Loose Ends

Loose Ends

the creative impulse gone awry

Monday, February 27, 2012

where the children are adorable and life is insane

I hope you haven't worried too much about us during our little unplanned silence, dear readers.  It has been a crazy couple of weeks as the to do list winds down and the realities of selling our home and purchasing a new home start to weigh in.  It is a complicated matter, this house swapping we are planning and the blog, and much else in my life, suffers.

I am pleased to announce that until yesterday sometime our first floor looked largely like it was ready for that pottery barn photo shoot.  Of course, then Josh, in his infinite wisdom, decided we needed to check out what was in this storage area off the girls' room and we discovered 4 old computers, and numerous boxes of papers that Josh had mysteriously saved.  Also all of the Bella Yarns records, which, of course I knew were in there, but Josh's treasure trove of, for lack of a better word, stuff, was epic and amazing.  He's what I like to call an accidental hoarder.  He keeps things, simply, because the effort required to decide what to keep is more than the effort required to just toss the pile of things into a box and hide it in a little used storage room off the girls' room.

He has improved greatly in recent years in this habit due to my prodding and nagging that he, at least, remove the envelopes from the bills when saving them (this cuts down a lot of bulk) and we've come to some really excellent compromises on what we keep, how we organize it, and how long we keep it.  But from the late 90's and early 00's we had quite a bit of stuff.  Some of it was utterly boring, pay stubs, blah blah blah.  Some of it was mildly interesting and marginally nostalgic, first leases, the closing papers for this house.  But some of it was PURE GOLD, my letters to Josh when he was in college (oh dear god) and postcards his mom sent him when he was in college or when she was away on trips.  One card from his grandmother on his father's side who I was never lucky enough to meet.  It was wonderful to me to see her handwriting and hear her voice at least on paper.  I nice glimpse into one of the many women whose genes contributed to my sweet husband.

I was hoping today to run around the house and show you some glimpses into our oddly clean house and all of the things I've been working on during my little blogging hiatus but it looks like a storage room exploded everywhere, there's a computer graveyard in my dining room, a pile of stuff to burn in front of the fireplace, piles of things to drag out to the stoop on trash day (sadly two days from now, waaaah).  So I'm going to take this opportunity to clean out another of our storage areas, this one has christmas decorations, camping gear and baby clothes in it, and I'm sure a few surprises.  So soon our house will look like 2 storage areas exploded.  Oh well.  It's all part of the process and we'll just be one step closer to being ready to move when it's all over.  As long as it's all taken care of by Friday morning when the stager comes in to tell us precisely how to position everything for maximum effect.

To think that it was almost a year ago precisely that I met our real estate agent to talk about selling this house and I started on this grand home improvement adventure.  I laugh now thinking how I repainted the bathroom holding Zoë with Clara dancing on the toilet and changing out the tub faucet and having Zoë wake up from her nap hungry so I ended up nursing and plumbing at the same time.  They have worked so hard keeping themselves occupied while I work on the house, work on the business and blog.  While we all haven't had as much patience as is required to complete every task with grace, we're getting through to the end of it -- or at least to the beginning of the next adventure.

So to compensate for the lack of pretty house pictures, I'm bringing you some cute shots of the girls today. 

Zoë is talking up a storm but only Clara and I understand her most of the time, Josh about 75% and the rest of the universe thinks she's speaking a foreign language.  She lives up to her middle name, Kitsune, she is full of mischief, charisma and charm.  Clara is getting more amazing everyday, she is a stubborn beast of a woman at times (like her mother!) but she is so bright and interesting that it helps compensate!  We're reading her The Hobbit and she is loving it nearly as much as we are.  Thank god I have them to entertain me or I would be bored out of my skull.  Zoë is quite the comedian,her new thing is to tear off her clothes and come running into the room shouting "I'm naked!" and then saying "Naked Dance" and then, you guessed it, dancing naked.  Classic, but not exactly for the internet.  Anywho, that's all for now.  Our house should be on the market sometime next week (holy crap) and then my life will be very very weird.  Keep your fingers crossed that it sells quickly so I don't have to keep the house that clean for very long.  Also encourage any friends (or heck, people you don't like too!) living in historic Warren to put their houses on the market so we have one to buy!  More soon(ish)!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

a love story

 I am often charmed to remember this day, 18 years ago, when I sent my secret love a carnation with a very cryptic note- "It's a secret and I'll never tell" which was a reference, entirely vague, about a conversation we had had the week earlier about something my friend Sarah had said that I would, apparently, never repeat.  What the secret was regarding Sarah, I do not remember.  I do remember that Josh took another girl to the valentine's day dance and I, wearing what I thought was a totally fetching long pleated skirt and peach colored top, was devastated.  The following day Josh went off to a trip to Greece with a school group where, after repeated prodding of who, who could possibly have sent that secret admirer carnation, my friend Amanda spilled the beans. 

That week, I remember, was particularly tough for me.  My dad was engaged to be married (which we all thought at the time was a really bad idea), my mom was having some health issues which could possibly have included a cancer diagnosis and we were all waiting for test results, and my secret crush liked some other girl and was in Greece with one of my best friends.  I was lonely, it was vacation week and I was depressed.  It's all so cute, really.

By the end of the week, my father had decided to not get married and my mom's tests said no cancer.  Things were looking up. The Saturday after everyone got back from Greece the theatre group met for rehearsal and my friend Amanda told me she revealed the sender of Josh's secret admirer carnation and I was mortified for those few moments until she said the feeling was mutual and he was planning on asking me on a date.  Woo hoo!  Of course, Josh, being Josh, did so in such a casual way with a group of people around that my friend Jen came along.  Ultra romantic.  We all went to a movie, Ace Ventura Pet Detective.  It all seems so sweet to me now -- that I never knew he wore glasses until we got to the theater and he put them on, and he was so dreamy (and still is, thank you!).  How impressed I was that he knew a band that was playing in the movie... (cannibal corpse, yes I know... delightful name, but teenage boys listen to some interesting music)

It was a full moon that night, he dropped Jen off at her house first and we kissed sitting in the car in my driveway.  I remember he told me, "we should do this again sometime" and with that, there we were, together.  When he went to college we talked about it and we decided we would be together until that time where we found a better deal, until, for lack of better words, someone better came along.  Frankly, no one has ever come close.  I giggle knowing that our story of coming together will always read like a cheesy YA novel.  Oh well, I was FIFTEEN!

Try as I might to screw it all up several times by being selfish and heartless and dumb he has been with me all the way.  He is the most forgiving and generous person I know.  He is most certainly my better half and I work everyday to be the partner that he deserves, because he deserves the very best.  Trying to be a better person for him means I'm a better person for everyone.  He is not the man of my dreams, he is the man of my life, my partner, the father of my babies, the person I want to be with always.  I miss him when he's gone for 5 minutes and a night without him is like eternity.  18 years ago I knew he was the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with and I'm so glad I was right.  I had no idea how beautiful (and hard and wonderful and challenging) a life it would be -- and really, it's only just begun.

Josh in Greece (wearing my sunglasses no less!)
Josh, Az, and Alan graduate from high school, I lurk.
Josh and me on the way to the Phila symphony when I was at Bryn Mawr.

Josh and me -- my junior year at Bryn Mawr.
Josh on the Northern Californian coast on a trip we took after he graduated from Brown.
on our wedding day (obvious caption award)
Clara, Josh, and me November 2007 (our beautiful cousin -- kimindresanophotography.com)
Josh and Zoë July 2010
Josh and Zoë December 2010
do you see my heart?  it's right there -- all of it.  July 2011
Sweetie, I love you, as Clara would say, to the end of the world and back fifty forty-two thirty times.  I know that I'm not always the easiest person to love, but I'm so glad you have always been up for the challenge. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

rare gifts

As difficult and full of hand wringing and therapy as my relationship with my father has been, he has taught me some very valuable and useful skills.  I come from a long line of crafters on both my mother's side and my father's side.  It was from my mother that I learned how to make things with string and sticks but it was my father who taught me how to make things with wood.

Naomi has spoken about the deep desire to make beautiful things with her hands.  It's one of the things that initially made us friends.  For me this desire goes beyond string.  The act of creation is profound and deeply rewarding for me.  I use all sorts of media -- yarn and flour & sugar being my two favorites.  But it has been way too long since I made anything out of wood.  I think I was pregnant with Zoë when I made these built-ins in our living room.  --sorry for the lousy picture, this was just for me to see if I liked how I was arranging the stuff on the shelves for the great house staging project.

But I haven't touched my tools in a long time.  I've been working on painting and decorating and plumbing.  It was on our list from the real estate stager was to do something with our wardrobes.  Well, we call them wardrobes but really they are large open shelves that we keep our clothes on and in.  I built them when I was pregnant with Clara and never did get around to putting the drawers on the bottom shelves and the doors on.  We either needed to keep them perfectly tidy and clean or I had to do something.  So I decided to make some doors to go on them and hide all of our clothes and everything else that ends up on and in them.  I really had been thinking about doing this for long time but was avoiding the project for many reasons, the first of which was doing the mortise and tenon join.  For this quicker, and less woodwork-y project I decided to just cover the back of the face frame (for those of you not into building things with wood, this is the wooden part of the project... there's a picture down there) with fabric.  Building a face frame, for me, is a fun little thing to do.  And finally giving up on my cordless drill I gifted myself a lovely one that plugs in -- it's ready for me whenever I want!  ha HA!  Take that dead batteries!  ahem.  right.  Where was I?

Oh yes, on my trip to IKEA I found these great window shades that were the perfect style and length for what I wanted (3 inches to spare, perfect!)  I had been intending to finish these doors for a few days but on Monday night Bob got out and spent a harrowing (for me, not him) night outside apparently under our neighbor's porch.  I wish that I had remembered that it is Clara, not me, that feeds him every morning so when I went out shaking his food bag he was entirely uninterested.  But when we headed out at noon to go hang up our Lost Cat signs he heard her voice and came running!  So in the depression of having him gone and then the elation of having him back this project got put off a couple of days.

Last night, the girls got to sleep early and Josh went to the gym so I could spend an hour guilt-free in the basement gluing the fabric on.  I used wood glue.  I had heard that it may discolor the fabric so I was careful to get it only on the unexposed parts of the fabric and also to wash off where I goofed.  I pulled it tight and tried to keep the center of the plant-ish print on the center line of the door.  I'm quite pleased with the results.  I found a few spots that needed a little re-gluing this morning and I just used a permanent glue stick.  Ghetto, I know, but I think it's going to work!

This morning, the girls were feeling generous and we headed into the basement so I could drill some holes (thank you drill press!  my favorite tool!) for the handles, then upstairs to trim the fabric around the edges with my rotary cutter and attach the hinges.  Then I hung them on the wardrobes!  I'm thrilled with how they turned out.  It was an easy project and fairly cheap.  They are by no means perfect and since the wardrobes have lived with us for a few years and since they are HUGE, they have warped a bit.  The doors, being straight(ish, let's be honest) look a little funky.  But I'm hoping the overall effect is pleasing to the people who visit our home -- or at least that my clothes now won't prove distracting while they admire our master bedroom.  I didn't think too much about how I would feel about them but changing out of my (wood)work clothes into my work clothes I found them quite charming! 

It is funny to me that as difficult as my relationship with my Father has been, is, and will be, that I derive pure pleasure from making things with wood and using these gifts that he has given me.  It is happy for me that I can compartmentalize this much (a thing I am usually not very good at) and remember only with joy the times where we have built things together.  We may not be very good at doing other things together, but working with wood has always been easy and satisfying.  I look at the results of projects we have worked on and projects that I have created alone (but always with his words in my head guiding my hands) and I only think about how happy I am that I can make these things-- how happy I am that there are positive memories together.  There are so many memories that are not positive, so many times full of discomfort and pain, but when I see these things I only remember the good.  Those memories are a rare gift indeed.  The ability to shape wood with my hands is such a deep part of my identity and I have him to thank for it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Public service announcement -- and a clarification

Hello there, dear readers,

So, I knew this was going to happen eventually.  You see, this is, um, my blog -- not Naomi's blog, in fact it's not the store's blog, in fact, (shhhh) I don't think Naomi reads it, she's a pretty busy woman.  So if you have questions about something you read here, you should direct them to me, not Naomi.  It helps avoid confusion.  We get this all the time in the store.... we have different responsibilities and we're constantly sending people to the other person.  But what I'd like you to do right now is remember that only one person writes here... me.  And really, this blog is a way for you to get to know me.  I thought it would be about the store (I started it before I had kids!), hence the url- unfortunately I can't really change that right now (it's on my ever insane to do list).  But you should know, it's really about me and my life, and part of that is the store, but the store is only part of my life.

Now about that thing that I said, that had to go away... the store is FINE, thank you for asking-- but it could always be better.  I have always planned for the store to eventually provide me an income that is more like the one I made before I decided to put my life goals in front of my financial goals and start a small business.  I feel comfortable saying that we're not there... yet.  While I know it may feel like we've been around forever, we're not even 10 years old and we have a lot of growing left to do.   Approaching our 10 year anniversary (next August!) I have specific goals and growth is on my brain.  I'm sure you will hear more about it as I get this house on the market and life gives me the energy to shine my lighthouse-bright focus on it.  In the meanwhile, don't get nervous that we're going to close up shop... not even close folks.  Growth means we're in it for the long haul.  Goals are a way of making what you have into what you want and we have lots of goals, we're full of ideas.  In fact we're so full of ideas that if you ask us about them you should plan to spend the day.  They are vast and detailed and, if I may say so humbly, really really good.  We love the store.  We love our customers.  We love what we do.  We're not going anywhere. (except up, baby!)  I'm so in it for the long haul that I'm moving my family closer to the store.  So, let's be perfectly clear, your yarn source is safe and well loved.  okay?  (btw, spring yarn, oh my god.  love!  we have a new laceweight that is begging me to knit it right now and all I'm doing is home decorating.... soon, my love, soon)

So let's just remember that this blog is a representation of me and occasionally I share too much and make people uncomfortable.  I'm sure this isn't the last redaction that you'll see here.  You see this has been happening my whole life, there are just bits involved now.  So in the future, if you need clarification on something that I've said here, there, or anywhere else drop me a line.  Don't feel like commenting because it's too public?  You mean everyone doesn't over share on the internet?  Really?  Just look under the "about me" thingy on the right.  Seriously -- look up there, near the top.  Do you see where it says "Talk to me!"?  I mean it.  Email me.  I love to talk.  I thought that, at least, was pretty obvious.

So now that that's over with, what did you do this weekend?  Me?  I'm so glad you asked!  We're still in the middle of house staging hell.  I'm appeasing myself by knitting pillow covers.  Yes, you read that correctly, pillow covers.  I'm knocking off a few pillows I've been seeing everywhere in stores.  First a ruffly pillow, out of Ondas:

Then a chunky stockinette pillow out of Paloma:
Then I made Naomi help me figure out something for our living room.  She is so much better at this than I am, check out her color pick in Kochoran.  Loving it with my couch! (she's so brilliant!)
I'm doing my best to make the house look like it's ready for the Pottery Barn catalog shoot.  I actually felt like apologizing to someone I didn't know when they came in, "I'm so sorry, we're usually not this clean."  Eventually it will all be over and I'll be in my adorable new house within walking distance to the store and we can return to living like normal, happy, slobs.  That day can't come soon enough, folks! 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Where I pretend I'm a food blogger

Or something like that ;)  Tuesday I had a really rough day with the girls.  I pushed them too hard in the morning going to IKEA in our my ridiculous effort to get the house finished and on the market.  So we went to the IKEA, it was too long a trip, I didn't bring snacks, I fed them full of chocolate, Zoë got a short and sucky nap in the car and when we got home we went splat.  Of course, then I remembered Josh called and reminded me that I needed to go to the post office and I had to pile Clara back into the car to get there.  Really, by the time I tried to make it up by hanging outside in the amazing Spring weather we were so at odds with eachother and I was doing my best Cartman impersonation, "Respect my authority!"

It all ended in tears and tantrums... first Zoë, then Clara, then Mommy.  When Josh came home, we were a total mess.  I had given him a warning by calling him and begging him to stop and buy me beer.  This is Mommy code for the sh*t has hit the fan.  He sent me upstairs -- Mommies need time outs too.  As I sat there on the bathroom floor with the shower going for noise suppression I was reminded of a piece I heard on NPR a couple of weeks ago about mindfulness and the part I remembered was to note emotions as I felt them.  So I took a moment to acknowledge how I was feeling- no judgement, just acknowledge.  It went something like this: Angry, sad, angry, angry, frustrated, sad, sad, sad....  much like another piece on NPR someone mentioned to me about the science of tantrums. Lightbulb.

I calmed myself oddly easily at that point and the rest of the evening went pretty well.  The girls were still acting insane because of what we had gone through earlier, but my patience had returned and I sent Josh off to the gym.  I was in that great place of parenting where I had just had a really really bad moment. I was feeling remorseful and introspective and I wanted to think about how I can handle things differently so we don't explode again.  Not that we can ever avoid conflict -- some days just suck. Clara wakes up in a mood and I'm in the same mood, you know some days just don't work.  But it's those times where I have to put on my big girl pants, be the grown up, and turn it around.

Oddly the blogs I read seemed to sense my need for introspection and good planning.  Yesterday I saw this post that talks about how to improve your emotional state.  I think it will be really helpful in the future when we both wake up on the wrong side of the universe.  This post reminded me that I could always try to get the girls involved in the projects that I'm working on in the house-- or their own projects while I'm working on something else.  It's a little more challenging when I'm painting, but there are lots of things that they can do.

While I am not in love with home decorating, I've always been a fan of cake decorating.  And one of the things I know made Tuesday so difficult was lack of food.  Hungry = cranky for pretty much everyone I know.  So goal one for Wednesday was food.  When I saw this I made a list and went off to the market.  I mean, it just looked so delicious and the girls adore strawberries.  I decided to see if Clara would be into decorating the cake and happily she was in the perfect mood to learn a few new things (if her teacher was going to be calm and nice, that is)  I taught her to use the hand mixer and she made the whipped cream.  Zoë sugared the strawberries and Clara decorated the cake herself.  It was delicious.

As much as I really hate those terrible moments on the bathroom floor where I have to admit that I've done it again, I really love the focus it gives me to find ways to improve how I behave.  I have to hope that while I know I'm modelling some pretty crappy behaviors that I am also showing them how to make amends and how to change their behavior.  Parents are human -- fallible and broken at times.  We all can learn how to do things better.  There are always times where we look back and think, "I didn't handle that moment in the best way possible."  The whole concept of improving my communication skills in a mindful way didn't even occur to me until I was doing therapy in my early 20s.  At least my girls will start that process early.

Recently, in response to this post some friends of mine have expressed to me essentially, "Wow -- you doubt you are a good parent?  I totally look up to you!"  Which of course is delightful and affirming to hear, but my response is of course I doubt myself.  When I'm teaching my knitting class and people ask me how I got so good at this knitting thing, or they express surprise when I talk about how I screw up my knitting.  My response is of course I make mistakes.  When I make mistakes I learn how to fix them.  I am the queen of making mistakes.  I think a lot about something my friend says her mom told her all the time growing up -- we learn more from our failures than our successes.  This sounds trite, but so true. I fail a lot.  But this just gives me the opportunity to learn and learn and learn.

So Clara and Zoë, pay attention!  This is how being a person on this planet works:  You get up in the morning and sometimes everything goes smoothly and you feel like you are on top of the world, awesome, enjoy it.  Sometimes everything sucks and you feel like crap.  These are the best moments.  Look at what happened and think about how you can change your response. Ask for help and advice and keep tweaking.  You'll never get it right, but you will always get better.  The process of getting better is called "growing up".  Guess what, you'll never finish, but don't worry, I'll help you along the way.  I'm getting pretty good at getting better.