Friday, September 30, 2011

Homemade Friday: I swear I also knit for Adele (Sebastian's socks)

I've only got a few minutes since I set Sebastian up about a half hour ago with a Thomas video on the ipod (for some reason it's so much cooler to him that way) so I could make the dough for soft pretzels and I think it's about over.

Does that sentence even make sense? 

Sebastian's likes to see me knit for him and I've been working on a pair of socks for him for a month or two, my own pattern.  Now normally it wouldn't take that long since his feet are much smaller than my giant, Peggy Hill (as my husband lovingly calls them ... asshole) feet.

But I'm scatterbrained.

I finished one sock then left the bag of yarn and the just-started second sock in a friend's car.  A friend who I didn't see for about a month afterward.

Sebastian kept putting on his one finished sock and walking around with it, asking "Are you going to yarn me another sock?"

I thought about just saying no, that that's how you wear handmade socks.  But figured he'd probably be made fun of enough throughout the years when I force him to wear handknit clothing and I didn't want to damage him too early.

Parenting is awesome.

So when my friend brought me the yarn back I breezed through the second sock.

Maybe I've redeemed myself for starting one sock for him last winter and him refusing to put it on because someone measured his feet wrong and so had knit the sock so small that it wouldn't even go on his toes.

I think he likes them.

Or maybe I just slipped them on him when he was distracted.
(He likes them.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Motherhood & More: Three-year-old phase makes for some rough times*

Man. Three-year-olds. Three. Year. Olds.

I’m guessing that anyone who has had or currently has a 3-year-old knows what I’m referring to and I can close up shop without elaborating.

But for those of you who do not understand, let me explain.

It’s an endless stream of “No!” and “I don’t want to!” and my personal favorite, “Huh?” It’s screaming because I cannot spend every waking moment in his presence, playing trains or reading stories. It’s yelling because I refuse to let him watch “Handy Manny” for hours on end. It’s even, unfortunately, lots of back talking and generally acting like a lunatic.

There is no middle ground of emotions — we’re either extremely thrilled, extremely sad or extremely angry. And it’s that anger that really bothers me. He just gets so mad. It’s something I don’t know how to handle and frankly, it’s wearing me out.

I try to work through everything calmly and rationally because that’s what keeps him from totally losing his mind. But sometimes after nights of no sleep and hours on end of trying to convince and cajole the little bugger to do what he needs to do — that if he would just eat the one bite of chicken I put on his plate, he could get down and play — I lose my own cool.

I’ve had many moments as a mother that I’m not proud of. There have been so many times I look back on my own behavior and see how it has negatively affected the entire situation and how it has contributed to hysteria brewing in my house.

And I try. I try so hard.

I can see him watching me as he does something he knows he’s not supposed to do, waiting for whatever reaction is coming. He wants my attention, be it negative or positive. And sometimes, even though I drop whatever I’m doing and focus on him, it’s too late.

So it’s been a rough few weeks. And the only reason I can write about it now is that I think we may be coming out of the worst of it, at least for the moment. I realize that in saying that I’ve completely doomed myself to many, many more days of drama.

The daily onslaught of 3-year-old funk is, much like every milestone my children have crossed, something I was entirely unprepared for. I am slow to realize what is happening, but once I do, I am quick to respond accordingly. I hope, at least.

Honestly I’ve hesitated to write about this chapter in our lives because I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about Sebastian.

Unless he’s tired, he’s really an awesome little guy, quick to laugh and joke and give big hugs and kisses. He’s learning how to play with his little sister and to take care of her and keep an eye on her when I’m not around. He wants to help me with anything I’m doing, be it washing dishes, sweeping the floor or making bread.

And so I’ve avoided this topic. But I want to be honest. I want to share what it’s really like to live in a house with two small children.

My son is a normal 3-year-old, which is a rough time for anyone. He’s struggling with independence, in that he wants it so bad but knows that he still has to ask mine and my husband’s permission. He still relies on us for so many things.

But he’s learning how to be a little boy, how to grow up.

And while I welcome him dressing himself, learning to play independently and possibly tying his own shoes, I still hope he always needs me for big hugs and kisses.

Also reading stories. I really like reading him stories.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise's Wednesday's Woman on September 28, 2011.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'm not gonna lie. This probably isn't the best thing I've ever written.

I think my gift of nonsense has run out.  Or at least taken a vacation.

I’m tired.  The kids have been waking up between 6 and 6:30 every morning, which I know isn’t that early but it’s early enough.  And if you add in the changing weather that always messes with my awakableness and I don’t want to do anything. 

Obviously I don’t have that luxury. 

But I haven’t really felt much like writing.  


On Saturday Chris and I had an at-home date night.  We’d gone to the Fall Festival at Sebastian’s school where I was almost late to work the craft booth that I was cursing myself for signing up for in the first place.  I say almost because there was no one there yelling at me for being late but it was at least five minutes past the time I was supposed to be there that I showed up.  But since no one was mad to my face so I’m calling it a win.

We had walked there, which only takes 10-15 minutes and is probably quicker since we wouldn’t have to worry about putting the kids in car seats or finding a parking spot.  While I manned the table, Chris took the kids around let Sebastian jump in the bouncy house and eat a hot dog and just see all that was happening.  I think it was a neat little festival and will probably plan better next year so we can stay a longer.  The whole thing made me want to be more of a member of the community.  I miss that.  I guess it will come with the kids, especially when they start playing sports or participating in extra activities. 

So anyway, after that we put the kids to bed and Chris started the grill.  We had a really nice, quiet, late dinner, with an emphasis on quiet.  Dinners are usually a rushed, messy, loud affair with me trying to force feed Sebastian a bite of whatever we’re having and also listening to Adele fuss because I’m not feeding her fast enough, and hey, is that more spaghetti ground into the carpet in the dining room?  Awesome. 

But this time it was just us, steaks, a candle and a conversation.  A long conversation. 

Chris and I talk a lot, I think, but we don’t usually take the time to talk.  To have a conversation.  We do have brief ones when we’re driving in the car and the kids are strapped in, but usually that’s interspersed with Sebastian talking about all the trees and cars and stoplights he sees and are we in a forest Mommy?  I think we are.  Are we going to crash?  Pssroperpps!  Oh!  We just pretend crashed!!  And of course Adele is yelling because she’s tired, but not tired enough to just close her eyes and go to sleep but just tired enough to be pissed that she’s being forced to sit in her car seat.

Not a whole lot of room for a meaningful conversation.

I told Chris that we should take the time to do that more often.  We can still have dates at home with the kids in bed.  It was nice.

And since there’s no real point to this post, I’m going to leave you with a picture that Sebastian took with the ipod.  I have no idea what I’m doing in it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Homemade Friday: Sebastian's sweater

Artfully styled, no?
Sebastian has been asking me to knit, or 'yarn' him a sweater for a month or so.  Every time he'd see me knitting it was "Can you yarn me something?  Can you yarn me a sweater?"

He needed a fall/winter sweater anyway, so after coming off a slightly complicated baby sweater I wanted something that was mindless.  And this fit the bill.

It's the Child's Placket-Neck Pullover from Last Minute Knitted Gifts.  I've used this book and this pattern multiple times with varying results.  Some of the patterns worked out really well.  Some didn't because of my mistakes and some because they just don't make any damn sense which is completely irritating when you've invested lots of money and time to make your at-the-time-fiance a warm sweater for when he's in ALASKA and it just turns out awkward and weirdly shaped through NO FAULT OF YOUR OWN.

Ignore the mess.  Or don't.  WHATEVER.

Moving on.

The yarn I was using wasn't the same gauge that the pattern called for so I had to do a lot of math, which isn't that big of a deal.  I always have to do math when I knit because I can't seem to follow a pattern exactly.  I feel the need to tweak things unnecessarily.

So other than the math, it was pretty straightforward and simple and mindless and satisfying.

Until I tried it on Sebastian and realized the sleeves were too short.  It may be because I measured wrong but I'll probably blame it on the fact that he keeps growing when I specifically told him a year ago to STOP THAT ALREADY.

I may fix them.  It's pretty easy.

But I've already moved on to my next project (socks for Sebastian), and have a long list of things planned after that.

So maybe I'll just leave it.  He has to wear something underneath it anyway because according to him 'it tickles.'

So far his record for wearing it is 3 minutes.  He hasn't really needed a warm sweater yet so we'll see how it goes once the weather really cools down.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Can't help it

Adele had her 12-month check up on Tuesday.

We love the doctor and trust her, which isn’t always the case.  Sebastian’s first pediatrician left a lot to be desired and spent most of our visits trying to back out the door while I was speaking to him. 


So when this doctor seemed a little concerned about the fact that Adele has actually lost three ounces in the last three months and is in the 25th percentile, I pay attention.

Adele started out as a healthy girl, chunking up nicely.  But in the last few months she’s slimmed down considerably.  I can’t quit remarking on just how little she is, because neither Chris nor I are little people.  It always takes me by surprise.  I’ve never considered her unhealthy, just little. 

Dr. Smith was quick to reassure me that all of this is probably because Adele is moving so much more now.  She wasn’t crawling the last time we visited and she is now, and she’s pulling herself up, too.  She said she would be worrying if Adele wasn’t eating, but that girl will eat almost anything, and plenty of it.

But still, always, in the back of my mind there’s doubt.  And worry.  Especially when the doctor mentions checking blood counts and thyroids if she doesn’t gain weight.

We have to take her back in a month to check her weight again.

I’m thinking I should feed her nothing but straight buttered apple pie, just to get her numbers up.

I’m 95 percent sure it’s nothing to worry about.  But still.  I can’t help it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Two steps away from crunchy granola hippie

Disclaimer: This post is entirely cloth-diaper related.  And while it is hilarious and awesome and really, really thought-provoking,* I know that not everyone shares my obsessions.  Feel free to skip.

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about cloth diapers.  I’d say that I was probably the only one ever in the history of ever to put those words together, but I know what type of mania this subject can generate.

We’ve been cloth diapering, mostly satisfactorily, for a year now.  Well, Sebastian was off and on from about 3 months, mainly on the weekends, and Adele is exclusively cloth diapered unless she’s staying with grandparents or we're going to be out all day. 

Most of what we use are the bumgenius one-size diapers, but I have branched out a little bit. Sebastian had no problem with the diapers, other than lots of leaking that I didn’t realize was caused by me not following the directions on the damn diapers.  (Detergent!  It’s an important subject!  Who knew?)

Adele, however, has had mucho rash problems.  That little girl is just so sensitive.  I have to be very vigilant with changing her diaper and usually have to keep Aquaphor on her at night.  The problem with this is that it isn’t good for the diapers and can cause build up and staining and leaking.  Awesome stuff all around. 

So I recently bought these liners for the diapers, which are supposed to keep the cream off the diaper.  But they don’t seem to be working.  They bunch up and twist around and basically leave the whole diaper un-lined, thus defeating the whole purpose for the damn things.

So we’re back to where we were. 

And so I’ve been thinking.  And pondering.  And wondering.

And then these three posts came along, in all their cloth-diapering glory.  And I got it.  I realized what would solve my problems.

I’m gonna have to go old school.

That’s right.  Wool soakers.

You see, I’ve kind of been afraid of using soakers because I didn’t understand them, haven’t done the research and for the most part didn’t understand how they worked.

But then amalah came along and worked everything out for me, making it all seem like so much NOT A BIG DEAL that I took the next step and did a little more research.

And here I am.  I’ve got some yarn I can use, a couple of free patterns and as soon as I’m done with Sebastian’s latest sweater (almost!  You’ll probably see it on Friday!) I think I’m going to start knitting soakers.

Now I’ve just got to buy a few prefolds to get me started.  I actually have a pattern for prefolds in this book, but I don’t think I’m going to go that far.  I don’t think I’ve got the right material and thought I’d maximize my hippie-skills in the best way I can (i.e. knitting).

It will be better for Adele since these diapers let more air in and hopefully will stop her from having the rash all together.  And I think it might make laundry easier, since our washer isn’t really made for these type of diapers and I have to wash over and over to get them clean. 

I still have about 20-25 other diapers that I will keep on rotation.  But I think I may have been converted. 

Though maybe I should save extolling the virtues of this until I actually try it myself …

*That’s a lie.

Monday, September 19, 2011

At least we remembered to sing 'Happy Birthday' to her, which didn't happen at Sebastian's first birthday party

So we made it through the birthday party.

Barely, which is obvious to anyone who attended.

You see, I am not the best at party preparation and time management.  So if you put those two things together it generally means that I’ve got my mom in the kitchen making cupcake icing at 3:45 when the party started at 3:30.


But I think we had a good time even though Adele was entirely uninterested in her presents, which is fine with me.  We didn’t even do a gift thing for Sebastian’s first birthday.  I told everyone not to bring presents but they all did anyway.  I just opened them myself whenever they showed up.  
Of course this time Sebastian did all the opening for Adele.

He’s really enjoying playing with all her toys and she joins in whenever she can wrench her new tea pot away from him.

Usually there is yelling from one or the other.

I just leave the room and let them work it out themselves until I see blood.  Then I might think about intervening. 


Friday, September 16, 2011

Homemade Friday: Adele (It totally counts)

She catches me off guard sometimes with how gorgeous she is. 

Months before I became pregnant with Sebastian I had a dream I was at my parents’ house in the field in front of their old barn, sitting down with Chris and a baby girl with light brown hair and a purple, flowered dress.  I admit that I’m superstitious and believe in signs and whatnot, but when I found out I was having a boy, I figured that it was only a dream, nothing more.  

And since Chris’ family tends to make lots and lots of boys, I also believed that it was my calling to be the mother of a passel of boys, and I was completely fine with that.  Boys are awesome, fun, rowdy, rambunctious and rough.  At least mine is.  Though it has taken me a while to get used to that sort of behavior, I’ve grown to love it.

So when I became pregnant for the second time, I was all set to have another boy.  But in the back of my mind I didn’t feel strongly that the little babe was of the male persuasion.  Something just felt decidedly girl-like.  But I didn’t want to admit it because I didn’t want to look like a fool when the ultrasound showed it was another boy. 

But still, when the lady doing our ultrasound asked if we wanted to know what we were having, then began typing on the screen, I was ready for boy.  And then she typed a ‘G’.  And I started crying. 

I never thought I’d have a girl!

Well, that’s what you’ve got!

And until that moment I didn’t realize how much I wanted a daughter.  A sweet little girl who looks almost like I dreamed her to be.  A sweet little girl who would teach me patience and show me that my heart is big enough to encompass all the children we choose to have, who would make me stronger, more thoughtful, and much, much more organized. 

To say it has been a rough year is an understatement.  I know I’ve shared with you just how difficult, and you should probably take that and multiply it by 10, then you’d see how it’s been.  But that was just me adjusting, as I had to adjust to being a mother when Sebastian was born.  I’m a bit slow on the uptake, but once I get going everything works out. 

She’s a fantastic little girl, quick to laugh and mimic and can occupy herself for so long, just exploring.  She’s only fussy when she wants to eat or sleep, or, these days, when I make her sit still for a diaper change. 

Trust me sweet girl, it’s just as annoying for me as it is for you.

She’s constantly running into things with her head, much like her brother, and I’m sorry to say much like me.  She loves to dance and move along to music.  She loves toys and books that have faces on them and will squeal at them and laugh and try to bite their noses.

She will follow me around from room to room, and loves to be right where her brother is.  She gets mad and yells at us when we close the doors to the bathroom and backroom right in front of her face because she doesn’t understand that those aren’t the best places for her to play.  

She will talk to you like she’s telling the best story, gesturing and pointing and exclaiming, raising her eyebrows to really bring her point home.  She can sign ‘more’ and ‘all done’ and we’re working on ‘Mama.’ 

She’s timid, slow to crawl and slow to stand, wanting to be sure of herself before she takes that leap.  

And now my baby, my ONE YEAR OLD, is swiftly becoming my toddler.  But she will always, always be my little girl.