Christmas Day

on 31 December 2014

Ordinarily, I LOVE Christmas.  I love the lights, the carols, I love the food, I love my little family, I love the tree, I love trying to create this sense of wonder and magic for my kids.

That wonder and magic is a lot easier when you aren't on an Impossible Budget.  In years past, I generally start setting aside small amounts of money to fund Christmas in September, so that by December, we have a modest, but fun Christmas and I don't have to sweat my January bills, but this year...oh this year...It's been an expensive year.  What with buying a house, and Chris retaking the MCAT, and then med school applications and then secondary applications...it was just a really, REALLY expensive year.  So my Christmas budget was...well, non-existent.

And once you're sucked into that particular vortex of worry, it's pretty hard to feel excited about Christmas at all.

And the sad thing is, the money stuff wasn't the only vortex of worry that Chris and I had been sucked into.  We were worried about getting into med school and really worried about t'other Baby Girl.

(This pregnancy has been riddled with fear, anxiety and worry for me and for Chris.  All along it's felt too good to be true, and so we've both been waiting for the axe to drop, for something to happen to her or to me, which translates to a lot of worry and not much sleep.)

Anyway, so I was trying to cobble together a Christmas to the best of my abilities, without caring about it very much.  I was so tired that I just wanted to cancel the whole thing and crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head and come out when it was over.  But my sweet children woke me up every day asking, "How many days until Christmas, Mama?"  And their little faces were so full of excitement and wonder, how do you extinguish that with your own selfish desire to call off the whole affair?

I did my best, my parents gifted us with a new and PRE-LIT Christmas tree this year, so we set that up before we left for Savannah for Thanksgiving.  That way we could come home to something cheerful and beautiful.  I put together a frugal, but hopefully fun array of gifts for the kids.  My parents were a little unhinged playing Santa for the kids, and thoroughly enjoyed getting to see their faces as they came downstairs on Christmas morning.  I baked up some cinnamon rolls, and once the presents were opened and the kids were happily playing with their new toys, Chris and I crashed on the couch and totally fell asleep.


It really was a magical day, but I was still really happy when it was over.


Apres moi, le deluge...

on 29 December 2014

Christmas eve...may I just say, that when Chris and I were looking at our town house, one of the first things we talked about was how great the layout of the kitchen/dining room/living room would be for our Christmas eve party? 

So it goes without saying that we were super excited for our party this year.  Chris agreed to do most of the food prep, if I would do the cleaning/organizing/decorating.  And since I had long since ceased to care if the house was beautiful, I readily agreed.

For those of you who are new, we host my family every year on Christmas eve for a Nabs Party.  Nabs are what Chris' family call appetizers, so everything is casual and fun.  In years past, we've just ordered up a chicken nugget tray from Chick-fil-A, but for the past couple of years, Chris has stepped off the verge of crazy and decided to COOK our own nuggets.  And this year was no exception.

So the night before, we're in the kitchen and he says to me, "How many chicken breasts do you think I need to thaw to feed everyone?"  And I say, "I don't know...one each?"  And he says, "No way!  We need more than that!"  So he pulls out our bag of frozen chicken breasts (we buy the big kahuna bags at Costco) and starts counting them out...at TWENTY-TWO I stop him and say, "Whoa, nelly, you're going to be cooking ALL NIGHT!" 

Please to remember there are only TWELVE of us, and 2 of those are 6 and 3 years old respectively!

So Christmas eve dawns, and the kids and I get to work cleaning the house and Chris gets to work in the kitchen.  Our running joke with each other was that, Christmas 2014 was brought to you by cream cheese, cheddar cheese and jalapeno peppers because here's what was on our menu for the night:

  • chicken nuggets
  • steak bites
  • boursin cheese (made with cream cheese)
  • jalapeno pimento cheese (made with cream cheese and cheddar cheese)
  • jalapeno poppers (made with cream cheese, cheddar cheese and bacon)
  • cold spinach dip
  • warm spinach dip (made with cream cheese)
  • chips and salsa
  • cheese and cracker tray
  • homemade cheese ball (made with cream cheese and cheddar cheese)
and for dessert!
  • mini-cheesecakes with cherries
  • pecan tassies
  • cherry blossoms
So some of these things Chris had put together the night before, but he still spent the bulk of Christmas eve in the kitchen, which is why it wasn't until later in the afternoon that we noticed that our roof was leaking.

Oh, yes, you read that right.  It poured rain the WHOLE day, and I had noticed what appeared to be a water stain on the ceiling in the Girl's room, and mentioned it to Christopher as a cause for concern, but we had been so wrapped up in med school applications and worry with that, that we sort of just ignored the ceiling in the hopes that it would go away on it's own.

No such luck.

But water dripping through a heating and cooling vent onto the floor, will awaken you to a sense of the reality of homeownership faster than anything else, so we set a bucket underneath it, Chris stormed up into the attic to marvel at the inadequacies of the roof, and I called the HOA and left an urgent voicemail because it's CHRISTMAS EVE, no one is in the office.

Then we went back downstairs and had a party!  Because what else can you do?

Everyone came, it was SUPER fun, my sister and her whole family had been sick since before Thanksgiving so we hadn't seen any of them in a looooooooooooong time, and we had really missed them.  So we talked and laughed and ate and laughed at Chris making this MOUNTAIN of food for all of us.  We read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and the kids opened presents from their Nana and Popper.  It had been such a long time since we had all gotten together, that I was just happy sitting on the couch surrounded by most of my favorite people in the whole world.

Needless to say, we were eating chicken nuggets for DAYS and DAYS.

Oh, Dear me...

on 17 December 2014

I am drowning y'all.  Drowning in the holidays and not nearly enough energy to keep everything all together.  I should tell you about our Thanksgiving trip to Savannah, and the fun that was had.  I have some darling pictures of my little ones with their MeeMaw that need sharing.  I should tell you about my good intentions for a streamlined, well organized holiday season, that would be high comedy, for that has not materialized...well, it's streamlined, but it's not very well organized.  I should be able to show you pictures of Chris' Christmas socks for this year, for they are wonderful and my own design, but alas, NOT finished yet.

So instead, I'm going to share with you two of my THREE favorite things about Christmas this year, they are both videos and both promise to lift your spirits if you're feeling a bit frazzled and irritable.  The third favorite thing I can't share with you, but WISH I could and that is the experience of watching my two babes who are OBSESSED with these videos watching them over and over and over and over and OVER again, and sneaking off with my phone to watch them again, and begging me in the morning and at rest time and at dinner time and before bed to "Pease watch Angels one more time?!"  Both of them have both videos memorized and listening to them sing or read along with them is pretty much the highlight of my Christmas season.  So while I can't give you that Third favorite thing, here are the first two.  Grab some cookies and milk and enjoy.




The Reckoning

on 10 November 2014

Remember how 2014 was supposed to be the year I knit for myself?  I had 3 sweaters planned (a heavily cabled aran pullover, a traditional fair isle cardigan, and a plain and simple cardigan).  It was also supposed to be the year that I lost weight and gained perspective.  Turns out that was a little too much to ask of myself.

Yeah, the sweaters?  Not one of them happened.  NONE.  Zip.  Zero.
I lost weight...and then gained a baby!  I'm not sad about that.  (I'm halfway through the pregnancy and will be even happier when our wee one is here.)
I gained a lot more perspective than I think I wanted.  Turns out perspective is highly overrated.

I have been trying to think about what I got done this year, in knitting terms, and I'm kind of drawing a blank.  I made a pink sweater for the Girl...and several baby sweaters for friends.  I made the Girl a pair of socks...and a hat.  And I think I may have finished a single pair of socks for me.  And I did my yoke sweater last winter, I think.  But that's it.

2014 was the year that kicked my butt all over North Carolina.  And I shall not be sorry to see the back side of it.

I'm also starting to rethink the value of resolutions of any kind.  When you don't know what's coming down the pipeline of the year ahead, how dumb is it to make all of these ambitious goals?!

I'm working on the second mitt for my sister in law.  The second one is a lot less sad than the first one was, so that's nice.  But I haven't even started Chris' Christmas socks, and he wants cables so they're going to take a while...

And while I have become a thoroughly unimpressive knitter, you should hear my Boy recite Shakespeare!  He can do Puck's epilogue from A Midsummer Night's Dream, the tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow speech from MacBeth, the 7 ages of man speech from All's Well that End's Well, and the witches speech from MacBeth.  We're working on Prospero's epilogue from the Tempest and then I'll need to do some more videos.

Meanwhile the Girl still isn't really potty trained.  She stays dry when she's awake and in undies...but refuses to sit on the potty and find any kind of relief. 

What can I say, my life is a treadmill of 2 steps forward, 1 step back.

But at least the company is good!

Back to It

on 29 October 2014

This time last year, my Grandma got sick.  It was the beginning of the process of her dying, and while we were all hoping for her sake that it would be swift, it wasn't.  It was very hard to watch.

I learned to knit 5 years ago, partly because I wanted to be able to make clothes for me and my family, but also because I wanted to make my Grandma proud of me.  I always thought that she loved my sisters more than me.  And in our last conversation, she told me that she knew I thought that, but that really it was just that she had had more time with them than she had with me.  Yes, it was heartbreaking, but also good because it gave us both the chance to tell each other that we loved each other now and it was ok.

My knitting this time last year was all fairly simple and it was such a painful thing to go and see her so changed from what I was used to, that I need a MUCH more distracting project, something that required my total concentration.  So I started an intricate pair of Latvian mittens for my sister-in-law.  I made it through the cuff before my Grandma passed away, and then I was just too sad to face them.

They languished in my Bin of Unfinished Business through the Spring, in the storage unit, through the Summer, and just last week I got them out again.  We're going to Savannah for Thanksgiving and I'm determined to finish them before we leave.

They are intricate and pretty.  The colors that Kristi chose play in interesting ways off of each other.  But looking at them makes me sad.  I shall be glad to give them a home where they will be looked at and worn, and make the receiver happy instead.

The Small Things

on 24 October 2014

Time has been making a fool of me again.  I should just surrender any hope I have of carrying on a dignified relationship with such a fickle creature, but alas, I cannot.  And so, he plays the fool with me and I'm left looking like a dolt wondering what just happened.

Life carries on, in this hamster wheel of school and work and life, and accelerated by the nonsense of applications for medical schools.  (Am I the only one who thinks it's ridiculous to ask 22 and 23 year olds to write essays about "life changing" experiences?  They haven't LIVED enough to have any life changing experiences!  Luckily for us, we aren't 22 or 23 any more.)

Have I mentioned that we're having another wee girl?  I went in for the truly terrifying genetic counseling session, but the reward for surviving their laundry list of Everything that Could go Wrong with Your Child because You are SO OLD, is a high resolution ultrasound.  The techs didn't know if she would cooperate enough to let us check her out, but she was very amenable and also very beautiful, but I am her mother and so probably biased. 

The Boy is still sulking about it.  It breaks my heart a bit, but then, this is the kid that breaks my heart without even trying, so I'm also a little used to it by now.

I've been thinking about the small things and how they make the difference in times of remarkable stress between and happy marriage and a lonely marriage.

Chris made brownie brittle this morning for one of the physicians who wrote a recommendation letter for him.  She's also pregnant and he knows that she never bakes herself and that the recommendation letter was a greater hassle for her, than perhaps for the other physicians.  And while he was making brownie brittle, he made me vanilla pudding.  He knows that I love it and that I don't usually make it for myself (because my children hoover it obsessively until it is gone).  So he made up a pot of warm, comforting vanilla pudding.  And after lunch I sat down to have a cup.

There is this wonderful story by Isaac Babel, probably the last truly great short story-ist to live.  He wrote of a daughter who had gotten married and left her widowed father's house.  She returned once a year, and when she came back she always made him meatballs, and she used the recipe that her paternal grandmother had used.  So that when she gave the meatballs to her father, he would look at her and say that the meatballs tasted like a happy childhood.  I've always loved that idea.  That certain foods can evoke, not just a time, but an emotion within that time.

I love vanilla pudding, plain though it may be.  And when my mother makes it for me, it absolutely tastes like a happy childhood.  But today, knowing that Chris chose to make pudding for me instead of taking a shower before work, or working on his med school applications, it tasted rather like a happy marriage.

He really is a prince.  Not your traditional, white horse and shining armor and all that nonsense.  Those are hardly fit for holidays and special occasions.  He's much more your every day, work boots and clutter, inside jokes, Any Time I Want One Hugs, and vanilla pudding on a Thursday kind of prince.

There are a lot of people who think we're crazy for trying to go to med school this late in the game.  And they can think that.  They are absolutely entitled to their opinions.  But if they knew the Chris that I know, they would probably still think that we're crazy, but I can't imagine they would question why I stand behind him.  They might even join with me as I smack him on the bum and say, "Nothin' but strikes."

What we did with our Summer Vacation

on 05 September 2014

Hello.

Is anyone still out there? 

I know it's been quite some time since I updated, but I think when you read everything that's happened, you'll understand why the blog was relegated beyond the back burner, beyond the stove, and out to the deep freeze of things on my priority list.

As you know, our lease ended at the end of May.  We house-sat for some friends of ours for 2 weeks in their beautiful home, the kids had a BALL playing with their kids' toys.  After that, we stayed with my sister for a week and then out to my parent's house for 2 more weeks while they were out in Utah visiting my lovely sister.  I posted pictures of my kids strip mining my Mom's berry bushes and playing in the hose.

All the time we were house hunting.  Or rather, I was house hunting.  Chris has been studying to retake the MCAT.  He's taking it tomorrow afternoon and reapplying for med school.  We'll see if we go.  I'm cautiously optimistic.

So I was trying to find us a place to live.  It was pretty stressful.  Housing is fairly expensive in Durham, but I wanted to plan as though he was already in med school, so I didn't want to be too far away.  On July 1st we looked at 3 bedroom townhouse just down the street from our old apartment.  It's a small, quiet community and it had everything on our wishlist except a yard.  Which I was willing to sacrifice to stay in the same general area of town we had lived in before.  So on July 2nd we put in an offer.  There was some dickering back and forth, which I am NOT good at, nor patient with and hadn't anticipated being in charge of, but when I say Chris spent the summer studying for the MCAT, I mean he completely checked out of everything else (except work) and focused on relearning everything he used to know 7 years ago.  Anyway, on July 3rd we reached a deal and started the whole Mortgage nightmare.

I would just like to go on the record as saying that having a BABY is less painful than buying a HOUSE.  And the mortgage company we're using, they are charming and absolutely bent over backwards to help us and to make the process smooth, but it was still an arduous experience.

Luckily for me, I started working out seriously in April and kept it up until we moved, it was a fantastic stress relief.  I lost 25 pounds, y'all.  I was quite proud of myself, and then...

I spent 2 weeks gathering up 98 pieces of paper and delivering them to the mortgage company and writing checks.  Finally, FINALLY everything on our end was done.  Our closing date was set, my amazing sister, who let us live in her house rent free for the month of July, kept the kids so Chris and I could go sign a novella of papers and take possession of 6 keys and a garage door opener.

5 days before we closed, we found out that we were pregnant.  Crazy, huh? 

So we moved in on August 2nd.  Chris continued to study and I slowly unpacked.  The kids ran around the basement which is our school room/play room and rediscovered all of their toys declaring that they had MISSED them so much and everything, absolutely everything was their FAVORITE.  It was pretty funny.  I put my kitchen in order and went back to cooking fairly regularly.  The kids are in separate rooms, which is GREAT for me.  They're still having a hard time at night, I think because it's dark and the dark makes them nervous.  Chris' stuff is still in boxes, and the boxes are neatly stacked in the rooms they belong in.  He told me today that he would unpack next week, and I laughed and said I was willing to bet money that the boxes would still be there next summer.

The Boy and I started back to school this week and it's been a long week.  Our school day is much longer, and I'm not sure if it's just because we've added material or that we've been out of the routine all summer long.

But my favorite memories of this summer all involve watching my kids play in the Eno river and hike together.  The Boy was particularly amazing, even when he was tired, and the Girl was DONE, he would hug her and say, "Come on, Lilu, we can do hard things!  And we can play in the river when we're done!"  It was the sweetest thing.  And they both walked into that river up to their necks (fully clothed), and I'm sure that there are parents out there who would cry NEGLECT because I let them do it.  But childhood is hard enough without asking kids to pass by a river and a muddy bank on a hot summer's day.  We shall not discuss the Laundry.  Both kids fell in the Eno river multiple times this summer, it was both terrifying and comical.  And everyone is still alive.

My Boy shrieked with joy at the fireworks on the 4th of July, but my Girl hated them.  They're both still missing their cousins and periodically declare that they want to go back to Aunt Sherry's to live with their cousins.  But one morning this week, the Boy declared that the townhouse is "starting to feel more like home, Mama."

Which I'm taking as a good sign.

So what did you do on your Summer vacation?


The Boy's 6th Birthday

on 12 July 2014



My Dear Boy,

Six years ago today, you made me a mother.  I thought in honor of that strange event, I would sit down to thank you for some of the things that you're teaching me.

Thank you for teaching me how to sit still and wait.  Wait for someone else  to learn, to grow, to wake up, to get stronger, to be kind, to listen, to discover the magic in the ordinary world around them.  Thank you for sharing that magic with me.  I know that sometimes I get impatient, but you're very good at reminding me to WAIT. 

Thank you for teaching me that sometimes the most loving thing that we can say to someone is No.  I have worried that so much of my life with you has been about saying No.  I worry that by setting boundaries, I am some how limiting your experience of the world, or worse, fencing you in where you can be safe, but never grow.  I'm starting to see that by saying No, what I'm really saying is "I love you enough to want you to grow up, but we are all growing this way and I'd love it if you come along."

Thank you for teaching me that there are times to hold on (and tightly) and times to let go.  I'm still learning this one, and I suspect that I'll be learning it until I die.  If I loved you less it would, perhaps, be easier.  It will be your turn to learn to sit still and wait while Mama tries to let go.

Thank you for teaching me to laugh at myself, to dance, to sing, to wander and to wonder at the world that I've been living in for a long time now.  Thank you for teaching me that sometimes (most of the time) the point is the Journey and not the Destination.  Thank you for teaching me that sometimes it's ok to eat popcorn for dinner and leave the house messy and just play.  Thank you for teaching me how to hug someone with all the love you feel for them.  

But most of all Thank you for showing me that Heavenly Father never, ever gives up on us.  No matter how selfish or arrogant or rigid we may be.  He knows who we are and what we're capable of and He keeps on trying to help us to see that long after everyone else has given up.  You taught me that, my Boy.  And every day with you is a powerful reminder that He loves us more than we love ourselves.  And sometimes He does that by saying No.

Happy Birthday, son.  You and your sister are my greatest adventures, my hardest work, my biggest worries, and my sweetest joys.

I love you always,
Mama

Happy 4th of July

on 05 July 2014

Happy 4th of July, y'all.

The excitement was just too much for some of us. 

You will note, that there are no pictures of my Boy.  That is because he was running up and down the middle of my sister's street with sparklers like a crazed Independence day fool.

Clearly, the excitement was not too much for him.


Summer

on 26 June 2014

"While you were so busy whispering, we have concocted a plan!"
"It is the BEST plan in the world!"
"I shall convey you all to my house in Chelsea and we shall taste the delights of the season!"

Mrs. Jennings, Sense & Sensibility




 

For a little Boy, there are few pleasures in life sweeter than playing in the hose fully clothed.


My Girl has a more discerning palate, she prefers ripe berries warmed by the summer sun. 

After playing in the hose, that is.


Prescription

on 22 June 2014

For treatment of Life with two sick children, no home, no access to our possessions, potty-training, limited financial resources and PMS:

Take Jane Austen, her life, her works especially her novels, her society and times, the film adaptations, the soundtracks, the art, dress and social customs;  APPLY LIBERALLY.

Bathe children and put them to bed.


Then try to sleep.



Thank you, Jane.  It is a great comfort.

Happy

on 14 June 2014

I have been thinking about the little things and how things come back around again, if only we wait long enough.

We're staying with my sister right now.  My lovely eldest sister.  And perhaps you don't know this, but it was she who taught me to sing and to love music.  She was the pianist for our little congregation when we were kids, so all week long she would practice the hymns for the next Sunday, and I'm sure I pestered her to no end because I was her shadow, but a wiggling, chatty, annoying shadow. 

And here's the good part, instead of brushing me off, instead of stomping off in a huff, instead of banishing me as was perfectly justifiable, she pulled me up on the piano bench next to her while she practiced, and she taught me to sing out the words at the right time and sort of in the vicinity of the right note.  My happiest memories from my happy childhood were made on that piano bench right next to her.  She is everything smart and talented and beautiful and I wanted to be JUST like her.  My favorite hymns today, are still the ones that she and I sang regularly in those couple of years before she left home.

So tonight, I was sitting and knitting on my daughter's interminable sweater for next fall and I heard the halting notes coming from my sister's piano downstairs.  And just as though it were yesterday, I started to sing quietly along.  But this time the Boy was asking me, "What song is that, Mama?"  And I would tell him and sing along for a bit.  Then the song would change and I continued to sing along quietly as she played, half longing to go and sit on the bench beside her as I had done as a small child, and half afraid that if I did so, she would stop playing.

Looking back from the great distance of 34 years, it seems like such a little thing.  To let a child sit next to you while you practice as needed, but for the child it was such a big thing.  A momentous thing.  A thing that made her Great in my eyes.  It makes me wonder about the little things in my own life, the opportunities missed or misjudged and how do I learn to look with better eyes so that I recognize them when they come? 



She has wept with me when I have felt defeated and she has celebrated with me on those few occasions when I triumph, including when both of my wee babes were born (though the picture is of my little daughter).

When I think about the things that mean most to me in the world, not a single one of them is currently in our storage unit.  And they all of them have names:  Christopher and my Boy and my Girl and my Sisters and brother, my Parents and my friends.  The sad thing is, that I think most of us take these people for granted so often that they come to resemble the little things in life, when in reality, there is nothing Greater.

Girl-ease

on 09 June 2014

My Girl speaks her own language.  Of course, she THINKS she's speaking beautiful English, and most of the time I don't even think about it, because I understand her perfectly.  It's only when Chris is home that I realize that I have developed the gift of Interpretation of Tongues as her mother.  She speaks and Chris looks at me and I repeat what she said in proper English and then Chris whispers, "How did you get THAT?!"  And I shrug and go on with whatever I'm working on.

For Example, Chris is cuddling and reading with the Girl right now.  They are reading Poppleton.  The Girl is cuddled up with her pink blanket and her Mabel bear.  In between books, the Girl hugged her blanket and said, "My BACON."  And Chris said, "Your blanket?"  And she said, "Yes.  Aunt Gi-Gi make my Bacon!"  Then Chris looks at me and said, "What?!"  And I said, "Aunt Sherry made her blanket." 

And that's when we started cracking up laughing. 


We are hunting and hoping to have an update for you by next week.  In the meantime, I'm reading Poppleton and knitting a lot.


Still Alive, I see

on 03 June 2014

Hello, everyone.

We are still alive.

All of our stuff is in storage.  Which feels a little strange.  We're house-sitting for some friends of ours for the next couple of weeks and then we'll be up at my sister's house while we try to find a place to live. 

I've been thinking a lot about faith lately.  I think a lot of people mistakenly think that having faith is about getting what you want.  I don't think that's necessarily true.  I think it's more believing that things will work out, one way or another.

So we're breathing deeply and practicing patience and letting the kids sleep in bed with us because they're freaking out about all their stuff being in storage.  We're also watching a lot of movies and reading a lot of books and wondering what's next.

Look Up

on 12 May 2014

A friend sent me this video and it's singing my song.  So check it out...





Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to lose my phone and go back to packing.

Decade

on 01 May 2014

Ten years ago today, Chris and I got married.

I confess that I look back on myself then and cringe a bit.  I thought I was so smart and I really thought that I loved this man.


But knowing what I know now, I realize that I was so dumb.  That feeling wasn't really love, it was a vague inclination.  After 10 years, 3 degrees, 5 moves and 2 major surgeries, I know that what we feel now is much closer to love than what we felt then.  My consolation is that in 10 more years, I know that the feeling will be deeper still, and that by the time we get to the end of our lives here on Earth we might actually get to that feeling we all so flippantly call Love.

For now, this just about sums it up, "I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you - especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame...I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly" (Charlotte Bronte).

a Really Weird Year

on 30 April 2014

Hello,Everyone.

I know I haven't been writing as usual, quantity nor quality.   I have found myself in the midst of a really weird year.  Just when I think, "ok, surely things will normal out now..." the next Wave of Weird hits and I just try to keep my head above the Weird Waters.

So what's so weird?  Well, some of it you know:  my Grandma died, I live with a 2 year old who barely speaks English and a 5 year old who memorizes Shakespeare.  We went on a cruise at the last minute and I had surgery.  I freelance, so that whole part of my life is decidedly unpredictable.  Some of it I can't really talk about, at least not here; my father-in-law retired and sold the family business, which is great for him, but feels so weird...like he sold a somewhat contentious member of the family.  And now we're down to the wire and house hunting again, which means we'll probably end up crashing with my family for a bit while we go through the purchasing process.

I don't normally wish away the days, I try to enjoy them.  But lately, I'm so tired and so overwhelmed by the Weirdness that I'm living with, that I find myself looking longingly ahead to June and July (really WEIRD for me, I know), when the calendar is absolutely empty and I'll be able to just sit still and process this bizarre year.  But then I get this slightly nauseous feeling wondering what in the heck is coming next?

For now, I'm putting my head down and going to work.  There's plenty to do and these two really cute distractions make it harder but also better.


My Boy and Shakespeare

on 14 April 2014

Do you ever have those months that just completely ATE your whole life?  March pretty much did that to us.  I had a couple of intense freelance projects, and then we had a last minute family vacation and we were home for all of one day before I had to have minor surgery.  And then BOOM it was April.

The hard part, is that all of this "other" stuff happens and real life doesn't stop happening, so I end up feeling like I'm drowning.  But in the midst of drowning, some really cool things happen.

Like my Boy asking to memorize Shakespeare!

(That we home school, you already know.  That we do classical education, you already know.  That memorization and recitation is a part of most classical curricula you may not know.  But it is!  And it's wonderful.  I've NEVER understood why people have such antipathy for memorization and recitation.  It's entertaining and good for your brain.  Suck it up.)

So back in February, after my Boy had finished memorizing the 50 states and the Articles of Faith, I asked my Boy what he wanted to work on next.  I gave him a short list, we could do famous people through history, we could do states AND capitals, or we could do poetry.  Well, for him that was a no-brainer!  He chose poetry right out of the gate.  So I rattled off some poets we could concentrate on:  Robert Frost, W.B. Yeats, Shakespeare, Seamus Heany...and before I could get further he shouted "SHAKESPEARE!"  (He lives his life in all capital letters.)  So Shakespeare it is.

I sifted through my favorite plays and pulled my favorite monologues and then scaled them back to something I thought would be reasonable for a five year old.  In addition to working on phonics, math, and handwriting, we work on memorization.  In other words, we go through the selection together a few times every morning and after a week or so...well, you should see this to really enjoy it.






I know that I'm his mother and therefore totally biased, but how awesome is THAT?!

UpDates

on 07 March 2014

In an effort to catch everyone up on what's been going on, I thought I would give it to you in bullet points...

  • Chris had his birthday.  He turned 34.  
  • And he was passed up for the manager of his department position, again.  For those of you who were counting, yes, that's the second time that he's interviewed for, been a finalist for, and been passed over for that position.  Consequently, he's been hating his job a lot lately.
  • Which has lead to a Funk of EPIC proportions around here.  For all of us.
  • My Dad had surgery on his foot, which means that he and Mom have been a bit house-bound and more than a bit bored and stir crazy.  So I've been trying to take the kids down to play and distract them a bit.
  • I'm only a month behind on the new year, but I've been trying to get a grip on exercising again and not eating half a dozen cookies at a stretch.
  • Freelancing.  The work I was expecting in November, finally showed up and it is colossal.
  • I had the dumbest idea imaginable to potty train the Girl.  She had showed the signs of readiness back in December, but I was losing my mind and could not, would not face the idea of adding potty training into the mix.  So I turned a blind eye.  And now I suffer.  I tried doing the same things that I did with the Boy, but to no real affects.  She's enamored by her underpants, but not enough to keep them DRY.  So I'm sticking a pin in that and will keep trying.
  • I finished my first sweater of 2014!  Want to see?  Of course you do...(I love the color patterning, but I'm not sure I would knit another in this style again.  It's cozy and warm and big enough that I can wear over a t-shirt and a cotton sweater, so I'm good.)
  • I'm working on finishing up some unfinished projects now.  I'm down to the foot on the second sock, the hand of a fingerless mitten, half of a sweater, and the crown of a hat.  I'm being disciplined about this, when those are done, then I can plan the next project...
  • The rest of February was absorbed in the daily niggles and worries of life.  Taxes.  New tires on my car.  Lots of baking and school with my Boy.

Needless to say, we're all glad to see the back of February.  I don't know why, but I'm trying to be hopeful for March.  Hope hasn't gotten us anywhere in the past, but I can't seem to stop myself.

After all of these years, I assumed that I was a cynic, but now I'm starting to think I'm more of a compulsive optimist.  Go figure.

Shout Out

on 05 March 2014

Did you think I had forgotten you?  How could I ever do that?  It's just that my life has sort of run away with me.  So while I try to (in vain) to catch up with it, I thought I'd give you something fun and delicious to try.

For all of my gluten-free sisters.


Mexican Cornbread, this time PANCAKES!

We cordially love pancakes in all their varieties in our household, and last Sunday after a long day, I was tired and whipped these up.  Just mix up the ingredients in the order that they appear, then fry them on a medium-high heat pan, lightly greased (I use Pam).

2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can of green chiles
1 can of creamed corn
1 cup of corn meal (I use white, but you can use whatever)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

Fry up the pancakes and keep them warm in the oven while you warm up some beans (which is how I eat them), grate some cheese, pull out the salsa and sour cream and lettuce (you could also add guacamole, tomatoes, onions, fried eggs, whatever really).   Assemble and top them as you desire.   Serve them forth.

(In the spirit of honesty, I will tell you that neither child partook of these delicious little pillows, but willingly ate beans and eggs.  Go figure.)

(Leftovers are fine in an airtight container on the counter, but after 1 day or so, they start to be a little less joyful.)

Snow Days

on 29 January 2014

I took some pictures of what Snow Days look like when you home school.




The Girl has been sick all week, so she was stuck inside while Chris and the Boy went out to play.  And since she was so sad that she was missing out, her Daddy made it snow again, just for her.  (How's that for love?)

One of the nice things about the South is that snow is such an inconsistent occurance that when it happens, we really, REALLY love it.  Don't believe me?



Look at that face.  That is the joy of childhood right there.  He played until his hands were bright pink with the cold, he literally rolled and wallowed in the snow like a dog.  In fact, he did BETTER than the dog...


She just got a snowy face.  The Boy was snowy from head to toes!

Mabel Bear

on 27 January 2014

My babies each have a bear and a blanket.  I didn't set out to have them love both, I fully intended that they would have a blanket they love, but the bears were adopted by the children themselves.

As you'll remember, my Boy loves his Monte bear.  And my Girl became obsessed with Monte fairly early on.  So in order to prevent mayhem, I encouraged the Boy to give the Girl her very own bear.  He went through all of the Softies and chose a small, white bear, which he promptly handed over and the Girl promptly became obsessed with.

From the time when she was very small, she's carried Mabel with her everywhere she goes.  (In addition to her pink blanket.)  But now that she's so busy, she's realized that she needs her hands for other (more interesting) things.  Being a clever girl, she's come up with an appropriate solution:


I understand now...

on 22 January 2014

From my adolescence onwards, my Grandma asked me what of her things I wanted.

It used to make me crazy.  I didn't really want any of her things. (And I took pride in my denial of material things.)  I wanted her stories, I wanted her to tell me about the places she'd been and the things she'd seen and everything she learned from those places and things.  But those were the things she wasn't readily willing to share.  And so for a long time we were at an impasse, she and I.

When I had the Boy, she sent me her rocking chair and I had grown up enough to accept it gratefully.  And every day, I would rock my Boy in that rocking chair.

And gradually over the last few years, her things have been creeping into my home.  Her knitting needles, one set at a time, pudding dishes and glass bowls, books, and cake pans.  So that now, there are bits and bobs of my Grandma in nearly every room of my small apartment.

Last night I was rocking my children in her rocking chair and thinking about my Grandma.  And that's when I think I understood for the very first time, why she was so eager to make sure that I would have something of hers.  Because our memories of people become tied to objects associated with them, because every time I rock my babies in her rocking chair I think of her.  Every time I knit my boy a pair of socks with her knitting needles, I think of her.  Because every time I see the bowls or the pans or the Thing, I think of my Grandma.

She died early this morning.  My Dad called me at dawn to tell me that she had moved on.

And while I still wish that she had told me her stories, I'm grateful for the things she gave me.  Because now there are memories of my Grandma in the most unpredictable places.  So that as I go about my day, I can remember her.

And maybe that's all she really wanted all along.

One Tough Cookie

on 15 January 2014

I made cookies yesterday.  Plain, normal cookies. Chocolate peanut butter chip, in case you were wondering.

How excited were the kids that I made cookies?  VERY.

Chris took the Girl out to run some errands while I finished schooling with the Boy and baked a pan of cookies.  They were literally just out of the oven when Chris and our overly eager daughter got home.  As in, the cookies were still on the pan, hot from the oven.

My Girl smelled the cookies as soon as she walked through the door and ran toward the kitchen singing, "KA-COO! KA-COO!  KA-COO!"  Which is how she says "cookie." 

I was chatting with Chris when I heard a surprised yelp and turned to see my Girl next to the hot pan and a look of surprise on her face.  I said, "Did you touch the pan?"  She nodded, looking at the offensive object.  I said, "Did you get burned?"  She nodded again and came to me for a hug and a kiss.  Which I obliged.

And since she didn't cry or make a fuss, I assumed it was just the tiniest of touches.  I was wrong.  I was getting her ready for bed, when I saw this:


It actually doesn't look as bad in the photograph as it does on her skin.  It's all red and there's a blister in the middle of it.

What amazed me was that she cried not at all. 

She's my kid that never slows down, rarely cries when she's hurt, and doesn't let a failure or an injury stand in her way. 


She's also the kid that I've named each and every one of my gray hairs after.  And the number of those gray hairs is increasing at an alarming rate.

How cold is it?

on 07 January 2014


There are icicles and frost on the INSIDE of the apartment.

AWESOME.



And really, I love winter.  I love the cold.  I love the break from the heat of summer and the bugs.  But after four years in this apartment, I have no love for the apartment itself.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a sweater to knit, for ME.  It's cold!

Concession Speech

on 06 January 2014

Last Saturday I declared that I was ready and able to rise to the challenge of my Pile of Sewing Projects.  There was a baby gift to be assembled, a birthday dress to be finished and a pile of cozy flannel nightgowns to be put together.  I put on soothing music, I opened all the blinds so as to make the apartment as bright as possible, and Christopher took over the task of occupying the children.

I worked for an hour.  I gathered and pinned and sewed and unpicked.  And unpicked.  And UNPICKED.  Until I had an epiphany.

I was beaten.  Defeated.  DONE. 

I chocked the birthday dress up to a "learning experience" and promptly threw it away.  I had gathered that skirt FIVE times.  I had stitched it to the bodice THREE times.  I had unpicked more than I ever care to unpick ever again.  I acknowledged defeat and left the field of battle with shame, but with my sanity still (sort of) in tact.

I moved on to the baby gift.  And I cut and pinned and stitched until my machine jammed at which point, expletives were thought a-plenty, though, I remain proud of the fact that I did not utter them in the presence of my children.

At that point I moved on to LAUNDRY.

But my sweet husband, unjammed the machine and proceeded to do the first step in assembling for me.  I later returned, finished the gift and then wisely packed the whole mess AWAY.  Far, FAR away in the very top of my closet until I can regain some composure.

So as you can see, my skillz are not quite so MAD as some would mistakenly believe.




I'm going back to knitting.

Two Years In

on 03 January 2014

Today is my Girl's second Birthday.

In keeping with tradition, I told her the story of her birth.  About how scared Mama was and everything that happened.  She stared at me with big eyes and a slightly furrowed brow.  Probably because she only understood about half the words.  But, and this moment captures the essence of her nature, when I finished I picked her up and she looked me in the face, laid her head on my shoulder and patted my back with her tiny little hands.  She is so quick to comfort, and she doesn't need to understand what's wrong, she just loves.  And I look at her and think, "I could learn how to be more like that."

I know that I'm her mother and therefore not an objective source, but she is one of the most interesting people I've ever met.  She speaks only in exclamation marks and often prefers the sound effect to the actual word.  She's funny and adventurous and clever.  For someone with relatively no sense of fear, she is incredibly empathetic to others who are scared.  She either LOVES you, or she doesn't have the time of day for you.  But where she loves, she loves BIG.  In fact, Go Big or Go Home might just sum up daily life with this little one.




The Girl's Second Year from M.