Monday, January 20, 2014

Those Weeks You Just Have To Laugh About

Yes, last week was just one of those weeks you just have to laugh about... or you might lose your mind.  

Monday:
It was "back to school" week after the holidays, so it already promised to be a little more of a struggle which was to be expected.  As expected my kids did have a hard time focusing on doing their work.  It is just hard to get back in the groove after several weeks off.  Temperatures dropped outdoors severely for our area and being that a huge part of our home is on blocks an only a small portion is on a slab that means when the temp drops we have to drain our pipes.  That is fine... we just made sure we had several pitchers of water ready for emergencies and went with it.  That, of course, means that showers and baths have to well planned or even skipped.  Skipping one is not too bad because when it is freezing cold no one is sweating and no one is getting dirty from playing outside either. 

The water stayed frozen until close to noon.  Wow!  Not the best thing.  No way to wash dishes or laundry.  That is okay.  I had laundry caught up pretty well and decided to just wait it out a few days to do more rather than stress about that.  Dishes could be done when we did have water during the warmer part of the day.  No big deal.  

My husband went to work on Monday feeling normal and came home feeling "not so good". 


Caden is excited about the ice he found!  Brrrrr cold!!!

Tuesday:
Water pipes drained for the freeze, again.   

The dishwasher quit working a few days before and we scheduled someone to come look at that for repairs.  This was our special splurge dishwasher.  It is a KitchenAid and our feeling is that with our large family we might not splurge on many things but this was something we wanted to get the best we could get.  Apparently, the best is not truly that great either and $900 later we probably should have just planned to buy a cheap one and have it replaced more often... or ditch the dishwasher completely.  So, at least, we bought the warranty plan. Anyway, we scheduled for the service technician to come out.  It really had not been working since before Thanksgiving well, so we were getting used to handwashing dishes.  No big deal.  He called that morning to confirm the appointment.  He would arrive shortly, we hung up the phone, then, I realized my water was off.  When he arrived I told him I was sorry that I had forgotten the water was off due to the freeze and he scheduled to come back that afternoon.  

My husband came home about and hour early around 4:PM which was not normal since it was the first day back to school for students.  He was a officially "not feeling good" and wanted to go to bed like right then.  My husband never sleeps... so this is a huge red flag that all is not well.

The dishwasher repairman came back, found the problem, ordered the parts, and planned to come back in one week.   


Sienna is enjoying the cold all bundled up in many layers.  Brrrr...

Meanwhile, throughout the day I noticed it was really cold in the house.  Of course, with temps in the teens you kind of expect that, right?  I turned the heat up and that seemed to do the trick to make us feel warmer.  After the dishwasher repairman left my husband crawled in bed.  I washed dishes, cooked dinner, and the usual stuff.  At some point after all that I walked into my little kids room and it was pretty cold.  Uh-oh, I knew instantly that something was not right.  The heat was blowing non-stop so this should mean that the room would be warm.  No, the AIR was blowing non-stop, but that AIR was not warm at all.  It was rather cool and the temp on the end of the house was around 60 degrees.  I stood on a chair and felt the air coming out of the vent to confirm my suspicions.  Not good.  Not good at all.  I immediately knew I had to turn that off and block off that end of the house.  Fortunately, we have two units so if you know what to do you can make due with the circumstances you have.  I grew up with relatives that always blocked off parts of their house so they could afford their bills.  I know that hanging quilts or blankets will do the trick.  I had to wake my husband to help me hang the quilts because it is just too heavy for me to do easily while trying to nail them up.  Also, the unit did not kick off like it should have so he had to go out to the breaker to switch off the breaker.  


Thankful raggedy old quilts that can still serve a purpose.  The top one was a store bought quilt I got at a yard sale many years ago for $10 that I have patched in the past and is in dire need of re-patching.  The bottom is a quilt my husband found on the side of the road that someone had lost.  It has served many useful years here.  The back has a sunset beach scenery on it while the other front of the quilt is a patchwork design of beautiful little triangles. Many people would have not have brought that quilt home but we just washed it and it has been a treasure here.  I often wonder about who might have lost this precious treasure and I wish they, at least, knew that it has been well loved.

Wednesday:
By this point my husband was simple "out of commission"... he was curled up in the bed in the fetal position most of the day.  The original plan for this day was that my oldest had a dental appointment early, so I had planned to take everyone to that appointment.  Instead, I decided that just the two of us would go and that would be so much better than getting everyone out in the freezing weather.  When I left everyone was up having a simple breakfast of cereal in the interest of making it easy.  All was well.  Three hours later I returned to my sick husband sitting in the recliner, my toddler saying, "I hungry." as she decided to try to solve this problem herself since Daddy clearly was not hearing her and it was just past lunch time.  I asked him if he had taken her potty to which he said he had not as she spilled an entire bag of cereal in the floor.  As I went to sweep up that huge mess she peed all over herself since I guess she heard me ask the potty question which apparently triggered her bladder to respond.  I called out for my husband to help her since I was cleaning up the floor... to which he did not move for few minutes.  In total frustration I told him how I knew he was sick but I had this same thing a couple weeks before and you still have to carry on and function to some degree.  While I feel bad for anyone that is sick there are some things that simple must still be done.  Fifteen minutes later I am cleaning up messes (the spill and the pee) and she is still begging for a snack even though I told him to make it simple and give her the peaches out of the refrigerator.  Sigh. 

Thursday:
I get up to find puddles of liquid around the stand up freezer.  Things are thawing out.  Not good.  Not good at all.  We realized the breaker to the heat must also be the breaker to the freezer, so we had to turn it back on.  Which meant that the freezer could work, but it also meant that we had cold air blowing through the house.  Not good.  But, at least, it was the day the repairman was coming for that.  And it was a warmer day, so as it became warmer outside I opened the doors and on both ends of the house and pulled back the quilts hoping the airflow through the house might warm it some.  That worked for a little while.  Then, the temp outside starting dropping a little.  But the repairman came and showed us another small breaker box under the heating unit that switched the unit off, as well.  He also surveyed the issue and said he would check to see if he could get the parts (since our unit is pretty old... ugh... ).  Fortunately, he was able to get the part and he ordered it.  That will be about $314.  Yeah, for after-holiday repairs needing to be done.  :(    But for real... yippee for not having to replace the unit, ... yet.  

I think this is the day we also realized we had a big rabbit problem... their pipes had frozen and since all their cages were covered with tarps no one noticed this when they checked on the rabbits.  Each day my older two girls were going out to break up the ice in the water for all the animals.  All of our animals are set up with feed containers that will last about 3 days, so there was no need to raise the tarps.  The water is a 5 gallon bucket that is suspended in the air hanging from a tree branch and it is piped into all the rabbit cages (10) and each cage has nipplers for the rabbits to drink from.  The pipes burst.  And either by dehydration or wetness from the pipes we had a dead rabbit, also.  Not good.  Miracle our miracle rabbit that was from our first litter of babies was the one that died.  She had a rough little life, but was the sweetest rabbit.  It was a sad moment.  She was dropped twice as a newborn and never fully recovered the damage.  She was blind and deaf and was prone to ear mites for some reason.  She could not birth babies due to her mental abilities... ummmm... no details, but she could not see to know what she was doing when cleaning her babies, so it did not end well, so we were not able to use her as a breeder rabbit.  Basically, we kept her strictly as a pet out of mercy.    


Sierra is somewhat bundled up... with no jacket... these kids!!!  Honestly, they would try to go barefoot and naked if they could get away with it even when it is freezing outside.  Brrr.....

Thursday night (I think) the phone rings with some weird recording from Sears about rescheduling our repair service.  I only heard part of that message, so I was not sure what the recording said.  Sigh.  I miss the days of real people on the other end of the phone.  

Husband goes to Minor Care, gets tested for flu and strep (negative), but gets Tamiflu as a precaution since people have been dying in our area from flu.  He is still really sick which continues the whole weekend.  

Long story short (maybe... and I can't remember days anymore... ha!):
Monday comes and the dishwasher repairmen does not arrive on time... in fact, not at all.  Apparently, I missed something on that recording.  I called and was told there was another part coming and it is now schedule for repair for the 20th.  Parts have all arrived here.  Yippee!  There is hope.  

The heater repairmen came back with the part he had ordered, needed another part, got it, installed it, and left.  Two hours later.  No heat.  Not AIR blowing at all.  Called them back.  He came back.  Found the issue and we have heat!!!  Yippee!  

Husband improves some, goes to work on Monday out of necessity.  Returns well enough to, at least, take the two to basketball practice that need to go.  

These are the weeks you really have to laugh about to maintain sanity, right?...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Learning Numbers with Puzzles And Trash

This is not a "how to homeschool blog" (trust me when I say I am not the one to go to for that... ha!), but I thought I would share a little quick project I did this week to help my daughter learn her numbers.  

You see a lot of those little popsicle stick puzzles that you can make by laying a bunch of popsicle sticks (craft sticks) down side by side and gluing a picture down to the top.  After you dry you cut it apart and you number 1-10 along one end of the popsicles sticks.  When the child puts the numbers in order they will have the puzzle picture put together.  That one is great, but I wanted to do it slightly different and without the popsicle sticks even though I have those on hand.  

First, I dug around in my paper recycling trash can and found a couple of things that had large pictures that I liked.  I thought a little kid my like a sandwich picture and the picture from a Lucky Charms box.

When Sahara saw her completed puzzles she said, "A hambugger!"  And, of course, she liked the cereal one.  I gasp at the thought that my kids eat that toxic stuff, but my husband likes to buy them "fun" cereal.  We kind of meet in the middle on that little issue.  I don't buy it on a regular basis, but will buy it on sale or as a special treat.  I am totally not keeping the cabinets stocked with it.  But it makes a fun puzzle picture!

In the pic above you can see that I used a glue stick to glue the sandwich picture to a piece of cardstock paper and left a small edge along the bottom to write the numbers.  

For the Lucky Charms one it was already cardboard so I did not back it with anything.  I simply cut it in the size square that I wanted, added little stickers across the bottom, numbered those, and cut it in different patterns.  Look closely at the numbers 8 and 9 that I cut straight.  I actually recommend not doing that.  They could easily mix those two numbers up and the picture still looks mostly "right" to them.  So, zig zag them and do the curveys.

 For the sub sandwich one ... or "hambugger" as Sahara calls it... you will cut the picture down to the size you want, use a marker to write numbers along the bottom, and again cut in random patterns to make your puzzle pieces.  

The idea is to focus not on putting the picture together, but to focus on putting the numbers in order and then, seeing what the picture reveals.  Have fun turning a little trash into a little learning treasure.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

The New Van for Our Crew


I almost forgot to post the picture of the van.  It has been a craZy week here.  So, this is the new ride my little crew will be riding around in for the next 10 years or hopefully more.  Hopefully, it will carry us through many years, miles, and memories with our little family.  The weather has been bad and my husband has been sick since a couple of days after we got the van so we have not gone anywhere in it.  I made two trips to Wal-Mart for quick runs which is less than a mile from my house and that is all, so last night we loaded the kids up and the sick husband and went for a joy ride.  I did not realize that my husband has not even driven it, yet... even for the test drive!  That will change soon... after he is well I suppose.  I will be the one driving it most so, I did the test drive at the dealership since I need to make sure I can handle driving it.  Honestly, you would be surprised to find that it drives very much like a minivan.  It is just a little bigger and I would say that it drives sort of like a large truck.  I feel very confident driving it.  I think the only thing that would make me nervous is backing it up and parking it, but it has a backup camera and sensors that beep if you get too close to something.  The really great thing about the backup camera is that you don't just get the view out the back window.  You see all the way to the ground, so you see if you are going to back over a toy, curb, person, etc..  

We all really enjoyed our little ride last night and one of the things we purchased for our kids for Christmas was a dual screen portable DVD player for travel so we got to try that out last night, too.  Now, let me shift gears a bit and go all "frugal talk" on you.  Originally, I had purchased a dual screen DVD player in mid-November for $99, but my husband went to some of the Black Friday sales and was able to get a similar one for $49 and I returned the one I had bought.  That is HALF the cost!!!  Okay, back to the topic at hand.  We drove all over so my husband could see how it rides... down, small roads, bumpy roads, long smooth highways, over railroad tracks and even to Wal-Mart, again... so I could run in and get my sickly husband more juice and extra meds for his throat.  All was happy in van land because they were watching a movie in their new comfy ride.  Clearly it does not take to entertain us all.  I considered treating them to ice cream... but... I cringe at the thought.  Ha!  I think I will wait until a warm day when we can order ice cream and eat it OUTSIDE the van.  I have already gone to the auto parts store and looked at options to completely cover the carpet to save it from us all and I am considering Scotch Guard for all the seats.  Yes, I may be a bit extreme, but I want it to last and be a nice vehicle for our family.  It is nice to have something nice.  Not that our other van was not nice, but it had already been through 10 years of us... and... well... it just wasn't quite as new anymore.... the carpet did not fair well with drink spills.  I plan to try to do better with this one.  

I was about to end this post, but in keeping with my recent decision to make this blog about how we make it all work as a large family I want to also include the budget aspect of this van for us.  You might be asking how we have a large family and afford to just go out and buy a new van like this.  Well, I want to be sure that I answer that question.  Our budget is low for our family size and in all honesty we are considered poverty level, but you would never know that because we are totally not in poverty.  We have well above what we need and even well above our "wants" most of the time.  For the last couple of years we have been totally debt free.  That means our house, cars, etc. are completely paid for and the only bills we have or monthly expenses like electric, water, gas, food, life insurance, etc..  

We are not longer debt free after this purchase.  ;)  BUT we did not just go out and buy "new".  It is mostly new and new to us.  We actually looked at and older van that would have been a great purchase, as well, but when I considered the years ahead and how many years I would need to make sure this last for the cost difference we decided this was the choice for us.  We don't buy new.  The reason is that as soon as you drive that thing off the lot it depreciates greatly (meaning the value instantly goes down).  This van is a 2013 "program car" and it only has 25,000 miles on it.  It was HALF the cost of a new one just like it.  HALF!!!  We got it for $19,900.  We did buy the additional 7 year warranty knocking that up almost $3,000 more, but our experience had been that those warranties pay off in many cases.  And we did not HAVE to do that.  So, what is a "program car"?  I think that can mean many things, but my understanding is that this vehicle was on lease to someone and once the lease was up they turned it in for a new one.  I believe this one may have been a rental van because there was a small sticker on the window stating that there would be a $250 fine for smoking in it.  This van shows no wear except that there are some very light spills on a couple of the seats (and you have to look very hard... and I plan to clean them off).  There was a tiny ash tray part missing in the back which will be replaced under warranty and I just need to go to my local Ford dealership and order that part this week.  To finance this van with really low interest (2.?%... I can not remember exactly) will only add about a $1,000 over the lifetime of the loan and our payments per month will be about $552 a month for 5 years.  Of course, we plan to pay that off early.  Consider this, also... I will be selling my other van.  We could have traded it in for $3,000, but we can sell it ourselves for closer to $5,000.  Normally, I would immediately take that money and pay it directly to the car payment, but in this situation we are actually supposed to be saving for another upcoming expense so we plan to immediately apply the money to that savings when the older van sells. Sometimes we juggle money here to make things work, but we make it work and that is all that counts in the end. 

To elaborate a little further I could have this payment for the van and a payment for the other savings (medical) and that would be two bill payments each month.  The way we will be doing it we will still have the same result (amount of money financed), but only one payment for the van.   The medical will be paid off and it will all be at the low interest of the van financing. If I chose to put the sell of my older van towards this payment, I would knock that loan down quick but I might end up needing to finance the medical at a much higher interest rate (using a credit card of line of credit account at probably a 9-10% interest). In the big picture the way we have chosen will save us money on interest fees.  I should note that I still plan to save the medical amount if I can swing it from my monthly budget and that money will just build our savings for any other needs.  We also plan to pay the van off early buy making extra payments when possible.  The goal will be to eventually be debt free again soon.  I'll update on all that much later as time passes.  Feel free to question me on that and hold be accountable in the future.  I love having budget buddies!           



Monday, January 6, 2014

Sleep... Elusive Sleep

 Sahara at age 2 "sleeping" with her babies

Do you sleep?  I just don't seem to sleep enough.  I go through times when I sleep well (maybe it is pure exhaustion).  Right now I seem to be is a season of sleeplessness.  Part of it stress regarding decisions that need to be made in my life right now.  Part of it is that my husband is a night owl with an extreme case of ADHD and he stays up late entertaining himself which keeps me awake.  Part of it is my need to feel like I keep the hubby company.... even though I really should just go to bed.  

And then, there are those times that my husband wakes me up just because he is awake.  For instance, one of the children awaken needing to go potty and that child wakes HIM up.  For whatever reason he feels like he has to tell me.  The problem is that five minutes later he is sleeping and snoring and I am awake for the next hour unable to go back to sleep.  

And then there are the normal pregnancy issues that keep a person up.... potty time due to a shrunken, squished bladder.  Sometimes the back get is a weird kink and you have to find that comfortable position.  I am not even halfway so this is not too much of an issue for me, yet... as long as I sleep on my side of the bed.  If my husband gets too close his weight pushes the mattress down and I wake up with a twisted, kinked back.  And I sleep lighter knowing I have a baby inside to protect... from the feet of a kicking two year old that is often lying beside me in my bed (but she is great to snuggle up to and her mere touch can relax me and make me sleepy... so there are a few bonuses).  

And then, there is the loneliness that creeps in at night.  I wish I was not saying this because it sounds so dramatically depressing, but the reality is that this bigger family living with all it's little people all around can be very lonely while the rest of the world and many friends and family shut you out.  I find the loneliness hits me when I lay my head down to sleep.  I wish it were not so, but to night that is one of the things keeping me awake.... combined with the hubby waking me up. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ch-ch-ch-changes: Running out of Room in the Van




Once again I find myself it a "season" of changes.  With another little addition on the way it is once again time to re-evaluate a few things in our home.  We even considered moving to a different house to simplify some things, but it looks like that will not be happening.  Time will tell that story.

Closets are another issue that will soon be on the list of things to address.  For now I shall procrastinate a bit longer on that one.  Really I just don't quite know what direction I want to got there.  I think there may be some people moving OUT of the family closet.  It is getting pretty cramped.  Alas, I will cross that bridge a little later I suppose.

One of the many things that has been apparent from the beginning is that once our new addition joins the family we will no longer fit in either of our current vehicles.  Cody has a Chevy Tahoe and it seats seven and I have a Toyota Sienna that also seats seven.  We will need eight seats if we are to go anywhere as a family.  This really is not a crucial issue, though.  We do have the shuttle bus that we use for vacations and in a crunch we could use it if we really needed to.  It is not ideal because it gets nine miles per gallon or LESS.  It would serve the purpose if necessary.

As this has been on my mind I decided to do a little searching to see if there was anything available in our local area at this time.  I came up with a couple of options.  One of the options was an older 2006 15 passenger van with 41,000 miles on it (Really low mileage for 7 years).  The other was a 2013 12 passenger van with 25,000 miles on it.  This really was a hard choice!  The first one was silver versus the second one being white... and I do not like white cars.  Such a frivolous portion of the consideration so I had to decide to overlook that detail.  The first was larger allowing more cargo space or more friends to tag along.  The second was smaller and easier to maneuver and still would give us four extra seats.  The first would have no warranty while the second still had a warranty.  The price difference in the two was only about $6,000.... still it made it hard to decide.  The first had some aging... the second looks brand spanking new.  The first would definitely get the job done and more... the second would be just the right fit and feel a little more "cool" (as much as passenger van can anyway).  The first had really bouncing back seats (the kids thought that was of major importance)... the second did not.  The first you were on your own totally backing up... the second has a built-in backup camera and noise sensors to alert you of danger of hitting anything when backing up.   Both drove great and were free of motor defects.  I was really surprised that these things drive so much like a mini-van!!!  The first had the basics being that it was made 7 years ago (one charger outlet, CD & radio, cup holders only up front)... the second had several charger outlets, CD & radio, Bluetooth phone capabilities, media port, cup holders up front and in other locations).  Honestly, the decision was one extreme to the other and both were good choices.  Again, it was hard to decide.  

The kids were really wanting the older one... because bouncy seats really are important to kids.  And some of them had visions of taking everyone we know along with us everywhere.  The seriously thought that it was important to choose a vehicle that another family of seven could go along with us in.  We had to clue them in that we needed to find a vehicle that meets OUR family needs first and foremost.  My five year wanted the newer sparkly shiny one... well, because she is a bit OCD and "clean" is very appealing to her (and I totally get that).  My husband simply liked newer and all the bells and whistles (not that passenger vans come with too many bells and whistles).  I weighed all the comparisons features because I am ultra practical... and cheap.

In the end we choose the second one.  And we are now the owners of a 2013 12 passenger van!!!  Who would have ever thought?!!!  But then, who would have ever thought I would ever have six children either?!!!  Ha!  This life just keeps getting crazier.  One thing I know for sure is that you have to be open to a few Ch-ch-ch-changes.  

{I was going to wait to post this WITH a picture, but I think I will go ahead and come back with a separate post with a little picture moment.  I am a little excited to tell that we have joined the ranks of passenger van owners and I officially feel like we are now a "large family".)





Monday, December 23, 2013

It's a Whimsical Christmas: Thing 1 & Thing 2, etc.

This is the Christmas card pic I have been sending out this week.  

We went to a local production of Whimsical that we have attended every year for the past few years and I took this quick photo of all my little "things".  Be sure to count them, if you have not noticed anything unusual about the picture.  And if you still don't notice anything unusual look a little closer at Mr. Grinch.

Yes, this is the card that is going out to even family... and this is how they are finding out.  I am writing this in advance and I can hardly wait to hear the reactions.  {Insert sarcasm}  Honestly, I could not bear to tell family in person because of the shocking things I know they will say... even if it is without thinking.  I want them to have time to think before they speak.  And much of that is to have some control over what my children hear come spewing from our relatives' mouths.  

At the point that I am writing this I am 15 weeks, so by the time everyone gets the cards I will be 16 weeks.  I have managed to keep this secret from close family even through the Thanksgiving holidays while some of them stayed here for four days.  That was super hard, but I knew I had to keep quiet because I wanted to be the one to tell my children.  With my last pregnancy my mother bumped into me and felt my hard belly and realized I was pregnant while we were visiting them.  I asked her not to tell because the kids did not know, yet.  She ran straight into her living room and told my daddy in front of my kids.  I was really way more upset about that than I let them know.  My daddy immediately got on the phone and called my brother and his wife and told them without my consent.  Yes, that is how it all went down... and I was not at all one bit pleased with the situation.  So, I admit I even lied to them a couple of times when they were all here for Thanksgiving.  I would not normally lie and I have a real hard time lying, but in this case my driving force was protecting my kids from the conversations that would take place.  And I think I should get to tell them this big news.

My kids will be so excited and I do not want anyone ruining that for them or me and Cody.  Correction... my kids ARE so excited.  We told them halfway through me writing this post.  They were surprised and I caught it all on video.  The way we told them was to ask them what they thought of this Christmas card pic.  It took them a while to catch on, but when they did it was pretty funny.  

I am so glad that my kids are always happy to add another sibling to our little family.    

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Learning to Do the Sashay



And no, I am not talking about dancing.  That is what the name of this yarn and these scarves reminds me of, though.  I have seen so many of these scarves and was thinking about buying my girls some, but I wanted to save money.  I decided to learn "to do the sashay".  I am going to use some pics that are not mine, because it is easier than taking my own pics for this post.  For using my borrowed images if you click on the pic it will take you to a person's etsy shop that is selling them.  I don't know the person I just chose pics that I liked, but if you want to buy one check out the seller and let her know you heard about it here.  

 

I think she uses the crochet method which is why I chose this pic.  It makes a looser lighter scarf and I think this is great for children, teens,... and anyone that lives in Texas.  ;)  Seriously, I love the look of the fuller ones, but they are a little bulky around the neck to be wearing in a warm, humid climate.  The crochet ones are by far the easiest to make and you can learn pretty easy watching a youtube video or going on the Red Heart yarn website.  The ones we are making we pick up 10 loops with the crochet hook and pull the 11th loop through those 10 loops.  We do this until we have a scarf the length we like.  I think you can get 3 or 4 scarves using that method.  Keep in mind I make some pretty short to fit pre-teens.

There are also some that look much fuller and they are very pretty.  They are made using a knitting method and are very pretty, but use a whole skein of yarn or possibly more.  I played around with those a bit and found that for the fullness I wanted that I only needed to pick up 4 loops on my knitting needle and and knit in (totally wrong terminology, but I am not an experienced knitter).  You can watch a video online, but I could not understand it that way personally.  Thankfully, my cousin came over and showed me.  And she blessed me with some supplies, too.  

Anyway, if you are intimidated by how fancy these scarves look, don't be.  All the work is mostly done for you because it is all about the yarn.  This is a simple project and makes a great gift.  You can turn one out in less than an hour, also.  So, I think it might be a good time to "learn to do the sashay".  Cha-cha-cha!!!