Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Motherhood and More: Idle time becomes productive

Somehow I ended up with two weeks off work at the beginning of the year.  And during those two weeks my children were in school, so it was like the holy grail of awesomeness when you are a mother.

There was no one begging for just one bag of “fruit” snacks for breakfast.  No one fighting over a certain spot at the table because it’s the best one, obviously, and the other one, which isn’t all that different, is complete junk.  There was no wildness, no bickering, no jumping off the couch or dumping water all over the floor.

It was just me and a quiet house.  In other words, complete heaven.  I spent that precious time cleaning, or rather like organizing.  It’s the first of a new year, when you want everything to be new and clean and, in my case, paired down.  We had so much stuff in our house - mountains of old clothes that were there just because I hadn’t taken the time to decide what to do with them.  Keep?  Toss?  Attempt to sell? Also I still had a ton of baby things lying around because we just decided in the past year or so that we were officially done having kids.

So I downloaded a book on tape from the library, grabbed a large cup of coffee, put in my headphones and got to work.  I spent the first day cleaning out the worst closet.  It’s bigger than our bathrooms and had become a catch-all for everything I didn’t know what to do with.  I filled up mountains of bags to donate and a few bags to sell and about three large bags of garbage.  I found a box of old, half-used candles that hadn’t been unpacked since we moved into our house six and a half years ago, so I guess that means I should have attempted this task before now.   

Now, I am a sentimental person.  I hang on to things because of what they mean to me, because of what I was doing when I wore a certain dress twenty years ago, because whatever it is might be useful one day, or my kids might want to have it when they’re older.  But the catharsis, the absolute freedom I felt seeing the floor of that closet completely bare was worth getting rid of all of the stuff that has been hanging around.  And I did keep some things.  I’m still me, regardless of the empty closet.  But I was just more discerning about what I allowed myself to keep. 

I put my newfound need to purge to good use by cleaning out two more closets, one of which was my craft closet and was overflowing with material and yarn and old boxes that fell on my head whenever I attempted to open the door.  And then I made my way to the basement where I’d stored totes full of stuff from my teenage and college years, things that I’d left at my parents’ house that I couldn’t bear to part with but that I also didn’t really want at my own house.  I was finally told on no uncertain terms that it was time to pick up my junk and it’s been stored in my basement for the past two years. 

And then I hit up a couple of the kitchen cabinets before fizzling out because of exhaustion induced from a daughter who spent hours awake when she was supposed to be sleeping.  Three nights in a row.  I spent those last few days relaxing and knitting and totally not feeling guilty at all because of the amount of car loads full of our stuff that my husband drove off to be donated.

I was productive, is what I’m saying.

This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on January 28, 2015.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sebastian, age 6 1/2 years

This morning on the way to school Sebastian asked me if, when he's an adult and has a job, if it doesn't pay enough for him to buy a house could he just live with me?

I said sure thing.

This kid.  He's so thoughtful, you know?  And I don't mean 'thoughtful' as in kind and caring, though he's that, too.

I mean 'thoughtful' as in he thinks deeply about everything.  He's continually analyzing and learning and delving deeper into whatever subject he's interested in.

He asks me religious questions that I can't answer, ones that I've never even considered.  He's talked like an adult since he was 3.  He's quick to defend everyone and everything.  He's genuinely worried about sharks getting a bum rap, and wants to help out all the endangered animals.

He pretends to be humble so we tell him how awesome he is.  He can read his Harry Potter book, but I think the thickness intimidates him.  Everyone who meets him loves him.  He's polite and quick to help - this past week he decided to make my bed for me every day because "I don't want you to have to do it, Mom."

He also unloaded the silverware from the dishwasher and has kept his room clean.  He is the easiest kid ever to get ready in the morning because he does it all himself.  He wakes up, gets dressed, brushes his teeth after breakfast and puts his coat and shoes on.  The only thing have to do is make him breakfast - and that's because I won't let him use the toaster or bread knife without me, I'm pretty confident he could do it all alone but I'm not ready to let that go just yet.

He loves books and reading and calls himself a bookworm, but also would have his nose glued to his tablet if I let him.  He's obsessed with recycling - but in his case it means using the boxes that his legos come in to hold other toys.  "I'm finding other uses for it, Mom," he says.

He runs in front of me to hold doors open.  He is ridiculously sensitive and takes everything literally, both of which he gets from me.  But that helps me understand him.  It helps me watch what I say and I can tell what he's thinking, or how he will react in certain situations.

He's tougher than he should be, and is a physical boy, running and kicking and wrestling and flipping and jumping - sometimes on his sister.

He attempts to reason with Adele - asking her nicely if would please stop spitting on him because he really doesn't like it, which never works but it's good that he keeps trying anyway.

His hugs can hurt because he squeezes as hard as he can and he still insists on jumping into my arms before bed.  He calls them jump-hugs.

He takes his own showers, requiring no assistance from his parents.  He's ridiculously independent but still sometimes wants to be babied, which I'm happy to do because it is a rare occurrence.

He's grown up much faster than I ever thought he would.  I worry sometimes that I'm doing him a disservice because his sister requires, or demands, so much more of our time and attention.  Sebastian doesn't, but he still needs us, just not in the same way.  He's much quieter about it.  He does what we ask him too, mostly, without fighting or arguing and he respects our rules.

This kid.  This boy.  He's 6 and 1/2 and I can't hardly believe it.  He's reading and writing and doing math in his head and he's empathetic to a fault sometimes.

I can almost see the man he will become.  But he's still and will forever be my sweet boy.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Homemade Friday: Radius (The best sweater ever in the history of ever)

I loved this sweater since I first saw it in Twist Collective.  There is just so much about it that is perfect for me, like it was designed by someone who listens to the voices in my head that says things like "It needs pockets!*" and "I wish these sleeves were long enough to cover up my hands without being annoying" and finally "I really wish I had a sort-of-80s-throwback-type sweater."

And that's exactly what this is.  All of those things.  I bought the yarn the pattern called for because I was scared that not using it would somehow make the knitting gods frown at me and cause me to completely screw up this sweater.  I wanted it to be just right because I loved it so very much.  I even bought the same colors because nothing looked as perfect and perfectly awesome as the ones used in the pattern.

I also knit a swatch to determine my gauge and if you are aware of my knitting style at all you will know that I do not swatch because I am lazy and also too anxious to get started so I can be finished.  But for this sweater I would have done almost anything.

My gauge was wonky, again, as it usually is.  But I did some math and some figuring and realized that I could knit following the 34 3/4 inch instructions and end up with the 38 1/4 size.  And so that's what I did.  This caused the sweater to be quite a few inches longer than it was supposed to be, but in my mind that only makes the finished project better.  Everyone knows that when it comes to sweaters - the longer, the better.

The sleeves I did a little differently than the pattern called for.  I increased two stitches every 10 rows because I think they would have been too big otherwise.


I was so anxious to finish this sweater that I started it on Christmas Day and finished it on January 3rd - not counting blocking.  That's a week and three days, which is some epic knitting.  Luckily I was off work and we spent a lot of that time staying up too late watching True Detective so I had ample knitting time.

I stand by what I've been saying all along.  Best sweater ever.

Pattern: Radius from Twist Collective Winter 2014
Yarn: Victory Yarns Amherst
Notes: Followed instructions for the 34 3/4 inch size but ended up with 38 1/4 inch sweater.  Increased sleeves every 10 rows.  Only cursed the extra, non-knitting crocheting instructions once, which isn't bad.

*Every sweater/shirt/dress should be required by law to have pockets because they make everything better and also my hands get cold and also again I need a place to put my phone.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I have already wasted too much time discussing and thinking about Gilmore Girls

Not my photo, in case you were confused.
So I've been re-watching Gilmore Girls.

I know, I know.  Apparently I'm going through a crises wherein I try to relive my youth.  I first watched the show almost 10 years ago when my then-boyfriend, now-husband left me for the three months before our wedding to artificially impregnate salmon on a remote island in Alaska.  And then again for three months after our wedding.

I had some free time, is what I'm saying.

I borrowed the DVDs from my friend who had all but the second-to-last season, which I still haven't seen.  (I'm working up to it.)

I binge-watched them, obviously, spending hours watching and wishing I lived in Stars Hollow and worked at an inn and read even more books than I already did.

A lot has changed in my life in the last 10 years.  I got married, my husband returned from Alaska, we moved back home-ish, We became parents and then had another kid and I finally, sort of, started feeling like I had my stuff together as a Real Live Adult.

This is my frame of reference as I go through this saga one more time.

And you know what I've discovered?  Those two women are completely immature.  They have no idea how to be adults at all, even Rory.  They whine and are petty and lie about stupid things and GROW UP ALREADY.

But actually, that's what makes me like the show more, in a way.  It's realistic that someone who had a baby at 16 might not be the most mature and stable of adults.  Obviously that's not the case with everyone.  I know people who became parents young who are way more of an adult than people who started much later.

My point is, though, that it's believable that Lorelei would have made her daughter more of a friend than a daughter.  It makes sense that she took on that role and still acts like she's 16 because she never got to be a teenager and because she and Rory basically grew up together.

That being said, as someone who comes from a long line of women who value hard work and doing things for yourself and dear lord, don't ever scream when you see a mouse because that's just wimpy, the fact that Lorelei can't seem to do ANYTHING house-related makes me question how she ever survived life as long as she has.

And every time she whines to Luke about a broken window or roof problem or whatever makes me want to smack her and smack him, too.

Dude.  Cook a meal for yourself.  Clean your own gutters.  Do something other than watch tv and drink coffee!

And now I will excuse myself because apparently I've devoted entirely too much time and energy into analyzing Gilmore Girls.

Aaaaaaannnnddd I just found an old Myspace blog I wrote during the very last season of the show.  I cursed a lot more then.  Also I'm beginning to question whether I even enjoy this show at all or just enjoy torturing myself.

Please to be enjoying:

A blog-topic interlude to discuss the shit that is Gilmore Girls
11/29/2006 2:40:00 PM
11/29/2006 1:35:00 PM
I apologize ahead of time for this.  It's embarrassing to admit that I focus so much energy and thought onto this.  Please don't judge me!!!

I do not like the Gilmore Girls, yet I will watch it.  I don't want to admit that it is complete crap this season and I will go down with its ship!  The show has gone completely and utterly off-track and I just don't understand.  Now granted, I hadn't seen but one or two before this past summer but I made up for lost time as I watched the first five seasons on DVD (thanks Lauren!).  So now I am an expert!  And the show has gone to shit. 

Let me tell you why!

1.  Fucking Lorelei and Christopher. 
  ---Seriously?  Now they put Lorelei and Christopher together?  It's like the writers have been taken over by the super conservative crazies who believe that just because they procreated together they should be married, despite the fact that he's a big choad.  And oh yes, he is the choadiest of the choads.  I mean, who stops a knit-a-thon?  It's an A-thon!  It's not supposed to stop until the Thon is A-over!  He's been such an ass to the lady but that's all forgiven and la-la-la let's get married and live happily ever after! 

2.  Luke and Lorelei
---They belong together.  I don't care that she's married and stupid.  The past 6 seasons have been about the tension between them because he is so very in love with him and she is completely oblivious.  Then they were together and all was right with the show, but of course there are supposed to be "obstacles" that get in the way, but it's supposed to turn out right in the end.  Do you remember Ross and Rachel?  That's just the way it goes!  And I can't suddenly turn that off and be happy about the Choad marriage.  Because if the writers wanted L&L to get back together, they would create some thick tension between Lorelei & Chris.  But I haven't seen it.

3.  Luke's hat
---Why in the world do they think that it's okay to keep him in the exact same costume for seven straight seasons?  Jeans?  check.  Flannel shirt?  check.  Backwards hat that looks really, really stupid and makes me want to rip it off his head and smack the costume design people with it?  Check!!

4.  I really don't feel like making lists anymore so I will just randomly complain.  I don't like Rory's boyfriend.  Where are all the dark and brooding boyfriends, like Jess?  I think she's probably supposed to end up with Jess.  Or even Marty!  He's dark and brooding!  The blond guy (what's his name?)  is just annoyingly rich and suave and I want to throw things at his head.  It's kind of funny that both Lorelei and Rory fought that whole elitist bullshit and are now wrapped all up in it.  I miss the poor Gilmore Girls!  And I miss the town!  They were so much fun!  There was a little bit of it last night but not nearly enough! 

Is that enough?  What do you think about it?  Am I silly?  Do I need to just get a life?  Probably.  Okay.  Am done now.