Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why you don't run into me in the cleaning supplies section...

This week I've decided to make peace with the fact that I have actually become a WORSE housekeeper over the past 2 years since quitting my full time job. Yes, the fact that we have a little person in the house who currently excels at mess making probably also has something to do with the constant state of affairs found between the exterior walls of our house. But let's be realistic here folks. IF I was a better housekeeper, even the presence of a 2 year old shouldn't throw me off.

But what I've come to realize is I'm just not good at keeping house. I used to be much better about keeping things clean and orderly...mainly before we had kids. It's not that I no longer care about the state of our abode or that I'm lazy or unable to keep a cleaner living space. The simple truth is the time that I could be using to clean and organize around the house I'd rather spend knitting, sewing, writing, reading, practicing yoga, riding my bike, taking pictures, playing with said picture in digital processing, having coffee with a friend, playing with the girls, napping, playing with the dogs, having family time with a movie or while we play some Wii, cooking, playing words games on Facebook...the list could go on and on, but you get the idea.

And so this week I'm making peace with the fact that when people randomly stop by they will surely find dirty dishes in the sink and on the counter; lint and obscene amounts of dog hair on the carpet; dust bunnies floating around the kitchen and under our beds; toothpaste specks on the bathroom mirror; unmade beds; clean laundry waiting to be put away; random toys, puzzles, books and coloring supplies in every room of the house (bathroom often included); piles of mail and papers from school on the kitchen table; an army of boots and shoes near the front door and hats, scarves and mittens ALMOST in their basket; dust on every horizontal surface (and possibly some vertical ones too) and cobwebs in many of the corners. We live in our house. Every square inch of it. 4 peoples, 2 dogs. And right now from where I'm looking, there's a lot more to life than a perfectly clean and orderly house. And I'm OK with my perspective.

Recently on her list of "things you might not know about me" that she posted on FB in similar fashion to my 25 Random Things, a friend wrote that she loved her kids madly but just didn't think she could fit the picture of motherhood for this time. (I'm kinda rephrasing here.) Reading it made me wonder what she meant...and it made me sad because I happen to think this woman is an amazing person and a wonderful mother. When I look at all the fabulous women I have the honor to know in this life who are mothers, I have a hard time finding a universal picture of motherhood to which we should hold ourselves accountable. (Nor do I think we should...now or ever.) I know moms who are professionals outside of the home and those who stay at home full time. Moms who are cooking and cleaning machines and those who are happy to suppliment a few nights of take out with some easy home cooked meals and who, like me, at least keep the chunks of dirt off the floor. I know moms who are crafty and creative and share that love with their kids and those who would rather bundle everyone up to head to the mall or a movie for leasure time. Those who are married and sharing the responsibilities of parenting and those who do it on their own. Mom who gain energy by spending every waking moment of their day in the presence of their family and those who need a little alone time to recharge. Moms excel at making/hosting playdates, who get their kids (and themselves) involved in all sorts of extra curricular activies and those who guard their quiet family evenings with their life. Those who listen to NPR and those who rock out regularly with Marley, Johnson, Harper, & Death Cab. (Just to name a few.) (OK, that one's about me.) But what strikes me most is that with all the different moms I know, each and everyone of them have beautiful, engaged, amazing, loving families. Not perfect (because really I think we're all dysfunctional enough to know there is no such thing as a PERFECT family with no hidden issues) but still fabulous.

I happen to think our family is pretty fabulous too. I've been struck this week by the happy state of our household lately. Compared to life a year ago, our enjoyment of life meter has skyrocketed. The funny thing is, not much has changed. We still have some major financial concerns that we will be dealing with for some time to come. We still have some uncertainty about what our future will look like and if it will continue to move forward in our current community. BUT I'd also like to think that we have gained perspective to be able to separate those stresses from the joy we live each and everyday with each other. The amount of love and happiness that radiates from my hubby as of late melts my heart. I watch our girls be silly, loud, creative, loving, quiet, active, calm all because they feel safe, happy, and loved in our home. I bitch about having to share my side of the bed with our dog Tilde, but I worry if I can't feel her curled at my feet and love when the dogs gravitate to my side if I'm sitting during the day reading, knitting, snuggling a kiddo, or catching a 30 minute rest. Our lives are fabulously rich.

And so tomorrow afternoon after classes have been taught and meetings have been met, I will more like be ignoring the pile of the dishes in the sink while I work on the knit beanie I started making for Scott today while the girls color and spread toys from their room to the front door, all with my favorite mixed playlist jammin' from the MP3, dogs close at hand. Life is good.


peace

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Frost...


Brea: "Mommy, why are the trees all gray?"
Me: "Because they have frost on them."
Brea: "What's frost?"
Me: (Searching for a simple answer that a 2-year-old can grasp.) "A special kind of snow that likes to stick to the trees. Isn't it pretty?"
Brea: "YESSSSSS!"

As we left the studio after class this morning and headed down the main drag in town THIS was the lovely scene ahead of us. I couldn't help but pull over and jump out, point and shoot in hand, to sneak into the middle of the street between passing cars and snap a photo. I'm thankful that we living in a community where I bet nobody even thought twice about some crazy lady standing in the middle of the street taking a photo on a cold winter day.

And speaking of photography and the cool creative community in which we live:

I've noticed I have been less than inspired to take any pictures as of late. I'm tired of the lack of color that is a part of winter. Ok, there's not a lack of color necessarily, I'm simply a little tired of whites and blues. (Though I'm thankful for the snow as white and blue is so much nicer than a simple canvas of brown. Not yummy fertile earth brown which I actually love. Dead, cold, middle of winter brown.) I'm SOOOO ready for the greens of spring and the bright bold colors of summer. I'm also tired of waring with my indoor photos. I'm frustrated with the need to color correct everything I take inside with a flash because I'm still trying to figure out how to get the best natural light illusion with my flash. On the flip side I'm tired of the noise (graininess) of natural light photos taken without a flash because I've had to use such a high ISO. I know, all part of the learning process...but still frustrating.

Secondly, this summer I talked several times about my time spent out at the tiny circus work camp. Well Carlos (the grand master of this three ring attraction) has been hard at work rounding up all the performers and attractions, doing the necessary editing, to bring the animations that were created this summer to a finished state. You can check out some of the rough videos he's been working on on the tiny circus YouTube channel. (My hand got to play a role in The History of Popcorn...front hand on the left towards the end of the film. Yes, I'm a dork.) I don't know that I can fully explain to those who haven't been part of this project how exciting it is to me to see all this coming together. I only played a very small role in production here and there, but still, being involved at that level and then watching the collaboration all come together to make these whimsical little shorts is exhilarating. I'm so excited for the process. I'm so excited that this summer tiny circus will again be converging in Grinnell to continue the work and that it will be traveling out on it's first road show in July. (I'm so excited that so many of my friends, and my brother, will be in town for the summer because of this fact!) I'm so excited for the vision tc has to bring the collaborative creative process to communities of individuals (schools, senior centers, etc.) whose lives will be enriched by being part of a creative process. In a time when creative programs are being cut from our schools because of slimmer budgets, I'm so thankful there are wonderful, creative people like the tc crew who simply want to share the love of art and their belief that EVERYONE can be an artist. Cheers to you all (and many thanks) for your vision!


peace

Friday, January 23, 2009

Peace Baby...

Soon to be seen hanging from an ear near me!



By night's end it will have a friend so it can be a pair. Thanks to Sharon at Retro Crochet for the great pattern!


peace

25 Random Things...

So on Facebook, you know the center of my social universe (sadly that's not far from the truth), I got tagged with one of those "write things about yourself and send it out so we can all know you better" things. I don't always participate in these little games (seriously, they could suck my whole day away if I let them) but today I was feeling generous with my free afternoon so decided to play along. I have to admit once I got going I had a hard time keeping it to 25 as stated in the "rules" of the tag. I cheated and added a 26th item because other than the oatmeal thing, which I think it just a funny fact, I couldn't figure out which item to cut to keep it to 25. Being as I devoted WAY more time to this little project (because I'm sorta anal about what I say and how I say it) and because not everyone who reads my rambles here is also part of my Facebook posse (and vice versa), I decided my list would play double duty for the day. So here it is, uncut and unedited...25+ random things about me:

1. I don't like hot cereal. Oatmeal, cream of wheat, any of it. The texture makes me gag. But I love things made with oatmeal...muffins, granola,bread, etc.

2. I get anxiety when I/we travel by car as I'm convinced I/we will experience great loss some day because of a horrific auto accident. This really wasn't a problem before I had kids.

3. My Dad died 3 years ago from lung cancer. Not many people know that because he and I didn't have much of a relationship after a disagreement when I was 17. I saw him last less than 2 weeks before he died. It was the only time he saw his granddaughter (and his second granddaughter who was still growing in my belly. He was the first person outside of Scott and myself to learn what we would eventually name her.) Regardless of the state of our relationship, I still miss him and often get teary when thinking back to the days when I was Daddy's little girl. Like as I type this.

4. I get nostalgic in the spring when the organic smell of the earth waking up reminds me of my grandpa Reitz and his love of the land and what it provided for his family through farming.

5. The fall makes me want to pack up my home and move to Colorado to the mountains. I think at heart I am a woman of the mountains.

6. I have only seen the ocean once and that was from the window of an airplane as we approached the air port in Boston in the middle of winter. Someday I would like for that fact to change and would love to go reef diving.

7. I don't consider myself a Christian, though I do believe in a divine spirit. I truly respect the traditions of many world religions and what those religions provide to their believers. I have felt this way in my heart for many years. I simply couldn't put it into words until recently. I don't believe you have to follow a defined religious tradition to be a spiritual person. The process of defining my personal faith has brought a lot of peace to my soul. I haven't admitted this to many people until now, including my husband.

8. I worry a lot more than I ever thought was humanly possible now that I'm a Mom.

9. I often regret dropping out of my medical school program in college for financial reasons, knowing we'd be in a much different place if I were a doctor today instead of a yoga teacher. I love teaching yoga and truly believe it was the path I was intended to take to help people live healthy, fulfilling lives. Financial stability is obviously lower on my list of priorities than I would have once imagined. I often, probably unnecessarily, worry about what others think about my level of intelligence because of my choice of professions.

10. I love my blog. Writing has become a huge source of comfort (and therapy) for me over the past 2 years. I often wonder how writing may play more of a role in my future professional endeavors.

11. I would rather have a few very close friends than a lot of casual acquaintances. Because of that I am sometimes a jealous friend, though I know it's more of a reflection of my own insecurities than any thing related to my relationship with a given individual.

12. I have an older sister and brother from my Dad's first marriage. I wish we knew each other better than we do.

13. I would rather be in the kitchen making food for a party than socializing at one. My favorite gatherings are those small casual get togethers that feel less like a party and more like a gathering of extended family with the kids playing the yard and the adults socializing over random conversation while jointly preparing a meal or working on a project. I wish these type of gatherings happened more often in our lives.

14. I moved a lot as a kid. I hated moving. Because of that I'm more resistant to change when it comes to moving now with kids of my own. My kids have much different, more out going personalities than I did as a kid. I need to have faith if a move is in our future that they will deal with it much better than I remember doing.

15. I love living in a small Midwestern town and have no desire to ever live in a bigger city. That being said, I love the feeling of sneaking away for a day or two to visit the city and all it has to offer...with or without kids. My favorite big city is Chicago. My favorite small cities are Iowa City and Madison...in no particular order.

16. I would like to live in Italy some day, if only for a brief time, even though I've never been there to visit.

17. I wish I lived closer to my Mom, but have NO desire ever to return to live in Western Nebraska. None.

18. I wish I had a close gay male friend. It's pretty much the "guy friend with no sexual tension and often willingness to hash through things like a girl" aspect that I think would be nice.I wish I could explain why better, but I can't. I just wish it were the case.

19. I love music but am horrible at knowing the names of songs or who sings them. Music often defines periods of life for me. Moods, memories, feelings, etc. I would love to attend more live music performances, preferably outdoors, than we currently do.

20. If I could choose a super power, it would be the ability to fly. I love flying and once thought I'd become a pilot. Now I worry too much to pursue such a crazy idea. But I still love the feeling of flying. I think my love for being in the water is related.

21. I loved being pregnant and breast feeding so much I would do it again in a heart beat.

22. The responsibility of raising a baby into a competent, respectful, responsible being is so over whelming that we are going to stop having kids at two. Plus, I don't know if my worry meter could handle any more kids!

23. My ideal home would be an old farm house on a couple of acres with room for a huge garden, a chicken house for egg layers, and pastures for some livestock. I would probably completely move to being a vegetarian if that were the case because I'd name all the animals and would never have the heart to kill any of them for meat. I would be totally OK with becoming a homebody in such a situation...as long as I had access to the WWW!

24. I see road cycling and yoga as very closely related. They both give me space to think, feed my soul and my body, and bring peace to my life. Crafting and writing add another dimension to those practices through creative expression. I feel like my life is more balanced because of all of these activities.

25. While I continue to work on accepting my physical being for what it is and the gifts that it gives to my every day life, there are still days I wish it were thinner, smoother, more efficient, more beautiful. I would never actually change my being through plastic surgery or "enhancements" but won't deny having fantasized about a tummy tuck. I hate body hair (and will be having lazer hair removal when I win the lottery) and think tattoos are beautiful.

26. Bonus Thing: I love the bad boy image, but bad boy personality turns me off. Black leather + goatee = me getting all hot an bothered, but it takes a little bit softer, more thoughtful, emotionally available guy to truly melt my heart. I am thankful for and so in love with my husband who can play both of these roles.


peace

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cycles...

Warning...if you don't care to read talk of girlie things...menstral cycles, sex drive, emotions, etc...skip the next paragraph...or possibly this whole post. Otherwise, read on. Just don't say I didn't warn you...

I'm kinda having a needy, emotional day today. I'm pretty sure it's mostly hormone related. I've come to this conclusion because for the first time in my life I'm actually in tune with my monthly cycle. As a teen it was irregular at best. Then came the need for birth control (BC) and all the ups and downs that come with altering your natural rhythms with artificial hormones. Then we decided to get pregnant and so we threw all caution to the wind, crossed our fingers that we hadn't spent all that time avoiding pregnancy in vain, and got busy making a baby. Even after stopping BC to get pregnant I still have no sense of my normal cycle and before we knew it my body was busy growing and nurturing life. After babies, with age, with changes in weight, my body and my cycle has changed. So has my tolerance for hormonal BC. After some disastrous attempts at hormone based BC after Lexi was born, struggling through various options for a couple of years, I decided I would NEVER go on hormonal BC again. After Brea was born, and after much research, I got an IUD. I have NEVER regretted that decision. In fact it's probably the best BC option I've ever taken. And what do you know, left to follow it's own cycle, my body has fallen into a beautiful rhythm for the first time ever. No cramps, no craziness, no unexplained weight gain, no random bleeding (or total lack there of). For the first time in years I actually HAVE a sex drive. A pretty healthy one thank you very much. And not because I'm watching the calendar like a hawk, but simply because I've become more in tune with my body, I can tell where I am in my cycle by how I feel, what foods and activities I'm craving, even how my body smells. It's weird and amazing. It's comforting and empowering. I appreciate my body and it's ability to move through such an amazing cycle every month, instead of feeling like something is broken inside me. It's kinda weird for me to think of things that way at this stage of life. Because now that I'm so in tune with my body and could actually TELL you when I'm ovulating, I have no need to know since we don't plan on having any more kiddos. But still, there's some peace that comes with knowing and with celebrating the amazingness of my biology each month.

All that being said, one of the cycles that I've also come to notice is a few days of moodiness each month just before my period starts. Thankfully it's not the psychotic roller coaster that it was when I was on birth control. (Sometimes I wonder how Scott put up with me at those times!) Now normally it's just a day or two when I'm feeling a little extra needy. When I want nothing more than to snuggle my family in the comfort of my home with a warm cup of tea and a good movie...more so in the winter months when I can't take my moody self out to bask in the warmth of the sun. It's the few days each month when my usually optimistic personality allows doubt and questioning to come into my thoughts more than I would like to admit. It's not that those feelings aren't valid on some level, it's just usually I'm more able to rationally deal with them. It's those few days each month when I'm feeling puffy and can think of all sorts of things I would rather be doing than slipping on my form fitting yoga clothes to go stand in front of a crowd of people to teach class, poochy tummy and all. It's those few days each month when tears spring to my eyes so easily that even the right commercial, magazine article, or occassionally even a simply beautiful photo can get them started.

It would be interesting to follow my posts back through the past several months and see if there's a pattern to the tone of my writings. I'm pretty sure there is because when I feel like I do today, I want to write about it to help flush things out. It really does help. My little therapy spot, as I often refer to this blog when I talk about it to others.

I think that's where I am today. A little hormonal. Wishing my husband didn't work 60 miles away so we could meet for lunch, a warm hug, and a loving kiss. Wishing I could call up my Mom and tell her I was coming over for a cup of coffee instead of having the 650 miles that physcially separates us be one of the biggest factors for the reason I haven't seen her (that my girls haven't snuggled her) in almost 10 months. Wishing that I could be in the car with my brother and our friend as they road trip to Florida to fufill the wishes of a departed spirit. Wishing I could take the clutter of our house and simply shove it all into a dumpster rather than face the work that I should be doing instead of sitting at my computer listening to Pandora and writing. Wishing I wanted to go eat the grapefruit in the fruit basket instead of the chips in the pantry.

Thankfully, THANKFULLY, I know that in a day or two this too shall pass. Today (and possibly tomorrow) I simply must let these emotions be what they are. The tears are temporary. Smiles are close behind.

Now if only it were that easy to get rid of the calories from those chips!


peace

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Toast...

I'd like to make a toast...


to our new president...Barack Hussein Obama.



My day panned out a little different than I expecting having spent the hours from 2-4 am awake with a sick child, followed by a few short hours of sleep on the couch, and a cancellation of my attendance at an inaugural brunch to which I had been invited. (Which the sick child woke asking for food and hasn't stopped go, go, going since 8 this morning. She's exhibited no further signs of illness. Guess I should have sent her to school!) Luckily Grace and Andre were still happy to come over and join us for the day's celebration.


(OK, admittedly we were being a little silly. Silly with joyful celebration!)

Words can no even begin to describe the many emotions I've experienced today watching all the festivities. Today it's hard not to feel proud of our nation and to have hope for the future of the world. Today all the doom and gloom that's been building over the state of the economy, the environment, and international relations feels a little less dark and ominous. A little more hopefully. Today there was reason to drink champagne before noon, to cry tears of joy and hope, and to hug your loved ones knowing better days are ahead.

Happy New President's Day to us all!!!


peace

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Presenting...

the finished matched pair!



Well mostly matched. The second one is a little tighter than the first, obviously my tension control got better, though I still struggle with getting a nice starting edge. For my next project I'm going to try a new casting on technique to see if that helps. Also the second warmer has a spot where I obviously was not paying attention because there are 5 purl stitches where there should be 5 knit stitches. Oh well.

I've really come to enjoy my knitting time and am excited to start project #2, a hat for Scott. I found this great website, KnitPicks, from where I'm going to order some lovely wool yarn and new needles so that I can knit his hat in the round because I really dislike the look of the hand sewn seems on my hand-warmers. I'm also going to venture into the land of color switching and plan on giving his hat a nice stripe an inch or so above the edge. I'm really looking forward to getting things started and wish I didn't have to wait for supplies to arrive. One of the down sides of small town living...limited craft supplier options...but thankfully the internet (and UPS) goes everywhere.

In the mean time, while I'm waiting for said yarn and needles, I'm going to practice making cables. Once again, YouTube to the rescue. As I was knitting today I was able to watch a couple different postings of how to make a cable, both with an extra needle and without. Watching a demo makes SOOOOO much more sense to me than just reading about how to do it, so tonight I'm going to grab some extra yarn, try my new cast on technique and give cabling a shot.

On a side note, the lovely photo above is compliments of Lexi. I did a little color and contrast adjustment, but left the framing just as she took it. I love it. She had me show her how to zoom because she didn't like the framing without and took her time choosing just the right shot. I definitely think she has "the eye." I need to get her a camera of her own so I can help her foster that vision!


peace

Fun, Fun, Fun...

So check this out. A group in NY City does these improv things and makes films. Some large scale, some small scale. Cool and creative. It would have been super fun to be in Grand Central Station when this was going on!



There's a lot of fun stuff to check out. Like the No Pants Subway Ride and No Shirts. Enjoy a laugh today!


peace

Friday, January 16, 2009

Puzzles...


If there was one word to describe Brea's week, it would have to be puzzles. While on one hand she has given up on taking an afternoon nap, she's devoted that extra time every afternoon to put together puzzle after puzzle after puzzle. Sometimes it's just one puzzle over and over and over. I'm amazed at how she can stay so focused for so long on one task...over and over and over. In some aspects she has better concentration skills than her mother!

We've also noticed this week that Brea's starting to recognize a few letters. Most notably O and B...and she's very aware that her name starts with B. Sometimes I wonder how she picks up on these things...and then I hear her and Lexi in their room playing school and I realize it's because Brea has the advantage of a very smart older sister who is more than willing to share some of her knowledge.

I'm so blessed to have such amazing little girlies!

In other news of the day: Lexi is at a friends for a sleepover for the night, Scott is scheduled to work at job #2 this evening, and Brea and I have invited ourselves over to a friend's for dinner and a dunk in the hot tub. We'll be leaving here in a few minutes to hit the store for wine and a few dinner supplies as I offered to cook in exchange warmth. (Though I shouldn't complain, today the temp actually climbed from the negatives to the single digits for a good portion of the day. It's almost tropical following yesterday's artic blast!) My mom taught me never to invite yourself over to someone's house without bringing food. OK, maybe that's not an actual lesson which she purposely had on her list of "things I should teach my kids", but also not far from how things were growing up. Besides, who's going to turn away a bottle of wine, a pot full of creamy, garlic pasta, and Brea and I's sparkling personalities on a cold Friday night? Thankfully not Grace and Carlos!


peace

Sharing the Strength of Women...

A friend sent me the link to this reading on YouTube by author Kelly Corrigan today. I watched with tears in my eyes. Tears because I feel so fortunate to feel in my heart the meaning of her words. Tears because I'm lucky to have the type of loving friendships with amazing women of all ages like those of which she speaks. Tears because it is in our times of facing the impossible, that we find the best of who we are and the amazingness of those who share our lives. Tears because as a daughter, a mother, and a friend I too believe women are amazing creatures. Tears because I know that as life moves forwards, with all its joys and pains, victories and challenges, I too will transcend.




peace

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Freaky...

So lately my MP3 player has been randomly turning itself on when it's charging in it's docking station which is also hooked up to our stereo. Weird. (Especially when it happens in the middle of the night and you wake to find Jack Johnson jammin' away in quiet darkness of night.)

I wonder if it's a sign that my player is starting to die a slow, electronic death. I mean it is almost 4 years old. In electronics speak that's like 75 human years. Hmmm.....


peace

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Scoreboard...

I'm having one of those days. You know, the kind that if Life and I were playing a game of one-on-one and keeping score...Life would be kicking my ass.

Thankfully the scoreboard gets reset each night.


peace

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Goodbye 2008...

Other than posting about my exciting New Year's Eve activities of teaching myself to knit, I haven't really said much about the coming of a new year. Last year I explained my feelings about making resolutions at the start of a new calendar year (basically that I don't), but still listed a few of my hopes for 2008. That was January 6th. Who would have guessed on January 6th while I was writing about my hopes for the new year, what would actually go down through the course of the following 12 months. So shall we recap those hopes just for fun and see what has become of them 12 months later?
  • I biked a lot, but stopped keeping track of time and distance some time in the spring after my brother's cancer diagnosis. The stats didn't seem as important as the connection to him I felt when I was on my bike. My riding took on a whole deeper meaning than miles and minutes.
  • I still drink soda.
  • In 2008 I attended one large yoga conference and maybe 2 or 3 classes that were not taught by myself. I still love yoga.
  • I had 2 massages in 2008...both made possible through gifts from others.
  • My SI joint and sciatic issue are still an issue, but I'm more aware of what helps them to feel good and what causes aggravation.
  • I went veggie. Then back to carnivore. Then back to veggie. I'm currently at carnivore status, but I don't eat meat every day and often still choose veggie over meaty. I don't beat myself or anyone else up for their choice either way.
  • I played with my camera a lot. And I love it more than ever. And I am at times more confused than ever. I think photography is kinda like yoga...a journey.
  • I think our family life has become more conscious and more balanced in many ways. We still have a lot of room for growth. Growth takes time and nurturing.
  • Fun was had.
I am honestly quite happy to see 2008 move into the history books. We (we as in our family, immediate and extended) dealt with some shitty, shitty things in 2008. That's all there is to be said.

So how do I feel about looking forward to 2009?

I'm afraid following the past year I'm a bit apprehensive about making any predictions. About sharing any hopes. Not that I don't have them. They're quieter hopes. More personal. I guess I'm just less tied to things with a measurable outcome these days and we all know when setting goals or making resolutions, having a definable measurement of your accomplishments (or lack there of) is key for success. (Or so the "experts" say. Those are two words that have somewhat come to annoy me lately...success and expert. After all, they are both so subjective.)

So here's what I think about when I think about 2009:

  • I'm going to use more sunscreen. (I say "going to" because right now in Iowa there is little use for sunscreen...unless you count the glare from the snow as "sun".) I should. It will be healthier for my skin and will help me set a better example for my girls. (I also know this little bit of news will be welcomed by 2 of my closest friends who also happen to be doctors.)
  • I'm choosing to focus my personal energies doing things and fostering relationships that feed my soul. Life is too short to continually fight to stay connected to things and people that don't bring joy into one's life. I do this for me, for those I love most around me, and for once in my life I really don't care what others think of that decision.
That's it. Everything else is present moment life. All the joy, all the pain, all the ups and downs, all the things we think we are in control of, knowing deep down that really we can't control anything, all those things are just life as it unfolds. I plan to live that life as best as I am able in 2009.


peace

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sledding...

We did indeed making it sledding yesterday. The sun was out and the wind was only bad at the top of the hill if you were facing northwest. Luckily the softer sledding was down the "back" side of the hill to the southeast. Brea by far made out the best on the whole deal as the snow was so deep us 2 adults and Lexi's tall 7-year-old legs had troubles making it up the hill. Brea didn't have a chance, especially in her puffy one-size-too-big snow pants. So she got to sit in her sled and get pulled up by her pack horse parents. Needless to say Scott and I had jello legs after our 45 minutes of sledding.

Lexi had a blast and got a bit daring going off a few little jumps. We were a little nervous at how Brea would do her first time down, why I'm not sure because she is our dare devil child. She of course loved it and was less than happy when we said it was time to head home. (Though she was starting to get cold too, so there wasn't much argument.)

I managed to catch a little video of both girls taking a run. Unfortunately (or fortunately I guess depending on how you look at it) I also caught Brea's first wipe out. (I'm lucky there's not footage of Mommy's wipe out as I almost didn't get out of Lexi's way fast enough as she came shooting down the slope!)



We have fresh snow again today...the girls are hoping the weather cooperates so we can take a return trip to the sledding hill...SOON.


peace

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rosey Cheeks...

We've gotten 6-7 inches of fresh, powdery snow in the past 36 hours. The perfect snow for playing. The girls were eager to go mess up the trackless yard this morning, so we bundled them up (still in their PJs because what's a warmer under-layer than polar fleece) and shoved them out the door with a smile and a cup of hot coffee in hand. (I'm so appreciative of the fact they can play outside on their own these days and I can keep an eye on them from the warmth of the kitchen window.)

Thirty minutes later they returned to the front door cold,


rosey cheeked,


silly happy,


and requesting hot chocolate.

My coolness status this morning has been equated to Jeff, our favorite coffee shop owner, thanks to a little whipped cream a top the hot chocolate. Who knew it was so easy to be so cool? (If only it could remain that easy the older they get!)

We've promised sledding post lunch. Mommy and Daddy are already pondering how to best bundle ourselves because we don't have puffy warm snow pants...

It could be a short trip.


peace

Friday, January 9, 2009

Under a Rock...

I'm back in the game today now that I have 48 hours of antibiotics in my system. So Brea and I made a coffee shop stop between class at the studio and stops at the quilt store (for batting and thread) and the hardware store (for a fresh water filter) before returning home. As is often the case, a newspaper was sitting on the table next to us. So I snagged it, while Brea was busy getting cream cheese all over her face from our shared bagel, to see what was making headlines this morning.

I've pretty much come to terms with the fact that I live under a rock in relationship to current events. I don't read the paper regularly. I don't watch the news. Even with as much time as I spend online, I rarely visit news related sites. When I listen to music (which is quite often throughout the day...that is when there's not the silly sounds of an animated children's show coming from the TV) it's usually from my own collection or through online streaming sites that don't have talk. About the only time I listen to the radio is in the car and since most of my commutes around town are 5-10 minutes, there's limited chances for catching news tidbits.

I'm actually okay with my lack of knowledge in relationship to current events. I know some would view that choice as stupid, irresponsible, un-educated, un-American even. I say each to their own.

Because on those rare days like today when I pick up the paper to be faced with story after story about more company lay-offs, raising unemployment, the struggles retailers are facing following a poor holiday season, and the certain doom the "experts" say our economy faces, all it does is work me up into a panic. My heart starts to feel heavy for all those individuals and families who are being affected by the loss of a job. We know all to well what that feels like and I wouldn't wish it upon anyone. I want to open my arms and offer up a big ol' hug to all those people, tell them it will be OK, and offer them a cup of hot cocoa and a cookie. (Because let's be honest, food is a comfort for most of us and sometimes that's just gotta be OK.)

It also doesn't give me much hope that our family's situation is going to change/improve anytime in the near future. The thought of pursuing some of my professional growth interests seems silly to me right now. Those interests are in providing the type of services people will cut from their budgets early on as we all continue to tighten purse strings to make it through tough times.

About the only good news I can gleam from all this, the teenie bit of hope I'm holding onto right now, is that one day when things start to turn around and companies start opening jobs back up for all those people who will still be looking for something, Scott will for once be perfectly positioned to benefit. Which in turn will benefit our family.

But right now I'm trying my best to crawl back under my cozy little rock and pretend that all that sad, depressing reality is not out there. Feel free to join me if you want. It's a nice place to live most days. All sunshine and puppies. (That one's for my sisters!)


peace

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Crafty Christmas Recap, Installment 1...

One of my favorite creation projects this holiday season was a special little monkey commissioned by my Aunt Carol for my cousin Nikki's little girl Mena who celebrated her 9 month birthday at the start of the new year. My aunt actual presented me with the request mid-November, but it took me a while to find the right inspiration to get Cleo (as in Cleopatra) started. Nikki and her husband Duane are definitely modern, urban parents and I wanted Cleo to reflect that while paying homage to Nikki's simple roots (those of our farming grandparnts). Plus I wanted some fun, textury girliness for Mena.

I've had this idea of designing a pair of overalls for one of my monkeys in my head now for a while, but the right monkey to wear them just hadn't yet come along. The night I was cutting out the girls' PJ pants it hit me. The white, pink, and black polka-dot flannel would make the perfect inspiration fabric around which to center Mena's monkey and so out to find black and white socks I went. While grabbing them it occured to me that my normal use of black features wouldn't be possible on black socks...and then I found silver laced pearl cotton and I knew I had hit the jackpot! A little shiny silver was just what Cleo needed to make her stand out in the crowd as the cool, confident, fearless, fun loving monkey that she is sure to be tagging along with Mena on all her toddling adventures in the years to come.

I'm so, so happy with how Cleo turned out.


I love, love, love the overalls, especially the butt pockets. (Which are actually pockets should Cleo and Mena ever find something small enough to fit in them!) The next pair I make I plan to alter my self designed pattern a bit because monkeys have a bit of junk in their trunks and need a little more space back there than I gave Cleo. I also discovered some great ways to anchor the eyes and feature stiches because I was majorly anal about making sure there would be no choking going on because of stray buttons!

It was such an honor to make such a fun, special gift to help Mena celebrate her 1st Christmas. Thanks Aunt Carol for your request. I'll be ready to fill another order in the future when Mena finds herself with a lil' brother or sister. (Nikki & Duane, that comment's not intended to be pressure to start working on that project. Afterall, it took us 4.5 years to grow our family from 3 to 4. I'm just saying...I'll be ready whenever you are.)


peace

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Too much time with my thoughts...

I have a mild case of strep throat.

(So, I don't know if you can have a mild case, but since Doc said the quick test showed a faint positive, I'm still functioning at about 65-70% of normal, and no longer running a fever, I'm calling it mild.)

Mild or not, when you have strep in my line of work you're off line for a day or two. Period.

(Especially when you contract for a hospital and they have rules about these kind of things.)

And since today was morning 4 waking up to a raw throat, I've already been off line for the 3 days prior to today because I WAS running a fever.

(Even though I was only scheduled to teach on one of those 3 days. And that day I still taught 2 of my 4 classes because at that point I thought what I had was the same thing as everyone else in my house had had which went through their systems in about 48 hours. The thought of strep hadn't even crossed my mind at that point.)


What all this laying around rest creates though is a chance for TOO MUCH TIME WITH MY THOUGHTS!

It starts like this: I start to feel icky. I don't think anything about it because it's germ season here in the Midwest and I have two little germ magnets (aka - kids) and well, sometimes your body just can't fight off everything. Then my expected 1-2 days of feeling icky turns into 3, then 4, and so on and so forth. I finally admit that I need subs for my classes which translates into a smaller paycheck the following month because if I don't teach, I don't get paid. So I start to stress about stretching our already tight budget a little further. Along the way my loving friends and family, who honestly mean well, start to make innocent comments like "You have been teaching a lot of classes lately." "Your body probably just needs some time off to recover." I poo-poo their comments not because I don't appreciate them, and not because I don't think they are valid, but because they feed one of my biggest fears...

That in my search to bring more balance and more joy to my life pursuing a career in a field for which I am passionate while allowing me more time to be available for my family, I've gone to the extreme to the point that I'm compromising my health in an effort to make it all work financially. That instead of bringing more balance to my life, I've simply tipped the scales heavy from one side to the other. That I'm putting my family at risk by being financially dependent on my ability to stay healthy and injury free. That instead of being more available to them, the quality of our time together is actually lessened because of the mental and physical fatigue I often feel when I'm at full teaching capacity. Fatigue that brings me to seek out solitude because my personality requires time alone to fully feel rejuvenated...the complete opposite result of being MORE available to those around me.

It's true, I have been sick more the past 2 winters than I have for many, many years before. I've had illnesses I haven't had for over a decade (or two) creep into my chart...sinus infections, strep throat, and while it's not official, should I have gone in earlier this fall I wouldn't have been surprised if I would have been told my 7-8 week respiratory infection was some form of bronchitis. I know my body, and I know it's not normal for me to be sick this much. I know my body well enough to know something is out of balance.

It's days like today when I've had a little bit more time to think all this through than normal that I start to question and I start to panic a little bit. Change is not an easy thing for me, so the thought of choosing to create change is scary. Especially with all the instability that seems to be going on in the world these days. But I look at the facts of our current life and I know in my heart somethings need to change. I need to find a better balance professionally. I think it's clear my body is trying to send me that message. We as a family need to figure out how to make our lives work in a way that lets us live closer to Scott's work because his current daily commute is hard on all of us. I don't know if we would realize the strain had we not had the short taste of what it was like to have him working here in our home town for a short bit, only to return to his 120 mile round trip commute 18 months later. And if we are EVER going to find some peace in life, we've GOT to figure out financial balance in amongst all these other things. A thorn in our side which we just can't seem to figure out how to remove!

That's what it boils down to.

Today while my body has still been too tired to be active, my brain has not. I much prefer the feeling at the end of the day from physcial fatigue. This mental processing is exhausting in a much more unsettling way.


peace

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Because I know the suspense is killing you...

I present to you, the first completed handwarmer!


Over all I'm pretty happy with the outcome being that it's my first completed knitted item. There are of course a few things the anal-perfection-crafter in me would like to change.
  • I don't like the look of the seam and totally understand the draw to learning how to knit in a continuous round.
  • I wish creating small ribs weren't such a challenge, because I would much prefer small ribs at the cuff than the current 7 rows of garter stitch which are kinda loose.
  • Overall tension stayed pretty consistent, but there is definitely room for improvement.
  • And today looking over it all again for the first time since I finished it on Sunday, I found a random purl stitch in a field of knit stitches. Obviously I lost concentration for a moment.

Our little fam has been passing around an achy body, soar throat bug. Scott and I have been the lucky carriers this weekend and into the start of the week. So any spare time I've had outside of personal care and mommy duties have been spent in a horizontal position snuggled under a warm blanket with a hot cup of tea close at hand. That gets old real fast, so tonight while I'm kicking off the new season of Biggest Loser, I think I'll start working on this little handwarmer's mate. Because right now I want to break out in Thriller every time I put on my lone warmer to admire my work. Damn you Micheal Jackson!


peace

Saturday, January 3, 2009

But I Love My Bed...

The girls currently share a bedroom. Our house has three bedrooms, but we use the third, smallest room, for the office and spare bed. Our 2 main bedrooms are fair sized, but you can imagine how with a crib, a twin bed, a dresser and all the wares that 2 little girls can accumulate, the girls' room is jam packed. Scott and I have been talking about the fact that Brea is now only 3 months from turning 3 and maybe we should consider moving her out of her crib. our hope being that we could figure out a bed situation that would give them a bit more room to play IN THEIR ROOM!

At first I was leaning the bunk bed route. But the thought of having Lexi 6 feet off the floor is a bit scary considering her tendency to sleep walk...often! So we've decided that maybe they would like to share a full sized bed. After all, more nights than not, one of them some how ends up in our bed at some point time wanting to snuggle. Both of the girls love to sleep with someone else. They are snugglers, which is great because I happen to like to snuggle myself. While my brother was here the girls wiggled their way into sleeping with him more nights than not. I'm so thankful he's so willing to share his slumber with two wiggly little monkeys because I know how hard it is to get a good night's sleep with either (not to mention BOTH) of them in your bed.

So, since they've seemed to sleep well together this past week I thought maybe today while we were working on un-holidaying the house, we'd take some time to move beds. As the girls were playing this morning in their room I stepped in to share my idea with them. Brea immediately ran to her crib and grabbed the rails, tears starting to form in her little brown eyes. She looked up at me with the saddest little face and while fighting back sobs says,

"But I love my bed. I don't want it to go away."

It just about broke my heart. She has never tried to crawl out of her bed. In fact she's almost giddy with excitment at nap time and most nights as we head in for the nightly tuck-in routine. So I simply bent down, pulled her into a hug and reasured her that for now, her bed isn't going anywhere so she has no reason to worry.

I guess for a bit longer things will stay as they are. We're all safe and warm and comfortable, and I guess in the end that's all that matters.

On a totally unrelated note, last night I showed the girls how they could use their new flashing jelly party rings from Laura to make cool pictures in the dark.



Fun was had by all. Thankgoodness for the miracles of digital photography...unlimited shots for not extra cost and INSTANT images for little ones to view. I can't get over how perfect Lexi's circles are!


peace

Friday, January 2, 2009

Knitting, Project 1 Update...

Answering the question of "How did you spend your New Year's?" this year has been a riot. When I explain to people that I decided I'd teach myself how to knit AND that I had all the necessary items in my basement and found easy to follow instruction online, I get some very interesting looks. So before I give you an update on project 1's progress, I feel like I should explain a few things that have made this undertaking possible for me.

First, I have in the past done some crochet. Not a lot, but enough that I have some understanding of working with needles (or hooks as the case may be with crochet) and yarn. How to form loops, knots, control tension, etc.

Second, I grew up around women who were crafty. My mom has over the years been into a number a crafts...quilting mainly, but working with yarn, general sewing, painting and ceramics, and things that involve the use of the almighty glue gun were just part of the normal extra-curricular activities around our house. So I have been lucky enough to gain some general know how when it comes to craft things.

And third, I have a pretty stubborn and determined attitude about my abilities when it comes to the creative realm. There is very little I won't try, or assume I can not do, when it comes to making/creating stuff. I love handmade items and really enjoy browsing Etsy and seeing what the other creative beings out there in the world are offering up for sale. But I'm also really cheap and almost always will attempt to make something myself before I shell out the money to buy it from someone else.

The one draw back to all that stubborn willingness to give anything a try...a little problem with getting side tracked mid-project, hence the plethora of UFOs (Un-Finished Objects) that exsist down in my craft zone. (I also got that from my Mom. What can I say...like mother like daughter can pertain to so many things!) I'd say that I'm trying better to see each and every project I start through to the end...but I really just can't keep that promise and therefore don't see any reason to make it. I've accepted it for what it is...nothing says all those UFOs won't one day find their finished state! In the meantime, the crafting must go on!

So the knitting project is going well. After spending Wednesday night practicing, yesterday I started on project 1...a very simple arm warmer. Basically it's a retangle that you fold in half and sew up the side leaving room for your thumb to poke through. Of course, in my normal crafting fashion, I'm not following a pattern AND I wasn't happy with simply making a plain retangle of knitted fabric so I've added a little cuff and ribbing detail to my idea. Other than a having to restart 3 times, a few tension issues when I change from knit to purl and back while making the ribs, and some how impailing myself with a splinter from my new bamboo needles (twice mind you), things are moving along well.


I'm 4-5 inches into warmer #1 with the plan to make them about 12 inches in length. I have written down what I've done and thought about how for the other warmer I'll need to reverse the placement of the ribs so they end up on the ride side of my arm. HOPEFULLY I'll end up with a matching pair. I of course already have plans, if this pair goes well, to make pair number 2 in a fashion that will require me to learn how to knit a tube and add a thumb. Plus, Laura has put in her order for her own pair...I hope she doesn't need them THIS winter. HA!

With the holidays now past and gifts mostly distributed (yes, I'm still working on a final few) I hope to post some pictures of all my holiday projects next week. I really had so much fun working on each of the gifts I made this year and it's totally kickstarted my crafting energies again. Besides the knitting, I already have a couple other projects brewing in my brain, which I'm sure you'll be hearing about at some point and time here!


peace