Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ups and Downs

Lately I feel like life has been wearing me around like an old tennis shoe. There seems to be a rather endless series of ups and downs in most areas of my world with the downs coming out slightly ahead. Here's a few examples:

1. Knitting.

Up: The cooler fall air has sparked the return of my knitting mojo and a strong desire to festoon everyone in the family with bright, warm woolies.

Down: This positive energy seems to only apply to everything that is not my current project. Yes, I am still working on the Sirdar sweater. But it has fallen into that black pit of never ending ribbing that seems to never get any longer no matter how much I work on it. I spend most of my knitting time plugging away while day dreaming about all the pretties that I want to make as soon as the current sentence is over.

2. Kids.

Up: Eldest seems to be really enjoying her new classroom this year. She has a good teacher that is the right combination of fun and strict. She is actually getting her work done without complaint and appears to be doing well. Every day after school she is bubbling over with things she wants to share and no longer complains about how "boring" school is.

Down: This morning, over breakfast (delicious freshly made cranberry oatmeal), she informed me that all I care about is my yarn stash. This was declared while I was making her lunch out of last night's meatloaf (one of her favorites), fresh fruit and one of her favorite treats. It is also worth noting that she was wearing a handknit sweater and was deciding whether or not to wear one of the hats I knit for her last winter. Sigh..the rewards of being a parent....

3. Pets.

Up: Tango's leg seems to finally be working properly in spite of a few accidents during the healing process (little bugger actually rolled off the bed and fell on his hip). He is energetic and happy and seems none the worse for wear despite his summer-long ordeal.

Down: Mr. Cat has been sick again. This time we got him to the vet in the early stages, before he got really deathly ill. But the prognosis is not good. He is elderly and has been sick several times in the last year or two. The vet confirmed that he is in the beginning stages of renal failure. Basically he will keep getting sick and need medical intervention to recover. Each time he gets sick we will have to re-evalute what his chances are of recovery and how much we are willing to put him through. Right now he is responding well to antibiotics but he is so skinny that we are despairing of him getting well enough to get through the next round easily. Poor guy. We want him to be around as possible for as long as we can but we don't want him to suffer needlessly. Its a tough time for everyone.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Tale of Two Orthodontists

I managed to get Youngest in to see a second Orthodonist this week. I fully expected it to be a redundant waste of time but I couldn't just accept the first one's plan of action involving many $$ and two phases of braces without at least hearing another informed opinion. Here's a breakdown of our two experiences:

Orthodontist A:

As recommended by the regular dentist. When we arrived at our appt. we were amazed by the luxurious appearance of the office: granite walls, splashy art, video game terminals and...wait for it..a freakin' fountain! Everyone was polite, well healed and friendly. We were ushered into a little exam room after filling out the routine "new patient" forms and met the Orthodonist. He seemed a bit young and "fresh" out of university but looks can be deceiving. He spent approx. 6 or 7 minutes looking in Youngest's mouth without really saying a whole lot to her. He pointed out a few things to me that I had not noticed before and then pronounced that an immediate course of braces (the infamous "phase 1") so that she would not have to have a bunch of teeth pulled out to make room. He spoke a bit of professional code to his assistant, shook my hand and left the room. The assistant, a middle-aged "salesman" type woman, typed a bunch of stuff in her computer, printed it out and then told me about the cost and their payment options. She made it clear that "phase 2" (in a couple of years) would cost just as much as "phase 1" and was unavoidable. She then escorted us to the reception (I was somewhat stunned at this point) to make a series of appointments to start the work. I was reeling when we left and upset at myself for not asking more questions about the procedures. I felt scared and rushed to make decisions right away. Its also interesting to note that Youngest was pretty much completely ignored by everyone except when they were looking at her teeth.

Orthodontist B:

We picked this one out of the phonebook because they are geographically closest to us. The office was clean and neat but not nearly so luxurious as the first one. There was only a receptionist, an assistant, and the doctor in evidence. There were many degrees and awards on the walls and brochures telling you all about the Orthodontist himself. There were also pictures of his family, with three kids similar in age to mine. We filled out the new patient forms and were escorted into the exam area which is a huge open space with a wall of floor to ceiling windows. The doctor was very friendly to Youngest and made her laugh a lot. He fully examined her mouth, took a full series of photos and even did x-rays. He talked to me about different options available and what was involved with each. At no point did he suggest braces but rather went with the palate expander route. He recommended that we remove one baby tooth to make it easier to re-align her bite (the other Ortho never mentioned that her bite was off center on the bottom), fit her with the expanders and then use a retainer after that. He even suggested that we may be able to avoid braces entirely if we can move things around in her mouth enough! When I asked about cost he wrote a bunch of notes, walked with us back to the reception area and stayed while the quote was typed up. Final verdict: half the $$ compared with the other guys. We chatted a bit more with him and the receptionist (who is also an assistant) before we finally left. We ended up being there almost an hour, during which we learned a lot about orthodontic procedures, Orthodontists who overcharge to finance fancy offices, and that this doctor's kids go to the same school as mine do, lol. I asked Youngest on the way out how she felt and she said to me: "Oh mommy..this was so much better! I love this place so much more than the other one".

Guess which place we ended up booking with.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Moving Right Along

On Friday I finished up the Lorna's socks for me:

They fit like they were made for me, hahaha. Feeling in a red kind of mood I cast on this:

It's not much to look at yet but hopefully it will turn itself into a pretty red (the actual color is more blood-red heather) empire-waist tunic. I am working off a Sirdar pattern but modifying it to be done in the round with a picot hem. So far so good but I am a bit concerned about having enough yarn. This is one that I've had in my stash for so many years that I've actually forgotten where I got it from, lol, and I'm not even sure if it is discontinued or not. According to the pattern I should only need 10 balls and I have 12 so, even with my changes, I should have ample. I just can't shake that feeling know the knitterly equivalent of the "spidey sense" tingling. I guess only time will tell. That and a lot of marathon knitting until I reach the point where there will be no doubt one way or the other...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Brace Yourself

The girls are finally back at school full time and things are getting back to a regular schedule around here. Now that summer is done we are catching up on all the not so fun chores that we put off in favor of relaxing and enjoying the sun. One of those chores was taking Youngest to the Orthodontist.

She is only 8 but has pretty bad crowding so the regular dentist said that perhaps she would need a spreader to help her jaw grow a bit while her adult teeth are coming in. No biggie, I thought. Shouldn't be too costly, I thought. She'll only need it for 5-6 months, I thought. Ha. The Ortho took one look at her and layed out a plan of action that will involve braces (cheerily dubbed "Stage 1") and lots of $$ laid out over the next 18 months. After that they will re-assess her mouth (which should be gold-plated by this point, lol) and decide when to start the next round of braces ("Stage 2"..also taking many months and many $$). Needless to say I was reeling in shock by the time the nice lady was laying out all the payment options they offer.

Of course we were expecting braces at some point, having two little girls and all, but not for a few more years. Eldest's mouth is coming along nicely and she won't need any hardware for at least 2-3 more years. We foolishly expected Youngest to follow somewhat of the same path. Of course we want to do the right thing but we also want to choose wisely rather than just throw lots of money at her teeth and hope for the best. So we are going to get a 2nd opinion next week and then make the decisions after that. I'm really hoping that the next Orthodontist has a plan that is a little less drastic and will involve only one "Stage". Paying for braces for the next 6 years is not my idea of a good time.

In the meantime, preparing for the worse, we are trimming as many expenses as we can. Our worst frittering of cash is eating out at nice restaurants so we will have to bite the bullet and have more meals at home. I will also be pretty much stopping all yarn shopping for the foreseeable future. Sigh. Good thing I have ... hmmm ....several years worth of projects lurking in my craft room. Too bad I don't have a gourmet chef and an unending pantry down there too, lol. Seriously though I am worried about money being tight but I know that we can pull the spending reins quite hard when we have to.

P.S. my latest socks (at the top) are Lorna's Laces in "Irving Park" for me, me, me!

Monday, September 6, 2010

FO: Flamenca

Well, she's all finished:

Details on Ravelry here. What can I say? The sweater is pretty and unique but the pattern was not very clear in the instructions at critical points and it almost killed me. I had envisioned the project being a fun, happy little jaunt lasting no time at all. Instead I got a frustrating slog that I forced myself to finish just so that I didn't have to look at it any more. I actually asked a bunch of other knitters on Ravelry for help because I just couldn't get it. Fortunately I got a few responses that were quite helpful otherwise this would be sitting in a bag somewhere, never to be seen in the light of day again.

Moving right along....I will not be doing anything with "unique" construction for a while! Nope, nothing but plain, simple sweaters for me..and maybe a few socks to put me back in a happy frame of mind, lol.