Monday, August 30, 2010

What's in My Crochet Bag - Lazy Edition

I have not picked up my hooks since I finished those baby hats. I hate to even admit that. Part of it is my hectic schedule. I've been running ragged for weeks for now, except for the part where my body said, "Hey. Sit. Or better yet, lay down. For half a week. There you go. Better."

But let's face it, I'm never all that behind on my summer TV schedule. And if I have time for Burn Notice and Being Human, I have time for hooks and yarn. In fact, it's the same time.

I have projects I'm still in the middle of. I have two baby blankets I'm halfway done with and a sweater for myself that I've got almost all the motifs done for. I have two prizes for this here blog that I need to get done, ASAP. I don't know when it turns cold in Wisconsin, but I'm betting I don't have until December. And I promised!

And patterns. Oh, how I have patterns. After my post about organization, I finally got around to putting together a notebook. I've still got about a bajillion paper patterns rattling around outside the notebook, but whenever I stumble on one, I hole punch it and slap it in.

I've been putting together my Christmas crafting list, too. A sweater for her, a scarf for him, etc, etc. And non-crochet crafts as well. Because, let's face it, I'm just not going to have the hours on end I'll need to do everything in yarn. Even if that is more fun. And of course, inspired by Suze's quilted gift bags last year, I'm going to try to do some crochet gift bags for this year. I'm not sure if I can, in good conscious, file that under money saving, but definitely Earth saving.

Which brings me to my point here. I need to get motivated. I don't know if you all have noticed, but it's almost September. That's right, September. Less than four months, people. All those Christmas decorations they are hauling out at the mall, they may be premature and annoying, but they are the perfect reminder for the crafters among us that the time is nigh.

Also, Monday mornings when I realize I have nothing to talk about here are the perfect reminder. Which has led me to this... I'd like to propose that for the next few weeks, leading up to the holidays, I will be focusing this space, this crochet bag space on holiday crafts and gifts. That doesn't mean that I intend to have a finished piece every week (Hah! Have you people met me?!?), but hopefully there will be news on the gift making front each week. The trick will be that these will be largely text-y posts. I'll talk about my trials and tribulations, the great ideas and the sucky fail-fests, but I will be desperately trying not to ruin anyone's surprise.

It may not work. The lack of photographic evidence and specificity may kill it. It may be totally boring. Which is where you come in. First of all, I only see this working with participation. "Oh, I've done that before and this was a big help..." would be great, or "I got one of those once and I loved/hated it!" would be nice as well. Or just, "This is what I'm doing..." But let's face it. You're most important mission here will be making sure I know what's going on. If I'm boring you to tears, you have to tell me! I won't care. Well, I'll care, but I won't cry. Okay, I might cry, but not when you're watching and I'll never tell you about it and most importantly, I'll find something else to write incessantly about.

So, what do you think? Do we have a deal, internet? Will you tell me when I've bored your socks off? Please?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Five Things on Friday - Driving in the South Edition

As promised, I am much cheerier today than yesterday. Nothing like baring your soul to the internet to make you feel much more ready to suck it up and move on.

In any case, I've been annoyed a lot on the road. I live in a place where the natives (those of us born and raised in this neck of the woods) are outnumbered due to a large manufacturing plant and incredible city-wide growth. Now, as almost anyone knows, everywhere you go, there are slightly different rules of the road. I genuinely feel that these people just don't know how to drive in the South. So, I'm sharing.

You're Welcome.

5 Rules for Driving in the South:

1. Emergency Vehicles - Here in the South, every time an emergency vehicle comes into view, we imagine that said vehicle is heading for a car accident where a drunk driver has hit our mother who is now pinned in a burning car. Really, unless you are on the phone with your mama, you don't know that this isn't the case. But since we love our mamas, we GET OFF THE ROAD. Even if we are in a hurry. Even if it's the seventh emergency vehicle to pass us by. Even if we really want to hurry up to get to mama's house and make sure she's okay. We GET OFF THE ROAD. There are, of course, nuances to this rule. For instance, if you are on a three or four lane road in town and you are traveling in the far right lane and there is no other traffic, except said emergency vehicle, it is acceptable to slow down and hug the line. However, if there is anyone traveling in the lane next to you, you will have to GET OFF THE ROAD, so they can get in your lane. Likewise, if there is a barrier in between you and the vehicle, i.e. a median, then no action is necessary. If you are mere feet away from your turn, you may turn, as that is also GETTING OFF THE ROAD, but you then must pay particular attention that the emergency vehicle does not also turn.

2. Funerals - It has recently come to my attention that not everyone does this, so visitors to our fair region are often surprised by this phenomena. Because of that, I will try to be kind. Here in the South, we are big on history (sure, sometimes it's revisionist history, but whatever). We are also big on family. Therefore, when someone dies, we all act sad, even if we hated their blessed heart and are secretly glad they are gone. Even if we don't know them from Adam. We act sad and respectful of the family. In deference to a traveling funeral procession, therefore, we stop. In fact, in Kentucky, it's not just good manners, but the law. There are varying theories on headlights. Some say you should turn them on in solidarity. Some say that the lights should be reserved for those in mourning. I don't care about the lights. I care that you stop. Stop. It's okay, we know that you are in a hurry. You're always in a hurry. We know that you need to go wherever it is that you are going. But, you should stop anyway. You can always say you got caught in traffic, which is true. If you are meeting someone from the South, you can say you passed a funeral procession and all will be well with the world. In some cases, a few cars in the procession will designate themselves to make you stop by traveling slightly over the yellow line. If you have to be forcibly stopped in this way, we will all look at you like you brought your pet pig to a church wedding. The only people exempt from stopping for a funeral procession are emergency vehicles.

3. Blocking Intersections - I am pretty sure this is a law everywhere, but here in the South, we like to recognize that not everyone is going where we are going, so we try not to block intersections. Likewise, if the car in front of you stops a few yards back from the car in front of them, to leave room for people to get in and out of the Piggly Wiggly, then you should not honk your horn at them. In fact, don't ever honk your horn unless you a. See someone you know, or b. Are in dire peril. Honking because you are pissy at someone is just rude and we hate to be rude.

4. Tractors/Hand Signals - Hand signals are legal. If I extend my arm out my car window straight, it means that I am going to turn left. If I extend my arm out my car window, bent at the elbow facing up, that means I am turning right and if I extend my arm out my car window, bent at the elbow pointing down, I'm stopping. These are an acceptable and (I'm stressing this) legal alternative to turn signals and brake lights. I swear. This is particularly important when you are traveling behind tractors and/or farm vehicles. Sometimes their lights don't work, or you can't see them for their gigantic trailer of hay. Whatever, watch their hands. Also, don't tailgate them, if they could go faster they would. What most farmers do is wait for a nice little line to gather behind them, then pull off and let everyone pass. You can see how this is much more convenient than letting every person pass individually, can't you? Be nice. There are many nice things in life you wouldn't have if farmers didn't occasionally drive down the road.

5.The Wave - No one is perfect. This is a fact of life everywhere. Sometimes we all make mistakes. Sometimes, you will be cut off, edged out of your space or have to slam on your brakes for someone. Sometimes people break the rules because they aren't paying attention, because their wife is in labor or because they are having a really bad day. Here in the South, when someone messes up, knows it and takes responsibility, they signal that with "the wave." The wave is one hand extended in the general area of the rearview mirror. Sometimes it's just a quick hand in the air, sometimes it's got a little motion to it. In any case, the wave should be interpreted to mean, "Sorry about that!" Since so many people in the past few months have met my waves with an extended middle finger, whose meaning is pretty well known around here, I can only assume that you don't know I'm saying I'm sorry. I can't imagine that if we were face to face and I said, "Sorry I kinda cut you off there. I didn't see you until it was too late. Won't happen again," that your response would not be "F You!" Perhaps I am wrong. If that is the case, you should seek counseling for your anger issues. You see, we don't really do road rage here. It's a small town in a Southern state. We are friendly and hospitable and we share the road.

So, there's my five point tutorial. What are your pet peeves about driving? Or, alternately, tell me what makes driving in your neck of woods distinct. Also, have a great weekend, all. We need it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I am a Ball of Unhappiness

I've been a bummer lately. I know I have. When I'm not whining about how bad I feel or how broke I am or how crazy my life is, I am totally phoning it in. Like yesterday. Man, that was weak. New hair and all.

The thing is... The thing is, that's all I've got right now. I am sinking into what I can only call a deep depression (although I hate to throw that word around because I don't think it's the clinical kind). But I'm not sad, I'm just depressed. I'm just struggling to get through tomorrow.

Part of my problem is money. I hate to talk about money, so aside from a few offhanded comments about my brokeness, I tend to just leave it, but with The Husband STILL not having a "real, grown-up" job and working part time, we are really, seriously suffering. Staring at Brynna's birthday money and trying to figure out a way to not give it to the babysitter this week kind of suffering. No one wants to hear about that stuff and I don't want to talk about it, but the stress. You cannot imagine the stress. Unless you can, and then you have my undying sympathy because this sucks. I've stressed over money before, plenty, but never for six straight months with no let up. I haven't signed up for PTO yet because I can't come up with the 15 pathetic bucks I need for that.

I had $120 saved for my GRE and I was waiting for the bank account to even out and then I was going for it, only after a series of small disasters, I'm down to $50. So, I'm also feeling desperate about this big change I want to make, feel like I need to make, but am afraid to make, because, what if, what if, what if.

At the same time, I feel like I need to go back to the endocrinologist, but I kinda grew to hate my endocrinologist, with his, "You're CURED! I'm sorry if you don't feel any better, maybe you should seek psychiatric help, because I am looking at your numbers and you are CURED!" attitude, but I don't have the time, energy or all-important finances to look for a new one. Plus, I am about to lose my health insurance, so I don't want to start something if I'm just gonna have to call and say, "Sorry, uninsured lady can't come anymore."

I very much feel like this isn't the life I ever imagined for myself. I don't want to bore anyone with a fit of nostalgia, where I remember how awesome I used to be, but nothing in my early record of breezy successes and effortless triumphs has prepared me for this level of struggle. I feel unprepared.

The last time I felt so beset upon by the forces of evil, I ended up leaving Kansas. It was a tough decision, but it was one which was met by unreserved support by my family and ultimately turned out to be the right thing to do.

Since then, I've come to associate this feeling like an elephant is sitting on my chest as a signal that something has got to change, and change big. I literally feel like God is pushing me to the point where I feel like I'm going to break to make sure I get the message that I have to do something.

Only this time, I don't know what to do. Leaving Kansas was tough, because I loved my school, I loved my friends and I loved my life there, but it was also easy, because other than leaving an amazing set of people behind, I had nothing left. My extra-curriculars had been cut, my job had been cut, my "focus area" of my major had been cut. The only thing holding me there was the fact that I desperately wanted to be there.

I left a job under the same circumstances, once. It just got worse and worse until I couldn't stand it anymore and at the same time I was reasonably sure that I could go literally next door and get a management job with more money and less standing. Which is big to me. I will walk, I will run, I will carry stuff or whatever, but I hate standing.

But this time, I just don't know what I'm supposed to be doing. I feel like screaming into the wind, "Just tell me what I need to do and I'll do it. I'm so tired. So very, very tired."

And the point of this is what? I don't know. I don't expect a bunch of sympathy. I'm not really into that any way. It makes me feel all blushy and weird. And I don't really want advice, although if you want to give it, I won't attack you or anything.

I feel like you guys deserve an explanation for the downess that's been going on over here lately. And an apology.

I promise, tomorrow, I have something very funny planned. Long live Friday, peoples!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chopped and Miscellany

Chopped: Ta-Da! New haircut. (Also, terrible photography skills. Look at the scrunchtieness of my face under those glasses. You know, though, it's not easy to take a picture of yourself with a phone. Also, I was trying to remember this Pioneer Woman trick about light and shade and I think I reversed. I think you are supposed to put the camera in shade and the person in the light. Or maybe I did it right. Who knows. Check out the arm in my glasses, though, is that weird or what? But hair = shiny so that's something.)

Anyway, back to the new do. This is the shortest I have worn my hair since 2nd grade. I wish I had done a before shot, since she cut off 7 inches which is way more drastic than my profile picture makes it look. See, my hair grows really fast, so what I typically do is grow it out really long and then chop it off really short. It's a vicious cycle, but it'll be long again this time next year, I guarantee it.

I like it, but I feel kinda old and soccer momish in it. Like, "Oh, great, now I'll fit in at those PTO meetings!" Not that that's a bad thing. It's just not me. Mostly. Except that I totally do all that mom stuff, I just don't look like the kind of person who does all that mom stuff. I hope.

Homework: Brynna can NOT get enough of homework. You know, last year, I read all these studies that show that homework is actually somewhat counter productive to the learning process, but now, suddenly, I don't care. I'll probably be looking those back up at the end of year when she's dragging, but right now? Now, she can't get enough. Last night I had to make up homework for her because she was disappointed not to have any.

Hitting: Maren is in this hitting phase. I think she is frustrated because people often can't understand what she is trying to say. Hopefully, this is the precursor to some sort of verbal explosion, but in the meantime, I spend a large portion of my day pulling Maren off of Brynna. Will someone (who isn't me) please note to my kid that while violence of any type is discouraged, it's not good to let someone 4 years younger than you who you outweigh by 20 lbs. beat the crap out of you while you scream for Mommy? No, not so much, huh? Yeah, I just can't figure out how to tell her to stand up for herself without telling her that it's okay to hurt Maren. Sometimes parenting is hard.

Bedtimes: In our house, Maren goes to bed at 7:30, Brynna at 8:30 and mom and dad about 11, because that's when the good shows end. Also, it takes us that long to pick up the toys. So, now we're getting up at 5:45; which comes awful early for us night owls, let me tell you. (Ten years of this, have I mentioned that thanks to the 4 year age gap between my children, I will have to deal with elementary school start times for 10 years!) Maren and Brynna are actually rolling pretty well by 6 or 6:15, but mommy... Mommy needs an earlier bedtime. Which means that mommy needs DVR. Oh, the lamenting.

Sorry for the scattered nature of this. I am really still getting back on my feet from last week. It's been rough!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Five Things on Friday - Drinks Edition

This week has been a strange, strange week. For one thing, I've been sick more than I've been well, and since this is pretty much one of my busiest weekends of the year, coming back has been with a vengeance. I had a 15 hour day yesterday and today won't be any shorter. Tomorrow, I have to be up and have the kids ready to leave the house at 7 a.m. and be at church at 7:15, so tomorrow won't exactly be relaxing either.

But, possibly, what has bothered me most about this week is the interruption of my addiction. As part of my illness and recovery, I have been strictly prohibited from imbibing alcohol, caffeine or carbonation. Now, as many of you already know, I barely function without caffeine, and I prefer my caffeine to be cold and carbonated. The 3 C's.

It's been hard. Especially this morning, when I feel so utterly sleepy that I expect to face-plant into my desk at any moment. So, as I sip on my Brita-filtered water with a touch of lemon juice, I thought I would spend a few moments indulging my weaker self, and celebrating the things I'd rather be sipping.

1. Coca-Cola - Oh, my glorious best friend. How I miss you... Your nose tickling carbonation, your heady aroma, your deep red-brown shade, your slight bitterness behind a shield of sweet. I am nothing but putty in your hands, Coke. Save me from myself.

2. Lemonade - Okay, so this isn't strictly prohibited, and in fact has accounted for a great deal of my liquid diet for the past few days, but I challenge you to find a good lemonade that you can acquire quickly. I have partaken (partook?) of nearly every fast food lemonade within driving distance in the past two days and they all suck. Too sweet, too watery, too pink. I want something that will make my face crumple, people.

3. Margarita - Ah, sweet, tart, goodness. I am a fan of the sour, here, peoples. And a good margarita is all kinds of sour. And cold. And salty.

4. Sprite/Ginger Ale - The lingering piece of my illness is basically tiredness and nausea. I get nauseous when I don't eat and it's very similar to my version of morning sickness. What I really need to make this go away is a big ole bottle of Canada Dry, or at the very least Sprite. But instead, I'm still sippin' water, which makes the nausea worse. But it's all I got.

5. LIT - The ultimate triple threat and Long Island Iced Tea has all three elements I'm not allowed to have. Which, is probably why I want one so bad, even though I haven't had one in four or five years.

So, what are you jonesing for? Cheesecake? Coffee? Lemon-lime Kool-Ade? Cherry Coke with a Twizzler Straw? Bourbon on the rocks with a lime? I won't tell, I promise.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What's in My Crochet Bag - Hat Collection Edition

Hey, all. Guess who's feeling good enough to look for the memory card today? Guess whose fever broke at about 10 a.m.? Guess who may even take off the pajama pants and wear jeans for a couple of hours this afternoon? That's right! This girl!

I was recently invited to a baby shower for a girl in my church. She's young, hates pink and her mom is the craftiest crafter in all of craftdom. What's a girl to do? Her mom is actually an amazing seamstress and is currently obsessed with her embroidery machine, so other than a few blankets, the crochet end of the layette was a little thin.

Enter, hats! I love a cutesy little baby sweater, but let's face it, their use is limited and this mom needs useful stuff. One of my favorite baby gifts ever was a little bonnet with a ponytail. I thought it was so cute and she literally wore it every day of her first winter. It was so much warmer than anything else I could find.

This one is my favorite. The picture sucks. Mostly because Maren had decided she was done sitting still and I had to enlist the help of Melody Rose, Brynna's Cabbage Patch Kid.

This was made using the Sweet Pea Bonnet pattern by Coats and Clark. This is the leftover yarn from Maria's afghan last summer. And I still have some more. The hat and small flower were done in the solid and the variagated was used for the large flower. I was quite happy with the way it turned out.

I kept the pattern changes to a minimum, but I did make a few in the name of cutting the yarn less often. A few slip stitches and I turned this into a one continuous strand project up until the flower.

This is my second favorite. The Crochet Pixie Hat by Sweater Babe. I love the shape of this hat, and the texture of it. I thought it was especially nice with this pale yellow. It should be very warm and cozy. This one turned out a little big. I think it may end up in storage until next winter, but in any case, it's pretty cute. What you don't see in my pic, but you can see on Sweater Babe's site is that this doesn't have a clumpy tie, but instead a pretty little tailored strap with a button closure.

Also, bar none, best tassle instructions I have ever read. I hate tassles and pom poms, so anything you can do to make them easier wins you brownie points in my view. And again, I can't tell you what yarn this is. I bought it years ago because I loved the texture, lost the label and never came up with a one skein project for it. Until now. Well, sort of. I could probably get three more of these hats out of the skein, but at least it's finally become something.

And, proving that hats are not just for winter, I present to you, the Baby Flower Bucket Hat (ravelry link). This is such a nice little summer hat, and with the open work on top, won't get too hot even on the steamiest days.

I chose to do this cotton, too, which should help in the not-too-hot department. Brynna picked the yarn for this one, out of my dishrag bag and while I like it, I probably would have chosen a solid, just to make that flower a little more pronounced. In any case, it's not pink.

I had planned on adding a couple more rounds to the brim, to make it a little more of a floppy sunhat, but I ran out of yarn. About the brim, though, I especially love the points.

The baby is coming at the end of this month, and I don't know about ya'll, but we've been hot this summer. I wanted her to have something that the baby can wear right away. Something soft and sweet and easy to wear, that won't get too hot.

All the open work on this Shell Stitch Beanie from the Dainty Daisy will make it perfect for the end of summer and the beginning of fall and the super soft yarn will make it perfect for baby. Hopefully, this can get her through until the warm months and then one of the ones above can kick in.

I hope that I've given her about a year of go-to hats.

In other news, I definitely need tips on photographing projects. Hint, hint, Suze. You're pics are always awesome. How do you do it?!?

Monday, August 16, 2010


I would like to post a Crochet Bag entry today. I'd like to show the veritable plethora of baby hats I have recently made. I would like to link to all the patterns and lament about how they were all made with scraps, so I have no idea what the yarn is, because I'm like that and never, EVER keep labels. Even though I know I should.

However, today I woke up bleeding in ways that are pure TMI and freaking out, being sure that there was hemorrhaging or something, only to be convinced by Doctor Google that I had cancer, terrible, terrible, evil cancer and death. Definitely death.

Then, I went to the real doctor who convinced me that although I am not fine by any stretch of the imagination, I am more or less fine and there is nothing wrong with me that can't be fixed with a shot to the rear and a whole crapload of pills (luckily for me, the pills weren't all that expensive, considering the total crapload-i-ness of them).

And so, now I'm home, nursing a headache and a fever and trying to convince myself that another bottle of water is the perfect thing. Really, just one more, it's good for you, Jessi.

So, when I tell you that I would love to write a post about my recent crochet conquests, but can't because I'm too tired to look for my memory card reader; and that I would likewise love to write a post about the downside to having a terribly high pain threshold, but can't because I'm to tired to do much other than complain about my lot in life, then you should believe me.

I, of course, don't care whether or not you believe me, because the couch is all the way over there and my sweater isn't keeping me warm anymore, so I need to hike all the way to the bedroom to get a heavier sweater, so I've got enough on my mind. It's a ranch house, there aren't even stairs, but I'd kinda rather freeze than go get a stupid sweater. So, really believe me or not, I'm takin' a nap. GOODNIGHT CLEVELAND!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Five Things on Friday: Ch-ch-changes Edition

There is something about this time of year that makes me feel hopeful. Hopeful that the million degree heat will someday subside and we'll have crisp, cool fall mornings. Hopeful that the trees in my yard will look like a beautiful palette of autumnal shades. Hopeful that Brynna will have a great school year. Hopeful that my normally hectic fall and winter will be filled with joy rather than stress. It's probably what normal people feel on New Year's Eve, when I'm too busy feeling jealous of all the people who have something fun to do on New Year's Eve.

In any case, there have been a few things that have been bothering me lately, and in deference to Ghandi who said, "Be the change you want to see," I thought it was high time I quit thinking and start changing. Or at least trying to change. So, here are the top five things I want to change about myself.

1. Worry - I cannot stress this enough. See what I did there? Huh? Huh? Fine. Anyway, I am shaving years off my life with every ounce of energy I pour into worrying. And I pour quarts and gallons in, so that's a lot. I worry so much about every little thing. Things I can change, things I can't change, things I can't change right now... And then I worry about how much I'm worrying about it. The truth is that I might be a more pleasant person if I weren't laying in bed every night trying to balance the checkbook at 2 a.m. Or carrying on conversation while stressing over whether or not Maren is pulling hair at the babysitter's. A few years ago, I decided to do something about my temper and I developed a mantra and I chanted when I felt the rage coming on. I can't say it solved my problem, but I certainly made headway. I think it's time for a worry mantra.

2. How are you - A few days ago I was in the grocery store and I ran into someone I used to know. It wasn't a big deal, someone from my past I haven't seen in ages, but have generally positive feelings about. I said, "How are you?" and she said, "Fine, thank you," and that was it. It was perfectly polite, but I already had my mouth open to say, "Fine, thanks for asking," to her "and you..." that never came. And it got me thinking, did I do something to make her mad? Ten or so years ago? Does she not really remember me? But then, I noticed that everyone seems to be doing it now. And then I noticed that I was doing it. Not all the time, but when I am in a rush or surprised by running into someone I'm not expecting to see, I tend to "Fine, thanks," and not ask after them. This may seem like a weird thing to be hung up on, but if there is anything that I really, truly am, it's a southern girl. And we are polite, damnit. And hospitable. And it seems to me to be a symptom of a larger issue. It's not so much that we don't ask, as that we don't care.

3. Start training - I've been talking for two years about doing the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk and I have decided to do it next summer. In Cleveland. Let me know if you think you'd like to join. I made this decision this past February and I have not even begun to train. It was too cold and then too rainy and then too hot and the fact of the matter is, it doesn't matter anymore. I've got to start walking or I'll spend the second and third day of the 3-Day Walk in traction.

4. Think Positive - I think this really goes back to the worry, but I tend to be a little bit of a negative nelly and I have noticed in the past few weeks that I am passing that on to Brynna. I want her to be wise and not too idealistic, but I don't want her to spend her time waiting for things to fall apart either. It's amazing how having kids makes you see your own bad habits.

5. Focus on goals - I have goals. I have lofty, fancy goals. I have nice, special goals. What I don't have a whole lot of is follow-through. Oh, it'll get done. I have no worries about that. Everything gets done, or it ceases to need to be done. But mostly it gets done. Just probably not when it should. I used to have lists and every week (okay, get ready, because this just goes to show how insane I am) I wrote a list of all my goals, which I kept from week to week to make sure I didn't forget anything. Then I would make my weekly to do lists based on the notion that I would get one step closer to accomplishing each of my goals. I quit doing this because I had a second kid which seemed to make my head explode, then I had memory loss which was super-fun, because then I had to spend all my valuable list-writing time writing things like, "Feed baby," and "Put gas in car." Things I never before had to remind myself of. Now, here I am, over my memory loss, finally putting my without baby identity back together and I am still not list writing. To that end, I don't seem to ever accomplish anything. List Writers Unite, Write, Act!

So, what about you. My changes here aren't lofty or amazing. But they are the goals that I can see right now that I could be, in my present state, be doing something about. So, tell me, Interwebz, what change do you want to see that you are ready and willing to make. Or, are you stymied by the million degree heat and have no desire to change anything other than your shirt and your anti-perspirant. Either way, I'll commiserate.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Friendships Lost

Mama Kat's Writers' Workshop provided the following prompt this week: " I miss the friend you used to be."

The Husband was at work the other day and a guy we don't even particularly like came in and they got to talking and the result of this conversation is that he got the phone number for one of his all-time best friends, who we've lost touch with.

When he told me about this, I was thinking "Great! I know you've been missing him," but what came out of my mouth was, "Don't think I'm gonna hang out with his wife just so you guys can hang." I was pretty shocked by this statement for a couple of reasons. 1. It sounds so mean when I say it like that, 2. I don't really think he would, and 3. I didn't realize I felt that strongly.

See, we used to be friends. In fact, I am the sole reason they even know each other, as I set them up.

Kate* and I met in the way that people that age normally meet, whatever that is. She was so completely unlike me, but we were both opinionated and loud. She was perhaps the best shopping buddy I've ever had. It was a good friendship.

I'm not even sure what drove us apart. It just seems like things piled up on us. Not the living life kind of stuff, the hurt feelings type of stuff. The laundry list of ways we've each been done wrong. The nights we were stood up. The niceties denied and the insults heaped.

We still see each other in the grocery or elsewhere from time to time, but we don't have any enthusiasm for seeing one another anymore.

What I miss about Kate isn't her undying friendship or her loyalty; because those things never seemed to be there. It's not even her personality. She was funny sometimes, but after a while her brand of snark would start to grate on you.

What I miss most is that she was something I had never before had. Someone who in one breath would tell me that those jeans in fact did make me look fat because they were not magic jeans and I was, in fact, fat; and in the next tell me that I could make anything look good. Someone who was fun to be with and might completely tell you off over a minor transgression, but couldn't hold a grudge for longer than a week. Someone who knew when to hold your hand, when to hold your hair and when to get the hell out of your way.

It's easy to look at those traits, the things that made her wonderful and cemented our friendship and think that there was something there worth saving. And maybe there was. Maybe I am too cold when I say "Never again." But some wounds are hard to heal.

In many ways, it was our differences that made us friends, our opposite takes on the world. But it was also our differences that pushed us apart. Mainly that of temperament. While she was quick to anger and quick to get over it, I am slow to anger (real anger at least, I am very quick to frustration) and slow to move on.

I've been thinking a lot about friendship lately. About how hard it is to make a friend and how hard it is to keep a friend. About how most of the friends I've loved through the years are now scattered around the world and I never see them. About how important seeing is to me.

And the conclusion that I've come to is that life is short. It's hard to find people to share yourself with and it's harder still to hold them. It's worth the work, but all that work shouldn't be wasted on someone who is anything less than precious to you.

*Name changed to protect... who are we kidding here? Me. Name changed to protect me. Thank you, that is all.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Have you ever gotten that email forward about how wonderful girlfriends are? I hate email forwards.

In this case, I hate that forward because it drives home the fact that I don't really have girlfriends. I mean, don't get me wrong, I have friends and some of them are girls, but I don't have besties.

It's a flaw in my personality in that I don't really talk to people with much consistency. I used to, when I was in school and I had to see the same people all the time. It was easy to stay in touch with people who were never more than a few seats away from you.

But since then, well, I sort of fail. I don't really call people much or write them, like ever. I email like all hell's broken loose, but it's sort of about nothing and gets boring and dies and then I never send another email.

I have work friends, because, as aforementioned, I can handle that. But you can't really get that close to work friends, because you know, you work with them. And then once you don't, and you really can say anything to them, I fail to keep in touch the way I should.

Most of the time, I'm good with my lot in life. Most of the time, I have friends, plenty of friends and I happily bounce down the road doing what I do oblivious to the fact that apparently, the rest of the female population has something that I lack.

Other times, though, I get this desperate feeling like I just need to talk to someone, right now. Someone who gets me and who I don't have to give a ton of backstory to. Someone who can see clearly and offer advice without berating me with it.

I'm having one of those times.

And as always, when I'm having one of those times, this forward lands in my inbox, reminding me that that empty feeling I have when I need to talk and have no one to talk to? That feeling... is not normal. Because normal people have "girlfriends" or "best friends" and I, I am abnormal.

Except that I don't really think that I am. I think that the whole world of Sex and the City where fully grown women spend more time with their best friends than their significant others and their children is made up. I think that there is a great, silent majority who reads that crap and watches Steele Magnolias and thinks about how nice that would be. But lives every day with a nice circle of supportive friends who are not "that" friend.

But I may be wrong. So, I beseech you, in the name of helping me determine if there is something detrimentally wrong with me, tell me what's up with the besties? Do you have one? Seven? None? Is your mom your best friend (hey, I'm speaking from experience here!)? Your husband?

I just want to know what I'm missing out on.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Brand New First

Last year, about this time, I wrote about Brynna's last first day of Montessori. Today, was her first first day of elementary school. And this first, I can tell you, was different.

I remember her first day of Montessori, being nervous and a little jittery. Wanting her to have a great day, to be her best, to have fun and enjoy herself. And she was excited, too. Wearing a new dress, new shoes and a brand spankin' new hairbow, she got out of my car without a tear or hesitation. And although I was nervous, I also felt a sense of calm about where she was, that she would be taken care of, that she would find her way. That was the fall of 2007.

In three short years, I've completely lost my grip on reality.

In many ways, this first day of school was a lot like that one. A carefully chosen outfit, a jittery mom. If anything, Brynna was more laid back about this one than that one.

What was different was my reaction. As we pulled away, leaving my five year old baby on the sidewalk of an unfamiliar school, in the hands of an unfamiliar adult, left to navigate on her own, my chest tightened up and I found myself unable to breathe.

I am not being dramatic. I had an honest-to-God panic attack right there in the car. I did not expect that.

I'm not sure why it seems so different to me: the size of the school, the many, many cars in the car line, the blank check in her backpack for school lunches...

All day that feeling of panic has waxed and waned.

All day, just as I've calmed down and decided that she'll do just fine, I've thought of something else to panic about. Lunch. Recess. Reading out loud. Worksheets. Text books. Things that I took for granted about school for years, decades almost, but that we haven't had to deal with in Montessori.

Then my mantra begins. Reminding myself how independent she is, how strong, how charismatic. How she always does fine and she always gets along and how she only seems shy with me because it's safe.

And just as my breathing is returning to normal, I think of something else.

I'm sure that most moms go through this. I'm sure that it'll be fine, that SHE'LL be fine, but panic-at-the-disco, I just can't seem to catch my damn breath.

Pray for me, ya'll. I might not make it through elementary school.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Five Things on Friday - Educated Edition

Since I'm having such a lovely and oh-so educational day, I thought I would share with everyone five things I have learned today:

1. That nice flat bit in the metal on the undercarriage of your car, the one where the jack fits sort of perfectly? Don't put the jack there.

2. Fleas love laundry.

3. When the doughnut tire is on the front of your car, the cars lining up behind you can't see it. They will therefore ride your bumper and make faces at you when they pass. Especially if you are driving at the tail end of the morning rush.

4. Taking your lunch to work requires actually picking your lunch up and taking it to work. Not just setting it on the table by the front door.

5. My kids rock at changing tires.

Also, all morning long (and let me promise you, it was a very long morning) I kept having one song lyric pound through my head, "The stars are stacked against you, girl, get back in bed." Since her day ends up well, I'm hoping mine does too. Here's the song:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Ten more years and I'll know the answer, right?

Today is my birthday and I'm not sure what to make of it. I honestly didn't think it was going to have much effect on me. Last year was rough. I don't know why 31 was worse than 30. I think it was because I was suddenly OVER 30, which is much, much harder than being 30.

Anyway, I figured 32, nothing new there. I'm still not closer to 35 than 30. I'm still over 30. Right, just no big deal.

Except that today, I really, really feel old.

And in honor of my birthday, and because I feel really, really old, I'm going to make a point today of doing something really, really young.

For starters, we're having dessert for supper. I just decided.

And we're going to crank the music up too loud in the car. And we're going to dance in the living room.

I suggest you do the same. Because there are one of two options for you: either (a) you already feel this old, or (b) you will soon and you need to build up the youthful feelings while you can.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Kitchen Woes

Today, the Pioneer Woman, in a post all about open shelves (which prior to reading this post, I would have called insane in a heartbeat and moved on with my life) said, "I guess when you cook often (daily), an act as simple as opening and closing cabinet doors can wear on you after awhile."

And, yeah. Wow.

I really don't cook much any more. At all. I mean, yeah, I make supper almost every night for my family. It's typically hot, if that's what you mean by cooking. I've sort of settled into this rut with mealtime, though. Some of it can be blamed on my budget. It's hard being creative without the resources. Some of it can be blamed on time. I've got basically an hour between getting home and the beginning of the bedtime routine on a normal night. But some of it should just be blamed on the blah's.

The other night I made lasagna. Because I had noodles in the cabinet and wanted to get rid of them and move on with my life. Also because it is both The Husband and Brynna's favorite dish and nearly the only way I can either of them to glance sideways at a salad.

Anyway, I was kinda excited about the prospect. Ten minutes later, I was tired and wanted to go sit. Why? Because of my spice cabinet.

I've struggled my entire adult life with my spices. Spice racks tend to not have enough room for me. Fancy chef-type solutions tend to cost more than my kitchen. So, I've always just had a cabinet, where I shove all my spice bottles. For some strange reason, this cabinet tends to be the one that is hardest to get to and up the highest. Why? I dunno. Maybe I'm a masochist.

In any case, the list of spices I dump in lasagna is decently long, and therefore, requires quite a bit of digging. I hate the digging. I hate that I always discover that I am out of parsley, but because I personally find parsley to be useless, I never seem to buy any more and just dump in a little Italian Seasoning. I hate that I seem to have 7 bottles of cumin, but 0 cinnamon. And I hate that as soon as I am done with the dumping I close the cabinet with relief and promptly forget about (or block) the whole traumatic experience.

I've considered many, many solutions and none of them have ever made me even a little happy. I've considered making a wall o spice using Alton Brown's method and I think that might work best, but I haven't gotten anywhere with that.

And, really, it's not just about spice storage. That's obviously part of it. Because of the whole popping into my mind and causing a blogrant, I know that's part of it. But, it's not everything. Or, rather, it is everything. All my kitchen stuff is haphazard. I have three silverware/utensil drawers. One of them, I can't open without opening the oven first. Because my oven is too big. There is no rhyme or reason as to what item is in what drawer. Oh, there has been. But I'm not willing to take over the chore of doing dishes just so things with blades stay in a blade drawer.

And cookware - don't even get me started. I don't have much, understand. I have an unnaturally large collection of Pyrex, though and everything just sort of gets piled places. Not to mention that there are quite a few items that don't seem to fit anywhere (like pitchers) and get stuck on top of my kitchen cabinets. Which requires my tall, tall husband's rescue or a chair.

Sometimes, I have these decorating breakdowns. Moments when I realize that I just can't take it anymore. Since I've moved into the new house, I've waited for my bedroom breakdown. Some other time, I'll bitch about the ridiculous layout and the fact that my side of the bed has to be against the wall or we can't fit in all the furniture. And there's not that much furniture.

It seems though, that thanks to the Pioneer Woman and her ode to open shelving (which I'm still not sure I could handle. I mean, I am just not that tidy) I think the kitchen breakdown is coming fast. And since I'm broke, broke, broke, why don't you all help me out?

Who has storage issues in their kitchen? How do you deal with it? What makes it work or makes it break down into total chaos? What solutions have you discovered that work for you?