Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Motherhood and More: Confessions of a Christmas knitter*

I did it to myself again.

Every year I decide I’m going to make things for Christmas. I alternate making cookies and candy for everyone I’ve ever met in my life with knitting warm, woolen items for everyone I’ve ever met.

I make myself nuts trying to accomplish everything I want to, no matter how idealistic and unlikely to complete I am.

Every year I start out large and plan to make 15 different types of cookies, and let’s not forget the salted caramel pieces, which are delicious, yet if you don’t pay enough attention to them they become caramel rocks instead of soft, chewy candies.

Or I decide that everyone in my family younger than 20 gets hand-knit, colorwork-filled gloves, even though I’ve never actually knit a glove before, but I’ve conquered lace and cables, so how hard can it be?

Answer: not hard, just when you make five pairs it can be a bit time consuming. Kind of like that time I decided to knit four pairs of felted clog slippers even though I had never done that before either. They took days and days to dry and so my sister ended up with a slipper IOU because hers still were wet and stuffed with newspaper. It wouldn’t be Christmas without a knitting IOU. At least for me.

One year, before I fully got the hang of knitting, I knit sweaters for three nieces and a nephew and I’m pretty sure none of them wanted them. Yes, I’m that aunt who gave away knit gifts complete with uneven sleeves and weird yarn discoloration.

Of course, the baby’s sweater wouldn’t even fit over her head, so she doesn’t count. There’s logic in there somewhere. You have to find it yourself.

But I want to make things that people will enjoy. I want everyone to understand that I love the knitting process, and I love them, so I want to put those two things together and create a magical, wonderful, Christmassy, fantastic day filled with scarves with a falling leaves lace pattern or reversible, double-knit hats.

Not everyone understands this, and that’s OK. I’ll keep knitting things that make me happy and giving them away, even to people who don’t want them. And I’ll keep shortening my list as the holidays get closer and I realize that I have some unrealistic expectations regarding my knitting speed and the fact that I have to sleep sometimes and also take care of children who require things such as food and diaper changes and other items that hinder my knitting process.

One good thing about setting a knitting deadline for me that is out of reach — and some would say insane — is that I’ve started knitting in front of my children. I avoided doing that in the past because anytime I am not giving them my undivided attention they do whatever they can to get it, usually something that annoys me and nothing annoys me more when I’m knitting than when a small person takes my ball of yarn and runs away with it, thus unraveling all of the intricate cables I’ve just spent a good while and a fair amount of cursing creating.

So I just didn’t let them see me doing something I enjoyed.  It was for their own good health, really. But I’ve had to do it this holiday season because I sort of convinced myself I actually could finish my knitting list, even though really I wasn’t fooling myself at all. And so I’ve knit. And they’ve seen me. And there have been times when my ball of yarn has been ripped away from me and I’ve had to chase down the culprit. But the more they see me do it, the more used to it they are, and the more they see that Mom is just a crazy knitting lady who shouts out "Just one more row! I’ll get you your milk if you just let me finish one more row!"

I’m OK with that.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on December 26, 2012. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Reasons I am insane*

*Alternate title: Things I have made in the past two days and things I still have to make sometime before Christmas is over:

In the past two days I have made the following:

1. Cracker Candy (Also known as 'Christmas Crack' at our house.)

2. Homemade salted caramels

3. Pecan pie - with homemade crust

4. Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies

5. Tangy Spiced Brisket from smitten kitchen

Tomorrow I have to make the following:

6. Apple Pie - with homemade crust

7. Homemade Dinner Rolls

8. Homemade chicken tenders

9. Homemade mac & cheese

10. Spinach Artichoke dip

11. Broccoli

I thought I'd possibly make homemade panettone, but I think that's going to have to wait a few days.

And yes, this is a list I created for myself.

Lots of wine will be consumed over the next few days.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My children drive me crazy. That should probably be the name of my blog.

I’m not sure I’ve figured out what I'm doing yet.

They are not angels.
I tried all morning to clean my house, which basically entailed picking up the enormous amounts of toys and clothing – both of the children and adult variety – sippy cups, more toys, random stickers that have been stuck all over the floor, that pile of mail I forgot about, oh look!  Another pile of toys!

What made it even worse was that I basically only took one day off of all of this clutter management.  Or maybe two.  But the point is that it took entirely too much time to do, so much that my children became raging, food spewing monsters. 

Or at least one did.  The younger one.  The older one just rolled around on the floor wherever I was trying to work, whining about who knows what just to get a reaction from me, which was basically “Quit whining before I lock you in your room!”

But the younger one is where most of my problem came from. 

You guys.  All morning!  ALL MORNING!  She spit or dumped random bits of food all over the house.  First it was her little cup of strawberry applesauce that I gave each of the kids to eat – IN THE KITCHEN – while I brushed my teeth and put on deodorant.  In that amount of time, unbeknownst to me, she took the cup to the living room and dumped it on the couch.  STRAWBERRY APPLESAUCE.  AS IN PINK.  By the time I saw what she had done it was all over the couch, her, the carpet, the kitchen floor, the table and she had tried to wipe it up with a white bathroom towel that I saw her take but just figured she had spilled a little on the table and wanted to clean it up. 

And then it was my black coffee that I’m 85 percent sure she took a drink out of before spilling it all down her shirt, pants, socks and THE LIVING ROOM CARPET.  Now, in my defense the coffee was in a commuter cup with a lid, so I didn’t think she could do as much damage as she did.    

And then it was the milk that she spit out all over the back room shoe storage box and carpet. 

And then the orange that she ate most of and then decided that the last bite was just too overwhelming and so chewed half of it then spit the rest on the carpet in the living room.

And then her lunch of cut up spaghetti that instead of actually eating, while I took a second to pee she decided to dump it all over the floor, table, herself, to the point that I’m pretty sure I will be finding noodles until she’s a grown up.

And then, of course, more milk.

I just don’t know.  I need to clean the house and I am always with my children, so at some point I have to clean around the children.  I don’t want to spend all of whatever break I get when Adele is not-napping in her crib mopping the kitchen floor. 

So what do I do?  When do the children learn to play by themselves without you and without television?  Adele will usually wander up to her room and read books, but Sebastian still wants my attention all the damn time and will absolutely refuse to play in his room.

Part of me feels like both of my children are sick, and that’s what is making their behavior so much worse than normal.  It’s been about a week since they got off their antibiotic for strep, and I actually took them back to the doctor last Friday because I was sure that they had it again.  Everyone looked at me like I was nuts when I said they hadn’t had a fever, they hadn’t been eating all that differently.  They were just acting like jerks, which is how I know they don’t feel good.  My kids don’t actually seem sick other than that.  They don’t lie around, they don’t get feverish, they don’t stop eating (KNOCKING ON WOOD, KNOCKING ON WOOD).  They just get really, really annoying. 

And what made it worse was that their regular doctor was only open half a day and was completely booked up and so I took the kids to Care First, where we had never been before and where the copay is double what we normally pay, and while we were waiting this woman came in with three young kids, the very youngest of which was a little girl who wanted the ipod Sebastian was playing with and wouldn’t leave him alone and kept grabbing his arm and trying to push him and take the thing away.

I overheard the mom telling the receptionist that they had been passing the flu around her house.


So I don’t know.  I feel like the kids are sick but the doctors say they aren’t and also implied that I was an idiot.

Or maybe now everyone has the flu.

I do feel a little achy.

But at least most of my house is de-cluttered.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Homemade Friday: The Dahlia Cardigan - finished

That's right.  Done.

I seem to be on a finishing kick lately.  I believe I started this one in the spring.  Which is to say a long time ago.

I put it on hold for awhile so I could knit other, previously mentioned things, then I ran out of yarn with about two inches of the very last sleeve left to go, so I had to order more, and while I was ordering that yarn I ordered yarn for Chris' sweater, and so had to knit that one first.  His is done, by the way.  And I didn't keep it a secret.  I'll show you it next week provided I can get him to let me take a picture of him wearing it.

I am wearing my hair like this because it's easy and it stays out of my face.

But this cardigan has been done for a few weeks and I am in love.  Again.  I've spent much of my knitting career knitting things for myself that don't turn out how I want them to, or fit wonky, or are the wrong color, even though I picked out the color myself.

But this was just how I wanted it to be.  It's light but also warm.  It's soft.  And I'm enamored with the lace pattern on the back.  The front is designed in such a way that you can tuck one side over your shoulder, then bring the other side up and tuck it in the neck.  And it stays.  I could get a pin for it but I like the simplicity of it the way it is.

I especially like the length of the sleeves.  They're long enough to keep me warm but short enough to stay out of my way when I'm working.

I tried to have Chris take a picture of it right after it was done on a day when my hair was perfect and the sun was shining and I was well rested.  But apparently he was too busy cutting down a tree that may one day fall on our house and couldn't be bothered.  Way to have your priorities straight, Christopher.  We all know that my blog trumps possible tree-house catastrophes!

So instead you get pictures of me sleep-deprived with dirty hair on a rainy day.

However I am wearing mascara, so there's that.

You're welcome.

 (More about this sweater here.)

I have no idea why everything is so greenish-yellow.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Conversations with Sebastian: Girls addition

Sebastian the Playa
While watching a supposed Christmas movie that had puppies in it, but is apparently a Hallmark-type Christmas love story set at the beach with girls in bikinis:

Sebastian: I want to meet girls like that!

Me: What?

Sebastian: You know, girls like that.

Me: Why?

Sebastian: You know, cause I like them.

Me: What about them?

Sebastian: You know, when they put their polish on.

Me: What polish?

Sebastian:  That polish on their eyes.

Me: .....

Sebastian: This movie is weird.

I totally agree.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Things that made me happy this weekend

1. Homemade Pizza

2. Little boys in suit jackets:

3. Shopping by myself

4. Finally being able to decorate the Christmas tree with my children helping me so I don't have to do it all myself.

5. Crappy Christmas parties with Crappy Christmas Gifts (I brought dental floss).

6. Ugly Sweater contests at Crappy Christmas parties, even though I didn't win.

7. Leaving the house in the evening by myself to hang out with friends I hardly ever get to see, knowing that my kids are in fantastic hands with their father.

8. Friends who get me and get my sense of humor and take the time to make me things they know I will love (Thanks, Lauren!):

9. Pancake Sunday

10. Chris taking the kids to Bernheim Forest for 3 hours Sunday morning to give me time to myself, even though I only used it to clean.

11. Having a clean house

12. Sunday dinner at my parents' house

13. Apple pie

14. Warm weather

15. Kick back bruises from the shotgun.

16. Knowing that when the zombie apocalypse happens I know how to handle a weapon.