Friday, May 28, 2010

Five things on Friday - Stressed Out Edition

Five Things on Friday will be a weekly list of five things. Subject to be determined by me, but feel free to make suggestions in the comments. I will list my five things and then open the comments up to you, my loyal followers, readers, fans, groupies, what have you. Please respond. Or else, I'll feel all alone in the Earth. It'll be bad. Really.
In response to my illness this week, caused, I am sure, by all my stress, I thought I would dedicate this week's Five Things to Stressors. So, below, find five things that stress me out to no end. Then, please respond in kind, with the things that stress you out. If, you wish to post a response post instead of a comment, like Suze did last week, let me know and I'll post up a link.

And, without further ado...

Five Things that Stress Me Out

1. Water on the bathroom floor - Where did it come from? What has it ruined? Why didn't anyone clean this up? Our bathmat has been in the laundry queue for quite some time now (I don't deem it a very high priority) but I assume that when people other than me get out of the shower, said people will take their towel and clean up the drippies. I am grievously mistaken.

2. Not being at home - This week, I have arrived at home for the evening before 9 precisely once. And that was when I was sick. Tonight, alas, may be no different. And I ask you, who can get laundry done when they are never home? Not me, that's who.

3. Being home too much - However, I must admit that I easily become stir crazy. Right now, I could spend an entire day at home peacefully and happily because I miss home. But just one. And under normal circumstances, I MUST leave the house once a day, at least. When I was on maternity leave, I had a week when I couldn't drive and didn't even get to run Brynna to school. Torture. Horror. Abject dismay. The Husband ran me to the gas station one night just so I could be OUT. I honestly get crazy. And I don't even care where I go. Shopping, work, library, mom's house, cemetery, random driving, whatever. Just need out.

4. Hair pulling - I am mostly laid back about my kids' phases. Like werewolves, I know that they will only be evil for a short time and then they will resolve themselves, only to find something else to be evil about shortly. It's the way of the world. The intention of creation. I get it. When Brynna went through a biting phase, I punished, I cajoled, I chatted, but I didn't really freak. When Maren wouldn't say Mommy (oh, wait, is that still going on, nevermind)... But, right now, Maren is pulling hair. And if there is one thing I cannot stand, it's hair pulling. I would rather break a bone than have my hair pulled (and yes, I understand how insane that is, is that really the most constructive thing you can say). It's something about that bright white scalp pain and the immediate appearance of tears and the feeling that I just stepped into a high school girls' cat fight. No tolerance. None.

5. Waste - I don't know what it is? An over developed guilt reflex? Being partially raised by people who survived the Great Depression? Always being broke? I have no idea. But I literally lose sleep over waste. Whether it's coming home and finding that the refrigerator door has sat slightly open all day or nagging while nothing is done about the dripping bathroom faucet, I just can't stand it. The Husband sometimes tells me he's going to clean off the table after dinner and then I get up the next morning and go into the kitchen, and there it all sits. Perfectly good leftovers, left out over night and now ruined. Drives. me. nuts. And then I worry and I stress, because what if all the food in the fridge ruins or how high will the water bill get or what if I am a night short in meal planning and we NEED those leftovers. It's ridiculous really. Normal people clean up the mess and move on. Not me. I'm a stresser and I stress. It's what I do.

So, now it's your turn. What drives you around the bend and keeps you up at night? Please share. My self worth is frighteningly dependent on it.

ETA: This week's Five Things Responses
Jenn-Jenn the Mother Hen
Suze at Madtown Mama

A Graduate Emerges

Yesterday was Brynna's Montessori graduation.

I may have mentioned how I woke up sick on Wednesday. Well, yesterday was no better. In fact, yesterday was markedly worse. I laid in bed all morning, threw on clothes, went to graduation, went home and got back in bed.

But, still, I wanted to tell you about this graduation. You know, I understand that I brag on my kid's school a lot. I understand that it may be annoying, but I do this because they rock.

The graduation was a beautiful event. The room was packed with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends. I was honestly surprised at just how many people were there to support ten graduates. The school has about 40 kids total in two classes, ideally one-third graduates each year. We were slightly low this year, with only ten graduates, but it's a good looking group, anyway, right? Brynna is second from the left, by the way. Look at that gorgeous hair. I got very few shots of her face, so I am appreciating her hair.

The standing children in the above shot are the graduates and the sitting kids are the extended day students (go all day, instead of half a day) who are not graduating this year. I feel that there should be more, but I'm not sure how big the extended day classes are. I know I should know this, being on the Board and all, but whatevs.

The children entered, paraded around the room and then sang and signed some lovely songs. I love that they learn a good deal of their music in sign language as well as sung.

Then, they did the stepping stone ceremony. You can see the stones above. The child's teachers sat by each stone, holding a basket of pebbles. The three stones represented the three years of the Montessori program. At Brynna's turn, her name was called and she was given a small golden bag. As she stepped on each of the stones, the corresponding teacher would place a small pebble (the knowledge and experience learned that year) in her golden bag.

The teachers and I cried through most of this.

The ceremony was personalized for students who took a different approach to Montessori. (For example, one student received two pebbles on the first stone because she had gone four years instead of three.)

This tiny ceremony is perfectly representative of why I love Montessori. There could have been more music or a speech that the kids wouldn't have paid even a little attention to. But instead, they took a moment to do a hands-on activity to recreate the learning process. This activity was meaningful to the students, who understood the symbolism, perhaps better than I. It made them active participants and showed them that their place in the learning process isn't static. The teachers, rather, are static, imparting knowledge on each child as they pass through, but the children are the drivers, responsible for holding the bag open, for making the next step. At the end, they moved off the stepping stone path and were ready for whatever the next path may be.

I have recently been told by a couple of people that they didn't feel their kids were "cut out" for Montessori, as they weren't independently minded or they were rambunctious. To this I say, "Pish posh!" That is, in fact, the wonder of Montessori. Every child is encouraged to be themselves, to embrace their strengths, practice their weaknesses, love their passions and walk their own path, regardless of anyone else. Every lesson is personal, every work one option of many, every child honored and respected in their own way.

After the stepping stone ceremony, the children were presented with a gift. This gift, they were told, must be cherished and cared for, because it was the only one like it in the world. The children, themselves, would be held responsible for taking care of their gift. When the children were presented with their little hand-painted wooden boxes and instructed to open them, they found inside - mirrors. This little bit was a very small part of the ceremony, and yet, I thought it had the biggest impact. The children were given, not just the right, but the responsibility to care for and cherish themselves.

After the ceremony ended, Brynna cried almost all afternoon. Because she doesn't want to grow up. Because she doesn't want to leave Susie-Belle (name changed to protect the innocent) behind in Montessori while she goes to Big School. Because she'll miss her teachers. Because Holly (name changed yadda, yadda) is going to a different school than her and because Amber (name whatever) is going to the same school but may not be in the same class.

She was nearly inconsolable. And I, well, I was worried about my humanity for the past week or so because I wasn't torn up and weepy about my little girl and her first graduation. Well, worry no more, sickness and a crying child took care of that. We sort of had a weep-off. The results are not yet in.

I cried, not just because my little girl is growing up, not just because I worry that the teach-to-the-middle-and-ignore-the-rest mentality rampant in public school will squash my little artists' heart, but also, I cried because I am so proud of who she is.

I am proud of her reading and her writing, her story telling and her art, her friendships and her love for her teachers. I am proud of how much she has grown and learned while in Montessori. I am proud of how much she has overcome. I am proud that her greatest regret was not finishing her reading list. I am proud of her leaf rubbings and her nature collections. I am proud of her fierce spirit and her gentle hands.

But mostly, I am proud that she recognized that although a graduation is a time of celebration, it's also a time of mourning. A time to mourn what you are leaving behind and stand tall with tears in your eyes as you step off those stepping stones into the world beyond.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Revival of the Fittest

This week is our church's revival. I love my church. Therefore, I am involved. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't be going to church every night for four nights. Nothing personal, it's just that I have these kids, and this laundry, and all this stuff, and this crochet project gift that STILL isn't done for a birthday that was last Wednesday. I do VBS every year, no matter what and that is my annual dedication to live at the church for a while.

I am there, though. I haven't missed a night yet, and tonight is the last night and I have every intention of trucking on over there.

But, it's been a long haul.

For one thing, it turns out that five and one are not the best ages for sitting through this type of service. I actually knew that because they barely survive Sunday morning service, so this, at bedtime, is just killer.

Which is the other thing. The scheduling thing. Usually, we eat dinner around 6:30, then Maren goes to bed at 7:30 or 7:45 and Brynna heads to bed at about 8:30. We like a routine, but we are not rigid about it. This week, though, we are in service at 6:00, eating dinner about 7:30 and Maren gets to bed about 8:30 or 9 and Brynna goes down about 9:30. This actually isn't too bad at night. Maren starts getting wilty about the time we're sitting down to eat. Then, after food she gets a second wind that pulls her through until she hits the sheets. Brynna could honestly stay up until midnight without getting cranky most of the time. She's destined for my sleep schedule.

Mornings are another story, though. Maren is still waking up at 6:30, but she is a lot crankier at 6:30 than normal. And Brynna is barely waking up at all. The other day, I dressed her in her sleep. This morning, I bribed her into dressing herself with cookies for breakfast. I can't even call this a parenting fail, because we made it to school with everything she needed for the day, she was bathed and wearing clean clothes. Parenting win this week.

I was worried about the kids. Prepared for the kids' trauma, even. I had contingency plans and laundry built up, warned the babysitter, etc, etc. I was not, so much, prepared for my own trauma.

For one thing, I have been a cranky mess. I am so tired by the time that I get home, that The Husband and I can fight over anything, like the cat's water bowl or bath towels. My head is constantly aching and I seem to be hot even with the a/c cranking. My house is a disaster area, which is adding to my major crankiness and I can't seem to get caught up on sleep, even though I don't seem to be actually sleeping any less than normal.

Then, this morning, the kicker. I don't know what's wrong with me. My throat feels like someone shoved a cheese grater down it a couple of times yesterday and my head feels like maybe my brains were sucked out and replaced with cotton. I can barely breathe and my head is killing me with the pressure. My eyes won't stop watering and my nose won't stop running and in addition to the crackly timbre of my voice from my sore throat, I also can't seem to get the volume up where it belongs. Additionally, I just can't seem to get it mentally together today.

It's probably allergies. Except the lady who works with me thinks I might have a fever. I am cold. And she says it's hot in here. And she says my head is warm, but I don't know, as I don't have a thermometer and it just feels like a forehead to me.

And the thing is, I can't afford to drop right now.

Tonight I have to take food for the revival (hot, germ killing food, I promise). Tomorrow is Brynna's Montessori graduation. Friday is payday. Saturday is the start of a three day weekend and even though I have the sneaking suspicion that I have something planned, I can probably blow it off. And go to bed. For three days.

Just 72 more hours. In the meantime, I need a t-shirt that says, "I Didn't Survive the Revival." Because that is exactly how I feel.

* By the way, if you don't get the picture, that's CCR, Creedence Clearwater Revival. Band from the 70's and popular image hit for the word Revival. Which, kind cracked me up. Also, I love me some CCR. Particuarly, "Fortunate Son" and "Who'll Stop the Rain." Also, "Lookin' Out my Back Door," despite the fact that it gave me nightmares as a kid. I was a weird kid, what can I say?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Haiku and Miscellany

Sleep still eludes me
My eyes are so heavy
So much yet to do

You know what I think should always be free? Parking. Why should I have to pay to park in a parking space? It makes no sense. That's what it's there for.

Can you tell I got a parking ticket today?

I don't understand the obsession with clean clothes. Why can't we just wear clothes until they look dirty, or have disposable clothes?

Can you tell I haven't gotten much laundry done?

So, what's with TV right now. All the fall/winter series are over and all the summer series haven't started and there's nothing on but people dancing. Why can't we have good TV year round?

Can you tell I'm too tired to read?

I hope you all are having a better week than I.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Five Things on Friday - Little Happies Edition

I'm giving up on Friday Memes. Because no one sends me memes anymore. I can only assume it's because you all hate Friday Memes and have decided to never pass one on to me again. I have ignored this situation as long as I can. It's time for a new Friday feature. Yes, I know, I have a Monday feature that I ignore more than do, but whatevs. New Friday feature. Because I can't be trusted to think on Fridays.

Five Things on Friday will be a weekly list of five things. Subject to be determined by me, but feel free to make suggestions in the comments. I will list my five things and then open the comments up to you, my loyal followers, readers, fans, groupies, what have you. Please respond. Or else, I'll feel all alone in the Earth. It'll be bad. Really.

Five Little Happies
Little happies are the tiny things that make you happy. No, "my baby's laugh," because that's not little, that's big. Another human life that sprung from your loins big, so don't pretend it's little. This is the genuinely little stuff that makes you disproportionally happy.

1. New Books - There is little on this planet more satisfying to me than a brand, spanking new book. With that new book smell and those crisp, unstained, unwrinkled, un-dog-eared pages. Not to mention the new world that is about to unfold. I'm sorry, have I never mentioned I was a lit major?

2. Showers - Very hot, melt the paint off the walls, good strong water pressure, medium to hard water, smelly-good soap showers. Not a bath person, me.

3. The Doctor Who theme song - Since the song has no words, I can only imagine that the reaction is Pavlovian, but recently I downloaded it as a ringtone and set it as the ringtone for all of my doctors. (Yes, I have many, I'm old, shut it.) Now, I can't wait for a doctor to call me. But when they do, I don't want to answer because I don't want to make the song quit playing. It's a thing.

4. Shoes - Yeah, I'm a girl. I love to shop for shoes, browse shoes, shoe watch at the mall, read about shoes. I hate to wear shoes and am barefoot more than shod, but I still love shoes. Any kind.

5. Teen movies - Dazed and Confused is my favorite, but I also love Pretty in Pink, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Breakfast Club, Varsity Blues, Teaching Mrs. Tingle, 10 Things I Hate About You, Can't Hardly Wait and Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist. If it is aimed as disillusioned, outcasts between 14 and 17, I'm in. Sad, but true.

Okay, so there you have it. Five little happies. Share 1 or 3 or 5 or 7 with me. No even numbers need apply, apparently.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


When Brynna was born, or more accurately, when Brynna became mobile, I baby proofed the house. At least the areas she spent time in. I move breakable items to higher shelves, I plugged power outlets, I bought gates and kept her away from the kitchen. I tied up our blind cords and bought a lock that never worked to keep the toilet seat down.

She never got into too much trouble, either. I missed a few things and they got broken. It was mostly cool. Nothing so heart rendering that I am holding onto the anger or disappointment.

Then we moved. We moved with a pretty responsible three year old who could make her own snacks and used glass glasses at the supper table. I didn't baby proof the new house. I put stuff where I thought stuff should go, because, whatevs, she'd outgrown all that.

Then, Maren came. I baby proofed again. I moved a few breakables up a shelf, plugged the power outlets, dragged the only gate that works in our new house up from the basement and shoved it in the kitchen doorway. I don't have blinds anymore (Hal-e-freakin-lujah!) and I didn't bother with the ill conceived toilet lock.

And all was right with the world. Except it isn't. It never has been, but it's getting worse. You see, I think I'd have to live in a padded cell for it to actually be Maren proof. Maren can break things almost by looking at them. There is nothing she won't climb to get at the breakable things, either.

And things I never bothered to hide from Brynna: sharpies, diaper wipes, tape, safety scissors, my crochet tape measure, forks; all these things become weapons of mass destruction. That's right, folks, I'm pretty sure my kid can do more damage with a plastic fork than a rogue nation could do with a nuke. At least to my house.

Last weekend, she emptied the last box of diaper wipes all over the living room, unrolled an entire roll of paper towels, colored on my hardwood floor and my TV and broke three dishes. She also climbed onto a glass topped table so she could lean on the window screen.

Every time I catch her in the act (or find the scribble marks after she's gone to bed) I first become angry at her. She's 17 months old, though, so that part doesn't last long. I then become angry at myself. For letting her. For not having a better baby proofed space. For not being more organized. For the fact that FOUR weeks after Easter she's still finding candy hidden away - where? In the couch? Oh my goodness, where is the freakin' candy coming from?

I swear that tomorrow? Tomorrow I am going to remedy the situation. And I do things. I make changes. I took Brynna's art box and dumped it out on the floor and moved all the ephemera and supplies into a drawer system and moved that into the dining room. Now, Brynna can do art at the table unmolested by her little sister and I don't have to worry about prying Crayola markers and safety scissors out of Maren's tiny pink, mitts.

I have gotten in the habit of never leaving a drinking cup within her reach. This has resulted in a bunch of half-full forgotten cups congregating on the tea cart just inside the kitchen door or on the eye-level shelf on my bookcase, but whatever, it's better than constantly cleaning juice off of my couch, floor, blankets, pillows and kid.

I am very, very near putting the glass topped table in the basement for a couple of years. It would have been done already except that I kinda use that table and I'd like something to replace it first.

I always keep the bathroom door shut and it's going to be miserable in there when it's not getting any air conditioning, but as it's still not a/c weather here, I haven't started to worry about that yet.

But still. But still. But she can open the junk drawer in the coffee table that Brynna couldn't open until she was four. But she climbs and moves furniture to be better able to climb. But she pulls my curtains and I can't live without those. But she is a disaster in the kitchen and The Husband is very nearly never home when I have to make supper, so I have to make the decision to let her in the kitchen, where she can open drawers and make messes and destroy everything or leave her only semi-supervised in the living room where she may end up on top of those 8 foot bookcases.

She and Brynna are different in so many ways. Brynna never offered up a hug on her own. Maren can hardly go ten minutes without throwing herself at my arms. Brynna hated music and loved TV. Maren barely notices the TV, but dances whenever there's music anywhere. Brynna was a picky eater who is still a picky eater, but has a wider variety than she used to. Maren will eat anything and everything in the vicinity.

And don't let me paint Brynna as a pint-sized saint here. She was trouble. She is trouble. She will willfully destroy just to see if she can. She painted her entire body blue in the middle of the night once. She climbed, she got into stuff. She had issues. But it was so different. Nothing Brynna ever did could prepare me for this. I just can't keep up. I want to get ahead of it. To baby proof and then say, "It's done." But all I can do is perform damage control. The entire time she's awake.

Every night, at 7:30, I get Maren ready. Sometimes there's a bath, sometimes we skip it. I get her in her jammies, and say, "Are you ready for bed.?" "Yeah," she'll respond, weakly. All that destruction will apparently wear you right out. "Okay, say goodnight," I'll reply. Her little hand moves in the hand flappy baby wave that she loves to do so much. "Nigh-Nigh," she'll utter. So soft around the paci, secure in it's spot until morning. "Do you want to walk?" "Yeah." She'll toddle contentedly down the hall, into her room and reach up toward the crib. I'll lift her up, put her in, kiss her goodnight, make sure everything she needs is in there. Blankie - check. Stuffty - check. Board book - check. I slip out, quietly shut the door and sigh.

It's a sigh of contentedness, certainly, because nothing is quite so satisfying as seeing your little one safe and happy and sleepy. It's a sigh of relief. Now I can clean, crochet, put my drink where I can reach it, fold laundry, fix Brynna's broken toy, whatever needs to be done. I can do it without interruption or worry or ripping my hair out by the roots.

But, also, it's a sight of sadness. Every night I put her to bed draws us one day closer to her growing out of the obsession with pulling every tissue out of the box. I know this. But I also know that every night I put her to bed draws us one day closer to her growing out of giving me big hugs for no reason. I miss her after I put her down. I miss her scent and her laugh and her busy hands and busy feet.

I don't think there is really any way to successfully baby proof my house from this one. I don't think I'll ever be able to remove every temptation, every trouble, every issue. But that's okay. At the end of the day, when it's all quiet and there's no feet padding up and down the hall, cruising for trouble, I realize I'd rather have my Baby Trouble than all my stuff.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Whatcha Thinkin'?

There are many questions I almost always hate to be asked. "What were you thinking?" "Where's Brynna?" "Did you remember to..?" just to name a few. But the question that I hate most, absolutely most in the universe?

"Whatcha thinkin'?"

The Husband asks me this question approximately 17 times a day. Anytime I'm not randomly prattling on, in fact. The man just can't seem to handle silence. And while I sympathize (Yes, my TV is always on because I don't like the house to be too quiet, thankyouverymuch) I just don't understand the fascination.

There are two reasons why I don't like to share what I'm thinking.

One: It's like asking what's in the junk drawer. Okay, sometimes I'm worried or dwelling on something and there is one pressing issue at the forefront of my mind. Most times, however, my mind is like a hodgepodge. Here, for instance is what I'm thinking right now:
  • Still didn't get that stupid crochet post written.
  • Still don't have a picture of Grandma in her shawl for the next crochet post
  • Can't tell Grandma that's why I want it or I'll never get it
  • The hot water knob isn't quite on all the way on the tub. I wonder what I can do to fix that. Besides beat it with a covered hammer, I mean.
  • I wonder if Brynna's feeling better today. I hate taking her to school when she's still not all the way awake.
  • I wish I'd had more sleep last night.
  • I should be doing work.
  • I hate Hot Pockets.
  • I also kinda love Hot Pockets, for the record.
  • Coffee.
  • No, wait, Mountain Dew.
  • Whatever, caffeine.
  • I can't believe that the pictures on my desk are so old. Seriously, you'd think I hadn't had pictures taken since Maren was born.
  • I wish I could have pictures done this summer.
  • Maybe at Christmas time.
  • I like Christmas pictures.
  • I wonder if I can manage to get Brynna's hair cut before graduation.
  • I have a headache.
  • I want to clean off my desk, but I don't want to look like I'm not busy.
  • Because, clearly, writing this, I must be swamped.
You see. Crap. Tons and tons of stuff. This is not unusual. This is pretty much always what's going on in there. Sometimes, there's more Buffy, or Doctor Who. I spent half the day yesterday, randomly worried about Amy Pond. Which is bizarre, not just because she's a fictional character (which isn't at all weird for me, I regularly dream about fictional characters, that's how much inside my own head I live), but also because it was Tuesday and the Doctor is on Saturdays.

Two: None of it is all that interesting. If it was interesting, I'd say it out loud. I mean really. Does anyone, ANYONE, care about when I get family pictures done next. No, you don't. Some of you may want to see them when I get them done, but no one wants to be privy to my inside-my-head-sort-of-scheduling-in-terms-of-seasons-and-holidays. And haircuts. Please. No one wants to know this stuff. When something important pops in there, I share it. When I'm not sharing, it's because I'm realistic about what people actually want to hear from me.

Sometimes. Sometimes, I realize halfway through a really long story that I am not making any sense and that I have been telling this story, which isn't that funny, for ten minutes. But, I'm dedicated now. I can't help it. I started this thing and now I have to finish it. It's not like I can stop halfway through and say, "Sorry, I just realized how boring this is. Nevermind." Because then people feel like they have to reassure me that it's not boring and they want to know. But, of course, they are lying to make me feel better. A gesture which I usually appreciate greatly, but sometimes, well, I think I'm off track...

Anyway, don't ask me what I'm thinking is the upshot here. I'll tell you if you care. I promise.

* Happy Birthday to my mommy! Please wish her well in the comments as she could use a very happy birthday right about now, as she is going to my little brother's award ceremony tonight, which is awesome, but not very birthdayish and as I am only halfway done with her present. Because I suck. Help me make it up to her. She's 29. Again.

*I also resolve, here and now, and vow, forever more, to stop making promises about posts I intend to post. I had every good intention of doing a crochet post, but I seem to have lost my card reader, so I have to bring my card to work to get my pictures off of it, and yes, I am technologically stunted. I need an iPhone. Anyone wishing to contribute to the Jessi Needs an iPhone Fund may contact me right away. Keep in mind, it's not so much the cost of the phone, but the service, so this is a big fund.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Conversations with a Five Year Old - Puberty (?), Listening, and Loving Edition

Okay, this week, we are doing crochet post on Tuesday, as opposed to last week, when we said we'd do a crochet post on Wednesday or Thursday and then only posted twice in the whole week and never with crochet. It's okay, I promise. We'll all survive. Although, looking at my stat counter this week, it appears that you people want content and don't just wander over to read my archives on the off days, so FINE!

So, on with the conversations:

Brynna: Daddy, how old are you?
The Husband: 31.
Brynna: Okay, well, you're going to be 88 soon.
TH: I am?
Brynna: Yes, and when you turn 88, your body is going to go through some changes.
NiNi: What kind of changes Brynna?
Brynna: Well, first you'll change into a map...
TH: So, when I'm 88, I'll be a map?
Brynna: No, you'll be done, then. You'll be a human again.
NiNi: Do you know how old Granddaddy is, Brynna?
Brynna: How old?
NiNi: Quickly calculating math. He is 84 years old.
Brynna: Brightly. Good, then he'll really be 88 soon.

*I have no idea what to say about this, except that we have been watching a lot of the tween shows on Disney lately. I am especially fond of I'm in the Band. Is it okay, that I'm in love with the lead singer and his weird lipstick? No, well, then, I'm not. Anyway, there was an episode of Kid vs. Kat which is my least favorite, but I find it, well, inoffensive, so I keep my mouth shut. So, they thought that Kid was turning into a werecat, except his dad mistook it for puberty and started trying to give him the talk. But it turned out that Kat had glued cat hair all over his body. See what I mean? That's just not funny. Or whatever. I just don't get it, but it's not like it's bad enough to ban it.

The following entirely in whispers.
Brynna: Shoves me down in church, sees my face. I'm sorry.
Me: Brynna Kathryn! Inappropriate.
Brynna: I'm sorry.
Me: You need to
Brynna: I'm sorry.
Me: find a seat
Brynna: I'm sorry
Me: and put your bottom
Brynna: I'm sorry
Me: in it.
Brynna: I'm sorry
Me: Did you hear me?
Brynna: I'm sorry
Me: I accept your apology. Did you hear what I asked you to do?
Brynna: I'm sorry, I said.
Me: Quit apologizing.
Brynna: I'm sorry.
Me: And find a seat and put your
Brynna: I'm sorry.
Me: in it, right now!
Brynna: Fine. Picks up her backpack full of books and marches out of the sanctuary. Where she finds a seat in the front hall and puts her bottom in. I can't even argue with this.

Brynna: I love you, daddy.
The Husband: I love you too, sweetie.
Brynna: Mommy, read this to me.
Me: Really? Really?
Brynna: Mommy, will you please read this to me?
Me: I appreciate the polite way you asked the second time, but why does Daddy get a "I Love you," and I only get a "Read to me?"
Brynna: I love you, too, you know.
Me: Yeah, I know. I love you, too.
Brynna: 'Cause you're in my family and I love everybody in my family. Except, some people, I'm kind of shy of in my family, but I still love them.
Me: That's really nice Brynna. It's not easy to love people when you are shy of them.
Brynna: And then, there's Maren. It's not easy to love her either. But I do.
Me: That's nice.
Brynna: Most of the time.

* Frankly, when I'm not stressing that they'll grow up hating each other and never speak a civil word and talk bad about each other at family holidays, I find their sibling rivalry kind of amusing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Speak No Evil

When I started thinking about this post and what I wanted to say, I started with teenagers. They seem so cruel. I thought I might tell about the boy in my high school whose primary hobby was making up rumors about me. I could tell you the nights I spent crying in my bed, writing suicidal poetry and squinting my eyes shut concentrating on the belief that it would be better when my world was not comprised of a large, low brick building where the ruling class wore football helmets or cheerleading skirts.

I thought about the way that kids hurt each other. Without really meaning to sometimes. Other times, on purpose, because they can. Because it seems fun. Or cool. Or something. I thought about how fragile kids that age are and how they say those cruel things, in part I think, to make themselves feel better.

Then I realized that it wasn't about "kids." It was about "people." I can't tell you how many times, as an adult, I've called someone I love a name, shouted obscenity at them or said some little jab designed to hurt them. Because they hurt me, mostly, but still. I realized how many times I have said something, meaning nothing really. Just filling the void. Trying to be funny. Trying to relate. That has caused someone pain.

I read a stirring edict from a mother of a developmentally challenged boy not so long ago about the use of the word "retarded" as a slang term for stupid or bad. She talked about how that hurt, not only the children dealing with delays, looking at that word on their medical forms, school forms and then hearing their peers shout it so mercilessly, but for the families as well. Trying to justify their love with the challenge. I told someone (who shall remain nameless) about it.

"Bull," he said. "That's just a bunch of politically correct crap. Someday, we won't be able to say anything."

I can understand this academically. I know how language works, how slang works. How words don't exist and then they do and they merge and change meanings and evolve. I love that. I love to study that and I find it utterly fascinating. On the other hand, though, I can't comprehend why people would choose to use words that hurt when they don't have to.

"Sticks and stones..." does anyone remember that? Well, throw it out. Don't teach your kids to say it and don't repeat it. Because words do hurt. They hurt, often worse than sticks and stones. They can kill. They kill those who can't deal with them and commit suicide to get away. They kill those who jump in their vehicles and drive too fast. They kill those who bury their pain in food, by either eating too much or too little.

No one is ever perfect, but, I think, we can all try a little harder. Try a little bit more to understand, to see the world from someone else's point of view, to accept that you can discuss, debate, talk, express yourself and your opinion without denigrating someone else.

This may sound a little saccarine. A little syrupy. A little made-for-TV. And I may seem a little idealistic. But I just can't help but seeing the world for the way it could be.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Yesterday, one of my baby brother's friends died. I can't even imagine the pain that he is going through. You should read about Diesel here.

I have cried a lot since I learned the news early this morning. I only met him a few times and I have wept for him, but more often I've been weeping for my brother. He's not a baby. I call him my baby brother to tease him. He's 18, can bench like 300 lbs. He played football and knows better what he wants to be when he grows up than I do. I'm fiercely proud of him. He seems sometimes like a man. An actual grown-up. And why not? He's of age. He's big.

But, he really was a baby. At least he was until yesterday. Nothing grows you up like losing someone.

Also, I do, in fact, have a Crochet Bag post this week, but it'll have to wait. The world sometimes moves on in spite of our petty schedules.

Death in high school seems as inevitable to me as prom. We lost someone just about every year from my graduating class. The thing is, that I'd have to take out yearbooks to tell you who most of them were. Not because I was a callous kid, but because I didn't really know them. I watched other kids, kids I knew, grieve. But mostly it didn't touch me.

I've lost people. It's not that. It's that losing someone like this, a contemporary is different. When you lose family, especially aged family, it seems like the logical conclusion to something. When you lose family, it hurts, deeply, but it only alters your mind and your soul in that you develop a little hole where that person fit.

When you lose someone you love who is a contemporary, a peer, a friend, you don't just have a friend-shaped hole in your heart, you also have a growing sense of the reality of the world. The coldness. The unexpected effects of seemingly innocuous causes. The lack of sense and logic to the way things work. The knowledge that you can lose anyone, ANYONE, at any moment and there is nothing you can do to stop it. It forever changes your perspective on absolutely everything.

It's a crushing weight. And a weight that you have to bear while grieving someone you love. And one that almost everyone has to bear sooner or later. I just wish it was later for my baby brother.

More on this tomorrow. In the mean time, if you are a pray-er, please pray, and if not, do whatever it is you do. Pray for Diesel. Pray for his family, torn asunder. Pray for his friends, grappling with hard truths and a big Diesel-shaped hole. Pray for this community, who has lost a great kid.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What's In My Crochet Bag: Debatable Edition

A while ago, I found this pattern, this pattern that I really liked. And I wanted to make it, but I couldn't imagine myself wearing it. I kept it, though, because you know, it was really cute and I thought I might one day find a use for it.

Then, when I participated in the craft meme exchangey thing last year, I immediately thought of this pattern. And then, when Suze signed up, I could just picture it on her.

(Please ignore the total lack of picture quality here, there were many factors at work, including but not limited to, the recovery from a very stressful week and a very annoying fever blister. Just pretend it's not there. We'll all feel better that way.)

I love this necklace. I made it out of the same bamboo as my doily. I also bought about 7 buttons trying to find the one that would fit perfectly in the middle of that flower, too. I ended up using one from my "button drawer" which is the place I put all those little bags of extra buttons you get attached to new clothes. Hey, it worked.

Then, Suze sent me an email when she got the package and mentioned the really cute headband... And I was so excited. Because, even though I would never wear this as a necklace (not because I don't like it, just because I would always feel really self conscious in it) I would wear it as a headband. And, also, I could use some headbands. I am always wanting something other than the sunglasses to do with my hair. You'll be seeing me in one of these as soon as I finish my Mother's Day crocheting.

Also, Suze inspired me at Christmas time with these gift bags. I'm not sure that I'm going to make fabric gift bags, pretty much ever, because I don't like sewing much. But, I am always looking for great wrapping ideas, and I think crocheted gift bags may be one of my best ones yet. I made this one with Red Hart rainbow yarn, because I thought it would be fun for a birthday gift for a kid's birthday party. The ribbon that goes through it will pull tight and tie in a pretty little bow to make peeking impossible. The stuff you see coming out was supposed to help with scale, but not so much. The thing in front is a DVD case and the thing behind is a large format paperback book. Hopefully, this will be a useful size for lots of kid friendly gifts.

I started with a pattern for this, but I altered it so severely that I don't feel right linking to it. It's not that hard to figure out, though, it's mostly half double crochet stitches and a bit of a grind to do. I'm going to work on more interesting patterns, but you want something solid that won't be seen through... I would also like to experiment with ribbon handles. I'm pretty well excited about the prospects, though.

This was the last post on the craft meme project. I had a great time, an absolutely great time doing it, but I won't do it again for a while. It was fun, but it took me way to long to accomplish. No one got theirs on time and poor Suze had to wait five months.

I also have a lot of projects on the burner. I'm truly hoping that I won't miss a Monday all year. That said, I should get off the fabulous interwebz and watch Saturday's Doctor Who while I finish up a project, so I'll have something to post next week.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Desperately Seeking Fashion Advice

First, a brief look at my fashion history:

When I was in middle school, I got up every day and put together an outfit, something I thought was cute and stylish and looked good on me. Then I did my makeup, carefully balancing the fact that I wanted to look like I was wearing make-up because it's cool to wear make-up in middle school, but I didn't want to look overmade; it was a balancing act. Then, I did my hair. Because it was the early 90's, this involved a very hot curling iron and bangs. Sometimes, there were hot rollers.

Then, one day, I was wearing one of my absolute favorite outfits. There was a bright turquoise ankle length skirt and a bright yellow t-shirt and a bright red button down and a string of red chunky beads. Uber cool. Except. Except, the "cool" girls didn't think so. On this particular day, they were making fun of my outfit and I said, haughtily, "This is the style in New York and Paris." Because, you know, when in doubt, lie, lie, lie. "You're not in New York or Paris," one of the girls (somewhat sensibly) pointed out. "You're in Kentucky and what's in style here is looking like everyone else."

Although I was never one to just try desperately to look like everyone else, that hit me where it hurt. It was undoubtedly the last time I wore that outfit. I parsed out the pieces to other, less outstanding outfits and tried a little harder to blend in. That is, until high school, at which point, I gave up entirely. It was a slow process. It started with the makeup. Gone. Then the curling iron. Gone. Finally the carefully planned outfit. Gone.

By the time I started driving, my morning routine was something like this. Wake up. Dig through the pile of clothes in quest for something mostly clean and not entirely clashing. Run out the door. Munch pop-tarts and brush my hair while driving to school. Take the scrunchie back off my gear shift and put around my wrist in case I needed to put my hair up at some point. That was it. The entire beauty routine.

In college, I managed the addition of pajamas that I could wear to class.

Then, the conundrum:

The point of this history is to let you know an important fact. I was born without that gene. That gene that most girls have that makes them read fashion magazines and create fashion icons and have a desire to keep up with current trends and wear, to some degree, what everyone else is wearing. I would much prefer to just wear what I want.

Now, here I am. A functioning adult. I don't wear make-up. I sometimes brush my hair at work. My only hair bobby is not a barrette or a scrunchie or a banana clip, but sunglasses. I have clothes, some of them are nice. I have more dress pants than jeans, I suppose that's a good thing. The problem is that I'm not sure that I like any of it. There are a few outfits that I feel I look nice in. Some that I think are my color. Some that are comfortable. But, I don't know if there are any that are "me." I have decided, a long, long time ago, that I just want to dress the way I want to dress and to hell with what Cosmo says I should wear. The only problem is that I have no idea what I like.

I watch a lot of What Not to Wear. I have learned a bit of what I shouldn't wear. I need pants that fall straight from my hips, jeans with a medium waist. Layers. Etc, etc. But, I still don't know what I like. The other night, when we were watching, they asked the person to choose a style icon. An actress or singer or even character whose style they liked.

Then, a few days later, I found this. I guess I get it. There are celebrities whose clothes I always like. Stevie Nicks comes to mind. I was always partial to Tara from Buffy. That's all I've got. And frankly, I think that I'd look like an idiot in their clothes.

On What Not to Wear, they ensure me every Saturday night, that olive green is a neutral. And you can wear anything with it. So today, I put on dark olive green capris and a red t-shirt and walked around feeling like a Christmas tree all day.

I don't know what to do with myself. With my wardrobe. With my hair. I haven't had a haircut I liked in ten years. I never wear make-up and when I try, I feel like a look a little ridiculous. The Husband confirms that when he tells me that he doesn't like it when I wear make-up, because I don't look like me.

I watch What Not to Wear because I want them to teach me what I should do about this. I used to read fashion magazines, hoping to get a handle on what's in and what's out. At the end of the day, though, I still try on practically everything in the store. I still hate most of the clothes that I walk out with. I still don't know what color eye shadow I should wear. Or what color lipstick won't make me look like a well-fed vampire. I don't know how to wear my hair, or how short to cut it or if I should straighten it.

And I don't know how to learn.

Finally, the Request:

I am smart enough to not ask you all to tell me how to dress. In the first place, you don't all know me. You don't know my body or what looks good on me. There's that lovely picture of me over there, but it's been there so long before it's so much prettier than I normally am that I can't replace it. Ever, possibly.

But what I can ask you is what connection you have to the fashion world. Do you take your cues from fashion icons, and if so, who? Do you read the magazines? Do you watch the shows? Do you obsess or do you just throw on what you like? If you just wear what you like, how do you keep out of a rut? Most importantly, how do people, you, anyone you know, manage to look fabulous and effortless at the same time?