Still Alive, I see...

on 20 December 2012

Do you ever play this game?

You're watching something...TV, movie, miniseries, whatever...and every actor/actress that comes up you glance at them and say, "Where do I know them from?"  And the fastest (and most correct) guess wins?

It's less fun when you're playing it alone because your hubs is working late, but oddly, it's still fun.

I've been watching Julian Fellow's Titanic and playing this game with Molly.  Of course, Molly is a dog and only 8 months old, so she's not great competition, but I have to say, Titanic stumped me on a couple.

And I am VERY good at this game, so stumping me is worth bragging about.

Sadly, I was playing alone when I watched the truly excellent Call the Midwife.  And there were quite a few that I had never seen before, so that was really fun.

And in case you were wondering, it also works with animated movies, but it's harder because it's "Where do I know this voice from?" 

If you haven't guessed by now, this is what my December evenings look like.  Lots of knitting and lots of plowing through various visual programs.  "But M, why do you watch anything at all, aren't you looking at your knitting?"  I'm glad you asked.  Not really, no. 

See, I usually have 2 (or sometimes more) projects going at once.  At least one of the projects is really simple, plain knitting.  And that's usually what I work on in the evenings when it's dark.  Yes, I could turn on a lot of lights and have ample illumination, but all that light keeps the babies from sleeping so well, and of course it costs buckets of money.  So I turn ONE light on, and do simple knitting while I watch/listen to something; and during the day when I have abundant light (for FREE) I work on the more detailed project.

For example, I am working on my Girl's birthday dress for her first birthday (coming up in two weeks, someone pinch me please) which is all plain knitting (until I get to the end and then, my goodness there will be RUFFLES and a picot hem!).  But I'm also working on an elaborate and beautiful project for my sister which I can't say too much about because she reads my blog (Hi, Susie!), but just know, once she has these in her possession there will be Pictures!

So that's what we're up to...not too much that's exciting happening, which is also nice in its own way.  I was sick at the beginning of this week and now the babies have it.  It's nothing too harsh, just annoying.  We have Hogan again through the holidays and the usual festivities which are liberally laden with delicious sugar cookies.

Chris and I were talking about our Christmas traditions on Sunday.  We try different things every year and not too many things are set in stone.  But one thing that is constant is that Christmas time is when we embrace the imperfections.  We are imperfect people, the world is imperfect, our lives are imperfect; and at Christmas time, that's ok.  Because imperfect can still be fun and happy and have it's own beauty.  And as we continued this conversation this morning, we both chuckled over the inevitable outcome that some years our Imperfect Christmas blows our mind with it's awesomeness and other years it's just a bit of a dud.  I suppose if our traditions were more fixed then we'd have a more predictable outcome.  But I like the comfort of feeling like things are the way they are and whatever happens, it's ok.  It won't be perfect, but it will be ours.  And maybe that's the tradition that really counts.

This Christmas

on 11 December 2012

I thought last Christmas would be the end of me.

What with all of the doctor appointments, and the needles and the blood sugar tests, and the fetal non-stress tests, and hassle getting ready for my Girl's imminent appearance.  AND all the holiday stuff on top of that, I just thought it would be the end of me.

But I was wrong.  It's THIS Christmas that's going to be the end of me.

I finished Chris' Christmas socks in, what can only be described as, a FUROR of knitting.  But they're done.  Washed, dried and ready for wrapping.  I've even finished my shopping.  I have pile of wrapping to do, but that's fairly easy to accomplish.  I'm working furiously on Other Knitting (a hat for my boy, mittens for me, a birthday dress for my girl, and a pile of small projects for my Sisters' birthday which will, in all likelihood, be LATE).

The end of me is being wrapped and delivered in Other Stress.

Chris had a job interview yesterday.  A job for which we had HIGH hopes, a job which did NOT require eleventy billion years of experience, a job which he could have done with his eyes closed.  He had worked his network and had physicians and educators alike contacting the people in charge to sing his praises.  And all to no avail.  There was an Excel "test" administered by a fellow analyst who, if he was displeased with any part of your person or the way in which you chose to accomplish the task he had given you, could and would fail you without explanation.  And this he did to Chris.

Chris came home understandably deflated.  He hadn't even had the opportunity to MEET with the managers, let alone TALK with them.

I'm trying to let it go.  Whatever.  They all suck, but life goes on.  Chris is having a harder time letting it go.


We've all had some sort of mild stomach bug, which hasn't been so bad for Chris and I, but has hit the kids...or rather their behinds in a hard way.  Which means that it's grossing me out beyond measure and I spend all the time I'm not cleaning up bums, in soaking and washing laundry.  Will someone please tell the Tummy Fates that I do not need this right now?

Also, send cookies.  (For ME, Rice for the children.  Please?) 


I had a lovely round of friends to visit last week, which was so fun catching up with them.  I've been really blessed in my life to know some amazing women.  And this week is my only down week to catch up on things before we start back with Hogan next week.  Which, I'm really grateful for given then expenses of this month--will someone please tell the Shoe Fates that it was not nice to break my last pair of Danskos in DECEMBER?


It's been the longest week...and we're not even halfway through.


My Girl fell off of our bed again on Sunday.  It was the third time.  I've been torn between lunging to catch her and just thinking, "Fall.  You need to LEARN."  But I lunge every single time.  This time, I wasn't in the room.  I was loading stuff in the car to take to church and Chris was getting dressed and she was in the middle of the bed when he went in to the closet to get a shirt and tie and when he came out she was screaming on the floor.  We think she bummed up her leg because she hasn't wanted to crawl on it and she adamantly refuses to stand on her leg AT ALL.   We were freaked out enough that we called the doctor and he said to give her a few days and some Tylenol and call him if it doesn't clear up.  Will someone please tell GRAVITY to leave my girl ALONE?!


I think I have seasonal depression, but in the reverse.  December is supposed to be cold and dark, cloudy and chilly.  And instead we have 4 days of cold followed by TWO WEEKS of 70 degrees and muggy.  My hair is inflating and what Christmas spirit I had is DEflating.  It is impossible to feel like Christmas when you don't even need to wear SOCKS.  I've reconciled myself to living in the South, being married to a very Southern man, so Snow is a dream and only a dream, but can't it at least be COLD?  Will someone please tell Jack Frost to swing back around and stay a while?


I keep listening to that song "River" covered by James Taylor, you know the Joni Mitchell  

It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on

But it don't snow here
It stays pretty green
I'm going to make a lot of money
Then I'm going to quit this crazy scene
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on

I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
I wish I had a river I could skate away on
I made my baby cry

I'm so hard to handle
I'm selfish and I'm sad
Now I've gone and lost the best baby
That I ever had
I wish I had a river I could skate away on

Oh, I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I made my baby say goodbye

It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
I wish I had a river I could skate away on

 I feel like that...I wish I had a river I could skate away on.  To somewhere cold and snowy and devoid of worries and cares, but really, it feels like a song about Chris.  And I don't know if it's some sort of sick compulsion, but I keep trying.  I keep singing Christmas carols, and reading Dickens, and wrapping presents in the hopes that somewhere in the midst of all of the stresses, I'll find a little bit of happiness.


on 03 December 2012

I have less than structurally perfect feet, so I buy (and wear) really good shoes. I don't have many pairs, but the few that I buy are really good, quality shoes. More to the point, I wear Danskos almost exclusively (in the summer I wear Birkenstocks).

Back in 2000, just as I was starting at the University of Washington, I knew I would be walking on concrete a lot, so I invested in 2 pairs of clogs (1 black, 1 brown) and I wore them exclusively for the next 3 years while I was an undergrad, and then the next 3 years as a grad student, and then the next 2 years as a professional. I wear them at home, out and about, at church. They are, quite literally, the only shoes in my closet.

Ok, I have A pair of running shoes and 2 pairs of Birkenstocks. But otherwise, I only have Danskos. I have 3 more pairs now (mary janes in black and brown and a lovely pair of cardovan professionals). I had bequethed the brown pair to Chris when he started working at the hospital because he was walking so much for work and we couldn't afford to buy him any new shoes. He wore them until they literally BROKE in HALF.

We then ordered him another pair of Danskos in a different style and of course, he doesn't like them as well. But that's not the point of this story.

I got up this morning and started making breakfast for all of us. I got dressed because I needed to go grocery shopping, and it was cold outside, so I put on some wool socks and my black Danskos, and walked back to the kitchen.

While walking, I noticed that they felt really funny...squishy and unstable. So I got the kitchen and shook it off, picked it up, turned it over and oh! Oh my HEART!

I have completely worn through my beloved SHOES. They are also broken in half, but worse than that, the HEELS are completely demolished.

I immediately showed them to Chris, who was unsurprised, and asked him if it was bad of me that I was really sad about this. After all, they're just shoes. It shouldn't be a big deal...

Except these were the shoes that I wore all over Seattle. And Germany. And Ireland. And New York. They were the shoes I was wearing on September 11th, and when I met Christopher, and all through my pregnancies with the Boy and the Girl. So yes, they're just shoes...but they're also a walking history of most of my adult life.

And when you think about it, 12 years and thousands of miles, it's not a bad life for a pair of shoes.

The Crafting Fates

on 29 November 2012

Last time on Burnstopia, M was celebrating like a Loon because she acquired (through questionable means) a truly excellent recipe.

This week on Burnstopia, M eats Humble Pie dished out heavily by the Crafting Fates.

So this year for Chris' Christmas socks, I picked out two different color work patterns.  The first was a really cool nautical theme, and I messed that up real good, so I moved on to another geometric pattern, and I messed that up real good, so I just decided that perhaps color work was just not meant to be this year.  So I started searching for cable patterns and I found one that I really liked and cast on.

By October I had finished the first sock and I thought, "Excellent!  I'm going to get these done by December 1st and have loads of time to do other things!"  So I cast on the second and while Chris was gone to Savannah I worked diligently on the second sock.

(His only request was that they be a SURPRISE so I have to work on them when he's not around.)

So I finished the gusset decreases on the second sock on Tuesday night and I pulled out the first (and FINISHED) sock to measure against it and count the cable twist so I knew how many rounds I needed to knit before starting the toe decreases.

And I found a HOLE.  Not a little hole.  And not a dropped-stitch hole, a gaping hole with FRAYED ends around it.  A hole that looked like a BROKEN piece of yarn. I felt totally deflated.  So I went to all my knitting books searching for how to correct a broken strand of yarn in an otherwise perfect body of knitting, and lo, there was NOTHING.

So I thought and I thought and I thought about it and I figured I had two solutions:   I could darn the hole closed as neatly as possible, or I could CUT the foot off, unravel back to the start of the hole and REKNIT the entire foot.

Last night at my sister's I darned it shut.  And it looked awful.  And as I thought about it, I thought "What is the point of the gift?  Is it the sock, or is it more than that?"  And I realized, it's so much more than that.  The gift really isn't the socks, the gift is a tangible manifestation of the love that I have for him.  There is very little in our life that is perfect, but this pair of socks that I make for him once a year, THAT can be perfect.

So last night I cut and unraveled and picked up the stitches to reknit the foot.  As I was painfully picking up those stitches I thought about the women who run the bakery in Savannah, and maybe this Hole business was just, I'm reducing their profits by making my own, I suppose it's only fair that the Crafting Fates exact some form of vengeance on their behalf.

If you'll excuse me, I have TWO socks now to finish before Christmas.

Maniacal LAUGH

on 28 November 2012

For the past 3 years I have been experimenting with sugar cookie doughs.  More specifically I have been trying to replicate a sugar cookie that I can only get in Savannah, GA.  They come from a local bakery down there and every time we go down we stop in and buy a few (insanely priced for COOKIES) so that I can bite and think and savor and then try again.

I am not exaggerating when I say I have been going slowly insane trying to replicate these cookies!  I have tried no fewer than 5, 829 versions of sugar cookies.  I have googled and searched and searched and googled, I have experimented and come close and tweaked and tweaked and tweaked some MORE.  I have given up about 38 times, and then, like the crazy fool that I am, I keep TRYING again!

Chris went down to Savannah for a suicide trip to see his Dad and his family for a couple of days after Thanksgiving, and while he was down there (the babies and I stayed here) he was under orders to bring me more sugar cookies, for we are entering the High Baking Season around here.

In the meantime, I tried the 5, 830th version of sugar cookies and was SADLY disappointed.  So I sat down at my computer to write an email to Christopher and quit for the 39th time.  And there, in my humble in box was an email from Chris' best friend.  A best friend that I love but seldom hear from as he's...Chris' best friend.  So I open it and what to my wondering eye should appear?


I called Chris immediately and said, "Oh my HECK!"  And he laughed at me and told me a classic story of It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know Southerness, and I printed it and thanked his best friend PROFUSELY and then stood up in my bedroom and laughed meniacally! 

Because I WIN.

(And in my own defense, can I just say?  This is the STRANGEST cookie recipe I have EVER seen.  There's NO leavening of any kind!  You knead them at the end almost like bread dough.  No WONDER I couldn't figure it out!  T'ain't nat'ral.)

But now I get the cake-iest most delicious buttery sugar cookies whenever I want and I don't have to pay exorbitant prices for them.  I am as giddy as a school girl.

I win I win I win I win I win I win I win I win I win I win I win I win I win I win I win!

An assortment of unsettledness...

on 16 November 2012

I've been feeling restless and unsettled lately, which is probably why I haven't been here much.

When it happens, I spend an inordinate amount of time makin' stuff.  So here's the rundown:

  • I made 103 mini pumpkin cupcakes for my awesome sister and her welcome home party for my also awesome nephew.  It was A LOT.  In fact, I'm pretty sure they're still eating them.
  • I finished 1 of Chris' Christmas socks and am about 3" into the mate.  
  • I'm nearly done with the first of a pair of mittens for m'self.
  • I made a darling little bonnet for my Girl aaaaaaand it's too small.  Not by much, but enough to look funky on her.
  • I made a cute little pink and white cardigan for my Girl aaaaaaand it's too small.  This one really stung.  And so I have dubbed it the Sweater than Shall Not be Named.
  • I made another cute little pilot cap for my Girl aaaaaaaaaand it just barely fits her.  So if her head grows at all this winter she's just going to be COLD.
  • I made 6 loaves of my soft and delicious wheat bread and we're halfway through them.  In a week.  ONE week.  I'm going to need more bread flour.
  • I made another batch of pumpkin cupcakes for Chris to take in to work today.
  • I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies for Chris to take in to work last week.
  • I made a cranberry-orange buttermilk bundt cake for Chris to take in to work the week before that.  I'm going to need more all purpose flour, sugar and baking powder.
  • I planted a bunch of herbs in pots on my windowsill.  Chris asked me why I picked the herbs I picked and I said, "They do well in dry, rocky soil and with no care whatsoever."  He laughed.  I was serious.  If anyone needs, we have a lot of rosemary.

The Boy and I just finished reading the Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis.  We finished it last night, actually, and I totally cried as I was reading the ending.  The Boy cuddled up close to me and laid his face on my face (which makes it difficult to read, but is so sweet you almost don't care) and sighed and said, "I love you, Mama."  And that's when I realized that everyone in the world should be loved the way that this kid loves his parents.  He's so forgiving and tolerant of us, even when we're trolls.  He is very like how I was with him when he was small;  he loves us so much he wants to swallow us whole.  And since I'm very familiar with that desire, I find it utterly charming in him.

He climbed into bed with me this morning and cuddled up to me, all warm and soft and sleepy.  And I thought, "it's ok.  The world is totally going to pot, but this kid is living in it, so it's ok."

And with that, I'm going to go cast on a pair of mittens for him.  And a hat.  And another hat for my Girl.  And maybe one for me.  Also that second mitten.  And a pair of socks for my sister, she lives in the ARCTIC tundra that is the mountain West.  And maybe, just maybe another sweater for the Girl...but this one is going to be several sizes TOO BIG.

Burnstopia VOTES

on 06 November 2012

I voted!

So did Chris!

And...the Boy?

We went and voted as a family this morning, and there were some school kids running a little voting booth for children, so the Boy picked up his ballot and I explained to him the candidates and who Mama and Daddy favored and why and he voted.  It was every bit as adorable as it sounds.

(It got me thinking about 4 years ago.)

Look at how small and squishy he used to be!  And yeah, now that I look at it, I'm reminded of another very squishy person in our lives...

(She wanted to vote too, but instead of casting her ballot, she wanted to EAT her ballot.  And your vote doesn't count if you eat it!)

Telling the Truth

on 05 November 2012

Chris' Grandma died last Wednesday. 

We spent the weekend down in Savannah for her funeral and burial services.  It was a long, exhausting and sad weekend.  This was the first trip in 10 years that we didn't go and have a chat with Grandmama.  She was just an integral part of our time in Savannah and I found myself feeling quite melancholic and silent about the change.

I also discovered a new challenge to motherhood.  As if there weren't enough already.  The Boy was full of questions during the funerary services and I found myself struggling to tell him the truth.  I have a strict policy of truth with my babies, I want them to feel confident in telling me the truth, so I try to do the same with them.  But I found it hard, this time around, not to dress this sad ritual up in fanciful clothes.

If only he weren't so perceptive.  He kept asking me why Grandmama was in the box.  And why are we burying her in the ground?  And why isn't she here if we're talking about her?  And where did she go? 

I would have loved to tell him that she went to live up in the stars and that she would shine out every night as he was sleeping.  I would have loved to tell him that we put her in the ground so that she could grow up into a beautiful tree in the Wood between Worlds.  I would have loved to tell him that she couldn't be at the funeral because she was off doing something amazing and adventurous.

But the truth is harder.  And harder still to explain to someone with a relatively rudimentary vocabulary and a pliable relationship with Time.  But I tried.  I explained to him the same things my parents explained to me when I was 5 years old and my Grandmama died.  I tried to explain the things we Believe and why we Believe them.

And as we made the long drive from the middle of Georgia back to Savannah, Chris and I talked.  We talked about the memories that we'll put into our pockets and carry with us.  The stories that we'll tell the Boy and the Girl and any babies we're lucky enough to have later on.  We'll tell them about Grandma's obsession with socks, and how we went to breakfast every time we visited.  How she would buy KFC to take to her family reunion and put it into her own serving dish so no one would know she didn't make it herself (everyone knew, of course, just no one said anything).  We'll tell them how she praised Dad to the skies and how much she loved her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  We'll tell them how hard she worked, and how when girls on college campuses were shouting obscenities and burning their bras, she and her sister (in Savannah, GA) went out and opened up their own Sporting Goods store.  Not two ex-football players, but two Southern Ladies!  How she worked until she was 90+ and would have worked to the day she died, if she could have.  Because those things are the Truth too.

9 Months Update

on 29 October 2012

I feel like I've been in a fog and someone just poked me and my Girl is 9 months old already.

She's a bit on the small side (25th percentile for height and weight), but she's rolling and army crawling everywhere.  She's still shy and observant, I started to say cautious, but she really isn't cautious.  She's rolled right off the bed twice now, she's pulled a lamp off of a shelf onto her head, she pulls books off the shelf and onto her head, she's pulled a basket of toys off a shelf and onto her head, are you sensing a theme here?  Anyway, she's shy of people, but ridiculously fearless when she's surrounded by her family.  She loves her brother to distraction and wants to be in the middle of whatever he's doing.

She's fully weaned and drinking this insanely expensive hypoallergenic formula, for now.  We'll probably keep trying her with dairy because I have a strong hope that she'll outgrow it.  I spent last weekend making up a huge batch of baby food for her, and her favorite is mixed berry-plum-barley.  She seems to be in this strange hurry to grow up and do everything herself, which I don't remember the Boy doing.  It's a little alarming, at one point a couple of weeks ago, after the incident with the lamp, I looked at her and said, "Where is the FIRE, child?  Why are you in such a hurry to grow up?  Just be a BABY."  Good grief.

She's completely exasperating.  But she's also funny.  And sweet.  And absolutely darling.

Gox Box Socks

on 26 October 2012

You've read One Fish, Two Fish right?  It's a classic, so I'm assuming everyone has read it at some point.

The Boy loves it, and he goes through these phases where he wants to read the same book over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.  Back in the Spring it was all One Fish, Two Fish all the time, and he asked if we could find him some Gox Box Socks.  And I thought, "Hey, that's fun!  I bet I could just MAKE those."

So I picked up some yellow wool and my sticks and I knitted them up in a week.  I had put them away, thinking that I would save them and give them to him for Christmas, but he's been growing so fast lately that I want him to be able to wear them before they're too small.  And since he thinks they're magical (they make him brave when he wears them), I thought I would take some pictures and hopefully give y'all a smile.

They're so bright and cheerful and fun and he loves them so much, that now I'm feeling twitchy and I want to go to the yarn shop and buy up a bunch more brightly colored yarn to whip out more super fun socks.

It was flu shot day, so he was having a cuddle with Agnes and his woobie.  He actually freaked out at the shot, which he's never done before, so we all needed some down time to recover.

What do you do?

Do you ever have those days?

You know the ones.  The ones where you make all of these plans for greatness and then everything goes off.  Not horribly, catastrophically wrong, just...not according to plan either.  So while it's not quite a BAD day, it's a disappointing day.

For some reason, I can deal with the horrible, catastrophically bad days.  I have trouble with the plain, boring, dull, annoying disappointing days.

And today is one of them.

It's just a day, but it's making me want to QUIT absolutely everything.

I tried to shrink my sweater a bit in the laundry, and what I was aiming for was shrinking in the WIDTH, the body, but maintaining the LENGTH.  Having never shrunk woolen fabric intentionally before, I can say it was a wonderful learning experience, but my sweater is basically ruined.  It shrank.  And now it fits beautifully in the BODY.  But the length!?  I lost a good 4 inches.  In the body and sleeves.  And the extra long sleeves were my favorite part.  So, now I know.  But all of that work...I just want to quit.

And the Boy?  The boy is having  a fun-tastic day, but when we sat down to work on his reading, he just was fidgety and didn't want to try.  And, of course, we TRY any way.  Not wanting to do something is hardly a viable excuse in these parts (I don't want to wipe all of the bums I have to, but I do it any way).  And we haven't been diligent with his read aloud this week and oh man, it really shows.  He just struggled.  I actually do understand this, that some days with homeschooling it's going to be brilliant (like last week when he read 4 books by himself in a row without making any mistakes) and some days are going to be like today.  But since it's coming in company with other disappointing things, I really just want to throw in the towel and lay on my floor and eat chocolate.

And my Girl?  My girl didn't sleep well last night, didn't nap well this morning and has been like a house-a-fire all day long.  And not content to just wreak havoc with harmless things, she is most drawn to sticking her finger in a light socket, pulling enormous books down on her skull, or jamming sharp, pointy objects in her eyes.  (Not that I let her do those things, but that's what she's constantly going for and I constantly have to stop her.)  So I get nothing done if she's down on the floor exploring, or I imprison her in the exersaucer to do frivolous things like wash the dishes or diapers.  There's just no way to win.

And that about sums up my day.  There's just no way to win.  Maybe I should just lay on the floor and eat chocolate.  But I'm curious, what do you do when you have a bit of a day?

Bit of a Pickle

on 24 October 2012

I have such a story to tell you.

So Chris and I were to move.  Into a 3-bedroom unit across the parking lot.  Not a big move, but a move.  We were all excited about more space and reorganizing our household.  It's gotten a little out of hand with the addition of a child, then a puppy, then the removal of a cat and the upheval of the year that's been.  And all of this was to happen, oh, next week.

So I started packing and cleaning out and reorganizing, so that the move would go as smoothly as possible.

And then last Monday, I got a call from our leasing office.  They weren't sure how it had happened, but they had rented our 3-bedroom to someone else.  Not to worry!  They had another 3-bedroom in another building, all would be well.

Except that I'm married to a man who doesn't cope well with change (and his son is JUST like him).

So I talked to Chris, who flew off into a tailspin of rage and frustration, which is probably more from the sudden change than any oversight on the part of the leasing office.  And then I talked to the leasing office again and calmly explained that the different building wouldn't work, that we would find another solution.

And for about 4 hours I felt sick to my stomach thinking that I was going to have to find us a new place to live in 2 weeks. And then Chris looked at me and I looked at him and we said, "Let's just stay here.  It's do-able."  And so with that, Chris went to work and I went to work.

(Did I mention that this all came the week that Chris was working his tail off studying for the GMAT which he took on Friday?  No.  Well, we were doing that too.)

I had already packed the books, so I set about deep-cleaning the apartment and moving some furniture around to try to alleviate frustration with the space.  I packed up some things for storage, and unpacked other things to put away.  I talked to my sister and agreed to store some of our excess in her attic.

After  a week of deep cleaning, shifting furniture, and packing away empty jars; then reorganizing just about everything the apartment is finally, finally starting to feel like it's in order.  We signed another 6 month lease and everything is calm again.

I told Chris when we went to bed after hauling our storage up to my sister's house, we seem to be stuck in some kind of black-hole-vortex with this apartment.  We originally signed a 15 month lease back in July of 2010, we have been extending in 6 month increments ever since.  Just when we think we're really going to move, either buy a house, or move into a bigger space, something happens and we just stay put.  It's strange, but we had a good laugh about it.  Here we are and here we shall remain.  For a season.

Household Management

on 22 October 2012

" [The Mistress of the Home] ought always to remember that she is the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega in the government of her establishment; and that it is by her conduct that its whole internal policy is regulated.  She is, therefore, a person of far more importance in a community than she usually thinks she is.  On her pattern her daughters model themselves; by her counsels they are directed...Therefore, let each mistress always remember her responsible position, never approving a mean action, nor speaking an unrefined word.  Let her conduct be such that her inferiors may respect her, and such as an honorable and right-minded man may look for in his wife and the mother of his children...let the mistress of every house rise to the responsibility of its managment; so that in doing her duty to all around her, she may receive the genuine reward of respect, love, and affection."

  • Isabella Beeton, 1861 [emphasis mine]


on 15 October 2012

I finished my sweater!

Last week actually, but there are no pictures as of yet.  I keep pulling it on to walk Molly early in the morning when it's chilly out, and I'm virtually IMPERVIOUS to the cold.  It's at least one full size too big for me, so I may try to shrink it in the wash, but for now, it's like a lovely, wooly blanket with sleeves.

As I was doing the finishing work on it I was thinking back to when I first learned how to knit.

It was 3 years ago, right about this time of the year.  We had only been in Georgia for a few short months, the Boy would go to bed by 6:30 every evening, but Chris wouldn't be home until 9:00 or later (if he had after-work commitments), so I would sit alone in our apartment every night.

After I had the Boy, when I finally realized that THIS mammoth task of Mothering would be my work for the foreseeable future, I sat down and made a list of all the things I wanted to learn, but had been putting off because I was in school and pursuing a career as a lofty, ivory-towered Academic.  Some of them were more involved than others, and thus more expensive than others.  But there were a few that could be done, on my own and on a relatively small budget.

So I took myself to the only craft store in town and bought 1 ball of Patons wool and 1 pair of wooden needles.  I dug out the book my Grandmother had given me the year before and sat on the couch and tried to decipher the rather cryptic instructions.

And FAILED.  I could NOT for the life of me figure out what that woman who wrote the book was talking about!  (I've read enough now to know that there ARE books out there that are written in such a way that it's actually possible to figure out what they want you to do.)

So I did what any smart girl of my generation would do.  I took myself to the internet.

I found a great website with some wonderful tutorials and I sat at my computer, night after night, practice practice practicing until I felt reasonably competent, and then I would rip everything out and start over again.  I didn't have a pattern, I wasn't on Ravelry, I had no real, tangible goal, I just wanted to learn.

And then, as usual, I got sidetracked.  I went down other paths, I learned a few other things.  And then, when we moved back to North Carolina, I went back to knitting.

I made my first pair of socks for my Boy, and then for Christmas, I determined to make Chris' first ever Christmas socks.

And it was that Christmas that I realized that knitting was actually calming me down.  I love Christmas, but I get a little worked up trying to make sure that it's a happy one for Chris and the Boy.  But as I sat on the couch quietly knitting every evening I felt the worry and anxiety and frenetic energy of the season slip quietly away.  Those socks aren't worn much now.  I've learned so much in the 2 years since I knit them that they really aren't very comfortable compared with my more recent endeavors. 

My only regret is that I didn't sit down and learn sooner.

A Flannel Mountain

on 08 October 2012

You know, Necessity really IS the Mother of Invention.

I was outfitting the Boy last month and I ran into problems when it came to pajamas.  Here's the problem...the Boy LOATHES blankets.  He says that "the blanket makes my FEET hot, Mama."  But what I really suspect is that he can't move as freely as he likes when he's asleep.  So, his pajamas need to be first, WARM.  Second, they need to be soft.  That's more for me than for him, I refuse to dress my children in colors or textures I wouldn't wear myself (were I blessed with their coloring), so most synthetic fabrics are out.  Third, (and this one is also for me) they need to be...not-covered-in-characters, so no Spider man, no Captain America, not even Thomas the Tank Engine.  I just wanted plain!  And Warm!  And soft!  But such pajamas are rarely found, and when found are considerably MORE expensive than I was willing to pay for them.

So after stewing about it for a couple of days, I hunted up a pajama pattern I bought 3 years ago with the intention of sewing up some pants for him when he was still my small and precious baby.  After looking at the pattern I felt decidedly more determined, so I headed to Joanns.

Then I spent every single day at Joanns for a WEEK.

Here's the problem.  I bought a bunch of flannel for the boy, washed it up and cut out the legs and Chris was looking at it and said, "Wow, that's really cute.  How much did you pay for all of this."  The flannel at the time was 50% off, so the amount was not very much at all and he said, "Why are we NOT doing this for the Girl too?!"  So I had to keep going BACK to Joanns to buy flannel for the Girl.  Then elastic for the waistbands.  Then THREAD.  It was crazy.

Then I got all kinds of sidetracked with a trip to Savannah and the start of school with the Boy, so they were partially sewn and pinned and waiting.  Well, a couple of  weeks ago I finally finished them...

The results?

It is now almost impossible to get these children to put on actual CLOTHES.

Clarification:  It's impossible to get them OUT of their pajamas in the morning.  They live in the pajamas, which is nice and sweet, but you know, people start to look at you funny when you're children never get out of baggy flannel pajamas.

My Prince

on 04 October 2012

Knitting has done a lot for me in the 3 short years I have been working with it.  It gives me occupation, it's incredibly practical, it's a powerful reminder of one of my favorite truths: that little things matter, and most importantly it settles my ever-present anxiety. 

But Chris might have a slightly different perspective.  I think he likes the knitting, he certainly likes the socks, and I think he much prefers the mellowing effect it has on my, shall we say, concentrated temperament.  But I think he finds himself baffled by the presence of so much yarn.  Yarn everywhere.  Yarn stashed in a big bin in the closet, on the shelf, in the desk and occasionally left out just to rub like a good-luck-inducing charm on shelves or the dresser. 

And it might just be my own obsessive personality, but I have a tendency to talk projects with him.  I did the same thing in graduate school, when I was working on a complicated analysis, I would sit at his feet and talk the entire idea out, making notes and flagging quotes to use and he would just look at me with this bemused expression the entire time.  I still do this occasionally (though it's now in the car when we're going somewhere, and it usually involves minutiae from a novel I've read half a dozen times but only recently noticed).  And now I talk through knitting projects with him, yes, even his traditional Christmas socks.  I'm starting to wonder if he's not so crazy about this habit, since he specifically asked that his Christmas socks this year actually be a SURPRISE.

I've resisted buying a swift, partly because I'm cheap and partly because we have no where for it to live.  So when I need to wind hanks of yarn into smoothly, tangle-free balls, he usually holds the hanks for me and we have a nice chat while I wind the yarn.

So I spent the bulk of last Saturday winding balls for upcoming projects so that I could shift seamlessly between them when I felt like it.  The first ball (a charcoal grey alpaca that I've had for two years) I draped around a chair and wound while Chris was at work on Friday night.  Saturday morning he held the pinky-lavender wool blend (the Boy helped) while I wound it.  But then on Saturday afternoon he was watching a movie and he worked so hard all week that I didn't want to ask him to help me, so I laid out the hank of navy blue merino wool and started to wind it up.

Now, I love wool.  Hands down it's my favorite yarn to work with.  But wool sticks to itself, that's why it shrinks in the wash.  So as I was winding, the wool was sticking to itself and NOT staying in the nice wide circle I had laid it out in.  After about an hour, I had a big tangled heap of navy yarn.  And by big, I mean it looked like a big plate of navy blue spaghetti.  Or hair.  Very curly, tangled messy hair.

It was at this point that I asked for help.  I have since acknowledged that the time to ask for help was at the BEGINNING before making the enormous mess.

So Chris looked at me and said, "Um.  Yeah.  Is there a reason you didn't ask me to help you at the beginning?"  And I said, "You were watching a movie.  I didn't want to interrupt."  And he said, "Dude.  Before making an enormous mess of it, just ASK for help.  Ok?"  At which point we both laughed and agreed that I would ask for help.

And then he did something that I did NOT expect and remain awed by.  He took the whole mess and painstakingly over 2 days, spent SIX HOURS untangling the hank of yarn and winding it into a neat ball.  For me.  Just me.

How did I ever get so lucky?

One Reason...

on 03 October 2012

Here's one reason why the sweater might be taking so long to finish.

It's awfully hard to knit when your dog keeps laying on your work in progress.

Changing my name for the week...

on 02 October 2012


Due to my behavior this morning it has become apparent that I'm changing my name for the week.

Just call me Grumperella.

The Girl has chosen NOT to return to nursing and my supply is dwindling in unbelief.  Because of a monthly hormonal shift, I could happily chew on a chocolate covered salt lick, and that hormonal shift is also diminishing my milk supply and so we've decided to wean her quietly.  I waged some chemical warfare on some ants that were staging an invasion in my kitchen, and I am knitting a sweater that feels like it has no end.

Seriously.  I'm going to be knitting this sweater when I'm 85.

(Of course it doesn't help that I have other projects now that I really want to be working on, but I don't feel like it's reasonable to abandon the sweater when I actually NEED the object.  And so I continue to knit on it, even though I feel like I've been sucked into some yarny black hole.  That or the gnomes are coming in at night (with the ANTS) and unraveling everything I knit during the day so the thing never grows any longer.)

Other than that, school with my boy is going great.  I'm not sure if it's because he's so smart, or because we're only doing 10-15 minute lessons followed by games, followed by reading, which we were already doing.  Either way, he's been remarkably patient while his Mama has a not-so-quiet nutty over the whole nursing strike situation.

Per my sister's recommendation, I've picked up some fully loaded diet pepsi (my new beverage of choice, but I've been drinking the caffeine free variety) and some good chocolate to get me through this grumptastic week. 

I have such a story to tell y'all of the princely nature of my husband, I'm wishing I had taken pictures to truly convey the miracle he performed for me, but I didn't so you will just have to use your imaginations and I will use my extensive vocabulary and together we will all marvel at the man I married.  But not today.  Today I am going to go start on chocolate for the day.

What I'll be doing this week...

on 24 September 2012

Alternate Title:  The Great Nursing Strike of September.

My week is going to be AWESOME.

So I woke up yesterday and brought my Girl into bed for her morning nursey-nurse.  Just like we've done every day of her ENTIRE life.

Only she pushed me away.  She twisted out of my arm and cried.  And cried and cried and CRIED.

And me, being more stubborn than my children, I kept cramming her into my chest trying to get her to latch on...occasionally when she gets really worked up, I have to do this for her to realize that she's bein' all melodramatic for no reason.  But pushing her, cramming her, coaxing her...none of it worked.

She went to her Daddy and curled up and sucked her thumb and cried off and on, ALL morning long.  We tried various things, but to no avail.  Eventually, I sought relief in the pump and in a fit of frustration I threw the bottle full of milk at Chris.  He gave it to the girl, who promptly drained the entire thing dry without coming up for air.

And I burst into tears.

I called my sister, I kept trying various things, and then I just gave up and bought her some formula.  Sherry was perfect at reminding me that I'm not a mother to have things My Way, I'm a mother and my job is to learn to be flexible.  So I made her a little bottle and after she had her spinach and peas, I offered her the bottle.  She tried less than half an ounce and LOUDLY refused the rest of it.  So I gave up for the day and plopped her in the bath.

At that point I noticed the horrific, blotchy, red rash that was covering my daughter.

I should say, that I'm a much bigger idiot than any of you might already assume I am.  She's had poor reaction to dairy before (ice cream and yogurt, and yes, I've offered her those things, she's not my first kid, and my first kid was eating full cups of cow's milk yogurt at 6 months so I felt like it was fine...).  I knew that she was likely going to end up with a dairy allergy, and I didn't even think to read the ingredients on the Box o' Formula.  I just figure, they make it for BABIES.  She's a BABY.  It should be FINE.

Alas.  It was NOT Fine.

So I took pictures of the horrific rash, gave her another bottle of pumped breast milk and called it a night.  I was sincerely hoping that it was just a day, and that today would be BETTER.

Oh, it's not.  It's not better.  If anything, it might be worse.  Because she comes to me like she WANTS to nurse, but before she gets a good latch she turns away.  So I took myself down to the local women's birth and wellness and all things hippy and green boutique and rented a hospital grade pump for the week.

If we can't mediate a negotiated settlement by Friday I'm hauling her in to the doctor and I'm calling in the big guns.  Lactation Consultants, I'm talkin' to you.

In the meantime, pray for us sinners...

Amusing ourselves

on 21 September 2012

Chris has been working a lot of overtime lately.  It's been a mixed blessing. I miss him like crazy, but the money is great.  And  then, when he's gone so much, we have a LOT of fun together on the weekends.

We're gearing up to move at the end of October, we're just moving across the parking lot into a 3 bedroom apartment, but it's still a move.  So we brought our handtruck back from my parents (who patiently store it for us in their garage).  The Boy loves playing with this thing, and occasionally Chris indulges him...

Also, we basically live in pajamas when we have no where we have to be.

But when we do HAVE places to be...

I LOVE dressing this child up!  The Girl?  Dressing her is the very BANE of my existence.  I have the hardest time finding things that are cute AND modest AND reasonably soft and comfy.  So dressing her is usually stressful.  But my Boy?  Dressing him is just fun.

He basically outgrew everything he owned in the month of August.  So I spent about a week replacing EVERYTHING.  His clothes are now a little on the big side, but he grows in waves and he's been on a growth wave lately and I really didn't want to have to shop for him again in 6 months, so size up it was!  Anyway, I bought him new church pants and a new white shirt and one Sunday we were getting dressed and he was adament that he neeeeeeeeded a TIE!  Just like DADDY!  So Chris found his skinniest tie and futzed with it until he got it tied.  My Boy was SO proud of himself, it was darling.

So I did what any goofy mother would do.  I took 423 pictures of him.

(Chris and I were talking last night.  When the Boy started out in his big-boy bed a year ago, he looked so small in that big bed.  And now?  Now he looks huge.  I told Chris, when he stands next to me he's up above my own waist now.  But the most heart-breaking thing?  At night, when I tuck him in, he twines his fingers in my hair and says, "I just want to keep you small, Mama.  Keep you here.  I just need YOU."  As if I were his human woobie.  And I know that he's saying those things because he's heard me say them to him so often.)

The Dog

on 19 September 2012

I swore back on May that I wasn't blogging about our dog until I liked her.

It took most of the summer.  Once a week, I told Chris that I was going to put the dog in a box on the curb with a sign that said, "Free Dog."  And then, well, I don't know.  I kept watching her with the Boy and Girl and she just LOVES them.  Abnormally loves them.  See for yourself:

Whenever my girl gets fussy, Molly comes over, lays down and attempts to wedge her HEAD underneath the Girl's body.  When the Girl is sitting up and fussing, Molly does this:

She loves the Boy just as much as the Girl, but with him she plays and chases and rough houses. 

Anyway, once she stopped peeing and pooping in my house, she started to grow on me.  Like a fungus.  She's nearly won me over now, she's clever and eager to please us, which helps.  She's been teaching me things that I think I knew about myself, but was in a little denial about.  For example, I really am a cat-person.  I have nothing against dogs, but dogs are the extroverts of the pet-world and I am very much an introvert.

Molly has yet to meet a stranger.  She thinks every single human being is as excited to meet HER as she is to meet THEM.  Consequently, she actually leads me into conversations with my NEIGHBORS.  I NEVER talk to my neighbors!  I'm a RECLUSE!  A HERMIT.  I'm the quiet neighbor that people nod to as we pass in the parking lot but no one ever actually speaks to.  Not anymore!  We know the maintenance guys, our next door neighbors, upstairs neighbors, the people on the third floor, the people in every single building around our parking lot!  And it's WORSE with people who have other dogs!  We know ALL of them.  The bloodhound that lives in the building to our left, the pit bull upstairs, the pit/lab mix that lives on the north side of the complex, the two black labs that live on the other end of our building, we know them all.

The truth is, she won me over after Leike died.

I try not to cry in front of the babies.  They need to feel like the world is stable and controlled and when Mama cries it really freaks out the Boy, so Mama tries not to cry in front of him.  It was the day after we had Leike put down and the babies were having rest time and I was laying on the futon with the blanket over my head and I started thinking about Leike, and indulged in a good cry.  Molly came over, wormed her snout under the blanket and proceeded to lick all the tears off my face.  She laid her head against my shoulder until I emerged from the blanket.

After that I stopped threatening to leave her in a box on the side of the road.

July, she will Fly

on 17 September 2012

(Bonus points for anyone who knows what song the title of this post is drawn from!)

So I spent the bulk of last July scanning the bulk of my parents 9, count them NINE, photo albums.  They've been married 50 years now, so the photos ranged from the early 1960s up to, well, when we all switched over to digital!  I'd say the last 5 years.

It was a fun project, but absolute exhausting.  I would spend 4-5 hours every day, 5-6 days a week just scanning.  And then I started to pick out my favorites and import them into the program I used for the slideshow.  It was much harder than I had originally anticipated because there were just SO many cool stories I could tell with these pictures.  I kept threatening my parents and Sisters with a slideshow just of all of our bad HAIR.

But there would have been a disproportionate number of pictures of my sister and I, and since we're AWESOME, that just didn't seem fair.  And so the Hair Slideshow remains unmade.  (I might still put it together and hold it over her head when I really need a favor...)

After the first couple of weeks, I started to get depressed.  I thought perhaps it was over-marinating in the past, and so I took a weekend off and just spent time in the present with my babies.  It was restorative, but when I had to go back to it, I still felt sad.

After the reunion, and the Slideshow Premier (I have no idea what to call it when you finally show it to your peeps), my Mom called me.  She and Dad had been watching it all over again and she asked me why she felt so sad watching it.  I started to tear up and said how odd it was because I had cried off and on the whole time I was making it and I couldn't figure out why at the time.  After showing it to everyone and talking to Chris and thinking about it, I think I realized what it was.

We can't hold time in our hands.  We can't pause, we can't rewind, we can't slow anything down.  It keeps passing, our children keep growing, we keep growing older, and time passes like the water of a river, flowing, every flowing down to the sea.

We were all so young.  Not just my parents, ALL of us.  And I'm not sure there was ever a time when life was Easy.  But for some reason, all that looking back made me horribly sentimental for my own children's childhood.  I can't go back and be young again.  (And believe me, looking back at the pictures of my own adolescence, I have NO desire to) But I want to do a better job at enjoying my own children's youth.  And maybe through them, I can find my own sense of wonder again.

Some days they're children and some days they're Jedi Knights.


on 12 September 2012

I feel like I've spent the last month, drowning.

I started to say, by drips, but really, it was a deluge.

We lost Leike and then I ended up sick and then there were the freelancing jobs, and then a whirlwind trip to Savannah and then it was birthday celebrations for my Mom and nephew and trying to get the kids back on schedule and then sick AGAIN, and trying to find a new place to live and it all goes around and around until my head is spinning and I can't bring myself to work in any kind of productive way because I'm so exhausted all I do is stare at the walls.

But I'm trying to surface.  I have all of these stories I wanted to tell, but I haven't because I just haven't had the time to sit down and write...and frankly, it's making me cranky.

So I'm going to leave the butter on the counter.  The cake won't make itself, but there's another day tomorrow and I can try again.  I need to tell some stories and show you some pictures and catch up with myself before I fade.

In more heartening news, I'm making a SWEATER!  For ME!  It's charcoal grey (my happy color) and it's wool (my happy yarn) and so far, it's only the top 1/3 and half of a sleeve, but I made it and it's mine and I can't wait to wear it.  I've been trying to work on it, since I stepped out last weekend and the West wind whispered that Fall is on it's way.  I'd like to be able to wear it by the time it cools off, and I think I can bust it out, if I'm just diligent.  But then, that attitude has been my downfall many a-time before.

In the meantime, the stories are coming.  Be patient.

An Open Love Letter to my Body

on 10 September 2012

Dear Body,

Well, it's been a while.

I know that I haven't always treated you with the respect that you deserve.  As I child I let you run free, we climbed trees and rode our bike as fast as your skinny little legs would let us.  We rolled around in the snow in Winter, and then chased lightening bugs in Summer.  But then, there were those horrible teen-aged years.

You were pretty crappy to me, but I was pretty awful to you too.  We shall not speak of how you sprung that period on me, nor about how I "blossomed" seemingly overnight, prompting the undesired attention of boys whom I still believed to be the bearers of "cooties."  But I suppose I should apologize for those years that I starved you and tortured you.  You didn't deserve that.  And even after all of that, you never let me down.

And then there were our twenties.  They were good times, weren't they?  But I fear I took you for granted.  All of those all-nighters, all of the toxic junk-food, oceans of Diet Coke and mountains of sugar.  I'm sorry.  That wasn't nice.  I knew better and I still treated you like you were second rate.

And then there was that whole mess when I was pregnant with the Boy.  Was it really necessary to balloon up like a sausage?  Only my uterus was pregnant, so why, oh WHY was I so expansive all the way around?  I know, I might have had something to do with all of those nachos and the half gallons of chocolate chip ice cream.  But I tried after he came, I really did!  We went for walks, I went back to veggies and tofu.  And things were ok for a while, but oh, why were you so hard on both of us with the breastfeeding?

I admit it, ok?  I didn't know what I was doing!  I didn't eat or drink properly and I certainly didn't nurse on demand, but I was a rookie!  You can't have expected me to know what I was doing right out of the gate.  Couldn't you have been a little easier on me?  I was sort of shell-shocked.

Maybe we both made mistakes.

And then, oh man, I guess maybe we're even for the teen-aged years because you really let me have it in those two years we were trying for the Girl.  That was horrible.  Let's never go back there, ok?

But now?  Oh body, how can I tell you how grateful I am for you?  How can I tell you how you have completely won my heart? 

Look at those babies.  YOU did that, body of mine.  You grew them, and once they were here, you fed them.  And you're STILL feeding the Girl.  Look at those voluptuous thighs!  Look at those chubby cheeks!  Look at that little belly!  Oh my body, I couldn't love you more if I tried.

Thank you.  Thank you for working so hard to grow them, to shelter and protect them.  Thank you for regulating everything while I was preoccupied with other things.  Thank you for feeding them and providing them with comfort.  Thank you for keeping us all alive.

Let's be honest, for 36 years we've had an antagonistic relationship at best.  You've never looked like other girls, you've never been skinny or athletic or TALL.  You've always persisted in growing resiliently curly hair, in spite of my best efforts to straighten it out.  I've hated you, I've feared you, I've ignored you and brushed you off as just another annoyance.  And when you would have been justified in shoving it all right back at me, you didn't.  You chose the high road.  You made the best babies in creation, and you continue to make Magical Milk for my amazing Girl.

I never would have imagined that it would be breastfeeding of all things, that would make me fall in love with you.  But there it is.  Life is strange sometimes, and after 36 years I'm done.  I promise.  No more starvation, no more torture, no more loathing.  You are mine and I am yours.  I'm going to do my best to take good care of you, and sometimes, I'm going to let you eat junk-food just because it's a nice treat.  And most days we're going to go for a walk because fresh air and exercise are nice, not because we're trying to look like everyone else.

Because you're NOT like everyone else, body.  You are mine.  And you have done amazing things. 



Cleverness shall be rewarded

on 17 August 2012

I made cookies this morning.

Or rather, I baked the cookies that I mixed up yesterday this morning.  Mainly because it's so much cooler in the morning, but also because Chris is working overtime and I wanted him to be able to take some in his lunch/dinner.

So I was baking cookies and making breakfast at the same time.  You may well imagine that the Boy thought the cookies were PART of breakfast and began begging for cookies almost immediately.  I patiently explained 437 times that the cookies were NOT for breakfast, that he could have a cookie AFTER he ate a decent LUNCH.  And after the 437th explanation he seemed to accept it and move on.  Which was nice.

Fast forward.  The Girl is taking a nice little nap, and my parents are coming down today to pick up the Boy for a little sleepover at their house.  I was talking to him about what we were going to pack in his overnight bag and he declares that he needs a little snack.

(Now, everyone is different, but in our house, in the pantry, there's a shelf near the bottom that the Boy can reach and access Boy-appropriate snacks: fruit and cereal bars, dried fruit, nuts, occasionally crackers etc.)

So he goes to the pantry and pulls out his "snack bag" (it's a simple cloth bag that holds zippies full of snacks) and says he needs to put together some snacks to take to Nana's house (never mind that as soon as he gets to Nana's house he'll get all NEW snacks, but that's beside the point).  So we go through the pantry packing up his snacks to take to Nana's.  He declares that he needs some, "Nuts!  Mama, cashews and almonds and pecans (which he pronounces PAW-cawns)!"  So I pack a little zippy of nuts.  Then, "Dried fruit, Mama!  I need some mango!"  So I pack him a little zippy of mango.  Then he says, "I need a fig bar, Mama."  So he gets a fig and cereal bar (from Trader Joe's, natch) and adds that to the bag.  Then he says, "I will also need a cookie, Mama."

At which point I look at him and think, "He has staged this clever ruse in the hopes that in the midst of all of those healthy snacks, I wouldn't notice that he's asking for a cookie!"  But it's so clever, that of course, I gave him a cookie.

Which he promptly ate.

The bag of snacks remains untouched.  I can't help but think that, in spite of their nutritional deficiencies maybe treats DO make kids smarter...

Then and Now

on 15 August 2012

I was in charge of putting together a slideshow for my family reunion this year.  We had all gathered to celebrate my parent's 50th wedding anniversary, so I spent the better part of July sifting through a million gagillion family photos and then scanning them and then feathering them into a slideshow.

But in the process, I found this...

Y'all, that's ME.  In August of 1976.  Which makes me the same age that my Girl is in the following photo.

Excepting the marshmallow that I'm gnawing on, and the AWESOME daisy dress, I think to myself, "That's MY girl."

Back to Normal

on 14 August 2012

Thank you all for your kind comments and thoughts.  It means a lot to have so much kindness in my life.  I know Leike is a cat and it's nothing like losing a person out of your life, I know that not everyone is a pet-person, and so I think it means all the more that you all have been so lovely.

Chris and I are both sick and the babies are running circles around us, but I have some lovely pictures to show all of you from our adventures over the past few if you're in to that kind of thing, then y'all come back now...


Letting Go

on 10 August 2012

We had to let Leike go yesterday.

She's been on a slow decline all summer long.  We made a conscious choice to let her age at home, and when the time came we would try to do what was necessary.

I had been watching her weaken for weeks, and I vaguely hoped that I would just wake up one morning and she would have quietly passed during the night.  But that didn't happen.

She had been acting oddly the night before, but I didn't think much of it.  Every day was different with her all summer.  But when we came back from taking the kids to their doctor appointments, she was listless and unable to make eye-contact.  She couldn't walk far and was struggling to breathe. 

And that's when I felt like an enormous coward.  I should have called the vet weeks ago, but I just couldn't bear to let her go just because she was OLD.  She's still my friend, no matter how old she is!  But watching her struggle to breathe was just horrible, so I called the vet. 

Chris took the day off of work, we took the babies up to Sherry's and took Leike down to the vet.  By this point she couldn't even hold her head up.  They thought she was probably in acute kidney failure and some cardiac distress.  The vet was really lovely.  The left me alone with her to say good-bye.  It was nice to be able to thank her for being such a lovely friend to me for so long.

She laid her head in my hand and slipped quietly away. 

What I really want to remember is the way she would lay across whatever book I was reading as if she was absorbing great literature by osmosis.  And how she slept between my feet every night for 14 years.  How she loved bedtime with the Boy and would cuddle us both while we read and told stories together.  And her kamakaze leg-rubs, she would charge your legs and rub up against them so hard, if you didn't have your feet, she could knock you over.

But right now I'm practicing letting go.

I have a lot of stories and pictures to share with all of you.  Last week was our big family reunion and 50th wedding anniversary party for my parents.  Those stories are coming.  I promise.

Four short years

on 12 July 2012

Four years ago my life changed immeasurably.

Chris and I took a huge leap of faith, we jumped into the unknown, and you know who caught us?

This amazing little guy.  He's my softie, sensitive and intuitive, smart and funny.  Words defy the actual experience of having him in my life on a daily basis.  He positively shines.

The Boy's 4th Year from M on Vimeo.

Music:  This Little Light of Mine, the Lower Lights

Six short months...

on 03 July 2012

It's only been six months since this Girl came into our life.

She is awesome.  Seriously.  Although, I'm becoming wary about blogging about how wonderful she is because as sure as the sun rises, when I blog about how wonderful she is, she decides to REIGN TERROR down on my head. 

She sits up, sort of.  She's at that stage where she's basically a human weeble-wobble.  She loves her brother, the cats and the dog.  She's still skeptical about her Daddy.

I've been trying a bit of food here and there.  Applesauce, rice cereal, teething crackers.  She's enthusiastic until some actually gets IN her mouth, at which point her gag reflex kicks in and she starts hocking it up.  It would be funny if I hadn't seen her choke two or three times already.  And since the choking is scary, I've put the food thing on hold for a while longer.  She's usually a good nurser, so it's ok.

She's inquisitive and observant and lovely.

And we all love her to pieces.

Past and Future

on 23 June 2012

I didn't really grow up around my own Grandmother.  I have vague memories of my Grandparents (on my Mom's side) from my childhood, but we moved west when I was 9 and I don't have many memories of any of my Grandparents after that.

I never thought it was a big deal...I felt like I was fine in spite of not having much of a relationship with my Grands.  But I also saw my peers and how much they LOVED their Grandparents and I felt vaguely like maybe I was missing out on something.

I love my Grandma, I always have, but I've also been keenly aware that I was not her favorite (that dubious title belongs to my Sister) and so I never made much effort to win her affection.  And now I'm of such an age that I can just be sassy with her and try to make her laugh, which is always my ambition when we meet up.

I've always thought of myself as rather jaded.  I always thought it was difficult to crack the shell around my heart.  And then I had kids.  And they break my heart almost on a daily basis.  And then this happened...

We had all gathered the Saturday before Father's day to fete my own Dad and Christopher, the beloved father of my babies.  And we were just sitting around chatting after dinner and my Grandma reached out for my Girl.   It's rare to see my Grandma smile like that, I don't blame her, I think it must be very hard to pass year after year and watch the people you love pass out of your life and on to the next, and then not to be able to do things that you've ALWAYS done.  It can't be easy.  And so it's rare to see my Grandma smile like that.

But that's the power of my Girl.

It was one of those extraordinary moments, I was sitting right next to my Grandma and this little voice whispered in my head, "You're going to remember this for the rest of your life.  Enjoy it."  I sat there in the presence of the Past and the Future of my own family, keenly aware of my own part as the Present.

Mirish asked me my thoughts about Motherhood and I've thought and thought about what to write about that.  And the honest truth is that most days, I just don't know.  I feel like it is a Great and Terrible thing, to carry the Future within the confines of your own body and then to get up every morning and feel the weight of teaching and shaping and nurturing that future.  No wonder so many mothers are tired.  What blows my mind on a fairly regular basis is that, for all that weight, the days are comprised of just moments.  Some good, some not so good, and a few really extraordinary ones.

The Path not Taken...

on 22 June 2012

I think a lot about the path not taken in my life.  Or maybe it's paths, because I've always liked to keep my options open.  I think Chris is struggling with this right now, letting go of what he thought his life would be like by this time and accepting what it is.

My life is so completely and utterly different from what I thought it would be.  Some days it's like living in a waking dream where I find myself doing something and I have to stop myself from thinking, "How did I get HERE?"  It's been a hard adjustment, painfully fought and very gradually accepted.  And now?  Now it's almost painfully sweet.  Most days.

I'd be lying if I said I never thought about that other path, the one not taken.  The one with an office, with a door I could close and walls lined with book filled shelves.  The one with the rich academic life.  I do think about it.  Usually when the volume of my abode has risen exponentially and every surface is sticky and I've stepped on plastic dinosaurs more than twice in the course of an hour.  

But Grace comes out with the fireflies, and I tuck clean children in to bed and pour myself a glass of ice water and sit down and put my feet up and think over the course of the day.  And it's more sweet than bitter, and at the end of my life, I hope I can say that most of the days were like that.

Ray of Life...and Light

on 21 June 2012

My girl...these pictures speak louder than I any language.

She's teething.  And as my 95 year old Grandmother could tell you, she'll literally shove anything she can grab into her mouth and start gnawing on it.  She has fussy days, but they haven't been so bad lately.

It's awfully hard to be short-tempered and impatient with someone when this is what they look like when they see you.

She's still a tough audience, but I'm starting to think it's more because she's thoughtful and observant, than that she's unimpressed.  I mean, look at this face...

The Awesome Auntie

on 20 June 2012

I have a confession.

I am a HORRIBLE auntie.  Or rather, I am an AWESOME auntie, but a HORRIBLE sister for I have, in my time, spoiled my nieces and nephews within an inch of their lives.  In my defense, I was rather young when I became an auntie and had no real idea what I was doing.  I plead ignorance, and hope for the mercy of my sisters.

I also hope that I'm still an awesome auntie.  But I can't compete with my sisters.  Sherry in particular because she lives here and my son thinks she makes the world go 'round.  And when I picked him up after a play date at her house, I fully understand why.

He came home, with THIS monstrosity...

That is an enormous candy gum ball.  It's yellow.  And I can only assume it's filled to the brim with high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.  Sherry views it as her personal mission to fill my children's lives with the things I explicitly deny them on the grounds that I want them to live long and healthy lives.

It rattled when he shook it.  I was a little scared of what might be on the inside.  And so I challenged him to bite into it.  I thought if it was something truly horrific, better the young to suffer first...

Alas, the gum ball exceeded the size of my child's mouth.

 This is him telling me it's too big and he can't bite into it...

"Mama, please you open my gum ball o' sugary death?"

And, like the complete sucker that I am, I hacked into that thing with a CLEAVER and this is what came out.

And he scarfed them up.  I let him gnaw on the gum ball too...

Because once upon a time I gave my nephews chocolate for breakfast and strawberry daiquiris for an afternoon snack and wired them up until they literally ran laps and my sister wanted to smack us all.  But she didn't.  And so I let her wire up my kid and I shake my head.

And then I usually say, "So when do I get an auntie date?  That's looking like a pretty sweet deal..."