Friday, May 31, 2013

Homemade Friday: Semele Shawl

I was checking through my archives and realized that I haven't posted a Homemade Friday post for a month.


I'm not really sure why.  I've been making lots and lots of things, as usual.  Just today I made mozzarella and ricotta and butter. 

I've been sewing and knitting and my son has requested that I make everyone coming to his Star Wars Birthday Party a Luke Skywalker costume.

Stay tuned to see if I actually do that.

(Or not.  The answer is no, kid.  Learn to sew.)

But let's jump back in like I haven't taken a long hiatus and pretend that I've been keeping up with this blog like I'm supposed to be.  And by 'supposed to be' I mean 'forcing myself to.'


I knit this shawl for my friend who lost her husband.

I honestly debated on posting it here because it was a personal gift, made for someone suffering.

But this is who I am.  I picked out this pattern and yarn because I felt helpless.  And knitting is a way for me to keep my hands busy, to feel like I'm doing something that may provide a bit of comfort, and to show my friend I'm thinking of her.

The pattern is Semele.  I thought it was intricate and delicate and just what I wanted.  I used Hand Maiden Sea Silk yarn in Mint.  It's so soft and shiny and I thought the color would look really nice with my friend's red/auburn hair.

The pattern was tricky and it took me longer than I wanted because I messed up once and dropped a stitch and had to take out a bunch of other stitches and redo a whole side and it has an imperfection in it because of that but there was nothing to be done. 

That's the way it goes, yeah?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Motherhood and More: Screen time piles on guilt*

I feel like a failure as a mother.

I mean, that’s really nothing new at this point. But specifically, now, I feel like a failure as a mother because I allow my son to spend entirely too much time parked in front of a screen.

As many mothers do, when I first found out I was going to have a baby I spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of mother I would be. And I settled on the cloth diaper-using, breast-feeding, no-television-watching hipster mom who would eschew any form of cartoon-character marketing on principle alone.

I know. I want to slap me, too.

And I did OK for awhile. I nursed both my kids for 13 months, and we did use cloth diapers, but supplemented with disposable. I made a lot of my own baby food.

But where I ran into trouble was the television.

I tried. I really did. But when my toddler son sat still for the first time and watched a program, it was like I’d been given 15 minutes of freedom that I hadn’t had before.

We started with public television. Because it’s public television — it has to be educational and hipster-approved, right? “Thomas the Tank Engine” led to “Barney,” which led to “Dora the Explorer,” which led to “Wonder Pets,” which for some reason led to any and all “fighting shows,” as my son calls them.

I honestly don’t know how it happened. One minute we’re learning about dinosaurs on “Dinosaur Train,” and the next I’m running to the television to turn off a Batman cartoon that shows Bruce Wayne losing his parents. All the sudden my son is too big for the nice, educational shows, and the only thing that piques his interest includes light sabers and/or the good guys fighting the villains.

And here’s where I show even more of my failure at parenting and tell you that I don’t preview everything my kid watches. It’s just, I don’t think I can sit through another “Ninjago” episode without smashing my head into a wall, you know?

So my own personal mothering rules have relaxed considerably over the last five years. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty about it. I think about whether I’m permanently scarring him by exposing him to so much non-educational screen time.

But then I think about me.

I watched “Jaws 3” when I was a few years older than my son is now. I mean, sure, I had some nightmares and have a horrific fear of the ocean and all the teaming masses of killer fish that are swimming along, just waiting for my shadow to cross their paths so they can bite off my leg.

But am I affected, really? Has watching that damaged my psyche irrevocably? I mean other than my inability to swim in a pool without convincing myself that a shark is chasing me, of course.

And so I allow my son to watch shows that sometimes give me a twinge of doubt. I do try to force some educational programs on him occasionally, and he still likes “Wonder Pets,” though he won’t actually admit it, but will sit and watch it whenever his sister does.

But the epic battle of good versus evil is what occupies his mind these days.

But there could be worse obsessions than “Star Wars,” right?

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on May 22, 2013.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I should probably find work as a landscaper now

I know it may not look like it, but a lot of hard
work went into that little bit.
For some reason I have decided to build a rock patio.

Maybe it's because my children are a bit older and can spend time outside without me constantly running after them to make sure they don't charge into the busy road in front of our house.  They can occupy themselves without me, though of course that doesn't stop them from asking for multiple cups of juice and milk and water and then the littlest one needs a bathroom break from all the juice and milk and water and the oldest one insists that I push him on the swing and the youngest wants me to hold her while I push the oldest on the swing.


Or maybe it's fact that it's gardening weather - it's finally warm enough to make things like 'walking out the back door' a little easier.  We've been cooped up all winter, which takes its toll on all of us outside people.  I've felt stagnant and unable to do anything to improve the yard while the weather was the way it was. 

Or maybe it's the story I'm writing for the newspaper on hardscapes that got me thinking that this was something to do.
We love child labor in this house.

Whatever the reason, I started work Sunday afternoon.

No plan.  No experience.  I just started digging.

We have an area to the left of our back steps that for as long as we've lived her has been overgrown with random grass-type plants.  There's a really pretty clematis and some columbines there, as well, but they seem to be overshadowed by the mess. 

We'd been talking about putting a rock patio there for awhile now.  And we have all the rocks that we've collected from around our yard and my parents' house.  So I thought: Why not?  Why not now? 

So I got a shovel and a wheelbarrow full of sandstone rocks and started work.  I've been digging down, trying to make it as level as possible, which is a bit difficult with these lumpy, awkward rocks.  It's not going to be a permanent fixture - just something to hold us over until we can afford to do it the right way. 

But it's kind of cool.  It's like a puzzle with really heavy pieces that don't fit together exactly, but are good enough.

Sebastian has been helping me, shoveling dirt and gathering rocks.  And the kid loves puzzles as much as I do so he's really enjoying putting the pieces together.

I'm sore from all the lifting and bending in places that I didn't know could be sore (the top of my butt?  REALLY?).  But it feels good.  I like the work and the accomplishment I can see progressing from just my own two, rough, scraped up hands.

I had plans to work on it again this morning but it rained just enough earlier to make it too muddy to work.

I don't claim that this will be the nicest rock patio anyone has ever seen.

But I can say that I built it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Although the ability to sleep in would have been nice, too

For Mother's Day my children thoughtfully gave me their stomach virus.

And my husband left for a work trip.

And then there was all the grumpiness and fighting and no-napping.

But I also got this wild, goofy, incredible boy who tells me almost every day that I'm the best mom in the world:

And this one, this rambunctious, silly, sweet girl who wants me to hold her all day and will randomly come up and kiss me and gives the best hugs:

Not a bad trade off.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

I spent way too much time figuring out how to type an up arrow on the keyboard for authenticity

The other child has been taken over by the stomach virus from one of the really bad circles of hell, but I've never actually read Dante's Inferno so I can't tell you the exact one.  I tried to wikipedia it but it just got me depressed thinking about anger and gluttony and fraud so I decided it wasn't important enough to have an exact circle to describe my son's stomach virus.  Unless it's the gluttony one because he has eaten a whole lot of generic fruit loops lately, which I only realized afterward has some very strong food coloring in it (I know!  Where have I been?) so I ordered a bunch of the hippie, organic fruit loops which he'll probably refuse to eat anyway.

Where was I?

Stomach virus.  So he's home from school today.  And I need a pick-me-up.

I was looking for a picture the other day to illustrate a blog post (this one, actually) and I stumbled across a box of notes my friends had written to me.  Oh yes.

And this was, of course, before the days of texting and email and right in the height of special, origami-type folding that I never quite mastered but that most of my friends were proficient in.

So I'm adding this to the list of Jaime's embarrassing journal entries about boys she loved and also how much she wanted to get her period.  

I think this particular one was written in middle school.  I'm 90 percent sure of who it's from, but sometimes I get confused because I am old and this was 20 years ago (OH MY GAWD).



So wuz ↑? Not much here.  Just thinking of those 2 guys and Ashley.  I still get the jitters when I think of her absence.  It's just so sad.  I hope she doesn't forget about us. (I have absolutely no idea who or what she's talking about here.)


Did you talk to Rosco?  He's so cute!  Especially with his hat on backwards.  You may not think he's cute but I do!  FOR SURE!  Write Back or talk to me at lunch about ROSCO I don't mind if anyone reads this but if they make any remarks about Rosco, just slappem!  See ya at the football game!

A GREAT friend,


P.S. You won't have fun at Chasity's cause I won't be there! (Joke)

Circa letter-writing time. Maybe. I
honestly don't know because
But my hair looked fabulous.

(Here are the rest of my journal entries if you need a good laugh at my expense.  Go ahead.  I don't mind.)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

She's eaten a ton of cheddar cheese this morning so I think that means she's feeling better

I had a weird dream last night.  Apparently Katherine Heigl was a present-day werewolf who fell in love with a werewolf hunter and she turned him into a werewolf but none of his friends knew.  And being a werewolf made him a better werewolf hunter so he could hunt out his new werewolf friends.

And then I dreamed I was driving people to go bowling - like friends and family.

I promise I haven't taken any strange drugs lately, but I have been completely sleep deprived because of a certain small girl with a ferocious stomach bug.

She only barfed once, and of course it was completely down the front of my shirt.  But we have spent the past two and a half days in the bathroom.  It's been ... something.

But the (relatively) nice thing about Adele being sick is that she's a cuddly bug.  So when I haven't been in the bathroom with her I've been holding her.  Or sitting down on the couch with her.  Or letting her lay her head on my shoulder while I rub her back.  That doesn't happen all that often in the GO-GO-GO that is her 2-and-a-half-year-old, ridiculously hyper self.  So we slowed down a little.

Of course this lead to intense jealously from her brother, who lashed out by telling me he wanted me to go to jail and that the next time I came to visit him at his school he would refuse to sit by me.

My angel.

But I've tried to counter it by spending more time with him one-on-one, when Adele is sleeping, and it seems to be working.  His attitude has been better.  Of course, he could have always been mildly sick himself, but who knows.  You can't really tell with him.  And I'm still kicking myself for taking Adele to the doctor for them to tell me to give her rest and fluids when I already knew that she needed rest and fluids because COMMON SENSE.  But I always worry that the kids will have some kind of weird infection that I won't be able to cure without antibiotics, which is ridiculous, I know.

So.  Babash can have rest and fluids if he starts acting really for real sick and not just fake, I-want-attention sick.

But Adele finally seems to be better, and we haven't had to spend extended time in the bathroom once today, which is a huge improvement already.  And she slept all night last night, except for that one time when she lost her paci and screamed and I made Chris go up and take care of it because whenever I try to she won't let go and I have to bring her downstairs to our bed and no one sleeps at all.


I was trying to recreate this picture:

Do you think it worked?