Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Motherhood & More: Wrapping up public outlet before the kids discover it*

This is it, guys. I think I’ve said all I can say on the nature of parenthood and my children.

I mean, probably not because I am wordy and super into over-sharing. But I also am in great danger of repeating myself and it’s much more forgivable to do that over a glass of wine with friends than in this column space for everyone one to see.

Of course, I could keep discussing with you the impressive stubbornness of my daughter.

Just this morning, we woke up 30 minutes late for school and instead of hurrying to catch the bus, she slowed down her movements to a comical degree. That’s the logical step when your mother asks you to go faster, correct? Her hair was half-brushed, but she was all the way dressed so I’m calling it a win.

Or I could talk about my son and the recent introduction of back talk into his behavior repertoire. This goes hand in hand with his need to always be right, no matter what, and his refusal to give any ground when he’s sure of himself. Obviously, I always am wrong in these situations.

Or maybe I could discuss the kindness of my daughter and how she is the first to check on someone when they’ve gotten themselves hurt and the first to offer comfort and assistance. And how she has single-handedly tamed our shelter kittens just with her will and need to love them.

And then there’s my son, who is determined and introspective, who wants to learn all he can about everything and who’s already starting the fourth Harry Potter book when he’s only 8 years old. We could talk about how sweet he is to other children, especially those younger than him. Except his sister. That goes without saying, right?

But at this point you probably know all of that already, don’t you? You know me, you know my children. You hopefully can see the pride I have in each of them, even when they push me to the brink of sanity.

And maybe you can see that my parental complaining is intentional. I like to use this space to show solidarity with other parents.

Kids are weird. When we see someone else’s child acting weird, we can stop feeling like we’re screwing up our own because weirdness is an inherent trait they all share.

You are welcome.

So I am running out of ways to share all of this with you and life is becoming overwhelmingly busy. It’s time to streamline for the good of the family.

If you’d like to keep in touch, I do have a blog I hope to update more often: But I make no promises — life and whatnot.

I’ve really, really enjoyed my time in this space. I love having a reason to stop and think and analyze. It’s been cathartic and challenging and wonderful. Thank you for allowing me to be here, but it’s time to go.

Also my kids can read and I live in fear of them picking up a newspaper and seeing what I’ve written about them.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on Sept. 28, 2016.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Motherhood & More: Taking a stand against the bedtime routine* **

For the safety of my children and the preservation of my mental health, I have given up on bedtime routines.

For as long as I can remember of my time as a mother, since my son was born, bedtimes have been the worst. They are fraught with anguish, disagreement over exactly how tired the particular child is and futile attempts to persuade said heathen to just go to sleep already because Mama needs a break.

Whining and fighting and refusal to listen to reason or yelling have been the norms.

As soon as my son got easier, my daughter was born. She gives new meaning to stubbornness and outright ignoring any attempt to bend her to my will.

Somehow we got into a ridiculous routine of stories and snuggling and various feats of mental persuasion and voodoo trickery that had to be performed in a certain order before she would consent to stay in her bed.

Of course, this only worked part of the time, maybe 60 percent. The other times I wouldn’t do something properly so there would be screaming and flailing about and I would lock myself in my own bedroom in hopes that by ignoring her she would eventually tire herself out.

I know that everything got out of hand because I allowed it, but I only allowed it because I was so tired and wanted, just once, to be able to walk downstairs and feel good about how bedtime went. So I went along with the crazy.

My husband, who had bedtime every other night, never encountered these issues. Ask me how I felt about that. Go on. Ask.


So after a particularly bad routine recently, wherein I was kicked in the face by one of my lovely angel children after the other one had worn my patience down to the quick with a refusal to be agreeable about anything, I stomped downstairs announcing loudly to my husband that I was done. Finished. Never again would I be subjected to this torture because I refused to participate in it anymore. No more bedtimes. None. Zero.

It was liberating.

In the time since my stand, I have had to endure minor whining about how Dad’s had too many bedtime turns and now it’s Mama’s turn, but I refuse to be persuaded. I’m not walking up those stairs anymore, kids. As I say to them daily, you are responsible for your own actions and those actions have consequences. You did it. You suffer through the penalties.

Now, obviously this doesn’t mean that I ignore them at bedtime. I’m happy to read them a story downstairs on the couch and give hugs and kisses. But I’m not setting foot into their rooms because that’s how it will start. That’s how they’ll draw me back into their madness and in no time I’ll be performing again in the minor hopes of a smooth transition to sleep.

I figure I’m only helping them out by ensuring they become self-sufficient people.

Tuck yourselves in, kids. I’m out.

*This column was originally published in The News-Enterprise on August 24, 2016.

**Alternate title: Go The Fuck To Sleep

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Motherhood and More: Age truly is only a number, not a promise of maturity*

I turned 35 this month.

I’m still waiting to feel different, older, mature, more “grown up.”

I’ve never really worried about aging. I don’t care all that much about looking old, I don’t worry about wrinkles or losing my youth. At this point in my life, one year is much like the next – albeit with children who have ever-evolving parental needs.

When I was younger, I thought 35 was the epitome of grown up. By 35, I should know what I’m doing, have a life plan and fully understand retirement savings accounts.

But for me, now, I’m kind of still waiting to feel like an adult. I’ve got bills, I have responsibilities, I have small people requiring my care and attention. But what does it mean to be an adult? Sometimes I feel aged like cheddar and wine. Sometimes I feel 16.

I was speaking with a friend on aging a few weeks ago and where we hoped to be by this age. I came to the conclusion that it’s all a giant, delusional myth.

No one has their life together. Everyone is taking it as it comes, never really knowing if their choices and decisions are exactly the right ones. None of us are adulting, truly “adulting,” because we don’t really know what it means.

And I’ll wager that our parents felt the same way when they were our age. We thought they knew everything about everything because they were able to speak with confidence when they told us to stop acting like fools. They were authority figures. But really, they were figuring it out as they went, too.

All that is to say that I don’t really feel old or what I thought old would feel like.

At this age, I should have wisdom and maturity and growth. And I do have days like that. I mean, I have a mortgage and someone has to be available to make dinner for all the wild children who live in my house. Two. It’s only two, but if we’re going by number of dirty socks strewn throughout the house it’s more like 14.

But much of the time I have the mind of a 12 year old, giggling at inappropriate jokes, writing melodramatic poetry or secretly lusting after Lisa Frank unicorn folders. I think that’s just how it is, for most of us.

At a certain age, we want to appear like we know what we’re doing. We’re all faking it, though. We do what we can to seem responsible and grown up but still really want to have ice cream for dinner most days.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on July 27, 2016.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Homemade Friday: Dottie Angel Frock and Greenwood Tank


I think my sewing mojo is busted.

There are many factors that could contribute to the fact that everything I've tried to sew lately has ended up less than stellar. I mean, I've been super sick, ridiculously sick, full-on worst sinus infection of my life sick. Then there's all the meds I'm on to fix said sickness, which are helping but also hurting as I spend most of my days now dizzy and woozy and whatnot.

And then, also, Sebastian is at his first overnight camp, his first time staying away from home in this type of setting with people he has never met before.

I'm stressing and worrying and can't stop obsessively pouring through the generous amount of photos the camp provides online to parents. (Thank you internet. Let's be best friends.) So while I can't tell if he's made friends, or what he's doing at every minute of every day, or whether he's homesick, I can see his face and see a bit of his experiences.

So, anyway, the last two items I've sewn have been kind of disappointing. First up was a Dottie Angel Frock that I cut out possibly a year ago. This was the second time I've sewn this particular pattern. This is the first one:

I think I like the idea of this dress more than I like the actual dress. Or - if I tweaked the pattern, the dress actually would be perfect. It's light weight, but also can be layered. It's got big front pockets for carrying all sorts of things - cucumbers and snow peas from the garden, maybe? Eggs from my imaginary chickens? One of my new kittens?

Also pictured - a sewing project that worked well.

But the neckline is not right. I think the first time I sewed the dress I graded between sizes because my hip to bust ratio is rather large, so I'm usually two different sizes - much smaller on top. But maybe I didn't do that with the second one? I didn't take any notes and it's been so long that I don't remember what I did. Obviously I have to fix it. If I do anything other than stand completely still the whole thing falls off my shoulders. I think I may just sew a seam up the back of the dress from the waist up. It probably isn't what I should do, but will at least make the dress functional.

And I want it functional because I think that it could be really wearable, and I love the colors. Here's a better photo that shows that:

Next on my sewing table was another Greenwood Tank from Straight Stitch Designs - also my second time sewing. And also completely wonky. I think that I should have used a regular stitch instead of a straight stitch on the neckline and armbands, because, once again, it's too wide. And also too stretched out.

This was my first Greenwood Tank:

I loved this one. It was a bit wonky, as well, but not nearly as bad as this new one. But that fabric isn't as stretchy as the fabric from the most recent, and I think that's why I got into trouble.

I was thinking about sewing up some pleats on the front and back, and try to make it look like I intentionally made it all too big. We'll see. I'm wearing it now because it's really comfortable, even if it looks weird.

So there you have it. Misshapen clothing. I gotta go sew something easy to make myself feel better. (My daughter is begging for an Elsa dress. I'm not sure I should do that until I'm over this slump.)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Homemade Friday: Cicely Shawl

Oh man. These may be some of the worst photos I've taken of myself, and I've taken a lot. (How can I share everything I make with the world without taking selfies?!) (I have a hate/tolerate relationship with taking photos of myself. It's a never-ending sort-of crises.)

Anyway. Sick. I'm so sick. I'm so sick I keep forgetting to drink my coffee because my head is too clogged up so there's not enough room for things like 'thinking.' I have a sinus infection, but am stubbornly refusing to go to the doctor because only wusses go to the doctor, plus I am home all day with my kids and they're only barely tolerable when I'm sick because I have zero energy to do anything other than the basic care, and taking them with me to the doctor sounds like a particularly Ramsey-esque form of torture. (That means super awful, in case you don't watch Game of Thrones.)

I've been self-medicating with a thyme syrup my sister helped me make, and echinacea she also helped me make and it's easing my symptoms. Although I'm almost ready to resort to the greatest medicine of all - a hot toddy. Because even if it doesn't help you feel better, the bourbon buzz means you don't care.

But you didn't come here to listen to me talk about being sick. All of that was just to give you an excuse for why I look so awful in these photos. It's because I'm too sick to try to make them any better.

I started this sweater months and months ago. It's from Taproot, which is one of my favorite magazines. Actually it's the only magazine I read - no advertisements, lots of handwork ideas and fascinating stories. I'd been wanting a shawl, probably because I've been watching too much Outlander:

It just seems cozy and practical. Shoulders covered, arms free. And I wanted something not too frilly and lacy, though I love both of those things normally. The Cicely Shawl pattern worked.

I don't make a lot of shawls, in fact it's been more than 10 years since I made a triangle one. So I didn't fully understand the mechanics of them. With this particular pattern the bottom edge is knit first, then stitches are picked up around the edges and the triangle is formed through a series of decreases.

I got bored really early, but it should have been enough to keep me going. The pattern was interesting. I dunno. Didn't want to do it. Which probably directly resulted in the fact that I made it too small. I wanted a large shawl that I could wrap around myself. I didn't get that.

As I knit the edge, I held it up and realized that it was ridiculously long already, way before I got to the number of repeats needed for the size I wanted. I just assumed my gauge was off, because it's always off, but not usually quite as bad as that. So I figured if I made the smaller size, with my larger gauge it would be the right size.

Here is where people who make shawls regularly are laughing at me, because I was so very wrong. I didn't take into account that the edge was going to become a triangle, not a straight line. So even though it actually was seemingly long enough for me, once it became a shawl it wouldn't be. (Does this make any sense? If not, see above paragraph about being sick.)

Even after I realized my mistake, I knew that I wasn't going to rip it all back and redo it, because that would take too much time. I'd just deal with it, then make another shawl at a later date.

I did much of the knitting for this on our trip to Savannah. The first day of driving was looooonnngg and this kept me entertained. (How do people who don't do handwork handle long car rides? I can't stand to just sit there and do nothing!)

Chris bought me this for Christmas a few years ago. It doesn't get used nearly enough.

I finished it right before we got to our hotel, then blocked it once we were back from vacation. I've worn it every day since, even for just a little bit in the morning. It's ridiculously hot in Kentucky this time of year, but once the air kicks on in the morning the house gets chilly. Normal people would just turn the air off, but I like to pretend that it's almost fall and that it's not going to be hot as balls outside.

The shawl ended up being not quite what I wanted, but still pretty and functional. Plus I can always give it to Adele when I make myself a new one.

Pattern: Cicely Shawl, from Taproot Issue 15: Folk.
Yarn: Knit Picks Galileo in Pearl

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Motherhood & More: Trip allows time to recapture the old, discover the new*

As parents, many times we put our lives on hold to make sure our children have everything they need. They always are fed first or clothed first. Their needs always are met before anyone else’s.

But sometimes, we have to do things for ourselves.

In the spirit of that, my husband and I took a trip — a no-kids, only-have-to-worry-about what-we-want, no-complaining-allowed trip. And it was glorious.

We have been married for 10 years this past April — a long time, right? And in that entire time, we’ve never had a trip together that lasted longer than a day or two. We actually never had a honeymoon because of work commitments.
So we were long overdue. I actually wasn’t convinced we’d really get to go until we were more than half way to our destination. I am an optimist at heart, obviously.

But go we did. We went to Savannah, then Tybee Island in Georgia. It was hot and muggy and gorgeous and fantastic. We had actual conversations that weren’t interrupted by arguing children in need of a referee. We ate in restaurants without having to make sure there was a kids’ menu, because heaven forbid they eat something other than a burger or chicken nuggets.

We drank grown-up drinks at 3 in the afternoon.

We were together. Just us.

I took three midday naps.

I remembered what it was like to spend days with just my husband and we were able to be us again, not Mama and Daddy.

I walked miles each day without listening to one person with tiny legs complain about their feet.

I didn’t have to brush anyone’s hair but mine, or help anyone dress, or argue about the importance of clean underwear.

I didn’t have to follow a tiny tyrant’s schedule that includes more than frequent bathroom breaks.

And yet.

I didn’t get to show the kids the ocean or force them to try new foods under threat of lost screen time. I didn’t get to swim with them or people watch with them or stay in a hotel with them, which obviously is the best part of any trip away from home.

I didn’t get to stay up too late with them, watching a movie they probably shouldn’t be watching or share the history of a gorgeous old town.

I think it’s good for our kids to see us as separate from them, not just Mama and Daddy, or “The Ones Who Make Us Do Things We Don’t Want To Do.”

They need to see us as who we are as individuals, who we were before them. But it’s hard when you can’t quite remember who that is. Taking a few days to just be me, to just be us, let me have a bit of that back. And I was able to see how different of a person I am now, eight years later.

And maybe it let my kids miss me a bit and appreciate me just a little bit more.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on June 22, 2016.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Nobody steal my True Detective romantic comedy idea

So I had this dream last night.

I know, I know. Dreams are ultimate blog no-nos (though really, why? Brains are all kinds of messed up and it's neat to see what they come up with when we're not looking.)

Dream blog posts after a loooooooooong blogging absence are especially bad I'm told.*

But I can't help it. I have to share. I've been dosing myself with expired codeine cough syrup on account of all the coughing I do once I try to sleep. And by 'dosing' I mean following the directions specifically because I am terrified of imaginary authority figures who already are disappointed at me for using expired cough syrup.

I don't think the cough syrup is responsible for my dream, but it might be, is what I'm saying.

The dream was a cross between The Mindy Project and True Detective, which as an obvious path to travel if you're my subconscious on cough syrup.

I wasn't actually involved in the story, just watching like it was a television show, which means maybe I watch too much tv? (I don't. I really don't. I wish I had more time because there are entirely too many shows I want to watch. Outlander, Orphan Black I'm looking at you.)

So Mindy was dating Colin Farrell - who was a tough, sort-of-dirty cop but really wanted to be a good guy (maybe like the character he played in True Detective - the season with all the characters whose names I couldn't remember.)

The porn 'stache of my dreams, apparently.
Colin killed a really bad guy who had zero chance of being arrested (kinda like Dexter, but in a less creepy, serial killer way.) After killing said bad guy, he took a ring from him, then went to Mindy and asked her to marry him using the ring. She said yes and was super thrilled because FINALLY HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

The next morning cops showed up, asking about the dead guy. Colin was all set to get away with killing him, but Mindy started talking about how awesome Colin was, and how he'd just proposed. She showed them the ring. They arrested Colin. And it was very noir-like and dramatic, but also still silly because ROMANTIC COMEDY. Mindy is just so unlucky in love! Haha! Something is always in the way of her finding true love! Total slapstick, amirite?

So maybe the cough syrup worked? I mean, I still coughed but was distracted by the dream. So maybe it's a metaphysical remedy?

In other news, here's a picture of me wearing red lipstick.

I took some photos of myself (the cool people call those 'selfies') because I was procrastinating on my to-do list. Who wants to write web site copy when you can take a fake-smiling photo of yourself sans all makeup but bright red lipstick? (Me. I do. It's a fantastic job that I want to keep.) Plus it was new lipstick and I couldn't tell if I liked it or not.

I do like it. The end.

(I apologize for this post. I have no excuse.)

*Google told me one time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Motherhood and More: It's not a parenting failure to seek the help you need

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the time after my daughter was born. I was a new stay-at-home mom and my son was 2 years old.

I’m not sure what has brought on these reminisces, but it’s hard to compare where I was then to where I am now. At the time, I made plenty of jokes about not having adult conversation, but was silent about my real struggle.

Over time, I spiraled into a deep depression. I don’t know how else to say it. There were many days when I didn’t think I’d make it through, many days when I locked myself in the bathroom to cry. Many days when I lashed out at the kids when I shouldn’t have.

I felt guilty every day. I felt anxious and sad and lost and hopeless. I didn’t know what to do or how to ask for help. I didn’t tell anyone, because how do you tell people you’re failing? How do you ask for help when to do so you’d have to admit that failure?

It’s only now, years later, that I feel OK with sharing because I’m so far removed from it.

I assume I was suffering from post-partum depression. At the time though, I just thought I was bad at being a mother. But I powered through. I trudged along each day making breakfast, playing games, coloring, but all the while feeling desperate and lost.

I felt alone. I felt that no one could be as awful a mother as I was, so I didn’t seek out people to talk to because I didn’t want them to see exactly how bad I was.

We didn’t have much money and only one car, so we weren’t able to go out to places. And when we did go out in public it was like running a marathon. My daughter was not the best child to take places. She was easily frustrated and easily irritated and ridiculously impatient. Add to that an older child who was testing his boundaries and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

I was terrified to take them out by myself, so most days we stayed home.

We did have fun, though I know it doesn’t sound like it. I tried to plan activities to keep them entertained, but sometimes it was physically painful to have to be on and available all day. I’m an introvert, which means I desperately need alone time to function. That doesn’t happen when you have two small children who need you 24 hours a day.

I became obsessed with my son’s first memory. I was convinced it would be of me yelling over something stupid and silly and that would color our relationship for the rest of our lives. I lay awake at night thinking about it, feeling terrible, feeling the weight of my responsibility pressing on my chest.

Eventually, I realized I needed to do something, that I had to fix what was broken, because something obviously wasn’t right. I knew I needed anti-depressants, but also felt, again, like I was a failure for needing them. I didn’t want to be like this. I felt weak and childish, like if I only was stronger, if I only tried a little harder, I’d pull myself out.

But I think it took strength to finally ask my doctor. I was shaking and crying, trying to explain the issue without making myself seem too terrible.

And the anti-depressants worked. They worked so well. I felt so much better, like a black cloud had gone, like the pressure and the weight and the desperation were lessened.

It wasn’t a quick fix and it wasn’t 100 percent. It took time and effort and there still were days I locked myself away to have a few minutes to myself.

But I was better and functioning and not spiraling any deeper. I was able to see clearer and to be the mama my kids needed.

So if you see a friend or loved one struggling, even a small amount, look a little closer. Ask questions, offer assistance. They might be searching for help but not know how to ask for it.

We’re all in this together, right?

This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on May 25, 2016.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Motherhood and More: Tackling the kids’ rooms leaves feeling of accomplishment*

I spent a day and a half cleaning out my children’s rooms.

I know, I know. It’s ridiculous. We try hard to instill work ethic and values and independence into our children. As in, it is their responsibility to keep their rooms clean, because it is their own space and they are the ones who messed it up.

But we all slack off a bit. Their rooms are upstairs and they don’t like to spend much time in them, so I don’t actually see the mess all that often — bedtime, every other night is it. Usually by that time I’m too tired to care about anything, much less a pile of papers under the bed and toys out of place.

Enough of that, though, and you’ve got a gigantic problem in the form of endless hours of cleaning. Plus, it had been years since I’d done a true toy overhaul.

Their rooms and closets were a packed plot of broken bits and pieces of discarded, never-used toy cars and fast-food toys, broken Legos, crumpled paper, many, many tote bags to hold the crumpled paper, too-small clothing and shoes, Lego boxes, (because we had at some point decided we had to keep all of them) and other childhood detritus that didn’t have a home with us anymore.

It was time.

It was past time.

We shipped the kids off for the day. If they knew I was throwing out toys that hadn’t been touched in two years, those toys suddenly would become their most loved and prized possessions.

I spent hours gleefully tossing half-finished drawings, old books and old toys into bag after bag to toss or donate. I did not waste much time on sentimentality. At one point in my life I would have considered everything my children touched as keepsake worthy. Now I am ready to purge.

However, before you think I am a cold-hearted mama, I did save all the stories my son has written — and really I should be commended for that because he has written a lot of stories. For now, they can stay.

My daughter’s room has two huge closets and they’ve become a sort of storage area for junk we hadn’t found a home for yet. Not anymore. Old candles, old decorative items, old junk — all gone.

The beauty, the release I felt once everything was disposed of was tantamount to climbing a mountain – I assume. I’ve never actually climbed a mountain, but I’m sure it totally feels as much of an accomplishment as cleaning your kids’ rooms.

The book organization alone was enough to make me feel I’d been a catalyst for world peace. The bare floors inspired poetry.

My children, when they returned to clean, lightened rooms, were understandably pleased. Probably because they didn’t see the amount of bags of their stuff I’d given away.

My son, always the one to offer a helpful comment, came to me after surveying his room and said admonishingly, “You didn’t really clean much in my closet, Mom.”

This was, of course, not true as that was where most of the garbage bags I filled came from. It also wasn’t all that nice of a thing to say.

But I let it pass. Sooner or later he’s going to notice what I’ve taken away. I’ll be sure to reply, innocently, “I have no idea where that went. I didn’t clean very much in your closet.”

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on April 27, 2016.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Motherhood & More: When your child is a lot like you, try pickin’ together*

My son is too much like his mother.

I can see parts of his personality grow­ing to become mirror images of mine. We’re both entirely too sensitive and take everything personally. We see the world in black and white, right and wrong and are hard to dissuade when we’ve made our decision on which is which. That one I’ve almost grown out of and am much more flexible these days, I promise.

However, the hardest one to overcome is our need to be good at everything we decide to attempt – drawing, music, soccer. No matter what it is, we don’t want to do it if our natural abilities won’t let us start better than everyone else.
Now, my son is having this issue with music.

I was raised with music as a large part of my life. My dad is a musician – guitar, bass, Dobro – and my sister and I grew up watching him perform in countless bands or have jam sessions at family pig roasts and get-togethers. We both took piano lessons; however, I quit early on over a difference of opinion with the piano teacher. She was mean and I didn’t like mean teachers.

But I still can play a tiny bit of “Stand By Me” and “Heart and Soul,” and, of course, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” We all sang, although my mom insists that she “only plays the radio.”

I decided around 15 or 16 I wanted to learn the guitar. I was pretty ob­ses­sed with Janis Joplin and “Me and Bobby McGee” was No. 1 on my learn-to-play list. Plus that was when Lilith Fair was happening and there was an explosion of girl folk singers. I fit right in.

So I got a guitar, my dad taught me some chords and I started playing. I learned classic rock songs and oldies and angsty, acoustic girl power songs, then began writing my own angsty, acoustic girl power songs. I played guitar in church on many Sundays with a group of friends and a couple of times played at school chorus events.

But I slowed down considerably in college and stopped all together once I had my first kid. Time, you know? There’s only so much of it.

So when my son showed interest in music, I pushed for the guitar. My dad, who stresses the importance of nurturing musical talent, fixed him a left-handed one and we scheduled lessons with a local teacher.

But the problem is there was too much time between scheduling and the start of lessons. He had a couple of weeks to think and too much time to try it and see he’s not going to be able to play the guitar well without practice. He’s worried he’s not going to be good enough and so we had many, many discussions on why it’s important to work at skills, to push yourself, to just try. Because it’s in the trying and the effort that you see what you can accomplish.

He went into his first lesson excited and nervous and came out ready to learn. I can hear him in his room after bedtime and early in the morning strumming, trying as hard as he can to fret the G chord using his pinky.

What’s really great is that this is something we can do together. He wants me to work with him, to play with him. So now I’m excited and ready to pick my own guitar back up and play.

I wonder if he wants to learn any Lisa Loeb?

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on March 23, 2016.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Motherhood & More: When the kid's right, he's right — even if he's wrong*

I have a kid who knows more than me.

At least, that’s what he believes. And he’s right in some instances. For example, I do not know whether emeralds are stronger than diamonds in Minecraft or how to work the Playstation remote or the different life cycles of certain bugs.

I do, however, know that Valentine’s Day always, every year, falls on Feb. 14, not Feb. 7. The child was adamant to the point of frustration and near tears that he was right and we, his parents, were absolute idiots for not knowing the true date of the holiday.

This type of thing happens often. When he is sure, he will fight you with the determination of a stubborn 7-year-old dealing with his out-of-touch parents. Sometimes he’s right, sometimes he’s wrong. Always he’s obstinate.

I try to think back to when I was his age and wanted to be taken seriously and whether I was as much of a jerk to my parents. (Yes. The answer is yes. I am still not quite clear how my parents didn’t regularly drop me and my sister off somewhere for extended periods of time just to get away from the enormous amount of attitude heaped upon them daily.)

I know it’s horrible to be dismissed and not respected as an intelligent, thoughtful person, even at 7. I try to be as supportive as I can while still needing to banish the child to his room until he stops talking to me as if no one in the entire world could be as “un-with it” as I am.

And the thing is, he’s super, crazy smart. He does know much more than I do on certain subjects, which makes all of this that much harder.

I honestly thought I had more time before this became an issue. Twelve? Thirteen? Isn’t that the age the eye rolling starts? But now I can see years and years spread out before us, with him being increasingly right and me being increasingly wrong.

We, the parents, will become progressively out of touch with what “the kids these days” are doing. Already I can’t keep up with technology, so I am becoming a stereotypical mom who needs her kid to show her how to use all the new-fangled phone apps. I also now am using words like “new-fangled.”

So he will grow ever away from me — seeking more time with friends and less time with his boring, dorky parents.

For now, though, I still can get him to discuss books and movies and whatever else is interesting him, though I tune out when he starts in on Minecraft. There is only so much interest in Minecraft I can fake and I met my limit a year ago. (Sorry, kid. This blank stare totally doesn’t mean I’m not interested in seeing the new house you built. Swearsies.)

And maybe, if I am lucky and patient and can ignore the eye rolling, he will continue to teach me new things and I will be able to learn with him.

At least until he turns 13, right?

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on February 24, 2016.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Motherhood & More: Finding time, energy to be available for demands on Mama's time*

Parenting is a hard gig, right? I mean, no one disputes that, or the fact that it’s draining and exhausting. But it’s also wonderful and life-changing and happiness-bringing and awesome, obviously.

Lately I’ve been having trouble feeling the awesome. What I mean by that is I am wishing greatly for more time to be me, not Mama. My sweet heathens are all loved and fed and clothed and happy, and I am being as good of a parent I can, but I don’t seem to relish it, you know?

I have hours to myself – I work at home while the kids are in school so rarely do I hear a noise other than my own thoughts and my fingers typing on the keyboard. And I like it – no, LOVE IT – that way. I am sort of an introverted extrovert in that I am very comfortable at home, quiet, doing my own thing. But I am also thrilled to be around other adults.

But the kids – they come with much more work than do grown-ups. They return home from school each day with demands for food and homework help and pent-up energy and whining from having to behave. I have to mentally prepare myself for a culture shock each weekday at 2:20, when the complete silence turns into complete chaos.

And then there was the holiday break and the endless snow days, and what I’m saying is that I’m really missing the quiet. I am having a hard time being a present, involved mama. I am spending too much time at my computer and not enough time playing horses or Barbies or Star Wars or monopoly.

I’ve begun tensing up when I see the children heading my way, because I know it means they will want something from me, or have a question for me that will only lead to more questions, and then even more questions because my son never stops talking. Like ever.

I feel myself resent the interruption, and then resenting the fact that I have that feeling. I resent the need to be alone, and yet desperately need to be alone. I am working daily, hourly on trying to be more in the moment and to actually enjoy those moments. 

I want to say ‘yes’ instead of ‘not now’ to my daughter when she asks me to play another game of monopoly or work another puzzle. I want to want to answer my son’s 178th ‘Did you know’ question on his latest obsession (Star Wars. Pirates. Minecraft. Weather. Rocks. Bugs. Animals.) 

I am trying. It is so very hard. But I figure if I force myself to get out of my head, to be present, to say yes even when I don’t feel like I can, soon it will be easier. I will not inwardly sigh when they come to me. My smile will be more enthusiastic. 

And they might just better remember all the times I was available to them instead of all the times I was too busy.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on Jan. 27, 2016.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sewing, again (Hollyburn Skirt)

I was speaking with a friend this morning about sewing, and I realized that I haven't worn anything I've sewn in a good long while. And then I realized I hadn't actually sewn anything in what feels like forever.

So I decided to remedy both of those things.

I chose to wear the Hollyburn skirt today because it's been sitting unworn in my closet since I sewed it. I don't really love it, or actually like it all that much.

It's definitely not the pattern's problem, it's more user error, unfortunately.

I chose my fabric (Cotton + Steel) because I thought typewriters would be perfect for this shape of skirt. Retro, you know? But I didn't think it all through, and I didn't see how the skirt was sewn before it was too late.

It's made up of different panels, and if I had been paying more attention I would have cut the two front panels in such a way as to ensure the front seam didn't slice the typewriters in half. I tried to remedy the situation by sewing a line of ribbon over the seam. It definitely looks better than it did, but it doesn't look fantastic.

Also, Hollyburn is supposed to have a fitted waist. I didn't measure because measuring is for wusses, obviously.

And even more obviously, not measuring enough resulted in a skirt that doesn't fit.

This is me pinching the back 2-3 extra inches at the waist to show how much better it would look if I had sewn it the right way.

If I were a proper sewist I'd take the waistband apart and take it in, and adjust the skirt. However I am a sometimes sewist, one who needs to learn that sometimes quality is more important than quantity. Also I could use a mannequin. And someone to measure me.

I will fix it one day. It may be 10 years in the future, though. And I will sew this pattern again - a size down and with better fabric.

And to go back to present-day sewing, I'm going to start the Emery Dress today, with this fabric:

I can't wait until it's done!  But, if I'm honest, I probably won't get much more done than cutting and pasting the pattern printout together because time management and whatnot. But at least it's a start, yes?