Loose Ends

Loose Ends

the creative impulse gone awry

Monday, December 3, 2012

Balance, among other things.

Friends,  there is a lot going on these days.  A lot, and nothing, as usual.  It's so hard to not get wrapped up in the minutiae, isn't it?  Diapers, laundry, the tedium of putting a thousand (or 7000) things on the internet, the sibling squabbles, dinner.  A few things recently have made me want to step back for a moment and see things through a different light.

Some blogs I've been reading have been making me THINK, which doesn't happen all that much - or at least it hasn't happened that much in a long time.  Do you know what I mean when I say that I spend so much of my life managing, or reacting, or scheming/dreaming/planning the next step.  But thinking, analyzing, really examining where I am, what I'm doing, how I'm feeling, or *gasp* what is going on in the world -- as a ridiculously busy working mommy/wife I don't really get the chance.

People (and by people I mean folks I know in real life, folks I know online, and folks I just read the things that they say or hear on the tv things that they say) talk about having time for yourself.  I nod and I say, oh yes, but what does that mean?  What does it look like to have time for yourself when you don't even have the time for everything else that you have to do, when you look around and know that the laundry is not going to fold and put itself away and that when you return (physically, or emotionally) from whatever "me time" means you will see said laundry and feel worse.

guilt.  I'm *so* good at guilt.  I'm not so good at asking for help.  And, frankly, these days, I've been feeling boring.  So I'm trying to mix it up, spend a little time navel-gazing.  I'm trying to introduce some different routines that are specifically there to improve how I feel about myself.  These are personal things, which is why I nod and say "oh yes" when ever any person talks to me about time for yourself and time for your marriage.  As if anyone could know what that would mean for me, except for me.  (People love to give advice about this)  Except often I don't really know.  I have to look back at a time when I didn't feel so harried and try to capture what it was that I was doing more or less of and experiment.

Happiness, contentedness, these things are so hard to achieve, it's complicated and personal.  What I do won't make sense to other people, or makes sense but has no affect for them.  But there are some things that I'm doing.  I'm trying to read more fiction.  I spend a lot of time reading words on the internet, which is lovely and thought provoking, but there was a time in my life where I read a lot of books.  I miss that, I miss spending time in someone else's thoughts.  Reading is one of the few things that I do where I am completely transformed.  My guilt and drive makes me want to read parenting books (but I packed them all up when we were staging the house and I think my parenting has improved, so i'm going to spend less time thinking about parenting theories and more time just snuggling the girls) but really that is not me time.  That is not an escape, it is just the belly of the beast.  But I've got this electronic reading thing for our december gift-giving event and its really fantastic for reading and knitting -- so I can belay some of my guilt about taking me time by knitting while I do it.  Right now I'm reading some classics, and it's fantastic -- the girls never lose my place, so I can just pop it on and read a page if I have a minute (potty training anyone?  lots of waiting) I'm finding a lot of little nooks and crannies in my days that I can spend reading and really, its just awesome.

Second, if there is one thing I love more than anything it's being productive and feeling competent.  Josh made the observation a while ago that sometimes when I'm feeling overwhelmed that what I really need is an easy to accomplish task from my to do list.  Something that has been bothering me, that has a discreet beginning and end (because so many of my tasks are never-ending) that I can look at and smile knowing that it's done and never needs to be done again.

Things like re-finishing the floor in the hallway, or like this weekend, installing the new vanity in the half bathroom.  Satisfying and finished.  Of course, it took far longer than we expected (2 trips to the hardware store) and I ended up not seeing the girls much on saturday which strung them out and made them a little nuts (is that presumptuous of me to think that me not being available one day would have such a drastic affect?)  But it's done and it's beautiful and seeing it makes me all happy.

Lastly, recently I was able to spend some time socializing without the kids, without Josh even.  This is WEIRD.  First, you must know, if you don't already, that I am 34.  Josh has been my mostly companion (Eloise reference?  anyone?) since 2.5 months before my 16th birthday.  I won't make you do the math, February 25, 2013 will be the 19th anniversary of our first date.  So for me to be socializing without him is bizarro.  Second, you must know, that the moment that Clara was born and was placed on my chest (and promptly pooped all over me, thus really baptizing me as a parent) I had the feeling of being completely at ease with another human being for the first time ever. 

These two facts about me are completely fundamental to who I am.  Josh is my other half, and I have never so felt at ease with another human as I do with my children.  So to venture into the world without them almost feels as if I am presenting just a small sliver of myself to the world.  But, it turns out, that sliver is pretty darn fun and I enjoy it.  Also, exercising that small sliver actually makes me enjoy my whole self (ie. time with my family) even more.

So three things: trying to read and spend time in someone else's universe, second, doing small things that bother me and will make me happy when they are done -- even when it requires me to ignore other things that still bother me, and third, spending time without my family.

I'm trying to make all of these things easier (especially 1 & 3) by introducing the electronic reading thing (#1) and making better use of my babysitter and my partner (#3).  Is this progress?  I think so.  We're constantly evolving, folks.  Trying to become people that we're happy to be.  Trying to live a life where we can look back and feel pretty OK about how we conducted ourselves.  Change the things we can and accept the things we can't (okay, maybe I went to a few too many AA meetings with my dad when I was little, but it's a good sentiment)

So enough deep thinking, how about some cute pictures I found on Clara's camera?  Her series of self portraits with her frog...

And adorable pictures of Zoë:

Yeah, I love the glimpse of their private world that looking at her camera gives me.  Even when I see them doing things that I would rather they not do (making beds on the dining room table for instance...)  More later, my dears.  I have been doing A LOT of knitting.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

On and off the needles

What did I tell you about that look on Clara's face on her birthday?
I took approximately 10 pictures during her party - I was just too busy watching the kids have fun and chatting with our friends.  But that up there is what it was all about.  So. Much. Fun.

And how could I forget that there was also Halloween...the girls were fairy princesses thanks to some wings we found at one of the wonderful children's consignment shops around here and target's insane selection of tutus:

Zoë refused to wear her wings outside because she was afraid she would fly off.  Too cute!

So, amongst all of the crazy activities going on around here, I've also been doing a little knitting, and a little finishing.  Clara's Malabrigo twist sweater finally, finally, got buttons.  They are little gears from our steampunk button collection.  I love the way the copper looks with the ultra-vibrant green.  I also love that it stays on her when she wears it.  If you blow up the second picture you will see what I mean about this stuff pilling like crazy.  But it is so soft and cozy that we love it anyway.  Removing the pills is a small price to pay for how crazy soft this yarn is.

Also, I finished the knitting on that Baby Surprise Jacket.  Now to weave in the ends and put some buttons on.  I think I'll try to do that at class tonight.  By being cocky and not paying enough attention I had to rip this out at least 5 times, back to the beginning twice, and one major rip out as I knit it while watching the election results and, um, wasn't paying enough attention.  Normally a Baby Surprise Jacket is like my easy, quick, and fun knit.  This time, I'm *really* glad it's off my needles.

Zoë helped me figure out the striping at the beginning and she really does have better sense than I do about such things.  The last bit (by the button holes) is a little meh.  The good news is the yarn, Sirdar Speckle is an absolute joy to knit and didn't mind one bit being knit, and re-knit, and re-knit, and then, oh one more time for good measure.

I've picked up my February Lady sweater in cream cashmere again.  I actually didn't rip out the whole thing to fix the buttonhole placement... I just ripped out the buttonhole section.  I figured if it worked I had saved myself a whole lot of time and if it didn't... I was going to rip it out anyway.  I've never ripped back that way to fix buttonholes and I wasn't sure if the tension would work out well.  It turned out it was fine.  You can see the line of stitches I ripped back (it looks like a line of shadow just left of the buttonholes)  Luckily I know these things come out in blocking so I'm not worrying about it.  I just started the bottom edging.  I have to try it on standing up to see if I got the length just right, but I think it's going to be great.  Oh how I love it.

I'm wretched at self portraits, but the hat looks so blah, like an enormous mushroom just laying there on my couch (and believe me those few moments where I took it off my head to put it on the couch and take a photo of it were torture)  we've discussed my hat problem previously.  This one is done and I'm looking for my next.  We just got some new colors of Rios in that are a-MAY-zing and one or three may have to come home with me.  Or, I should be a good little business owner and let you buy those and search my stash.  I know that I found some grey cashmere (sister of the cashmere in my white sweater) and if I have a problem with hats, I have an absolute obsession with gray right now.  hm.  I may have to go spelunking in the stash after breakfast...

And did you really think I was kidding about ripping out my kitchen?  Right before Thanksgiving?  Ha, well, yes.  I wasn't.  Our plan with the kitchen is to do things piece by piece -- disrupting our lives as little as possible.  Part 1 of our plan is to tear up the linoleum floor in the hallway off of the kitchen and see what's under there.  Our guess: the hardwoods that are throughout the rest of the downstairs.  Were we right?  Yes!

There was linoleum, a 1/4 inch plywood subfloor and then the remnants of some 12" linoleum tile that had been glued to the wood floor.  The remnants came up with some elbow grease and water and now we just have to clean up the edges where the glue from the linoleum spread under the subfloor, then spend some time with my belt sander, and then a few coats of poly.  Our thought is that this is probably in the kitchen too, and even though it's a bit of a slog cleaning it all up, free hardwood flooring may loosen up our budget and allow for other things that are on our wishlist.  Next we have to get someone in to tell us with authority that we can remove this wall... (insert evil laugh) I've never taken down a wall before and I'm pretty excited.  I hope that we can slowly make some improvements to that section of the kitchen where the wall is and then when we have most of the kitchen under control to demo the original stuff.  We'll see if it all works out.  This is obviously a long term project!

There is more, there is a project that is in the car right now -- sorry, couldn't get pictures of that because it's chilly outside and I don't want to leave the house.  Also, Clara's closet redo, which turned out so well... but she's still asleep.  I'll see if I can get photos of that today and you'll get to see shortly.  It turned out so well, that now I'm thinking about installing shelving in all of our closets.  Really, it never ends!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

tap... tap... is this thing on?

I have to say, that the past couple of weeks have been nuts.  I apologize if you were concerned about how we all fared in the hurricane - we're fine.  Thankfully, we had minimal damage.  Our fence that was falling down fell all the way down, and we lost power for 2 hours.  Phew.  But we've been extraordinarily busy the past three weeks and blogging, as usual, fell off the list.

So what were we up to?  Well, Clara, light of my life - turned 5.  Seriously, wasn't I pregnant with her just a couple of weeks ago?  We had a great party for her with a Borrowers theme.  Having recently become obsessed with the movie - The secret world of Arrietty.  I did my best to really pull out the heavy artillery because my 5th birthday is one of my first memories.  My mom hired a group of high school aged girl scouts to entertain me and my little friends.  What did we do?  I have no idea, but I remember the absolute bliss of that party.  So I wanted it to be special for her and it totally worked.

For the first time ever she was more interested in the kids at the party than anything else.  It is such a wonderful thing to watch her develop friendships and connections.  Since she is naturally cautious about people, to see her just unabashed, smiling ear-to-ear -- I honestly tear up a little just remembering the expression on her face while we sang Happy Birthday to her.  I really do adore watching her evolve.

So the very next day Sandy blew through town and we had all of that madness to deal with.  And then the weekend after that was a bridal shower/bachelorette party that I attended, and then this past weekend a wedding for dear friends of ours.   And daylight savings?  Yeah, that completely ruined my getting up early in the morning and blogging.  But this morning, for the first time since the time change I woke up at 6.  I rolled over and went back to bed, but I have a feeling that tomorrow I'll be up again and that I'll be able to rally.

Oh, and one more exciting thing... after many trials and so much work, I've launched an e-commerce site for Bella.  If you are visiting this blog from bellayarns.com you already can tell that it's different, but for the rest of you who follow me through other sources... check it out!  I have, oh, maybe 15% of our products up on the site, and more (most) every day.  I really wanted to present a fully formed website for all of you with all of the bells and whistles and everything Just. So.  But, you know, our inventory is a moving target.  Things change daily, new things, things sold out, and at a certain point you have to admit that like all of us, it had to start out somewhere and evolve.  So especially if you want some self-ruffling yarns (our first department that is complete- except for descriptions, Naomi is working on that as we speak with a cat on her lap!) visit the site!

In other news, I appear to have a hat problem.  Having made two wurms:

(Louisa Harding Orielle -- 2 skeins)

(Juniper Moon Farms - Herriot 1 skein)

and then a rikke.  I can't seem to stop, or to pick up my other projects.  Sadly, only the last hat is mine for a while.  I had a hard time giving up the rikke...
(Malabrigo Rios - Playa 1 skein)
In fact, I had such a hard time giving it up that I'm making another in Tosh DK (french gray)  It's gorgeous, but I may love the first one I knit marginally more  But it is lovely, my first time knitting the Tosh DK and while the color is gorgeous I am struggling with some splitting issues.  It's so gently spun that it's easy to do.  But you know, we all suffer for our art, and I'm thrilled with the results even if I curse a stitch or two.  It will also make a lovely sample when we are left with nothing but single skeins of the Tosh DK.  I'm hoping that will take a while, because I'd like to have this hat for more than a few days.

I'm also thinking I need to do *another* wurm in tosh sport.  We'll see.  Obviously I have a problem.  I have so many other things to make, but I can't seem to stop myself.  It's telling that I built my outfit today around the Tosh DK hat and I haven't yet finished (but that should come soon...the decreases are swift and steep.)

Oh, I've been knitting other things, you know, I have to, it's my job... but my heart belongs to the hat right now.  I'll tell you more about those things soon (hopefully I'll wake up early tomorrow!)  I have to say it is so lovely to return to the quiet routine after a few weeks full of activity.  It's truly a gift that it's a gray rainy day so we can really appreciate being home today.  Of course I hope to start tearing out the kitchen today (ha!) so the quiet will last approximately 24 hours.  We're starting with the floor in the hallway to see what's there.  I love a good adventure, especially when I don't have to leave my house to have it!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


One of the most lovely things about our new house is our proximity to the local bike path.  I have to be honest that not all parts of this bike path are particularly idyllic but we scored big time. If we turn left we end up in what is essentially a marshlands wildlife preserve, and if we turn right we have a nice quiet way to get into town with a lot of peeks at the water.  While the water we live near is technically a river -- it still gets you to the bay and therefore in our little hearts it's the sea...  I can't tell you how much I missed living by the ocean.  It just feels like home to be near it.

Now that the weather is delightful and most of the mosquitoes have gotten cold and died (FINALLY) we've been trying to take more frequent walks on the bike path.  Whenever we do I feel so extraordinarily lucky to live here. 

One of the more reliably fun pasttimes for Clara is to take pictures.  When I upgraded my camera I gave her my old Canon PowerShot and she loves playing with it.  I have to say, most of the time she's taking weird tableau shots with her sister, or videos of whatever she's watching on tv.  But I've been encouraging her to bring it on our walks and the results have been wonderful:

I also found lots of pictures of squirrels. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

The enormous orange blanket

Well, I finally got the girls outside on the blanket so you can get an idea of the scale of the thing.  Holy cow -- it's huge:

Seriously, it's the biggest thing I've ever knit.  I once knit a shawl for my Mom-in-law that was 6 feet square, and that was certainly more stitches than this - that was on a #6... but this takes the cake for size.  23 skeins of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Super-chunky, a long gone -- and mostly forgotten yarn that I kept because it's soft and machine washable and all the same dye-lot.  I figured one day, I could make an afghan out of it (even though I'm not particularly fond of knitting afghans)  7 years later I went for it!  The pattern is a modification of Naomi's Inside-Out Baby Blanket.  Instead of doing the garter ridges and changing colors, I knit 10 rounds of stockinette, and 10 rounds of moss stitch (aka, double seed stitch or double moss stitch) I worked it so after I increase (kf&b) I started the moss stitch with a K1, and it looks like the moss stitch is seamless from the increases -- I fudged the beginning so I would be sure to have an odd number of stitches in each section.  Naomi thinks I should write up the pattern... and I suppose that I should.  Just not today!

While we were out there in the perfect fall weather I just had to get some cute shots of the girls snuggling.  They were so into the photoshoot!

At this point I got cocky and decided to go for a new photo for our currency at the shop -- Bella Bucks.  Naomi has been gently bugging me to get an updated photo since the one we have is 2 years old.  For this we need to have both of them looking at the camera at the same time... preferably smiling nicely, since it's going to be printed out roughly 2000 times and given to our customers.  I asked them to look at me and smile big...

Okay, but that smile may be too big Zoë, try again, but a little smaller.

Clara, an old pro at smiling for the camera is totally consistent (for now) and Zoë looks at me like, what do you mean -- smile smaller?  Wait, what's that?
Zoë over here, and smile, but not so big... little smile (imagine me, holding up my fingers and pinching, which is my mommy sign language for less - usually I mean quieter)  Clara remembers something funny grandpère does where he makes chicken noises and she's lost from the photoshoot...

And then it devolves to funny things to do with our faces...

Ah well, better luck next time.  Hopefully then they'll be feeling more presidential.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's all been a blur

What happens when your babysitter calls in sick one week and then there's a holiday the next?  Apparently, not blogging.  ha ha ha.  It's been crazy over here folks.  Two weeks with less than my usual babysitting and I have nary a minute to spare to tell you all that's been going on.  I've been writing blog posts in my head while watching star trek next generation and drooling in the evenings... which is not so helpful if I'd like to actually share them with you.

So, ahem, hello there.  I'm writing this before the house has woken up because I'm so busy that I've resorted to waking up before the rest of my clan so I can have those illusive peaceful moments I've been hearing about.  Despite feeling like the LOUDEST human in the world, I have to admit, it's pretty nice.  The family, dear readers, has been trucking along pretty well.  Until last week when I thought I had done something truly stupid, which I later found out wasn't as stupid as I thought -- cryptic I know, but honestly, the details are boring, and unnecessary -- the schedule thing was working pretty brilliantly and we had drastically reduced Clara's tantrums. 

Of course, one day of movie watching on the floor while Momma tries to fix (what she thought was) a big oops and we slid back into our old patterns.  It's so easy, really.  So we're back on the wagon again and hoping for the best.  Our nearly 2 weeks of success really does bode well, doesn't it?  As long as I can stick with the program, I think it will work out nicely.  I still haven't torn apart my wardrobe yet... soon.

The good news is when you don't have a lot of childcare, you can still knit massive amounts (apparently) and I've been crazy knitting recently.  I finished the enormous orange blanket, which didn't even get it's ends woven in before it came into heavy use.  I need to photograph it with the kids on top of it to show the scale... it's 7 feet square, and counts as the largest thing I've ever knit.  My stash feels so much lighter with those 23 skeins gone!  I've had them for years and I honestly can't believe they became something.  It's brilliant.

After that it was a parade of hats.  I've made, oh, 4? of them.  5 if you count the one I knit twice, which still didn't work and so I made Naomi take the ball of yarn and do something with it.  I don't want to tell you what yarn it was, because honestly, it's not the yarns fault.  It just *really* doesn't want to be a hat. 

First was the Big Chill Hat and Cowl that I made out of Malabrigo Rasta (oh god that yarn is nice...)  Wow, I just went down the rabbit hole in ravelry trying to find that pattern and it doesn't exist!  I have to make it, but not this morning.  We have it in the shop if you're curious.

Then I knit a couple out of this wacky but awesome book we have called "Need a Hat?"  Basic hats in any gauge.  I haven't photographed them because 2 of them were the ill-fated hat that really doesn't want to be a hat, and another that went into service as a sample in the shop too quickly. 

Then, insert heavy sigh, Wurm.  I apologize for the crappy cell-phone photo, but I knew I would have to give it up so soon!

You can barely see there in that picture the slight twinkle of the strand of silver in the Orielle.  This hat is literally destined to be knit out of alpaca.  It's the best, floppiest, easiest to wear hat in the world and you should all find some sport - to -  light worsted alpaca right now and go print out the pattern and make it and then wear it and realize this is why all the women are wearing this hat.  It's just perfect.  In fact, I'm planning on ripping out the fingerless gloves that I started in Herriot and start another today while Clara's at gymnastics.  It's no big loss, as I've only just started them.  But the idea of this perfect hat in un-dyed, all natural alpaca is just irresistible.

Then, this weekend, I had a bit of start-itis and um, let's just look at the parade, shall we? 

Can you tell from the picture that this is cashmere that's been sitting in my stash for approximately 8 years?  Do I look thinner?  Because, that orange blanket just *did* something to me.  I started looking around at my stash and trying to match it with some projects and this was tops of my list Filatura di Crosa Cashmere 100 - that's 100% baby.  I have had so many ideas about this yarn and then when looking at my wardrobe (it all comes back to that organization, right?) I realized a simple cream cardigan would just be fantastic.  So it is becoming February Lady - a sweater that I have wanted to knit for ages.  It's turning out nicely, but I may rip out to the second buttonhole, which I placed too low.  In fact, yes, I just need to admit it and do it.  sigh.  But it is so soft and classic, I can't wait to wear it.

Then, the aforementioned fingerless gloves that will soon become a hat.  Do they even count?  If you cast on and tear out (in the forest) and no one is there to see it, have you even really knit?  ha ha ha.

 And then, really, I think Naomi was just taking pity on my knitting all. those. hats.  A baby yarn that needs a sample, a Baby Surprise Jacket you say?  Why, yes, I think I can manage that.  Girl knows that I love knitting BSJs, and this time I'm letting Zoë decide what color I knit next.  I'm horrible at striping, so she's been helping.  It's turning out well, the yarn is Baby Speckle from Sirdar and it's a joy to knit with and is making a great, bouncy fabric. 

But it's all about knitting another Wurm and hopefully working on my February Lady sweater.  It's so soft and the weather has definitely turned.  Lastly, in other news, guess who loves it when I get up early to blog?

Oh Bob.  Yes, I'll pet you in a moment.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

My grumpy girl

While most of the time I post pictures of my dear Clara smiling and looking happy, this is not the face I see most of the time.  During vacation I started a series called "Clara looking cross"  Mostly as a way to stay calm and gain perspective while she was pitching a fit.

- at Jordan Pond in Acadia after she decided that throwing rocks in the lake was more fun than going on our planned on hike.  She sulked until we turned around.

Do you remember this cute little one from a few posts back?

Next frame:
- upset that her sister is removing 1 of the 13 golf balls she had placed on the ground... the rest are blurry because she was trying to wrestle said golf ball out of Zoë's hands.

For whatever reason, Clara is quick to anger.  She always has been, um, particular?  ...strong-willed? ...stubborn?  We joke that this is just default for the women in my family -- it rides along with my X chromosome.  I love that she will be a take-no-prisoners adult but as an almost 5 year old she often has me feeling, well, imprisoned.  I've had a lot of very long, and sometimes painful, conversations with folks who know these things (some even have relevant degrees!) and we're pretty sure she's just on the edgy side of normal.  Kind of introverted, kind of inflexible, but with a load of amazing qualities that make her a lot of fun to be around... usually. And with a vocabulary that makes it hard to remember she's only 4!

I'm pretty frank about my own issues with anxiety.  I have a bunch of hilarious and debilitating phobias, spiders (so common it's boring), moths (funny and appropriate for a yarn shop owner), flying (truly annoying).  I did a bunch of therapy in my 20s to get a handle on my crippling fears, among other things.  My therapist marveled that I could get so much done with the level of stress that I carried around all the time.  I had great success learning to manage my anxiety -- really changing the way I think.  I've never needed medication, thankfully, but it was always a happy back-up if things got really bad.  In short, I function pretty well, that is, under normal circumstances.

Parenting, while ostensibly a "normal" thing is (for me) like putting myself through some sort of anxiety obstacle course every day.  I start most days tired and I'm lucky if I find clean clothes and maintain some basic level of personal hygiene.  On top of that, we've got this new house, and my business, and so my to do list is crippling.  Pair that with my delightfully inflexible Clara and her insane monkey little sister and I'm a nervous wreck most of the time.

Lately, things with Clara have been especially challenging.  There have been many many tantrums.  Most of the time I can take this stuff in stride, but the frequency of these events, their severity, along with the only barely being civil parts in the middle have really been taking a toll.  I'm usually pretty happy with my parenting but recently I've been mostly Cartman Parenting (bad parenting level 1) and then, let's be honest, sometimes end up Toddler parenting -- where I act more like a toddler than the toddlers (bad parenting level 2)  I don't know what bad parenting level 3 looks like, thankfully, I'm happy to not know.

I've been brainstorming ideas on how to help get us past this bumpy section (all the while just cringing and shaking my head about how much fun she's going to be as a teenager) and the consensus seems that we need to be a bit more organized.  The organization will help me stay calm (honestly, dinner sneaks up on me every. day. and if I had a plan instead of a panic the rest of the world seems so much more manageable) and will give her (and let's face it me too) a sense of order that will help when we have to be flexible.

So I've been working on organizing our entire life. hah! Really, removing decisions from our day.  Making the boring things more systematic so the rest is easier.  My mom tells me this is all good preparation for next year when Clara goes to school.  It prepares her for the concept of a routine (previously unknown in our house) and gets us used to the hard work of having a school-aged kid.  I started off with a basic spreadsheet of our daily schedule.  I've found that our weekly schedule is getting pretty regular, while each day is a little different, the days of the week have a rhythm that we can follow.  I also decided to try to have a morning routine (breakfast, a bit of TV, getting dressed, snack, a bit of housework) and an evening routine (make & eat dinner, bathtime, stories, bed) I hoped that if we could get these things to happen at the same time each day, perhaps, by some miracle, this would help Clara and it would give me the strength to get through each day with grace and patience.

Does it make me a geek that I then made daily schedules for the girls that I can print out for them?  Complete with "bathtime" clip-art?  yes, it does.  I know, it's okay.  I also have my "parents version" with all of the times laid out so I can remember when things need to happen.  I'm so abhorrent to routine that I literally print out my schedule every day and take notes.  Of course I decided to start this whole process 2 days before vacation, but we resumed the plan when we came home.  I've been assured that it often gets worse before it gets better, so I'm just going to keep plugging and improving where I can and hoping that it eventually it feels like routine instead of work.

As we continue this project I'll try to share with you some of the things that have been working.  The daily schedules so far, for Clara, have been helpful.  She asks for them and wants to read through them each morning during breakfast.  She also has been taking "notes" when I mention things may not go as planned.  Some transitions have been easier, but that's not getting rid of all of the tantrums -- we still have a meddling little sister to push her buttons.

Planning out our meals has already made me less stressed out, which is helping with the bad parenting.  As with so many other things, our kids are mirrors of our own behaviors.  Clara definitely picks up on my anxiety and amplifies it.  Knowing what we're having for dinner TONIGHT and that it's thawed and ready to get together when the time comes (checks schedule, that's 5:00pm) makes it so much easier for me to stay calm when Clara's feeling stormy. 

I'm hoping to tear apart my wardrobe soon, plan a dozen or so outfits and store the rest.  I've never done this before but really, sometimes just finding something to wear (that isn't pajamas) is such a challenge for me.  If it were more formulaic, it would make my morning that much easier and that may also improve my sanity.

Also part of my plan is to include some housework for the girls and I to do each day.  Firstly, it will help me keep our house clean and organized and secondly, it will teach them how much work it takes to care for a house and hopefully get them invested in keeping the house clean and organized.  Clara didn't like the idea of house cleaning when I brought it up first, but when she learned she got to play with soap and push buttons (laundry) she perked right up.  Now we've done a shocking amount of laundry and it's folded and put away (even more shocking!)

Lastly, I've suddenly found it quite funny that I was totally prepared to turn my life upside down for my children.  I knew my life would change and I would learn many many new things.  How little was I prepared for how much I, myself, would have to change to rise to the challenge of parenting.  How so little of this upheaval has to do with diapers and sleep (though, to be sure, those are huge adjustments, temporarily) and how so much of it has been developing entirely new (to me) infrastructure -- physical, emotional, and now organizational, to continue supporting them as they grow.  Parenting, as usual, just when you think you have it figured out you realize you have to change everything all over again.  Who knows maybe one day finding clean pants will be a breeze.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Vacation Knitting!

I wasn't kidding when I said I knit an obscene amount on vacation.  I left with several balls of yarn that turned into objects while I was gone.  It's great when Josh doesn't mind driving the whole way and the girls cooperate by playing nicely and napping.  Also, many late nights talking with my brother and sister-in-law are conducive to massive output.  Without further ado, the wingspan in Alpaca Degradé:

check that out!  it's lighter than air!  

It's also perfect for taking off the chill of a crisp fall day.  Love it -- and I'm really not looking forward to its stay at the store.  If there weren't so many other pressing things to knit I would immediately cast on another.  It took 3 skeins and I knit the fingering weight version (90 stitches) on a larger needle so it would be a bit bigger.  It's perfect.

Next up, some quickie cowls.  Crazy Easy Cowl (from our eBook) in Boboli (one skein).  I've only done/seen solid color versions of this and I'm loving it in a multi...

And a Linen-stitch Cowl (also from our eBook) in Malou Degradé (the super-chunky sister to Alpaca Degradé)  It is so stinkin' soft.  Oh, I love it.

When those were finished I was able to spend some time on some personal knitting (sweet!) I made some serious progress on my Tiny Tea Leaves for Clara out of some Malabrigo twist.  We were putting it on sale this spring and I saw this green and then magically it was in my bag on the way home.  I know I have way more than I need so maybe the rest will end up in our sale in the spring... or I may just be forced to horde it.  I love this yarn more than words...

It's so soft and squishy.  I know it pills like crazy, but I simply don't care.  Now I get to knit some sleeves on it so she can wear it for real.  The only modification that I've made to the pattern was to add another buttonhole.  Zoë's version is flawed because I didn't follow the instructions and just used the same size needle for everything (the garter stitch sections are supposed to be knit on a needle 2 sizes smaller) and it is floppy and weird and huge in spots and it definitely needs a 3rd button.  So I decided not to be lazy and use the proper needle size for Clara's version but still add the extra button just in case.  It's just beautiful and I lurve it.

I also banged out a few more stripes in my stripey sweater, but really it's hard to tell.  It's definitely going to be a slow knit.  I think it will end up on hold for a while as having warmer cardigans is becoming important.  I think I have enough cream-colored cashmere in my stash to work up a february lady sweater -- a brainstorm I had this morning and I am having a hard time not tearing apart my stash to find it and then cast on.  Honestly, I think I need to get some sleeves on Clara's sweater and work on that enormous orange afghan.  Priorities!