Saturday, October 31, 2009

candy gathering

As y'all know... with germs and sheep and birthdays and other assorted craziness, things have gotten a little behind (even more so than usual) around here lately. One thing that suffered was the Halloween costume issue. As some of you know, I have a strict "no party store costume" policy, but I hadn't had the time or health to get the kids to the thrift store and we were up a creek.

As of Wednesday night, only Terzo had come up with a costume. He wanted to be Jack, from his beloved Magic Treehouse book series, but he was afraid that people wouldn't know who he was. So he went with explorer.


The other two are getting a little more difficult. (One of my friends sent her waffling 11 year old kid to school in the SpongeBob costume he wore in first grade -- she had forgotten that detail, and luckily, so had he. My kids never would have.) Primo turned 14 yesterday, and he wasn't even sure that he wanted to go out... and he hemmed and hawed until the very last minute... but finally decided on a costume that only required a new name tag and mug -- he already had the suit. Glad it is getting some sort of use.


Secondo though... I have to say that his is one of my favorite costumes of all time. We started with a $4 fleece throw from Walmart... cut holes for his arms... and then started gluing and sewing on assorted items, such as socks, candy wrappers, toy soldiers, legos, etc.

Can you guess what he is?




He went as his bedroom floor.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

real dogs

Real dogs don't play with plastic squeaky toys.


Or fleecy stuffed animals.


Real dogs....


Workin' dogs....


Play with leftover pieces of drainpipe.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

comedian in the house

I am the oldest of my siblings, so I admit to a particular sympathy for that position, but I imagine that the other slots have their own challenges. Secondo can wax rhapsodic about the problems inherent in being a middle child. On and on, as most middle children are wont to do. Just ask any middle child why it stinks to be them, and prepare yourself for a long lecture.

Terzo, while he isn't necessarily verbalizing the issue, is clearly seeking his place in the family. He often relishes his role as the baby, but he has started working on the comedy angle. He spends quite a lot of time and effort on getting a laugh, particularly out of me. (I think it will remain one of the nicest things that anyone has ever said to me: last week, Terzo admitted to my LSH that he had made up a story about something that happened at school, because "I love to hear mom laugh." Not many people have complimented me on my laugh; it tends to be one of those things of infamy, that I have spent a lifetime trying to live down.)

So this morning, as we were dealing with mundane issues such as "a return to eighth grade after two days absence" and "how much boys hate grapes in their lunchboxes", out of the clear blue sky, Terzo announces:

"By the way (I swear he said just that), my water bed is being delivered this afternoon."

I had no idea the kid knew what a water bed was. Who has a water bed these days?

When I queried him about the time of delivery, he hid his smile behind his hands, and with a twinkle in his eye, announced "2:28. It's going up in my room."

At least I get to laugh.

Monday, October 26, 2009

round three

Primo succumbed to the creeping crud on Saturday morning. This post could also have been titled "the bigger they are, the harder they fall" because he was really really sick with it; more so than the younger two.

We had our usual million plus one things planned for the weekend but most of them were quickly cancelled. (With the exception of travel soccer; travel soccer is seemingly non-negotiable.) I found myself in the unusual position of a weekend at home stretching before me. I laundered, I cleaned: it actually felt good to be able to attend to these mundane matters and get our lives back in order. Yesterday my LSH and I took care of some pressing winter-is-approaching farm chores, but we noticed how much longer it took us all by ourselves. As my LSH noted, a taste of things to come.

Primo is finally on the mend today and bored with staying home. I knew he was feeling much much better when he raced downstairs this morning dressed in work clothes, threw on his new Carhartt jacket and headed to the back pasture with his brother to check sheep rumps. One of the jobs we took care of yesterday was separating our sheep into breeding groups, and the boys already have visions of spring lambs prancing through their heads.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

night out

Last night, my LSH and I rushed out of here as soon as his office closed... and raced up the Turnpike... and through the Lincoln Tunnel (well, the latter was more like a crawl; took us two very painful hours from the exit off the turnpike to the parking garage). It took so long, in fact, that we didn't have time for dinner and had to settle for a romantic beer in a cup and package of peanut M&Ms in the lobby.

But it was all worth it because we saw her! My favorite singer of all time! The artist whose albums I would take to a deserted island! Here are my cell phone photos to prove it:

nanci2 nanci1

OK, might have to help you out on this one: it was Nanci Griffith! (If you want to know what she really looked like, take a look at the Simple Life video.) And she was just as awesome as I thought she would be. She even encouraged the audience to sing along to Sound of the Speed of Loneliness and Across the Great Divide (minus Emmylou Harris, but Maura and Pete Kennedy did join her for this one). Now how great is an artist to have you sing along on the songs that you just can't resist singing when they come up on the iPod. Maybe she knows that people will sing along no matter what so she might as well ask them?

Of course she played songs from her new album -- I particularely liked The Loving Kind, about Mildred and Richard Loving -- but plenty of her older stuff as well. My only admittedly minor regret is that she didn't play my favorite song (or my second favorite, for that matter; I am including it just in case you are compelled to check them out, as this beautiful duet is not to be missed).

Do yourself a favor. Listen to a few of her songs, if you don't know her already. And if you know of another artist like her (country/folk/rockabilly/national treasure/defies categorization), please let me know! I've been searching for years for her equal. I am starting to realize that one probably doesn't exist.

Which makes it all the more wonderful that I got to see her.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

knit like the wind

My first ever knitting class taught by me is starting in two hours.

I have not finished one of my class patterns.

I have not written up the patterns for the (one, thank goodness) student.

I have to make fajitas for dinner, and hassle a kid who is trying to catch up with three days of homework due to illness, and pick up another kid from a cross-country meet, and try to keep the third kid occupied in something besides TV.

Just thought I would share.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

legos and shears

Today was Secondo's 11th birthday.


The pig fairy visited Secondo this time, but he wasn't disappointed to have to spend his birthday at home building the lego sets he received. His older brother, on the other hand, was completely bent out of shape that he had bronchitis (oh yes, we are very grateful that their father is a doctor) but no fever, so he had to go to school.

Proof that Secondo lives on a sheep farm (albeit a small one)? His grandparents offered him the choice between a new bicycle and a pair of his own fancy hand shears to use when getting his sheep ready to show.


Is anyone really surprised that he chose the shears?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

rhinebeck 2009

A little late, but I am finally getting around to the post. Yesterday was just too darn busy dealing with a broken trailer hitch, offloading sheep, rearranging sheep living arrangements, and trying to put away the pile of stuff that landed in the foyer. Not to mention a few sick kids, plus that whole "sleep" thing.

So without further ado, I bring you the one word summary of the weekend:


If you remember, MDS&W's word was WET, so clearly we have an extreme weather condition theme going on for the 2009 fiber fests, at least the ones that I attended.

As anyone who spent any time in my presence this weekend can attest -- and I am apologizing now for my lunacy -- the close contender for the theme was STRESSED. Terzo came down with H1N1 the night before I was due to leave; unfortunately, cancellation was out of the question for a number of reasons. (Yes, I know this knocks me out of the running for the mother-of-the-year award, but let's face it, I was already disqualified on a number of other grounds.)

With hours left until departure, the plans for the weekend underwent a massive upheaval and Primo ended up coming along for all three days. This is probably the last time this will happen for a while due to his impending entry into high school. He enjoys it so much -- especially when he doesn't have to share the experience with a brother or two -- that I tried to remember to savor this weekend with him.
We packed as if we were going to the Arctic Circle for a few days, with flannel-lined jeans, thermal underwear, wool socks and hats, and many, many layers. You know it's cold when your teenage boy elects to wear a hat and thermal underwear all weekend. Luckily, although it was overcast, it did not snow as predicted and rained only for a few hours, so we counted our blessings.

I carried my camera around with me the whole time, but ended up with remarkably few pictures. I did manage a picture of the booth, in all its glory, on Saturday morning.


I have to say, I was pretty pleased with the result, which was based upon the K.I.S.S. principle. As it turns out, so were the judges.


The only other picture I have is Primo showing our new ram, Isaac.


The judge was not so pleased with the sheep, but we weren't too concerned about that because her decisions seemed to be largely based on size. In that type of showring, a medium-sized sheep breed like ours is competing for last place, and sure enough, my mom noted that we were the top of the bottom quartile in our class of 21 animals.

Things that I did not get a picture of:
  • My colonnade shawl, nattily pinned with a bamboo knitting needle at my mother's suggestion, which was recognized on the hoof and complimented by quite a few people.

  • Lily Chin leading the one workshop I took; she was a fantastic teacher with excellent visuals and I highly recommend her new book, Knitting Tips and Tricks.

  • Secondo's first place ribbon in the junior photography division; he was well pleased.

  • My entries in the skein and garment competition, which I entered mostly to get comments on my work (and OK, because I am also a wee bit competitive); my two-ply dyed skein came in 3rd place and my scarf (Branching Out) came in 4th, and the comments were helpful, as a matter of fact.

  • Yarn from Brooks Farm; I have long-admired their booth but never felt ready to make the investment, but I splurged this time on the perfect yarn for a gift (of course).

  • A nostepinde (don't ask me to pronounce it) from Hatchtown Farm.

  • A truly indulgent tapestry needle, which I am hopeful will not suffer the fate of all my previous tapestry needles (i.e., lost) but the cost alone probably guarantees that it won't last a week. No doubt I will put it in a really safe place and then promptly forget where it is.

  • 300 pounds of a custom mix sheep grain from V.R. Saulpaugh & Sons. I know those of you without animals think this is possibly the craziest thing I brought home but the grain prices in NJ are sky high for poorer quality, and I had the trailer there anyway for the sheep, so what was 300 pounds more? (Except for the part where we had to push it up a loooong hill to the trailer, but hey, that's what sons are for.)

And other various and sundry purchases that are lost in the fog of this weekend. Overall, thanks to my parents and eldest son, I did end up having a wonderful time despite all the stress.


Just as we were packing up to leave, the sun made its first appearance all weekend. Too bad there were few fairgoers around to enjoy it. At least the vendors and exhibitors got a reward for all their hard work.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

rhinebeck display

Once again I am in chicken-without-a-head mode and as usual, it involves sheep. I am trying desperately to get ready for Rhinebeck, more specifically the Coopworth sheep pens in the breed display barn.

The first year I had two weeks notice, and the display looked like this:


The second year I spent much more time and effort on it but the end result wasn't really what they were looking for:


I am taking another crack at it this year, but am helped along mightily by the scorecard they distributed explaining what they are looking for. Amazing how far a little guidance goes.

I have it all in my head, but I also have a headache and lots of tiredness in my head, and I am trying to keep a cold from setting up shop in the same place. It's been a battle, especially as there seems to be about eleventy million hamsters up there as well scurrying this way and that and preventing me from having any coherent train of thought whatsoever.

And, oh yeah, it's supposed to flurry or sleet, isn't quite sure yet, on Friday night, just after it rains while we are trying to set up.

I can't even think about the gear I have to pull out to try to keep us dry and warm. Right now just crawling into my bed for the next three days sounds like a really good proposition.

Monday, October 12, 2009

harvest festival

I spent the past weekend sitting down by the millpond in town with a bunch of 4-H kids, helping them run a petting zoo and bake sale at our town's annual festival. Hauling sheep down there for two days in a row was not on my list of how I wanted to spend the weekend, but I couldn't be too grumpy about it because I get such a kick out of the group.

Our 4-H livestock club is blessed with a lot of really great kids, who take genuine pleasure in each other's company despite considerable age differences. Terzo is the youngest at 5, but the group goes up to seniors in high school and college-age kids who were in the group not so long ago. They love to sit together for hours on end, just hanging out. Don't get me wrong, they have their moments when they drive me around the bend, but for the most part they act like a large family and rarely tire of time together. One of my constant thoughts when I see them interact is how lucky they are to have such a positive connection in their lives. Every year I think that the magic can't possibly last another year, but it somehow does.

Here they are at the start of the festival (the kids made the vendor cart last year with the help of one of the 4-H fathers):


It was a bit chilly and damp on Saturday, so Primo had to borrow Oreo's fur coat to help keep him warm (I think the rabbit appreciated the body heat as well).


By the end of the weekend, they had sold almost everything on their cart, and I had finished Colonnade, my Rhinebeck knit.


Yes, that's right: I am actually blocking it a little early! I can't wait until it is dry so I can really get the finished effect. Now, to accomplish everything else before I leave for Rhinebeck on Friday...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

more than one way to skin a cat

You know that phrase, "you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar?"

Well, Terzo has apparently heard of it. This is what came home from school with him today:


He wasted no time in showing it to Secondo, unnecessarily pointing out that it was a picture of the two of them. Secondo, who has a very soft heart, went outside immediately to play a longish game of pirates with him, which is of course what Terzo wanted all along.

Maybe there's a lesson here for international diplomacy. Lord knows that my children won't learn a thing.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

while I was gone

As I mentioned yesterday, my mind has been in other places, which is why I found myself scrambling late yesterday to get to Primo's cross-country meet before the starting pistol went off. I left in such a rush that I didn't have time to get shoes on my other kids, and ended up leaving them at home. (Mind you, my LSH's office is in our house, so they were not by themselves. But it was a mistake all the same.)

Soon after I left, Secondo apparently went outside to pet Midge. Terzo, who has missed his older brother's attention since school started, seized the opportunity and locked him out of the house until Secondo promised to play with him. Secondo, being a bit older and wiser, scooted around to my LSH's office and came in through that door.

But he was pretty darn angry, and Secondo's temper is nothing to sneeze at. He shoved Terzo out of the house, and locked the back door after him.

After crying and screaming for a bit, Terzo ran around to the front door, which Secondo had neglected to lock, and snuck in. Secondo, meanwhile, started to panic at Terzo's disappearance (knowing that it was his butt on the line if Terzo disappeared on his watch). He went outside, calling frantically for Terzo, obviously having no clue that Terzo was already in the house.

Which is of course when Terzo locked him out again. Being even craftier than his older brother, as a little brother must be to survive, he locked ALL of the doors -- including the one between the office and the house. Secondo was truly stuck, and he finally had to promise to play with him in order to gain access to the house before his father found out about their shenanigans. (Secondo's deal was that he would play with him if he was able to finish his homework before dark, and so he took his sweet time getting it done, punishing me in the process. For the life of me, I could not figure out why he was dragging his feet so thoroughly until all this came out.)

Meanwhile, my poor LSH is trying to operate a business with all this to-ing and fro-ing going on. You can bet that the younger two will be coming to every cross-country meet from now on, even if they are barefoot.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I know, I've been gone for a while and left you to look at my kid with a cut on his forehead.

Where have I been?

The answer is: everywhere and nowhere.

Nowhere in that I did not leave my house, except for the occasional cross-country meet and travel soccer game and 4-H meeting.

Everywhere in that my mind is all over the place. A friend of mine is converting part of her gift shop in town into a fiber store, and of course I could not resist being in the thick of this. We talk daily. I have hauled all kinds of fiber and spindle kits and stitch markers down there. We move the furniture here, there and back over here again. I will be teaching the knitting classes, at least for now, and probably beginner spinning classes a little later. (She is a crocheter and needle-felter, NOT my areas of expertise, so at least our areas of knowledge complement each other!)

I have been dyeing yarn, and knitting sample garments, and researching this idea and that... In short, my mind is so taken with this enterprise right now that it doesn't have room for a lot of other things. In the last week alone, I drove away from the drive-through bank lane with the little canister in my car and got lost on the way to my friend's house.

Add to this the fact that I needed to set up a more formal business structure for my little crafting enterprise, because it just recently hit me that the state might be wanting some sales tax for a few of the items I am selling. It took a trip to the county clerk's office and the bank, plus a few miscellaneous forms, but now I am a little more organized and legal, so that's something.

It's bad, but in a good way.