Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Motherhood and More: Christmas anticipation fosters sleepless nights*

I think I might finally be a grown up.

I mean, I know it took long enough.  But now that I’m 33 ½ and have two young children of my own, I think it is time to call myself an adult. 

It didn’t happen when I turned 18, or 21, or when I got married.  And it didn’t even happen when I became a mother. No, I became an adult when I started sleeping on Christmas Eve instead of having insomnia caused by the excitement and anticipation of Christmas morning.

There’s so much build up, you know?  There are weeks spent planning and decorating and baking and shopping and wrapping and, in my case, knitting.  All of the preparation leads to this climactic night, this waiting for the accumulation of all the hard work to pay off.

And by all that I mean presents.  It’s hard to sleep the night before you know you’ll be receiving presents.  My family was always good about making the holiday about family and helping others, but still, there were presents.  And I have spent many a Christmas Eve night tossing and turning and willing myself to drift off because that would only make the morning come faster.

But alas, it never was easy.  I tried counting and meditative breathing.  I tried squeezing my eyes shut as tight as I could.  I tried putting the covers over my head.  Sleep was not easily achieved, no matter what I did.  I couldn’t tame the excitement, the butterflies in my stomach.  And when I did finally drift off, it was only for a few hours.  I would always, always wake up at an unreasonable hour and run downstairs to check out the tree.  And then I would have to go back up to my room and wait for my sister to wake up – my sister who could sleep through the apocalypse easily and deeply.  She never lost sleep on Christmas Eve, and would happily stay in bed past 10 a.m., which was ludicrous.  This was mostly because I couldn’t touch anything under the tree until I drug her out of bed, so Christmas morning usually began with a fight.  However it was easily resolved through the joy and good behavior of the season.

The past few years have been a bit more sleep-filled, however.  I’ve gone to bed and fallen asleep, slept the whole night, and only woken up when I heard my 6-year-old son sneaking down the steps at an entirely unreasonable hour.

And he will yell at his sister to get up while I drag myself awake, wiping my eyes, dreaming of coffee.  Of course he can’t touch anything until everyone is there, including his sister who isn’t quite as fast as he is to jump out of bed.

And I know he has lain awake at night, tossing and turning, and willing himself to sleep.  And maybe he’s woken up and gone downstairs to check on things sometime in the night, sometimes even before Santa has arrived.  I know he’s listened to hear Santa’s sleigh, trying to determine if that noise was a reindeer on the roof or just the wind. 

And he will probably be like this for years to come, even after he learns to drive or graduates high school.  Or maybe even after he gets married. 

Because it is exciting, you know?  The happiness and family and presents and time spent together celebrating creates something a bit magical. 

And who wants to sleep through that?

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on Dec. 24, 2014.

Monday, December 22, 2014

And I have how many days left until they go back to school?

I am currently 56 percent zombie, 41 percent coffee and the rest cracker candy.

That's because my sweet 4-year-old Adele had a minor freakout at 2 in the morning in the form of hysterical screaming about spiders in her bed.  (Spiders this time, not snakes.)  And so I lay with her for awhile to calm her down, and I noticed that she sounded horribly congested and wouldn't stop coughing.  I got her some cough medicine and hippie decongestant salve and returned to my own bed, hoping to quickly return to sleep.  I knew it was wishful thinking because I am self aware, but still.  I wanted to believe it was possible.

But then, of course, Adele began fake crying because she's not supposed to get out of bed and that was her way to get our attention.  She's not supposed to get out of bed because for the past few weeks (WEEKS) she has come downstairs in the middle of the night to our bed.  We let her stay for a bit then one of us (me) will carry her back to her own bed.  And neither parent goes back to sleep.

So instead of coming downstairs after we told her not to she put her head right by her door and fake cried until I made it back upstairs.  I gave up at that point.

I stayed in her bed until around 5.  I think I slept some.  A bit.  But not nearly enough.  And today I needed to run to the store for jewelry supplies because I had two necklace orders and desperately needed chains even though I was sure I'd bought an obscene amount the last time I stocked up and how did I go through so many so fast?  (Obviously, this is a good problem to have.  Just not today.)

So the kids and I went out, me partially awake and Adele majorly tired and possibly on the verge of a meltdown.  But luckily that didn't show up until we were waiting in line at the bookstore to get a drink and I refused to buy her a cookie.  We were at the bookstore because I didn't have the energy to disagree with my son who really, really wanted to go there.  That's also how we ended up with a chapter book.  Well, that and I'm a sucker for books and it's pretty awesome that he's reading chapter books and I'm ok with encouraging it.

And maybe I would have been okay with buying a cookie for the kids if they hadn't spent the entire weekend eating nothing but sugar.  We had three parties to go to on Saturday which included cupcakes and gingerbread house and cookie decorating and hot chocolate and chocolate covered pretzels and - and - and ...

And on Sunday we had my parents' Christmas party where the rest of us ate lasagna but my two unnatural children don't actually like lasagna and so survived on Pez.

So I thought I'd attempt to get them back on some sort of halfway-healthy-type of food plan, which didn't include overpriced cookies from the bookstore cafe.  Adele flipped out so we left that line and went in the book-buying line, which actually was longer than the over-priced coffee and cookie line.  And she wouldn't stop flipping out so I put her Barbie book back and just bought Sebastian's book because he was behaving like a civilized human being.

And then she screamed in the car when she realized I hadn't bought her book.

Thems the breaks, kid.

We went home and ate lunch and Adele took a nap, which means that she was exceptionally tired because she didn't even protest me forcing her in her room all that much.  I honestly think she was a little relieved.

I probably should have taken a nap myself but I had three baskets of laundry to fold and Gilmore Girls to marathon and so I just made another pot of coffee and had a few more bites of cracker candy an considered myself sustained.

Lest you think I was completely neglecting my older child, he was around, and perfectly behaved because he spent his afternoon watching youtube videos of a boy opening toys and playing with them.  Now, I don't necessarily understand the concept of evantube, but it keeps him occupied.

Good Lord, is it only the first day of Christmas break?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Spreading the Christmas cheer one animal sacrifice at a time

I maybe forgot I had a blog.

Okay - I didn't forget.  I spend every morning for the last little bit (when was the last time I actually wrote something?) planning to write, telling myself to write, even writing posts in my head.

But I seem to have forgotten to actually write.

But I'm here now!  At least for today, and really, that's all I can commit to because time and Christmas and work and all that.

My I Love Kentucky necklaces have become popular all of the sudden, with mucho orders coming in. (Maybe it was because of the giveaway?) Every time I see a new order I grin and tell my husband how excited I am because SOMEONE WANTS TO BUY SOMETHING I MADE!  You have no idea how happy it makes me.  I am goofy with joy.  There'as also been some interest in my new personalized motherhood necklace.  I wear mine all the time, myself,with my kids' initials stamped on the little hearts.  My son likes to see it on me and comments on how I like to keep him close to my heart.  I sure do, buddy.

So what with all the grinning and the celebrating people buying things and the making I am a bit booked up, you know?

And then, on top of that I decided last minute - as per my usual schedule - that I would hand-knit some presents for people.  Every year I say no - I'm not going to put myself through it because it's ridiculous to stress myself out as much as I do and also I have a million other things that require my attention.  And then I change my mind very close to Christmas because handknits are awesome and I like to spread happiness in the form of wool.  And that leaves me scrambling and up late and sore-wristed from all the knitting.  I think it will be manageable this year, though.  I've chosen a quick pattern and everyone gets the same thing.  So maybe it won't be so bad?

Do I say that every year?  I feel like I say that every year.

We'll see.

I also have lots of baking/food making to get done.  And birthday parties to go to and Christmas parties and then there's my annual animal sacrifice for snow on Christmas.  (I'm kidding. No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog post, or in the hopes of creating snow.)

This time of year is fantastic, isn't it?  I've honestly been a bit grumpy about the whole thing, trying to make myself feel more Christmas cheer than I do.  But I think maybe my standards are too high.  It's okay for me not to be ebullient over everything Christmas related.  I am all grown up now, even though I don't always feel like it.  Of course the season isn't going to be the same as it was when I was a kid so I should probably try to stop focusing on why I don't feel the way I feel like I should feel.  You feel me?

Instead, now I can create all that magic for my little monsters.  I can make the days exciting and full of all that stuff that made me so Christmasy in days past.

Which is a pretty great gig, if you can get it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Motherhood and More: Teaching our kids to accept people for who they are*

I feel like my job as a parent, as a mother, is to prevent my kids from being jerks.

That’s the gist of it all, really.  All I want is for them to be kind to others, to be sympathetic and empathetic.  I want them to appreciate everyone, no matter what they believe or who they are.  I want them to see the good in all, because in spite of everything I do believe that everyone has something to offer.  Everyone has their own story and their own baggage and it’s our job to teach our kids to look around that, and through it, to see the actual person.

I am not perfect.  In fact, I have my own set of issues – my own jerk tendencies.  But I fight them daily.  I also spend a lot of time encouraging my children to think about what they’re doing.  Favorite phrases of mine are “actions have consequences,” and “our first instinct shouldn’t be to hurt each other.”  That last one is usually said after one kid has kicked the other one. 

My son has always gotten it.  He’s a sensitive little man, even through his love of zombies and burping.  He’s considerate to his friends, kind, and perfectly willing to share what he has.  My daughter is the same.  She’s concerned when someone is hurt, always ready with a sympathetic pat or hug, and plays well with her friends at school.

Of course, none of this applies when they are with each other.  Then it’s knock-down, drag-out, full-on wrestling match, usually because one child has touched the other one’s toys.  It’s a punishable offense, apparently.

But in spite of their behavior toward each other I have hopes that they are growing into people who will be thoughtful, who will do nice things for others not because they expect something in return, but because it is the right thing to do.  It isn’t hard to be nice.  It doesn’t hurt you to hold the door open for someone, to let a car merge in front of you even when you’re late for work. 

I once heard my mom discuss giving money to people asking for it on the street.  Many will say that it’s not worth it because that person won’t spend the money on something meaningful – something that you think they should spend it on.  But my mother’s point was that in giving the money, we have done our part.  It’s not our responsibility to monitor what they do with a gift.  We’ve passed the responsibility on to that person and what they do with it is their business.   

We don’t know everyone’s story.  We don’t know what a person is dealing with, or what they have been through.  All we can do is take charge of who we are and how we treat others.  So striving to just be nice, to, as I said, not be a jerk, is all on us. 

And that’s what I hope my children learn from me.  Everyone is different.  Everyone has their own struggles.  But it’s how well we live and work and help each other, and our kindness to others, that sets people apart.  

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on Nov. 26, 2014.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's a giveaway ... and a thank you

I've been selling quite a few of my I Love Kentucky necklaces, and it makes me happy because I love the necklace so much myself.  It makes me feel good, you know?  Kentucky is home, and a beautiful place to be from, and full of the best people.

So when I was contacted by Kentucky Family Fun to see if I was willing to do a giveaway of the necklace, I thought it was an awesome idea because giveaways = fun.

You can read the story behind me and the necklace here: Kentucky Family Fun Contest

And if you are so inclined, enter the giveaway here:  Kentucky Family Fun Facebook

And don't be sad if you don't win!  You can always buy your own for yourself or as a gift for a loved one. Or you can buy some baby legwarmers from the shop.  Because you can never have too many baby legwarmers.

Guys.  I am not a brand, nor am I a business in the grand sense of the word.  I make things I like in my spare time and sell them to people who will appreciate what I've done.  And you have no idea how good it makes me feel to have someone interested in something I've created.  I've been reading through the entries and I'm almost positive I can feel my heart growing at all the nice things people are saying about the necklace.

Now before I make some of you barf with all of my schmooshy words, I will just end with thank you for supporting me.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Coffee features prominently into this post for many reasons

Well, I survived the first snow day and I only beat the children once each.

It was nice, you know?  I miss being home with the kids all the time, even though when I was home all I wanted was a few minutes of peace.  Never satisfied, I know.

So Monday it snowed quite a bit and we spent the day making snow angels and throwing snow at each other and then after five minutes of that I gave up and went inside to pour myself another cup of coffee because BRRR.

And when the kids finally got cold I made hot cocoa with extra marshmallows and we watched Frosty on Netflix.

(I also made bread and yogurt and butter that day because I am an idiot.)

The afternoon kind of sucked because they always do.  Something about being tired but not wanting to rest and me trying to rationalize that 'resting' also can be playing video games or watching tv because at least they are sitting still.

It never works.  When I finally tell then that hey, time to unplug, they're glazed over and super-extra tired and pissed off because I've separated them from their beloved screen.

(Is this just my kids? Because this is a regular occurrence in my house.)

Also Adele lost a tooth.  Which, what?  Too young, right?  But she's a teeth grinder and loosened them up, which I think had something to do with it.  Obviously I am super concerned about it all.  The tooth fairy came, but since she couldn't care less about money she barely has acknowledged her dollar in a baggie.  It was kind of funny when the tooth fell out, though.  I heard her saying "It's not working!" and holding the tooth like what the hell just happened?

She's pretty excited to show everyone the missing tooth, though.

Chris was out of town for work for the last few days which means I stayed up extra late because he wasn't there to tell me to go to bed at 8:30.  That also meant I was dealing with the kids' extra-crankiness (are they sick or just moody? I DON'T KNOW!) all alone and feeling pretty cranky myself which didn't help anything.  In fact, surprisingly, it made everything worse.  As did the staying up later and now I am currently surviving on 6 hours of sleep, a gallon of coffee and dreams of my bed.

But because of all the crankiness and the fact that I couldn't leave the house on account of my children being horrible store-goers, I jokingly facebook-requested a liquor-store delivery.  But sometimes the universe gives you nice things in the form of friends who send their preacher-husbands to your house at 9 p.m. with a bottle of wine.  Also I'd like to formally apologize for answering the door while not wearing a bra.  I did put on a huge sweater, though, because no one needs to see that.

In other news, Sebastian has been complaining a lot this school year about his afternoon bus driver who takes him from school to his afterschool place.  Apparently this man is a yeller.  One day he even forgot to drop the kids off at this particular place, then blamed them.  Also I'm not the fondest of the afterschool place, either.  There's yelling there, too, and Sebastian is always told to keep his hands to himself when he hugs his friends goodbye.  Dude.  Let's promote more love and kindness and less yelling, ok?  Especially since this is at a church.  You'd think kindness would be more encouraged.

But because of all this, and also because I want to save money, I've switched up my hours at work.  Now instead of working Tuesday-Thursday, I'm going to work Monday-Thursday from 8-1.  That way Sebastian can just ride the bus home (different bus driver, we know and like her).  I won't have to pay for afterschool, I'll get a little more time with my guy, and whenever Adele starts kindergarten we will be officially paying $700 less a month in childcare.

I can hardly contain my excitement.  Maybe we can finally have another car instead of sharing one!

But none of this would be possible if I didn't have one of the most understanding bosses around.  He gets families and family commitments and the need for mothers to be mothers as well as employees.  I'm extremely lucky, I know it.

Now if you'll excuse me I need to find someone to tape my eyelids open.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Homemade Friday: Starbrook Pullover

I wanted so badly to love this sweater.  The lace, the pocket, the ease of it all.  And really, it's not the fault of the pattern at all.  It's a solid, nice, easy pattern.  

No - it's my fault.  My choice of yarn.  My decision not to swatch before I started knitting.  I'm a lazy knitter, generally able to overlook small flaws or inconsistent issues that someone else might deem rip-back-worthy.  But when I knit for myself, I don't need the end result to be perfect.  When I make something for someone else, however, I'm more of a perfectionist.

This pattern is Starbrook Pullover, knit in Knit Picks swish worsted.  The yarn is great, soft and a gorgeous color called Marine Heather - full of blues and greens and teals.  But for this pattern, not the best choice.  

I did change the pattern a bit.  I made it much longer because I like long sweaters.  And I didn't like the puffy sleeves so instead of massive increases I only increased two stitches every 10 rows.  It looks much better I think.

I thought the sweater was knitting up fine, but once I blocked the pieces I realized that the body was about three sizes larger than I expected it to be.  I waited days for it to dry, hoping against all evidence that it would shrink down to a manageable size.  And it did, a bit.  The actual body is fine.  But the neckline is obnoxiously large, falling off my shoulders in a way that is less sexy and more sloppy.  These pictures are carefully staged to keep the sweater up.  If I move the whole thing falls down.  

I think I can fix it.  I'll have to take out the neckline and reduce the stitches around the neck by quite a bit, but I think I can make it wearable. 

I haven't attached the pocket yet.  I still haven't decided whether I want it or not.  Once I saw the general shape of the blocked sweater, I couldn't decide if the pocket would be weird.  I think I'll attach it once the neckline is fixed and see if I like it.  

 For now I stuffed a shawl pin in it to keep it on my shoulders.  You do what you have to, right?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Chocolate and coffee together is a gift from Baby Jesus

I'm not entirely sure I'm alive today, much less awake and functioning like a whole, real person.

I have approximately 4,239 photos like this,
which I'm calling "Pink Hat With Measuring
Tape Still Life."  Adele is very passionate about her art.
That's because, sometimes, living in the 'city' you are awoken at 3 a.m. by a high-pitched death scream outside your house.  And then again down the street.*

That, understandably, scared my daughter, who came downstairs and crawled into our bed whimpering.  But the only difference with last night and any other night of the past week or so was the whimpering because she is going through the same phase Sebastian did where my bed seems to have more of a draw then their own.

But last night I wasn't sleeping well anyway because I'd already been woken up by a phone alert that I'd sold another necklace to someone in Australia who required a tracking code and for some reason this completely stressed me out.  Like - how am I ever going to find time to go to the post office because work and children and life and washing dishes and I think it's time to pay that one bill and did I put the banana bread up that I made?  What about the yogurt?  What am I going to wear tomorrow?  Did I fill out that form for school?  I can't forget to put the meat out for dinner.  I really need to work on those knitting projects because they're on a deadline and even though I'm almost done with the first order what if I can't finish and everyone hates me?  Plus I really need those Kentucky necklace supplies to get here ASAP because I don't like having low stock on account of Christmas and the fact that a local store said I could sell some there ...

And on and on and on and on until I finally go to sleep, only to be awoken by the screams.  I made Chris go and check on Sebastian, just to be safe.  But I am 99 percent sure that there was a teenager out screaming just for kicks.  And to cause heart attacks.

So I'm thinking I had possibly two hours of sleep.  I am foggy.

I am also drinking coffee with a ton of chocolate syrup (full of high fructose corn syrup and loving it) because treat yo'self.

In other news we finally finished the soccer season that wouldn't end.  Sebastian had three games on Saturday which took up the entire day because he would have one, then get to go home for an hour, then have another.  It was exhausting.  But he did really good and I'm proud of him.  I am also happy that it's over.  As much as I love watching him play, I also love not spending all of our time at the soccer field.  So we are free until spring.

In other other news, I think we may have convinced Chris' parents to take the kids all weekend, which will be the first time and also they haven't spent the night anywhere in a long, long time and I would really like a morning where I could wake up without a small child needing something.

Plus - date night.

Also - Christmas shopping.  Trying to get a jump on things.  What would you like?

And in addition - daytime Netflix viewing of television not suitable for children.

It's gonna be awesome.

If I can ever wake up.

*This has never happened before.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Thanksgiving is for being thankful

I admit it.  I totally and completely stole this idea from here. She’s someone I went to high school with and who I am in awe of because she has four kids, home schools, and seems to do it well.

No matter how much I want to be the type of mother who wants to home school, I have realized that I am not. I am not patient enough and I am not selfless enough. 

Erin wrote a very thoughtful and loving post on her Thanksgiving Tree, and what she hoped to accomplish with it, and her words really made me stop and think.  Also they may have made my heart hurt a little, in a good way.

I’ve been searching for something Sebastian and I could do together to mark the holiday, other than discuss turkeys and pie, and this seemed fitting.  It was simple enough that he could help without being overwhelmed, but occupying enough without him getting bored.  Or it would have been if I’d followed my own advice and gotten everything ready ahead of time. 

I attempted this on Monday, trying to jazz him up for it.

‘We’re going to print out leaves!  And CUT THEM OUT!’

He was okay for about 4 and a half minutes – which was basically the amount of time it took me to find a leaf that was easy enough for him to cut out without my help.  So by the time I’d gotten everything printed out he was cranky and bored and refused to participate and also refused to allow me to participate. 

‘You can’t cut that out! DON’T DO IT!”

And so I gave up.  It was supposed to be something we both enjoyed and I knew if I forced the issue we would both end up irritated and possibly crying. 

But by Tuesday we were sufficiently excited enough to make our own version of a Thanksgiving Tree. 

We cut out the leaves, then I wrote what we were thankful for on the backs of them.  I took six, he took six, and when Chris got home from a run I made him do six as well.  He was supremely excited, as you can imagine.  Especially when he got to his last leaf.

I’m not sure, but I think this means he may be a polygamist because I don’t think this refers to me.

I figured we could keep these and add to them each year.  And Adele will be old enough to participate next year, so that will be more fun. 

I punched holes in the leaves with a little sun paper punch I had since I can’t find our hole punch. I had Sebastian cut some yarn (since I seem to have an over-abundance of it) and put it through the hole and I tied a knot.  We both put the leaves on the branches we picked up in the back yard that we had stuck in a jar.

And he was really excited about the entire project.  And he was so thankful.  About everything.  His family, his cat, his soccer picture.  It really made me feel good.  I’ve said it before about this boy, but he’s just so incredibly sweet. Every time I do something for him, be it letting him watch TV or putting his cup of milk in the fridge, he tells me “That’s very nice of you!”  And he means it.

I just want to squish him so hard.  And also put him in a box and never let him lose that side of himself. 

Of course, this is the face he gives me when I make him stand by his Thanksgiving Tree so I can take a picture after I’ve refused to allow him to watch another TV show.

Win some – lose some, right?

Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your day.

(P.S. I am thankful for you.)

Sometimes people don't pay attention like they should

I was almost in a wreck this morning.  Or rather, my entire family was almost broadsided by a man driving a truck who thought a red light was just a suggestion.

It was a busy intersection, first thing in the morning on a rainy day.  And if my husband hadn't seen him ... well ...

I was driving everyone to their destinations and I'm normally hyper-vigilant, mega-aware because there are so many people who run that particular red light for reasons I can't fathom.  Yet I didn't see him until my husband shouted.

Right after I was more concerned with my children hearing their father yell the 'F' word than anything else.  But then my arms began to shake and my eyes teared up and my stomach turned over itself.

We're fine.  Everyone is fine.  Adele didn't even realize that anything had happened, and Sebastian, in his magnanimous way, just said that sometimes people don't pay attention like they should.

At one point in my life I couldn't stop focusing on the what-ifs.  What if something happened?  What if I lost my babies?  I thought about it all day, I stressed about it all night.  But I couldn't live with that weight on my chest, with the destructive dialogue running through my head.  I couldn't live with fixating on a constant worry.

Sometimes, though, you are confronted with your children's vulnerability, with your own.  And it shakes everything up.

When I was 16, after having my license for less than a week, I was hit by someone else who wasn't paying attention, who ran a red light, who totaled my car.  And from then on I was convinced I would die in a car crash.  I was scared to drive and, though it's been quite a few years, still am sometimes.  If I have a choice I prefer not to be the person behind the wheel.

But I have learned that the worry won't change anything.  All it does is ruin the good times with doubts and negative thoughts.  I don't want to do that to my kids or myself.  It's incredibly hard sometimes to put it aside.  But so important.

So I won't spend today thinking about what could have happened.  I will just be grateful for what didn't.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A study abroad Halloween

Guys.  I kind of hate everything at the moment.

I have no reason, really, other than just a general, unexplainable discontent.

I hate that I have to cook everyday.  I hate that I have to clean up everyday.  I hate being responsible.  I hate that I have to go to the grocery this afternoon.  I hate that I'm 90 percent sure I was supposed to send in candy with Adele for a school Halloween party but didn't.  I hate that I haven't been sleeping.  And I especially hate that I'm not at home on the couch reading right now.

To make me feel better, please tell me in the comments everything that you currently hate.

Now let's try to emerge from the muck and gloom a bit, shall we?  When I was in Austria (12 years ago, holy hell) the people living in my dorm decided to have a Halloween party.  It was probably the best one I've ever attended, and also the one and only time I fell asleep with my head hanging over the toilet.

The thing about Halloween in Europe was that there wasn't nearly as much candy as now.  It was odd, honestly.  I kept expecting to see bowls of Reese cup ghosts, but instead there were only pretzels.  Sad face.

This entry is probably the longest in the history of ever, if only because I was determined to document everything that I did over there.  For posterity's sake.  And I have added new paragraph spacing that wasn't there before because, well, paragraphs are important.

(Also - these are totally pictures of pictures so excuse the quality...)


Gloria, me, Mette, Henrik

10/27/02 9:59 p.m.

I drank too much at the party last night & ended up falling asleep with my head over the toilet.  What an interesting story!  It was a Halloween party on the 4th floor & everyone had to dress up.  I was a gypsy.  I actually think I did a pretty good job w/it.  But of course once again I drank too much.  I had 2 glasses of wine, 2 beers, one glass of gin & sprite, one baby tequila shot, and I think that's all.  Oh, I did have a tiny bit of generic baileys.  I shouldn't have mixed everything like that.  But I danced a lot but not as much as before at past parties.  One time I decided to have a glass of wine & a glass of gin to take upstairs with me, but I couldn't walk up the stairs.  My skirt was too long & my hands were full so I couldn't hold it up so I tripped on it & stepped on it & I lost my gin.  But I think that was best.  I didn't need both drinks then.  I ended up putting pants on so that was better.  

Me, Lise

After awhile I got a little bored & decided to go to bed.  I just came down here & talked to Riitta about how crappy we felt.  This was about 4 in the morning I think.  But then all the sudden she leaves & goes to the bathroom in Lisa & Ingrid's kitchen & I decide that I should also go.  I think I was really drunk, but I think I could tell that I was going to be sick.  So I go & kneel in front of the toilet.  After a few minutes I puke a couple times.  I thought I should stay there because I might need to do it again.  So I put the lid down & flush & just lay my head on top.  And I passed out.  I woke up after maybe 30 minutes & peed & went out.  Mark & Denise were sitting there talking & just looked at me like where the fuck did you come from?  I just laughed & waved & said I think I fell asleep.  And then I went to bed.  I took a plastic bag with me just in case.  

Gloria, me, Lise

I woke up this morning around 9:30 or 10 & I had a horrible headache & I couldn't move very well at all.  I was so afraid I would puke.  I kept praying that I would just go back to sleep.  I finally did & woke up around 1 & went to the bathroom & took some aspirin & came & laid back down.  I felt okay after that.  I got back up around 2:30, well really 1:30 because the time changed.  Oh, I also hit my head on my shelf last night & I have a red mark on my forehead.  But today I didn't do much at all.  I did call Chris.  I miss him so very much.  But it won't be very much longer until I go back..  I didn't call my parents because I don't have the money.  My loan hasn't gotten here yet.  But I figured they would call but they didn't.  I wish they would have.  Maybe I'll call them later in the week.  Oh, everyone teased me today about sleeping in the bathroom.  It was funny.  

Back: Anne-Kristina, Ritta, Nicole
Front: me, Mette

Yesterday afternoon, me, Henrik, Riitta, Mark & Farag went to a military show thing.  It was Austria's national day & so lots of military equipment was set up at the Hofburg, I think & we just waked through.  It was actually a little boring, though.  After that we went to the Natural Historical Museum where I saw a bunch of rocks & dead animals.  After that we went to the Kunst historical Museum but I've already been there.  That's where the Ruben paintings are.  Then after that Farag met up with friends & the rest of us went to eat at the place where I ate calf brains a few months ago.  That's not what I had this time, though.  I had rindsrouladen.  It was really good.  We came back & I laid down for a little bit then got ready for the party.  

Ritta, Henrik, me, Vlad

But I guess I should catch up everything.  On Thursday the 24th I had children's lit class.  It was okay.  That night I went to the opera with Riitta & Noora.  Lise, Espen, Ingrid & her boyfriend also went but we didn't go together.  We saw Sparticus the ballet.  It was actually really good.  I didn't even get that tired of standing because we had breaks every 45 min.  But there was a big blue guy with a big blue penis.  It was huge!  But he was only on stage for a few minutes.  But it stood out!  I had a horrible coughing fit during it.  I think it was because there was an old man in front of me who actually smelled like death.  That's all I could think about.  

But there are so many rules there.  We had to check our jackets, which isn't really a problem, but we had to pay for it.  We tried to sneak & not do it but some lady behind us told on us.  Then Ingrid took a picture in the lobby & got into trouble - well just told not to do it anymore.  But it was only in the lobby & not during the performance so I don't understand.  Lise sat on the floor & she had to get up.  The rules didn't make any sense at all.  Oh well.  

On Friday I went to school to check my email then met everyone at the Secession for an exkursion.  It was really boring.  It was interesting to learn about the Klimt fresco but learning about the building was really boring.  I just didn't care too much.  I don't understand the art that's inside it.  It's too abstract for me.  

After that I came back here.  I ended up going to Zielpumkt 3 times.  First I went w/Mark to take back some empty beer bottles & do some shopping.  Well I was going to buy gin but I thought they took credit cards but they didn't so I had to put it back.  But I really want it so Mark & I found some more bottles & went back to Zielpunkt to get the money for the bottles.  It wasn't very much, though.  So we went to the ATM, then cam back & bought the gin.  So 3 times in about 1 hour.  That was funny.  The people must have thought we were crazy.  

Later Henrik, Mark, Riitta & I went to the movies & saw XXX with Vin Diesel.  It was so very bad.  The acting was terrible & it was filled w/one-liners.  But it was so corny that it was funny so we got some enjoyment!  And I think that's about all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Motherhood and More: It's been a long time since my time was me time*

I am having trouble coming up with a topic to write about.  I mean, it’s not like my wild children don’t give me excellent material, what with all the jumping off the couches and standing on tables and general exuberance that out-exuberances anything I’ve ever seen.

Maybe I could write about the weekend where it truly, wonderfully, finally felt like fall.  We built fires and roasted marshmallows and had soup and apple pie and wool socks and soccer.  We worked outside and inside and I spent 90 percent of my time in the kitchen and the kids even played together a bit. 

Or maybe I could write about soccer itself, how addictive it has become to watch my son grow as a player, and how my little guy has got skills and I’m not just saying that because I’m his proud mama.  (No, really.)

Or my daughter, and how I see her growing and maturing a little bit every day, with far, far less tantrums and meltdowns.  It’s a relief, really.  Conflict is not my jam and that little girl would thrive on it.  And now she’s almost reasonable, going whole days without calling her brother a poopy head.

But it’s all life, yeah?  This is my every day.  I’m a parent and wife and employee.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember who I was before all of that.  We all change as we grow older, that’s just how it is.  We mature and learn and the things that were so very important to us at 17 now seem inconsequential at 33.

Still, though, it would be nice to be that person again, just for a bit.  To have the freedom to spend all day in my room writing songs and playing my guitar.  Or reading a whole book in two days because there wasn’t anything else keeping me from it. 

Now, when there’s free time, there isn’t really free time.  The time that is my own is small, and it’s usually filled with responsibilities.  As in, I may have a day off at home by myself, but the chores don’t stop.  Or if I do have a bit of time, it’s such a small chunk that I try to fit in all of the ‘me-time’ activities but instead still feel rushed.  That’s not to say I don’t appreciate that time, I surely do.  But I never truly stop being Mom or Wife. 

I don’t want to, though.  It’s who I am now, and who I will be.  I love those titles.  I love taking care of the ones I love.  It can be hard.  In fact most of the time it is.  But that doesn’t stop it from being the most important thing in my life. 

So really, there is no need to be 17 again because I like where I am now.  Everything was so tragic then, and there were far too many unknowns up in the air, far too much drama because I was still trying to figure out who I was.

I do miss the freedom, yes.  But I don’t miss the ambiguity or the angst.  Or the bad poetry.

I know I've used this photo before but LOOK HOW AWESOME MY ROOM WAS!

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on October 22, 2014.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In which I unexpectedly work through my feelings on Lena Dunham's book

I went to a work function last night, one where I got to put on nice clothes (even nicer than the business-casual I usually wear) and listen to speeches and eat fancy chicken on a stick.  And desserts on a stick.  And an endless amount of other tiny delicious pieces of food that I had to pick up with my hands because there were no forks to be seen anywhere.  The food was amazing.  I work at a community college and the event was catered by the culinary department and I had to resist eating two of everything.  I settled for one.

Related: I still don't like chicken liver even if it's wrapped in bacon and speared with a toothpick.  But I TRIED.

I thought the post needed a picture
and this was all I could come up with.
I came home to my husband already in bed and asleep (it was 9:15) so I had to rummage around in the dark for pajamas.  I stayed up reading Lena Dunham's book (Not That Kind of Girl) because I needed a bit of winding down off the fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I want to like this book, I really, really do.  And that's not to say that I don't, per se.

I'm not making any sense.

What I want to say is that I like the book, but there are parts that leave a bad taste in my mouth.  She's open, yes, which I appreciate.  And there are certain passages of her stories that leave me nodding in agreement and relief that finally someone gets how I feel about something.

But my overall feeling is that she is so very young.  Maybe that's the point of the book, though.  She captures a part of her life, her childhood and early-adulthood, and how full of self-knowledge were any of us at those times in our life?

I think I've written before about how, at least in the writing community that I've encountered, there seems to be an overall belief that in order to write well you have to be messed up in some way.  I don't subscribe to that belief.  I mean, I think we're all at least a bit messed up but it's the wallowing in it that bothers me.  The feeling that you are somehow 'special' because you had a bad experience.  Or weird experience.  Or experience that didn't sit well.  We've all had them.  No one is without their own story.  Everyone you meet is dealing with something.  And so maybe, for some, writing an experience is a way to climb out of the story.  I do feel it's hard to be truly honest when writing your own story.  And I appreciate Lena Dunham's ability to share things that many wouldn't.

I do not know her true story, her whole story.  All I know is what I've read in this book where she admits to being an unreliable narrator.  We all are in our own stories, though, aren't we?  The very nature of them is that it's how we perceive an experience.

So maybe she's captured that.  Maybe that's the point.

(I started this post thinking I would talk about how Chris had a rough bedtime routine with the kids and that apparently Adele was so pissed that, unbeknownst to anyone she took off all her clothes out of spite.  We realized it when she crawled into our bed at 4:30 naked and smelling of pee.

Instead I talked about Lena Dunham.)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Homemade Friday: Handknit Sock Weather

It's normal for me in October to spout prose on the changing seasons, the ebb and flow of life, the immense relief that the cooler temperatures bring, with their need for layers and wool.  

I love fall.  I love to be a bit chilly, to be able to wear cardigans and hats and scarves without oozing sweat while simultaneously assuring everyone that I am fine, JUST FINE and totally not hot at all but if you would please spritz me with water that would be much appreciated and maybe catch me if I pass out.

Wait, what?

Ahh, fall.  Autumn.  Pumpkin spice lattes*, soup, feather blankets, lots of orange, and red and yellow in the trees.  

And handknit socks.  Most definitely handknit socks. I spend a lot of time knitting socks throughout the year.  They are always on my needles, a sort of background project that I pick up when I don't want to think too hard or when I want a small project to take with me.  

These particular socks are close to being done.  All they lack is a bit of a foot and a toe.  It shouldn't take long, but as I only really work on them sporadically who's to say?

The pattern is one I made up myself, one I use for most of the socks I make.  I use size 0 needles and cast on 64 stitches.  I also like the short row heel.  I've attempted the other kind once and it didn't work out well.  Plus I wasn't all that fond of how it looked.

Short rows are awesome.

Also I would like you to notice how the stripes match up because it is very important to me.  So important that I took out and redid the heel on the second sock because it didn't match the first one.

I am lucky enough to have at my disposal more sock yarn than I can ever knit up, thanks to especially generous mother- and grand-mother-in-laws.  They're German and so have easy access to all the amazing German sock wool and have no problem being my suppliers.  So whenever I finish a pair, I go to the bin and dig out whatever yarn catches my eye and cast on for the next socks.

I have unrealistic hopes to knit family members socks for Christmas, but I am self-aware enough to know that there is no way that I could possibly get that done.  But in the very back of my mind, way deep, I kind of still want to try.  Because socks.  Socks are the most functional and useful thing I can knit.  They always are used.  Everyone has cold toes in the winter so wool socks that you knit yourself are perfect.

So who knows.  For now I'll keep working on these.  And then when I finish them I'll start another pair.  And then another.  

*I've never actually had a pumpkin spice latte but I'm sure they are fantastic.

She dressed herself like this.
(I am currently selling handknits and handmade jewelry.  You can find it here: Handmade by Jaimalaya.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wanted: One padded room

I almost went to the gym this morning.


My gym bag was packed, my alarm was set, I was all for it.

Last night.

But then I woke up this morning with the same headache that I went to bed with and so I pulled up the feather blanket and rolled over and closed my eyes.  I'll try again tomorrow.

It's kind of a pain in the butt to be healthy, you know?  It's not that I don't like it, or that I don't love how I feel when I'm working out regularly and eating properly.  But sometimes it's just exhausting mentally.  I'm tired of putting so much thought into everything and not getting the results I want.  Or really any results at all.  So I give up.  At least for today.

And also all last week because it was fall break and I had a lot of apples to bake into desserts.

Speaking of fall break, I don't like it.  We are not the 'go on vacation for fall break' type of people, mainly because we prefer to spend what extra money we have on things like 'fixing the car' and 'food.'

My children are incredibly deprived.

I do not actually believe that.  I think it's a bit ridiculous to be expected to go somewhere and do things for every time the kids are off of school for more than one day.  Of course, that means the kids were home all week and bored.  My husband was off for most of the week and I was off Monday and Friday and part of Thursday and we all were ready to separate by the end of it.  My mom did take the kids to the movies and the park on Wednesday, so at least they got out of the house.  And Chris took Sebastian fishing on Thursday while Adele and I stayed home and she got pissed because her Duplo tower fell down so she threw a block at me and bruised my hand that I held up in self defense.

Girl's got a temper.

And then on Sunday night I realized that Sebastian didn't have school on Monday either because of teacher in service or something so basically I cried myself to sleep thinking about all the peace and alone time I wasn't going to have.

I am in a funk.  Can you tell?  Also I maybe need to go get some more coffee.

I am strongly in the "let the children learn to play by themselves" camp.  But my children don't seem to know how to do that unless it involves a screen.  I'm okay with television.  I happen to love television.  They will eventually go play when denied television, but not before spending an inordinate amount of time laying in the floor at my feet whining about how horrible I am for not letting them watch another hour of Pokemon or Barbie's Dreamhouse.  I am the worst, obviously.

(Have any of you actually seen Barbie's Dreamhouse?  It makes me sad and also want to punch the creators.)

So I have to use my mean voice, which is pretty much my all-the-time voice now, and banish them to their rooms because NOBODY LIKES A WHINER.  Does anybody have any tips for getting them to play by themselves?  Or maybe together?  Because "together" is a whole other issue.  My daughter thinks 'playing together' means she tears up whatever her brother is touching, then throws the toys at his head.  Understandably, whenever she gets close to his toys now he yells at her to leave him alone.  I've attempted to play with them and guide them, but as soon as I stand up to run to the bathroom or refill my coffee cup someone gets a Lego to the eye.

What am I supposed to do with that?  How do you foster good sibling relationships?  I'm thinking of locking them in a padded room for a day and see what happens.  They'd come out hating me, but at least they would hate me TOGETHER.

Before all the sibling rivalry started ...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Randomly on a rainy Tuesday

1. I'm wearing new eyeshadow today and can't decide if I like it or it makes me look like I have a sickness.

2. It's different shades of pink.

3. So if you see me today, don't assume I'm contagious.  I'm just experimenting.

4. In other news I was awoken this morning to the beautiful sounds of my children bickering.

5. Or rather, I wasn't awoken, but was interrupted from my attempt to return to the fitful sleep of the night.

6. There was actual groaning.

7. And everything only got better from there with all the complaining about their breakfast (oatmeal), complaining about the need to brush their hair and teeth, complaining about the need for socks and shoes, complaining about the need to ever do anything at all.

8. Okay, that last one was me.

9. And then I got soaked through on account of the torrential downpour that started right after I dropped Adele off at her classroom.

10. Some days the need to crawl back under the covers and hide is a physical ache.

11. No matter, though.

12. I have coffee and tea and tons of stuff to keep me busy.

13. Speaking of coffee - I made my own creamer yesterday.

14. It's freaking delicious.

15. 2 cups of cream, a bunch of honey, 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, then shake it until it's mixed.

16. I can't wait to make more coffee.

17. In knitting news, I have a lot of projects thrown about my living room.

18. I'm knitting a Harry Potter scarf for my son.  All that's left on it is the fringe.

19. I'm making a hulk hat for a friend's little boy.  This one is trickier than I thought and I've already had to start over two times.  Hopefully this is the last time ...

20.  I'm making Starbrook Pullover for myself in a dark blue green color.  All that's left of it is to finish a sleeve, knit a pocket, then sew everything together and put on a neckband.

21. It would be short work if I had time to do it.

22, Then there's a sweater I started last spring for Chris.

23.  It's called 'Fort.'

24. I haven't looked at it since it got warmer and I started sewing anything I could.

25. Also I have vest planned, socks going, I'd like a shawl, Adele needs a hat ...

26. I need more time.

27. I started a facebook page for jewelry and handknits:  Handmade by Jaimalaya

28. It makes me happy.

29. Let me know if you want anything!

30. And tell me really - is pink eyeshadow ever a good idea?