Sunday, December 30, 2007

Holiday Knitting Revealed

We've reached the part of the show where the veil is removed and I bring forth the knitting I've been secretly working on the past few weeks. Ta-da!
And again, Ta-da!:


To be fair, this picture was taken pre-blocking, which improved its appearance quite a bit. And despite ample preparation time, I was only able to wrap one mitten for my mom this year. In my defense, I was using a very bad pattern written by someone with hands the size of Sasquatch. In the end, I nearly had a mitten completed when I decided that, no, my mother was not able to hide coconuts in her hands and that the mitten would not fit her. Even after blocking. So I nobly ripped it out, all of it, and started over with a mitten in the child's size. I was tempted to just knit the mittens and pass it off as a Christmas present, but I knew that they would simply sit in the hall closet, waiting for the day when a seven foot lumberjack came by looking for outerwear. Colorful Nordic outerwear. With artfully knitted snowflakes.

I'm about a quarter of the way done on the second mitten. I'll confess that I find it difficult to knit these mittens, not because it's hard technically, but because I find following a chart to be tedious work. I like a lot of repetition with my knitting. I like to be able to memorize what I'm doing and to just do it. I like a little detail to pay attention to, but at the end of the day when I'm coasting on the last fumes of energy, I don't want to spend it on following something with a lot of detail.

Sometimes I look at the knitting put out by the likes of the Yarn Harlot and I think, "Really? Is that FUN for you? Because I would be eating my hair after the second row." I wonder if it's a function of having small children. Maybe I'll be able to concentrate better when they're older and need less of my attention. I want to ask Stephanie if her knitting has changed since her children were small. Is she able to tackle more complicated projects now? Is she better able to follow a chart?

I bought a Dale of Norway shawl to knit for myself last summer. I got through a few rows (which I had to reknit, seriously, four times before I got it moving along) and I gave up. It was not technically too difficult. After I quit I even figured out a way to make it a little easier to follow, should I pick it up again. But the thought of following the chart and slogging through the whole pattern makes me want to sit on the floor and bang my head against the coffee table. I wonder if it will ever be better. I want to love the charts, but part of me wonders if my ability to focus on something will ever come back. I guess I'd better start taking fish oil more regularly. And maybe start working on finishing that mitten! My goal is to finish it before the end of winter. We'll see if I make it!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Heroic Moments in Parenting

If they gave out medals for the moments when, as parents, we rise above and go beyond the call of duty, surely I would have earned one this morning.

Our Little Bear was sleeping late this morning. I went in her room to wake her up and was hit by a strong, acid-like scent at the door. The smell was all too familiar. She stood up in her crib and professed her hunger. I stood by her crib and professed my dismay. Her diaper had obviously leaked. But the smell? I put her on the changing pad. I unzipped her fuzzy, pink jammies. I gasped.

Her diaper had not leaked. Her diaper had exploded.

The entire inside of her pajamas was covered in sick toddler poo.

There are stories, epic stories, that recount the heroic feats of men. Long ago, stories would be told around the fire of great dragons slain and mighty oceans crossed. These men of action became legends of folk tales. Today I proudly ascend to join them on their historic mountain. Today I scraped a metric ton of poop from my daughter and lived to tell the tale. Barely.

I gave her a bubble bath, I washed stinky, gooey laundry, I washed a vinyl mattress with rubbing alcohol. It doesn't sound like much, but you can trust me when I tell you that it's a lot like saying Sir Edmund Hillary went on a nature walk.

You can just pin that medal here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

How I Came To Be The Smelly Weekend-Shopper


My poor little bunny has been sick. I won't disgust you with the details here, since if you've talked to me at any point in the last three days it's likely you've heard it already. P and I were hoping that the vomiting and other, ahem, symptoms were caused by the cold she's had the last couple of weeks.

Not so much.

Turns out she has a rotavirus. This meant a lot of projectile vomiting and other intestinal "upset"for our family this weekend. Yuck. I was extremely worried (read: frantically panicked) that it would spread to the rest of the family, particularly T, and that I would spend Christmas cleaning poop and vomit off of every horizontal surface in the house. We were beyond relieved to find out that once you've had it you don't usually get it again and T had it once a year ago.

We shipped T off to my parents' house Saturday night. A was so sick that it was best for everyone if P and I could just focus on her, keeping her and the laundry clean, and putting out fires as they erupted. We spent the afternoon at After-Hours Clinic. Our charming daughter did very well, including the part of the exam when she vomited all over me. I'm pretty unflappable in the face of most things. That very morning when she threw up all over me and the couch was pretty nice. Even at the clinic, P and I had the forethought to pack an extra outfit (AND and extra onsie) for our darling daughter. However, we had failed to pack an extra shirt for me. Or pants. Or socks. My daughter is nothing if not thorough.

I wiped myself up with damp rags and threw my shirt into the Biohazard bag with A's clothes. I was able to wear my coat, at least! There was nothing to do about the smell, though, and if you were at Kowalski's grocery store last Saturday afternoon I would really, really like to apologize about that smell, for it was fearsome. It's just that we were totally out of laundry detergent and needed to have some in a bad way. I'm sure you understand. Thanks so much.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

I'm One of Those

That's right--my Christmas cards--they're nearly done. We're short two or three cards and we need to buy more stamps (already ordered off of the Post Office website--Hi, USPS, we hate your website as much as you seem to hate us!), but other than that it's nearly complete.

In the past, I've rolled my eyes at Christmas decorations hanging from the stores' ceilings and grumbled occasionally about the over-commercialization of the holiday season. Whatever. I like to try the Grinch on now and then, but the truth remains that I love Christmas. I love it. I love the whole friggin' season. The lights, the glitter, all the shiny objects decorating everything that stands still for longer than ten seconds--I love it all. I cannot get enough of the tacky light displays that radiate enough heat to melt snow in December.

I love the unbridled consumerism, if that's what you want to call it. Picking out presents for my family has to be one of the high points of my year. The majority of my Christmas shopping is done by Thanksgiving because I almost always stumble across gift ideas in August. Every year we accumulate gifts in our basement in anticipation of Christmas and then on a weekend in early December, we haul up the Gift Box from the basement for an afternoon's Wrap-a-Thon. Wrapping paper, tissue, and gift bags go flying and a couple of hours later we emerge, picking Scotch tape from our hair with a pile of gifts on the counter. This is the one time of year we can buy things for loved ones without making anyone feel awkward.

You know what else I love? The Christmas stories. I love the whole Love and Generosity Towards Your Fellow Man theme that runs through every one--A Christmas Carol, It's A Wonderful Life, Rudolph, The Miracle on 34th street--or whatever that movie's called. This is when we get down to what living this life is all about: other people. This is the best time of year to remember that it's in giving that we find joy and in selflessness we find meaning. I hear a lot of voices from our culture saying that it's the other way around: that in getting we find happiness and within ourselves that we find significance, but I think that we all know that for the lie that it is.

But, most of all I'm so glad to have this time to remember when a little baby came to change the world. As much as I adore the trappings of the season, it is sitting in church on Christmas Eve with my family, singing the songs and hearing the Christmas story all over again that is the heart of the season for me. As a child and now with children of my own I hear the story and remember that God puts a great treasure in fragile jars. And in the wonder of that I can appreciate more fully the gift He gave us on that first Christmas.

Rejected Greeting Card Inscriptions

"May you meet all your goals and reach all your objectives now and in the New Quarter."

"Warm Wishes from Our Family to Yours"

"May you be blessed to overflowing as we celebrate the most joyous birth of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

"Happy Holidays"

"Hope you've recovered from that tractor accident. Heard the scars are really horrible."

"Warm wishes for a New Year that's better than your last one--heard about that scandal at work."

"Here's to a peaceful holiday season."--yeah, right!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Knitting Update

It occurred to me tonight that this website is supposed to contain some actual knitting content. I've been terribly remiss in my duties. I've been much too absorbed with my adorable children to mention all of the adorable yarn I've been enjoying these days!

Sadly, due to the season, and consequentially the nature of my knitting, my main projects have to be kept under tight security. But here's some pretty yarn that has been approved for viewing:
I'm not even sure if you're supposed to wind sock yarn into cakes or not. I was very gentle, but let me know if I shouldn't do it. It's Lorna's Laces sock yarn. The color is called "Rainbow".

This is yarn meant for a gift, so I'm not telling what it will become. It's not socks, though. But you can still enjoy the undulating waves.

Here is one project that I've finished. It's a pair of mittens for my daughter, A. I used a pattern by, um, Ann Budd, I think. I doubled up some sock yarn and knit 6 stitches to the inch on a pair of size 1 needles. It's mate is upstairs on my dresser, waaaaay too close to sleeping children for me to go in search of it. I'm worried that I mixed up sizes on the first mitten while I was knitting it--Drat!--and that it may have to be redone. I'm going to go forward in faith, however, and just call these done anyway. The colors in this picture aren't great, but you get the idea.


Have a good night! I'm off to watch Andy Griffith reruns.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chatterbox

I tried to take a picture this morning so you could have a visual aid to go along with this post, but the light was not on my side. All of my attempts were too blurry or too flashy so I've given it up as a lost cause. If I were a better photographer, if I had actually gone through that online tutorial that P showed me when we first got our camera, I'd be able to make my own picture instead of relying on the unlikely sunlight, but right now I just have to work with what I got.

But the point of my post is to let you know that A has started using real sentences! I know this is much more interesting to you than anything else I might share. What were her first sentences, you might ask?

"I like pepper."

"I like car."

"I want pizza." --she said this when P was scrambling an egg for her breakfast.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Minnesota Girl


You can tell that this picture was taken about a month ago. My daughter is not only missing a jacket in this picture, but she is also dressed in short sleeves. We went out today wearing our winter coat.

But despite our lack of pluck in the face of 40 degree weather, A is still a Minnesota Girl. Whenever anything happens that surprises her she give a hearty "Uff-da!"

I couldn't believe my ears when I first heard it. It's not like I go around spouting random colloquialisms throughout the day. My best guess is that she's been spending a lot of time around her grandma--the Queen of Minnesota. My mom knows a dozen hot dish recipes and can tell the difference between a jello salad and a jello dessert. You think Fargo and Grumpy Old Men are humorous movies based on a stereotype of Minnesota culture, but I believe that they are more documentary than comedy.

In any case, I'd just like to mark the moment that A began the path that will eventually lead her to earn a college degree at St. Olaf college. It will be a teary day for me when my little girl grows up--and wears her first Nordic sweater to church on Christmas Eve.

Monday, November 5, 2007

My Monkies

Merrily, Merrily


I don't need to be reminded that I'm lucky. I don't. I've got a wonderful husband, a reasonably healthy family, am blessed with meaningful friendships, have a comfortable home, and am able to choose to take care of my kids all day. I know it. I even appreciate it most days.

But once in a while something will happen, usually something small, and I'll be reminded of just HOW lucky I am. It's the difference between being able to carry a tune and being able to sing La Boheme. It's when I recognize that I've been well blessed.

My moment today was when I asked T to take out the compost garbage for me. He was getting his shoes and coat on and A rushed to get dressed for the outdoors, too. She wanted to go outside with her "brithr". I ushered them both outside to do the chore with some small, inane comment about, I don't even remember what for sure, but maybe something like "keep an eye on your sister and come right back in" since it was very windy today with a sharp chill in the air. I peeked out the window to make sure they hadn't gotten immediately distracted by the swing or a trike. What did I see? I saw T holding out the compost bucket and taking A's hand to show her how they could carry the pail together. Then they walked as neatly as can be to the compost bin. From time to time, I see these flashes of such patient consideration and thoughtfulness on the part of T and such playfulness on the part of A, that I am amazed that these kids are even related to me. Where does that come from? I am amazed most days that these small people not only play together, but play together well and that they enjoy each other's company so much. They really are friends.

Let's only hope it lasts. As a parent, I realize that I didn't do much to create their relationship. It seems to be the happy result of their respective personalities more than anything. But as their mother, I can't help but wonder what I can do to encourage it as they grow into the adults that they will become.

Any ideas?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hallowe'en in Minnesota

It was a very happy Halloween at our house this year. It was T's second Halloween and A's first. T insisted on being a doctor and A had no choice in the matter, though I think she enjoyed her fairy wings. If you look closely, you can see that under his surgical cap, T is wearing an earflap hat and that they are both wearing mittens. And the Fairy is wearing a turtleneck onsie under her shiny dress. No half measures, I say. T is also wearing a fleece vest under his scrubs. Next year they can go as eskimoes. We Trick or Treated in 47 degree weather this year.

I was elected the Official Parental Escort this year and got to take the kids door to door. I imagine that I was more welcome in this capacity than I will be as Official Parental Escort when they go to prom. As an additional treat, my dad (otherwise known as "GRANDPA!!!") came to be Assistant Escort. My mom (known mostly as "GRANDMA!") came afterward and joined us for dinner. We had fish, rice, and vegetables. The kids had fish and candy (or "CANDY!").

I admit that I just love Halloween. I enjoy it as much now as I did as a Trick or Treat-er. I have so much fun getting the kids all dressed up, I love going to our neighbors' houses and meeting them again. I love showing off my babies and seeing them get excited about the CANDY! Even before we had kids, I still enjoyed stockpiling the candy, turning on the lights and waiting for the kids to come around. I don't even mind the older kids (though I appreciate the effort at an actual costume). I like being able to greet them with a smile, heaping the refined sugar into their sacks, and letting them know that their community cares about them. If I wanted to show them that I really care, of course, I'd give them toothbrushes instead of the sweets, but I don't think that idea would be very popular. I love any kind of holiday that gets kids to play dress-up and roam the streets at night. Just so they leave their toilet paper and eggs at home!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Another Birthday


Another birthday's come and left my little boy a whole, big 4 years
old. He was lucky enough to have THREE parties. He had one with his
Grandpa and Grandma, one at Preschool, and one with his Auntie, his
Uncle Chris, and Grams & Gramps. It was more like a birth-week.

He certainly ate up the attention, once he got into the swing of
things. All week we've been serenaded with Happy Birthday, sung off
key, but with much enthusiasm. P and I had a date on Saturday before
we had the party with my parents. We were running around Minneapolis
and saw this party balloon store that is next door to Rachel's
apartment. We spontaneously decided that what every kid needs for his
birthday are a couple helium balloons. I sent P to get a couple while
Rachel and I ran to the grocery store to get some food for the party.
You can imagine my surprise when we met P back at the apartment.
Instead of two or three balloons, he came carrying no less than a
dozen helium balloons in assorted rainbow colors. I was stunned. It
was like the kind of magic you always dream of as a child. I had no
idea how we were were going to fit it in our car. Peter said that this
seemed to be the way they were selling them, but I can tell that he
just got a little excited. I can't tell, however, if he got carried
away because it was his little boy's birthday or if he just got
excited about a big bouquet of balloons. Either way, for my reserved,
button-down guy to go overboard on birthday balloons was just to sweet
too be believed. It was money well-spent, in any case. A week later
and they're still floating.

This is the first year that T has really gotten the idea of presents.
He actually wanted to open presents before his birthday dinner. In the
past, he's been pretty oblivious to the idea of presents, but this
year he certainly had his focus. I've been pleased with how he's taken
to his gifts. He's given each of his toys a good amount of attention
with nothing being ignored. This tells me that 1) he got good gifts 2)
he got the right amount of presents and 3) he's doesn't have too many
toys already. Even the toothbrush his Auntie gave him has received a
lot of excitement. We kind of have to make him stop brushing his teeth
now. "Really, T, you can brush again tonight! Unhand that toothbrush!"

It's amazing how much he's changed in the past year. It's even more
amazing when I consider how much he's changed since he was born:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Installation Art

Last night Peter had to go in to work and he brought T in with him. Getting to go to work with Daddy has to be the highlight of T's whole life. It happens rarely enough so it's a real treat. T sits on the fancy office chair in a neighboring cubical and P works diligently away at his desk. Last night, when it was time to leave, P looked over at what T had been working on in his "office". He found this.
I'm counting it as his first sculpture. I'm calling it "Mute Face in Office Pushpins". I think T has a great future as an installation artist.*

*You can read more about installation art here. On of my favorites is Christo and Jeanne-Claude who did Gates in Central Park, NY.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sign of the Times


You can tell Mama's been very, very sick when Anna learns to say "Pizza!"

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

You Smell Like a Monkeeeeeee. . .


Happy Birthday to Rachel, my long-suffering Sister-in-Law!

I met Rachel back when she was still young, a mere 15 years old and I was dating her oldest brother. She was such a fun, creative girl back then; it was like the whole world was magic to her. P and I would take her with us when we went out for coffee or when we would do stuff in the cities. Everything was an adventure when you were with Rachel; everything was new and very, very interesting.

When P and I got married we would have Rachel up to Duluth for weekend visits. She would take a bus and we would go pick her up at the Greyhound station. You could just tell as she stepped off that bus that there was absolutely no cooler way to travel than on a rented seat next to someone that was possibly just released from prison.

When she was still in college, just after T was born, she came to stay with P and I for a summer. I think that having her company those brief months made such a difference in how I felt about staying at home with my new baby. It was great to have some conversation for a change, company during the day. It was during this summer that I learned how to knit and I completed my first project--a baby hat for T that never did fit.

Now, Rachel is a full grown woman, married, and a teaching professional in the arts with a whole, full life of her own. She is one of my best friends and I stand on my chair to shout in celebration as we mark the anniversary of the day that the world became a better place.

More Advice: Or, Why Can't She Keep Her Opinions to Herself?

I have some advice that I want to share. It could go with my previous post as this has to be some of my favorite advice ever. It applies to almost anyone at some time or another. It is almost always useful. And I have a couple of people in my life that I am thinking of as I give it to you all now. Here it is:

Lighten up.

Seriously, let it go. Whatever is happening to you at this moment is not that important. Or, it IS important, but is certainly not as horrible as you think it is.

That person who is bothering you right now probably isn't even trying to piss you off. Sure, it's plain to you that they are being (insert: annoying, irresponsible, inconsiderate, selfish, unreasonable, etc), but it is possible that they aren't intending to bother you (but if they are? Are you going to let them WIN by getting all riled about it?). I promise that most people don't do it intentionally, even if it seems like irritating you is their job.

Most things that happen in this world have nothing to do with you at all, even if you're affected by it.

Brace yourself, dearie, but it could be that you are not just interpreting things in the wrong light, but that you're taking the actions of others TOO PERSONALLY.

Try to throw some Peace out into the world by cutting people a little slack. Quit being so hard on people, just because they are walking in this world. Quit trying to put your seal of "approval" or "disapproval" on everyone you encounter. Give people the benefit of the doubt. That means your spouse, too. Assume the best. Relax. Let go. Slow down. I promise that if you unclench a little that you will become less costive. I promise that it is for the best. You will become a kinder, more generous person. You will invite graciousness into your life. You will become happier and feel less stress. Most of all, you'll be more enjoyable to be around. And who doesn't want that? It's so much better than being right.

Anyway. Maybe this will be helpful advice for some of you, maybe not. Use what you can and throw the rest away.

Friday, September 28, 2007

My Preschooler: Update


My boy seems to have adapted to preschool life. He isn't over the moon about it or anything, but he seems to find it exciting enough.

I keep waiting for that euphoric feeling of freedom people keep telling me about. I drop him off at school, maybe run an errand or two around town, and then I come home with A to do a couple of small chores. There is a distinct lack of excitement about his time at school. Perhaps it's because preschool is only a couple of hours long, so there's no time to do anything terribly involved. I just end up missing his company. I always feel kind of sad when I come back home with A and he's not with us, coming in the door. Even when I take A to the grocery store or Target, I miss his (endless, non-stop) chatter.

It is nice to have some time with just A, to let her have my undivided attention. We read the books she wants to read and she gets to play the games she wants to play. For four hours a week no one takes her toys. But I can tell she misses her brother, too. She seems a little bored, as though she's at loose ends without her brother to run the show.

We're sending T to preschool because we want him to learn to play in a group of children his own age. We want him to learn to follow directions. We want him to read new books, play with new toys, sing new songs and make new crafts. There area a lot of things we hope he will get from school. But it turns out I'm getting something out of it, too: A whole new appreciation for a chatty, energetic nearly-4 year-old boy.

All Tucked In


This morning the kids and I spent a couple of hours putting the garden to bed for the winter. What you see in the photo are the homemade tomato cages that P put together for me a couple of years ago. He got the pattern for them from Mother Earth News magazine. Nothing says "granola crunching, sandals-with-socks hippy" more than homemade tomato cages from Mother Earth News magazine. But there they are, just the same.

I hate to wax poetic about this about as much as you're going to hate reading about it, but they are the best tomato cages you can imagine. Wide at the bottom, narrow at the top, they guide those bushy tomato plants loosely without pinching them like my wire cages do. The open framework allows easy access to those ripe tomatoes that grow deep within the plant's branches. I really like these frames. We put them up every summer. Even though I know how practical and useful they are, I can't help feeling like our neighbors think we're constructing antenna for alien contact when we put them up in the spring. They are odd looking, especially before the plants grow in. Because I neglected to fertilize, this summer the plants never really did grow in. Tall and leggy, the tomatoes looked rather pathetic. Putting these monstrous frames up felt like overkill. It was not unlike trying to shoot a squirrel with a grenade launcher.

After taking the frames down and stowing the metal cages in the garage (sort of, at least. I'm sure P will have a heart attack when he sees the haphazard manner in which I laid them on the workbench), I took the clippers and trimmed back all of the random tree shoots that have grown unhindered throughout the summer. Even though my garden is small I have the worst time keeping up on it. Random trees and bushes grow from the nooks and crannies of the garden. Weeds overrun the small space once I figure the vegetables are big enough to fend for themselves. Of course, up to this point the garden has been my own project. Either my parents or my in-laws till up the ground in the spring, and my dad keeps me supplied with his surplus seedlings, but the planting and watering and the weeding are all up to me. P certainly looked skeptical last week when I suggested planting a bigger garden next year. I want to grow some garlic and onions, carrots, turnips, and parsnips. There simply isn't enough room in our back yard, much less actual sunny space for a proper garden. I was trying to talk him into making the garden something of a team effort--we could actually mulch! Of course, after seeing the kind of neglect my garden already suffers from, I understand his reluctance to make the garden bigger. I'm sure he feels like the only way he gets spared the work of making our garden grow is to remove himself from the job altogether.

I can't say I blame him. Speaking only for myself, I have to admit that the best part of gardening is putting it away in the fall. No matter how leggy your tomatoes, or weedy your garden bed, once it's all put away you can look forward to a fresh start in the spring.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Up in an Apple Tree






Big Words for a Small Girl


Anna has two new words now: "Button" and "Turtle". They are her first, two-syllable words. I never remember to record "first words". The transition from random phonetical outbursts, to associating these with actual objects, to being actually articulate is such a gradual one that I have a hard time telling when it all starts. For a while, Anna called everything "Da". Me, T, and P, plus the cat and occationally a grandparent.

I'm excited that she's hitting this new milestone. I'll finally know what she wants, before I tell her she can't have it!

Tonight I was making some focaccia bread for dinner. Every time I bake bread, Anna's got her fingers in the dough, pulling off pinches to eat, or pulling on my pant leg frantically begging bits from me. Tonight I was kneeding out the dough and she kept reaching up to pinch off yet another bite. Finally, I turned her around and told her to be off or there would be none left for dinner. She was back a minute later, sneaking another bite. As infuriating as it is, I'm secretly pleased to have a Bite-Sneaker in my brood. T is much more of a Helper. He's content to lick beaters and bowls and tends to keep out of the batter itself, so long as he can help man the mixer. It's so fun how they each have their own ways of getting under my feet.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Preschooler


The big day has arrived. Here he is: My Preschooler.

It was a big deal, at least for me. I spent all morning in a state of low-grade anxiety, the kind of anxiety that you try to stuff in the back of the drawer so you can pretend it doesn't exist. I didn't want T to pick up on my nerves and become more nervous than he needed to be. So I spent all morning wanting to puke in my hat and trying not to act like it.

When the time came, however, my fears went largely unrealized. There were no tears, no long explainations of how I would be back to get him, no clinging or begging. I showed him the bathroom, pointed out that it was a potty with a LEVER and not an auto-flush, put his backpack in his cubby with him and pretty much left. He was immediately drawn to the BIG, NEW TOYS and could scarcely be bothered to say good bye. I have a sneaking suspicion that a half hour later he REALIZED that I said good bye and became upset, but I'm hoping that by then he'll have had some fun and realize that there was still more fun to be had.

For myself, I went to Target and then took A to Gymboree where I spent way too much money on a little sweater and some socks. I'm sure than very soon I'll come to enjoy this time as much as he will, but for now it feels very strange indeed to be without my big boy.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Preschool: Prologue

Last Thursday was Orientation Day for T's preschool. He will be going to a little preschool a mile or two from our house that's hosted by a neighborhood church. It's a nice little place--nothing fancy, but all I'm hoping for is some good experiences as he learns to play with other kids. It would also be nice if he could learn how to read, but, hey, you get what you can, you know?

The school had a three-year-old class and a four-year-old class. I wouldn't bother sending him to school at all if he had just turned three, but as he is nearly four I feel pretty comfortable sending him to preschool with the other three year olds. He seems ready to me. He's ready for the interaction with other kids his age, he's ready to be challenged in new ways, he's ready to manage a new situation.

I'm a little apprehensive about the initial separation the first few days of school. He's never been one to part happily from my company, unless it's to spend time with his beloved Grandpa and Grandma. He's plenty social and engaged when he knows I'm nearby, but he has some anxiety when he thinks I've left.

We had been talking about preschool some and I tried to explain that it is like his Singing and Dancing class, only he would be there without me and Anna. He would have his teacher, and some friends to play with, but that I would be dropping him off, saying good-bye and that I would be back later to pick him up. Then, he could show me all of the things he had done while I was away. I explained that there would be new toys to play with, stories to read, and songs to sing. He still seemed to think that this was a pretty poor exchange for my company, but I think that after having a chance to see the classroom and play with some new toys he'll do just fine. I will admit to being pretty nervous myself for that first day.

I'm trying to think of some tricks I can use to help ease the adjustment. T really likes timers. I've been toying with the idea of putting a timer in his backpack for him and telling him that he can go and play. When the timer goes off, it will be time for me to come pick him up. That way he wouldn't have to worry about missing me, somehow. I wouldn't even need to set the timer. I could just tell him it's there and hope it gives him the security he needs to let me go for a while. P thinks this is ludicrous, of course. He's more of the "push them out of the nest and see if they fly" philosophy of parenting. I'm worried about making the beginning more traumatic than it needs to be. I've tried not to talk about it too much, or even dwell on the separating aspect of it, but I'm a little anxious and I'll feel better for having a plan to deal with T's worry on that first day. Really, we just have to get through the first day or two. I know he'll love it once he gets used to it.

Any advice for easing the transition to school?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Conventional Wisdom

In order to get myself back on track with posting, I thought I would copy what Mighty Girl is doing over at her blog. She is posting from her book No One Cares What You Had For Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog.

Favorite Advice:

Don't judge people too quickly. Even if you think you know the whole story, chances are you don't so it's best to reserve judgment.

Give yourself more time than you think you're going to need to get some place. You can never tell what might come up to put you behind schedule. If you get someplace early, you can have a book or knitting on hand to amuse yourself while you wait.

It's better underreact than to overreact--unless someone cuts you off in traffic.

Less is more.

Your kids need less stuff than you think they do.

Be patient.

Be kind.

Learn how to make your own bread.

Keep your advice to your self.

Learn how to spell.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Keeping An Eye On This One


It occured to me today that I am in for big trouble when this little one learns to open the pantry door. She lurks, waiting for the door to be left cracked, even a little bit, so that she can dive right it. Today I caught her in the act--lentils, oats, and split peas scattered on the floor with three boxes of macaroni and cheese piled in a corner. I've no one to blame but myself.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Voodoo Sweater: Completed


It's done. The Sweater That Shall Not Be Named is finally done.

I didn't particularly enjoy knitting it and I'm not over the moon about the results, but at least I can say it's done. I'm sure the person for whom this is intended will like it and use it and that's all the pay-off I need. I am most certainly throwing the pattern away and making a voodoo doll of the pattern's designer. That aside, I'm ready to move on.

The problem is that I've found myself in something of a Knit Slump. I've just finished two baby sweaters that I didn't love knitting. I made myself finish them so that they wouldn't languish at the bottom of the Project Pile and I held off starting a newer, more loved project. I wanted to begin the new project, the Dale of Norway lace shawl, like I would begin a New Year. I wanted to begin with a clean slate and without any of the old projects clinging on to me, holding me back.

However, now that I've arrived at the cusp of this new project, I simply can't get the knitting mojo going again. I think about the shawl, but I can't feel that gentle pull of desire that usually propels me head-first into the wool and charts that begin a new work. I've gotten out the pattern, even, started reading the beginning instructions to cast on, skimmed over the chart and symbol key, and found the needles. I've gazed at the picture, trying to imagine wearing the finished project. This is, actually, the first thing I've knitted for myself in about a year and certainly the only thing I've knit for myself larger than a pair of mittens.

There is only one recourse left at this point and that is to bring out The Wool. It may take some knitter-on-wool time to get me ready to spring into action. I may need to sniff the skein and inhale the Dale of Norway fumes before I'm really there, ready to go. In a lot of ways, it seems like getting ready to knit a big project is like getting ready to go on a big date. The difference, of course, is that instead of rubbing perfume between your wrists, you rub a little wool between your fingers.

Ah, yes. Soon I'll be ready. And I'll scrounge up some pictures to introduce you to my Date.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Bridge Collapse

We're Ok

The phone calls have all been made--we're ok.

The 35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis yesterday and it was a tense evening until we could contact everyone. I felt pretty confident that our friends and family would be fine, but it's hard to climb down off the ceiling until you know for sure. The wireless network was overloaded and it took a few tries before our calls could get through, but eventually they did and luckily everyone was safe and sound.

What keeps this from being just another news event is knowing that not everyone in our community could say the same.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

American Gothic Eats a Popsicle

Have you ever seen two kids less enthused about eating a popsicle?

Luckily, their mood improved. They were pretty excited to discover their new red tongues.


Also, in cute kid picture updates, we went to the Mall of America today to return some fancy shoes that I accidentally bought. They had some seriously high heels and would have gone with a number of outfits that I have no occasion to wear. It's amazing how few of my days require Kung-Pow shoes and dressy clothes.

I have nothing to report on the Knitting Front. I have been excessively lazy about weaving up that sleeve for my friend's baby sweater. I have no other excuse. I'm trying to feel bad. But I don't.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Blunder

I'm a big girl. When I make a mistake, I admit it. And, boy, did I ever make a mistake with this sweater. But I'm not sure my misstep is anything compared to the crime committed by the woman who designed this sweater in the first place. I know exactly where I went wrong, but I won't bore you with the details. Suffice to say, I've knit myself backwards into a sweater that was designed by someone recovering from a bad weekend in Vegas. I myself could have found two other ways to knit this thing and it would have been vastly improved from the octopus-like monster that it is.

This, my friends, is a "seamless" baby sweater:



Seamless, indeed. I fully admit to having knit the left sleeve on the wrong side of the front. That mistake was mine. I had no earthly idea what the designer was doing when I started out, and was following her directions in blind faith. I made the mistake when I came to an ambiguous part in the instructions. Having no idea what she was having me knit, I made an educated guess that turned out to be wrong.

HOWEVER, I came to the end of the sweater only to discover that this "seamless" baby sweater involved GRAFTING the 31 stitches on the tops of the arms and SEAMING the 21 stitches on the bottoms of the arms. I can kitchner stitch with the best of them. I'm not put off by that so much as the fact that this sweater is not what I signed on for. I imagine the National Guard is feeling the same way right about now. But without the wool.

When you tell me that the sweater I will be knitting is seamless, it leads me to believe that I will not be doing anything like seaming and certainly nothing as involved as Kitchner stitching.

I ripped the wonky sleeve back and am now in the proess of re-knitting it. I discovered my mistake after having grafted the top of the first sleeve. I was SO CLOSE to being finished. It's like getting to the last two chapters of a book only to discover you have to re-read chapters 5 & 6 because the author didn't know what the heck she was doing. It's the stubbed toe of knitting.

I'm not done yet, but I'll post pictures when I am. And eventually I'll stop shaking my fist in the general direction of the pattern's designer.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sweater for a Friend


This is a sweater I knit for my friend's daughter. Kate is one of my oldest and most special friends. We had our daughters two and a half months apart. We have grown into motherhood together. Her friendship has been one of the most important things in my life. So, I knit her daughter this sweater.

I used a KnitPicks sport-weight cotton/modal yarn. It's so soft. I'm excited to see how it washes up. I used my first ever Addi Turbo knitting needles and let me tell you--I've never driven a Porsche before, but this is how I imagine it to be. Wooosh!

The pattern is Tater's Cotton Cardi. I think it was free from The Garter Belt website. I think I must be learning impaired because I had some problems interpreting the pattern. I've knit the whole thing and I have no idea where I went wrong. I know I must have because when it came time to knit the lace pattern I didn't need to do stitch increases to get the number of stitches I needed to knit the body. I may have used some rather unbecoming language. In fact, I know I did.

I am very happy with how it turned out, though. I rather wish I had knitted it for Anna! I think I will order some more yarn and see if I can find a similar pattern in a book like Top Down for Toddlers that I can adapt with some lace. I just got too lost trying to knit this sweater to attempt it again. It took some of the fun out of knitting it. But I know that nothing's going to be better than seeing Claire wearing it!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

There's a Moral in Here Somewhere


My family always treats me like I'm some kind of Nervous Nellie when it comes to my kids' safety. They seem to think that I'm the worst kind of worrying, helicopter mother. If you were to ask my husband, he would probably tell you that I am always fixated on being careful of every possible and improbable accident that could happen to the kids. You might get the idea what I spend my evenings paging through the One Step Ahead catalog, inventorying the safety devices we already own and making lists of products we still need to buy in order to prevent any bumps and scrapes that could happen. Germ Guardian Nursery Sanitizer? Check. Tub-Time Bath Bumpers? Oooo, still need to get that one. Can't have Jr. loosing teeth on the side of the bathtub, should he happen to free himself from the Secure Transitions Baby Tub.

The truth is that before I had kids, I spent a lot of time watching other people's children for a living. Part of my job was to maintain a safe play environment. A large part of how you achieve that is to anticipate accidents. Going to our neighborhood playground gives me a tick simply because it is NOT SAFE, especially for small children. At our playground I do, in fact, hover. And when I am watching the kids with someone else, like P, I will often tell him about possible dangers. I'm sure that it comes across as Apocalypse Parenting, but I simply want to make him aware of things like gaps in the railings that our 20 month old could fall through. I know she's not going to be careful. I want to make sure he is. Maybe he thinks I'm being obvious, but I feel like if I don't say anything, and something does happen, I would feel even worse knowing I could have prevented it by simply making P aware.

Anyway, tonight P was playing with A at the playground. He had her holding on to a bar, dangling her feet. She was having a great time and P was, of course, being careful not to let her fall. But as he was helping her down, she got hurt. I could tell that she was hurt and that it wasn't a small owie. We couldn't figure out what was wrong. We started walking back, but when she wouldn't stop crying, I told P to take T and get the car. I would sit under a shady tree on the curb and wait with A.

He came back and got us. We stopped briefly at home, but then we went right to After-Hours care at a clinic in a nearby town. P didn't see much point in all of us going, but I said I needed him there to tell the doctor what happened. After all, I hadn't seen it. The truth of the matter is, I knew that she shouldn't have been hanging from her arms. I knew she was too little and I was mad that P always does things with the kids that they are too little for and now A had gotten HURT. I wanted him to have to be the one to take her to the doctor, explain what he had been doing, and then have the doctor tell him that what he had done was WRONG. So we went.

We told the doctor what happened. He examined A and fixed a dislocated elbow. Then he proceeded to tell ME how the ligaments in small children aren't very strong and that you should always pick them up under the arms and never by the hands or wrists.

That's right. I got The Lecture.

I felt like telling him that perhaps he hadn't gotten the story straight because it was P who was holding her by the wrists and therefore merited The Lecture. I wanted to tell him that I brought P in special just so he could hear The Lecture, just once, and let's not waste this moment. But, no. Perhaps he was trying to be non-confrontational with another Male, maybe I really was To Blame since I was there and as The Mother I should have stopped it. Either way, I let a Safety Infraction slide and someone got hurt. And I got The Blame.

Worry: Damned if I Do, Damned if I Don't.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Classic Tale of a Boy and His Hat


I know this isn't the highest quality picture, but the patience of a young boy having his picture taken is limited.

The hat seems a bit big, but I think that means that it will be a perfect fit by winter . T loves wearing it, which makes it as good as gold. I am especially pleased because this was an improvised hat. I cast on 90 stitches and followed the basic hat recipe found in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's book "Knitting Rules!". I didn't do a gauge swatch. I used wool from sheep raised near Bemidji that I bought at Three Kittens Yarn Shoppe the week before I delivered A. I was in early labor, so it was the perfect time to do some yarn shopping. I'll always remember that when I look at this yarn.

Most of the patterns came from The Opinionated Knitter by Elizabeth Zimmermann, although I came up with the top, transitional color pattern myself with some graph paper. It's not original nor unique, but I figured it out by myself. I am ridiculously proud of this fact. I used odd ball yarn for the hat and ran out of the darker yarn towards the end (as expected), so I finished off with the contrasting color. I even had enough dark wool left for the pom-pom.

So, yea! One head will be well-covered this winter. I love wool.

Friday, July 13, 2007

What I Did On My Summer Vacation



Our vacation wasn't so bad after all.

It was quite nice, in fact, due in part to the copious amounts of toys and gadgetry we bought to distract the kids on the drive to Colorado. The drive went as drives go--slowly, with many stops. We stayed in a hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska and it was one of the nicest hotels I think I've ever stayed in. We opened the door to our room and I actually stood, stunned for a moment before leaping into action, "No! Don't touch! Don't get anything sticky!" The kids should have had a bath before we were allowed in. The beds were nicer than our bed at home.

There was some kind of national Teen Miss pageant being held at the hotel that night. Groups of teen and pre-teen girls floated around the hotel dressed in evening wear, full make-up, and prom-hair. Miss Nebraska was there shaking hands. I almost believed that it really was all about poise and scholarships. Of course, I felt supremely underdressed for the hotel, even without the Young Ladies, who were a little overdressed, as I walked around in my baggy denim shorts and sloppy traveling T-shirt. Gladly, our room seemed to be far away from the pageant excitement so there was no one to bother us or be bothered by us.

The second day of driving, however, was a little more desperate and about halfway through Nebraska I realized that if we didn't find a Walmart soon the rest of our trip was doomed. The kids had burned through all of the toys the first day and we needed reinforcements. Battery operated reinforcements, that is. We stopped and bought the noisy, digital toys that never seem to get old and met up with P's sister and brother-in-law who were traveling in the same direction. They had left Minneapolis around 3 am and were able to catch up to us in time for lunch.



Notice my brother-in-law? He's such a hipster. And he's picnicing. In Nebraska. Does he still get to keep his hipster passcard?

But wait, here is a cute picture of the kids.

We're from Minnesota--you wouldn't think that a haybale would be worth a picture. When you put cute kids in front of it, suddenly, it is!

But we made it to Estes Park in good time, mostly because the kids were such super travelers. I really shouldn't have worried. But I did. I even got a hat knit on the way. I'm sure all you knitters would love a picture, but I want to photograph it with T wearing it, so you'll have to wait until tomorrow. He's sleeping now and, as they say, let sleeping babies lie. Or is it lay?

Anyway, here's a sleeping baby for you.

More Later.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Muckity-Muck

We're back, finally, from our long-winded vacation out West. I'm sure I have more stories to tell about our vacation, but right now the biggest thing on my mind is that my computer has decided to revolt, somehow, during our week away. I really have no idea how this happened. How does something break when you're not even using it?

I blame the iPhone.

Friday night before we left P went to the mall to stand in line to buy an iPhone. He brought it home and tried to get it all "formatted" or something like that by connecting it to our big computer--the one with everything on it. I don't know. Everything seemed to work out fine, except that he was having problems importing music onto the thing. The details are fuzzy to me. But P assures me that it has nothing to do with the Glowing Ray of Holy Moonshine that is the iPhone and that it is, in fact, a problem with our big computer. Big Computer is fine, I say. It's never given ME any trouble. But now it is the focus of an intensive search and destroy mission involving my tech-husband, a small handful of Apple Help Guys in California (or India, again, what do I know?), and possibly some rookie CIA agents. And now it doesn't work. Even my blog reader doesn't work and as far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with the iPhone. All I know is that it worked before we introduced it to the iPhone.

In any case, it has made blogging difficult since I haven't been able to get P's head out of the hard drive since we've been home. It's even been hard to get instructions on Picture Posting to my blog since the computer tends to muffle his speech.

So, stand by. I'll be back and I hope to bring pictures of knitting and vacationing with me. As long as the iPhone doesn't eat the photos.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Prozac on the Prairie

I've been wondering lately about the availability of prescription strength 'mood lifters' in the Midwest. If this isn't possible, perhaps something nice in a Sedative?

In less than 40 hours, my family and I will begin a voyage across space and time, across the American prairie, leaving our comfy home and traveling in a car for 14 hours to see my husband's family. Yes. With a 3.5 year old and a 1.5 year old. And what little sanity we thought we had. For a family reunion.

Please don't get me wrong--I really do enjoy my husband's extended family. I just prefer to enjoy them a little closer to home. Say, within a 20 minute drive. And I have enjoyed the Rocky Mountains in the past. When we made the drive without children. I simply cannot imagine what this trip is going to be like. My stress level is off the charts.

I have had glimmers of eagerness when anticipating this trip. I optimistically bought a variety of children's books on clearance and stashed away matchbox cars and small toys in preparation for the car ride. P and I even fought briefly over whether or not a portable DVD player would be procured for our trip, but he won and we're driving without. We've tried to structure our driving around the schedule that our children normally follow and I'm packing healthy meals similar to what we would be eating at home so the kids' systems aren't burdened with salty, fatty, processed food they aren't accustomed to. I've done everything in my power to assure as enjoyable a trip as possible, including an overnight stop at a nice hotel with a pool.

Tonight, however, while laying out and organizing the distractions I've arranged for the children I realized one thing.

That it's madness. Absolute madness.

It's insane to think that any amount of books or gadgets is going to distract my kids from realizing that they are not in Happy Vacation Funland but, in fact, strapped into carseats for hours and hours without end. I mean, really? How do you get around that? I know they are going to hate it after an hour, that they are going to want the car ride to stop, and that they are going to want to be at HOME, HOME NOW, riding on their trikes. They are going to develop Restless Legs Syndrome, Tourette's, and possibly a rash and, by the way, I am pretty sure that whining will kill me or at least make my ears bleed.

I will try to be optimistic, and failing that, at least cheerful. A grumpy mama isn't anyone's idea of fun, least of all mine. And I know that once we get to the mountains that the kids will have a lovely time. My children continue to surprise me with the things they are capable of and I'm pretty sure they'll hold out as long as any toddler and preschooler could be expected to. A lot of my anxiety is simply because I have no idea what to expect of them. Can I expect a peaceful ride to Des Moines? To Rochester? To the end of our street? I just know that 14 hours of screaming unhappiness isn't tolerable to anyone unless you're medicated. Heavily.


"Though I say, 'I will forget my complaint,
I will leave off my sad countenance and be cheerful,' Job 9:27

Monday, June 25, 2007

Walk a Mile in My Bra

The time had come. The baby had been weaned and it was finally time to trade in my sorry, stretched out, worn out, tired and beaten nursing bras for something with an underwire. It had been two years since I'd worn anything more supportive than an ace bandage. I was starting to hurt. It was finally time to buy the bra my girls deserved after years of dutiful service to me and my babies.

As much as I anticipated the forgotten lift that a good bra can give, it was largely overshadowed by the looming dread of the Rite of the Nordstrom Lingerie Dept Bra-fitting. It's true. Even though the mighty swimsuit receives top billing as Most Dreaded Clothes to Buy, followed perhaps by blue jeans, I have to think that buying bras must be the elephant in the room that no one talks about. The process must be so traumatic for so many women that, like survivors of an airplane crash, it is an experience that is simply never talked about.

Shopping at a do-it-yourself store, like Sears or Target is bad enough. You're left to your own devices, roaming the aisles aimlessly, riffling through the racks, bringing piles and stacks of bras on itty-bitty hangers back and forth to your dressing room hoping to stumble upon something that seems like a good fit. Of course, after you've brought half a dozen bras home which you certainly thought were going to work, you find that, no, they do not work at all, but you are unfortunately stuck with a hundred dollars in underwear that will poke you in the arms until they wear out. Or the sun implodes upon itself. Whichever comes first, you eagerly await either event which will put you out of your pokey misery.

There is the other option. This is the one I choose and has proven to be one of the most humbling experiences in my life thus far. It's right up there with obstetrics appointments or a visit to the dentist. It is the Way of the Fitting and while difficult and embarrassing it ultimately yields better results. The buying experience is brief (relatively) and painful, but when it's over you're left wearing a bra you like and carrying a bag of bras that will do their job with pride and enthusiasm.

I've had many fittings in the past since babies, lactation, and age all seem to have an affect on your size and shape, but like most hobbies, this never seems to get boring or routine. I was lead back into the fitting area by the well-dressed sales lady where she instructed me to remove my shirt. Quickly, she whipped her measuring tape from around her neck and measured me here and there. Talking about various options, she left the room leaving me standing in front of a three-way mirror to contemplate my double layer of stretch marks (who knew they could CRISS-CROSS like that?) and the fact that someone other than my husband or sister-in-law had seen my dilapidated bra. If my bra were a house, it would be a condemned trailer home. It's not like something you'd invite a stranger home to see. My embarrassment was compounded by the awareness that this was Nordstrom's, hardly a place where people with dilapidated bras come to shop. I was clearly out of my element, even though I'd been here numerous times before and my sales person was being clearly professional. After all, she had neither gasped nor laughed at the sight of my bra. I was starting to wonder if I should have stopped at Sears to buy a cleaner, better bra to wear while shopping at Nordstrom's. Well, what's done is done.

The trying on session of my fitting went as expected with my honorable sales person hooking me into this bra, advising me on how to best hoist my endowment into that bra. Eventually I found a nice, reasonably priced item that fit well. And then she brought in the Unicorn. She introduced this bra as being really wonderful "when it works" and that this is the bra that Oprah always talks about and that she thinks I should just try it out to see how it does. She hooked me into the thing and I was skeptical to say the least. It had a massive, moulded shape like the breastplates worn by the warrior queens of ancient Ireland or the mythical warrior goddess Athena. But once I was strapped in, I was a convert. I put my top back on in order to get a better idea of the shape this thing was giving me and once I looked down I was overcome by the nearness of my chest. All I could do was say, "Oh!" and "Hello!" in a surprised sort of manner and "I haven't seen this much of you since I was thirteen!" The saleswoman smiled and said, "Yes, they do give you a nice bit of lift." Lift? Lift! My chest had such a presence that I felt rude not including them in conversation. I felt like I should consult them on where we were having lunch that afternoon. Lift, indeed.

My faith was again restored in the power of polyester, spandex, and flexible underwire support.

I still felt a little like Athena as I walked out of the dressing room and I was a little self-conscious with my dramatically repositioned bust. But it felt wonderful to walk into the world for the first time in two years with all my body parts right where they're supposed to be.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Like A Rocket

My husband and I bought our house about eight years ago. We had only been married a year at the time and were still very young. We were very fortunate to buy when we did. We could barely afford to buy our house for what it's worth today.

I really like our house, too. It's small, but it's big enough that the idea of raising three children here doesn't make me want to eat cat hair and throw sandbox toys at the neighbors. I like that the neighborhood is older, low-key and that no one cares much how long it's been since you've mowed your lawn, much less watered it. I like that there is no "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality, unless you count those who strive for the loudest motorcycle. Our neighborhood might not be anything to look at, but it's safe, it's quiet, and you can sit down and take your shoes off. I feel at home here.

Except for two months in the summer. Two months that make me want to lick the hair off my cat and throw plastic pails and shovels at my neighbors. For two months in the summer every Tim, Dick, and Joe in our neighborhood decides to stockpile fireworks in their garage like the feds are revoking their constitutional rights to raise a ruckus. They seem to squirrel them away in the dark winter months (or make their own, industrious chaps that they are) only to have a two month long Yankee Doodle Militia party from mid-June through the Blessed Fourth of July until sometime in mid-August.

In the beginning, it's only mildly irritating (or it used to be, before I could enjoy the pleasure of anticipating what was ahead in future weeks). A small boom here, a mild bang there. No big deal. But then the local guys start getting excited--they try to hold back knowing they should wait for the Fourth, but as the Big Day draws nearer and as they dip deeper into their explosive stash they just can't wait any longer.

By the time the Fourth of July passes, I'm a walking symphony of ticks and twitches, white knuckling my way through the evening news at night wondering which firecracker is going to be the One to Wake The Baby. My Lord, the Fourth of July hasn't been the same since The Baby came.

The worst are the post-Fourth firecrackers that the men seem to find stashed away in the dark corners of their garages or basements. These take me utterly by surprise and like someone suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress disorder. My reaction to these sporadic, unexpected explosions sends me straight to the ceiling where I cling, nails dug deep into the sheet-rock.

Maybe someday I'll be able to hear the jovial festivities of our local patriots with equanimity, long after my babies have grown and I don't have to nurse anyone back to sleep. I hear they're developing new medications every day. But I doubt they'll find one to help me.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

An Introduction

I've seen a list on other blogs called "100 Things". It's supposed to serve as an introduction to the blogger, a sort of synopsis of who they are and what they are like. I wrote one, once, and it turned out pretty well, even though it is now too outdated to be of use. I think that in the interest of brevity I'll make another one for you, just so we can get acquainted.

100 Things:

1) My name is Sarah.
2) I stay at home with my kids all day.
3) I'm getting better at this the longer I do it.
4) I have one husband. For the sake of his privacy, I'll call him "P".
5) I have two children. My son is three and a half. When he was a baby we called him the "Man-Cub". For the sake of his privacy and something like efficiency, I'll call him "T". My daughter is a year and a half old. She has no nicknames and I'll call her "A".
6) I like efficiency, even though I am often far from it.
7) I like to knit. A lot. I like yarn and making things. I like how clever I feel when I've knitted something well. I like that when I knit something, I get to decide how perfect I want a project. I can redo something again and again until I get it right, or gracefully live with the flaws or scrap the whole thing altogether.
8) I like to make people laugh.
9) I've decided that I dislike sarcasm. It tends to be mean-spirited. I don't like how it tends to tear people down.
10) I have a cat. I don't dote on her like I used to before I had kids.
11) I take a lot of pictures. A LOT of pictures. Right now, we have approx. 4,000 digital photos that we've taken since our son was born.
12) I love my coffee pot. Love. It has a thermal carafe, which essentially means I can have hot coffee all day without ever having to reheat it.
13) I love drinking tea, but seldom have time to drink it. Coffee seems quicker to me.
14) We tried for three years before we were able to get pregnant with our son.
15) Our daughter was a surprise. One we were hoping for.
16) Sometimes, when I think about my kids growing up, I miss them already.
17) I like to cook.
18) This feeling is more pronounced when I don't have children hanging off of me.
19) It helps that my husband cleans up after dinner. Every night.
20) I have a degree in English.
21) I have no idea what you're supposed to do with it.
22) One of my favorite things about having children is that I get to read all those great children's stories.
23) But I don't read to my kids enough.
24) This weighs on me when I see how much they love it.
25) I love hanging my laundry on the clothes line.
26) I took piano lessons for 14 years.
27) I still can't play the piano worth a lick.
28) I wanted dance lessons instead but my mom said that I would be able to play piano when I'm old. Tap dancing, not so much.
29) Now, I'm more interested in spinning my own yarn when I'm old.
30) I still have little interest in the piano.
31) Maybe I'll learn how to play the violin instead.
32) Or the cello. The cello might make me look thin.
33) My parents are really interesting people.
34) I grew up on a hobby farm in Minnesota.
35) I helped my family raise our own chickens, cows, and vegetables.
36) I still miss having laying hens.
37) I have one brother who is younger than me.
38) I wish I knew him better.
39) We used to go "exploring" when we were growing up. We would pack a lunch, a canteen, and pocket knives and go hiking around the fields and hills around our house.
40) We would find really cool, really big rocks on our hikes. He would carry them back in his backpack.
41) I've been to London twice.
42) I've never seen the ocean up close.
43) I love to read.
44) I hardly have time for reading anymore.
45) We don't have TV.
46) We watch movies on our computer, though.
47) I get hooked on a TV series DVD and watch it over and over until I can't stand it anymore. First it was Law and Order, then West Wing, now it's the Andy Griffith Show.
48) My family doesn't eat much meat.
49) I wish I could say we are vegetarians, but I like the flexibility of eating what is available when we are guests at someone's home or when we're at restaurants. I made chicken tonight. I can't remember when I last handled raw meat.
50) I used to help my family butcher our own chickens, but I still get grossed out handling raw meat.
51) I am hoping this blog will serve partly as a baby book of sorts. There are a hundred silly things that my kids do that I want to remember and share, but seem to momentary to actually write out in a paper baby book.
52) I'm finding it harder to make this list than I thought it would be.
53) I used to figure skate in college. Not competitively, but just for fun.
54) I love old movies.
55) I love British mystery movies.
56) I dislike being hot.
57) Minnesota isn't cold enough for me.
58) I'd move to Canada if my extended family didn't live here.
59) I once made up a funny anthem for Canada.
60) Getting the mail is sometimes the high point of my day.
61) I love sleep. Can't get enough. Giving up sleep has been one of the big sacrifices of having children for me.
62) Sometimes I think I'd like to write a book, but don't know if I could handle the solitude that writing one requires.
63) I'm trying to give up all unnecessary spending.
64) I'm finding the space between Need and Want is a vast, grey colored land filled with shadowy ambiguity.
65) I wish my friends lived closer to me.
66) They only live about half an hour away, but it's still too far for how often I would like to see them.
67) I give my opinion too freely.
68) I try not to be too pushy with my advice.
69) I fail often.
70) Mostly with my sister in law.
71) She is younger than my and I am often overcome with the urge to tell her exactly what I think.
72) I think her ability to tolerate this is one of the reasons I feel so close to her.
73) I cloth diaper my kids.
74) I think they lie when they say this makes them potty train sooner. Liars. All of Them.
75) I know six other women, just off the top of my head, who also cloth diaper their kids.
76) I had two kids in cloth diapers for over a year.
77) I did a lot of laundry.
78) I didn't mind. It was better than taking out a lot of trash.
79) I'll miss cloth diapering when my last baby is potty trained. I think.
80) I want one more baby.
81) I wonder if I will always want just one more baby.
82) I think that people who see the world in terms of black/white, right/wrong are often frustrated.
83) My favorite writer is Madeleine L'Engle. And Anne Lamott. Jane Austen. And Wilke Collins. And E. Nesbit. And. . .
84) Sometimes I don't know what I want for my future.
85) I can't decide where I want to live--alone in the country, in a small town, or in a city. I never imagine that I want to live in the suburbs, but here I am.
86) I'm not sure what to do about that.
87) I've never owned a new car.
88) I'm not sure I want to.
89) But it would be nice to have a car that was younger than 10 years old.
90) My son was born eight weeks premature. My daughter was born via emergency cesarean.
91) I seem to have bad luck birthin' the babies.
92) I'm glad to have lucked out with good kids.
93) I'm not the kind of mother I wish they had, though. But I'm the one I want them to have.
94) I wish I were a more patient and clever person.
95) I would like to have more adventures.
96) My husband and I went to high school together, but didn't meet until college.
97) We dated, got engaged, and got married in a year.
98) We knew what we wanted.
99) I think we made a good choice.
100) We are blessed.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

It's About Time

I'm finally doing it. After years and years of reading the blogs of other people, I am actually writing one of my own.

I've felt rather guilty over the past three years since I've been an avid blog reader and have had no writing of my own to offer. I've lurked, commented, and emailed other bloggers and even when some of my "blogging ladies", as I have come to call them, have actually been kind enough to ask after my own URL, I have had nothing to give them. It's been like sitting through a public radio pledge drive and not calling in to pledge, even though you listen to the station every day.

So here it is--my own contribution to the body of writing found only on the internet. Over the past few years, I have found company, encouragement, and comfort from the voices of other people who are going through lives very similar and very different from my own. It is because I have appreciated their writing so much that I have felt the need to do the same.

Come for a visit, come to stay. Thanks for stopping by.