Yesterday and today my best friend since Kindergarten came to visit. We spent two days reconnecting, enjoying the outdoors and having some fun with "ghost hunting" jokes. I haven't seen her since April when my husband and I went home for the baby shower my mother-in-law hosted. I've been lucky enough to spend four days with her this year. We went seven years without seeing each other while I was in Germany.

It's amazing to me how two people can meet as little children and maintain a friendship for so long and through so many changes. Long ago in fourth grade she moved to another city, but it didn't prevent us from seeing each other. We wrote each other letters on colorful stationary and covered them with stickers, always declaring our commitment to staying friends forever. Twice a year we'd have sleepovers and celebrate birthdays together. When we were both in High School she moved to another state and we continued to stay in contact through mail and very long car rides.

Here we are, 20 years after Kindergarten. I can't begin to describe how blessed I feel to have someone like her in my life. We're two incredibly different people, but our love for each other is unconditional. It's been wonderful to see her during this transitional time in life, especially after we've missed out on so much. She brought along her boyfriend and our men got along like old friends.

So, as my flowers have started to bloom and change, so has my life. I don't believe there's been a time in life when I've felt so fulfilled - surrounded by family, friends and blessings, each day has taken on a new beauty.
Yeah, it's the one of the topics you don't bring up in social situations. Probably for good reason. I'm not going to air my views here, I'm not even going to define them. What I will do is yack for a moment about other people's views and how they choose to express them.

One link led to another and I landed on a very opinionated man's blog about politics. His posts were, from beginning to end, all negative. He listed off one terrible act after terrible occurrence. It was a lot like watching the (bad) "news" on television. I am all for freedom of speech and expression, but I am just as much for personal responsibility and accountability. I am so very tired of the blame game. I'm also tired of the comparison game, the magic-answer game and the downright negative everything's-going-to-hell game.

I think that if people stopped complaining about this and that and instead chose to become more proactive, issues that seem to so disturb certain people may have the chance of being solved. I think that if we stopped pointing fingers and started using our hands for good more would be accomplished. Words accomplish little, but hands can mold, shape and change things!

I don't think it's okay to spread hopelessness to a nation that needs hope. I don't think it's okay to spread the message of hate to a nation and a world that has a lot of learn about tolerance and true love. Yet, most importantly, I don't think it's okay for all these people to think they know how to run the world better than the next man, when they should be praying instead of judging.

I know, in a perfect world. Such the idealist.
This morning I discovered the first zinnia bloom as I was watering the plants outside. A solitary, beautiful little straggler.

After a visit to the local yarn shop I went to knitting group and crocheted the rest of the second sleeve on the second sweater I've made for my son. As I was sewing the pieces together and daydreaming about what my son is going to look like, my phone rang. "Mom" showed up on the display. Now, you know that any phone call that starts with the question, "Are you sitting down?" is usually not a good one. I guess I knew what she was going to say, but it didn't make it any easier.

Mourning is a funny thing. One moment everything is normal, it's an every-day kind of day and the next the heart of someone you love stops beating. And they're gone. A brief few seconds of shock, then realization and then the inevitable breaking of the dam. There were condolences and hugs, a few shared tears from understanding hearts. Then I walked away and composed myself. It never even crossed my mind to leave the knitting group and go home, because there was no one waiting for me at home. When I sat back down, red-eyed and sniffling, I picked up my needle and thread and continued to sew. At some point normal conversation resumed and as more ladies arrived with their fiber creations, the mood was lifted and I felt better among the welcome distraction of friends.

See, I believe in reunion after the celebration of a long life lived well. Death is a part of all this, it's as much a part of life as being born. As much as I feel the emptiness and the ache from my Grandma's loss, I also share in her joy of moving on and of eternity.

This isn't the end. This isn't goodbye.

See you soon, Grandma. I love you.
I've always loved tending to plants. When I was 12 my father bought me a large assortment of plants and we built a small wooden planter at the base of hill by the lake and there my garden grew. It grew over with weeds, too, but I'll ignore that fact for now.

While in Germany I went back to the old German tradition of filling my window sills with plants of all kinds. I had one bush in particular that was my favorite. It sucked up about one and a half liters of water every day, but it bloomed with the prettiest pink flower year 'round.

Now that my husband and I live on the ground floor and have an outdoor living space we've both put seeds in the ground and have excitedly watched our seeds burst forth into lush, flourishing plants. I didn't actually get around to planting all the seeds that I intended to plant. The lettuce, carrots and a couple packets of flowers were left untouched.

The zinnias and poppies that I planted have yet to flower, but to the left you can see my climbers already in early bloom and madly climbing our trellis. Originally the dirt on top of those seeds got washed partially away and the sprouted seeds were exposed, I covered them up again but I wasn't sure if they were going to make it. Yet, as you can see, they have! I'm still crossing my fingers that my strawberry plants will bear more fruit than the 3 pathetic little danglers I had a month ago.

My husband's cacti seeds never came up. I think he neglected to keep the soil moist and warm enough for them to sprout. He did however plant jalapeno peppers that I believe will be bearing some spicy fruit before long. And going back to his roots of farming, he planted a mini corn field in our yard! We're both grew up in Michigan, a place where fresh corn on the cob in the summer and fall are a meal staple and much loved. I'm standing in front of the plants to demonstrate how tall they've grown. I was having a bad kind of day that only a 9-month pregnant woman in the summer can have, so please ignore the not so photogenic qualities of my pose. The ears on our corn are already developing, while my father-in-laws' stalks in Michigan are just barely knee-high. Up north we say if your stalks reach your knees by the 4th of July, you'll have a good fall harvest. Virginia is an awesome place to grown corn apparently because we have far surpassed the knee-high rule!
Don't you love the feeling of finishing something? I just added this as my first project on Ravelry. I found the pattern in the Knitty archives here.

It's been finished for a little over a week and I'm very happy with how it turned out. It's knit out of four triangle-ish panels and stitches are picked up on either side for the strap. The strap is the only thing I would change on this version of the bag and I may still take out 8 inches. Originally I intended it to be a project bag, but the bag has snuck its way into everyday purse life. More than a pound and it becomes a hip bag, not something I intended it to be. It works best crossed over my chest.

I knew from the beginning that this bag would need a liner and luckily I still had some leftover 'Koto' fabric from my skirt and pillow sewing. I also used some light green remnant fabric to sew a zippered pouch and three small pockets inside to hold my scissors, measuring tape, phone and needles. Sewing the liner was a headache, I ripped it out at least 3 times until I was happy with it. Knit fabric has a tendency to move around a lot and realign itself in a place where it's not supposed to be...

I enjoyed knitting this because it was pretty much mindless and had just enough increasing and decreasing to keep it interesting. I did one panel a day, knit the strap on another day and finished the liner in a morning.

After making this bag I've since knit or crocheted two more of my own design, but they're not finished yet.

I mentioned in my first post that I would be sharing some of my recent knitting projects. I haven't gotten around to taking photos of them yet and due to some serious stormage, there hasn't been proper natural lighting. If you were reading between the lines you'd also read: I woke up too late and by the time I thought about taking photos it was too late! :)

So... to make up for that (and also to avoid this becoming a purely personal blog about ... kind of boring daily occurances) here is a project that I completed for Christmas two years ago.

I followed this pattern on Craftster using some very soft and bulky acrylic and added some crocheted detailing in black. I didn't like the thin strap with the button, so I knit a stockinette strap with a skull that I drew out on graph paper and sewed on both sides. The recipient of these slippers was delighted, she's nuts about skulls!

I've since made many, many pairs of these. They don't take long to make and use up very little yarn. Additionally, you can add puff paint to the bottom for more traction.
The Hubby and I had our 37 week prenatal exam today. It was pretty much a repeat of other visits - arrive 15 minutes early, wait forever past appointment time, wait some more in exam room, blood pressure, baby's heartbeat, etc. The only difference is that I'm considered full term now so the doctor swabbed me for Strep B, STDs and checked my cervix. I am officially one centimeter dilated. Hubby's response: "One down, nine to go!"

I'm not completely prepared for all of this. Mentally we've both been preparing ourselves since November 6th, the day we discovered we were having a baby. It's just all the details that are left yet undone. I still have to put up curtains in the nursery and replace/cover the crib bedding we were gifted. Snoopy is not my bedding of choice and doesn't go with our jungle theme at all. As my due date, July 9th, is quickly approaching, I really need to get my hospital bag together and print out a quick outline of my birth plan for the midwives so there won't be any misunderstandings.

This whole giving birth in a hospital thing weirds me out. Hospitals are for the sick and dying, two things that have very little to do with the natural process of giving birth. Unfortunately we don't have any other options right now and far be it from me to spit at free military medical care. Under better financial circumstances I would have opted for a water labor and delivery at home, but even disregarding the financial burden involved in a private midwife and tub rental, my husband and everyone else is totally opposed to the idea. Sadly, in this culture of fear and societal thinking that "Doctor knows best," it's hard to get around those types of personal views.

I'm scheduled to go back in on Monday. Hopefully having weekly appointments from now on will give me something to look forward to and shorten the time that I have yet to wait.
I was 7 or 8 years old when I received a knitting kit for Christmas. I don't have any recollection of the actual event, or the person who gifted me said kit, but I do remember the lightness of the flimsy cardboard box and its contents being indiscernible to me. I'd never seen anyone knitting and didn't really know what it was.

It was probably several months later when I asked my mother to unravel the cryptic directions included in the kit. I'd grown tired of fondling the short, yellow plastic needles and holding the scratchy hot pink ball of yarn. There had already been several failed attempts at following the directions for the knitting loom and in childish impatience, I'm sure I was ready to give up. That's when mom came in and showed me the ropes.

Odd how some memories remain so clear and others so blurry. I can recall the precise way that the sun rays came through the old Victorian style windows and formed geometric patterns on the sage green carpet. The door to the enclosed porch in front of our corner house was open and the smell of aging books drifted in with the scent of fresh floor paint. There was probably snow outside, but the biting cold didn't touch us in our cozy living room.

I sat in my mother's lap while she manipulated the yarn around the bendable needles. I think she had to remember herself how to cast on before she could show me. At some point she had about 15 stitches on the needle and she started the process of creating fabric. I was mesmerized. I was hooked from the very moment I saw the fabric form off the needle and go from a single strand of twisted fibers to a thing of substance and stability.

My small hands struggled desperately to mimic my mother's movements, to catch the yarn and slip it off the needle in a perfect little stitch. After much trial and error I did succeed and went up to my room to practice. Days later the whole teaching process began again as I tried to continue my work after I'd already forgotten the steps.

One thing my mother failed to teach me was how to bind off, so all my "projects" ended with a strand of yarn sewn through the live stitches and knotted. The only thing I ever completed around that time was knitting an entire ball of variegated red/green/white Christmas yarn into a six-stitch-wide flat rope about 8 feet long. Every weekend when my brother and I would stay at my grandparents' home and sleep on an open sleeping bag next to their bed, my grandma would ask me, "What are you knitting?" I'd lie and say it was a secret. In reality I had no idea what I was knitting, I was knitting for the simple act of just making something. I loved watching the long strip of fabric grow and stretching it out over the floor. A few years down the road I wound the rope around itself, sewed it securely into a potholder and gave it to my father as a gift. It was my first FO (finished object).

Many years went by before I made anything else. It's funny to look back and remember even then having a yarn stash... even though I didn't know what to do with my stash or my new found skill with knitting needles. After I made the move back to Germany and had my own apartment I found my desire to knit springing up again. That week I found Knitting Help, learned the provisional cast on method (aka the long-tail cast on), bought my first metal needles and some yarn...

What ensued after that was knitting madness as I wiled away the empty hours at work and at home, often knitting with my best friend who kept me hopped up on black Turkish tea far into the wee hours of morning.

Oddly enough, that second FO was a very long blanket that again became a gift to my father.

Thanks to Nessa Knits for the inspiration to blog about my first knitting experiences.
Apparently it's been a very long time since I've written for a blog. I tried to freshen up my writing skills last night by cracking open my paper journal. Some dusting off was in order, I'm slightly embarassed to admit. I haven't kept up with any kind of writing on a consistent basis since... well, probably 2003. That's a long six years of exceptionally few words.

So this is a new start.

I've been knitting nonstop for the last couple of weeks. I wrote a list of all the things I've created this year and was happily surprised to discover that I have not been as lazy as I thought. Attending the local SnB (knitting group) on a regular basis has kept me motivated to stay busy as well, not to mention the fact that after the baby is born my time to create will be a little more limited and much more interrupted. I'll post pictures of my recent projects soon.

I'll be 37 weeks along on Thursday. Technically, full term. The last couple of weeks have crawled by. I have to make a mental note to prepare my hospital bag, Lucas could be born any day now. I wish I felt more prepared for motherhood. Thankfully my crazy excitement about our little man finally making his grand appearance covers up most of the insecurities I have about being his mom.