Friday, April 29, 2011

Craft Friday: Sock Edition

Oh socks.  SOCKS!

I don't know how I feel about knitting socks.  I usually always have some on the needles, but I think of them more as filler.  As in, if I'm not working on anything else, or if I need something easy that I can work on and not think about, I knit socks. 

They're more a utilitarian knitting project.  I need warm socks.  My kids need warm socks.  My husband needs warm socks.  But they're not overly exciting. 

Which is probably why I'm having such a hard time with these socks.

They're just too fancy.  It's a pattern I designed myself.  Well, I didn't design the actual diamond pattern, but I figured out how many repeats to do and how many stitches to cast on for.  (I use way more math with knitting than I ever thought I would!)

I thought I wanted something fancy, something to break away from my usual plain socks.  I was wrong.  I've been working on these for at least a month, probably more, and I can't seem to finish one sock.  Knitting socks, to me, is a time to shut my mind off, and that just doesn't happen when you're trying to remember where to yarn over and where to knit two together. 

And so they've languished and probably will continue to do so.  I'm sure they will eventually be finished.  Just not anytime soon.

This is what I need.
Plain vanilla.  Easy.  Monotonous even.  Something that is rhythmic and soothing, that clears my head. 

I may not be overly fond of this particular yarn, but I like the process.  And I like how warm they'll keep my feet next winter.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

But I still can't wait for that week somewhere beachy

I am in desperate need of a vacation.
The never-ending days of fetching milk, wiping bottoms, picking up the wooden train tracks for the fifth time, stepping on that toy tractor again, trying to change the clothes of a 7 month old who is so excited all the time she can’t help but flail about, trying to aim the spoon in a mouth that either refuses to open or bites down so hard on the spoon I risk injury if I pull it out, cleaning out cloth diapers, and  listening to my children take no-naps kind of wears you down.
I’m so worn down.
And yet I’m so lucky.  I know I’m lucky for being able to spend all my time with my kids.
And yet again, I am in desperate need of a vacation. 
My husband and I didn’t get an actual honeymoon.  At the time we got married he was working at a remote fish hatchery in Alaska.  He flew in for the wedding, almost not making it because of bad weather and the fact that he had to leave the hatchery by float plane.  He stayed for a few days after the wedding and then flew back.
It sucked.  No, it suuuucccckkked. 
So we didn’t get what a lot of other people get. 
For our first anniversary we went back packing for a few days.  It was my first (and only, actually) time going and it was an awesome experience.  Then a few months later I was pregnant.  So the next year we just went out to dinner.  And then we had the baby, and then I was pregnant again, and now we’ve got two kids.
With small children it’s hard to know when we’ll actually be able to stay away from them for an extended amount of time – like a week.  As much as I want to spend a week somewhere sunny, beachy and full of good wine, I don’t think I’m ready to be away from the kids that long. 
So because of that and because of budgeting issues, we’re spending this year’s anniversary in Cincinnati.  We’ll go to some stores, go out to dinner, and stay the night in a place where I will not be interrupted at 2:30 in the morning, and then again at 6:30.  It’s far enough away to feel like a vacation, but close enough that we’ll only be gone one night.  The kids will be with grandparents so there’s no need to worry much about them.  And Chris and I can relax.  We can spend at least one day and night being who we were before we had kids. 
A little silly, a little loose, a little relaxed.
And hopefully we’ll drink a lot of good wine.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Have babies, will travel ... if you’ll have us*

Coordination has never been my strong suit. If a couch is near, I’ll stub my toe on it. If a table is there, my thigh will find a corner. Door frames leap out and ram into my shoulders and hands as I walk through. I’ve hit my head on so many cabinets it’s a wonder I don’t have a permanent knot on top of my noggin. I am continually covered in bruises from an indeterminate origin, just because I run into things so often I forget which bruise went with which piece of furniture.

My lack of coordination and grace also applies to social situations. In large gatherings, I usually will say or do something to embarrass myself. Add children to this mix, and all of the rush-rush craziness that goes with them, and, well, maybe we shouldn’t be invited anywhere for five years or so.

We recently went to a friend’s little boy’s first birthday party. As usual, we were late because of trying to anticipate anything that would go wrong, any food the children would need, changes of clothes, toys of distraction, etc. So, as the almost-last ones there, we hurry to get inside the house in case we’ve missed the presents and Happy Birthday sing-along. We do make it inside without incident, but that’s pretty much where that sense of complacency ends.

As we get inside, everyone is in the process of filling their plates so I get in line for my son, giving my daughter to my husband. Sebastian sits down to eat and is so excited he promptly pees on his chair. And it runs down onto the nice wooden floor. We’re embarrassed because it was really my fault. I saw that he needed to use the restroom, but after getting a resounding “No!” when I asked if he needed to, I thought I’d let him tell me when he was ready since he’d been doing so well at home. But a 1-year-old’s birthday party is not the same as our somewhat-calm home. I took the baby and my husband cleaned up Sebastian and the floor. Luckily I anticipated this sort of accident and came prepared with a change of clothes.

However, I apparently forgot to bring dignity.

Since I was holding the baby, I got back in line to fill my plate up one-handed. While I reach to pick up a fork, I run into a picture hanging on the wall. I can’t catch it with my hand, and I don’t want to let it drop and break, so I stop it with my backside. In doing so, the wall behind the picture becomes scratched. Of course.
And the baby is teething and crying. And spends most of the rest of the party crying until I finally get her to sleep. And then she wakes up and cries some more.

As we go to leave and finally make it through the cake and song and presents and bouncy house without any more mishaps, my husband knocks a planter off the porch steps with the baby’s car seat, spilling flowers and dirt all over the place.

And in the goodbyes, with the usual “Thank you for inviting us, I’m so sorry about everything. Let’s get together soon,” my friend laughingly says, “Maybe we should go to your house next time.”

Maybe we should just live in a bubble until we master this two-children thing.

*This was originally published in The News-Enterprise's Wednesday's Woman on April 27, 2011.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I’m not so sure anything is going to grow in this flood

It's not nearly big enough.

My husband and I have had a garden, or at least a tomato plant or two and some herbs, as soon as we had space to do so.  It feels important to see our food take shape in front of us, to show our children that potatoes don’t just magically appear.  I want them to understand the work, time and love that go into putting food on their plate.  
Herb garden, complete with helpful wheelbarrow.
Plus gardening is in both of our bloods, I think.  My parents have always gone the super-home-garden route, growing pretty much anything you can think of to grow at one time or another and exhausting themselves (and their children who were punished by being sent to weed the garden) in the process.  They have, however, vowed to have a smaller garden this year, ‘small’ being a relative term.
My husband’s parents have taken a less grueling approach, having a more manageable raised bed garden.  This is probably why Chris doesn’t understand my need to attempt to grow everything I can.  
Once February hits I pour over seed catalogues like I used to pour over book catalogues in grade school (I’m a bit of a dork.)  I plan and scheme and try to work out how we can fit everything I want to plant in our small, shady backyard.  There’s just so much out there.  So many different varieties of potatoes, tomatoes of all colors, radishes that are big, black and round or small, long and white or just the usual cherry red.  And I want to grow them all.  I want to see them from seed to fruition.  I’m mesmorized by the differences between bush and pole beans, pickling or ‘burpless’ cucumbers, early carrots, late carrots, snap peas, watermelons that look like cantelopes inside, cantelopes that look like lemons.  It’s almost depressing to think of all that I could grow if I only had the space (and the time and energy and kids who were old enough to weed  the garden without stepping on and eating all the baby onions).
 So far we’ve planted red, yellow and white onions, purple-skinned potatoes and Yukon golds.  Just this past weekend, during a break in the downpours, we sloshed through the muddy patch to plant fingerling potatoes, although I’m worried they will have to be replanted since every time we dug a hole it filled with water, possibly leading to rot.  We’ve got lots of herbs planted, tomatoes started and just waiting for less soggy weather to be put in the ground, and a blueberry plant that we may actually get some fruit off of this year, and one that I thought we’d lost that sprouted leaves this spring.  And I’ve got all different types of peas and beans to plant, along with carrots and radishes. 
I can't wait until the first harvest.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Random Monday*

1. It totally feels like a Monday and it's only 9:30 in the morning.
2. Sebastian had a pee-soaked bed for the second morning in a row, despite the pull-ups he wears to bed.
3. Naturally, I didn't get the only mattress pad we own washed and dried in time for him to use it last night, so the bed had a big pee stain on it.
4. Had to look up how to clean the bed, and now I'm really, really hoping it's dry by naptime.
5. It involved, vinegar, dish soap, baking soda and a shop vac.  His room smells awesome.
6. On a positive note, I got Adele down for a nap without Sebastian running through the house yelling that his show that I use to keep him quiet is over and waking the baby up.
7. That happens more than I'd like to say.
8. I really should learn to put on longer shows for him when I have to nurse the baby upstairs.  She distracts easily.
9. I also didn't come downstairs to a de-pantsed little boy telling me "I pooped Mommy!" while sitting on the furniture.
10. He can't wipe his butt yet.
11. I'll leave you to think about that.
12. ...
13. Right. So I was happy that didn't happen.  Again.
14. Mine and my husband's five-year wedding anniversary is this Friday.
15. Since a Vacation vacation isn't in the budget, we're driving to Cincinnati to go to Ikea, Jungle Jims, and wherever else I can make him go, then staying overnight at a hotel.
16. The only times I've been to Ikea I've been pregnant or in a foreign country.
18. Can you tell I really need to get out of the house?
19. Chris and I actually have been together since high school, 12 years.
20. Sebastian just came in the room to ask if he could watch one more "Martha Speaks."
21. I acted a little hesitant, like I don't really know if I'm going to let him, but really I'm thrilled because that gives me a few more minutes to write.
22. Does that make me a bad mother?
23. Does this photo?

 24. I can't wait until Friday.
25. Not sure if I have a 25th thing, but I can't end on 24.  So here's a dark, blurry picture of a sleeping baby to make up for it.

*Because Monday's are hard enough already.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


I was ready for it.  And then I wasn’t.  And then I was, but he wasn’t.  And then, well, I thought what the hell.  It’s time for Sebastian to get out of that crib and into his BIG BOY BED!  (It must always be said in ALL CAPS and with an exclamation point!)
I didn’t really think it would be that emotional for me.  I was more focused on the fact that I wouldn’t have anything forcing Sebastian to stay in bed besides the fear I instill in him on a daily basis. (I don’t actually instill fear in him on a daily basis.  Most of our days are spent with me chasing after him trying to wrangle him into pants.)
So, much like this whole ‘having two children’ thing, I didn’t think it through.  (I kid.  I love my children.  They just drive me nuts.)
For a few weeks now I’ve been bring up the subject with my husband. 
When are we going to set up the big bed for Sebastian?  Should we do the toddler bed first or just go straight to the twin?
How are we going to set up the room?  Where will we even put the bed?
When do you think you can put it together?
We’ve got to get some blankets and sheets for the bed.  But I don’t want anything cartoony.
When do you think you can put it together?
Chris doesn’t seem to understand all the thought processes that slosh about in my head.  I think he got the bed put together just to make me stop talking about it.
So last night was it.  But as soon as we started setting everything up my stomach clenched up and I started fighting back tears.   It’s just the kid already breaks my heart every day with what he knows, what he says, how big and helpful he is becoming.   I just don’t want it all to go away so fast.  I look at Adele and can’t believe that Sebastian was ever that little.
Chris suggested putting wall decals all around the bed to make it more exciting and ramping up on the BIG BOY BED! exuberance just to help him with the adjustment.
We may have gone a bit overboard because Sebastian was ready to go to bed at 6:30.
That’s my BIG BOY BED!?
That’s right.
That’s Baby Dele’s bed, right Mommy?  
Right Sebastian.  She sleeps in a crib.  Now you’ve got your BIG BOY BED!
Right.  Time for night-night.
Not quite yet, baby.

And when it was time for him to go to bed, we lay down and read stories and then I turned off the light and said goodnight.
We peeked in on him before we went to bed and he was all scrunched up next to the wall sound asleep.
 And, the part I was most worried about, naptime, is happening right now.  He’s actually sleeping, which rarely happens anymore.  Usually he just talks to himself and kicks the bars of his crib until I think he’s been up there long enough and take him out.
I’m not saying it will always be this easy (more often than not it will NEVER be this easy.)
But at least for today it was.  And that makes me feel like it was time.
 *Please forgive the blurry, awful photos.  It was cloudy and dark and Sebastian wouldn't hold still.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Craft Friday*

Well I tried. 

Sebastian's basket
For as long as I can remember I've felt the need to make stuff. It started with crayons and scissors and glue and has encompassed photography, painting, sketching, weaving and now knitting takes up most of my time, with a little sewing and beadwork thrown in.
It seems to be a family thing. Both of my parents are or have been involved in artsy/crafty things. So it makes complete sense that I'd follow so closely on that path.

So, now, Easter baskets.

Most children have baskets bought from the store lovingly (and smartly) by a sane parent.

But not my kids. Their mom is full of the crazy and so decided to make their baskets herself. I blame my own mother, from whom I inherited the crazy. She made mine and my sister's baskets, and I wanted Sebastian and Adele to have one that would be their's for their life, that they'd possibly pass down to their children.

Lofty ambitions much?

I'm pretty sure these baskets won't last that long.

You see, I'm not necessarily all about the details. I'm about results.  That means if a stitch is crooked or a seam is wonky, I usually just ignore it.  My mother is embarrassed for me.

So with that in mind, you can probably guess where this is going - to the land of misshapen Easter baskets.
When I first made Sebastian's a couple of years ago I tried really, really hard to make every row of the basket line up properly.

At least Adele seems thrilled.

It didn't work.  And after finishing and holding the basket up, each layer of rope was separated from the ones around it, making it not so much a basket as a mutant accordian.  I called my mom to complain and ask what I was doing wrong.  Apparently you're supposed to sew each layer together.  I was working on it at the last minute and my sewing skills aren't exactly the best, so I got out my hot glue gun.  Yes, this basket is held together with hot glue.  I guess there are worse things.  And Sebastian seems to enjoy it and it holds eggs, so I guess it serves it's purpose. 

For Adele's, I worked on it for two naptimes and one evening after the kids went to bed.  With pretty much the same results.  The glue worked so well the first time, so why mess with it, right?

*Since I've got so many projects going on at once, I thought I'd dedicate a day to show you what I've been up to.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Getting out

My husband and I have always been outside people.  We hike and camp and fish and just generally feel better as soon as we breathe in that fresh air.  Some of our best dates have been spent knee deep in a creek fishing for trout. 
But since we’ve had children we haven’t had as much time as we’d like doing the things we love.  Or maybe we just haven’t made it a point to take the time.  We both miss it and crave it.  And I think the kids do, too.  They both seem in better moods once they’re outside.  If they’re crying and we can’t get them calmed down, usually sitting outside on the porch swing is an instant soother.
So when my husband last night said he was taking Sebastian hiking for a little bit, I jumped up and said “I want to go, too!”
The problem with this is that it was just after 5:30 and I knew that Adele probably would start getting fussy at 6, but I thought maybe we could hold off if we were home by 7.  So we spent a little time gathering up supplies and getting jackets and a hat for the baby.  By the time we were ready, it was just about 6.
It seemed to take forever to get out there, especially since the baby started fussing.  I began regretting my decision, picturing Adele screaming the whole time we were out.  My husband said I was nuts. 
So we got there, and after speaking to a man hunting mushrooms and showing Sebastian some tadpoles in a big puddle, we were off.
Sebastian was so excited for his first hiking trip.  Those of you who know him know his penchant for talking.  Nonstop.  The kid never closes his mouth, I think, unless he’s around someone new.  So he was our narrator.  With him we were able to see dinosaurs and trolls under the bridges and monsters and all of the things he expected to live in the forest.  He’s getting to that age where his imagination is huge.  He sees bears in clouds and elephants in the trees.  It’s an amazing thing to watch. 
And Adele, close to me in our Moby wrap, was content just to look around at all the things that make us all breathe a little easier, feel a little more light-hearted.
I’m so happy I went.

Motherhood and more

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise's Wednesday's Woman on March 23, 2011.

I am a stay-at-home mom. It still seems strange to say that. I honestly haven’t had too much time to reflect on it, what with the two children constantly hanging off of me. But the transition cannot be called a smooth one. I look at other moms who stay home, and most of them seem to have everything under control. I've felt like a failure on more than one occasion. Heck, just my 6-month-old daughter refusing to take a morning nap can bring me to my knees on the right – or wrong – day.
I knew having two children would be an adjustment. I did not count on having a daughter who for the first four months of her life would scream almost every night for seemingly no reason. She wasn't colicky, it wasn’t quite that severe. It was just enough to create added stress for everyone involved. I didn't count on having a little one who still doesn't sleep through the night. They say all children are different, and I've come to see that in my own. This little girl is completely unpredictable, yet requires predictability and a schedule to be human. She apparently isn't aware of that yet. I also thrive on predictability, order and scheduling. We are slowly learning. I'm learning not to be so rigid about naptimes and feeding times and she's learning everybody's day goes better when she gives in and takes that morning nap. I hope.
I'm fairly certain I don’t have anything under control. I am extremely hard on myself. And then I cut myself some breaks. And then I'm hard on myself for cutting myself some breaks. I use TV as a babysitter probably more than I should for my 2-and-a-half-year-old son when I'm trying to clean, trying to fight with a screaming baby, trying to carve out some minutes for myself to check my email, or, like now, trying to write a little so as to keep that muscle from atrophying.
My son has admittedly been pushed to the side some.  More times than I care to remember I've said, "Just a minute, Sebastian. Let me take care of Adele first." More times than I care to remember I've lost my temper over silly things just because my mental state was hanging by a thread, be it from lack of sleep or just plain old I've-only-spoken-with-children-all-day-and-I-really-want-to-get-out-of-the-house-alone-itis.  He is an extremely forgiving little man.
One of the joys I get from being at home with my children is derived from that forgiveness. It's from being able to truly learn who my son is. I mean, I knew him before I was with him all the time, but there was so much I seemed to be missing. It took me staying home to see. He's such a clever little man, always quick to bring out a laugh, always quick to give hugs, be they ever-so-forceful. He's incredibly smart, memorizing lyrics to songs after just listening to them a few times, then forcing you to play them repeatedly until he has the whole thing down. (This is of course why I've had to listen to Katy Perry's "Firework" – or as he calls it "The Boom-Boom one" – over and over. But it's also why I've had to listen to Mumford and Sons' "The Cave," which never seems to go out of style, so I guess there’s a little give and take.)
And so we have good days and bad. The bad days bring me close to, if not engulfed in tears, make me feel like I've done everything wrong and my children will hate me and spend thousands of dollars on therapy to fix whatever I've screwed up. I focus on the fact that my house is never clean (how do people do that?), and that my laundry may be folded but is hardly ever actually put up.

But the good days are full of sunshine, happiness and maybe a good belly laugh or two, and make me realize motherhood will probably always come with intense feelings of inadequacy, but that doesn’t mean that I am inadequate. These days are oh-so-good.

And oh-so-worth all the bad.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

THE END OF THE WORLD!! Except not really.

The thing about dreams is they can make you look at something differently, see someone in a different light, or just give you a general feeling of unease.  A little bit ago, for the span of about a month and a half, I had no less than six tornado dreams.  Sometimes it was just a small player, sometimes it was the main show.  But it happened enough that it kind of started to freak me out.   
So with this in mind, you can imagine my feelings last night when the weather people were reporting DOOM AND GLOOM!  I didn’t like it one bit.  I didn’t want any part of it.  The thought of losing everything we own to a big wind funnel, well, makes me sick to my stomach.  Add to this two sleeping children and an unfinished (and kind of icky) basement, and I’d worked myself up.  
Chris and I spent about 45 minutes getting everything ready – which included making a palate on the concrete floor, searching all through the house for our one flashlight, then settling on Sebastian’s tractor one that made engine noises when you turned it on.   Chris boarded up a basement window that was cracked, just in case, and filled up some water bottles for us.  I gathered diapers and changes of clothes for the kids and spent a little too long wishing I’d taken a shower just in case the house is destroyed and we have to spend days living outside because we have nowhere else to go (we do have somewhere else to go, but the brain isn’t always rational, you know?). 
“I really don’t want to do this” I kept saying.  Over and over.  But in my defense, I really didn’t want to do it.
I stayed up as late as I could, watching weather reports, looking online at radar maps, then around midnight I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore and went to bed.
The sirens went off at 12:30 so I jump up, ready for action, but even then we were debating whether or not to get the kids out of bed. 
“Better to be safe than sorry,” we said.
I snuck into Sebastian’s room to pick up the feather blankets that were in his closet (because of course they were), then finished making our floor-bed downstairs.
Chris picked up Sebastian and carried him downstairs and I got Adele, praying for her to stay asleep.  We all lay down, Sebastian and Chris falling asleep super-fast (how do you sleep through the END OF THE WORLD TORNADO?) I just lay there on my back with Adele on my chest, waiting for the storm to hit.
And waiting.
Still waiting. 
There was a little bit of wind and rain, but I wouldn’t even have classified it as a bad storm.  At 1 I start trying to wake up Chris, nudging him gently since Sebastian is in between us and I’m also trying to keep Adele from rolling off me.  That didn’t work so I started repeatedly shoving him with my hand and finally he pops his head up, still mostly asleep.  Once I get him aware that we need to get up and put the kids back in bed so we can all get some sleep, we do just that.  And since, really what would a fake tornado freak-out night be without one more issue, Adele wakes up at 4:30 in the morning. 
To sum up – HYPE-HYPE-HYPE-THE TORNADOES ARE COMING!!!!!  And then not so much.
*Has no memory of going to the basement and just wishes I'd get out of his way so he can watch Wonderpets. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's the beginning of the beginning

I'm trying to type this in the morning, teeth not brushed, face not washed, no breakfast yet for anyone, and my husband is trying to get ready for work.  It's going to be awesome.

I've been wanting to start a blog for years, ever since I discovered them 6 years ago.  I'm obviously a little late on the bandwagon.  So late, in fact, it's pretty much left the tunnel.  Or station.  Or wherever it is that bandwagons go.  I'm nothing if not relevant. 

Many, many things have changed in that time.  I've gotten married, moved, switched jobs, moved again, had a baby, had another baby, then quit my job.  And here I am.  I've heard that many stay-at-home mothers start blogs in order to gain some access to the outside world.  I guess that's me.  That's what is finally forcing me to get this done.  Plus, I miss being around so many words.  I was a copy editor/columnist for a small newspaper and I miss using that part of my brain.  I'm still writing a once a month column, but I'd really like to do more.  So here I am.  I also thought it'd be a good record of my kids, provided I can stop complaining about them so much.

As a thank you for reading, here's a picture of me tipsy in a Kohl's bathroom.  I was trying to wink.  You're welcome.