About Me

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We are Familia FIG. We are a bi- lingual, blended family. Belalu was diagnosed at 9 months with hypochondroplasia.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


The website, Make me babies, allows you to post a picture of yourself with someone else- including celebs- to see what a baby would look like between the two of you. Here's figlet:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Polar Express

The Monday before Christmas Julian and my parents took a ride on the Polar Express. It took them from Portland to the North Pole, and along the way they sipped hot chocolate, ate cookies, and listened to the story while looking at the Christmas lights out the window. When they got to the North Pole, Juian met Santa, who gave him a silver bell, just like in the story.
While he knew that it wasn't really Santa and the North Pole, he had a good time singing Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and proudly showed us his bell when we got home that night.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

You are witnessing the start of an obession

As I mentioned in my last post, I haven't done a lot of baby knitting for the figlet yet because it's xmas season and all that. And I have yet to post my fall knitting that aren't surprise gifts, but I do have something else to show today. It's my newest obsession. I've recently gotten into applique. I think I was inspired by adorable onesies for sale on Etsy, and thought, "I could so do that myself."

I have lots of cute ideas for adorable gender-neutral designs and so I can be busy creating all winter break! Here's the first one ever using some scrap yarn I had laying around. I sketched out an idea of what I wanted to do to get a visual, then made little templates for each shape from index cards, since I'm not working with a lot of fabric here. After cutting out the shapes in fabric with the templates and attaching them via fuseable interfacing to a onesie, I used a zig-zag stitch on my machine in a coordinating color to secure the pieces and to add some fun visual interest. I then added more detail, texture, and color by embroidering in leaf veins and the stem.

The whole thing took an evening and was so much fun to create. I can't wait to do more! The lighting is awful, but these days I'm not home much during daylight hours, so this is the best I could do for now.A pea pod for a sweet pea. :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving with lots of family, friends, and food. It is my favorite holiday, and though we couldn't spend it with the family this year, we did go over to our friends' house and have a great time. We also had another gathering of more people last night at another house, so I've been eating well the past few days.

It was an extra-special holiday this year, as will be Christmas, since it is the last year that we will be without our little figlet (on the outside, that is). Juan and I are expecting to meet him or her at the end of May, and of course are very excited. I've been restraining myself in terms of knitting, since there are lots of holiday gifts to finish as well as left-over projects from last winter's yarn that have been queued up for almost a year now. It is all non-washable wool, so I can't re-appropriate for baby items, but I will probably buy a new supply of baby-friendly yarn out East. Plus, I want to know first if I'm knitting for a girl or boy, though I know there are plenty of gender-neutral colors and patterns out there.

I just noticed that Knit Collective has come out with their Winter 2008 issue. This is an on-line magazine that's free to read the articles, and then you buy the individual patterns that you like from the designer herself. This issue had some adorable coats in it. I especially love Sylvi and Heroine. Kate Gilbert's Sweet Pea Coat is reminiscent of the Drops Eskimo jacket that I knit two of last year, one for Meredith and one for me, but it includes the added feature I wish the Eskimo Jacket had: pockets!

I plan on taking pictures of more recently knitted items this weekend, and will probably post them later today or tomorrow.

Monday, November 24, 2008

HUGE Fall Update Post

I know, I know. Things have been hectic and crazier than usual this semester as I diligently worked on my dissertation, taught full time, and tried to get in a good amount of exercising before winter hits and the work-out mojo goes down the tubes.

So, please forgive and thanks for still checking in and not giving up on my little place in cyberspace. Here are some of the highlights from the last few months.
First up, knitting. Juan's cousin over in Spain had a baby last month, and they got this little set for their endeavor:
The hat and coat patterns are from Debbie Bliss, Simply Baby, and are called the pompon beret and Matinee Coat, respectively. The pink yarn is Lily Chan Gramercy superwash wool, while the brown is di.Ve' Zenith, also superwash.The booties pattern can be found here and is addictive. You've been warned. Yarn is the same as above.

Our friends Kate and Eric just adopted their son from Ethiopia, and he got a striped sweater from Itty Bitty Nursery. And he looks adorable in it.
Mobi got eaten by a lobster on HalloweenNow, a Juan update. My husband got to spend a fun few days out in Long Beach, CA for a set of back-to-back conferences.Doesn't he look pleased with himself for scoring some free sunshine? I've mentioned in past years that the historical society here in Winona does a cemetery walk every fall. This year they honored WSU's sesquicentennial anniversary by featuring some folks from the university's past. Juan volunteered as a tour guide, so he led a group of us around to the different sites where the historical figures told us about their lives. Doesn't he look dapper in his "historical" outfit? One of the people telling us about his life.Here is my friend Shari and another lady as former WSU teachersIt was a gorgeous fall day

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Minnesota State Fair

Juan and I finally attended this 10-day long event that spans from the last weekend in August to Labor Day. This is the biggest state fair I have ever been to and some strange things were seen by all (And I don't mean just the people watching, though that was an education unto itself). Here are some of the highlights:

The first place we went was the Miracle of Life Tent, where pregnant animals could give birth at any moment. We didn't catch a live birth, but we saw some pretty new little animals.Mama and lambsBrand-new piglets. They were so new, their umbilical cord was still hanging from their little tummies. They are a couple hours old, and have to be in this contraption for a while so mom doesn't roll over and kill them all. Some actually fell asleep while nursing.

There were tons of people there, as you can see from the scene behind Juan. A big thing about the MN State Fair is all the unusual food you can find, much of which is on the end of a stick. The hot food items this year were chocolate dipped bacon and something involving pickle juice, though I never saw where one could obtain either. Not that I was searching too hard. Any hoo, he had to try a stick food, hence a corn dog. By the end of the day, though, he had graduated on to more serious fair food: an even bigger corn dog!I had a fabulous sparkling apple cider float with cinnamon ice cream, as well as vanilla John Deere ice cream made from those machines there.We also had cheese curds, which were amazingly tasty. I must have had something else, but I don't remember. I know I wanted roasted corn on the cob, but the line was too long and we were tired by then.

Another odd state fair tradition is the practice of carving the beauty contest winners' heads from a block of butter and then keeping them on display in a rotating cooler thing. Minnesotans are weird.

There were lots of the traditional state fair displays with perfect produce and such.
The pumpkin sign reads: "Do not dig your nails into it. It IS real."

We had a great time at the fair, and I hope to go back next year. They had an art tent, crafts, food, local yarn (I resisted!), tons of displays on any subject you can imagine, and the dog tent even had little puppies to pet, including a sleepy Boston Terrier. A couple of other late-summer activties we've been up to: I've been baking and cooking when I can. Here is a berry tart I made after a trip to the farmer's market last month:
And here's Juan with one of his most recent catches. He caught a bass the other day, too, that made for a really good dinner.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Busting the Stash

One of the many Internet knitting terms that is popular these days is "stash busting." In other words, using the yarn in your stash to make a project. You can either decide to use a yarn and then find a project for it (how I often work), or the more common method is wanting to knit something and then finding yarn in your collection that you can use. Many people have an appropriate angst about their stash, because they often compulsively buy yarn just because they like it, without any plan at the time for its use (ultimate consumer ill, in my opinion). Although I only buy yarn with a project in mind, I nevertheless have a small stash. Most of my stash is leftover yarn from projects or yarn people have given me.

When I saw this pattern in Interweave Knits, I realized I could use some black cotton that I had gotten free with a Rowan subscription. I had done the bottom part of both and the fingers of one side before realizing that they were going to be waaaaay too big for me. So, I had to frog it all and fiddle around with them until I figured out the right number of stitches to fit me. And I'm still not thrilled with the results, but I was sick of them at that point and decided that was enough time spent on them. They'll do for riding around in the vino in fall and spring, which was the intention anyway.Cute button detail.
I finally found a project for the mercerized cotton I've been playing with for three years now. It's been so many potential projects, but finally came to be a tank top, also from Interweave Knits.I modified the pattern a bit so that the lace panel is much smaller and therefore doesn't require something under it. I also knit the front and back smaller and then inserted a lace panel up both sides, which I think is cute. Here's a close-up of the lace insert on the side.I still have three skeins of this yarn left. I used up some of the leftovers from the tank and the gloves to make these booties. I had bought two sets of black buttons for the gloves, and used the other ones for these here.The booties are more like shoes in terms of size, and they are not for anyone in particular, I had just seen so many on Ravelry and loved the design, and had the extra yarn, so made them.My other stash-busting project featured here tonight is the sweater I had planned to bring to Latin America before I decided to bring something old, just in case.I bought the grey yarns, but the rest are from leftovers from gift projects. It's Helga from Rowan 36. I can't wait to be able to wear it. Wait, yes I can- there'll be plenty of winter for that!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


So, it all went well. It was a pretty packed room, but mostly students as Margaret had her whole class go and students from other classes came for extra credit, many of whom I knew. So I felt better with such a high student/adult ratio. Though then I was worried they were bored to tears. The recording turned out to only be audio, so the wardrobe issue was nil (I ended up wearing my green polo-style sweater, one of my first handknits- in case you were wondering). I guess the president had wanted to hear the talk and couldn't go, so I think she'll be the only one to hear it, which also made me feel better.

I later asked Juan if it was obvious that I was nervous, and he said it was, because I read straight from the paper, which is true. By the middle-end I completely forgot to look up, and the irony is, by then I wasn't nervous anymore! I think my knee was shaking a bit at first (of course I was wearing a skirt, and they had me stand at a podium), but I think in general it was fine. A few people came up and asked more questions, and one man asked me to send him a copy of it because it was so interesting.

Thank you to you all who wished me luck and sent positive vibes- it worked! I was surprised to have so many readers after being gone so long. I promise I'll be better about updating from now on.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


As it has been almost a month, I figure I'd better provide an explanation as to my absence. These past four weeks of classes have been intense. Not so much for the classes, since I only have two different topics between the four classes I'm teaching, and I've taught both before, but because of the other work I have on top of them.

First, there's a little matter of a dissertation. I've given myself the goal of "finishing" a chapter a month this semester, to use next semester to revise and hopefully defend by the end. (I'm ambitious, but at this point, the tunnel needs some light somewhere).

But in addition to the dissertation writing, I have also been working on a presentation I am giving tomorrow at school. It's on teachers from our university, back at the end of the 19th century, who went to Argentina to help start/develop Normal Schools there. It's at one in the afternoon, so this lecture series is not usually super packed, but people have been telling me all week that they saw in the paper that I'm speaking tomorrow (it's just a basic write-up with the topic, place, and time- they do it for each one of the series, but STILL, that means people might actually come to this thing!) And it's been a looooooooong time since I've spoken in public in this way- reading a paper I wrote. I've never been particularly bothered by speaking in public, especially if I have everything written out, but I've never done so in a "professor" capacity. Juan tells me I do it everyday, but I don't- I never read lectures to my classes, and anyway it's not to my peers. I'm not a historian, so I guess I'm a little more concerned about the post-talk questions and someone asking something that completely throws me for a loop.

Last night I dreamt that I got there 10 minutes before I was scheduled to speak and realized that I was missing some pages. So, I went back to my office to get them, and by the time I got back five minutes past the hour, everyone had left. So, all that hard work I've been putting in for the past month was all for naught. Needless to say, I didn't really sleep the rest of the night. THEN I get to my office this morning, and there's an email saying that the president of the university wants them to record my talk, but that it's up to me, and they won't if I don't want to. But, what non-tenured faculty is going to say no to the president's request? So, now I've really had to give some thought to what I'm going to wear, because it's going to be taped for all posterity.

If you happen to read this before 1 pm (central time) on Wednesday, send some positive thoughts my way. And if it's after, hope that I am finally going to get some decent sleep.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

We will now fly from Buenos Aires to Iguazu, Argentina. The national park of Iguazu Falls is located in the province of Misiones, in the northeastern part of Argentina, next to Brazil and Paraguay. When we got off the plane the heat and humidity immediately made you feel like you were stuck inside a wet blanket. So, I was happy.

As I did with Buenos Aires, I will start with the countryside and then do a separate post about the people we met there. If you want to know more about Iguazu Falls, you can read about them at Wikipedia, or your reference source of choice. They are so amazing because they are spread out and allow for lots of multiple, up-close views. They are much, much larger than Niagra Falls, incidentally. This is one of the first views of the first section. There is also a path on top of these falls that take you to its mouth, or "La boca del diablo." Here's what part of that looks like:
And here's a video, which captures the experience a little better:

The other section is equally awe-inspiring and gorgeous.Here I am with our fearless leaders, Jen and Steph. A volunteer firefighter from Missouri took the picture for us.After checking out the lower sections, we took a little boat to an island where we had lunch and cooled off a little bit. We then hiked up a long flight of stairs to get even more views from different angles before heading back to the main land and hiking the upper portion.In addition to the beautiful scenery, we got a glimpse of some fun fauna native to the area. We'll start with the bird, for my mom.There were also these guys, coatís, that are in the lemur family.

This little guy wanted me to share my lunch with him.

We also saw lots of funny little rodents of some sort, and a HUGE spider that was possibly deadly, according to some man standing near us. In the park also live jaguars and ocelots, though we obviously didn't see any.This is a beautiful park and totally do-able in a day. Lots of people do it one day and then the Brazilian side the next. Americans, however, need a $100 visa to get into Brazil, though I hear that you can possibly get out of it here, if you want to try to risk it.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Buenos Aires, The People

After a little delay, I am back to complete my Buenos Aires entry. As I mentioned, the most important part of my trip was the people. First, after two years, I finally got to meet in person my former secret knitting pal, Alejandra. She sweetly agreed to help me on my quest to locate some of the most important places for the writers I’m working with, and took me to la Recoleta (the cemetery I posted about previously). One of the places that was especially difficult to find was the former home of Victoria Ocampo. Situated amongst large thoroughfares and tiny cul-de-sacs, it took us a few spins around the block to locate its exact position. When Ocampo had it built in the modernist style in the 1930s, she scandalized the very well-to-do, traditional neighborhood, and people would walk by just to point and gawk at its “ugliness.” We wandered inside and found it to be a cultural center and bookstore. After a few different owners, some things had changed, but the general layout remained fairly intact. It was a luminous and spacious home, with simple lines and lots of white (which was how Ocampo had preferred it to be).The next day we met up with Gaby, another blogger friend, and drove out to San Isidro, a gorgeous neighborhood on the water that was once considered to be well outside the city. This is where Ocampo’s grandfather had built their family vacation home, in a style much more in keeping with that of the day. Too bad I didn't get a clear shot of it. After touring the home and grounds, we had coffee on the terrace. And, of course, did a bit of knitting.
It was so great to finally meet Alejandra and Gaby, and to spend a couple of lovely days with them. In addition to all her help with my project, Alejandra gave me a book that wonderfully fit in with my travels, Atlas, by Jorge Luis Borges and his wife María Kodama. He accompanied her photographs with thoughts inspired by his travels. Gaby also gave me some wonderful presents that I have not had a chance to take a picture of yet, but I’ll describe them: two skeins of the most gorgeous raspberry bulky yarn, two sets of leather buttons in teal and raspberry, and a shawl pin in the same color. I also got some delicacies of the best combination ever: chocolate and dulce de leche. Once again, I cannot thank either enough for everything, and I look forward to our next reunion, wherever that may be.

Our guide, Jen, had spent a summer teaching in Buenos Aires, and organized a reunion with some of her former English students and our group, so they could all practice the language they were studying. We met up in the hip part of town, Palermo Hollywood, as it is informally called nowadays for all the movie filmings and starlets that frequent the bars and restaurants. We also met up with Gabriella, another friend of Jen, who took us to eat at a very local, very neighborhood club, where the food is cheap and plentiful (and deliciously out of this world). I ordered my favorite BsAs dish, homemade pasta, and also got to play with the sifón for a while.
One of our last days in Buenos Aires was spent in an extremely poor neighborhood far from the center. Working with the volunteer organization L.I.F.E., we organized a birthday party for all the kids in the neighborhood that had a birthday in May.Although the students were a bit shy at first, the exuberance and friendliness of the kids was contagious, and soon everyone was either playing with balloons, at soccer, or hide-and-go-seek.

The party was held in a building that served at once as church, training center, and meeting place to help train or rehabilitate those who needed the help. It was also the home of Jenny, the woman to the left, who was in charge of most of the programs held there.That huge empty building in the back was once a state hospital that now serves as home to countless families and individuals.The kids loved our cameras, and begged us to let them take pictures of each other.

Although we were only there for less than a week, I think the students were able to get a sense of the complexities that such a large city naturally contains. They saw the tourist sights, spent a few days living with families, and saw a part of the city that even many of its inhabitants have never seen. Many later said that afternoon with the children remained one of the most memorable days of the trip for them.