22 January 2018

Crochet: Little Big Rib Scarf

She likes it!
The cold weather here is inspiring for my crochet fingers because we can actually wear/use things like scarves, hats and cowls.

I bought Jane a big, soft Cat & Jack fleece cowl (circle scarf) at Target for Christmas. She really likes it (and we've only lost it once so far -- thankfully the restaurant kept it for us until we realized it was missing and called to check if they had it!), but she also wanted a "real" scarf that you can tie like "everyone else" at school has.

I was happy to oblige. I ordered some Red Heart Gumdrop yarn on Amazon, just because I was itching to crochet and it was an "add on" item to go with some razors I restocked. I didn't have this scarf in mind, but once I had the yarn I figured I would use one of the skeins to make something for Jane because it's a fun, multicolored yarn. The colors are Rock Candy and Cherry.

I searched for different scarf patterns, mainly looking for something with warmth. You can never go wrong with Moogly, and her Big Rib Scarf's simple stitch pattern was no different. It's basically back-loop-only double crochet, and I just made the starting chain (actually foundation double crochet) shorter to suit Jane's height. As per the design I held two strands of the two colorways together with a large (J) hook for a thick, cushy and quick fabric. I did fewer repeats of the stitch to make a narrower scarf, just to keep the proportions right for Jane. I added crab stitch/reverse single crochet edging around to even things out and make it look a bit neater (that's a flaw of the crocheter, not the pattern designer I'm afraid).

Jane can wear the scarf knotted, like in the picture, or just barely she could fold it over and pull the ends through for a double thickness all around her neck. She ties it herself in any case. There's no way to label it, so if it gets lost at school it might not make it back to us, but I can always make another...

There was enough left on the skeins to make a quick, short cowl for Liv. She shouldn't really have anything tight around her neck, but I worry about the blowing wind and wanted SOMETHING for her. Plus she really wanted one! I don't have a picture of it yet, but it's just three rows of the BLO double crochet stitch, so narrower, and I sewed the ends together to make a cowl. I didn't have enough left to do the crab stitch edging, but that's OK for her.

Little "Big Rib Scarf"

16 January 2018

Climate Acclimation

I grew up in southwest Oklahoma, which certainly gets cold, but I don't remember using lotion on any regular basis. When I was little I know I had rough elbows, which I believed to be from laying on the carpet on my stomach, so perhaps I did need lotion somewhat. But when I was in high school and playing basketball (season mostly in winter) if I did put on lotion I'd feel greasy and gross on my legs so I just didn't use it and didn't mind or need it. The water at home is very soft, so that may have had something to do with it too.

When I went to college a few hours north of home the weather was a little colder in the winter, and the water was much harder in the dorm. My skin revolted and was itchy and felt weird. I couldn't figure out what the deal was until my middle school-age cousin said "use lotion."

Duh.

I started using lotion, and it certainly made a difference. I don't really use lotion that much in Baton Rouge, just because of the humidity levels and my skin being OK without it.

An exception to this is my facial moisturizer, which I've been doing for years -- the Clinique yellow stuff moisturizer and in the last few years an eye cream from Clinique too, plus Argan oil that I dab under/in my nose as a preventive measure because even if my skin is fine sometimes my nose gets dry and gross.

In the ~2 weeks we've been in Minneapolis we've definitely stepped up our moisturizer game as a family. Liv always got lotion after a bath, but for Jane we'd kind of slacked. No more -- they're both slathered after a bath or shower, and I put a bottle of Aveeno lotion in their bathroom to use after every hand washing. (I used the rubber band trick to make each squirt only half a pump since their hands are so small.) The girls have also had some chapped skin -- Jane on her hands, Liv's on her cheeks -- and CeraVe ointment has done wonders, really making a difference overnight, and it's not too greasy once it sinks in. Shawn has been using it a lot on his hands too.

I can tell the difference in the air because of my skin after the shower. At home I can't always tell if I've put on my face lotion, but here my skin drinks it up and is definitely tighter/uncomfortable without it. And if I don't put lotion on my body it's a little itchy (not like the college-era itch, but that probably built up over a few days or weeks). I'll go through my moisturizer faster (that Clinique stuff isn't cheap), but it's worth it for comfort and skin protection.

No product in hair - washed last night.
Could use some actual makeup.
So far I'm having trouble remembering to sunscreen up, even though it's only our faces showing there's so much white from the snow and the sun is so bright that we'll definitely get burned if we're out for any amount of time. I sent a sunscreen stick with Jane for her recess and she puts it on her face herself. Such a responsible girl.

My hair can tell the difference too. I'm washing with random Pantene that I bought for Shawn (the siren song of the Target gift card if I bought four bottles was too much for me), so that's a little different, but I'm pretty sure it's the climate and air. My hair isn't as puffy and without any curl enhancing product it is going flatter and straighter, although not straight by any means. I think it will be easier to run a flat iron through and get a straight style to last. I need to work up the energy for that effort though.

(This has been an entry for the world's most boring blog post...)

11 January 2018

A Bus Rider

Jane  has decided she wants to ride the bus to and from school. It's about a mile away, and bus service is part of free public education here.

Yesterday morning the bus didn't stop for her as it was supposed to so we drove her in. She was really upset, as upset as she was when she found out she couldn't start school on Monday. But she DID get to ride home on the bus, and that was "amazing," she said.

She told me about the ride and how her friend from class, Braden, helped her know where to go and so the other kids on the bus said "Braden's got a girlfriend." UGH. She thought it was funny and said he's her best friend.

Before he let her get off, the bus driver confirmed her address with me. I asked if it was the same place he would pick up in the morning. He said "no," shut his window and drove off!

This morning, it was snowing, and I was glad to not have to drive her to school on possibly slick streets. I still have to bundle up Livia and put her in the stroller, and we waited on the street for a few minutes since we didn't know EXACTLY where the bus would stop (the stop the school gave us is wrong, wrong, wrong).

We ended up having to run to catch the bus as it sped past us and stopped half a block down. I don't know if that's where it normally stops OR if it stopped because we chased it. The driver (not the same one as the afternoon route) acted like he didn't know there was a new kid to pick up.

Bureaucracy.

BUT Jane got on the bus and presumably made it to school, since the bus sign said her school name, I told the driver where she was going AND I haven't received a call that she didn't make it in! It's still so weird to be a step removed from Jane's school life. I know it's normal, but the weather and the newness of our living situation are combining to make some serious anxiety for me.

Also, I didn't get a picture when she got on the bus for the first time (since that happened at school). I didn't get a picture of her getting OFF the bus the first time because I was on the wrong side of the street (waiting at the stop the school gave us). And I didn't get a picture when she got on TODAY because I was running my fat ass down the road and then talking to the driver. Will try again today, but eventually I will get a picture of her with a bus ... or at least a picture of the back of a bus that contains my first born!

Edit to add:


08 January 2018

Inflexible

Our lives have been shifted dramatically in the new year. I began on January 1 with a day of physical labor -- cleaning and preparing our house for a house sitter as we have moved 1200 miles away for a sabbatical season. We will be gone for six months, and I was packing and sorting and putting away -- laundry, scrubbing, vacuuming, washing, panicking. I haven't worked so hard in a long time.

Then we left the next morning, and my legs and entire body felt the ache of the previous day's efforts. We drove two long, hard days in the bitter cold. It was about 20 degrees when we left Baton Rouge and it got progressively colder as we traveled north. Only today has the temp gone above freezing, almost a week later. (Incidentally the weather has been fine and clear throughout, and it's going to get snowy later this week ... not sure how we'll fare driving in that, but time will tell and we'll be extra careful/stay in mostly.)

My biggest concern hasn't been the packing or even the effort of cleaning -- it was today, taking Jane to a new school for the first time, leaving her in the care of new people, people I'd never met, and in a building with no one I know. (Her school at home has a great church friend as a 5th grade teacher and other children we know, plus I'd been able to meet her teachers and see the classroom first.)

When we got to the school, however, we were told she couldn't start today and would have to wait until tomorrow at the earliest. In the end this is a better thing for everyone. It will give the teacher some time to prepare (not much but some), and it was one more day of winter break for our girls.

But we've known we'll be here, living in this apartment, for months. Why it couldn't have been done in advance I don't know. We had to go through a district placement office, and apparently that MUST be done in person, which Shawn was able to do Thursday, the day after we arrived.

I did not react well in the school office when they rebuffed us. The guy looked at us like we were crazy (which I agree, it's a crazy proposition, but it's what the placement office had led us to believe would happen, so we had prepared Jane). She was SO mad. It was awful and uncomfortable, while we sat in the room and Shawn filled out even more (duplicative) paperwork. Jane felt inflexible, and I felt the same.

After some time to process it, and an impromptu discussion with the principal who asked about Jane as a person and student to help her decide which of the two classes she might fit into best, I felt better and thought it would be fine to wait a day (or longer). Jane has already been in Kindergarten for 70+ days, and she'll have many more left because this school system started a month or more later than back home, meaning Jane will continue another month of school long after her Kindergarten friends back home will be on vacation (meaning her summer 2018 break is going to be a month shorter!).

But I'm embarrassed by how frustrated I became and how that frustration and aggravation were visibly apparent to everyone. I hate how Jane reacted, and I didn't handle her disappointment well since I was poorly managing my own irritation and disappointment.

I have to learn to be more flexible, but I'm not sure how. I am having plenty of opportunities to practice (and fail)!