Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Here's an unexpected turn of events.

The boy who asked Matilda to the dance is the boy I know many of the girls last year giggled about. He's the one with the pretty eyes. He's Mister Popularity.

Matilda turned him down!

She apparently told him flat out over the phone that she didn't want to go to the dance with him. She and three of her girlfriends are planning to go together instead.

By the way, we have Gary to thank for this clever bit of parental sleuthing. All I could get out her last night was that yes, that was a boy on the phone and yes, he'd asked her to the dance.

Gary got her talking. He asked if she liked this particular boy, and she said no, not really.

"Does he know you don't like him?" asked Gary.

"He does now!" Matilda shrugged.

I think I love that kid.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I am declaring an official State of Emergency.

Matilda has been asked to the 6th grade dance. By a boy.

And so it begins.
I have a problem. My wrists hurt. And I blame the acrylic.

See, the other day Gertrude came home from preschool and pulled a piece of construction paper out of her My Little Pony backpack. On this piece of paper, she had carefully inscribed a string of crudely formed letters.

I looked at it. It appeared to be written in Russian.

"This is wonderful writing!" I exclaimed.

"It's a note," Gert said. "I had to write it to myself so I wouldn't forget."

"Oh? What does it say?"

Gert pointed and read, "Bring... sweater."

I don't know why, but I found this to be unbearably precious. The idea of little Gert sitting in a chilly preschool classroom and being prompted to take pencil to construction paper, asking a nearby grownup how to spell these two key words that would remind her to bring a sweater on the next day of preschool... that's too adorable!

This instantly reminded me that I have yet to knit Gert a mommy-made sweater that A) fits her and B) is not itchy.

The first sweater I ever attempted for Gert was neither A nor B:

cally sweater

This sweater taught me an important lesson about gauge. I bet you can guess what that lesson was.

The second sweater I made for Gert was such a failure that I never even attempted to photograph it. It was a green, white, and blue striped top-down raglan. In addition to the colors being all wrong, the sleeves were too short, the body was too wide, and worst of all it was itchy.

In sharp contrast, the sweater I made for Matilda was a complete success. It's just that now she's a middle schooler who is too fashion-forward to wear a handknit sweater that wasn't handknit by underpaid Guatemalans for a runway show.

kait sweater3

Gert's note to herself renewed my desire to make her a successful sweater. Together, we went downstairs to the yarn studio. I showed her all the viable sweater yarns and we narrowed it down to two pinks -- one option was a stretchy pink wool blend, and the other was pastel pink acrylic. I will say one thing for acrylic: it's soft. And that's exactly what Gert fell for. She held it against her cheek. She rubbed it on her arm. She declared it soft, fluffy, pink, and perfect.

We tucked an intermediary store-bought sweater into her backpack and I got to work on designing and knitting the perfect Gert sweater.

You know. Because I can't ever do anything easy like use an existing pattern. This one has to be Gert-perfect.

And that means Cables.

Cables + Acrylic = Dammit, my wrists hurt.

I should really take a break from it, but the classroom is chilly...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Gertrude is the victim of unrequited love:


Gert loves the cat with every fiber of her being in ways that make her want to rush at the cat, scoop her up into her arms, and carry her throughout the house. The cat, while tolerant of Gert most of the time, does not like to be picked up and loved quite that hard.

No matter how many times the cat runs from her, Gert continues to try and pick her up. Sometimes I find Gert crouching beside my bed and peering under it, saying, "Kismet! Come on out to me, sweetie! I'm just going to love you…" It's heartbreaking, really.

The other day, she asked Gary if we could get a new cat. He asked her why, and she wailed, "Kismet doesn't love me!"

The kid needed a cat of her own.

This is not usually how cats are born:

Kitty in the making

But this is no usual cat:

Kismet riding in the basket

And this Kismet lets Gert pick her up whenever she wants:

Kismet gets love

Friday, August 18, 2006

Part of Matilda's new 6th-grade curriculum includes learning to play an instrument in the band or orchestra. Matilda fell in love with the cello.

The cello is a huge-ass piece of instrumentation. This thing is as tall as my daughter and probably weighs more.

But she's very excited about it, and as Gary and I are both hardcore band nerds* we are excited right along with her.

As you'll see by the asterisk down below, we're all about the woodwinds and brass, but we're in full support of the cello. I told Matilda she was the first member of her family to play a stringed instrument, which is kind of like being the first person to go to college. Full speed ahead, we're with you all the way, but we don't have the first clue about anything you're doing!

After school yesterday, I took Matilda up to the local music store and asked about renting a cello. She can play the school cellos in class, but she needs one at home to practice with. They fitted her for one, tuned it, and handed me some paperwork to sign. It costs $200 to rent a cello for the school year. That's a lot of cannoli, but okay. Then they asked me if we wanted the $25 service policy which protects against blah, blah, and blah.

I have a policy of saying no to service policies.

No thanks, I said. We're just going to use this one at home. It'll be fine.

Those of you English majors paying close attention here will pick up on that subtle instance of foreshadowing.

On the way home, Matilda decided the cello was a girl cello and named her Chellie.

She couldn't wait to start experimenting, and as soon as we pulled into the garage, Matilda leapt out and lugged Chellie off to the den. She popped in the instructional DVD that came with her essentials book.

Gertrude was extremely interested in all this. She parked herself on the sofa to watch as Matilda perched on the edge of a dining room chair, balancing the cello between her knees and practicing her posture as the DVD instructed.

I checked to be sure she was all set up, then I went out into the kitchen to chat with Gary. I still had the yellow receipt copy in my hand, and I plunked it down on the counter to show him.

I said, "Wow. Two hundred and--" I glanced down at the total. "WHAT?"

"What?" said Gary.

"I told them we DIDN'T want the service policy, and here it is checked 'service policy' and they charged me the extra $25!"

"Well, what’s the service policy?"

"Oh, I don’t know. Something that protects against things like—"


I am not even kidding. At that exact moment we heard the horrible sound of large, soft-wooded instrument meeting hardwood flooring.

We both sprinted.

Matilda was standing beside her chair, righting the instrument. Gertrude was kneeling on the couch looking worried. "It fell!" Matilda wailed. "Gert touched it!"

"She just touched it, and it fell?" I asked, not buying it.

"I was just..."

The parental band nerds both knew what had happened. "Did you lean it against your chair?" I asked.

Rule number one of playing an instrument: NEVER LEAN IT. IT WILL FALL. Leaners never learn and learners never lean. We had neglected to mention this at the onset, and now the cello's strings were flapping against its neck, limp and flaccid. And I, player of woodwind and brass, had no idea what to do about it.

Split a reed and I'll pat you on the shoulder and hand you a new one. Break a string and I'll completely flip out.

"Oh my god, we broke it! In the first fifteen minutes of having it in our house, we broke it! How can we take this back to them and admit that we broke it within the first fifteen minutes? Can we get a new string? Will we know how to attach it? And how do we tune it? We don't know anything about tuning a cello! Where's the tuner? Crap, crap, crap!"

Gary, player of strummable strings, was entirely rational. He reassured me that there was nothing wrong with the cello itself (and P.S. we have the service policy if there is), he would pick up a new set of strings, Matilda would learn how to tune it in class (because P.P.S., the reason you take a class is to learn things like that), and everything would be fine.

And it will. And it is. And we're going to have to start Gertrude on piano lessons ASAP or something because she's way too fascinated by expensive stringed instruments, even when she's not supposedly sending them crashing to the floor as her sister would have you believe.

*Gary has played the clarinet, guitar, and ukulele. I've played the piano, sax, trumpet, and various percussives.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Back to School

Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

Today one of these got on the bus to middle school filled with confidence and excitement. And the other one is starting her second year of Early "Hildchood".

Me, I'm going to go ride off some of this first-day-of-school anxiety on my bike.

Aren't they cute? I think I'll keep them.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Okay, it's two days before my oldest starts middle school. Maybe I am freaking out a little on the inside. Maybe I am indulging in a little compensatory yarn purchasing.

But it's yarn in the form of thrift store sweaters. So it's cheaper than a one-legged Dairy Queen hooker!

I've just gotten back from perhaps THE most satisfying sweatering excursion ever. I have an entire bagload of alpaca, silk, angora, lambswool, ribbon, and other fantastic fibers that are practically begging to be ripped free from the confines of outdated sweater styles.

This is the best one: A huge angora/wool argyle sweater with a cowl neck (i.e. lots more yarn to reclaim). What makes me so giddy over it? I had my eye on making a certain Fair Isle sweater from Fall ‘06 Vogue Knitting. The argyle is made up of exactly these colors! And it's so, so, so, so, so, so soft!

I'd post pictures, but you really have to pet the yarn-to-be to appreciate it. Just take my word for it.