Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Motherhood and More: Age truly is only a number, not a promise of maturity*

I turned 35 this month.

I’m still waiting to feel different, older, mature, more “grown up.”

I’ve never really worried about aging. I don’t care all that much about looking old, I don’t worry about wrinkles or losing my youth. At this point in my life, one year is much like the next – albeit with children who have ever-evolving parental needs.

When I was younger, I thought 35 was the epitome of grown up. By 35, I should know what I’m doing, have a life plan and fully understand retirement savings accounts.

But for me, now, I’m kind of still waiting to feel like an adult. I’ve got bills, I have responsibilities, I have small people requiring my care and attention. But what does it mean to be an adult? Sometimes I feel aged like cheddar and wine. Sometimes I feel 16.

I was speaking with a friend on aging a few weeks ago and where we hoped to be by this age. I came to the conclusion that it’s all a giant, delusional myth.

No one has their life together. Everyone is taking it as it comes, never really knowing if their choices and decisions are exactly the right ones. None of us are adulting, truly “adulting,” because we don’t really know what it means.

And I’ll wager that our parents felt the same way when they were our age. We thought they knew everything about everything because they were able to speak with confidence when they told us to stop acting like fools. They were authority figures. But really, they were figuring it out as they went, too.

All that is to say that I don’t really feel old or what I thought old would feel like.

At this age, I should have wisdom and maturity and growth. And I do have days like that. I mean, I have a mortgage and someone has to be available to make dinner for all the wild children who live in my house. Two. It’s only two, but if we’re going by number of dirty socks strewn throughout the house it’s more like 14.

But much of the time I have the mind of a 12 year old, giggling at inappropriate jokes, writing melodramatic poetry or secretly lusting after Lisa Frank unicorn folders. I think that’s just how it is, for most of us.

At a certain age, we want to appear like we know what we’re doing. We’re all faking it, though. We do what we can to seem responsible and grown up but still really want to have ice cream for dinner most days.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on July 27, 2016.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Homemade Friday: Dottie Angel Frock and Greenwood Tank


I think my sewing mojo is busted.

There are many factors that could contribute to the fact that everything I've tried to sew lately has ended up less than stellar. I mean, I've been super sick, ridiculously sick, full-on worst sinus infection of my life sick. Then there's all the meds I'm on to fix said sickness, which are helping but also hurting as I spend most of my days now dizzy and woozy and whatnot.

And then, also, Sebastian is at his first overnight camp, his first time staying away from home in this type of setting with people he has never met before.

I'm stressing and worrying and can't stop obsessively pouring through the generous amount of photos the camp provides online to parents. (Thank you internet. Let's be best friends.) So while I can't tell if he's made friends, or what he's doing at every minute of every day, or whether he's homesick, I can see his face and see a bit of his experiences.

So, anyway, the last two items I've sewn have been kind of disappointing. First up was a Dottie Angel Frock that I cut out possibly a year ago. This was the second time I've sewn this particular pattern. This is the first one:

I think I like the idea of this dress more than I like the actual dress. Or - if I tweaked the pattern, the dress actually would be perfect. It's light weight, but also can be layered. It's got big front pockets for carrying all sorts of things - cucumbers and snow peas from the garden, maybe? Eggs from my imaginary chickens? One of my new kittens?

Also pictured - a sewing project that worked well.

But the neckline is not right. I think the first time I sewed the dress I graded between sizes because my hip to bust ratio is rather large, so I'm usually two different sizes - much smaller on top. But maybe I didn't do that with the second one? I didn't take any notes and it's been so long that I don't remember what I did. Obviously I have to fix it. If I do anything other than stand completely still the whole thing falls off my shoulders. I think I may just sew a seam up the back of the dress from the waist up. It probably isn't what I should do, but will at least make the dress functional.

And I want it functional because I think that it could be really wearable, and I love the colors. Here's a better photo that shows that:

Next on my sewing table was another Greenwood Tank from Straight Stitch Designs - also my second time sewing. And also completely wonky. I think that I should have used a regular stitch instead of a straight stitch on the neckline and armbands, because, once again, it's too wide. And also too stretched out.

This was my first Greenwood Tank:

I loved this one. It was a bit wonky, as well, but not nearly as bad as this new one. But that fabric isn't as stretchy as the fabric from the most recent, and I think that's why I got into trouble.

I was thinking about sewing up some pleats on the front and back, and try to make it look like I intentionally made it all too big. We'll see. I'm wearing it now because it's really comfortable, even if it looks weird.

So there you have it. Misshapen clothing. I gotta go sew something easy to make myself feel better. (My daughter is begging for an Elsa dress. I'm not sure I should do that until I'm over this slump.)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Homemade Friday: Cicely Shawl

Oh man. These may be some of the worst photos I've taken of myself, and I've taken a lot. (How can I share everything I make with the world without taking selfies?!) (I have a hate/tolerate relationship with taking photos of myself. It's a never-ending sort-of crises.)

Anyway. Sick. I'm so sick. I'm so sick I keep forgetting to drink my coffee because my head is too clogged up so there's not enough room for things like 'thinking.' I have a sinus infection, but am stubbornly refusing to go to the doctor because only wusses go to the doctor, plus I am home all day with my kids and they're only barely tolerable when I'm sick because I have zero energy to do anything other than the basic care, and taking them with me to the doctor sounds like a particularly Ramsey-esque form of torture. (That means super awful, in case you don't watch Game of Thrones.)

I've been self-medicating with a thyme syrup my sister helped me make, and echinacea she also helped me make and it's easing my symptoms. Although I'm almost ready to resort to the greatest medicine of all - a hot toddy. Because even if it doesn't help you feel better, the bourbon buzz means you don't care.

But you didn't come here to listen to me talk about being sick. All of that was just to give you an excuse for why I look so awful in these photos. It's because I'm too sick to try to make them any better.

I started this sweater months and months ago. It's from Taproot, which is one of my favorite magazines. Actually it's the only magazine I read - no advertisements, lots of handwork ideas and fascinating stories. I'd been wanting a shawl, probably because I've been watching too much Outlander:

It just seems cozy and practical. Shoulders covered, arms free. And I wanted something not too frilly and lacy, though I love both of those things normally. The Cicely Shawl pattern worked.

I don't make a lot of shawls, in fact it's been more than 10 years since I made a triangle one. So I didn't fully understand the mechanics of them. With this particular pattern the bottom edge is knit first, then stitches are picked up around the edges and the triangle is formed through a series of decreases.

I got bored really early, but it should have been enough to keep me going. The pattern was interesting. I dunno. Didn't want to do it. Which probably directly resulted in the fact that I made it too small. I wanted a large shawl that I could wrap around myself. I didn't get that.

As I knit the edge, I held it up and realized that it was ridiculously long already, way before I got to the number of repeats needed for the size I wanted. I just assumed my gauge was off, because it's always off, but not usually quite as bad as that. So I figured if I made the smaller size, with my larger gauge it would be the right size.

Here is where people who make shawls regularly are laughing at me, because I was so very wrong. I didn't take into account that the edge was going to become a triangle, not a straight line. So even though it actually was seemingly long enough for me, once it became a shawl it wouldn't be. (Does this make any sense? If not, see above paragraph about being sick.)

Even after I realized my mistake, I knew that I wasn't going to rip it all back and redo it, because that would take too much time. I'd just deal with it, then make another shawl at a later date.

I did much of the knitting for this on our trip to Savannah. The first day of driving was looooonnngg and this kept me entertained. (How do people who don't do handwork handle long car rides? I can't stand to just sit there and do nothing!)

Chris bought me this for Christmas a few years ago. It doesn't get used nearly enough.

I finished it right before we got to our hotel, then blocked it once we were back from vacation. I've worn it every day since, even for just a little bit in the morning. It's ridiculously hot in Kentucky this time of year, but once the air kicks on in the morning the house gets chilly. Normal people would just turn the air off, but I like to pretend that it's almost fall and that it's not going to be hot as balls outside.

The shawl ended up being not quite what I wanted, but still pretty and functional. Plus I can always give it to Adele when I make myself a new one.

Pattern: Cicely Shawl, from Taproot Issue 15: Folk.
Yarn: Knit Picks Galileo in Pearl

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Motherhood & More: Trip allows time to recapture the old, discover the new*

As parents, many times we put our lives on hold to make sure our children have everything they need. They always are fed first or clothed first. Their needs always are met before anyone else’s.

But sometimes, we have to do things for ourselves.

In the spirit of that, my husband and I took a trip — a no-kids, only-have-to-worry-about what-we-want, no-complaining-allowed trip. And it was glorious.

We have been married for 10 years this past April — a long time, right? And in that entire time, we’ve never had a trip together that lasted longer than a day or two. We actually never had a honeymoon because of work commitments.
So we were long overdue. I actually wasn’t convinced we’d really get to go until we were more than half way to our destination. I am an optimist at heart, obviously.

But go we did. We went to Savannah, then Tybee Island in Georgia. It was hot and muggy and gorgeous and fantastic. We had actual conversations that weren’t interrupted by arguing children in need of a referee. We ate in restaurants without having to make sure there was a kids’ menu, because heaven forbid they eat something other than a burger or chicken nuggets.

We drank grown-up drinks at 3 in the afternoon.

We were together. Just us.

I took three midday naps.

I remembered what it was like to spend days with just my husband and we were able to be us again, not Mama and Daddy.

I walked miles each day without listening to one person with tiny legs complain about their feet.

I didn’t have to brush anyone’s hair but mine, or help anyone dress, or argue about the importance of clean underwear.

I didn’t have to follow a tiny tyrant’s schedule that includes more than frequent bathroom breaks.

And yet.

I didn’t get to show the kids the ocean or force them to try new foods under threat of lost screen time. I didn’t get to swim with them or people watch with them or stay in a hotel with them, which obviously is the best part of any trip away from home.

I didn’t get to stay up too late with them, watching a movie they probably shouldn’t be watching or share the history of a gorgeous old town.

I think it’s good for our kids to see us as separate from them, not just Mama and Daddy, or “The Ones Who Make Us Do Things We Don’t Want To Do.”

They need to see us as who we are as individuals, who we were before them. But it’s hard when you can’t quite remember who that is. Taking a few days to just be me, to just be us, let me have a bit of that back. And I was able to see how different of a person I am now, eight years later.

And maybe it let my kids miss me a bit and appreciate me just a little bit more.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on June 22, 2016.