Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Motherhood & More: Kid, just let me be*

My son has been acting decidedly strange lately.

He’s always been a little bit attached, still refusing to play by himself in his room unless I threaten him. But lately he’s been downright clingy.

I should love it, right? I should spend all my time focusing on how he’s not always going to want to be right by my side whenever I am in the same building, or hug me 50 times a day. That’s no exaggeration. Literally 50 times. I know because I counted.

OK, I didn’t count. But I know it was a lot.

And I’m a hugger. I come from a family of huggers. Hugs are a way to tell someone you missed them, or you will miss them, or hey, your hair’s looking really good today.

Hugs really are a multi-functioning tool.

We had a rule growing up: Hugs and kisses whenever we want. And I vividly remember taking advantage of that so much that at one time my mom had to tell me that rule didn’t apply when she was trying to put a hot pot into the oven.

Well, son. That rule doesn’t apply when I am trying to go to the bathroom.

So this need for my son to be attached to me all day long is starting to wear me down. He whined when he saw me sit down to write this column and proceeded to jump on my bed, yelling, until he knocked over a lamp and I had to kick him out.

He frowned at me and gave me a look that said forcing him to leave my sight was tantamount to dropping him off in the middle of a desert with no water. And no way to get home. Alone.

I love you so much, kid. But give me some space. (He’s now back and just slightly quieter. Although there’s no jumping, so that’s something.)

My husband told me I should enjoy this, which is easy for him to say because he’s not the one who can’t leave the room without having a 4-year-old follow him around, holding onto his pocket so he doesn’t get too far away.

And there is a continuous refrain of “Mommy! Mommy! Hey, Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”

And if I don’t answer right away, it’s “Hey, Mommy! Why didn’t you answer me? I was talking to you! Hey, Mommy!”

Part of it could be his sister requires a lot of attention these days. She’s been sick for what seems like months, which brings with it challenges in the form of screaming fits because I didn’t let her pull her own chair out at the table.

She’s also in the middle of potty training, so she needs a lot of my energy and time and focus. I think my son is maybe just feeling a little left out. I think he needs a little more reassurance sometimes. A little more hugs. Fifty. Fifty hugs a day.

And I will try to enjoy it. I will.

But I would also like to be able to walk upstairs and get a pair of shoes without everyone in the house younger than 5 following me and asking, “What are you doing, Mommy?”

I’m hiding. Let me be.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on February 27, 2013. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I mean, we really should have remembered a gun. Or at least a crossbow.

What if the zombie apocalypse breaks out while we’re hiking and we have to fight them off?  We should have brought a gun, I said.

My husband was not as amused as I thought he’d be:  And I just remembered why I never bring you hiking with me, he said.

He was joking, of course.  He loves it when I bring up the possible zombie apocalypse and he likes it even better when I bring up the possible alien invasion a la Falling Skies.

It’s all about being prepared, people.

We had just dropped the kids off with Chris’ parents and had a whole day to kill* before we went to visit some friends, so we planned a long hike.  Hiking was something we used to do a lot of, but of course it’s not that easy when you’ve got two children who like water and so hiking by a creek with them is not a good idea if we didn’t want to jump in after them.  Which we didn’t.

I wrote a bit about our love of hiking and being outside here, and actually that is the last time I went, I think.  Which makes me a little sad.  I mean, look at how little my babies were!

But Chris and I walked for about 3 and a half hours at Otter Creek, and I even made him hold my hand for 15 seconds in order to force romanticism on him.  I took a picture so I'd remember it.  See?

My legs were sore and I’ve still got some muscle aches, but it was so incredibly calming to spend a day just the two of us, hiking a trail we have hiked many times before, both as a young couple dating (way back in 1999) and as a married couple, and now as a married couple with kids.

And maybe next time we’ll actually take the kids with us, provided it’s warm enough for them to jump into the creek because we all know there’s no stopping it anyway.

*Kill like the zombies.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Homemade Friday: Little Red Baby Cardigan

Guys.  The past two weeks have pulled my hair and smacked me in the face, then twisted my arm behind my back.

And then stomped on my toes.  With cleats.

I've been battling some sort of funk that may or may not be strep throat.  I'll have a sore throat and it will get better then hurt worse then get better then hurt even worse.  I might have had a fever for a week but I can't tell because one thermometer tells me my temp is 97 and the other says 99.5 and so who really knows.

And Adele is on medicine for strep and the oldest may possibly have it.  I say possibly because even though he tested negative for it I am almost certain that he had/has it.  Because of all the screaming.  And yelling.  And general argumentativeness.

The youngest has been and is continuing to reign terror down upon any who deign to cross her.  I buckled her car seat today and she bit me because she wanted to do it herself.  If I lift the seat up so she can sit down on the toilet she will throw herself down on the floor and scream, the refuse to go to the bathroom. 

She is also insisting on being held from the time she wakes up from her nap until I can pawn her off on her father when he gets home from work.

I took both of the kids to the grocery store today, which I don't normally do but this was the only time I had to go and I was that mom with both of her children running up and down the aisles pointlessly yelling at them to GET BACK HERE RIGHT THIS SECOND JUST PUT THAT BACK WE AREN'T BUYING ANY CHOCOLATE FOR YOU AND NO YOU CAN'T HAVE A TOY I SAID GET BACK HERE.

It was so very much fun. 

In other words, I'm looking forward to the children visiting their Omi and Opi this weekend.


So let's talk about pretty baby sweaters to clean the bad taste out of our mouths, shall we?

Remember last week when I mentioned the karaoke baby shower?

Well, here's what I made for my friend Heather, who's little girl is due to arrive next month.  I knit it in a week because I was finishing last-minute Christmas (yes, Christmas) presents and that's all the time I had before the shower/karaoke party.

Actually the sweater was still a little damp from blocking when I gave it to her but really, that's not so bad, right?  At least I finished all the sleeves.

The best part of the entire sweater is the buttons.  Look how adorable!

They are the same ones I used for the Maile sweater I made for another little girl.  Peter Rabbit!  (Actually, come to think of it that's the exact same yarn as well.)

It's an easy, quick sweater, although I probably could have started a fire with my wooden needles with how fast I was knitting so I could finish.  I sewed these buttons on myself because I didn't have time to beg my mom to do it for me, so they will probably fall off.  Hopefully Heather is more talented than I am in that department and she can just sew them back on. 

Pattern: Sirdar 1761, size 0-6 months
Yarn: Knitpicks Shine Sport in Hollyberry

Friday, February 15, 2013

Homemade Friday: Jack Skellington Gloves

Hey, remember when I mentioned how I was knitting gloves for my nieces and nephew?  

Well, I finally finished them.  At least a month late, but who's counting?

These pictured here are the last ones I finished.  And look how cool!

My niece LOVES The Nightmare Before Christmas.  And she picked out this design.  I thought it would be easy to find a chart for it but I couldn't find a pattern for Mr. Skellington.   So I made up my own using a blend of this chart and this photo.

Do you think it worked?  I'm searching for validation here so anything positive you can say would be fantastic.  My niece liked then, I think.  But I doubt she'd say if she didn't because those kids are raised with manners and the need not to offend someone who does something nice for you.

I forgot to take pictures of the first two sets of gloves I made because was in a great hurry to hand them off.  
So.  It's imagination time, kiddos.

The other gloves look just like these pictured here, except instead of a teal Jack Skellington one pair has a hot pink star and the other has a light grey smiley face.

The index fingers and thumbs on each set have conductive thread sewn in, which actually was the toughest part of the whole process.  I couldn't figure out how to put it in and make it work right.  But I finally got the hang of it.  They're not going to feel like regular gloves because the thread is thick and bulky, but hopefully it's not too bad. 

And they can wear gloves and use their smart phones and ipads and plethora of other electronic devices and still have warm hands.

I think they're cool.  However I am old and not so hip.

Pattern: For the larger gloves I used the Sock-It-To-Me glove pattern from Knitpicks and for the smaller I used Michelle Gloves from Drops designs.

Charts: I used this Smiley Face chart for my nephew and also I used it as a guide for the Jack Skellington Gloves.  And I used this star chart pattern for my older niece.

Yarn: Stroll Fingering from Knitpicks.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Valentine's Day Manifesto? Or something?

Oh Valentine’s Day. 

You are usually a day I look forward to, then become disappointed when it doesn’t live up to some commercially manufactured ideal of what you’re supposed to be.

And then I feel stupid because the commercials also make me feel like advertisers think women are only interested in what their significant other can buy them.  As I told a friend today it makes women look vapid and greedy.

And so I’ve decided, this year, that there will be no jewelry giving, there will be no hurt feelings because I wasn’t sent flowers.

I’ve got a pretty amazing life.  And I’ve got three people who I love more than anything in the world. 

Ignore the exhaustion. Focus on the cute kid.

I’ve got Sebastian, who despite his refusal to give me anything other than ‘Eskimo’ kisses because the regular ones are ‘gross’, will hug me so hard, and who told me this morning that that was my gift because “hugs are presents, too.”  (Be still, my heart!)

And he’s appreciative.  We ran out of bread this week and I baked some to ensure that he could take a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to school.  When he realized what I’d done he said “Oh thank you so much!  That is so nice of you!”  It totally took me by surprise, yet didn’t.  You don’t expect a 4 year old to notice when you go out of your way for him.  But he’s not a typically 4 year old.

I’ve got Adele, who, once we got over the initial fear and screaming, is actually making potty training her much easier and quicker than with her brother.  She will blow kisses at the cat and hug anything and everything she can.  She loves to help clean up and wants to be involved in whatever everyone else is involved in.

This isn't how you work puzzles?
Sans pants and sans hands?

And I’ve got my husband, who makes me laugh and makes sure I know that I’m loved. 

He's a nice-looking man.
It’s pretty awesome.  And so much better than ugly, heart-shaped jewelry.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Potty training and karaoke are not normally written about together

So we’ve been deep in potty training for about a week now.  And it actually seems to be going well.

Sort of.  I mean, the peeing is going fantastic and from almost the first day Adele’s been going when she needs to go, for the most part.  It’s the other thing that’s causing us so much trouble and drama.

There’s screaming and crying and begging for a paci and sitting on the potty for two seconds then getting up then sitting then getting up then sitting then getting up until finally she can’t hold it anymore.  And then there is much rejoicing and cheering and giving of chocolate (don’t judge me).  And saying “All RIGHT!” which is what she says every time she potties because that’s what I say every time she potties.

So we’re almost there.  And it makes me so sad.
I know, I know.  I’m insane.  But she’s my baby. 

Sebastian just started bring his lunch to school and the night before, as I was packing up his peanut and jelly burrito and blueberries and carrots, I got a little teary. 

My kids are growing up, guys. 

However sad this may make me, it does offer me a minor luxury in the form of hitting up a local karaoke bar with some friends and not feeling too guilty about it. 

(Awesome segue, right?) (Also, I had to look up how to spell ‘segue’.)

This weekend we had a girls’ night where we went to a local German restaurant and ate schnitzel and drank beer and watched a karaoke contest.  Only one of us was brave enough to actually get up and sing and it wasn’t me.  Lauren rocked out to “Kerosene,” which is an awesome song and she did an awesome job. 

I was unfortunately unable to karaoke as I was having too much fun monopolizing the conversation, like I tend to do whenever I’m around anyone other than my husband because I see him all the time.  So when I see my friends I drink too much and talk too much and generally make an ass of myself.

It’s awesome, is what I’m saying.

But one of the girls is having a baby soon so we sort of mashed up this dinner with a baby shower because nothing says baby shower like beer and karaoke.  (No she wasn’t drinking the beer.  Mostly that was just me.)

But really, we all brought gifts and I wrapped her chair in streamers and we blew up some balloons and set them on the table.

Anybody need me to plan your party?  Cause I got mad skillz.  Yo.

Also I may have sort of hit on a 21-year-old bartender that my friend Robin said looked like wolverine.  I didn’t actually try to pick him up, I was just friendly.  And then he told me his age and I felt vaguely depressed. 

God I love those ladies.  

(Here are some photos that I stole from my friend.  The first one is dinner before karaoke.  Notice the balloons.  The second one is in the bar that's attached to the restaurant.  Notice the beer-reddened cheeks.  And my sexy friend, Laura.)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Homemade Friday: Urban Hiker for Adele

This sweater was born out of necessity.  Adele only has two jackets – a light one and a heavy one that is so thick she can’t fit in her car seat with it on.  And you’re not really supposed to buckle the kids in there with a heavy jacket on anyway since it messes with the fit and is unsafe and could cause major catastrophes and all that other stuff that parents worry about.

So what I’ve been doing on cold days is to put Adele’s heavy jacket on over top of her light jacket for the walk to the car, then taking her heavy one off when we get to the car, just leaving the light one on for the ride.  It was a hassle, to say the least.

So I figured that if I could knit a heavier sweater for Adele that wasn’t too heavy, but also wasn’t too light, all of my problems would be solved.  Or at least my wintertime car seat problems.

I didn’t want to buy yarn because I’ve got a whole closet full of yarn that is just taking up space at the moment and I can’t really fit anything else in there without all of it falling on my head, so I thought I’d try to use some of it up before it overtakes everything. 

The only yarn I had that would fit the pattern without a lot of reworking on my part, which I didn’t want to do, was Debbie Bliss merino chunky.  Also my children have an aversion to ‘itchy sweaters’ so I also had to take that into account.

I bought this yarn in North Carolina, on mine and Christopher’s one and only vacation we ever took alone, if you don’t count that backpacking trip we took for our one-year wedding anniversary.  I think it was in 2004.  Maybe.  I honestly can’t remember.

But the point is the yarn was old.  And it has also been used a time or two, then ripped out because I didn’t like the pattern I was using it for.  And sometimes I would have to cut a strand because I had knit into the yarn wrong and messed everything up. 

So the skeins were fraught with pills and weird strings and breaks.  But I persevered.  Mainly because I didn’t want to have to pull everything back again and rework the pattern with a different yarn.

And it’s not that bad.  It actually turned out better than I thought it would.  The sweater is thick enough and warm.  And it’s soft.  And I got to use up some of my stash.

I sewed the zipper on myself.  I normally leave that to my mother because I’m not very good at it.  I never know how to tie the knots at the end to keep the thread from unraveling.  But I did it anyway because I needed the sweater done.

I’m sure I will need her to fix it when the zipper starts falling off.

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Merino Chunky in a dark purple, which I think is discontinued now.