Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sadie Legwarmers

I recently made a little pair of legwarmers for Sadie. They are based on this pattern from Ravelry. They are a bit big right now, but she'll obviously grow into them eventually.  Here is what they look like on:

So, as you can see, they are a little loose.

Every time I knit something, I try to incorporate a new technique. These are basically just a circular tube, which is pretty easy, but I used this knitting in elastic for the first time on the ribbing. I think the idea was to make it so they would stay on better, but I'm not really sure how much good it did, or if I was even using it correctly. I'm entirely self-taught (or maybe book and Internet taught would be a better way of saying it) so I'm never totally sure I'm doing things right. Plus the only bind-off I know how to do is not stretchy at all. I put that part on the bottom, so they would be less likely to come off of her feet, but she moves around so much that they slid off eventually anyway.

She is still pretty small, so I think when she's bigger they might work a little better. I have also heard you can make these from adult knee socks, so I may try that next, and I also have some cool self striping yarn that I plan to use to make some legwarmers for her of my own design.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Early Christmas Celebration

We are visiting my grandparents in Montana after Christmas this year, but they didn't want to load us down with things to take back, so they sent our presents here early with instructions to "open now." Instead of just sitting down and unceremoniously open some presents, we decided to make a day of it (evening, really).

We started out by going to the "Weihnachtsmarkt." This is a Christmas market that is very popular in many European cities. They have booths that sell Christmas articles and also foods and drinks. It's crowded, but pretty fun. These are pictures I took of the market on a different day, when it was lighter out:

The building in the background is the Aachen Cathedral

We got some "backfisch," fish that has been battered and fried. Very tasty! We also got some hot drinks. There are a variety of tasty libations at the Weihnachtsmarkt. Hunter's drink of choice is gluhwein, basically mulled wine. I think it's ok, but I've liked a few of the other drinks I tried better. Eierpunsch is what I've gotten the last few times, but I've also enjoyed the Jagertee, tea with rum. The drinks are generally served in these little decorated boots:

You pay a deposit for the boot which you can get back, but we've kept several as souvenirs and might find a place in the apartment to display them. There are several different colors and designs, depending on which booth you go to. There are a few other specialty foods and drinks that we didn't have time to get, because by the time we ate our fish, Sadie seemed ready to get home.

Sadie doesn't have even remotely the motor skills to grab onto a present, so we just opened them for her. It was still a lot of fun!

She can't really play in the paper, but I thought it would be cute to pose her.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Best Books I Read This Year

If you know me, you know I'm big into reading. This year, my goal was to read 100 books, and I've completed 92 so far, not including picture books. I'm pretty much on track to complete my goal, although since the last week of the year will be spent with family in America, we'll see how it goes. I do have that international flight, though, which should be good for at least a book or two. This list includes books I read this year, not necessarily published this year. With each book I have included a link to my Goodreads review, in addition to whatever brief annotations I have included here. I don't have any kind of Amazon affiliate account, so if you see something perfect for a gift, just buy it from your e-tailer or retailer of choice.

I had originally planned to either choose some arbitrary number, or do categories like "best children's," "best mystery," or whatever but I changed my mind. Instead I'm just looking through the list of what I read this year and picking the ones that were really, really amazing. As of the moment I'm typing this, I don't know how many there will be, although my ballpark would be between 8-12. These are books that I think are well-written, interesting, and/or stuck with me in some way. I read many books I enjoyed, but these are the very very best.

And now, the list!

Night Film by Marisha Pessl.
There is a set of people I've encountered who are under the delusion that the only books published these days are crap. I wouldn't hand this book to every one of those people, but I certainly think it provides good evidence to the contrary.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Stephen King gets a bad rap because his books are popular and he's written a lot of them. Not all of them are amazing, but this one is what I would give to someone who dismisses him as "just" a pop author.

The Secret Life of Pronouns by James W. Pennebaker
This one probably has a pretty narrow audience, but if you love words and linguistics this book is fascinating and easy to understand.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein
This is a kid's book, but if you are an adult who loves children's books you would probably enjoy it. Perfect for the kid who loves books.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
This is the first in a trilogy, and it is by far the best one. Very action-packed, can't-put-it-down. Great gift for a pre-teen or teen boy.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
John Green is one of my favorite authors ever. This is probably the only book on the list I would recommend to every person I know.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Another from one of my favorite authors. I take back what I said about TFiOS; I would also recommend this one to everybody I know.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
My current answer to the question, "What is your favorite book of all time?" I read this doorstopper for the third time this year and plan to read it again next year.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
I'd been hearing about this book for so long and was not at all disappointed. This might be the most "literary" of the books on this list and is probably the oldest. For fans of dark, academic intrigue.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russel
This was another re-read; we read it for my church's book club. It's a very powerful book blending sci-fi and religion.

Honorable Mention for WORST BOOK
Thank God for Evolution by Michael Dowd
I can't even go into all of the things that were wrong with this book. If you don't want to read my full review, I'll sum it up by saying the only "pastor" the author's atheist wife could get into was Joel Osteen. WHAT.

Well, I ended up with a round ten books. If you want to see ALL of the books I read this year, you can click here. And if you want to see all of the books I have read and reviewed in the past few years, plus all of the books I want to read, you can click here.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hunter's Hat

When it started getting cold here, Hunter told me he wanted a hat, so I set out to make him one. The pattern I used is this one from Ravelry. Here are some pictures of how it turned out:

If you compare the hat I made to the one in the picture I linked to, you will notice that mine has sort of a "brim" at the bottom. I have basically no idea how that happened, because I was pretty sure I was following the pattern exactly but somehow I reversed something because it's basically "inside-out" there. But we still liked how it looked, so no biggie.

There is another minor flaw that I don't think you can see in either of these pictures. If you are a knitter, you know that if a pattern is worked in the round, the instructions will say something like, "join to work in the round, being careful not to twist." Well, I twisted. So there is a small indentation around the edge where I twisted it back to where it was supposed to be. That isn't what caused the problem with the brim, though, because it looked like that both before and after the twist.

Anyway, this hat knit up pretty quickly but is still an interesting pattern and really easy. All you need to know how to do is knit, purl, and knit in the round.

Also, here are some pictures of Sadie.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

My Surgery

Well, I'm home from surgery! This was the first time I'd ever had an operation, so I have no idea how things go in the US. Here's how they go in Germany.

When I got to the hospital, they showed us to our room. After having separation anxiety from Hunter when I was in the hospital when Sadie was born, I had asked if we could have a family room this time, so that Sadie and Hunter could both stay with me. It's I think 45 Euros per night, and you definitely couldn't get a comparable hotel room for that price. We had a balcony and a fridge, which both went mostly unused. They also brought in a changing table and crib from the nursery, so we were all set. I had to put on anti-thrombosis stockings, which was the first part of a trend of them making absolutely sure I didn't get thrombosis.

Eventually, the nurses came and wheeled me down to the surgery area. They put in the IV, and the doctor said that it would feel like I had just drank a really large beer, which was pretty accurate. Then the next thing I know, he was waking me up and telling me the surgery was over. I was in a little room for a few minutes, I guess just to kind of wake up and get my bearings back, and then they took me back up to my room with Hunter and Sadie.

I was really hungry at this point. It was about 4:30 in the afternoon I think, and I hadn't eaten anything since midnight the night before. Eventually they let me eat. The meals were essentially the same as when I was in the hospital before, except instead of being a buffet you had to choose what you wanted beforehand. I guess this might be a good time to comment on one difference I've noticed in the way the medical system works. In America, the nurses do most of the actual care it seems like, whereas in Germany the doctors do ultrasounds, draw blood, all of that. The nurses are at least partially like waitresses. They would bring me the food and check on me every so often, maybe take my blood pressure but I think the system is a bit different from how it is in America.

Really my stay in the hospital was pretty uneventful. I found out the day after my surgery that they had removed the cyst and were able to leave the ovary intact. I got to see a picture they took when the camera was inside me, which was pretty cool. Obviously the food in the hospital was not so good, but I knew that going in. On Thursday, I was still pretty sore and didn't think I'd be able to keep getting up and down to take care of Sadie. So one of our friends was able to watch her for the day. He usually is a nanny for another child, but that child was out of town this week. Hunter and I were so grateful that Sadie could stay in the apartment and he didn't have to take her on the bus or train to work. Friday, I felt well enough for Sadie to stay with me, plus I had missed her so much on Thursday! I hadn't been away from her for that long yet.

One thing I thought was weird was that every night I was in the hospital, the nurses gave me these anti-thrombosis injections. I mean I guess I was mostly lying in bed, but I still thought it was kind of overkill. I do like how here, they put a lot of emphasis on prevention. For example, the ultrasound that revealed the cyst. I had never had an internal ultrasound like that in America, and here it just seems to be a part of the routine examination. I can't imagine how big it would have been if I had to wait until I started feeling discomfort. I also noticed this at one of Sadie's appointments last week. We had to see an... orthopaedie... is this orthopedist in English? I'm not sure. Anyway, he had to do this hip ultrasound, to test for dysplasia. All of our relatives in America thought this was really weird and were afraid something was wrong. But the doctor explained to me that it is something that in America is only done if the child is at risk; here they test everyone. He said that it affects three percent of people, and it's much better to treat it if it is detected early. The test was an ultrasound that took probably five minutes; it just seems stupid not to do it. Of course in America it's probably very expensive; here the insurance completely covers it.

Anyway, the hospital wasn't that scary and I go in to my doctor on Wednesday to have the stitches removed. The camera went in through my belly-button and there is still a huge gauze and plaster over it, so I kinda wonder if it will look weird when they take it off? But really I'm just glad the surgery was successful and I'm back at home with my awesome baby and my new mattress!