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.