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!