Sunday, January 06, 2013

Happy New Year!

Eeep! Don't look now, but I believe we're well into 2013 already. Do you ever get a weird nostalgia for the things that will never be again - like writing "2012" when you write out checks? (Or maybe, check writing altogether?!).

The holidays were quite lovely: I spent more than half a week with my family in Eau Claire playing with/holding kids and puppies and catching up with everyone (and knitting a hat for Jody!). I also stayed one day with my college roommie Joce and her family, met up with my Aunt Dar & Uncle Dean, and with high school friend Shane, his wife Jana and Shane's parents. Once I got back to Appleton my step-family all came to me! (Step-family is a rotten word... so don't be misled - they're wonderful!). Amy and her husband, kids, mom and granddaughter all got together - and six of them stayed with me! We had a great time, making food, catching up, going on a sleigh ride, and generally enjoying each other. They left on Sunday morning, at which point I joined up with 8 other folks for a downhill ski trip at Ski Brule in UP Michigan. It's funny - we had more snow here than we did up there, but we got 2 nice days of downhill in, and generally had a great time. Nice way to kick the new year off!

I don't know that I'm doing New Year's resolutions per se... I don't know that they 're new anyway, but my main goals at the moment are: 1) get out skiing while the snow is good! Goal is 2-3 times/week. I think I may log my skiing out here, more for my fun than anyone else's (sorry about that). And 2) pack my lunch more! I did this faithfully for maybe 6 months at one point, but really fell off the wagon over this past year. It's cheaper and better nutritionally.

I also started off the new year with a new endeavor: tutoring English! I went through a training course with Fox Valley Literacy Council in November, and met with my "peoples" for the first time last Wednesday. It's a couple in their late 70s/early 80s that wish to learn English to work toward their citizenship. To be honest, I was a bit dismayed with the assignment when I first learned of their ages - I was thinking of helping someone maybe get a better job or something. On having met them, however, I really am excited. The wife in particular worked hard to have me understand that she expects homework each week and will work very hard on her lessons. She gripped my hand with both of hers when I met her, and when I left she hugged me and walked me through both doors on the way out. Their English is challenging to understand, so I think we'll have a lot of fun getting to know each other. It's funny to think about going back to the whole lesson planning thing after so many years out of teaching!


So - I've been knitting a lot lately - sometime in September I got the inspiration to knit little animals for three of my nieces for Christmas, and I haven't really looked back!

First I did a bunny. The pattern called for white yarn, but I just couldn't seen that being practical for a 2-year-old who will actually PLAY with it! So a brown bunny it was! It still got pink ears and a cream-colored tail. [More pics & details on Ravelry]

And then it was on to a hippo! This was made of a super-stretch wool. I watched a tense movie while I was knitting the second foot, and it turned out MUCH smaller than the first leg. I re-did it, but I did have to laugh at myself. [More pics & details on Ravelry]

Last but not least were a Mama and Baby Koala. Great fun! They had spiky black claws in the pattern, as well as velcro to enable the arms to attach around each other, but I couldn't seen the velcro staying good for long - and I thought it would ravel the yarn itself eventually. So I made the arms extra long so they could be tied around each other - perfect! [More pics & details on Ravelry]

And then... I thought I should knit some hats. I had the idea of doing one for a Secret Santa exchange I was doing for work, and started making the hat only to realize it was INCREDIBLY detailed and time intensive. So I gave it to my friend Christy instead. When I found that hat pattern, I also ran across the perfect hat pattern for my musical sister, Jody. So I made her a piano hat! That one was an adventure - that pattern required learning stranded knitting - knitting with two colors at the same time. Very fun and a challenge to learn! I was going to give it to her for her birthday in mid-January, but finished it by Christmas and couldn't wait any longer to give it to her! She liked it - hooray!! [More pics & details on Ravelry]