Monday, October 28, 2013

Of course now I have a little more time to myself, so that's nice

Adele started preschool last week.

Well, it's sort of preschool.

It's more like - hey, why don't you spend an hour twice a week with other children and without your Mama in hopes that you can expand your language skills a bit.

I'd been contemplating having her evaluated for the city preschool for months.  The only way she could get in was if there was a developmental delay - such as with speech or behavior. 

I've noticed that it's hard for people who aren't close to her to understand what she says a lot of the time.  She'll get in a hurry and get excited so her words come out in a jumble.  For the most part I can understand everything she says, but I'm with her all the time.

I asked Adele's doctor what she thought about having the evaluation done and she said that any preschool is good, so it wouldn't hurt.  Which is kind of what I thought to begin with. 

I don't want to push Adele, or make her live up to some arbitrary timetable of what she should be doing/saying at a certain time.  But I also don't want her to have trouble, you know? 

So I took her in and they decided to have her come for an hour on Monday and Wednesday to interact with other kids and get exposed to that type of environment.  She'll do this for 6 weeks and then she'll be reevaluated to see if she needs to go for longer periods of time.

Last week was okay.  She cried for me one time - but she seems to be taking it all in stride. 

It's weird.  With Sebastian we had him in regular preschool at this age, but Adele just wasn't ready to start in August.  And there wasn't the build-up to the first day of school like we had, or the backpack or excitement.  But still, there was that rock in my stomach when I dropped her off the first day.  I didn't cry, probably because she was only going to be gone an hour and it still doesn't feel like real school. 

But still.  My baby. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Homemade Friday: Georgia Cardigan, a Wedding Shawl, and socks

It's been a handknit kind of week, which is my favorite kind of week, next to the ones that involve extra sleep and/or copious amounts of booze.

Just kidding.  Sort of.

So, handknits.  I think I've worn something I've made almost every day this week, even if it was only a pair of socks.  Today, as it's extra cold and the first frost of the fall, I'm wearing three different pieces - socks, a cardigan and a shawl.

The shawl is one I made for my wedding, ages ago, while Chris was away in Alaska and I was on my own planning the event and stressing over everything.  I settled on this drooping elm stitch pattern, and found a hand-dyed yarn online that I thought fit the colors of the wedding.

I think this is the only picture I have of me
wearing the shawl on my wedding day.
In hindsight, an elegant, off-white, delicate shawl probably would have been better, or at least a little classier, but I guess that doesn't matter so much when you have Dad-made pulled pork and kegs of beer at your reception.  Also I like color.

She put her slippers on and came outside even though I told
her she couldn't unless she put actually clothes on as it is
literally, freezing cold outside.  She listens well, this one.
This shawl has kind of turned into an everyday object, which is what I love.  It's a tough little thing, surviving the children fighting over using it as a blanket.  And Adele likes to cover up her various stuffed animals when they go night-night.  Also one time a ball.  And a toy helicopter.  She really likes to put things to bed.

Shawl styling straight out of Lark Rise to Candleford, which is an
awesome show and showed me an incredibly useful way to wear a shawl.

It's been a pillow, too, a tissue, and whatever else it's needed to be.  And today it's back to being a shawl.  It may have a couple of holes in it, but I just tie the ends of the broken yarn together and go about my day. 

I want the things I make to be useful - not precious.  If I make your child a sweater - don't put it on one time and take a picture, then never let the poor, cold thing wear it again.  They are meant to be used.  They are meant to be loved because I love making them.

The cardigan I'm wearing is the Georgia Cardigan by Jane Richmond.  I think I messed up on gauge, which I haven't measured yet because eh - not important.  But the neck is entirely too wide, as is the rest of the sweater.  I wanted a fitted cardigan, but I got a loose, sort of awkward one.  Also it's entirely too short.  However, that hasn't stopped me from wearing it over and over again.  I took it camping when we went and it was much appreciated for warmth.  I still love it, and I wear it often, but I think I may try to make another one sometime in the future at a smaller, longer size.  Or maybe just check the gauge and do some math and actually knit the right way!  Ha!

I could always take this one out and do it over, but that's a lot of work.  We'll see. 

Yarn is Knitpicks Stroll sock yarn in Black, leftover from the ridiculous amount of gloves I knit last Christmas.  Apparently I am a poor judge of yarn amounts because I had enough left over to make a whole sweater.  

I'm wearing these socks, which I made a year or two ago, and which I was sure that I've already showed you but can't seem to find a post on them.

It's my own, plain, short-row heel and toe pattern that I use for all the socks I make.  The yarn is a German Sock Wool from my Mother-in-law.

So right now I'm thankful for all the handknits I have, and the ones I can dress my children and husband in.  Chris is wearing the first and best sweater I made for him.  He wouldn't let me post a picture of him in it today, but it's this pattern by Jo Sharp and looks exactly like the picture - same color and everything.  And if Adele ever lets me dress her, she's going to be wearing this Plain Tunic today - provided it still fits as I haven't tried it on her since last spring.

And I have hats to make and my children both need more socks and I've got a hooded vest picked out for Sebastian and a comfy sweater for me and, and, and ...

I'm so happy it's cooler again.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Motherhood and More: How horrible it must be to be 3*

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my daughter and her endless argumentativeness, and how being 3 years old has to be the toughest age imaginable.

I tend to forget a lot about my children’s specific behavior once they move on to the next phase in their development.  Like I’ve been feeling that there has to be something special, something different about little Adele that makes her so difficult to handle sometimes, or like I’ve done something wrong with her, or stood too long in front of the microwave whenever I was pregnant, thus somehow making her little temper stronger than it otherwise would have been.
Sebastian at 3.

And then I remembered writing a column almost exactly two years ago about how tough it was dealing with my then-3-year-old son.

Okay, then.  Apparently amnesia runs deep.

I just went back and read it, and that column was all about talking back and anger and extreme emotions and doing anything for any kind of attention, either positive or negative.

And here we are again, two years later, with another 3 year old who runs the gamut of emotions throughout the day, wanting to do everything the older people are doing, refusing naps and refusing assistance because “Adele do it!”

It’s hard not to be stuck in the hard times, to focus on the negative aspects and the frustrations that come with being a mother of small children.    And when you have more than one to deal with at a time, it can be physically and mentally exhausting.

But reading that column that I wrote about my son, I realize that I could have easily written the exact same one for my daughter.  And in a strange way it makes me feel better – like yes, it’s insanely difficult now, but it’s normal, at least in our family, and at some point it will all be easier. 

Adele at 3.
She doesn’t want me to help her with anything now, and some day I won’t have to insist on her letting me.  I won’t have to endure the tantrum that occurs when I assist her putting her shoes on when she wants to do it herself, or when I buckle her car seat for her without giving her the chance to try.

So I am relearning how to mother a fiercely independent 3 year old.  And unfortunately it is slow-going.  But I feel like we’re getting somewhere.  I back off when it isn’t essential that I hover.  I let her do more things herself – such as dressing herself or getting herself a cup of water.  And the more I step back, the calmer I am, the less she fights me.

And it makes me wonder, now, if maybe it wasn’t her who was fighting so much.  Maybe I’ve been the one fighting her and her independence.  Three years old, man.  Three years old.  The toughest age in our lifetime.  A time of being constantly controlled and smaller than so many people, a time when your physical limitations can stop you from doing everything your little brain tells you to do. 

I am trying to be more understanding and patient.  And it’s better.  Still horrible, just not as horrible, you know?  But we’ll get there.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on October 23, 2013.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

We probably went a little heavy on the wine ...

I'm a little worn out, probably still hung over from a fall break and weekend that included camping and thorough house cleaning and soccer games and wine and a huge pot of chili and good friends and fancy vodka and zombies and pumpkin drops and fresh-squeezed, amazing lemonade and piles of laundry and cool nights and warm days and sewing costumes - batman and ghost with plans for a wizard - and more wine and cleaning the house again and playground time with Nana and wine and not nearly enough sleep.

And cookies.

It was one of the best weeks I've had.

(If you look closely, you can see Adele on the left
sticking her head out the side of the bucket.)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Camping is for awesome people

We're taking the kids camping today, and it's either going to be super awesome or a really, really bad idea.  I'm hoping for the former.

We're taking it slow, only staying for one night at a campsite we know well.  I'm a little afraid to sleep in the same enclosed area with my children, as they aren't known for being good sleepers.  So think of me around 3 tomorrow morning when I've got four feet lodged in my spine and a plethora of arms across my head.

I can't wait.

I have to go make chocolate chip cookies and pack a bag and clean up the pile of summer clothes I took out of my closet yesterday and threw on the bed, then threw on the floor when it was time for bed.  So I'm going to leave you with these pictures of Sebastian telling me a story about Batman and Christmas while wearing his 'Camping Shirt' that is entirely too small but that is essential to camping fun.

Dear Lord he's handsome.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Homemade Friday: Adele, 3 years

She's turning into a little hoarder, carrying around a doll diaper bag or an old purse of mine, or finally using the bag I sewed her when she was 1.  She picks up little toys or pieces of paper, or anything small enough to fit in her bag.  She likes to hide pacis in there to pull out whenever she needs one, because she knows I'll never give it to her unless it's bedtime.

I have to clean the bags out at night because she's started putting her vitamins in them, or cheese sticks, or yesterday it was a handful of grapes.
  It's interesting to see, this new part of her personality.

She's a fighter, this fierce little girl of mine.  She's independent and I'm learning, slowly, I admit, that sometimes it's okay just to let her go.  To let her put her own toothpaste on her toothbrush, or to buckle herself into her car seat.  Because it hurts her when I don't let her do it herself.  All she wants is to prove to me, to herself, to everyone that she can do it. 

And when she can't, when the task is too difficult for her little hands, she feels it.  And it feels bad.

I try to calm her down as best as I can, but I understand.  It can be a personal failure when you can't do something that you want so badly to do.  But in my case I tend to avoid doing things that I know I'm not going to be good at.

But not my little Adele.  She hurdles through everything, beating tasks into submission just by her will.  And I am in awe.

She loves her brother, wants so badly to be as big as he is, that sometimes she shows that by hitting him or pulling his hair when he doesn't pay enough attention to her.  And she craves it.  She doesn't like it when you focus on something or someone who isn't her when she's ready for your undivided attention.  But she is also really good at finding stuff to do on her own.  She loves to build towers out of duplos, stacking higher and higher until it can't support itself.  And sometimes I can hear her upstairs taking care of her babies, asking them if they're all right and tucking them in, saying "Snug as a bug in a rug" like I say to her.

She's an animal lover to the core, being equally amazed by little flies (which she calls 'butterflies') and feisty puppy dogs.  She spends much of her day talking to our cat, making sure she's okay and feeding her snacks.

She loves to talk about her brother, and everywhere we go she makes sure to tell the people we meet that "Bastian rides the school bus!  I ride school bus?  When I'm 5, right Mama?  Right?" The other day she attempted to get on the school bus herself, walking across the street with me and Sebastian, and stepping on the bus steps, ready to walk right on without me.  She cried and cried when I wouldn't let her go.

 I'm not ready to let you go, baby.

She calls every woman she meets 'Mommy' and every man, 'Daddy'.  She's friendly just like her brother, hugging strangers indiscriminately.

She's ridiculously athletic, always interested in playing ball or riding her bike or running or flipping.  She caught on super quick to soccer, scoring 4 goals in her last game.  She's tall for her age, registering in the 95th percentile, and everyone thinks she's older than 3. 

She wants to be as helpful as she can, unloading the silverware from the dishwasher or vacuuming with her toy vacuum right alongside me. 

Her bed is usually covered in toys, little legos she's 'borrowed' from her brother or a pile of stuffed animals she uses to keep her company.

She's a hugger, thank goodness, and will smoosh her face into yours for kisses.  She's so photogenic, the pictures capturing her attitude, her excitement, her gorgeousness.

She's fearless in pools, wearing floaties but jumping in all by herself, going all the way under.  She also will raise her arms up so she dips under the water, coming up laughing, thrilled with it all.

 Oi, this girl.  She's equal parts amazing, loving, fierce and frustrating.

 And I couldn't be happier that I get to be her Mama.

 Happy (late) birthday my sweet baby, my gorgeous girl.  Thank you for being you.

 (Here's her First Birthday post.  And her Second.)