Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Got Booed. And I Deserved It.

I think Life booed me. And man, I deserved it.

After yesterday's really whiny anti-Halloween consumerism post, several things happened.

First, my readers spoke. Candy wrote to tell me about her yard and how she and her husband really go all out for Halloween. Because, um, Barb? It's fun. Remember fun, Barb? And truly, her house looks totally fun, doesn't it? (Even if she did call me Halloween Grinchy Barb...)

And then Kathy told me she was surprised to hear me all grinched out and maybe I needed to just skip Halloween and go out for some Roast Beast. (I can't think of a good come-back which is just so infuriating. I know I'll think of it after I hit the "Publish Post" button. Right now I'm just going, "Oh, yeah? Oh, YEAH? Oh. Yeah. Right.")

And then my neighbor called --the one who lost her son in a tragic car accident this past August? She called to tell me that they just couldn't face doing Halloween this year and so they had planned an evening out. She wondered if we would mind keeping an eye on things and making sure no one burned their house down or anything.


Well, of course we wouldn't mind. But, gosh, how much would they give to be indulging in all of Halloween hype and festivities with their son right about now? Dang. Talk about putting the whole thing in perspective.

Then I took the girls to school this morning. Our school does a morning assembly every morning and I stood there and watched all of those happy kids. Oh, gosh! They were so excited. It was PRECIOUS. I saw the two little best friends in first grade wearing matching pumpkin shirts and whispering conspiratorially. I saw the "treat moms" bringing in their cupcakes and cookies. I saw the teachers grinning at each other. It was pretty infectious.

I remembered that, just as I learn this lesson every year about Christmas, it's not about keeping up with the Joneses. It's not about consumerism. It's about the kids.

Well, duh, Barb.

Happy, happy, spooky, inflatable, tacky, silly, excessive Halloween, everyone. Hug your kids, if you got 'em.

And BOO.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Another Thing I Don't Get

There are many things I do not understand but I really don't understand when exactly Halloween became such a huge freaking deal and why I wasn't consulted about it before it happened.

There is a guy on our street who has an inflatable Halloween CAR on his yard. I don't get the significance of that, either. But I shudder to think what this means for his yard at Christmas. When we were on Long Island, we noticed that Halloween is HUGE there. Every house had some serious Halloween decorations. It looked like people had hired services to decorate for Halloween, like some people here do for Christmas.

(As an aside, just so you know that I'm not being discriminatory, when I was growing up, there was a house on our street where the people put up a HUGE, I mean, ENORMOUS Star of David every year. But that's really the only time I've seen other faiths do something so over-the-top. Until now, that is. At Halloween, which is sort of the opposite of religion, right? Or maybe it's a new religion: The Church of Orange Consumerism.) (Oh, I'm sorry. Am I letting the prospect of the huge dental bills in our future make me cynical?)

I don't decorate much for Halloween, mostly because once I put something in the attic, it's easier to just go buy new than to try to find it again. So, we HAVE some Halloween decorations, I just don't know where they are. If I could find them, though, they would not be inflatable. Because (I hope I'm not hurting anyone's feelings) I think they're really huge and um, ugly. (I'm sorry if you have an inflatable Halloween car in your yard. Really. I'm sorry on very many levels.)

And as long as I'm being the Halloween equivalent of the Grinch, may I just complain about something else? ("Oh SURE you can," you say, "we stopped listening long ago, you Communist.") Who invented this new "Ghosting" thing? Do you know what that is? Someone comes and anonymously (or at least that is how it started) leaves a little bag of treats on your doorstep with a sign that proclaims that YOU'VE BEEN GHOSTED. Now you have to post a cutout of a ghost on your front window, so that no one ghosts you a second time, but you have to try to find two people in your neighborhood who haven't already been ghosted and then take them treat bags and instructions.

Try finding someone in THIS neighborhood who hasn't been ghosted. (And if you find that person, I get first dibs.)

Worse, though, it's the day before Halloween and someone just rang our doorbell to do something NEW. We got "Booed."
Actually, we got "Boo'd" which is even more offensive since now I have a sign on my front door with a punctuation error front and center.


Maybe I'm just feeling grumpy because for the first time ever, the girls didn't ask me to make their costumes. Ana is going as a (store-bought) Ninja and Jane is going as Hermione from the Harry Potter series. Nothing for me to make there, although if I had the right colors, I guess I could have knitted Jane a Gryffindor scarf but I think it's going to be about 80 degrees tomorrow.

Maybe it's just that I've been in a bad mood for, oh, a year or so now.

Okay, in order to ask for your forgiveness for being such a Halloween Scrooge, I present to you a Study of Two Girls in Pumpkin.

This one is entitled Classic Hippy.
He's a Classic Jack-O-Lantern but he has a ponytail. Hence the name.

This one is entitled Julia.

Knowing my kids as you do, can you guess whose is whose?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Didja Miss Me?

Okay, everyone who missed me run around in circles barking madly. Bring me a tennis ball or two. Rub up against my legs and purr loudly.

Ahhh... I feel so welcome. Thanks.

So, I'm home. Coop stayed in NYC doing Manly Business Stuff for a few more days. I caught a cab to the airport at 7:00 this morning and finished the sock (except for the Kitchenering) in between praying not to die. I cast on the new sock and then sat clutching it to my breast and doing that "air-braking" thing you do when you're just positive that it will help stop the vehicle, rather than slamming into the back of some nice produce truck. We got to the airport and the cabbie naturally upped the fare by $20 from what he'd quoted originally but I was so grateful to be back on land, I gave it to him.

The flight home was pretty good and landed on time despite the fact that we had to wait in line forever to take off. Apparently that's pretty normal for Monday out of JFK. By the time we took off, I was this far on my second sock.

And New York had color again.
I didn't realize that the lack of color when we flew in on Friday was because it was about to rain huge buckets all day on Saturday but there ya go. I'm still a little nervous about getting my new camera wet so I didn't take many pictures on Saturday (being as how the camera is technically not paid for yet and this weekend seriously didn't help the camera fund one bit. Oh well.)

Sunday was really pretty so we went for a drive and ended up on the south side of Long Island at the beach. It was beautiful. My pictures don't do it justice. Look! The New Yorkers spared no expense nor effort to make us feel at home!

I did try to take some pictures of the fall color for you guys (or, as I learned to say after about the sixth person fell to the ground laughing when I said, "y'all," youse guys) but my pictures didn't come out very well. Here's one but it's blurry.

So, anyway, then we headed into "the city" as everyone there says and we spent the night in Manhattan. Coop took some pictures but with HIS camera so they are still in New York. I'll show them to you later. We had a great dinner and then I flew home this morning. I knit almost the entire trip, except for a brief nap. See? This is how much you can get done on a sock in three hours:
And this was Austin as I was flying in--so green.

And then Jane got off the bus with an all-over pink rash, which led to a doctor's consultation and the diagnosis that she is allergic to penicillin and must not have it again.

Vacation over.

It was really fun while it lasted.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday in New York

So, we're here. We're actually on Long Island, where my husband is working.

We got up this morning at 5:00 and still barely squeaked out of the house and to the airport on time (no time for Starbucks!) I always love those hushed and hurried mornings when you're leaving on a trip. They make me remember my childhood. I guess I'm sort of like the dog--I am always excited to go ANYWHERE. (Well, some dogs. Not Scout, who has that whole motion sickness thing working.)

(Speaking of Scout, yesterday when I was trying to write my care and feeding of the Cooper Circus manifesto for my Mother-in-Law,this is what I kept seeing.
And you can't hear it, but he was moaning. So I would get up and then let him in and he would get so excited he would run right out the back door, which was standing open, and then realize that he was out in the back yard with no way to get in and so I'd see this again. The dog is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, know what I'm sayin'? )

(Dudes, a digression with pictures! Not everyone can do that, and from a strange lap top, no less.)

Anyway, we made the plane and after a little bit, I noticed that the world's most spectacular sunrise was happening, along with a full moon AND, you will NOT even believe this, I was turning the heel on my sock! It's like the planets aligning or something. A perfect moment. Just look. I couldn't get everything into one picture and a lot of my pictures ended up not coming out, or rather, were really accurate depictions of the groady airplane window. but look...

Then we got to New York and everything looked black and white. I don't know why but I've thought that before about New York, that something has bleached the color out of it. Maybe it's just that it is sort of gray and misty. I took some pictures from the airplane as we were flying in. We drove out Long Island, checked into our hotel, ate lunch and then my husband went to work and I took the car and went exploring. This part of Long Island is really surprisingly beautiful --I guess I thought it would be all asphalt jungle like Manhattan but it isn't at all. It's somehow more quaint than you would think. There are small boutique-like shops and cafes and the most beautiful trees everywhere. I didn't see a yarn store but I saw a ski outfitter place so there must be wool around!

Then I came back to the hotel to wait for Coop and I called Room Service, see(this doesn't count against the wine embargo because the company is paying for it --is that the most awesome thing ever?) and I got out my knitting, see,and here I sit.

In all honesty, I'm sort of afraid to call home and see how the kids are. I mean, do I really need that information or will it just depress me from afar?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Love (NYC) Thursday

Y'all won't believe what I'm doing. Well, okay maybe you will.

For the third straight Love Thursday in a row, I am cleaning my house before our house guests arrive. Well, houseGUEST, in this case. Singular. My mother-in-law.

She's coming to stay with the kids while Coop and I fly to New York for the weekend. We leave tomorrow morning at some incredibly early time.

I'm trying to lay in supplies to ensure that my MIL isn't completely tortured while she's here (MadMad, she LIKES to do crafts with the girls!), and also that there's a bit of a buffer for her in the form of play dates arranged and fun outings planned. I still shudder when I think about the time she was visiting and she and Jane were coming up the walkway and Jane slammed and locked the door in my MIL's face.


(Stop laughing. I was mortified.)

And of course, Jane was really sick this week and only went back to school today. So, she is truly in the loveliest, most gracious mood right now. I'm sure she's going to be utterly charming and helpful the entire time we're away.

Yeah. Right.

Compared, well...Satan.

AND, did I mention that she's still on antibiotics? Antibiotics that I have to threaten her EVERY SINGLE TIME to get her to take? AND that she takes four capsules every day? I don't know how my MIL is going to do it.

The real problem is that because she was sick, I was stuck at home, too. So we are out of groceries and paper towels, I still haven't gotten the kids' Halloween costumes figured out AND my mother threatened me with utter humiliation if I went to New York wearing my current style of bra. I'm not sure what she thinks will happen if I show up in Manhattan wearing ill-fitting foundation wear but clearly, it's very, very bad. I'm picturing cops in riot gear. And also, this week, our school has Early Release on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for parent teacher conferences (more about that after I finish packing) so the kids got home at 11:45 today. Oh joy!

So, with all this to do and such little time in which to do it, guess what I did this morning? I went shoe shopping for some vaguely orthopedic-looking shoes that I can use while walking around New York.

Darn attractive, don't you think?

And get this: after I bought them, I went by the place when I get my physical therapy and had my Physical Therapist APPROVE them. I honestly think that the recovery from my foot surgery has scarred me for life.


Okay, gotta go Swiffer the dog hair.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More MeMe MeMe MeMe

Either I am channeling Beaker or I have been tagged. Well, I wasn't called by name, exactly but details, people, details. I love these things!

Things I'm Passionate About:
1. My kids
2. Coop
3. My Blog
4. Reading
5. Writing
6. Knitting
7. My house
8. Oh, okay, okay, my pets

Things I Want To Do Before I Die:
1. Earn a Book Contract and Go on a Promotional Tour
2. Have a place for everything and everything in its place
3. Learn to play the guitar
4. Get completely fit and muscular
5. Live on the beach
6. Learn Photoshop, which has to be the most counter-intuitive program ever designed
7. Learn how to use my camera as it was meant to be used
8. Knit a freaking sweater

Things That I Say Often:
1. Dude!
2. Five Minute Room Rescue!
3. If I have to ask you again, there will be a loss of privileges.
4. Don't pet him; he'll pee!
5. I'm very crazy about you. Have I told you that in the last five minutes?
6. Yes, I'm still limping but I think it's getting better.
7. Listen, sister, that look doesn't work on me because I INVENTED it.
8. Not really the sharpest knife in drawer, know what I'm sayin'?

Books I've Read Recently (Or Am Reading):
1. The Courage to Write (Ralph Keyes)
2. A Year Without "Made In China" (Sara Bongiorni)
3. Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert) I'd already read it but it's my book club's pick for October.
4. Peter and the Starcatchers (Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson) Ana recommended this one to me. I'm enjoying it.
5. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Barbara Kingsolver)
6. A Long Way Down (Nick Hornby) I love Nick Hornby but I'm not sure I can recommend this book. It's the oddest Nick Hornby book I've ever read.
7. Gilead (Marilynne Robinson) Simply one of the finest books I've ever read.
8. The Yarn Harlot Casts Off (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee)

Songs I Can Listen To Over and Over:
1. Dimming of the Day (Bonnie Raitt)
2. Ain't No Way (Aretha Franklin)
3. Phenomenal Woman (Ruthie Foster)
4. All Over Again (Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings)
5. Galileo (Indigo Girls)
6. One Big Love (Patty Griffin)
7. Midnight Train to Georgia (Gladys Knight)
8. Everything Must Change (Oleta Adams)

I think I must be in a mood to sing in my car since these are typically songs I belt out when no one is listening!

What Attracts Me To My Friends:
1. a shared sense of humor
2. intelligence
3. honesty
4. compassion
5. open-mindedness
6. positive, glass half-full outlook
7. the ability to laugh at themselves
8. authenticity

Things That I Learned (in the) Last Year:
1. Exercise is the Key to Life (well, for me anyway)
2. Whatever else there is to value in a person, simple kindness means the most.
3. Small things are often more important than big things.
4. Poop needs to happen in everybody's life.
5. There are some tragic events for which there is simply no comfort.
6. How you sound is sometimes as important as what you are saying.
7. Humans need to touch and be touched.
8. I am blessed beyond all measure.

If you’ve read this far, consider yourself tagged!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dang, I Almost Missed Fall!

So, yesterday was fall here in Austin. Hope you were in town. Because I know how *I* hate it when I take a day trip and miss a season.

I KNOW it was fall because all the leaves fell off the trees. All of them. Right into our pool.

My little Jane was/is home sick. The thing about Jane is she gets SO sick when she gets sick that it scares the pants off of everyone. Granted, this was worse when she couldn't take oral medication. No, seriously, any child's medication (which comes in liquid form, right?) hits her stomach and comes immediately right back up. Every doctor we've ever met has attributed this to some failure on my part to administer the medication. So, they always try to show me how it's done. You know, by a professional. And, oh, look, now that professional is covered with vomit. Sorry 'bout that. I did try to warn you.

I mean, it's not like I haven't been resourceful in trying to get her to take her medicine--because I used to suspect that it was Jane's Will of Iron that MADE her throw it back up. But even when undetectable in ice cream and gladly eaten, it comes right back up.

Now that Jane can swallow pills, it's better. But she still gets sicker than any child I've ever seen. Or maybe it's just that the contrast between Jane at Full Force and Jane When Sick is so huge, it's really scary. I don't know.

Anyway, we got to observe fall yesterday when the temperature dropped from the nineties into the fifties and THIS morning, it's in the forties, which officially mean winter here. Of course, tomorrow it will probably be summer again. (My mom calls the summer that happens after the Day of Fall the "Native American Summer". She's very politically correct.)

Anyway, while Jane did a movie marathon in between naps, I tried to keep up with the amazing amount of debris in the pool, which, if left to steep, makes the pool turn green. See? Still blue and looking pretty clean.

It was possibly the best work out I've had all year! I actually felt sort of grateful to Coop, who refuses to cover our pool. (He thinks that if he buys a cover for the pool, it's an admission that summer ends. We can't have that, now, can we?) I can't complain too much since he does all the work on the pool year 'round. Except for on the Day of Fall, I guess.

In the comments yesterday, the Bloghore asked why I wasn't wearing hand knit socks with my boots. The truth is that I don't have any. I like to give my knitted socks away and as I was knitting away on my last pair, it became clear to me that those socks were meant for my beloved Vet, who had to put her dog Buddy down in September. I called them Buddy Socks. It turns out that purple is her favorite color. Look! She sent me pictures! Here she is with one of her greyhounds. If you'd like to read his story, here's the link. Click here. (Warning: it might make you have to write a big check to the organization. (And, um, it's kind of graphic. But an amazing story.)

I am knitting another pair, as we speak, though. Can't wait until they reveal whose they are. Actually, I'm hoping they might be my first socks for my Christmas knitting. Good thing my family doesn't read this blog because I can tell y'all that everyone is getting socks from me this year.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Christmas Lights, Socks and Dusty Shoes

Well, I finally took down my Christmas lights yesterday.

I know you're thinking "GOOD GRIEF! It's almost time to put them BACK UP! Wow, that's slacker-dom at an entirely new level."

And you'd be wrong.

Because it's a even lower level than you're thinking.

Yes indeedy, I finally took my Christmas lights down.

But the truly shameful part is that they'd been up for more than four years.

No, seriously.

Well, it was either more than four years or almost four. Let me go check because I wrote a humor column that featured the lights after I'd left them up the first year... Yep, here it is: Holiday Spirit. I wrote that in 2004, so I put the lights up in 2003 and there they stayed until yesterday, almost four years. So long that the tree has grown over parts of them. No, seriously, look:

And do you want to know something? Really, the only reason I took them down is that my dad had been doing yard work for about four hours and I felt sooooooo guilty. Look at my yard!
But he'd practically done everything before I got a clue so I hopped right out there and finally did what I should have done four years ago.

Meanwhile, inside my house, my mother was scrubbing down every available surface. Get this, she washed and dried their sheets before she left this morning and gave the bathroom a once-over. She knows my MIL is coming this weekend to stay with the girls while Coop and I go to New York for a fun weekend away and she wanted to make sure that HER visit didn't make any additional work for me.

It makes my heart hurt a little. And since I am the Travel Agent for Guilt Trips, I feel monstrously guilty. And appreciative. And blessed beyond all measure. And guilty, did I mention guilty?

So, to repay her for her generous and thoughtful acts, do you want to know what I did? I plied her with hand-painted sock yarn and double-pointed needles. And I printed out Silver's Sock Tutorial (which is single-handedly responsible for my sock-knitting conversion) in COLOR so that she could take it to the beach with her and work on her first pair of socks.

I feel like a Pusher or an Enabler or some other word for a person of bad character who is trying to get other people addicted. I mean, in return for her back-breaking work and her patience and her love of my children, I have now repaid her by getting her hooked on an expensive and all-consuming, totally addictive hobby.

Um. Well, hopefully.

In other news, look what I'm wearing today!

I know you were worried it had something to do with cleavage, weren't you? Well, not today! It's the first really brisk fall day and I'm actually wearing long sleeves and long pants (which I bought over the weekend without actually crying. Because I so rule.)

And real shoes for the first time this year. I mean, besides running shoes. If you look closely, you can see that there's still some dust on them. (Hey, mom! You missed a spot!)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

An Extreme Makeover

Today, I had my hair cut. Look:
I'd been growing my hair for a long time. No, really, I HAVE and it hasn't been just that I'm too apathetic to go get it cut. (Okay, so it might have started that way.) But I've been thinking about this for a long time because I wanted to donate it to the organization called "Locks of Love" in the name of my friend J. B. Brown, who has some bad, bad cancer. They take donations of hair if it's ten inches or longer. Mine measures a bit more than that.

Locks of Love is an organization that helps disadvantaged sick kids who have lost their hair due to a medical diagnosis by giving them hair prosthetics. It can't help J. B. exactly, but since I can't help him either, I thought maybe doing something in the spirit of a good man seemed appropriate. He may never know about it, but I like the idea of sowing a little bit of his sort of kindness into the world.

Anyway. I made my husband take some pictures of me, which just may be a first for me as an adult. (I mean, the last time I begged for a picture was when I lost my first tooth, I think.)

Here it is, the haircut in all its glory.

There was about another four inches of hair on the floor so it's a fairly drastic change. I'm a little concerned about being hideous because I know my spouse doesn't like short hair but he, true to form, answered all questions correctly.

Barb: Do you like it?

Coop: Yes, I like it.

Barb: Does it make me look younger?

Coop: Yes, it makes you look younger.

Barb: How about thinner? Does it make me look thinner?

Coop: MUCH thinner.

Love him.

But J.B.? This one is for you. With much, much (locks of) love.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tagged By Mrs. Q

I'm fighting a bit of a headache today or some other sort of yuck that makes me feel, well, you know, yucky. Maybe it's all the Cheetos (we've GOT to get rid of that party food!) Anyway, I was noodling around, reading all my favorite blogs and I noticed that Mrs. Q had tagged me. I do know this is a cop out, as far as posting goes, but I am such a sucker for these things and this one is about BOOKS, so how can that be bad? (Yeah, yeah, famous last words.)

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why? I like both. But when I really love a book and plan on reading it again every year or more until I die, I buy hardcover. I have THREE hardcover copies of Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck.

2. If I were to own a book shop, I would call it... Gak. I have no idea. It would have coffee and yarn and a gazillion books and maybe some places for people to write. Oh, I know, I would call it, "My Living Room." But then I would need a liquor license.

3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title)... See, I have such a hard time with these definitive lists. My brain doesn't work this way. I like the quote from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not."

4. The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be... I mean honestly THE author? I'd like to have lunch with Barbara Kingsolver and Elizabeth Berg. Mark Twain. Ayn Rand. Colette. John Steinbeck. Dorothy Parker. Jean Kerr. Anne Tyler. Somerset Maugham... well, you know. Just about any author, ever. Stephanie Pearl McPhee would be really fun.

5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except for the SAS survival guide, it would be… I can't answer this. Well, maybe a scrapbook or something. Wait, I know! How about MY book, so I could relive my children's childhoods and sob over the fact that they clearly don't love me or they would have rescued me by now. Plus, it would make good kindling.

6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that… gently intervened and removed the book from my grasp right before it hit me in the face as I fall asleep reading.

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of... my childhood haunting Half Price Bookstores looking for some rare old book that might be worth much more than I was going to pay for it.

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title)... Dang. Again with the one choice. I'm not feeling one-choiceish, can you tell? Scarlet O'Hara in Gone with the Wind? But there's the whole lack of indoor plumbing and epidurals in that book. Maybe Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter series. Judging how cats around here are treated, I should very much like to transfigure myself into a cat.

9. The most overestimated book of all times is… I don't know. I can think of lots of books that I didn't think worth the hype and it still makes me shake my head in wonder that some people get book deals when they, hello, have NO TALENT, but I can't think of the most overestimated book of all time because, by definition, it would be a best seller and that means it spoke to a lot of somebodies out there. And maybe I'm just not one of them. I did really, really, really hate Fear of Flying, though.

10. I hate it when a book… doesn't come back to me after I've loaned it out. Get this, I'm STILL mad that I loaned out my hardbound copy of the The Once and Future King when I was a Junior in High School and never got it back. I know you're thinking I should stop loaning my books out but I just can't. When I love a book, I want to share it. And I'm pretty sure that I've stolen enough books from my mom to make up for the ones I've lost through attrition.

I also got tagged by Tiffany to come up with eight little known facts about myself. I'll do that one later. This one was harder than I thought. I know I should tag people but we all have so much pressure on us already... and it's Friday and all. (But you know who you are.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

In a Slump

I'm kind of in a knitting slump. I've had some life things going on and haven't been knitting much in the evenings because my spouse has been traveling and I'm sort of, well, REALLY BONE TIRED in the evenings. I've been going to bed at about 9:00. Plus, hey, no spouse at home, I've been having a bit of wine. I think I've shared with you all (maybe in my hundred things?) that I can't knit under the influence. (I just typed, "I can't drink under the influence." Maybe I should state right here that I am not, as we speak under the influence. Right now, I mean. At this second.)

Anyway, I've been taking a sock with me, like I always do so that I don't kick people in the shins when I have to wait somewhere in line. But it's a terrible sock. It's just plain stockinette stitch and although I am using a gorgeous Claudia Hand Paint (I've used it before in THIS sock) it looks terrible. The color is pooling badly and it's boring.


So, the other day I was sitting in a Starbucks knitting along on it while I waited for my friend and someone at the next table asked me what I was knitting. I said, "Well, it's a sock but I think now that maybe it's a bit wide for a sock so maybe, it's a LEG WARMER!" I thought that was funny and might make her laugh since she was a perfect stranger and that's usually my goal when I meet someone. But this look of horrified concern crossed over her face and she said, "Hey, maybe you could make it into a sweater sleeve. It LOOKS like a sweater sleeve. Maybe it's a sweater." And then she picked up her little girl, who still had half a cookie in her mouth, and beat a hasty retreat. (Hey, I saw leg warmers in Target. It's not like I have some yen for the 80's you know.


Oh. My.

Except. Well, yes I do.


Dude. This is BRILLIANT!

I think we may have timed our girls' interest in clothing to peak just about the time the Preppy Look comes back in!
Is that the coolest thing or what?

I'd like to take full credit for this but actually, it's really something we've just been praying for. Because if my daughter comes home with a pierced...well, ANYTHING or a tattoo, y'all are gonna have to come visit me in the place with the nice padded rooms. Is all I'm saying.)

Anyway, so then I thought it could be a sweater but just now I noticed THIS:

For you non-knitters out there, THAT is what a dropped stitch looks like. So, I'm ripping the thing back to the beginning and I will start again.

It can join the bulky mittens I've been working on, which currently look like this.
I was going to wear them with the sweater I was knitting. It looks like THIS at the moment:

Isn't that so nice? I think both of those will go so well with my new socks. They look like this:

(Yes, it's true that if some miracle occurs and I make all these things, I will look like a slightly off color traffic signal but hey, it'll be cheerful!)


In other news: this is what I let my kids do as their after school snack yesterday:

You know how cake reaches that point where it's not longer cake and it sort of becomes...something horrible that absorbs its own icing and then hardens and is awful? Jane's party cake was on the verge. So, I gave the kids forks and told them to have at it.

Oddly enough, both ate a small piece, and then played with scraping some icing off and then they were done. They, get this, listened to their stomachs, which apparently are infinitely smarter than MY stomach and then they stopped eating.

I don't know. It seems like at some point we lose that sort of self governance.

Well, probably not you. But I seem to have lost it. I could learn a thing or two from my kids, eh?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I Just Don't Get It

Okay, so my parents didn't get to come visit last weekend but they are coming THIS Friday.

Remember how I had cleaned the house for my sister and her grandson? And then our housekeeper came on Saturday? We were insane on Sunday with Jane's party, which I purposefully held at a location NOT INSIDE MY HOUSE because when you have a "Chocolate Theme" you can assume that there will be large masses of, well, CHOCOLATE everywhere. And there was. But it wasn't at my house so I didn't care.

It's been what, three days since the housekeeper was here? It's Wednesday. And my house looks like trolls have been throwing one heck of a kegger in the place, complete with barnyard animals and maybe some composting experiment gone awry.

Did something explode when I wasn't home? I mean, I understand that we have four pets but honestly, with the exception of Scout, they are fairly low maintenance most of the time. Plus, how much can I really blame on Scout, given that we try to mop up the urine as we go? So, WHAT HAPPENED?

I just don't get it. Saturday, all of the laundry was done. I've done at least six loads since, including all of the pool towels and my sister's sheets and towels and every kitchen towel in the house several times (since that's what we use instead of paper towels because I keep the paper towels under the sink--right on the same dispenser that came with the house (in other words, in the same damn place since the day we moved in) but no one can ever find them. Still there is laundry piled high in the laundry room. Yesterday I took out thirteen tons of recycling and trash and today, there it is again! Honestly, is this some weird Trash Version of Groundhog Day?

I understand that we have added about a million pounds of tiny Polly Pocket pieces and that the kids come home from school with a dang ream of paper every day so I can see that my tax dollars really are being put to use educating them in how to use a lot of paper. But I don't see how they could have created such a mess by themselves in three days. My husband (the original Messy Boy) has been out of town. I'm actually trained to pick up after myself so it's not me. The girls are in school for much of the day and they've had after-school activities, etc.

So, I don't get it. How did my house get so messy in such a short period of time and why will it now take me a full eight hours to clean it back to a "company ready" state? Is this some law of physics or nature or something that I just don't know about? Is it like the seasons and if this is the Messy Season, does that mean if I wait long enough, the house will clean itself too?

Just wait until I get my hands on one of those trolls...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How Life Is

It's 11:30.

I am the lone occupant of my house. Everything is quiet and still.

My husband is traveling so I got up early with him and saw him off, woke the children up, got everyone dressed and fed. I made lunches and packed snacks. I wrote the notes about after-school activities, got dressed, hustled everyone out the door and to the school. I worked for two hours in Jane's class, guiding the first graders in small groups through a letter writing exercise. I came home, took something I'd forgotten back up to the school, came back home, ate a little lunch, unloaded the dishwasher, checked e-mail, broke down all the boxes for the recycling, and went through the house with a garbage can and threw away about six tons of small plastic crap that no one will miss.

Outside, it is cool for the first time since March. Our quiet street is shrouded in a gray mist and I have the windows open, listening to the soft drips of water running off of the trees. I decided to treat myself to the ultimate luxury: a nap on the couch with a big fat orange cat. We settled down.

Suddenly, I heard it. You know: IT. The unmistakable sound of an aggressive mosquito buzzing around me.

It bit me.

It bit me again.

I missed it twice and it disappeared.

But now napping was out of the question! Finally, I saw it buzzing about again and I swung and hit it.

I guess sometimes in life, you've got to kill the darn mosquitoes before you earn a nice nap.

I'm sure this has deep and meaningful implications but there's a big fat orange tabby lying on my stomach who is getting a bit impatient with all this typing (not to mention the fact that he's cutting off my circulation) so I'm going to have to think about this later.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Parenting by Chocolate, part 3

It was a chocolate orgy.

My daughter Jane's seventh birthday party, I mean. I feel like I should apologize to everyone who ever thought of having their kids come to this party. There was so much chocolate, it was a bit obscene. Seriously. And not just because I had a big smear of it across my chest and I was wearing the "distract them with cleavage and/or poison ivy" swim suit.

So, all in all, a very successful soiree.

I'm not sure I've ever been so tired, though.

You know, it's really funny. In my life before I had children, part of what I did was direct large special events for non-profits. Every year, I directed a project called Coats for Kids that collected donated coats and distributed them to disadvantaged kids. Like, we collected 30,000 coats and distributed them to 12,000 kids. (This was ten years ago. I'm sure the numbers are much higher now.) It was an amazing undertaking. It took more than 3,000 volunteers, including the National Guard, the Junior League and volunteers from the community. I directed the entire thing, with the help of one assistant.

It did not make me as tired as throwing one party for a seven-year-old. I'm pretty sure this is the difference between being young and being old. I'm also pretty sure which one is better.

Here is my van as I was packing it up to go to the community pool where we were holding the party.

The cake


We had a chocolate fountain, which was the hit of the party except it was windy so the chocolate kept flying all over people like a weird monsoon. It was straight out of that children's book "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs."
More party:

Birthday Girl being sung Happy Birthday:

At one point, Jane just decided to start opening presents and I realized that I had forgotten paper and pens to write down who gave what. The other parents immediately and unanimously decided that their present to us was that we didn't have to write thank you notes. I fell weeping to the floor in gratitude.

By far the best thing I did, though, was have the kids make their own goody bags. Earlier that morning, the girls separated two enormous bags of M&Ms into colors and we put them out in bowls, along with some clear plastic goody bags that I had bought at a craft store. (I didn't buy the largest size, either. I was seriously beginning to worry about if I needed to have some sort of insulin shots for the parents to administer.)
Anyway, this worked like a charm. Every time I think about it, I feel sooo smart. It's like in Peter Pan when Peter keeps saying, "Oh, the cleverness of me!" (except, of course, I stole the idea from someone else.) Typically, I am up until 2:00 AM filling goody bags with those stupid little trinkets. (Who invented those flapping hand things anyway? Was there ever a worse use of child labor in China than putting THOSE things together?)

(Anyway, I digress. Shocking, I know.)

The only thing that I could have had that I didn't was a dentist to give a little cleaning before the children were allowed to go home. Also, I wished I'd warned the other parents about the fantastical powers of chocolate to travel onto clothing and shoes and hands. We were all covered at the end. (Please remember that the camera adds... forty pounds. I'm pretty sure I heard that somewhere. FORTY.)

And THEN, inexplicably, the Birthday Girl was ready to go home and play with her toys so I got to take her home and my husband VOLUNTEERED to pack everything up and bring it home later. Is that just... the extra chocolate in the fountain, or what? How much do I love him? Especially since I was starting to sort of speak in tongues at that point from sheer fatigue.

The reason all of this is worth it: