Thursday, August 30, 2007

Almost: A rotten word to live by

I don’t know if you’ve seen the ads from Don’t Almost Give.

They do give me the prod intended, which is to give now instead of “sometime”. You know. “Sometime, I ought to donate to the local homeless shelter” or “At some point here, I really need to think about possibly buying some extra non-perishable food for them” and so forth.

But there is another nudge they give me, which is this: If you’re going to pick an adverb to live by, “almost” is a really rotten choice.

And yet I suspect I’m not alone in choosing it, time and time again.

Today, I almost exercised. But then, well, you know, things happen. It was hot, and I was busy, and there was a lot of housework I needed to get done.

And I almost did that housework, too, but of course I had to run back and forth to the school umpteen times.

I almost balanced the checkbook and I almost bought that stock I was circling – but first I had some other things, you understand. Like playing Virtual Villagers, and reading the comics online. Oh! And also I had to do some comparison shopping for ceiling fans, even though I’ve already decided not to put one in Captain Adventure’s room due to the small size of the room.

I’ve got a lot of ‘almost’ in my life.

Almost is different from, say, “deferred” or “after”. I am deferring the backyard work until the weather is less hellish. I am going to finish the downstairs after I do our master bed and bath.

And I almost cleaned my shower this week.

There really is a defeatist ring to ‘almost’, isn’t there? If at the end of the day I say, “Well, I’m going to clean the shower after I finish {whatever},” that has a very different ring to it than, “Well, I almost cleaned the shower, but I was doing {whatever} instead.”

I’m going to try to avoid the ‘almost’ tomorrow. I may not do all the things I’m hoping to do (in fact, I’d say that’s a sure bet because I tend to make my lists impossibly long) (because I cannot be taught, no matter how many times I do it wrong), but I’m going to try to make those undone things more ‘…right after I finish this…’ than an ‘…and then I almost…’

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I have lost my ever-lovin’ mind

This has been a helluva year, you know? First we were going to buy the flood plain house. Then we said we were going to just pack it up and move “in”, damn the consequences.

Then we realized that we had a lot more wrong with the Den than we could fix quickly, and taking a hit to the seller would about kill us. Change of plans, stay put and fix it slowly.

Of course, ‘slowly’ is relative. I mean, you watch any of the ‘flip’ shows out there and yes. We are moving very, verrrrrrrry slowly. Snail’s pace.

But for us, who do not do this for a living and in fact have other things occupying our time and attention, it is all a bit…much.

We painted Captain Adventure’s bedroom, and today I spent a ridiculous amount of time circling around Home Depot getting paint for the middle two kids’ room, and lighting and other ‘trim’ for Captain Adventure’s room. Calling the blinds guy to replace the “nursery” blinds in both rooms (which in one room were pulled rather vigorously out of the wall anyway and no longer function), and the nasty blinds downstairs that I have resisted replacing on the theory that we didn’t know what “theme” we were going with in there.

Answer: There is no theme. Get something that goes with the rest of the house and don’t worry about themes. You are not a theme kind of person anyway, just get something that looks nice and run with it. Idiot.

Also I called California Closets (via Costco, an interesting ‘ok, so, why couldn’t I just call them directly and just TELL them I want the Costco discount’ exercise) to come out and give me a quote on my walk-in closet and home office area in the bedroom. I hate what I have now, and also it doesn’t really work. It kinda gets the job done (kinda), but it doesn’t work. It is awkward, messy, spills out all over the place and makes it hard for me to sleep at night.

I can feel the clutter, mocking me from mere feet away…


There will be more painting in here. There will be new fixtures in the master bathroom. There will be new flooring throughout the upstairs. Also there may be a set of cabinets removed and a student center installed in their place. Maybe. We’ll see. As well as a bathroom remodel for the kids’ bathroom, which is huge but so badly designed it is largely wasted space.

AND OF COURSE, once the weather moves out of the current “let’s see if life can survive under extreme dry heat conditions” phase, there will be work in the backyard. Lots and lots and lots of it. There will be concrete patios poured. There will be a spa replaced (my husband does not know this part yet, but that cracked up thing has got to go, and I’m thinking a new one with gazebo would be nice). There will be new lawn seeded. There will be expensive playground fiber placed around the play equipment, complete with appropriate sand (for cushioning) and tarp (weed prevention). The weed patch next to the driveway will be replaced with a more driveway.

The part I fear is all the physical labor I know I’m going to be doing because I am cheap capable. The project management part is bad enough, and the CFO responsibilities are enough to keep me up nights – but then there’s the whole “OK, so, you’re saying that I can save $2,400 if I do all the work myself?” thing.

Two dump trucks are going to arrive, one bearing sand and the other playground fiber, and who is going to be shoveling and wheel-barrowing and shoveling again and spreading and stomping and otherwise offloading it into the playground area?

Me. Because they said, “OK, and add $2,400 for us to do that part for you…” and my brain went, “URK?!” and insisted that my body can so totally handle what they were planning to use four stalwart young men to do for $2,400.

I assure you, by the time I’ve gotten half that sand moved, I will be thinking that $2,400 is a small price to pay. I will feel like Dr. Wealthy McRich Pants and desperately want to call them up and pay them to come and do this menial crap which is so beneath me for me.

But of course by the time I pick up the phone, the cheap kicks back in and I say, “Nooooo, nooooo, I’m fine, I’m good, I just need a little rest and I’ll be back in business…”

And then I’m explaining to my doctor that the reason I’m here begging for Vicodin is, see, I had this dump truck full of sand…?

I have lost my ever lovin’ mind, and we have only just begun this whole episode.

I think I need another coffee. And also some chocolate. I had some cake, but…well, y’all know what happened to that

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Noble, Selfless Son

Let’s say, for the sake of the argument, that a certain mother is on a diet. Let’s say that this mother is carrying an extra twenty pounds (mostly on her butt and thighs, damn it) and that this mother is grimly determined to get rid of it because it would be a very nice thing to do for her arthritic hips and knees.

Let’s also say, purely for purposes of illustration, that this mother has Certain Weaknesses. Such as leftover chocolate birthday cake and/or ice cream.

Now. We all know how children cause weight gain. They do it during pregnancy, they cause hormone changes that cause bodies that once shed extra weight like water to suddenly retain every ounce of fat that goes in our mouths, they want to eat things like ice cream and macaroni and cheese, which NATURALLY we feel impelled to finish off for them – so children are like the kiss of death to a healthy weight range.

I mean, really. Have you ever known a child who actually helped a mother stay on a diet?

Here’s one.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Yessir, Captain Adventure saw that leftover birthday cake sitting on the counter (why Grandma’s birthday cake was left here is another rant for another day) (they are ALWAYS doing this to me – and potato chips, too) (and coleslaw and potato salad) (ARGH!!) and said to himself, “I had better pull that onto the floor and squash it between my filthy toes, before my Dearest Mother forgets herself and plunges into it, undoing three weeks of hard dieting in a single weak-willed moment!!”

Yes, I am truly blessed to have such a noble, selfless son…

Monday, August 27, 2007

Laundry, however, I do not love so much

I do the vast majority of the laundry on Monday. Oh sure, sometimes we’re out of towels on Thursday or have some kind of emergency load on Saturday, but by and large Monday is for Laundry.

I hate Monday. I hate it so danged much. Every Monday, I swear I’m not exaggerating, I wake up thinking, @*^&@ing laundry!!

Oh, I’ve tried other ways. I’ve tried the ‘one load a day’ thing. I’ve tried doing just a load or two every other day, or on weekends. I’ve tried not doing it at all, which backfired quite badly and we do not speak of it to this day.

I’ve tried forcing my husband to do it, and I even once (once, one time, precisely) sent it out. You know, where you take the dirty laundry in Hefty bags to somebody who does laundry for a living, and have them do it?

HA. Yeah. I took it to the Laundromat and paid the old hag nice lady to ‘wash and fold’ our laundry, which at the time was not even a quarter of what I do every week now.

She charged me $45, by “folded” she meant “balled up and shoved into the bag” and by “clean” she meant “saw water at some point in the proceedings”.

Ah, those were the days. The idea of paying $45 for what amounted to two small loads of laundry absolutely floors me today. But back then, it was “Oh, I just don’t wanna deal with it!” {flip hair, pout prettily, cough up money}

Sometimes, I fantasize about doing it now. We just got a laundry and dry cleaning service here in town which will come to your house, pick up the bags of dirty laundry, make it not-dirty, and then return it to your door in neat reusable white ‘clean laundry’ bags.

On the one hand, my eyebrows climbed right on up into my hairline and have stayed there ever since. We are a low income area. There is not a whole lot of real money around here; what money there was came largely from people cashing out their home equity as fast as they could so they could buy all the stuff they couldn’t otherwise afford.

Now that the house-as-ATM deal has dried up, well. You’re not going to find a whole lot of people who are willing to pay $25 or more for a single load of laundry.

But at the same time, I occasionally find myself fondling their fliers (often on Sunday, go figure). Ooooooh, pickup and delivery included

But by and large, the way that works best for me is to just suck it up and do it all on Monday. Just do it. All of it. Throw it all down the stairs, sort, and start the machines chugging along. And bitch about it endlessly to anyone who makes the mistake of crossing my path.

I don’t know why I hate doing laundry so much. After all, it isn’t like the pioneer days where you had to scrub the clothes by hand with lye soap on a washboard and then hang them up to dry. I have me a faaaaancy machine with extra-super-huge capacity. I have an excellent backyard clothesline, plus also a faaaaaaancy gas dryer in the (extremely likely) event that I don’t feel like hanging up the wash, or if it’s raining, or whatever.

I don’t mind ironing, for heaven’s sake. I don’t mind cleaning bathrooms (much) or vacuuming or taking a scrub brush to the tile grout. Even doing the dishes – which, by the way, I’m thinking of putting on my business card: Tama, Expert Dishwasher Feeder – doesn’t raise my hackles the way laundry will.

I don’t know why I have such an antipathy toward laundry.

It smells good. Fresh from the dryer, it even feels good. (I hate folding cold laundry, though. I’ve been known to put them on timed dry for a few minutes, just to warm them up a little so I don’t have to fold cold laundry.) And there is definitely a visual gratification as well, to see all those neatly folded clothes back in the drawer.

Maybe it is the constant nature of it – doing laundry is indeed a lot like shoveling the driveway while it is still snowing. For a few glorious minutes each Monday, every single hamper in the house is empty.

By Tuesday morning, they’re already filling up again. And someone is complaining because they want the dress they wore Monday to be ready for whatever event they’ve come up with on Friday. And there’s a lone sock sitting in the middle of the floor, it’s clean mate in my ‘where the heck is your mate, mate?’ drawer.

And then there’s the constant walking up and down the stairs with the basket slung on my hip. Up, down, up, down.

ALSO, there is the fact that I start running out of gas long before the last load comes out. Now, I’ve tried to work around this by doing all the clothing first, and making the last loads the sheets and towels because they’re faster to fold and put away. But there are still times when we get to Wednesday and there are still piles of clean, folded laundry making a nightly pilgrimage from my bed to whatever flat surface I can find and back again the next morning.

And the endless frustration which is trying to get the kids to put their clothing away. Because you know where I find their clean clothing, after I set it on their bed with instructions to put it away?

ALL of it crammed into one drawer. Or, dumped next to the bed. Or, under the bed. Or, their brother gets in there and plays with it. $45,000 in toys strewn throughout the house, the kid wants to play with his sister’s underwear – typical.

I about died laughing, though, when I walked in and he was putting Boo Bug’s underwear on one of her dolls, scolding it the whole time. The doll was, of course, nekkid, because this is what my girls do with their dolls: strip off their clothes, throw the clothes one direction and the doll the other and move on to other things. And there was Captain Adventure, tugging underwear onto it and going, “Baby no! Baby, no-no-no. Uh-oh! Baby! Docks! Oh no. No. No. Babba babba bigda mama no unna inga mah! *sigh!*”

I have no idea, but it sounded a lot like me: “Boo Bug! What are you doing? No. NO! Don’t start playing with that! Go and put on your socks right now, we have to GO! Honestly I don’t know what’s the MATTER with you! *sigh*”


On those rare occasions when I can keep myself focused and get the old job done, it's all good. All the laundry is done and put away and I can sit back come the evening and say to myself, “I don’t hafta do this again until NEXT Monday!”

And I feel real good about that, because next Monday might as well be a week from never. I have six whole days before I have to worry about it again.

However, today being Monday…the danged dryer is beeping at me. AGAIN.

Maybe that’s my problem. I dislike being ordered around by sleek white machine which go “beep-beep-beep-BEEP! Beep-beep-beep-BEEP!” in supercilious tones. “Oh, laundry girl! Come forth and give us service!!”

Ya know, I went to college, people!

{mutter grumble LAUNDRY grouse gotcher ‘beep’ right here, pal, kvetch carry on trudge trudge trudge}

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Have I told you lately that I love you?

I have the best readers in the universe. Thank you all so much. I love hearing about the successes. I always seem to get one of two things whenever I’m talking about this with others: They either blow it off (“Oh, boys are ALWAYS so much slower on everything than girls!”) or they explode it out (“Ohmigosh, he’s just like my nephew! He’s 38 years old, sits in his mom’s kitchen spinning plates on the floor all day and night, completely autistic!”)

I know Captain Adventure is going to be just fine. Just in the last few months he has made such tremendous headway – I know that if we can get him the help he needs, he will unlock the door that has him so bemused right now. I can’t wait to find out what’s going on in that skull of his; he is a wicked smart kid.

He just needs to learn how to get it out in the open. Right now he's got a plastic lion giving a cheetah a good talking to, complete with roars. I have no idea what they're saying to each other, but it is quite involved and has been going on for a good ten minutes now, with occasional breaks for rides on a wooden boat or trips up Mommy Mountain.

Just like any other three year old - but without words.

Still, better than it was some months ago. And going to get better still.

Every day, in tiny steps.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A child WHAT?!

This morning I took Captain Adventure to a speech therapist for a preliminary evaluation around his speech issues. While he’s making some progress on the talking front, he’s still nowhere near where he ought to be for a three year old, not only in pronouncing words but in such basic things as initiating conversation. Which he doesn’t, pretty much ever. I think he would actually drop dead of thirst before he would walk over to me and say, “Juice!”

Funny, huh – the other three, I’m wishing they’d stop initiating conversations (or at least quit bursting into the room and firing off demands like a machine gun), while I can’t get my boy to give me the time of day. Or even say “clock”.

He had a very good session. He showed off what words he does have, and played the ‘point at the {nose, mouth, shoe, cup}’ game cheerfully enough and showed that he does play with toys and play-act and all that.

So she’s checking things off her list and scribbling things down and playing with him (we both like her – she’s good people) and occasionally asking me questions.

After an hour of this, she gives me the upshot of where she thinks we’re going.

He has high cognitive and social skills. He has excellent motor skills. He’s a bright-eyed little guy, friendly and outgoing, good eye-contact and body language. She has no worries about autism or Asperger's Syndrome or any of the other boogie men that hide under my bed at night poking at my psyche so I can’t sleep.

She is going to be working with him regularly right out the gate. We already have our next session scheduled for next week. And also she would like to get the ball rolling to have him admitted to the special needs preschool run by the district. Here’s the paperwork, and here’s how we get started…

Such a wave of confliction ran through me at that moment, it defies description.

Why did I all but twist my pediatrician’s arm to get a referral to the speech therapist? Because I know my boy has issues I can’t address by myself. He has special needs, and he needs help I can’t give him. If he keeps on as he is now, he won’t be starting kindergarten in two years. He will be lagging behind, always. He needs trained professionals to show interest in him and teach him how to express what is going on inside his mind.

So you’d think I’d be nothing but delighted that we are talking about getting him into the special needs preschool program, huh? The highly rated program, the one that has worked miracles for children in our community, the one praised by our pediatricians, the exactly right thing for a boy like Captain Adventure, who is wicked smart but unable to show it?

But at the same time, I’m afraid. I’m afraid he will go to this program and they will pull me aside and say, “OH, we’re so sorry, it isn’t just a speech delay – he has {insert Syndrome du Jour here} and he will never, ever be anything like ‘normal’.”

I’m afraid it will come back to something I did. Yeah yeah, I know, I know. I’m a good mom blah blah blah – but I go back and pick over his three years of life, and even his pregnancy, and point out all the things I did wrong or could have done better and IF I HAD would he be talking up a storm right now, using the potty while reading up on his Shakespeare?

So you can imagine how I felt when she then said, cheerfully, “OK, so here’s what we’re going to do, I’m going to have the child psychologist and the preschool coordinator arrange for a home visit…”


Excuse me, the child psychologist?! Coming to my house?!?! Uuuuuuuh…

And here, Tama exposes that she has many irrational prejudices and is also deeply ignorant.

I dislike psychologists. Isn’t that awful of me? But I hate the way they always seem to find things that are wrong with everybody. You say something like, “Oh, I’m not that fond of cabbage” and they will start telling you about how your issues stem from your relationship with your father and that the ‘cabbage’ represents his testicles or something equally disgusting.

Now I know that the psychologist is coming to observe Captain Adventure in his native environment to confirm that he has speech issues, that he relates well to others, that the home isn’t a scary place and all that. I know that the psychologist is not coming here to pick apart my housekeeping or to determine whether or not I should be allowed to keep him.

But still.

A child psychologist is coming to my house to observe my child so that he can be placed (or not) in a special needs program…which obviously I drove him into because I am terrible mother with deep-rooted issues around cabbage.


See, this is where I have to put on my big girl panties and carry on. This isn’t about me or what people think of me or whether or not I’m endangering my Mother of the Year award (snort!).

It’s about my son, who is not where he should be. He needs help that I can’t give him, not by myself. I’ve tried. We’ve made progress. But it isn’t enough, and it has stalled. He needs more, and so do I. I need these people to help me help him – I need them to take me by the hand and show me what I can do for him.

He’s a bright little boy with a long life ahead of him. He’s got so many things to see and do and be, so many thoughts he will think, so many deeds he will do. I want him to jump in with both feet and start running – not be lagging at the back of the pack feeling confused and left behind because his momma was too proud to admit she wasn’t able to handle it herself when he hit a snag.

Or because she was afraid the psychologist was going to rub her hands together, cackling eagerly, saying to herself, “Wow, this mom is a piece of work! I’m finally going to make my mark in the psychological thesis community!!”

…maybe I should go buy some cabbage, just for show (because I’m surely not going to eat the stuff!)…

We are experiencing slight delays…

Some years ago, I had the dubious pleasure of being trapped on an airplane that was circling, circling, circling an airport. We circled for forty-five minutes, until we were all quite tired of flying around in circles leaning right. And then the pilot came on the loudspeaker.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the delays. There are some issues on the ground preventing our landing. We’re running low on fuel, so we are going to have to land the plane…” {aaaaand, just as we all start to go “Hooray!”} “…so we’ve diverting the plane to [some wee little airport in a city I never heard of in Georgia], where we will refuel.”

So we diverted about twenty minutes away, and all had to get off the plane while they refueled (no idea why), and milled around in this little airport that had two pushcarts for food vending, and waited and waited and waited some more, got back on the plane, sat on the tarmac for about six years before taking off.

But we only had to circle Atlanta for ten minutes this time before we landed.

My life right now feels like that flight. Going around and around and around, but never actually making any steps forward.

I have a whole whack of projects and goals that I simply can’t get to right now. I’m lacking the time, I’m lacking the money, and moreover – I lack the energy to make up for the time and money deficits.

Funny how that works. I’ve always found that if I have any two of those three things – time, money and energy – I can make just about anything happen. But if I can’t come up with the two, well, that’s it. Party’s over before it ever even started.

And when I lack ALL THREE...well. Might as well hang up the "Gone Fishing" sign on the door, hide in the back drinking and telling fish stories. It's REALLY over.

Last week was just plain crazy. This week wasn’t much better. I’ve got a nasty cold and a worse disposition. Captain Adventure has a cold, too, which means that he is clingy and high-maintenance. It is hotter than HELL out here, too, which is particularly lovely when you’ve got a fever and have to sit around in the sun for half an hour between classes.


Oh well. It happens, ya know? Sometimes you leap out of bed singing, “Good morning, God!” and other days, it’s “Good God, it’s morning?!”

Sometimes, you’re stuck in a holding pattern for a while. If I can just keep on breathing in and out, try not to worry too much about even my interruptions being interrupted, and get through the circling, I’ll get good solid land under my feet, suitable for walking or even running, eventually.

I just hope I’ll be able to keep on my feet, instead of plonking down on my butt to complain until the next flight takes off.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

In which I say, “…oh…”

So there I was. Banging my head on the wall, micromanaging Danger Mouse, wailing about her ‘distractibility issues’ and worrying endlessly about the whole homework thing.

My worrying had gone from whether or not Danger Mouse was able to keep up with the second grade world to whether or not she had been prepared as well as we had thought for second grade and fretting about what our lives were going to be like this second grade year – we do, after all, have gymnastics on Wednesday nights which has us gone from home for almost three hours all told. If Danger Mouse is going to need five hours every single night to do her homework, well.

This is a problem.

I mean, it’s a problem regardless, but what, WHAT I ASK, are we to do on those (numerous) occasions when Something is happening midweek which eats a hole in the Time Available For Homework.

Yessir, I was real worried. I fretted about it last night. Like a terrier with a rat, I growled about it, shook it every which way, threw it in the air a few times, and bitched about it endlessly to anyone with the bad fortune to be near me.

“Will that be paper or plastic, ma’am?”

“FIVE PAGES of math problems, and then a bunch of spelling and I’m going to tell you what – it just isn’t human! Is she supposed to do that every single night?!”

“Uuuuuuuh…I’ll just…plastic, then?”

So this afternoon, it was with a sense of terrible dread that I asked, “Did you turn in your homework?”

“Oh, yeah, about that. She kept saying ‘Friday.’ Apparently, it’s due on Friday.”


“She said homework is due on Friday.”

“Uhhhhhh…did you get new homework today?” I think I understand what she is saying, but I can’t quite believe it yet.

“No.” She is now looking at me sideways with an expression which clearly says, My mother is an idiot. Film at eleven.

“Wait, are you telling me…Danger Mouse…are you saying to me that what you did last night was supposed to be your homework for the entire week?!”

“I guess so. She said it’s all due Friday.”

“You mean to tell me you did an entire week’s homework last night?”


“You weren’t supposed to do all that last night?”

“{giggle} Yes.”

We made you do four night’s worth of homework in one sitting?!” {In case you missed it, the transition from ‘worry’ to ‘guilt’ happens right about here.}

Danger Mouse is laughing brightly. She thinks the whole thing is highly amusing.

She is a noble soul.

Personally, I’d’ve been plotting serious revenge around this point.

Being as I am a descendent of Cormac MacCarthy, genetically imbued with eloquence, scion of bards and warriors, I immediately rejoined with the following proclamation:


Smooth. Real smooth.

But now I’m feeling kind of proud. My kid? Week worth of homework, in one (1) night.

Not too bad for a highly distractible kid with attention issues, huh?!

Monday, August 20, 2007

I wannit IN!

There are almost three thousand people in front of me on the Ravelry list. I am keenly aware that there are over fourteen thousand behind me, and that any one of them would love to trade places.

But I feel like my Captain Adventure, hanging off the locked bathroom door shrieking, “I WANNIT IN! I WANNIT INNNNNNNN!”

Because goodness knows, I don’t have enough time sinks in my life. I don’t have enough interests. I don’t have enough boards to follow, blogs to read, newspapers to flip through, magazines to pretend to read, housework and homework and cleaning and refreshing the search at Ravelry to see where I fall in the list now, as opposed to three hours ago when last I checked.

{taps fingers impatiently}

OK, OK, I’m being patient. And also, I’m working on a sweater for Captain Adventure (I know he doesn’t deserve it, he is in fact a horrible little monster child with psychotic tendencies and also I caught him chewing – CHEWING? What, is he part Labrador?! – on a ball of Karabella Aurora 8 that is supposed to become a hat for Boo Bug), which is supposed to help me not think about Ravelry but then I keep thinking about it.

I’m making it very simple and boring, to punish him for drooling on my Karabella. See?

Blue and Gray Sweater

This is Lana Monterosa Morbidone in blue (50% wool / 50% acrylic) and Katia “French Top” (same 50/50 split) in gray (I know it looks white – trust me, it’s gray). The blue is leftover from the sweater I did for him last year (the little twerp, outgrew it in nothing flat!), and the gray has already made one tank top (given away).

So yeah. This is a ‘stash busting’ deal, which is important because I plan to join Ravelry as one of the saner knitters – not as a woman with a stash that is busting out of all attempts to confine it. Not, uh, that mine does that. Much.

Actually, the problem with my stash (she said, veering off into wild-eyed digression once again) isn’t necessarily that I have ever-so-much yarn. It’s more that I have purposeless yarns. I either have way more than I need (and thus am saving for a ‘really big’ project) or I have a ball or two (that don’t go together).

And also I have four big boxes of kitchen-towel cotton. Makes great kitchen towels. Wouldn’t want to use it for anything else. I have white, and natural. Four boxes of it. In cones, and in center-pull balls. Lots and lots and lots of it.

I have knitted precisely four kitchen towels out of the stuff. Great towels. But I’m not all that thrilled about making more. Go ahead. Suggest that I ‘get rid of’ the kitchen-towel-cotton. Let’s see how far we get on that. (MINE! MINE! BACK OFF, MAN, JUST…BACK OFF!!!)

The idea on this sweater (and it is a vague one, I admit) is to keep ten rows of blue with five rows of gray (because I have a lot more blue than gray), and put in a v-neck because I’m sick and tired of the neck openings being too small it will look quite stylish, don’t you think?

This one, I’m kind of making up on my own. I used Sweater Wizard to give me the basic pattern because I am lazy techno-savvy, but am making all kinds of wild-eyed changes as I go along and just sort of hoping that it ends up looking like something that belongs on a human child.

Or…whatever it is that Captain Adventure actually is. I’m not sure what kind of creature goes around on two legs chewing (and sucking) on a ball of 100% Extrafine Merino wool. Also, he likes to chew on the tops of water bottles.

Strange, strange child…

Homework a-go-go

I am already tired of school, and it is only Day 6. Or Day 5, if you take the two minimum days and put them together as one day.

OK, it isn’t the school part I’m tired of, really. It’s homework. And this would be the first afternoon we actually had homework. So I’m tired of it way before the usual curve of a few weeks.

I have been overseeing the homework for Danger Mouse and Eldest for the last two three hours. Their teachers said, and I quote, “This should take no more than twenty minutes.”

Eldest took over an hour to do half of what was supposed to take twenty minutes. She didn’t need to, she just did. And Danger Mouse…well, let’s just say I won’t be entirely surprised if one of these days some Learned Person or other walks up and says, “Hey, did you know that kid has a terrible case of ADD?”

To which I will probably respond: “{long rambling story that somehow involves llamas and ends up with the phrase, ‘oh, but, we were talking about Danger Mouse, right?’}”

The girl comes by the distractibility thing honestly, that’s all I can say about that. And last year, well, they got a kind of free pass. I was working, they (allegedly) did their homework at daycare, and really I didn’t have to deal with their shortcomings on stick-to-it-ness.

I also never made them make their beds or pick up their toys daily or any of that stuff. I just pretended that whole side of the house didn’t exist, unless we were having company over.

But this year, I said to myself, said I, “Self! This year we will not have any of that ‘raised by wolves’ thing around here! No! The children shall come home from school, sit down at their Homework Desks, and do their homework. And I shall supervise said homework, and growl warningly at them when they start daydreaming off AND BEHOLD!! My Denizens will snap out of it and shall be the marvel of the educational system!!”


There are reasons (many, many reasons) (including ‘CPS’ and ‘fear of restraining order’) I don’t home school, and one of them is that I am…well, let’s just call it ‘attention challenged’, shall we? I will watch the news specifically for the weather report. And then, when the weather segment is actually on, my attention wanders and suddenly they’re tossing back out to somebody in the field and I’m left going, “Wait! I wanted to hear that part! Come back, Weather Man! COME BAAAAACK!!!”

Thank Dog for the Weather Channel online. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah. Attention-deprivation, not home schooling. Right.

SO ANYWAY. Here I am, helping my children with their homework. And by ‘helping’, I mean ‘alternating wandering away to do something else with being confused by 2nd grade homework’.

And the ever-helpful, “Oh for carp’s sake, how in the world do you get ‘eleven’ there?! In what reality is 9 + 4 = 11?!”


A few minutes ago, as she began sinking down into her chair and reaching out her foot to start pushing the pedal on my spinning wheel, I barked out, “Danger Mouse! Homework! NOW!”

So now she is crying.


We’re going on three hours, for the ‘twenty minutes’ of homework. Eldest has been done for a while now…Danger Mouse still struggles on. It isn’t that she can’t do it, or that the questions are hard - it’s entirely that her mind keeps wandering. Every time I look over, she’s sitting there with her pencil idle in her hand, staring off into the distance.

Ya know. Thinking.

It’s very hard for me to scold her about this, mostly because I am too busy staring off into the distance – ya know, thinking.

I’m not sure how a highly distractible parent is going to micromanage highly distractible children. It’s worse than the blind leading the blind. The blind at least will feel along a wall and keep moving. The distractible forget where they were going, end up at the ice cream store and then find themselves going, “Uuuuuuh, oh yeah…” a lot when confronted by Authority Figures, who cannot for the life of them understand how a grown woman could possibly have forgotten about {Back to School night, office paperwork, some form or other about booster club, to send fifteen pink buttons to school by Tuesday}.

Anyway, I gotta go.

The weather’s coming on soon.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


OK, so, apparently I am not smart enough to knit. Perhaps I should take up something simpler, like nuclear medicine or stock market analysis.


Because I like to consider these things ‘lessons’ rather than ‘failures’, let’s review what went wrong, shall we?

We can start with someone trying to do a fidgety pattern with lace-weight yarn while a three year old is underfoot. We can almost start and stop right there. So as I’m sitting there muttering, “Knit 1, ssk, yarn over, knit 2, knit-two-together, yarn over, knit one, yarn over…”, Captain Adventure is coming up with ways to ruin me.

There was the “let out piercing screams just as mommy is trying to wedge her needle under five stitches for the knit-five-together maneuver so she’ll jump and drop all five of them” tactic. And then there was the ever-popular “grab the ball of lace-weight and run off giggling madly while mommy shrieks in horror and half-kills herself trying to get after you”. With bonus points for putting slippery toys right under her feet before starting it.

And of course, the “let’s get all three of my sisters to chase me! And then I shall fling myself, giggling madly and with my sisters in hot pursuit, onto my mother so that she must twist in ways nature never intended to avoid impaling us with her extra-pointy lace needles! Wheeee!” gambit was in full play.


A rational person would have stopped right there, said, “OK, so, this is a project for later – when all four of them are in (pre)school and I have uninterrupted time.”

But oh no. I never learn. I never, ever learn. I will lose count and I will drop stitches and I need projects which are easy to recover when said events occur. Thicker yarns and patterns which are painfully obvious even in really bad lighting with four people all shrieking demands at once – that’s what I can handle right now.

But can I remember this? Can I hold onto this information? Can I acknowledge that I am not able to handle more intricate patterns with the Denizens underfoot? Oh no. No. Instead, I say that I can do this pattern, you know, in quieter moments.

So when we were getting in the van for the two (three – there was traffic) hour drive to a friend’s birthday party, I said, “Cool! I’ll take my knitting – they won’t be able to jump on me while we’re driving!”

Well, guess what I learned? The only thing harder than knitting lace with a three year old bouncing on you, is knitting lace in the car while your husband is going, “So anyway blah blah blah did they take down that fence over there? Why did they put that k-rail there? Is that the new college campus? OH! Lookit that cool car, whoa, that’s completely classic!” while the van is going boingy-boingy-boingy-boingy down the road and all the children are yelling about the movie and arguing about the movie and asking you for snacks and kicking the back of your seat even though you just threatened to meld their feet to their own chair with duct tape if they did it even one more time. (And I would have, but my husband refused to pull over at a hardware store. Sheesh!)

There is only one word for what I had by the end of the trip: Disaster.

This morning I looked at the misplaced yarn overs and the huge loops of ‘why is that there?’ extra yarn hanging off the back and first I said, “Dang. Hmm. Well, but I can fix this…”

About an hour later, I admitted that no. No I can’t. And it isn’t going to be better tomorrow, and it isn’t going to be easier during gymnastics.

Fingering-weight projects are just going to have to take a back burner until Captain Adventure is ready for preschool and I can have an hour or two of nobody pulling on me.

Yarn demon: 3. Tama: 0.

I’m going to try a boring kid’s sweater for Captain Adventure. Simple pattern, knit up in the round, basic stripe pattern with no fiddly stuff. Just stripes. Straight up, stripes.

I’m probably going to bollix that up, too.

I really should consider taking up another hobby. Like solving the affordable housing crisis, or perhaps finding a cure for cancer.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go pout in the corner while casting on 146 stitch of good old worsted weight wool leftover from projects past…

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Yarn Demon: 2, Tama: 0

It has not been a good day in my knitting reality.

Last night I finished the first ball of yarn on the scarf I was knitting, which is a wildly-colored variegated. So I attached the next ball and began knitting and was immediately struck by the thought that it didn’t look quite right. The colors were…different.

One ball has a thick band of bright yellow, the other does not. The purples are different. The blues are slightly different.

Same “color”, different dye lots.

And they clash.


Soooooo, I pulled out what I had done while I regroup on that project. It’ll have to be stripes, with a neutral color between the two variegated, I guess. Meh. :::whirl!!::: goes the ball winder, undoing all that work.

But this is OK. It is part of the creative process. It is a reminder to me that just because balls of yarn are in the same bin does not necessarily mean that they are the same dye lot. For most of my knitting life, I have not had local yarn stores. I order online. The nice, and also smart, people at the online yarn stores have done this kind of checking for me. It’s just a small smack-down and I am a big girl. I can take it.

Then I dragged Siv out from under the sofa where I had shoved it in a fit of pique at the beginning of the month. I was about to start knitting when it suddenly occurred to me that it might be a good idea to figure out where, precisely, I was in this whole project.

And then I realized that I had blown it on the armhole decreases and needed to tear out twelve rows so I could go back and fix that, and also that I had 22 centimeters left on the armhole part and that I was definitely going to be running out of yarn long before I got to sleeve #2 and as I tried to use my short-sleeve-a-vision to decide whether I’d like it to be short sleeved (or even sleeveless, because really – I’m going to run out of yarn) my brain shorted out.


So now Siv is no more and I sit here without a single project on a needle anywhere in the house.

But not for long. Because I never learn am dedicated, I’m going to move on to the Lily of the Valley Smoke Ring I got from Crafty Momma.

Because goodness knows, fingering-weight lace knitting is peaceful and relaxing. Not like those stupid worsted weight K3-P2 scarves. Phooey on them. This will be better:

Some Assembly Required

Friday, August 17, 2007


This is kind of fun. I found it to be a great reminder that, even when I’ve got a pounding headache, I still have it better than I think I do.

This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Dear Boca Java,

Now, you know how much I love you. You know that I am passionately fond of your Kenya Kruising, the Boca Sunrise and other rather long list of coffees I enjoy from you regularly; and that I also have a fond place for many of your flavored coffees, like Lee’s Caramel Kiss Island and Beachside Blog.

But really now, we need to have a little talk.

I can’t handle this.

You…you put maple syrup and smoky bacon…IN…my…coffee??

I’m fairly certain this is me, not you. After all, you’ve had the Hound Dog Heaven coffee, flavored with peanut butter and bananas, for as long as I’ve known you. Obviously, other people do not share my irrational phobias around what does and does not “belong” in coffee. My mind is obviously narrow. I have shallow horizons. I lack adventurous spirit.

But I just can’t, I mean c-a-n-’-t, deal with this concept.

It isn’t just the bacon and syrup thing. In some ways, as a person who may on occasion skip that most important meal of the day but NEVER her coffee, it makes perfect sense. All the flavors of a real breakfast, and when my mother asks what I had for breakfast I can mutter, “Coffee, syrup, bacon…” and she will assume that I actually sat down and ate something when in fact all I did was pound back a cup of coffee while standing at the sink yelling things like, “WILL you put on your shoes, DON’T hit your sister and what do you MEAN you were supposed to read 6,273 pages of War and Peace last night and write a fifteen page essay about it?!”

I worry about compatibility issues.

See, I put real maple syrup on my table at home, a flavor which I have been told by some heretics people who obviously lost their taste buds in a tragic McDonald’s Super Pancake Breakfast incident is an ‘acquired taste’. So I mean, what are you using? Are we talking real Vermont syrup flavoring, or that melted plastic with genuine artificial flavorings added most folks consider to be syrup? And what happens if the smoke flavor you’re using in your coffee clashes with the smoke flavor infused by our local meat market into our bacon? I’m pretty sure they use a proprietary blend there, so I worry, YES INDEED I DO WORRY, that if I were to make this coffee at breakfast time (and honestly, would I want it any other time?), I could have a situation where the coffee didn’t go well with my actual breakfast.

Imagine, coffee not going well with waffles and bacon. I’m pretty sure it could actually cause the Apocalypse to descend upon us. Which frightens and yet intrigues me.


Well, maybe I’ll just get a little Baby Boca sample bag of it…purely for the sake of research. But I hope you will forgive me if I draw odd circles on my floor and maybe light some candles or incense whatever it is you do to prevent $DEMON from stealing your soul under such circumstances.

OK. Glad we had this little chat. Looking forward to our next delivery, I remain your devoted fan (except not of the peanut butter and bananas coffee because that is wrong),


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What, I thought everybody loved rabbits…

You're Watership Down!

by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Now, where was I…

Have you ever had a week go by, during which you never got to sit down for five minutes at a stretch, running-running-running, emptying the vacuum cleaner about eleventy-nine times and also going through several bottles of cleaning solution AND YET somehow your house still looks as though a hurricane swept through it and also you haven’t had five minutes to check email so you have about four THOUSAND messages waiting for you, all marked ‘urgent’?

Hello, welcome to my world.

School started Monday, and in spite of having known for months that it would start Monday, I was still blindsided by the actual, you know, first week of school thing.

The paperwork. The ‘write a letter introducing your child’ assignment. Back to school. Where’s your backpack? Early release Monday. Minimum day Friday. One kid gets out at 11:37, another at 2:20, the last at 2:55. Can we go to the park and I left my backpack at school and also I want a drink and how come we can’t go to Disneyland today?

Right now, the $900 a month it would cost to pay for after school care for the three of them seems a small price to pay in exchange for only having to go to school twice a day.

It is only Wednesday, and I feel as though I have been put through the wringer, hung up to dry and pooped on by crows.

I did manage to get my bedroom cleaned yesterday. It was a tremendous achievement, and I am very proud.

Still haven’t gotten through my email, or cleaned off the astonishing pile of paperwork on my desk. But, undaunted, I carry on!

Speaking of which…time to go get Danger Mouse. And wait the half hour for Eldest. During which time I will have all kinds of deep thoughts and amusing anecdotes that I will say to myself, “I just HAVE to share that with the Internet!” and then by the time I get home I will have forgotten altogether.

Ah, life. A never-ending list of shoulda, coulda, woulda, with a heapin’ plateful of remorse for what ya didn’t do and longing for what you don’t have and wondering why you can’t seem to get around to any of the things you’d really like to be doing.

But I’m sure nobody else ever feels like that…right?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Avoiding the hard questions

Breed ‘Em and Weep wrote about the whole Santa-thing on her blog today. “And in August, Santa Claus disintegrates into a pile of ashes and everyone’s heart hurts.”

It was That Question. The ‘is this guy real, or have you been LYING TO ME all this time?!’


Ouch, ouch, OUCH.

I am such a terrible, terrible coward that I have headed this particular question off at the pass. I dreaded it horribly since before Eldest was even a twinkle in our eyes, all the more so because I never really lost my belief in the jolly old elf.

Santa Claus, St. Nick, the spirit of Christmas, is real in this house. Very, very real. After all, how else do you explain the fact that every single year, SO MANY OTHERWISE RATIONAL PEOPLE are suddenly seized with an inexplicable urge to celebrate the joy, to be a part of the miracle? To give of their time and talents as if they were limitless?

It’s called deputizing. That’s right. The Big Guy reaches out, every single year, to those of us who have the happy combination of ‘means’ and ‘paying attention’, taps us on the shoulder and says, “Hey. Little help here?”

This is what I have told my children since they were old enough to notice this whole Christmas thing. The spirit that is Santa is real. You can’t see it. You aren’t going to hear him on the rooftops or stay up late and catch him at his work. It’s all part of $DEITY’s work, a specific department if you will that largely, but not solely, operates around the holy days of Winter – whether you call it Hanukkah, Christmas, Yule, or Kwanzaa. (Welcome to the house of a Universalist, y’all.)

The guy in the mall? A deputy. The presents that appear under the tree? A little bird (cough-SANTA-cough) told me they’d like them. The presents we buy for other children, whose parents are currently lacking either the means or the ability to hear Santa’s voice? Part of the deputy-Santa gig.

If we’re very, very lucky indeed, the deputizing goes on. We’re allowed to help others all year, not just at Christmas. If we are extremely very much so blessed, we can hear that voice all year long.

It saved me that particular heart-wrenching ouch. And I love how, every year, my girls notice the ‘gift tree’ in our mall, hung all over with requests from children who aren’t looking forward to a particularly merry Christmas and start asking me: Are we deputies this year? Is Santa talking to you, mommy? Is Santa asking you to help again?

Of course he is, my darlings! Let’s do old Saint Nick proud!!

Lookit what I got!!!

Also entitled: Why I Have Not Actually Killed Any Of These Children. A package arrived in the mail Tuesday, and lookit what was in it!!

Yarny Goodness

I won this from Crafty Momma! Isn’t it cool? Don’t you wish you were me!? HAHAHAHAHA. {gloat-gloat-gloat}

I’m sorry. How immature of me. Here, let me gloat a little more share the joy with you.

There is a skein of 50% merino / 50% silk fingering weight in ‘Fern’ from Wooly Wonka Fibers. This is the kind of stuff you can spend the entire day just rubbing against your face, it is so soft and lovely. There is also a pattern for a Lily of the Valley Smoke Ring, AND a little pillow filled with balsam fir tips AND ALSO a soap wrapped in merino wool. Which means that not even my shower is a wool-free zone, and no, I do not feel this may indicate that I have ‘a problem’ of any sort.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, HDW!! I cannot wait to cast on this project, and frankly I do believe that having this skein of yarn sitting out on my desk being delicious is the only thing that has stood between my family (and The Boy) and Certain Death by Flaming Sarcasm.

Anybody get the license plate?!?!

Well, here’s the Surprise of the Century™: it has been a wild and also crazy week at Chez de la Chaos.

Oh, you want to know how crazy? You are asking yourself, “Gee, I wonder just how crazy it could possibly have been?”

For your viewing pleasure horror, please find below what I walked into this morning down in my kitchen:

What the @*^&@?

Did aliens beam these people away from their meals before they could take their plates to the sink? I mean, it’s not like I ask a lot of the little people amongst us, gracious no, it just seems to me that the instruction, given at least ninety-bazillion times per day, to ‘take your plate to the sink when you’re done’ shouldn’t be THAT hard to remember, and honestly I’m starting to wonder if they have MENTAL DEFICIENCIES or something…


Oh. I see. The counter was a bit…occupied…

Sink is sunk

Aaaaand the sink is completely (over) full, gotcha

don’t wanna know

OHMYDAWG, what on earth?!

Hiding behind the pot

Even the cooktop is not sacred…(note empty milk jug!)

Dishes, dishes, everywhere!

Clean, or dirty? Hmm…

So then I made this. You may not be able to tell from the picture, but this is not a mocha or a latte. It is regular old coffee with non-dairy creamer which I bought during the Eisenhower administration (OK, not really) (but darned close).

Thank God for coffee, even plain-old style

WHY, you may ask – oh yes, you might ask – would a woman who is so passionate about having her cocoa-powder-dark-chocolate-and-by-dark-I-mean-almost-toe-curling-dark-chocolate mocha each and every morning RAIN OR SHINE, RICH OR POOR, BETTER OR WORSE, EVEN IF HER DOCTOR JUST WARNED HER NOT TO DO SO, be drinking such a thing? A woman who, when given plain coffee doesn’t spit in it by any means but who will put nice fresh milk into it, not powdered milk-like substance which is actually utterly lacking in dairy? It being almost (almost) an affront to God and Nature and all things sacred in the world?


I know. The horror of it about knocked me over, too. No milk.

But the carnage is not limited to just milk. Oh no.

On Monday, I had five (5) boxes of Capri Sun drinks, a gallon of apple juice, a quart of lemonade, two (2) quarts of cranberry juice, a quart of orange juice, THREE GALLONS of milk, twelve cans of diet Pepsi and about a dozen boxes of apple juice in my larder. You know, “plenty”.

Now, we have The Boy Who Is Staying With Us (hereinafter referred to as The Boy, because my fingers are getting tired), who combines picky eating/drinking with a black hole somewhere near his stomach that can take in astonishing quantities of the few things he will eat/drink, and then a friend came over with her two daughters (likewise suffering from black hole stomach syndrome) Tuesday for a few hours of going “BLAH! Yadda yadda yadda OH NO WAY blah blah blah OH I KNOW AND ALSO? Kitchita-kitchita-kitchita talka-talka-talk!!”

We turned the kids loose and nodded vaguely when they would come skittering into the room by ones, twos and threes to ask if they could have a(nother) snack or drink or what-have-you. We were busy gossiping and didn’t hesitate even a moment to say, “Waitasecond, how many of those have you had?!”

By the time we were waving goodbye to them, the five boxes of Capri Sun (which is fifty (50) pouches) had dwindled to only two pouches, all the apple juice boxes were gone, I was down to a little less than two gallons of milk, the lemonade and most of the cranberry juice was gone, the orange juice was likewise history.

By nightfall, the last two Capri Suns were gone, along with all but one gallon of milk and the gallon of regular old (diluted, which is why the boxes went first) apple juice. And also? The snack box, which I keep full of baggies of crackers, 100 calorie granola bars (those, uh, are supposed to be for ME, hello!), fruit snacks and so forth, looked like a drought-afflicted reservoir.

Also? There were wrappers and baggies strewn from bow to stern throughout the Den. I actually became so angry about that (they ALL know better!) that the Denizens (plus The Boy) have lost their (usually) limited snack box privileges. A few hours later, they lost the Babybel cheese treat as well, when I had to crouch down on the floor and use my beautiful, somewhat-freshly painted thumbnail to pry the wax I had specifically and with impassioned quotations warned them not to get on the floor.


In case you were wondering what happens when you’re having a “party” atmosphere and turn the children loose on snack boxes and the fridge? It is like the plague of locusts that helped get the Children of Israel out of Egypt. And now I know just how Pharaoh felt, too. I’m about ready to put all these kids on a bus to, uh, anywhere.

And then I was telling the kids they could have water, or milk. As water apparently causes acid-like burns in their mouths, they kept saying milk. And I kept pouring them milk, delighted because usually milk is their last choice and, you know, calcium for strong bones and all that. Until suddenly last night as I was filling up their greedy little maws with the white gold, I realized: This was the last gallon, and it was…empty.

I reeled. The world turned gray at the edges. The dreadful truth struck like a thunderbolt.

“Holy @*^&@!” I said (poetically). “Honey! We’re out of milk! We’re not going to have enough for coffee tomorrow!”

You would have thought I had announced that the air supply was running low, with the unspoken dread of having to put on a space suit and walk through space to Jupiter to get more. We shared a moment of keen grief, combined with the knowledge that both of us were simply not (wo)man enough to put on shoes and go out into the cruel, balmy night to fetch any home.

It was about this point that I bolted upstairs to begin frantically ordering delivery (all hail the Safeway delivery person, my I-don’t-hafta-go-shopping-with-five-bratty-children savior!). Hold that delivery window! HOLD IT I SAY!!!!!

And then suddenly it was bedtime and we were reading stories and trying to get everybody settled down and then we were exhausted and both fell into bed a little on the early side (which means I didn’t go back downstairs at any point and realize the destruction) and then I came downstairs this morning, shrieked in horror, and ran back upstairs to fill out the police report.

Obviously, a truck was driven through my kitchen last night, leaving wanton destruction in its wake.

Just for the record? I ran my dishwasher FOUR TIMES yesterday. FOUR! And yet my kitchen looks like this.

Shocked. And. Appalled.

I don’t know if I’m going to make it through this weekend. Seriously. Tomorrow, I will have The Boy and his father, PLUS a family of four staying with us – doing the math on this deal, that is twelve people for dinner tomorrow. The dietary requirements / restrictions / ‘I don’t eat that, ew’ issues among all of these people are so intense I’m tempted to hand them a map with all the various eating establishments circled on it, tell them ‘good luck!’ and then plonk my butt down on the couch to knit while they figure it all out for themselves.

Then the family departs Saturday, my husband goes off with The Boy and his father (and Eldest, and possibly Danger Mouse as well) for the day, aaaaaaaand my nephew arrives for a brief overnight stay. He is a toddler and more fun than a basket of puppies. I am blissfully happy that I get to steal him and love him and keep him forever dutifully give him back to his parents in due course. (One crummy night? C’mon, bro, you KNOW you want to leave him with me for a week or two…)

And also (hopefully) my godson (which is not firmed up yet but hope springs eternal) (I love this kid) (I also would like to steal him, but unfortunately his parents are somewhat attached to him and will want him back and since I value their friendship I suppose I won’t hide the kid in the closet and pretend that he ran off to join the circus when they come to get him). He is a wicked smart kid who eats anything and I mean anything. None of this, “Oh, I only like fishsticks with Heines ketchup and they must be precisely 170 degrees or I will recoil in horror” from him. NO! He eats goat cheese salad with grape tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette, people. And whole wheat rolls, and eggs that have “stuff” in them. (You know, like, feta and ham – which my children react to as if I were serving them raw kitten livers on rye toast.)

And he will also eat fishsticks if that’s what you’ve got, or pizza (gladly) or grilled hamburgers. With or without “weird stuff” like Worcestershire sauce and diced onions in the patties.

I love him so much for that. I love having him over so I can point at him during dinner and yell loving, supportive things like, “See? See that? He is eating the green beans! And he did not explode into a pile of ash!!” to my Denizens.

Because that’s the kind of mom I am. Loving, supportive, and never prone to using sarcasm, cynicism or implying that another child is somehow superior in any way…say, by having a digestive tract capable of handling green beans…

Monday, August 06, 2007

Smells like home

Ah yes. Lessee. I arrived home at 2:30 this morning and fell face-first into my bed after exchanging grunts with my husband, who had locked the bedroom door because he didn’t want any nighttime visits from any marauding children. Specifically Captain Adventure, who now has a Big Boy Bed and is able to get up and join us in the dead of night. Loudly. And making sure to get an elbow or two into both of our spleens.

At about 6:00, I heard ::thump!::

Followed by, “Waaaaaaaahhhh-eh-huh…eh-huh…eh-huh…eh-HUH! EH-huh! EH-HUH! Hello? Is this thing on?! I SAID, WAAAAAH!”

Captain Adventure, falling out of his brand new Big Boy Bed for the very first time.

Another moment I will cherish forever. If I hadn’t mislaid the camera, I could have taken a picture of him sprawled out on the floor, three-quarters asleep, pissed off IN HIS SLEEP and then ever-so-delighted, in his sleep, because mommy was home. Yayyyyzzzzzzzzzz…

So I got up (because I am the mommy and it is automatic), went in and proceeded to spend the next, oh, forty-five minutes or so with his little arms wrapped tightly around my neck while he snored directly into my face.

Cherished forever, I assure you. Along with the first time he peed on me (during his birth by c-section) and that time as a tiny infant he smiled, a real social smile!, bobbled his head on his weak little neck as if to say, “Oh, I agree with you completely, mother dear!” and then vomited every ounce of breastmilk he had consumed over the last hour (which, uh, was all I had, so when he promptly began yowling with hunger, well…I had nothin’) right down my shirt.

Good times. Goooood times…wait, where was I?

Oh yeah. Sleep deprived.

SO. I started the laundry and walked into a few walls and suddenly it was dinner time and then I said “dammit” in a rather startling way in front of The Boy Who Is Staying With Us This Week which caused him (and my children) to flee before me like seals before a killer whale.

I said it like this. “WHY are you throwing all these toys over that stair rail WHAT are you thinking GET these up off of here and DAMMIT! PUT that blanket BACK on your bed I cannot BELIEVE we are having this conversation AGAIN!!!!”

Gooooood times.

You wouldn’t know it from my snarling expression right this minute, but I did in fact have a marvelous time this weekend. The perfect blend of lots of activity and none at all, of not-thinking until suddenly many things just sort of…were clear. I’ll try to be coherent about it later. Right now, it comes out all blurty and weird, and doesn’t make sense even to me.

Suffice to say…I think some things are going to be different around here.

And no really – good times.

Really, really good times.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Life or something like it

Life is full of unexpected turns and strange twists and realizations that what you thought you were isn’t what you are at all and that really you ought to be deeper somehow but you aren’t, because you are what you are and you’re not entirely sure you’re really OK with that.

Life is full of children beating on the bedroom door when you’re trying to write down something profound and meaningful. Children who yell, “Mommy, more! More! Mommy? More!” through the door and refuse to acknowledge that their father – who is sitting about three feet from the fridge – is capable of pouring them more milk.

This is life.

I have weighty thoughts which are trying to happen, but then they are interrupted by things like…grocery delivery services bringing milk and beer and…some other junk, vegetables or something, I dunno…friends calling up and saying, “Oh hi, can I come over with my children? I’m, uh, actually in your driveway right now…” and then six hours later you’re bidding them (and most of your newly-delivered snack food) farewell and saying, “Oh @*^&@, I still have to get myself together for my weekend away!”

And then you question whether or not you really want to go, because as much as you need the peace and quiet for reflection and meditation and inner listening and other such New Age babble, the idea of trying to pack while four children are hanging off you screaming about everything from imaginary splinters in their palms to growing pains to “what day is it today and are we going to have any more visitors?!” while your husband is watching UFC and making vaguely encouraging noises any time you erupt into the TV room to announce the latest disaster is about enough to bring you out in a cold sweat. Maybe I could still cancel the reservation…there’s still time, right?

This too is life.

But, firmly reminding myself that I need – no, not want, need – to get away from this madhouse for a while, that it is only 48 hours and that really, trying to pretend that any of us will simply collapse into a boneless mush-pile because I am not here to guide the ship for two crummy days is not only a tad melodramatic but utterly untrue, I go forth to throw some comfortable clothes, my library book, my sock-in-progress, and a whole lot of no agenda into my bag, ready for tomorrow.

I have the strangest feeling. I feel…nervous. Energetic and exhausted at the same time. Frazzled. Expectant. Looking forward to and dreading time alone. Just as I did before my Arizona trip. Just as I probably will every time I do this, which I have promised myself I will every other month.

I gave myself a pretty stern talking to about self-neglect and how I expect to stay sane ‘at this rate’ last time. I don’t want to hear that lecture again. Yeah. Every other month, as promised.

Funny, you’d think I’d be all a-quiver to head out. Especially with the week I’ve been having, which is both long and tedious, with also a generous helping of stupid bull-pucky.

But these both are and ARE NOT relaxing little vacations. See, in the commotion of the Den I have excuses. I have reasons why I don’t, and causes for the failures, and the ability to say, “Welllll, naturally I would have {insert neglected goal or task here} but – well, heh heh, four children. {helpless shrug}”

But that’s all they are: excuses. Which is a nice way of saying lies. They drown out truth and make it beautifully easy for me to pretend that the downward spiral of my mind, the atrophy of talent and salted earth that was my field of dreams is perfectly OK. Because! Heh heh – CHILDREN!

When you leave your excuses behind with their father (who is, in fact, competent and will not kill any of them while I am gone) (competent, competent man) (won’t set the house on fire) (or feed them nothing but Cheetos) (because we are out of them) (he’ll have to feed them nothing but Ramen noodles instead) (no child ever died of malnutrition because of 48 hours on the Ramen Noodle Diet) and spend some time alone with yourself, well. You start having conversations with yourself. You start listening to yourself, and telling yourself what you’re feeling about All This, and yourself tells you a lot of things about yourself that you did not necessarily know – or did know, but conveniently forgot.

No. The conversation is not necessarily pleasant.

Especially when you’ve given up everything that once defined you because, heh heh, children.


{helpless shrug}

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

No. More. Hats!

First things first: Thanks for all the kind words and support. Yesterday was a really, really rotten day for all of us. Today was better! But yesterday sucked lumpy moose piss through a straw. I was only partly kidding when I threatened to run away and join the circus…


I am done with the July shower-knitting for the preemies in Texas. I didn’t quite make my hat quota: I ended up with 29 hats, 4 preemie blankets, one sweater set (sweater, hat and booties) and one lonely little pair of booties. (Hello, we are a pair of cute pink booties, and although we are truly adorable we are also the only pair in the box and we feel a little like a third wheel amidst all these hats and blankets…)

I am almost giddy with relief at being done with the hat-fest. Don’t get me wrong, I love knitting for babies and all, but by the end of the month, having done little else except preemie hats, I was really getting particularly tired of wee little hats. When I finished the last hat yesterday, I had a moment of saying to myself, “Still short two…one if you count the one in the sweater set…” and thinking that if I stayed up late I could probably do at least one more…

And then? I yelled, “CLOSE ENOUGH!!” and threw them into the washing machine with a scoop of Dreft and collapsed on the couch fanning myself wildly with my Mother Bear pattern. Which is probably going to be my next insane “overly focused” thing that I’ll be whining about being sick of doing BUT that’s another insanity for another day.

Done. Done, done and done. No more preemie hats (or other insanely focused ordeals) for a little while around here,!

I picked Siv back up and worked on it for a while with extremely good humor. Oh yeah. Feelin’ the love for the not-a-hat project…

And then, it dawned on me that I will be running out of yarn before I finish it.


This pattern? Cursed. There can be no other explanation for the amount of trouble I have had with this danged sweater. Someone put a hex on the whole project.

The pattern called for seven skeins, I bought eight, and I have already gone through two full skeins and the better part of the third and am about 95% sure I will be tying on a fourth before I cast off the back.

Unless there is some kind of worm-hole technique revealed further on in the instructions that I have somehow overlooked, the sleeves will not be happening on this sweater. I’m trying to envision what this sweater would look like with a ‘vest’ treatment, and it is not giving joy unto my soul. It is making me pull faces that remind me of Eldest expressing her displeasure with lima bean casserole.

I shall have to make some kind of adjustment, probably make it a short(er) sleeved sweater or…something. I have a vague idea around making a very short sleeve with a single repeat of the knotwork pattern, but it is only a vague idea and no matter how hard I squint it doesn’t come into sharper focus right now.

It irks me. I shall now be shoving Siv under the couch and denying it exists for a while.

So now in a truly foul mood, I stomped over to my stash and did the “I have nothing to knit!” dance in front of it for a little while. And by ‘a little while’ I mean ‘so long that we were a hair late to gymnastics tonight’. See, I have a lot of @*^&@ing HATS! on the agenda, so a lot of the yarn at the front of the stash is set aside for HATS, and I was going to give up knitting for good before I did another hat right now.

Eventually, I pulled out a skein of Schaefer Anne, a handpainted wool / mohair / nylon blend, which pleased me. If I hadn’t mislaid the camera (again), I’d show you, but instead I’m just going to have to tell you that it is mostly white with significant splashings of brown, rust, gray and slate blue. When I find the camera again (sigh), I’ll take a picture and get it up on the sidebar.

It being a skein, I had to get out the swift and ball winder to get it ready to use. I was so pissed about Siv at the time that I wound the ball very, very tightly.

How tightly?

I think if I threw this at the window, I might break it.

Stupid Siv!

So I sat at gymnastics today while my three girls tumbled and romped and bounced, ensconced in my cheap $7 camping chair (the banquet chairs they provide are OK if you’re just perching for a few minutes at pickup or drop off, but for the 2.5 hours that I’m parked there they are hell), starting a sock for my man.

After her session, Eldest plonked down next to me and said, “Oh, whatcha makin’, another hat?”

“No!” I sang out gladly. “Actually? It’s a sock for daddy!!”

“Oh,” she looked delighted for me, then said brightly, “…but it looks just like one of the hats!”

OK, well, I’ll give you that at the time it looked a lot like one of the hats. Two circular needles, round thing on them, ribbing – that’s how the hats all started too.

But these? These are socks. Which is different from a hat. Because, uh, well because. They just are. For one thing, unlike the hats, which are done at about 4.5”, these keep going for 9”, then turn a heel, and then they go for another 9”, and then they have a toe decrease and a fidgety seaming technique called Kitchener stitch.


Well, I ain’t sayin’ it makes sense, necessarily.

They just aren’t another hat, and this makes me extremely happy.