinxing by mentioning that I may have jinxed myself? Or, maybe, as I've always suspected, jinxing doesn't really even happen, and it's all a huge coincidence that I happened to get sick very, very soon after having possibly jinxed myself. Who knows? Not I, but I've certainly been mulling such issues over quite a bit in the past few days. There wasn't much else I could do, given the bizarre lack of energy and the fact that I spent most of my time lying down to combat it.

It all started with some nausea and other gastrointestinal problems I'll spare you the gory details of. Let's just sum it up by saying I wasn't able to eat properly or keep the fluids and foods I did eat in long enough to do me much good. After a full day of that, my body was worn out, and I started to experience faintness and overall weakness. Standing up for even a few minutes was too much for me. Naturally, given the fact that I'm due to give birth any time now, and energy is a must for that, I was pretty freaked out. I was worried enough about the weakness to attempt calling the local doctor on call one evening but never reached him (so much for being on call, huh?). Turns out, everything was starting to improve, and the next day, I had a little more energy.

What really freaked me out, though, was the hours before I tried to call him. I had been feeling a bit stronger and decided to take the kids out. Nothing strenuous. Just a little stroll at a local carnival. They had a blast, but I scared my friends with my paleness and general half-dead appearance. I realized the next day that my problem was low blood pressure. This is not very new to me. Mine's always low, which is usually not a bad thing, but if I don't eat or drink enough during pregnancy, that can mean trouble. What was strange is that I had taken the precaution of eating before leaving the house, in order to avoid a drop in blood pressure. So why the sudden weakness at the carnival? I figured it out after having the same weak feeling after another meal. Seems that all the blood concentrating on digesting my food left too little for my head. Nice, huh? Probably killed a few brain cells on that one (I didn't even get an alcoholic buzz for my troubles, either). Hope it wasn't anything important I might need later. Anyway, a couple of days later, I'm able to eat and drink much better and am feeling much stronger for it. I'm still taking it easy, though...

which brings us to some new knitting I've started. Since I am not allowing myself to get up and do too many things, I limit myself to little spurts of housework, some sitting and lying down when I feel tired. The sitting thing is great for knitting, as we all know, and I actually have my husband's approval to do all the sitting I want. How cool is that? Actually permission to do nothing but knit, if I so desire. All without the little looks or comments that tell me I may have neglected other duties a bit. Despite my desire to do a little nesting, I could get used to the free knitting time. And, of course, since I can't actually convince myself it's a good idea to finish up that baby shawl (some day, I swear), I started out simple. I've got some leftover sock yarn from my Go With the Flow Socks, so I'm making some baby sockies. Cute, cute, cute. No progress shot for now, but it looks pretty boring at the moment, anyway. I also need to take a picture or two of the scarf I made my midwife before I actually give it to her. It turned out pretty well, and everyone who saw it liked the way it looked. Good sign, I think. So, we can be looking forward to actual knitting pictures in the very near future. Not bad for a knitting blog, eh?

And, for those following along on the baby thing, I'm obviously still pregnant, but I am dilated to 1 cm. Not much, but I'm all for doing a little bit of the work without really realizing it. How about you? In fact, if I could pop this little bundle out in my sleep, I'd sign up for that right now. I've heard of women giving birth in comas, and, though I'm not really keen on the coma thing.... No, I'm only joking. I wouldn't want to miss this experience. Despite the pain (which, for me, is actually manageable with my wonderful midwife's help), the moment when the baby comes out is like nothing else I could ever imagine. With Lambchop #2, where I gave birth without an epidural, it was even better than I'd imagined, because it felt like my entire body breathed a huge sigh of relief. Didn't get that with the epidural with Lambchop #1, and though, it was wonderful to hold her in my arms, the birthing itself wasn't as nice.

Anyone want to lay any bets as to when this baby will decide to grace us with its presence? The way I was feeling several days ago, I hear my sister-in-law didn't even think I'd last the weekend. Ha! Fooled you. I'd have been alright with a weekend birth, though, really. Now that the nausea is gone, though, and I'm starting to get used to the low position the baby is in, I can handle a couple more weeks just fine. I sure am excited to get a chance to hold my new sweetie, though. I can hardly wait!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Antsiness Becomes Exhaustion

Yeah, I'm still pregnant. No change there. No real change in the major discomfort that is "lightening," either. You know, it's been a really long time since I last encountered a more ironic word. In case you missed out on the definition of that word in a recent post, I'll share it again. It's the technical word used for the point in pregnancy when the baby drops down into the pelvis. The irony comes in when you realize that there's nothing "light" about it. It puts pressure on places you weren't even aware of before. For example, I'm not a waddler. Never have been, and I was pretty proud of that. Now that lightening has occurred, though, I think I may be waddling. It's stronger than I am. I cannot control it.

I can't sleep either. I wake up every hour-and-a-half throughout the night to find a better position (of which there are only two, anyway - left side or right side). Oh, and did I mention that lightening allows the baby to squish my bladder in very uncomfortable ways? That means that more than once those nighttime wakenings include a trip to the potty (as we call it around here). This has left me with a feeling of exhaustion that I've never experienced before. I wake up and eat breakfast, and I'm about ready for a little nap. Even having a newborn to feed and diaper in the wee hours isn't this bad (am I possibly jinxing myself, here?).

Then, there's the fact that the baby's weight is cutting off circulation to my legs. This causes them to lose feeling when I sit down for too long or when I even sit for a few moments in just the right (wrong?) position. As a result of all this, I have to say that, even though I'm all for my little bun baking as long as necessary to come out healthy, I'm really hoping it'll be before my actual due date. Not sure I can handle at least two more weeks of this without having a nervous breakdown in front of the kids. This, of course, is what I get for recently thinking to myself how comfortable I have been throughout this pregnancy. It was literally the very next day that the baby dropped. Ha! Joke's on me. Thanks kid. As my mom and I have decided, the baby's just warming up. It'll soon be cooking up many, many more ways to bug me. Even so, I still can't wait to meet the little fella/gal. I have friends who absolutely love being pregnant. I'm not that way. For me, it's just a means to an end. Luckily, I at least have very easy pregnancies, in general, or I may have stopped at one. And, this late in pregnancy, I'm always ready to have it done with and be holding the sweet little wee one in my arms already. Can't wait! But I have to. Nature's cruel joke, right?

Even with all this discomfort, I did force myself to get a few things done these past couple of days. I'm actually prewashing baby clothes today. Imagine the efficiency! Unheard of around here, but we don't want the baby to be swimming in packing dust, if we can avoid it. And, yesterday, I spent some quality time in the jungle that is our garden. The weeds have pretty much taken over large sections of it, and it's amazing it's still producing things for us to eat, but I just don't have the energy, and Muttonchop doesn't have the time to deal with it. So, even though I did no weeding (unless you count pulling up a few here and there), I did harvest quite a few lovelies. Got our first ears of corn for the year - red ones. I'm very curious to see what that'll be like. Steaming them right now for lunch. Then, of course, there was the regular ton-and-a-half of different varieties of tomato. Amazing. Truly amazing. A lot of the tomato plants look half-dead from either the heat wave we had or from some disease, yet, they still happily throw out some tomatoes when they can. I ain't complaining. Low maintenance is what I'm all about at this stage of pregnancy.

Then, there were a couple of zucchinis, bell peppers and a few green beans. Just enough to throw together some vegetarian chili with some beans I cooked the other day. Yum. And, the most wonderful surprise of all was a beautiful melon. I would have taken a picture to show, but I just didn't have the energy for it (plus the lighting was bad at the moment I wanted to chop it up). It's a variety of melon called an "Old France Melon." Local variety, I'd assume, and it was quite tasty. We've got a few more in various stages of ripeness out there, and it's confidence-boosting to see that we're finally getting some good ones.

No knitting news these days, but I have been seriously thinking about doing some knitting. Does that count? I may even try some today. I think I could use the distraction. It's just not something I can really do lying down, which I seem to need more of these days. And, I haven't forgotten about the Barbie pictures I promised. I'll try to get that taken care of soon, too. For now, I must get dinner on the table.

Friday, August 11, 2006


"Big" events in my life are almost always preceded by a lack of sleep. Each year when school started back up, the last night of summer vacation was a mess for me. Excitement, or possibly anxiety would keep me awake most of the night, and when I did sleep it was quite fitfully. I even distinctly remember a morning in high school when I was up at the crack of dawn, all dressed and ready for the first day, voluntarily doing the dishes for lack of anything else to occupy my mind. The same happens when I travel, especially by plane. Oh, and there are also the nervous butterflies that cause me horrible nausea.

It would seem that child birth is no different from the first day of school or stepping onto a Boeing 747. It makes me anxious. The dropping of the baby into my pelvis (officially called "lightening," which I find ironic, since the baby feels quite a bit heavier to me now) appears to have triggered a bit of nighttime insomnia. I say nighttime, because I was actually able to nap today. Had to, really, since the fatigue caused by waking every couple of hours, convinced I was having contractions (I'm sure I had a few, but not THAT many) rendered me utterly useless. Just so you're aware, I am still pregnant. Nothing seems to have changed there. I'm really not sure what this antsiness means, but I do know that it'd better not last too long, or I'll be too tired to push this baby out. As it is now, I'm too tired to get any chores done. This hampers the whole nesting reflex badly. I want to clean, but as soon as I start, I'm ready to stop. Instead, I roam aimlessly around the house trying to decide what to do next. I inevitably choose to sit for a while, since the "lightening" has caused quite a bit of discomfort. You ever feel like all your internal organs are falling out throw a hole not large enough to allow for it? Yeah, probably not, but that's pretty much what it feels like. Obviously, this is not a real morale booster. It's got me thinking that, though I'm a couple of weeks away from my due date, I could certainly stand to have the baby in the next few days (my other two came a few days early and were quite healthy).

In a later post, I hope to share such fun items as "Tattoo Barbie" and her good pal "Street Walker Barbie". We have both here at the house, and they may even be up for a little photo shoot or even an interview. Stayed tuned for that (since I can't sit still long enough to knit, this putting a damper on any knitting activity).

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Apparently, according to my mother, I have a knack for having babies when terrorist activity is at its peak. That's not to make light of a very heavy subject, but she seems to be onto something. See, my daughter was born in late July of 2001. A pretty safe distance from 9/11, but what my mother remembers is that she and my aunt arrived on a plane from the US to France on September 10th. You can imagine the freaking out that went on for the few weeks they were here. This time, their flight to see us is schedule for early next month, and what do we get? Apparently serious terrorist activity just a month before. It would seem that I don't like them to travel with any peace of mind. I'd rather rig things to make it more stressful for them. I swear, though, it's not intentional.

So, it appears that, for the safety of the entire world, I really should stop making babies. I have been thinking this for a while, anyway, but it wasn't really terrorism related. It was more a feeling that it would be best for all if I just stopped at three. I mean, think of what I'm unleashing onto the world here. And, it seems I'll be doing it again pretty soon. Technically, I'm due towards the end of the month or early next month (depending on if you prefer the US count of 40 weeks or the French one of 41). But, today, I feel different. How's that?

First of all, last night, I had trouble sleeping. I kept waking up with the unsettling feeling that the baby could really come any time now, and we're not fully prepared. Sure, we could hack it, but the house isn't as clean as I'd like, and the new house is not finished enough to be moved into. And, then there's the amazing amount of energy I've had lately and the fact that I feel wide awake when it's time for bed. To top all that off, the baby has dropped into my pelvis. I was thinking just last night how oddly comfortable I've been carrying a baby even this late in pregnancy. I have yet to have the typical waddle or the feeling of everything falling out. Well, that was the case yesterday. Today is a different story. Sure, I can eat more freely without feeling stuffed after two mouthfuls, and I can breath more easily, but there's a pressure in the nether regions that just wasn't there before. Now, according to the books, this could mean I'll give birth in a month (usually the case for first babies) or in a day. Not a perfect sign of impending labor. What it does mean, though, is that I'd better get to work on that cleaning again. Because you just never know when a baby will decide it's ready to face the world.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Proof That Actual Fun Was Had

If you've read my last couple of posts, you're probably starting to wonder if we actually had any fun at all on vacation. To tell the truth, it was a little rough on me at times to spend a full week around only my children and my mother-in-law. Without going into too many details, I can say that, when we first met, my mother-in-law didn't exactly like me. That's evolved into something that seems to at least resemble some kind of fondness, but she's still got her share of unasked-for-opinions-about-the-raising-of-our-children to dole out. My general policy has become to keep my mouth shut and continue to raise them the way I feel is best. They seem happy (and most of the time healthy), so I'm sticking to that. Other than that, she apparently (unbeknownst to me) was there on vacation to "help me". I never asked for nor felt like I needed this help, so it was a bit of a surprise when I learned it from my sister-in-law. This knowledge did shine a little light on some annoyances that occurred quite frequently. For me, the best way to have "helped" me would have been to take any and all unwanted chores off my hands so I could spend a fun-filled week with my kiddos. Her idea of help was actually the opposite - taking the kids off my hands so that I could do fun things like grocery shopping and laundry. Oh well. I'll at least know next time that a full week under those circumstances is too much for my tastes.

Despite this misunderstanding of the meaning of the word "help," there were some stolen moments with my babies here and there, and I really cherished them. One of the most fun times throughout the entire week was an afternoon when their grandmother apparently needed some time alone. It was just before illness really set in (though there had been some fevers in the days prior to this one), and the kids were in great moods just after a nice, long nap. We played on the swing set just next to the cabin and made up fun adventures on the picnic table nearby. Wanting to memorize these precious moments, I snapped a few shots. And, since their American grandparents can't get enough of their sweetness, I thought I'd share.

I do have more pictures to share, but they are of animals we saw at the bison reserve, so I'll save those for another day. I'd rather spend some time getting some cleaning done. Today seems to be a turning point in the kids' illnesses (yay! bigger appetites, less nausea, and more energy), so they've allowed me more time to get chores done. Considering baby day is coming up fast, this is a really good thing.

And, for those of you who don't want children, I'll let you in on a little something you're missing out on... in case your spouse is like mine and frequently forgets minor things like birthdays, you've always got a little back-up person. With the kids sick, I told them they needed to take their meds, because I wanted to have a cake on my birthday (but I wasn't making one if they couldn't have any). This was a few days ago, and today is my birthday (I ain't telling how old, but I'm officially over a certain hill). The very first person to tell me happy birthday was my sweet Lambchop #1. This was even before she had seen her daddy this morning, so I know for sure it came from her. She's also really good to have around for guilt-tripping her daddy with comments like, "Mommy, where are the presents? It's not a real birthday without presents." That's my girl (okay, to his credit, he did remember to say happy birthday, and since he's sick AND working on the new house, I'll give him a break)! In case you're wondering, I never did make that cake. They really aren't up to it yet, so I pulled a few slices of a previously-baked chocolate cake from the freezer to share. They each had a tiny bite just to say they had some, and I got to make a wish and blow out a candle.

Oh, and as my sister-in-law pointed out in the comments on the last post, I may have jinxed myself (by saying I was glad it was only a virus??). Well, I have been taking extra precautions not to get sick. Besides the immunity boost that often comes with pregnancy, I've also been really obsessive about washing my hands. That, combined with the fact that I refuse to finish their plates, even though I hate the waste of throwing the rest of their meals away is probably what has kept me healthy in the last week or two. Funny thing is (well, not that funny, really), my husband has come down with the original feverish yuck thing they had while on vacation (that's what he gets for finishing some of their meals!). Although I'd doubt it'll reach the same proportions in his body as it has in theirs, it probably shows that if I were going to get sick, I'd have done it by now (again, jinxing myself, but I'll continue to be careful). I've only got a few weeks of pregnancy left, and I plan to keep healthy throughout that time so I can get this house as clean as possible before the baby arrives.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Best Souvenirs...

are the ones that last... and last... and last. Well, except in this case. I'd throw this one out the window if it wouldn't take my kids with it. They're still not over their whatever-it-is. And now, they appear to have passed something on to Daddy, who really needs to be spending his time working on the new house - not in bed (you know if he were healthier and I were a little less... ummmm... enormous, I might be all for him spending the day in bed, but that's another story we won't get into.). He was all sore and achey today and spent most of his time in slow motion. Not ideal for this time of year. I suppose it's no worse than him getting shingles a week before harvest last year, but I'd rather not have to take care of two sick kids, a sick husband AND a newborn, and if they don't cut it out soon, I may have to.

At least I haven't gotten sick. How would I be able to deal with them if I were? This morning, we had the unusual fun of hanging out at the lab while a not-so-adept technician poked and prodded my children's arms in an attempt to draw some blood to test. If you've never had the pleasure of watching someone stick a needle in the arm of your not-quite-three-year-old and pushing it deeper and deeper and finally wiggling it around because the blood just won't come out, you're really missing out on quite an experience. And, when the guy says (while your child is crying, I might add), "it doesn't hurt him, though, because we put that numbing patch on earlier," you know he's lost all touch with reality. I mean, it may not be excrutiating, thanks to the patch, but how can it not be at least a bit uncomfortable to have someone wiggling a needle under the skin at your elbow?

They apparently were able to get enough for their tests, though, because I got the results this afternoon. No bacterial infection apparent, which I'm a bit relieved about, since that's often more damaging, even if it is treatable with antibiotics. According to the doctor, it's most likely viral, and the virus stressed their livers, which caused them to have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. I've never heard of that, but what do I know? The doctor says we'll learn more as soon as the stool sample results come in (yeah, we did that, too, but I'll spare you the details of that exciting experience).

So, no knitting has gotten done around here, and not much of anything else has either. The best I've been able to do is get lots of tomatoes picked yesterday and make some tomato sauce that turned out to be really tasty. Aside from that, I've spent lots of time working on prematurely aging the skin on my hands through frequent washings after wiping other people's rear-ends way more times than I can even count. I don't remember ever having my hands this dry. You'd think I had obsessive compulsive disorder. And with that thought, I bid you good night (because apparently, butt wiping and soothing whiny children is exhausting work, and I must head off to bed).

Sunday, August 06, 2006


What's a vacation without a few kitschie souvenirs? We visited a bison reserve with the kids, and they begged for every tacky object in the gift shop. I held my ground, though, and we came home free of expensive-yet-highly-breakable-doodads. I was proud of myself, but did they feel deprived? Is that feeling of loss the reason they decided to bring something else home with them - something entirely disagreeable? I'd have taken a plastic chomping bison head over this any day. Surely, you're wondering what they could have found to bring home with them. Well, I'll give you a little hint. What do you get when you bring together children from different regions for a little summer fun? Yes, you do get lots of little spats, but what else? That's right, a free exchange of viruses.

When I stepped off the train after riding back up to be with my kiddos, the first thing I did was get big hugs and kisses. That's how I noticed Lambchop #2's fever. It was apparently passed off to us by some family friends. Nothing too horrible. Just a little fever, and according to the older child who had recently had it, a little sore throat, too. That was pretty short-lived, and my little lambchop barely even missed a beat, even with a fever. Then, it was Lambchop #1's turn. She doesn't deal with fevers quite as well, so she was pretty well knocked out for a couple of days, but soon she started to feel better.

That's when the violent vomiting and diarrhea set in. Lambchop #2, the little fella still in diapers, got the diarrhea, while our big girl spent her last two days on vacation with her head over a bowl. I felt so bad for them both, and I decided we were better off leaving a day early, late in the evening, so it was cool in the car, we'd have less traffic and they'd sleep at least part of the trip. Turned out to be a good plan. The ride went surprisingly well, and I even got a chance to take them to their regular village doctor Saturday morning. So, now we've got a nice pile of meds to administer, and things are looking up. Lambchop #1 has actually kept down three tiny meals now, and we're no longer changing close to ten diapers a day for Lambchop #2.

My question, now, is: should I have just sprung for the silly plastic toys so they wouldn't have felt obliged to concoct their own souvenirs to bring home?

By the way, in case you're wondering what caused all of this, I'm thinking (and the doctor seemed to agree) that the fever was too far disconnected from the vomiting and diarrhea to be related. They most likely ate something that didn't sit well, because no one else has had any trouble, with the exception of my mother-in-law, which makes me think it must have been the ham that the three of them had at lunch a few days ago (there was not enough for me, so I ate something else). Whatever it was, though, I'm just happy it's starting to works its way out of their little systems, because there is nothing like looking into the sad, exhausted eyes of a five-year-old who asks, "why is this happening to me?"

On a brighter note, I do have some fun pictures to post (though none of them will be of the cute little museum I had hoped to visit - that just didn't happen this time around). I'll post those on a later date. Oh, and for those who were wondering - no I didn't give birth while on vacation. As big as I'm getting, it was apparently on people's mind, though. Still have to wait till some time near the end of this month for that one. I am getting pretty excited though. Ooh, and a little last thought... the hubster and his helper got some work done on the new house while the kids and I were away. Almost all of the countertops are installed in both the kitchen and the bathroom (we went with stainless steel sheets for ease of installation), and a wall in our livingroom got painted a lovely brick red. That wall was particularly exciting to see, since it really made things start to look a little more like a home. It adds quite a bit of warmth to the room, and I'm getting so anxious to see it all done. You can count on some pictures of that soon, too.