I’m not sure I’ll have the trim done, but I do have something else to show!
I’m not sure I’ll have the trim done, but I do have something else to show!
Something’s been brewing here in Two AM land this week, and I promise it’s not tea…
Otherwise entitled :: It Might Get Worse Before It Gets Better…
OK, the pantry has been done for a few weeks now, but hey! Let’s pretend this is in real-time, shall we?
Some of my favorite people in the whole world came to visit for two quick days in January to help me out. It was such a short visit that I felt bad in possibly wasting our time cleaning out the pantry when we could be doing much more interesting things like watching Downton Abbey while sitting on the couch, but I gotta tell you, Ms. Heather is an organizing machine. Do you have a friend like that in your life, someone who thinks organizing is fun? If not, I suggest you find yourself one, because they are so much more than awesome!!
A few weeks (possibly months, but who is counting) I sent Heather a few images of the mess in the pantry and asked her for some advice. Here’s what she wrote back in ten minutes or less ::
Who knew thinking up a plan could be so adorable and stylish? Maybe I should get out of my yoga pants and throw on some make-up when it’s time to clean up…
But seriously, where I was paralyzed with inactivity and feeling overwhelmed with all the decisions that would have to be made, she dove right in. We started moving things around, putting them in “temporary” locations, so we could start with a “fresh slate”.
And it’s here that I’ll mention two things : One, it’s embarrassing to have your dearly beloveds come to your house and dig you out of the messes you’ve gotten yourself into… while Heather worked on the pantry, Ashley worked in the playroom; and two, they were the very epitome of grace while doing it, and managed to put me and my neurosis at ease and make the process as fun as it could be. They are good peeps, those two.
So here’s the thing; with this type of project, as with most on this scale, it all gets worse before it gets better. It reminds me of the mess the movers made a few years go when we first moved up to the Boston area. If the gals weren’t here, I would’ve probably stopped right here and started to cry. Then waited a month of two to get started again.
I wasn’t the only one feeling a titch overwhelmed. Some of the youngin’s felt they need protective gear to get through!
Seriously, this is the moment that I realized how important it was to have someone helping me through the process that isn’t emotionally attached to the stuff. Heather is able to see the end goal; she envisioned where things were going to go and what needed to be moved around and in what order. I saw growing piles of unfulfilled dreams, an encapsulation of all the things I wanted to do but haven’t made time for. Piles and piles and piles of teeny tiny little failures. It’s no wonder I couldn’t jump in and organize it on my own.
Heather doesn’t see the unmade gourmet meals I had planned to create to nourish my family. She doesn’t see unbaked cookies, an unconstructed lasagna, loaves of bread that were never kneaded into life, a fear of being without, of not having enough. She sees the clutter for what it is, and she has the personal distance from my symbolic mental contortions that it’s much easier for her to stay focused.
And focus she did, with a laser-like clarity. Looky at this image above… actual WHITE SPACE! It was such an amazing thing to see only a few hours into this task. One shelf almost entirely organized, and glorious, beautiful, fabulous white space, space that has nothing but air and clarity and fulfillment and promise.
I didn’t think that organizing the pantry would be quite so cathartic, but I will tell you, it was one hell of a therapy session! And it only cost me dinner!!
First, pitch a tent, assuming (quite correctly I might add) that you’ll lose power in the 75 miles per hour gusts and the living room and its gas fireplace will be the only warm place in the house.
Make sure there are plenty of sleeping bags, flashlights, and extra blankets.
Be thankful you didn’t take all those extra blankets to Goodwill as you wanted every single time you saw the box in the basement.
Find some puzzles.
And find your knitting. Hope the kids will actually give you some time to knit during the daylight hours. Hints for those who guessed incorrectly :: They didn’t.
Read books. Eat cookies.
Wear warm slippers and stay in your house coats all day (and maybe even at night!).
Take a nap.
Take LOTS of naps.
Eat some cake you pulled out of the oven one hour before the power went out.
Get outside in all your wind and water proof gear.
Drag yourself out to get some pictures, since it’s the first real snow you’ve seen all year. Great White North my a$$.
These hips don’t lie folks. That’s a drift that goes above my waist if I would’ve let myself sink all the way down.
Enjoy it while it’s there, because it won’t last long.
Enjoy taking off your boots and getting back into your warm cozy slippers sitting beside the fire.
Really enjoy having a mud room that can handle all you can give it.
Once the gales die down, watch the storm out at sea.
Watch your poor sea-bound lighthouse get battered.
Poor lighthouse. Poor seaside neighbors…
Play the game :: Will He Get Stuck or Won’t He? (Answer :: Only stuck for a half hour in our driveway, three hours in our neighbor’s.)
Enjoy your new perspective.
Marvel at the fact that you managed to finish your hat, despite the kids’ best efforts.
And then begin the arduous process of cleaning it all up, and hope like hell it’s done before the week is out. (Hint :: It isn’t)
Yesterday was the first of the new year. I have mixed feelings about New Year’s day. I’m not one to make resolutions, but I appreciate the “clean slate” feeling that often accompanies January first. There is a hopefulness for what might come, an excitement for plan-making, a brightness to the dreams that take shape as we think about how to get things just right in these next twelve months. But I’m always sad when the hubbub of the holidays close and it’s time to put away the decorations and sweep up the needles from the tree one last time. I love the waning daylight of Autumn and Winter, and the solstice always seems to arrive so much more quickly every year we travel around the sun. Often we don’t get snow until after Christmas, and that’s when I really want to listen to all those classic carols, wrapped up in my blanket on the window seat sipping hot cocoa and watching the lights glow under a blanket of the fresh white stuff. I wish I could leave the Christmas lights up until after March—without feeling like a lazy neighbor—so I can get my glowing snow fix. And I might be in the gross minority, but I am sad when it’s time for the kids to go back to school.
Last year’s New Year’s Day was, shall we say, overly eventful, with two separate trips to the hospital for two different children, one who had to stay overnight. Overall, that day was a pretty good indicator of how the year would proceed. This year all I asked is not that we avoid all trips to the ER (we do, after all, have four children, so that would be a bit unreasonable, no?) but that they be spread out a bit further apart, be a bit less frightening, and that none might require the assistance of an ambulance. I am happy to say that even with the sick little kidlets, we were able to avoid any trip to the hospital, which I will call a success.
There was one single, and rather large snag in our new year request and plans, however, and that happened because our beloved Barclay, who is getting older and crankier, bit one of the kids.
As I wrote about before, we knew that he was sick, wasn’t likely to get better, and as good and amazing as a companion as he has been, was on his last chance watch. So when he bit our son in another unprovoked incident, it was clear that he could no longer be trusted around the kids and that a very hard decision had to be made. After taking our son to the pediatrician to make sure his wound was cared for (no stitches for dog bites but he is on a course of antibiotics), and taking Barclay to the vet to look for obvious/acute illness (there was none to be identified), we had a heartbreaking discussion for several days while Barclay rested up in our room, away from the littles. Thankfully, so very thankfully, our in-laws took Barclay in to care for him in a home he is familiar with and people that he knows and loves. Our son’s wound is not so serious, but the lack of predictability in Barclay’s behavior in a house full of small, boisterous children is more so and too risky to continue. There is no better solution that I could imagine for him, even as sad as we are that he is no longer here in our home.
So, this is how our 2013 began, with a not-as-bad-as-last year’s day at home, ending with a difficult farewell as Barclay was driven off to his new home.
Endings and beginnings, sweet and bitter, two sides of the same coin, and an appropriate reminder that this coming year, as every year is, will be a mixed bag and what we take away from it will be determined by our decisions and reactions to the situations handed us. It may not be all shiny and sparkly and catch-phrase-y, but it’s appropriate… and somehow reassuring.
Happy Travels to you and yours in this new year 2013.
She lightly skipped toward our car today, wondering if we might stop for cupcakes on the way home, hoping that the count would be in for the school competition the next day, realizing with a touch of sadness that tomorrow would be Saturday with no school for two more days. My son—breathing, warm, whole—is already home from his short day in Kindergarden.
As I grasped her hand in mine, she pranced along oblivious to the chatter—mundane and significant alike—between small groups of parents waiting for their beloveds to walk out the door. She is seven, and not equipped to deal with the harsher realities of our life in these times. I am thirty seven and still lack the facilites to process the enormity of it all. I felt gravity pulling me toward silent contemplation while her steps both defied and accepted the limitations of our existence, her staccato rhythm cycling unencumbered by the what-ifs and hows and whys. She continued forward, pulling me along, unaware of all these questions with answers that will never come.
I have been ungrateful and impatient at times for the privilege that is our life’s banality; the schedules, chores, repetitive and thankless tasks, the hardships and even tender moments, the sense of grounding weight in an embrace. If I would be lucky enough to continue on with only this, to have a life most ordinary, I will have been blessed beyond measure.
Tonight in the darkness I will grieve as a parent with a finer sense of mortality, who understands more everyday there is a penalty worse than death; to survive when your child does not.
Come the morning, I will welcome the light.
What are hatches? Why do we need to batten them? Enquiring mind want to know.
We are all hunkered down—safe, dry, cozy, and warm—while Ms. Sandy blows her hardest. Although my husband and my two middles experienced Irene in all of her six-days-without-power glory, this is my first full-blown hurricane here on the coast. I had vacation plans for later in the week, but it’s not clear how that’s going to shake out.
I had run out to take pictures of our shore and flooded salt marshes, but while out fighting the elements for a few perfect shots, I somehow failed to notice there was no card in my camera. It was a wee bit too scary to go back out.
All levity aside, it was truly frightening to see waves come in and cover and the entire row of homes that sits between us and the sea. I surely hope those folks evacuated safely and that their homes managed to avoid any damage.
Remember this particular sewing disaster in the not-so-distant past? Well, I’m trying to move beyond it. So, here goes… I’m going to join the blogging mini-revolution and hop on Elsie Marley’s Kids Clothes Week Challenge wagon. And I’ve invited one more lovely blogging lady to join in on the fun. Alex of the newly redesigned and uberly fabulous North Story blog has agreed to come along for the seven day sew-for-one-hour-a-day challenge. She’s as scared as I am (her sewing machine is still in the box) so we should have a great week of at least one or two disastrous, err, I mean entertaining stories. Alex, no backing out now… I’ve publicly called you out, so you hafta do it! Anyone else want to come along for the ride?
All you need to do is click on the above link and leave a comment on Elsie’s post saying you’re in (although, really, if you don’t want to do that, no one’s going to knock you) and commit to sewing for one hour per day. One hour per day. I can do that! You know why I know that I can do that? Because I know it only take 30 seconds to sew a seam with too tight a gauge that will need at least one hour to remove all the stitches. You wanna know how I know that? Because I finally finished a pair of pants for one of the young-ins. Looky here ::
Pants! I made PANTS! Pants that fit!! I can’t believe I did it!! And it only took me a week… seven days of sewing for at least one hour a day. At least. Turns out the sewing is the least difficult and the least time-consuming part of sewing. It takes a while to read or draft a pattern, pick the fabric, wash it, iron it, then do crazy things like draw on it with a marker, stick pins in it, and cut it. Also, it could take longer to cut it than you originally thought because you cut four of the same pattern side, hypothetically of course, instead of two each of the two sides (front and back, in case you were wondering). And then after all the correct pieces were cut, you might sew the first seam together and realize that you should really try to align the pattern, which causes you to cut yet another pair of front and backs, after one hour of trying to align and pin the pattern as precisely as possible. Also, once it’s cut and sewn, you might realize you sewed the wrong pieces together, take an hour to remove all the stitches, and sew the exact same incorrect seam again. I could go on, well, if I remembered how many steps I completely botched, but really, you get the picture. So here’s another ::
And another ::
I made pants!! And they’re even lined!
So here’s a few things I’m realizing about this challenge ::
• One hour a day can equal less than one seam
• It doesn’t matter if you think you’ve cut all the threads everywhere, when you go to take photos, you’ll find a few more
• Sewing takes very little time; the prep is where the money’s at
• Little kids love it when you make them things. They’ll even wear it multiple times before it gets to the wash by grabbing it out of the dirty laundry basket
• All that stuff you do wrong, all the time you spend looking at fabric, turning the iron off and on, heck looking for the iron, that all counts toward your one hour per day
• Sewing is much more forgiving that knitting; it take less time to notice and correct your mistake, even if you’re a complete and total noob and have no idea what you’re doing
• Sewing is way easier than baking
• Putting the box out in the sunlight and staring at it for 59 minutes counts! (Hi Alex!)
• It doesn’t matter if you have man-thumbs… no one will see it when they’re looking at your fabulous pants
So… or should it be… Sew… Why don’t you join in on the fun? I mean, what’s the worst that could possibly happen?
Oh, I should also note that I made these pants from this tutorial on the lovely Made by Dana. You’ll notice the fabric is exactly the same. It wasn’t intentional, but those pants must’ve made quite an impression, because one year after looking up that tutorial, that’s the fabric I came home with. Whaddaya gonna do? Give the lady her props, of course! She’s fab, I love her style, and I’m going with the adage imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Pants. Kids Clothes Week Challenge. Fun time. LET’S DO THIS!
OK, so a few weeks ago, a new blog-friend of mine, Alex from the North Of Seven blog nominated me for the Seven Things About Me Award. What a lovely idea!! Thanks so much Alex. So I’m finally getting around to finishing this post that I began quite some time ago.
The first requirement of the award is to thank the person who nominated you… Hey Alex… You ROCK and THANK YOU. Check! Next, share your seven tidbits, then nominate a few others, and tell them you’ve nominated them. This is the hardest part for me, really… I hate to bother people or make them feel obligated, BUT, it’s kind of fun so here goes nuthin’…
1.) When I was younger, I used to think that the double yellow line in the middle of the road was the bicycle lane. I also thought that the best way to end racism was for white folk to buy only black cars. I truly believed my parents were a bit crazy when they explained that money didn’t grow on trees; I mean how stupid did they think I was? I knew the money came out of the ATM. As a four year old, the only job I could imagine that was worth having was the bubble blower for the Lawrence Welk Orchestra. Imagine how crushed I was to discover the position was held by a machine. Oddly enough, I just found out that he got his start in Pittsburgh (also the home to Mister Rogers!) and up to a few years ago (and possibly still today) the machine was/is still on view in one of the hotel ballrooms. Thanks for the heads up ThatGirl at Spinsta@Large.
2.) My favorite movie of all time is the Big Lebowski. Or the Sound of Music. But definitely not The Big Blue, which I watched three times over ten years just to make sure I still hated it as much as I remembered… and I did (and still do).
3.) I received two degrees from Carnegie Mellon University; a BFA in Art with an additional major in Cognitive Psychology and a Master’s in Communication, Planning, and Information Design. Yes, that’s the title of the degree. Yes, my diploma is extra large in order to fit it all on the paper. My husband received his BS, Master’s, and Ph.D. from CMU as well. I also taught there for a few years. We have four children; we’re expecting a bulk rate discount on tuition when the time comes. Please don’t crush my dreams with any explanations of reality.
4.) I am the only girl out of six boys; one biological brother, five step-brothers. I’m about as Polish as they get, if you discount my pinky finger, which is all Irish. My family is huge. I have over thirty aunts and uncles, and more than fifty-five cousins. This does not include my husband’s family, which increases the aunt/uncle/cousin count to numbers that no human mind could possibly comprehend. No, we’re not LDS.
5.) I first tried to learn how to knit when I was seven. It was an unmitigated disaster. The lady who tried to teach me had the patience of a fruit fly, and I was so nervous that I made mistakes that were beyond her thirty-forty-some years of practice to deal with. That’s what happens when someone yells at you when you’re crying trying to learn something that’s supposed to be fun.
6.) I constantly, and will for all eternity, confuse my left and my right.
7.) I despise horseradish, can’t stand it, can’t even smell it without wanting to do something drastic. This might have something to do with my uncle asking my little four-year-old self (four was a rough year for me) to take a deep breath of the newly ground root soaking in vinegar. Not knowing any better, I did. And I couldn’t breathe, or see, or speak because of the searing pain that started at my nostrils and ended in my lungs. This uncle may or may not be related to the person who tried to teach me to knit. No, that person is not my mother or father.
So there are seven things about me. It took me forever to figure out what to tell you. I had four for a few days, and finally managed to find a few other things. I dug deep.
And here are my nominees for the award! You ladies are a few of my favorites… hope you’ll play along… no pressure or anything.
And even if I haven’t nominated you, care to share anything (or seven things) about yourself, dear readers? I’d love to know something fun or frivolous about you!
I am so sorry about my absence from this space. The month of June was filled with quite a number of time-consuming events—a birthday, unexpected emergencies, a few visits—and stays—at the hospital (no worries, we are all fine now), end-of-the-year school activities, visits (some planned, a few, um, urgently requested–thanks again Mom!) from beloved family members… there was barely any time to catch my breath let alone blog (or even do laundry).
We have managed to escape back home for an extended visit with my family for a few weeks. In the mad rush to get everything ready for our drive back home with four kids, one grandparent, one harried mother, and a dog, our family car broke down causing us to scrounge around for a rental just a few hours before we left town. I still managed to get everything packed for everyone—efficiently in one suitcase, even remembering my favorite flip-flops, my hat, and enough yarn to last me at least two months—only to discover once we arrived that I had not packed one stitch of clothing for myself. No PJs, no shorts, no tops, no bathing suit, nor underwear. Please tell me I’m not the only one to do such a thing! Luckily, I was able to locate my sense of humor, my emergency credit card, and the clearance rack at the local discount store, so the situation has been salvaged.
We are all being spoiled rotten and spending as much time as we can slowing down and relearning to breath deeply. I have a few things to show you, and now that I have some time, I’m looking forward to getting them posted.