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Goal: Knit 5,000 yards of stash sock yarn
Knit on, soldier girl





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Tuesday
Mar112014

I don't know what just happened up there.

Dear 18 year-old Henry,

This is what a tantrum is like.

I pick you up from school at 4:20. You've had a good day, but no nap. You played outside for hours and there's ink smeared from your mouth to your left cheek. We chat all the way home. You're super excited about helping me make kabobs for dinner.

We get in the house at 4:30. A 4:32, an tantrum-bomb detonates somewhere inside your body. Between 4:32 and 5:16, you:

  • refuse to have your diaper changed
  • run the water in the downstairs bathroom for eight minutes while playing with the stopper
  • throw your milk cup
  • throw your water cup
  • get your stool from the bathroom so you can open the package of handi-snack peaches on the counter
  • start reaching for bottles of flavored water to throw when I take away the peaches
  • pull on my pants so hard I think they'll rip
  • hit me. Repeatedly, and hard. I don't know where you learned to spank (not from us, thankfully - I manage to retain my self-control most of the time, because honestly, if I started, it would be hard to stop. Also, I don't think you'd care.), but it's terrible. Still, I pretend you're not there.
  • push me while I have a knife in my hand. I put it down and say your name very loudly. You cry.

All of this is being done at the loudest volume possible. I finally leave the kitchen because it's dangerous for both of us to be in there when you're flipping out. You find me in the family room, just sitting. "Don't sit!" you scream. You calm down enough so that I can figure out that you're hungry. You don't want to wait for kabobs with me and Dad, so I tell you that you can have a peanut butter sandwich and then go to bed.

From 5:18 to 5:25, you eat your dinner: peaches, strawberries, applesauce and a pb&j. Things are calm and quiet. I get you more food when you ask for it. So you become drunk with power and indecision.

"Close that window!" "No, leave that window open!" "Close it! I said close it!"

I finally close the window because it's really windy and Gracie's starting to freak out. You haul ass out of your booster seat and start just start pounding on the glass. "I break this window!"

I grab you around the waist and lug you upstairs, avoiding your very sharp nails (I have a 5" long cut on my neck from a few days ago) and your pummelling fists. You scream unintelligibly and then throw up bile, an attractive side-effect of your tantrums. Vomit is on the carpet, your shirt, and your pants. You start screaming "Don't clean me up!" as I grab the paper towels and dab at the already-stained rug. I reach for your shirt and you whirl around, throwing yourself face-down onto your bed. Now I have to change the sheets.

After some chasing and wrestling, you're naked except for a pair of socks and a diaper, which is so wet that it's hanging between your knees. You're really wigging out now, just furious at me, at Gracie, at everybody who's ever dared to look at you. I usher Gracie into our bedroom, then go back to your room and shut the door with both of us inside. You start hitting again, so I go into the hallway and hold the doorknob so you can't get out. I'm quiet. You think I left, so you really start to lose your shit. I can hear your little body slam against the door at a steady pulse. I tell you that I'm there and that I'll open the door once you calm down. You eventually quiet. I open the door and SLAM, right in my face. This goes on a few more times because I keep giving you the benefit of the doubt. I'm an idiot. I start to cry. This only makes you more mad, and I finally leave. You can't figure out how to open the door to your room so you're stuck.

We do this dance a few more times, which is dumb because I know you're just going to keep raging. You calm down enough to lure me back in before turning into a human downward-spiral. I do manage to remove your diaper, but you kick like an angry kangaroo when I try to get you into a new one. So I leave again, hoping you will have trouble with the doorknob for at least a few minutes. It's 6:00.

Five minutes later, I'm on the phone with your Gram in my bedroom. You come in, quietly, wearing only a pair of blue striped socks, balls out. You tearfully listen to Gram tell you a story about Molly, then repeat it to your dad, who somehow manages to always come home during the few minutes you're not screaming at me.

By 6:15, you've gotten your eighth wind. My brain is numb from the screaming. Throughout all of this, I only raised my voice once and that was when you yanked on me while I was holding a knife. I'm not good at keeping my temper, so today has been a grand success for me. That's an awfully depressing thought.

It's 7:40 now. Your dad just put you back into bed for the third time tonight. Our marriage has gotten stronger since you came along because we now have a common enemy: toddlerhood. I'm going to work for the rest of the night while your dad does dishes and falls asleep on the couch. And we're going to do this all again tomorrow night, and probably the night after that. But I don't care about that night, because I'll be at quilt guild and you won't be my problem for five glorious hours.

I know this will get better. Everyone says it, and kids live well past toddlerhood. But if there's one thing you take away from this, 18 year-old Henry, it's this: wear a goddam condom.

Love (even after all of this),

Mama

Monday
Mar102014

Easy as 1-2-3

Another baby, another quilt. I'm a fan of giving kids a quilt for their first birthdays mostly because I am terrible at getting them done for the birth. A lot of my close friends live out of town, so I don't have the whole "The shower is this weekend! Must finish sewing!" pressure that a lot of other people seem to have.

Lucy turned one in November. I had never met Lucy until a month after her birthday, but we became fast friends. Lucy likes hotdogs. I like hotdogs. Lucy likes her mama. I like her mama. Really, we were meant to be the best of friends.

I started this quilt last...summer? Who knows. I finished most of it at a KCMQG day-retreat many months ago. And then it sat and sat and sat because I had cutting fabric for backing. I also couldn't figure out how to quilt it.

I'm still not entirely happy with the quilting. Mistakes were made, lessons were learned. Pin-basting didn't work so great for the front, but the back is amazingly wrinkle-free. In hindsight, I should have quilted the sashing first and then done the individual letters. After I finally finished, I was very glad to be done with invisible thread for awhile.

I backed it with voile, which is soft and delicious and perfect for snuggling. My favorite part, though, is the personalization:

She totally can't regift it now.

By the way, this is a Tula Pink pattern called Modern Alphabet. It was actually the first thing I bought when I found out I was pregnant (well, besides a new sewing machine). I know it can be for either gender, but I have a different alphabet pattern in mind for Hen. I used Kona solids for the entire top.

Saturday
Mar082014

Stitching 2 (the year-late edition)

I went to bed last night convinced I was going to export all of my posts to Word and then delete my blog this morning. Nothing big or bad happened - I'm just bored. I started this in 2002 because all the cool kids (Justin, the rest of my friends) had blogs. Then it became a good way to keep in touch with my college friends. It became a journal of some painful - and, looking back, terribly embarrassing and idiotic - times of my first years in the workforce. And then it turned into a knitting blog. And then I stopped knitting so much, started quilting, had a baby, and POOF! there goes everything.

So why inflict myself on the rest of the internet? I'm not a popular blogger by any means, nor do I really want to be. I don't even know if anyone reads this except for my mom and maybe people that hate-read. (Hi! It's a horrible habit, isn't it? I have a hard time giving it up, too.) I'm terrible at finishing projects, much less sharing the details, and you can only read so many things about my dumb kid before you get sick of the whole thing. I write for a living now, so maybe I don't need as much of a verbal outlet as I did before.

Still...I'm horrible at journaling. My Sentence-a-Day Five-Year Journal is missing the last five months. I'm a terrible scrapbooker, and I still haven't finished putting together Henry's 2nd year photo album. So this is what I have - an incredibly incomplete record of the past 12 years. And I think I've decided that that's okay.

Anyway, you came for pictures.

This was a great quilt. I made it as a first birthday gift for a little girl near and dear to our hearts and gifted it last June. The pattern is Shea's Zigzagged, and I used shot cotton for the pink and some Kona (Coal and Ash?) for the zigzags. The binding is Kona, too.

I will be the first to tell you that the quilting on this is awesome. I did it on my little Bernina, each color getting a different treatment. I think I wanted to do straight-line zigzags (like in the light gray up there) throughout the whole thing but realized that wouldn't work because of the difference in the big zigzags and the little zigzags. I ripped out what I quilted and just...went. The plumes appeared out of nowhere. I love them. Those pebbles were my first and man, were they time consuming. Worth it, but exhausting.

I have no idea what the backing is - maybe a Kaffe print? - but it reminds me of tree trunks.

Looking at this now, it gives me an idea for a different quilt for someone else. Maybe that's why I post here - to keep track of the past so I don't have to work as hard in the future. Or maybe I just like to waste time while I'm supposed to be writing about the Gold Rush. It's anyone's guess.

Wednesday
Feb122014

Stitching 1

Dear Henry,

I'm terrible about keeping a record of your early years. Other moms are great at it, but I'm not one of them. (Things I'm great at: napping, crossword puzzles, making people laugh. Things I am not great at: laundry, keeping my temper, and the flute.) Myndi just posted a really beautiful letter about life with her little girl, and I was once again reminded that these years are fleeting and somebody needs to record the batshit crazy stuff you say and do. So please excuse my blantant rip-off of another mother's touching tribute, but nobody slept really well around here last night because you woke up at 2 a.m. and decided to just yell at us. Just yelling. About nothing, really. I heard bits and pieces of "sleep Mommy Daddy floor" and some other demands, but you weren't holding anybody hostage and my bed was warm. So I left.

Life with two-and-a-half year-old you is insane, Henry. I tell people that it's like you're shot out of a cannon every morning. You must run a mile before 9 a.m. as you chase Gracie while simultaneously running away from anyone approaching with a pair of clean pants. Hot Wheels cars trail in a constant stream behind your fast little legs, clink clink clink on the hardwood floors. I find at least five of them in my bed every night, which means you have 79 somewhere in the rest of the house.

You want to watch Super Why and Cars 2 all the time. We watched Cars 2 twice yesterday and I swear to god, it felt like I was in some crazy time warp where I was doing the exact same things over and over and over. It was deja vu without that dreamy, otherwordly feeling that tickles the base of your brain while you try to figure out where you've seen this before. I know where I saw it before, dude: right here, six hours ago.

This happened last week:

It was only a matter of time until you had to be stitched shut. I distinctly remember telling your father to up our healthcare flex spending account for the year because I knew you'd be in the emergency room sometime soon. I was calm when it happened (at Mrs. Jenny's house, where you got into a one-sided fight with a wooden toy stove), calm when I drove you to urgent care ("Are you tired? Stay awake! Stay awake!"), and still holding it together when they sent us to the ER ("Let's go meet some more nice people!").

Then they held you down and put the needle into your forehead and you screamed (from the pressure, not the pain. You were numb, but you're too little to know the difference between pressure and pain. You were numb you were numb you were numb. I tell myself this when the image of your tear-stained face floats in front of my eyes late at night.) I sang your night-night song in my froggy, sick-for-weeks voice and you immediately stilled and started breathing deeply. I made it through the third stitch, saw there wasn't room for anymore, then promptly stumbled to a chair and started sobbing while trying not to throw up. I ended up on the floor right as you popped into a sitting position with a grin on your face. You seemed so far away on that elevated bed, sipping your apple juice and wrggling around and laughing at the nurses, and my heart just hurt. Then you said, "Puppy see Mommy," and they let you down and you flopped on top of me and snuggled your little face into the crook of my neck. And I could breathe again because you were safe.

And then you stole my Sprite and demanded that I take you to eat french fries and hamburgers with Daddy.

You were not what I expected, Henry M. You are loud and stubborn and a terrible listener. You are a trial on the best of days and completing exhausting on the worst. But you're also smart and silly and terribly snuggly. You are observant and reckless and incessantly curious. Sometimes I forget just how much I love you. Then I see your little face in the front window as I'm backing the car out of the driveway and my heart just lurches. You're a heartbreaker, kid. The very best kind.

Love,

Mommy

Tuesday
Sep172013

Those days.

Some days are great. Some days, Henry and I get along splendidly, playing together and snuggling and generally enjoying each other's company. Those are the days when I don't have deadlines, when the house is clean, and when everyone is well-rested.

Today is not one of those days.

We're all tired. Justin has been sick for weeks. My work load exploded yesterday. The house is a disaster. We have company coming for five days. And we're in the middle of potty training.

Henry woke me with a smack to the face and an attempt to remove my watch from my arm without unclasping it. He peed through three pairs of long pants in a row (he only has accidents at home, not at school or at other people's houses. I'm pretty sure it's me and his desire to be the boss. He's a terrible boss. He can't even remove his own pants) and alternated laughing and wailing during the few hours I was with him.

I was not sad to be chained to my desk.

These days, these very bad days when the rain is falling and the air is thick with the smell of mud and desperation, I hate these days.

Tomorrow. Not one of those days.