Monday, July 7, 2014

Mystery Solved!

It's Mystery Monday again! This week though I have finished my Mystery Shawl and can reveal it to you.

Last week, I had finished clue #3.  This week I finished clue #4....
and clue #5, which was the bind off.  The bind off is a crocheted bind off which I hadn't done before, so I learned something new.  I love when that happens!  My crochet skills are very very basic, so I was pretty thrilled that I was able to do this AND have it look nice.
Here it is, off the needle and ready for blocking.
Blocking turned out to be a bit interesting.  I decided to do it on the deck because it was a beautiful day.  It was nice and warm, not a cloud in the sky, and a strong breeze with very low humidity.  By the time I got the straight edge set, it was at least half way to dried!  Luckily Matt's girlfriend was here and was willing to jump in to give me a hand.
Now it's all blocked and dry! I thought this picture was better than it is, but you can click on it to enlarge it for better viewing.
Here's a better view of clues 4 & 5 after blocking.  I think clue 4 was my favorite, even though it took me the longest to knit.
If I have to wash this again sometime, I think I will block it indoors and take the time to pin out each crocheted loop to give them more definition.  Other than that small detail, I'm quite tickled with how this turned out!

Quick recap of the details:
Pattern: Through the Loops Mystery Shawl KAL
Yarn: Black Trillium Pebble sock, gradient kit in the color Amethyst
Needle: US 6 (4.0mm)
Mods: None

Monday, June 30, 2014

Mystery Monday

Mystery Monday! That sounds so exciting! I have to say that it sort of is, but it really s more fun.

I've been participating in a Mystery Knit-a-long with my knitting group, knitting a shawl. Sadly, I am behind, but I have a shawl that is growing that I really like! The pattern has been released in 5 clues with the final clue released this past weekend.

This is clue 1 (click to enlarge the picture).  Cute little diamonds with some wrapped stitches in the center.
Clue #2.... It's a little hard to tell in this picture, but the second clue looks like hearts.
Clue #3 looks like some kind of flower to me.  The flower clusters are very lacy and were very fin to knit!
I began Clue #4 today but don't have enough done to make it worth showing you.  It doesn't really look like anything yet.  I'm using a gradient kit from Black Trillium Fibers.  The yarn is nice, it's their Pebble Sock yarn in case you're wondering.  It reminds me of Claudia Handpaints or Koigu KPPPM The colors look very blockish in the pictures, but it's not as dramatic in real life.

I'm hoping to finish the shawl this week, but it's getting pretty big, and warm, in my lap. The weather is supposed to be stinking hot this week so it may get put aside for cooler days or cooler evenings.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Beam Me Up

I finished my chemotherapy four weeks ago.  The last few weeks were quite rough and I am very glad to have that part of my treatment behind me!  The very next week I began the next steps of my treatment.

First, I began the new dose of the Herceptin, which is much higher than the dosage I was getting with the chemo drugs.  The good part is that there are no side effects with this therapy!  The bad part is that it is given by infusion every three weeks, so I have to go to the Infusion Center for it.  Really, it's not a big deal, but it is time I have to carve out of my schedule to see the doctor and then get treatment.  Already I have four weeks completed with 36 to go.

Second, it's time for radiation therapy.  I met my Radiation Oncologist, got the full razzle-dazzle of what he does, and why it's important for me.  I had a "mapping" appointment where the technicians took a bunch of x-rays and measurements and placed tattoos on me so that they can be certain that I am lined up properly for treatment.  Then it was time for the Oncologist and the Physicist to put together my actual radiation treatment plan.  I had my test run yesterday.  Everything went smoothly so today it was "Beam On" as they say.

When I finished my chemo I was very anxious to begin the next step.  Every step forward is one step closer to the finish line.  One step closer to cured.  One step closer to normal.  I thought I was prepared.  I had done the hard part, this next step was going to be easy.  I knew the routine and I was comfortable with it.  And then I had to change facilities and I'm just going to admit it, but I don't really care for the new place.

The infusion center is very personable.  It's relatively small and there is a lot of personal interaction with the staff, including the nurses who are taking care of other people.  Pretty quickly I knew everyone's name, and they knew mine.  Sure it may have been only enough to smile and say "Hi, how are you today", but that familiarity was comforting.

The new treatment center is much more formal.  I'm pretty sure the sheer size of it makes that necessary, but that doesn't change the feeling of being nothing but a number.  There seems to be a large staff and there are new faces, where they should be familiar, every time I go.  Now that I'm going every weekday, I'm sure that I'll begin to see some familiar faces and this routine will become familiar too.  Right now though, I'm not loving it and I'm looking forward to it being over.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Graduates

Two of my boys graduated this year. I already shared some pictures from Justin's graduation. Chandler graduated from Bishop Brady High School two weeks ago and we celebrated both of their graduations this past weekend.  Here are some pictures of our celebrations!

Grammy Pete made this pennant for Chandler.

The boys with their cakes.....
...and then a frosting fight...

More fun from Grammy
because the pillow she made him is so bright :-)
Grammy made Chandler a quilt for school too, but because it's not in his school colors, she added tiger paws to it.
Grammy had some fun with Justin too.
For some reason Blogger is not letting me rearrange my photos today, so these are out of order.

I was happy to be able to get some pictures of my boys together in their cap and gowns.  I think they're pretty handsome!
And here are some pictures form Chandler's graduation, processing in..
with Caitlin and Sophie who are two of the girls from our neighborhood that he has grown up with.  It was so sweet of them to come to his graduation!
Chandler with his girlfriend, Stephanie.  They are so cute together!
And finally, a family picture with the graduate!
Tom and I are pretty proud and happy parents!  Chandler has decided on Clemson University and will be moving to South Carolina in August.  He is excited for all the opportunities awaiting him there and can't wait to go.  We're very excited for him!

Justin accepted a position with Schlumberger and begins their training program in October.  He is home for the summer and enjoying his last hurrah before he truly joins the adult working world.  But we are so happy and relieved that he has a job, even if it doesn't start until fall, and is in Oklahoma!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - The Movie Edition

Hello my dear readers!  I can't believe it's been 3 weeks since I last blogged.  I sincerely thought with my chemo ending, which also ended my 4-5 trips a week to the infusion center, that I would have all kinds of time to do the things I love, and that included blogging.  I think it's been a serious case of my eyes being bigger than my belly, so to speak, because as I've begun to feel better, and I DO, that I've enjoyed returning to my usual activities.  That is good news!

I have plenty to share with you!  There has been plenty of knitting, son #3's graduation, beginning the next steps of my treatment, and other fun stuff.  Today though I'm going to get back into the swing of things with a fun Ten on Tuesday.  This week's topic is

10 Movies You Can Watch Over and Over Again

In no particular order....

1. Apollo 13 - Love the cast, love the story, love the dedication of "Houston" to get them home.
2. A Few Good Men - Another movie with a great cast and some great lines that we quote embarrassingly often.  You can't handle the truth!
3. Fried Green Tomatoes - Great story of female friendship in both Idgy & Ruth, and Evelyn & Mrs. Threadgood.
4. Driving Miss Daisy - Ultimately another story of friendship.  The scene where Miss Daisy tells Hoke that he is her best friend melts my heart every time.
5. Elizabethtown - Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst are perfect in this movie.  Honestly, I love this movie more each time I see it.  It's completely quirky, but I love it.
6. Scrooged - the one with Bill Murray.  We watch it as a family every year just before Christmas.  We all have our favorite lines.  Mine is the Ghost of Christmas Present "I'm so glad I wore my pretty dress"
7. It's a Wonderful Life - It's a holiday favorite of mine.
8. What About Bob? - Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfus at Lake Winnepesaukee.  Too funny!  If you haven't seen it, it's worth renting.
9. The Parent Trap - I like the remake with Lindsay Lohan and Dennis Quaid.
10. Forrest Gump - I can't pin down what it is about it I like best, but if it's on TV, I can't pass by it.

Some other notable favorites are Pretty Woman, Sleepless in Seattle, Miss Congeniality, Sweet Home Alabama, Sex & the City and various other "chick flicks".  Tell me what your favorite movie is!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Are We There Yet?

I feel like a whiny little kid, doing something that I'm really, frankly, sick and tired of doing. Because honestly, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Lucky for me, today was my last day of chemo! This picture is the evidence of the last bag hanging and running :-)

But I find my self asking "Are we there yet?" because although I've had my last chemo treatment, I know that I still have a recovery period ahead of me.  I'm still going to get sick this week.  The side effects are cumulative so I will likely feel worse this week than last week and it will take me a bit longer to feel better.  The good news is that this is the last time that I have to ride this particular roller coaster.  I can start to look forward to the many things that I have been missing.  Sleep, for example.  What a treat it will be to have a regular sleep schedule again!  No more steroid fueled 4 four nights, followed by 11 hour nights.  Those slingshot sleep schedules have been hard to manage, and exhausting, especially since there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.  I know this will surprise you, but getting angry while staring at the ceiling doesn't help either.

I have also seriously missed my kitchen!  I really enjoy cooking and baking.  It's an important part of my role in my family and also my favorite role.  I'm the caretaker in my family and to say that it's been humbling to have to admit that I can't take care of my family, in the way that I am accustomed to doing, is an understatement.  Having to admit that I need help has been almost humiliating.  I know it's absolutely foolish to feel this way, but I do.  I know it's the treatment and that it's temporary, but still....  I am so very fortunate that we have a wonderful group of friends and family that are eager to help us.  We've had some lovely meals prepared for us and some wonderful meals for our freezer for days that I just can't put a meal on the table, and I'm so very thankful for them and my friends.  But I still look forward to having the energy, mental and physical, to plan and prepare it myself again.  I've saved some seriously yummy sounding recipes to my recipe box on Allrecipes and pinned some great sounding recipes to my Pinterest board too.  All I can say is that I hope my family has missed me in the kitchen too, because as soon as I get my sense of taste back, I'm ready to try a bunch of new recipes :-)  As I learned from my Oncologist today, my taste buds are going to take longer to recover than my energy. Awesome...... But on the plus side, when I can taste food again, I'll be raring to go!

Next week I begin what I consider to be Phase 2 and Phase 3 of my treatment plan.  I have my first appointment at radiology to get my radiation schedule set up and everything that goes with that.  I also begin my 40 weeks of Herceptin treatment.  So the "Hard Part" is almost behind me, and the finish line for that better not be a stinking mirage or somebody is going to get hurt.  I'm ready to tackle the next phases!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Crimson Pride

A long time ago, way back in the summer of 2009, I went with Justin to his University of Alabama New Student Orientation.  Living in NH, this required airplane travel and some activities to entertain myself.  I decided I needed some socks, socks that would be worthy of this important step in my son's life.  I found some yarn in what I thought could pass as his school color and cast on a pair of socks.  That little project bag would be easy to throw in my bag and I could carry it all over campus.  Everything that came in the mail for him that spring and summer was proudly marked "You Are UA" and so my socks were named.

Fast forward to the Spring of 2014 and it was time for my boy to graduate!  There are so many memories of his time at UA.  The friends he made, the fun he had, the tornado, instructors/professors who made him nuts and question what he was doing, and one's that inspired him and reaffirmed that what he was doing was about the coolest thing ever. There was living away from home and living with people who he didn't choose which required him to learn some new life skills.  There was also living with his friends and having the time of his life, which also required him to learn some new life skills :-)  No matter how I looked at it, this was a big deal and an important occasion. Again, attending graduation required air travel and entertainment for it.  You guessed it, Momma needed some new socks to mark this event!

There is a yarn store in Tuscaloosa called Serendipity Needleworks.  Justin went there just before Christmas vacation because I had heard that they had yarn dyed by Lorna's Laces in an exclusive color called Crimson Pride, which truly is the colors of UA.  I had been teasing him that I NEEDED some of this yarn, because, well..... I needed Game Day socks! LOL The very lovely ladies who work there helped him pick out just what I was hoping for.  I didn't have time to make those socks before the football season was over, but it gave me the perfect yarn to use for Graduation Socks.

Crimson Pride Socks.  I think the name says it all!

The pattern is Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder.  It's a free pattern and an easy pattern. It was as simple as a plain vanilla sock but the bit of texture added just enough interest that I didn't get bored. I did substitute my preferred slip-stitch heel flap flap.

And I substituted my preferred toe decrease rate too.  Not because I think it's better, but because I think I knit on auto-pilot, or maybe I should call it auto-knit :-)
I love these socks!  I love what they represent, I love that I knit them while I was traveling for this event, that they went all over town with me graduation weekend, that I knit on them in his apartment and at the Ski Lake.  I love these socks almost as much as I love my son.

Can I get a ROLL TIDE!!!